Tuesday, November 2, 2010


This blog is getting a makeover, but it's not the only thing that is getting it's butt in gear. Be ready for some serious crafting and designing to hit your computer screens in the next few weeks. In the meantime, bear with me -- life's been a little hectic, but I am back behind the wheel.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Move, Handspun, Etc.

I have been moving. All. Over. The Frikken. Country.

First, I moved from Iowa to Erie, PA, for a week to visit a friend in LECOM. Erie was nice but it wasn't my final destination, so after about a week I traveled down, Thusa whining all the way, to Lexington, Kentucky. I was supposed to have a house there but it didn't work out as well as I'd hoped for my lifestyle, so I stayed with a friend of my mom's for a few days and got to do some in-person bonding with Mary Catherine, who has been a close confidante for a long time online.

After about a week in Lexington, I drove about three hours south to Knoxville, Tennessee, where I'm now living with my aunt. It's a great temporary arrangement -- I have my own bedroom and work space and she and I watch television and make dinner together whenever we can. I have gotten a job at White House, Black Market -- a boutique-style chain store that sells clothing in only black and white, with the occasional pop of color. It's going well. I've never sold clothing before, despite being a fashion major, and I've found that I really enjoy it if I get to spend some time with the customer and devise what she likes and needs. The most frustrating part is when people come in just to browse and get angry when the sales girl talks to them -- it's my job, I am required to speak to you!

I haven't done too much knitting to speak highly of. Working on a few patterns and presents here and there that will be shown before too long. I have been doing a lot of spinning, but my photography set up here isn't exactly -- well, it isn't set up yet! I am hopeful to be back to crafting full force today and tomorrow, since I don't work in the mornings on Monday or Tuesday, and I have Wednesday off.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Side Show, Side Projects

I'm a little tied up lately with moving, but I do occasionally get a chance to stop in a library or Starbucks and check up on all the happenings. Back in August I had a chance to model for the amazing Sarah Christina from Confections, Inc. She's an amazing photographer (and good friend) and it is always a pleasure to enter her imagination. I thought it might be kind of fun to share part of the photo-shoot here (at least, the first part, which has been edited).

Kinda creepy but fantastic, huh?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Etsy Love - Darling Clementine

I can't get over my obsession with Darling Clementine. I have especially fallen in love with some of the collaborations this company has done with 1973, known as the 'Claudette Series' (shown in the Etsy shop). These notebooks are just perfect -- I would stack them up and journal in them, even, and that's a commitment coming from someone who doesn't journal. I especially love the Badger and Kangaroo ones!

The graphic nature of their graphic design mixes my slight love of whimsy with my greater love of classic shapes and colors. There's something really wonderfully 'Mad Men' about the Christmas cards especially, isn't there? And I hope they offer the wrapping paper again too -- I know just what I want to wrap my presents in this year!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Noeud Papillion -- A new Toque for you!

I just finished designing and releasing my new hat pattern, Noeud Papillion! It's a slouchy toque with an i-cord bow tie at the top. The name, Noeud Papillion, means "bow tie" in French, though it more accurately translates to "knotted butterfly".

You can knit the hat in fingering weight to dk weight handspun or commercial yarns. At an equal gauge it creates hats of different densities to fit with warmer or cooler climes. The pattern includes schematics and techniques to help guide you through the fun details of the hat. I hope you enjoy knitting it as much as I did!

Yarn: Hello Yarn Fiber Club, Handspun by Hannahbelle Fingering Weight, Falklands in colorway "Grouch"


Friday, September 3, 2010

Finished Featherweight

I have finally finished my Featherweight Cardigan! This pattern by Hannah Fettig (we really need to get to know each other, because I get asked if I am her all the time) is fairly simple, but certainly requires a time commitment, especially if you're knitting it in laceweight yarn like I was. I made a few modifications that, if I could have ripped out, I would have -- I changed the 1x1 ribbed edging to a 2 x 2 ribbed edging, which was supposed to solve the bunching problem that a few of the cardigans have (the ribbing pulls up the edge) but instead only resulted in my bind-off not being stretchy enough and bunching a bit anyway. I tried to fix this during blocking, and it did an okay job.

