Tag Archives: yarn

Mermaid Yarn (thought process)

I’m going to ramble about yarn. Brace yourself.

I’ve ordered the tail yarn for the mermaid for the pattern example. Berroco Espresso – this time I got Pistachio. I’m waiting to see it in person before I order the rest of the yarn for her top, skin, and hair. Espresso is a 50/50 cotton/acrylic. This violates my “earth-healthy yarn” code. I’m using it anyway because it is a) perfect and b) novelty yarns are typically a compromise. While a hand-dyed wool would work beautifully, I’m trying to find readily available yarns for the Mermaid. She’s such a mix of yarn types, I don’t want people struggling to make her ‘look like the picture’ because they can’t get ahold of the yarn I used.

Her skin color is problematic. Once you factor in a less popular yarn weight (chunky) and my earth-healthy preferences for fiber…there’s not a lot left. I’d like a smooth organic cotton (not a fluffy one like I use for animals). It would be nice if I recommended a yarn that didn’t need doubling and one that is relatively easy to find (not a custom yarn from Etsy). Finding skin tones is just tricky anyway. Everything is dyed in beautiful, bright, clear colors right now. There are very few browns, tans, neutrals, or whatever the pale shades are called (haha ‘ecru’) available right now. I may end up with Pakucho held double. I’ve ordered a sample card so I can see it in person. Pakucho is color grown cotton which means lots of cinnamon, olive, and tans. Unfortunately no dark browns, but I’ll keep looking. I have to use a lighter yarn for the pattern example so that the stitches show up in the pictures, but people come in all kinds of colors! A doubled worsted does give people more options to fine turn their mermaid’s pigment so this might actually be better than a chunky that’s only available in a couple colors.

Are you following my thought process? All that to say, I will go with doubled, non-organic cotton yarn if one has a variety of ‘neutral’ shades. If anybody has a suggestion? I’ll include other recommendations in the pattern notes no matter what I actually knit her with.

P.S. Ruth has pointed out a couple South African yarns that look great but don’t have retailers in the US yet: Nurturing Fibre and Vinni’s Colours. I don’t mind international shipping, but neither of the companies has color cards with the yarns actually attached. It’s a big gamble to take if you’re trying to match colors, so I’m not ordering for the Mermaid I’ll keep you posted (Nurturing Fiber is first on my list: bamboo/cotton chunky).

Inside the Box

I ordered a globe for Ellie. We made sneaky boxes for the cats with the packaging.

sneaky box

Big hit.

Speaking of boxes, I’ve put together three destash boxes.

Just like that, my table is cluttered again.

At first I thought I’d send them off for the price of shipping to whoever wanted them, but this morning I found out that my town’s no-kill shelter is full to the brim. I’m going to use the de-stash as a little bit of a fundraiser. Each box has around $100 worth of yarn in it. So. I’m selling each box for $30: $15 for shipping (large flat rate boxes) and $15 for the North Baldwin Animal Shelter. I’ll match each of the $15 Shelter Donations. When all the boxes are sold, that’ll be $90 for the critters.

I’m not going to tell you specifically what is in each box, where’s the fun in that? Not everything has its label and a few skeins are wound into balls. Everything has been stored in my smoke-free but cat friendly home (the yarn was not stored with or near any cats).

Sock Box: has enough yarn for at least 13 pairs of socks. All the yarn is wool or wool blend. There is self-striping, nearly solid, some well-known brands, some fancy brands, most (if not all) is superwash. SOLD

Wool and Company Box: there is all kinds of fun stuff including some Noro, baby alpaca, handspun and a skein or two of hand dyed worsted. It’s a fun mix if you’d like to try something new. There is no sock yarn in this box. SOLD

Creature-Free Box: There are some unusual fibers, well-known brands, sock yarn and enough Euroflax Linen to make the hand towels in Mason-Dixon Knitting. SOLD

Well, that was fast! Thank you all SO MUCH, I’ll get the boxes on their way tomorrow.

I very much sincerely hope that I made those buttons correctly. If I didn’t, I know all about how to issue a refund. **Edited to Add: I did NOT make those buttons correctly, but I was lucky enough to realize it before I had to make more than one refund. I’ll figure that out better before I try it again.**

A Yarn Storage Miracle (where my week went)

I have a craft room. My very own space. It holds my beads, pipe cleaners, felt, stuffing, most of my books, paper, stamps, paints, adhesives and lots and lots of yarn. Until last week it looked like this:

the horror

You’d think that with two closets, two bookcases and a cabinet…

It was so full and so messy that I was forced to take my laptop and move out. Here’s a detail of the table just to illustrate the horror of the situation:

up close

That’s the desk in back. I’ve relocated to the kitchen writing desk.

I never meant for it to be like this. For nine years I’ve wanted a set of cubbies. For a year and a half I have been actively trying to buy them. They were always OUT OF STOCK! Three months ago, my Dad made two trips to the store to get a set of cubbies that were actually in stock. They were on a high shelf that no one was allowed to access with customers in the store. (???!!!) For two months my cubbies have been in my folks’ garage. Dad came for a visit last week and my cubbies (assembly required) came with him. We put them together while Ellie was at preschool and now my craft room looks like this:


The empty cubby is for cat naps.

Let’s see it from another angle because it is truly amazing.


To the left, there is a freestanding bookcase filled with my art books.

