Phat Fiber Unboxing

Several months back, I tried to get a Phat Fiber Box, but I was little slow on the mouse, and even though I saw the listing go up, I wasn’t able to get one for myself.

Last weekend, I tried again, and, this time, I got it.

What’s a Phat Fiber Box, you ask? The quick description is that it’s a box full of fiber, yarn, and notions samples. (The longer explanation can be found on the Phat Fiber site.) Every box contains a different assortment of contributions, and you can choose whether you want a box with spinning fiber samples with no finished yarn, a box with finished yarn samples and no spinning fiber, or the classic mixed box. It’s a great chance to try out new-to-you vendors so you can blow more money on Etsy find fabulous fiber arts folks. Every month has a different theme, and November 2012 is “Harvest Festival”.

I went for the classic mixed box. I let my daily spindle practice slide long ago, and I’d like to get back in the habit. The box arrived on Wednesday, and it did not disappoint.

Want to see?

Phat Fiber Box
Such an unassuming little box


Phat Fiber
Still unassuming, but I like the green gingham tissue


Phat Fiber
All the things!


The samples fall into three categories: spinning fluff, yarn, and goodies.

First, the fluff, clockwise from top left: Inspiration Fibers, Fiber Fancy, Giffordables, The Painted Tiger, BeesyBee Fibers, Wonderland Fiber, Fiber Faire, Huckleberry Knits, and HilltopCloud.

Phat Fiber
Click through for Flickr notes!


Then, the yarn, clockwise from top left: Lady Dye Fiber Arts, StimpyLab, R.A.D. Fibers, Little Alice’s Yarn Stash, The One String, Wandering Wool, Sheep Dreamery, and Plum Crazy Ranch and Fiber Art.

Phat Fiber
Click through for Flickr notes!


And the goodies, clockwise from left: GloriaPatre, The Contented Knitter, Cofanetto, and R.A.D. Fibers, plus cards from Phatties not in my assortment.

Phat Fiber
Click through for Flickr notes!


It’s a great assortment. Now, to go add some shops to my bookmarks start trying out these samples!


Fear not, my yarn-wrangling friends, Points West has not been given entirely over to the running. (Actually, I haven’t run since Halloween. Since I’m registered for another half-marathon in late February, this is less than ideal.) It’s just that all the knitting I’ve been doing lately has been unbloggable. But you can now see two of those recent projects in the latest Knit Picks catalog: the Inferno socks and the Burst socks, both patterns available as IDP selections. Have I mentioned how much I enjoy doing those catalog samples? I get to try out different yarn lines and new patterns, and I don’t have to figure out what to do with the finished object. And I get paid for knitting. It’s kind of awesome.

When I haven’t been knitting up catalog samples, I’ve been frantically working on K’s poor neglected Christmas stocking. Yes, the one that should have been done for last Christmas. If I want it to be done for this Christmas, I absolutely have to finish the stitching by early December, so I can hand it off to K’s co-worker, who has graciously done the sewing-together part of the two previous stockings for me, and get it back before their Winter Vacation starts. I realized recently that in the entire chart, there are no blank squares. Every single little square on the front of that stocking has some sort of stitch in it.

K's Stocking in Progress
Argh! Faceless Santa!

While I’ve been cross-stitching and knitting up projects that come with their own yarn, my stash has been mysteriously multiplying. I accidentally caught two Wollmeise updates over at the Loopy Ewe (twitter can be a dangerous thing, my friends). I kept the yarn out on my desk for a while, just so I could admire it. And then I decided to clean my desk. When I went to put away the yarn, I discovered that the stash bins were completely full.  I honestly have no idea when that happened.

And yet, yarn keeps arriving. Saturday, I came home from the CLC Fall Gala (which was fabulous) to find a package waiting for me. It was the final TLE Club shipment for 2010, a package I had been awaiting since getting a spoiler about it on Ravelry during last year’s club.