My only other modification was that I made the cardigan longer to accommodate my torso length. I really do like it quite a bit -- I wore it all day yesterday and got a lot of those "You made it? But it looks store-bought!" style compliments.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Feelin' Foxy

Has anyone else heard the "news"? Apparently foxes are the next big thing for fall -- you can find them anywhere and everywhere, all over the place! I picked out a few of my favorite fox things on Etsy and elsewhere to showcase for ya'll. Just in case you want to, you know, jump off the fox bridge too.

Lovely things from:

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

And the Winner Is....

It's time for me to announce the winner of the drawing for the single skein of Manzanilla Olive! After plugging in that we had a whopping 34 comments on that post at Random.org:

Congratulations, Abby! You didn't leave me who you were or an email address or Ravelry ID, so I hope that you are reading today -- please send me an email at: hannah.thiessen@gmail.com so that I can get your prize to you!

Thank you, everyone who entered. I love doing giveaways and hope to do some more in the future -- there is nothing so fun as passing things you love on to other people.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Etsy Fashion - Malu Leggings

I love these printed leggings by Malu! This one-woman company is constantly churning out a great product, and I only hope to own a pair someday. I am especially fond of the leggings with birds on them, but, of course, I am a total leggings and stockings and hosiery addict, so there's no surprise that I would love things from this shop.

In addition to being handmade, these leggings also come in extra-long lengths, some of them dipping well past your ankle and worn on the arch of your foot with super-cute ties. I love this style since it actually allows you to wear thick leggings in the winter with your ballet flats without having to rock the sock-and-flats look that I wear so very, very often. Too often, maybe.

Monday, August 30, 2010

DIY - Make Your Cat a Fancy Collar

I have noticed, quite recently, that the collars they portray as 'cat collars' are really dog collars in disguise. Yes, they're supposed to withstand the scratching and the outdoor romping that some cats do, but my cat, Thusa, is pretty darn pampered. She doesn't go outside. She gets flea medication when it's required. Most of the time, she's found sleeping in a sun patch on a plush pillow. Somehow, her old, green, tatty collar doesn't seem to properly convey how spoiled this cat is.

I wasn't too keen on buying a new collar, especially when the hardware on this one was still good, so I decided to make one! I turned it into a how-to, so that if you have a pampered, spoiled cat -- or your house pet just needs a little more crafty flair -- you'll be able to make your own, and recycle the plastic parts of your old collar.

Step 1: Gather Supplies
The first thing you'll need is, of course, your pet's old collar. If you're getting them new tags, go ahead and purchase these, so that you have them around. Thusa didn't need new tags, she just needed a new band, but I did take the opportunity to get some kind of smudge off of the 'Home Again' yellow tag.

Other than your pet's tag, you'll need a piece of fabric roughly 11" wide, and more than three inches tall. I used one that was 10.5" wide and 6.5" tall. It was a scrap I had left over from a quilt I made. You will also need straight pins, measuring tape (obviously), sewing machine thread in a coordinating or complimentary color, and some kind of marking chalk/pen/pencil. In addition, it's good to have a very sharp pair of scissors, since you will be cutting through the heavy-duty polyester of your pet's old collar.

Step 2: Measuring and Hardware Removal
For this step, take the collar off your pet and do not alter its size at all - measure the length as is, and write it down. Thusa's collar was 7"; I measured from the point that the buckle meets the fabric. This is the circumference of the comfortable collar around your pet's neck. You want to make sure that if you are using this DIY for any other animal - small dogs, larger cats, etc. - that you measure this and adjust your fabric need accordingly. I technically only need about 9" of fabric for this pattern, but I prefer to have 10.5" and keep the sliding adjustment piece intact, so that if Thusa grows, there is some room.

Now, cut the fabric of the collar and free the buckles, the sliding adjustment, and the jump rings that connect the tags to the collar. Set these all aside, clean them if needed -- keep track of them, you'll need them soon.