I’ve also done a little bit of a destash as part of the renovations. I’ve got a fair amount of yarn that needs some help meeting it’s knitted destiny: hats, scarves, one-skein projects, I have an embarrassment of sock yarn, patterns in the Oddball Knitting book. I thought I’d make up a couple surprise boxes and share them for the price of shipping. If you’re interested in Mystery Box Stash Enhancement, keep an eye out over the next few days.

My Random Number Generator is napping now. I’ll have some Mindful Fiber results for you within 24 hours.

As a total aside, I absolutely and completely love my home! There are seven fireplaces (none work because of honey bee and wasp defensive strategy, but it’s also 80°F for 80% of the year so whatever). The house belonged to my great grandparents and Great Gran (my regular grandmother. if you’re new here: think of the ‘great’ as a superlative) is my landlady. I’m not sure things can get better.

Need v. Want

I’m working on the Rabbit and Mystery Patterns. And a couple little things for my sadly neglected toy shop.

But what I WANT to be doing working on the Cat. Because, seriously, this is some of the nicest yarn I have ever touched.


So very soft.

SpinSpanSpun, spun and dyed it just for me. Luscious.

One other thing I’ve been thinking about lately. Dish Rag Tag. The response to my little survey was Enthusiastic, but not Overwhelming. So I think we’ll have a race with 10 teams of 10 (100 total knitters).

To those of you who have never heard of Dish Rag Tag: Welcome new readers! For the past four years I have run a dish cloth knitting relay race with the help of Priority Mail to pass the baton (box) from knitter to knitter across the United States! You can catch up the rules in this post from last year’s race.

I should start working on the Official Pattern of Dish Rag Tag.

But what I WANT to be doing is working on the Cat.

Love the Sheep (and goats and alpacas and…)

I’ve been struggling a little searching for yarns for the new batch of patterns I’m working on. I’d like to feature all the animals in two yarns (worsted and bulky) per pattern. I’d also like to highlight yarns from ‘independent’ spinners as well as a more commercially available yarns. Can you think of a better reason to try new yarns? This is harder than you would think – especially since I am mindful of the living conditions of the animals (and worms) that produce the fiber I use.

I came across this post this morning and thought to share it. She has a lengthy list of happy farms and spinners at the bottom that is going to be invaluable.

Also, if anybody has a “kind fiber” tip or if you spin or dye fiber and you know where it came from, share away!


The Miracle Household is blessed with an overabundance of t-shirts. When I can no longer close Michael’s shirt drawer, he weeds out the ones he doesn’t wear and sorts them into two piles: dust rags and memorabilia. As an individual who neglects house work with such natural ability (I’m thinking of turning pro), I only need so many dust cloths.

So what do I do?

What any knitter would do: make yarn.

wound yarn

It’s actually not that hard.

First, find yourself some t-shirts. Qualifications: no side seams, minimal decoration. Stitching and ink will keep the jersey from doing the curling trick. You’ll need a ruler, scissors and one of those disappearing ink fabric markers (in a pinch, and if you don’t care about permanence, ball point pen also works).

cat in the shirts

Cat is optional.

Cut the bottom of a t-shirt straight across under the arm holes (or under the printing) and slice off the bottom hem. You now have a loop of fabric with two raw edges. (You also have a cropped shirt that would have been awesome in the 80s and a way to restrain prisoners. But for knitting purposes, you only need the loop.)

Flatten the loop into a rectangle as best you can, smoothing out the wrinkles, and arrange it with the raw edges to the left and right. Fold the loop in half so that the bottom edge rests about an inch beneath the top edge.

fold over

This is so you don’t have to try and cut straight for two feet.

Now, you don’t have to get out the T-square and go all crazy precise with this next part, just be as neat as you can. Using the ruler and fabric pen, make marks one inch apart along the bottom edge and then along the edge that used to be the bottom edge.

tick marks

Any width is fine, but don’t try smaller than 1/2inch: it breaks.

Get your scissors and cut strips from bottom mark to top mark. Be careful to clip through the marked top edge, but not all the way through the inch of buffer at the top of the fabric. The object is to make one continuous strip of t-shirt – not a bunch of loops.


William Henry, mind your own business!

When you’re finished, it folds out into a hula skirt.


Which gives me another idea for another time.

Now comes the trickiest part.

Open it all out so that you can isolate the inch margin where the strips are still hooked together. You want to make sure not to cut anything but the margin in this next step. Make diagonal cuts from one strip to the next.


Once you get the first one made, the rest are easy.

Then you’ve got a big spaghetti mess that needs to be wound into a ball. As you’re winding, give the strip a nice stretch. It’ll do it’s jersey trick and curl right up.


Jersey is just tiny tiny stockinette after all.

And you’ve got yarn! With 1″ cuts, I got about 26 yards from each large and extra large shirt.

Slice up a pile of white tees and you could make a garter stitch bath mat. Or if you have a bunch of colors, why not try a log cabin rug (Mason Dixon Knitting style). I made a toy, of course.


I’m a one trick pony these days.

I’ll never knit a t-shirt toy again. Knitting this stuff in a gauge small enough to conceal stuffing was rough on my wrists. This frog is one of a kind.

Next Earth Day, I’ll make a bath mat.

*Note: Cutting t-shirts into yarn isn’t my original idea by any stretch of the imagination. I’m sure there are a ton of tutorials out there much better than mine. If you find yourself saying “Whaaaa?” about my instructions, Google!