Final 2010 TLE Club
The Best Club Package Ever

I knew the blue Bugga! was coming – that was the spoiler I saw, and it was what sealed my decision to go for the second year option in the Club. I didn’t know about the Entrelac stitch markers. I love Entrelac stitch markers. I bought some directly from her site early last year, and I use them all the time. Also, I am utterly torn between the cabled hat and the lacy socks.

You know, since the yarn bins are full, I think I might just have to wind up this yarn and make something out of it right away. I know, you’re very sad for me.

New Yarn!

Just when I was feeling apathetic about my knitting, these showed up in the mail:

Mini Skeins!

Little bitty skeins of yarn from the Impatient Knitter 4.0 swap.

I love that one person put a label on. I wish I’d done that. Somewhere out there are two knitters with tiny little 5-ounce skeinlets of Wollmeise who don’t even know it.

I’m pretty sure that the blue/white/silver skeinlet at the bottom right is one of mine – Yarn Pirate merino/tencel in “Icicle”. See? Without labels, I’m not even positive which one was from my own submissions!

Around and Around and Around

Look, I made yarn!

A Little Bit of Handspun

It’s about 10 yards, worsted to bulky weight, 2-ply Coopworth from that class I took at Stitches West.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it, though. Maybe a scarf for Lil Miss’ Addy doll.

We didn’t really cover finishing the yarn in class.  (I’m sure it’s in the notes packet we got.)  I soaked it in cold water, and now I’ve read that you’re supposed to dunk it in hot water to set the twist. Spinners out there: Do I need to soak it again?

I am finding spinning very satisfying (when it isn’t making me want to throw my spindle across the room in frustration). This is good, since I already seem to be building up a nice stash of roving.

Roving Stash

And I keep “window shopping” on etsy. Next thing you know, there’ll be a spinning wheel in my den. And possibly a sheep in my yard. At least then we wouldn’t have to worry about mowing the lawn, I guess.

What’s Cooking

K came into the kitchen early this morning to find me with a couple of pots heating up on the stove.

“What are you cooking?” she asked.

“Yarn,” I said.

I think she was a little disappointed. Especially after discovering that I managed to avoid boiling the pot over again, so I was unlikely to scrub the stove again.

Kool-Aid Pot

I decided that I didn’t like the colors of Cascade 220 I had on hand for the jackalope’s ears and paw pads. Also, I really wanted to try some Kool-Aid dyeing. And, I’ve decided that I want to knit up a baby jackalope, too, and I needed more brown yarn.

I’m fascinated by the way the water turns clear as the yarn soaks up the dye in the Kool-Aid pot. Tea dyeing leaves you a (big, strong, yarny) pot of tea after removing the yarn.

Yarn Drying

My yarn hanks are drying in the yard at the moment. I’ve finished the body and legs of the jackalope, so I need to get going on those paw pads.  This batch of tea dyeing gave me a much darker yarn, which is kind of neat. The red yarn is the result of 4 packages of strawberry Kool-Aid mix. I would have liked it lighter – I probably should have tried to get some of the Pink Lemonade flavor. Maybe next time.


For the last couple of months, I’ve been engaging in a little experiment. At the end of August, I challenged myself to avoid purchasing any yarn until my birthday (at the end of January). When I decided to go to Stitches West, I moved the goal posts to the first day of Stitches.

And then Jenny of Stash and Burn talked about Cold Sheeping, a great term for Not Buying Yarn. This was prompted by a Cold Sheep thread on the Ravelry group, which I finally got around to reading right after buying a sock kit at a farm in October. Technically, K bought it for me, and I wasn’t even trying to weasel out of my own challenge! (Also, I’m knitting the socks for K’s classroom, anyway.)

I made two exceptions to the No Buying Yarn rule: (1) the Loopy Ewe Sock Club packages, which bill for each shipment rather than up front, and which I committed to back in the Spring, and (2) a possible extension of the Tempted @ 3AM club, which did take an upfront payment, and I can’t tell you how nifty it is to get yarn in the mail that you paid for so long ago it’s like the yarn is coming for free.