Step 3: Making the Collar

Take your fabric, and measure out the length of fabric (for me, 10.5"). The width of the original collar was about half an inch, so I have decided to stick to that. Basically, I am going to make hem tape, so the width of my fabric will be three times that of my finished object (1.5"). Take your strip to the iron and fold in from each edge 1/4" on the backside of the fabric. Press. I used a starch spray to make sure that the edges stayed crisp. Fold it over again, this time wrong side to wrong side, and press. Take it to your threaded machine and put a running stitch all along the edge, as close as you like. I did a 5/8 " edging.

Step 4: Re-Attaching the Hardware

Next, you are going to take your original hardware and put it back on the new collar structure. This means that you are going to be bringing metal and plastic parts near your sewing machine, so please pay attention that you don't run over anything with your sewing needle - it could be dangerous (not to mention disastrous!) There are four parts to the collar I had: The female end of the collar buckle, the male end of the collar buckle, the sliding adjustment, and the jump ring. The jump ring can be connected after the collar is constructed. The other parts cannot.

First, you will take the sliding adjustment and make a 1/2" loop of your fabric around part of it. Pin it if desired (I didn't see a need to). Take this part through your machine. I used a straight stitch. Next, flip it over so the hem is on the inside, and thread the female end of your buckle onto the collar. Now, bring the strip of fabric around and back through the sliding adjustment on the other side.

Take the female end of the buckle and make the 1/2" loop that you did through the adjustment, in the same way. Double check that the buckles line up by clipping them together. Once you are sure you have the right side on the outside, sew the hem on the inside. Re-attach the jump rings, and you have a new collar!

Note: If your pet is rough on their collars (Leopold, my parent's cat, loves to try and remove his), make the collar thicker or add a bit of interfacing to make the collar a little sturdier.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Sajou Love

Oh, how I have fallen in love with all things Sajou. Sajou is a sewing notions and supply company based in France. In truth, anything with European history, especially textile history, I adore endlessly. After seeing the recent addition of their line of thread to the Purl Bee (the ladies of whom are responsible for these lovely photographs, please click the link to see more!)

I have a particular weakness for animal-shaped scissors, apparently -- I recently was given a pair of golden crane embroidery scissors from a dear friend, and I adore them. I even someday hope to get a tattoo of them. But when I saw these little rabbit-shaped scissors, my heart stopped. Too bad they are so difficult to come by - I only have seen them on The Purl Bee, and not even the Sajou site seems to sell them. edit: BagSmith, a distributor of Sajou, contacted me, and their website carries these scissors! They are labeled 'Hare Scissors'!

They make the most lovely embroidery threads, too, all lined up on little cards in a box. I have, however, quite an extensive collection of embroidery threads already, and see no need to upgrade. Sometimes, I suppose, it's okay just to love something because it's pretty.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Project Potential

I've been reading the book Stuff, by Randy O. Frost. It seems that, like the media, I've also become a little morbidly fascinated by hoarding and hoarders - what makes them, what breaks them down, why they do what they do. The idea of living in a mess caused by your own devices -- an inability to say no to what you want and don't need, or connecting to things more than people -- both baffles and intrigues me. Sometimes, I worry that as a knitter I may someday accumulate more things than I can possibly contain in a single space, and it will suddenly spill out into the rest of my life and the world will look at my stashes of fabric, yarn, and fiber, and say: "How could she possibly have thought she would use all these things?"

The truth is, that I've found something strangely resonate within the words of the hoarders on the pages of this book -- while I don't seem to match the tendencies that are more dangerous within them, I do match the tendency to look at a raw material and wonder at the potential of it. I say to myself quite often, imagine what I could make with that. Of course, my obsession, if you could call it that, doesn't extend to the mundane and destroyed. I don't collect metal buckets with holes in them, or single pieces of mini-blinds, or table legs..... I collect things that I see as infinitely useful, but only within the realms of their restrictions. I can make cloth things with fabrics. I can make cloth things with yarns. I can make yarns with fibers. And I find enjoyment out of all of them.

I have been doing a little bit of comfort stashing, as of late, being that I am getting ready to move (out to Lexington, Kentucky). One of my favorite accumulations recently was a 4 ounce 'bump' of the Hello Yarn Club's Fiber, "Seasick". The fiber is Corriedale, a very strong but soft wool that will be wonderful for nearly anything I should choose to make with it.

I also recently connected with a very sweet woman on Ravelry, who is expecting a baby! She's getting ready to take her first quilting class but I offered to make something for her, quilt-wise, using the Heather Ross Far Far Away II set in her favorite colors. She sent me the fabric in the mail and I really adore the ones she chose. Such sweet, perfect fabrics for a family start.

They go suspiciously well with the Seasick, don't you think?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Inspired by: Reytan Jewelry

I first spotted a few pieces on Color Collective, which had used one of Denise Julian Reytan's necklaces in a color post, but when I went to the Reytan site I fell in love not only with the fantastic, artistic interpretations of jewelry, but the bright photography style. You know I love color. How could I not share these here?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Handspun Hankerchiefs

They aren't hankerchiefs, really, but I'm a sucker for alliteration. They are, however, made from handspun! Just some sweet summer finished objects so that you guys know I've been doing something with my time! Details on Ravelry, for those of you who knit.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Manzanilla Olive

While I was at Malabrigo, I had the amazing opportunity (or should I say, I had the resources) to work on some new colors for the color cards in Twist and Silky. One color I had in mind to add to the Malabrigo resume was inspired by something I had seen at home here in the US - a vibrant, rich yellow-green. The staff at Malabrigo Yarns were eager to help me realize the dream to have yarn in this color, and we even sent it to TNNA on the color cards for Twist and Silky -- Manzanilla Olive.

On the colorcard, this colorway sits between Frank Ochre and Lettuce in hue and intensity. It has the sort of mustard bitterness of Frank Ochre with just a touch of green, allowing even those who detest yellow on themselves, but love yellow or Frank Ochre as a colorway, to try something different on their complexions.

As a gift, the company sent me ten skeins of Manzanilla Olive, my colorway, in Twist, which is an aran-weight, plied yarn made of super-soft merino wool. If you would like to enter to win the skein pictured with Thusa (who greatly approves this colorway) above, just leave a message in the comments! You have until September 1 to enter.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Interview on The Diamond Blog

I have been pretty busy settling in back here at home, but I did take the time to do an interview with Diamond Yarn's blog writer about my experiences at Malabrigo! If you'd like to read it, the interview can be found here. There are more posts coming soon -- I've been busy blocking some of the projects I finished up in Uruguay and working on a few more here at home!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Sheep Week - Adios, Los Manantiales!

It was such a pleasure to visit the farm! I really connected with the family who runs it. Someday, I would love to spend time on sabbatical at a sheep farm, just waking up every day with the sun and riding horses and learning how to be a gaucho. While not really a pipe dream, I'm sure that the rosy halo I've surrounded farm life with has it's ups and downs, just like everywhere else, and in the end I am happy to do what I do, and live where I live.

After leaving, we had a two hour drive back to the city, followed by another four hour bus trip through the night. Someday, I hope I can return to Paysandu.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sheep Week - Ponies and Pastures

Right before I left Lost Manantiales, the sheep farm, I got to see the largest herd of breeding ewes in Uruguay - 3,200 of the 6,200 sheep on this farm are breeding ewes!

I had originally thought it was a close pasture where these ewes were housed, and suggested that we ride out there. After a few minutes on a horse, though, it was pretty evident that a) the horse didn't want to do anything I wanted to do, and b) if they let me ride the horse out to the pasture, it would take a million years and I would probably be pretty sore.

So instead, they let me ride around in a few circles and then we took the car. Gotta love modern technology, huh?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sheep Week - Commenter Questions

I think I have gotten more comments in the last 24 hours than I have on any other posts ever in my year of writing this blog! Me thinks some of you are out to get prizes ;)

But it was fun reading all of your questions and I figure I could answer a few here quick before tomorrow's Sheep Week post!