Other than that, I’ve been knitting out of my stash. Meanwhile, people have been confessing their falls off the Cold Sheep Wagon. So, I wanted to share a Cold Sheep Success Story.

It started out with me wanting to knit up a Jackalope for K. It was supposed to be a surprise, but that’s another tale. The stumbling block was a lack of rabbit-colored yarn. I have several single skeins of Cascade 220 in red, orange, green, and blue, but no brown or gray. But I do have something: several skeins of white (which I didn’t want to use for the body, because I want to use white for the horns; also, a jackalope is a desert animal, not a snow animal!) and a whole lot of tea.

I brewed a really big pot of tea:

Giant Pot o'Tea

That’s an 8-quart pot (not quite full) and 12 bags of Tetley’s British Blend.

Meanwhile, I soaked a hank of white Cascade 220 in my favorite pasta pot:


Once the tea boiled (over, in fact, which is why I ended up scrubbing the stovetop, which might have made K happier than the finished jackalope will), I pulled out the teabags and very gently added the wet yarn:

In the Pot

And then I waited. I waited about half an hour, but it was still steaming, so I left it until steam stopped coming off of it, then very carefully poured off some of the tea into the sink until I could even more carefully take out the yarn and rinse it under the faucet. I rinsed with warm water until it ran clear, gently squeezed out some of the water, wrapped it in my old Swim Team towel (it’s old, and also dark blue, effectively hiding any tea stains), and finally hung it up to dry in my backyard:

Hanging Up to Dry

I left it there all day, then brought the nearly dry yarn inside to hang over a chair back overnight. The next morning, I took a comparison photo with some white yarn exactly like the original:

Before and After

It came out a very nice desert rabbit brown, I think. And I didn’t even need a separate set of pots.

I’ve been alternating working on the jackalope with working on my third second Zig-Zag Diamonds sock. Progress on the sock is slow, but I’ve turned the heel and picked up the pattern for the foot in the right place this time. At this point, I really just want to be done with it.

Where I’ve Been, Part II

My Conference Schedule – a masterpiece of planning that involved the official Event Planner, my datebook, a bunch of printed e-mails, and an Excel spreadsheet – got all messed up quite quickly. A program I’d been looking forward to on Saturday afternoon was canceled, leaving me with a block of free time. I hopped a shuttle bus to the hotels and went for a walk.

I walked by Millennium Park, home of a fountain I had just seen on Samantha Brown’s Great Weekends:


Y’know, I lived in Chicago for the first half of the year 2000, and this whole Millennium Park business hadn’t even been built yet.

I ogled the architecture, one of the things I miss:


I have no idea what that building is.

And I made my way down to Loopy Yarns, where my Only Buy Things You Can’t Get At Home rule allowed me to buy two skeins of Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock in Loopy’s exclusive colorway. (Also, a pen with a tape measure on it and a Stix Fix kit.)

Lorna's Laces Loopy

I was really surprised by how small the selection of Lorna’s Laces was, since it’s a local dyer. I would have loved to pick up some Helen’s Lace, but I learned that Loopy recently stopped carrying it. Bummer.

I was also a little surprised that the prices on Shepherd Sock were higher than the prices at my LYS, which are already a little higher than MSRP. And that’s before Chicago’s crazy taxes.

Since I went to Loopy on Saturday, I didn’t make it there on Sunday. Instead, on Sunday, I took a trip up to my old neighborhood. I admired the rainbow pylons:


True story: when I rented my Chicago apartment over a quick trip as an about-to-graduate college senior, I had no idea that I was a block east of Boystown. Then, the day I moved in, my dad I drove past these pylons.

After a stroll down Memory Lane North Halstead, I went to my favorite restaurant for lunch. You can’t get these vegetable rolls anywhere else (except their other location in Chicago):

Spring Roll

I also popped into my favorite bookstore for a copy of The Graveyard Book, which I wanted to have signed, and my old hardware store, where I finally found some of those vinyl caps that (when combined with stretchy cord) make fantastic dpn holders. Finally, I headed up to Arcadia Knitting, where I was seriously disappointed (again!) in the tiny selection of Lorna’s Laces. I debated buying some LL Angel in the “Go Bears!” colorway, but I don’t see myself knitting angora anytime soon. Alas, I left empty-handed.