What kinds of plants grow between the rocks that the sheep eat?
A: The sheep eat mostly grasses and weed plants, the Uruguayan equivalents of things like clover and buttercups.

How cold is it currently there?
A: The weather here right now is in the middle of winter, so it can range between 30 F and 55 F, sometimes it's been as warm as 60 F.

Are fleeces from rams and ewes used equally in yarn production?
A: Yes, at least, that's my impression. But there are far more ewes than rams.

Are the tips of the fleeces naturally colored darker? Or are the sheep just dirty?
A: The sheep are just dirty. They live in large herds their whole lives and here in Uruguay the weather is not cold enough for them to need a barn, so they sleep outside. They don't really roll around much, but they live very packed in together and I am sure they get each other dirty. All the baby lambs are white as snow.

Sheep Week - The Sheep

After warming up by the fire, Juan took me out to meet the sheep. They have a special system to mark all the sheep by color and micron count and size and breeding -- some of the sheep are artificially inseminated, others aren't, and that changes the mark on the back of the flank (red, or blue that washes off when they clean the fleeces) -- micron quality is designated by marks on the sheep's nose and head. Two blue marks for super fine, one blue mark for fine. The sheep with two blue marks are the best of the best.

My favorite part about meeting the sheep was how the gauchos really didn't expect me to stay in the pen with them while they wrangled the rams around. They figured, I guess, that I should be more worried about getting possibly headbutted, and that I would probably stand on the other side of the fence. But everyone else was in the pen, and I needed to see things up close, too. So when one of the rams tried to stare me down, I didn't even flinch. I'd like to imagine this was impressive, but more than likely everyone missed it.

The rams are far more interesting than the ewes, though they still pile in the furthest corner like frightened children and push so close to each other that they might risk suffocation. I guess there's no such thing as a claustrophobic sheep. The gauchos would grab the rams by the horns and pull them forward away from the herd, a stubborn, difficult task. Then, someone would rifle through their fleece and show me the best sections of the micron. Micron samples are taken like core samples - a circular disc of fiber is removed from the center of the fleece (don't worry, it doesn't even touch the animal), and used to count the microns, or waves that designate fine-ness, in the fibers. On average, the micron count near the shoulder of the sheep is lower, and the fleece near the tail and on the belly is higher. Lower is good. Very good. This farm has won a lot of awards, so the fleeces were beautifully white, in most cases, and the micron counts low. We saw one ram that was around 14, and he was already a year old. You don't usually see something like that after the first fleecing.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sheep Week - The Farm

After meeting with the cattle rancher, we got back in the little SUL (Secretariat Uruguayan Lana) Fiat and headed towards the farm. I suppose I shouldn't have been too surprised when we turned off the road entirely and began driving through fields, but I will admit to some trepidation when Marcel decided to send the Fiat through a low creek. I don't think the car's makers had this kind of activity in mind for it -- perhaps a Jeep 4x4 would be a better choice for SUL drivers!

We began the rumbling ride towards the main buildings of the farm, and I watched out the fogged windows (it was very cold outside) as the land grew wilder, little stands of eucalyptus trees, once planted by the farm's original owners, grown tall and numerous in the centers of the flat landscape. The buildings for the farm are surrounded by stone fences, hand-stacked from when the land was tilled for use many, many years ago. Ignacio told me that these fences are a mark of an old farm, and show that the people who live there know what they are doing. Often, they have been sheep farming their whole lives.

We rolled up to an old barn and Juan, the lead herder and owner of the farm, came out to greet us, a dog at his heels. He lead us down to the main house, through a path of fruit trees and stone walls, outdoor fireplaces and flowering (even in winter) plants. It was utterly gorgeous. When we got in, his mother came to greet us, ushering us in to take off our boots and have coffee or mate by the fireplace, which was roaring and warm. She talked to me quite a bit about my knitting -- she knits herself, and had even made me a scarf from some local handspun.

Tomorrow: Meeting the Sheep!