A Package From Pfaffenhofen

A while back, the Loopy Ewe started selling this lovely sock yarn from Germany.  It had intense colors and fantastic yardage, and everybody wanted it.  “Sneak-ups” disappeared in minutes, people stayed up all night refreshing their browser screens in hopes of catching a few skeins, and there was much drama.  Updates to the dyer’s personal online shop also went quickly, despite the higher shipping costs.

I confess, I was part of the “F5 Crowd” several times, but never managed to snag a skein from TLE.  After the third (or so) batch that went up while I was commuting, I bought two skeins off of fellow Loopy Groupies.  One skein became the Veronica Lace Cardigan:

Veronica Sweater

The other I held on to for quite a while, searching for the perfect pattern.  It is now slated to become the Entomology shawl, and I was feeling a bit sad as I strung the beads, wishing I had a bit more of the elusive Wollmeise.

And then it happened. I caught two updates in a row of the online German shop. The first package arrived yesterday. Inside a padded white airmail envelope was a cute brown/mauve bag.

Outside of the Wollmeise Package

Inside the brown bag, two skeins of yarn and a packet of Gummi Bears.

Inside the Wollmeise Package

The yarn is lovely.  Both skeins are 100% Superwash Merino.  Fliederbusch, on the left, is a deep purple that my camera has great difficulty capturing.  Vroni, on the right, is a blend of black and brown.

Wollmeise Package

I have a few more skeins coming in the next week or so.  And then the hunt for the perfect pattern begins once more.

Stashin’ on Sunday

Friday afternoon, this arrived on my doorstep:

Sappho I

Sanguine Gryphon Sappho I in “There You Are”, a lovely muted blend of blues and purples. That picture does not do it justice. I attempted to make a DIY Macro Studio out of a cardboard box and waxed paper, but I am having difficulty with the lighting source. Direct sunlight is clearly not bright enough. Out from under the waxed paper, the direct sun is too bright. I am still working on it.

I bought that skein from Gryphon’s online shop, along with a copy of the pattern for Call of the Sirens, and two bars of soap. Gryphon usually includes a little sample bit of soap in her packages. My first order from her (the yarn for the Chicago Illusion blanket) came with a bit of clove-scented soap.

I am building up a bit of a laceweight yarn stash to complement my sock yarn stash.

I’m looking forward to doing a bit of vacation stash enhancement next weekend, when I’m in Chicago for the ALA Conference.  I’m planning to be at Loopy Yarns around 12 Noon on Sunday (7/12) and Arcadia Knitting around 12 Noon on Tuesday (7/14). Going to be there, too? Drop me a comment! I hear there’s a Knit Night at Loopy Yarns on Friday evenings; I won’t be in town early enough to take part in that.

One Pomatomus, Two Skeins

I finished the first Pomatomus sock while watching Rachel Maddow last night, but a picture will have to wait for the weekend. I manage to finish kitchenering the toe right at the spot I’d marked as the halfway point of the ball. But when I weighed my sock, then weighed the remaining yarn (all on my trusty Weight Watchers scale; at least it’s getting some use), I seem to have used 1 more gram on the sock than I have left.

Here’s the frustrating thing: I think I’d actually prefer a shorter leg. But the idea of ripping out the first sock and doing it all over again fills me with dread. I’d rather knit up the second sock with what’s left and take the chance of having to do the last couple of rounds with a different yarn.

Speaking of yarn (and aren’t we always, really?), Stacy of Tempted Hand Painted Yarns, well, tempted me over Plurk with new colorways of Glam Grrl. I was helpless to resist, I tell you. And then these lovely things showed up on my doorstep a few days later:

Tempted Glam
Red Diamond

Tempted Glam

One of these days, I’ll get my hands on some Branded in Glam Grrl. But that day is not today.