Wednesday, December 19, 2012


In Worry Christmas/Crappy New Year Grand Tradition, my employer's business has ground to a nearly complete standstill, and since it is not going to pick up in MY department before sometime in January, here I am at home again. Laid off. Going 'round the house in circles because I had already gotten accustomed to the rhythm of the work week even though I had been back at it only about a month. I suppose I wouldn't mind taking the time off if it came with a paycheck, but since it doesn't, it's a bummer. Big time.

Well, it's not like there isn't anything to do here at home. I have been dyeing silk to replenish the shop, and just finished and photographed my latest design: Mad Angel Creations Climbing Bamboo Cowl. I proofread the pattern over again, set it up as a PDF file, and uploaded it to my Ravelry store. Hopefully people will find it irresistible and buy many copies before the week is out.

Work peeps who may be reading this -- yes, this is the thing you last saw me knitting in the cafeteria at lunch.  I finished it this morning. Please excuse the fact that I am having not just a bad hair day, but a HIDEOUS hair day. Oh, and I do not, in fact, have one blue eye and one brown eye. Something weird happened with the camera flash, is all I can figure. What a bizarre effect!

Now here's the cowl all by itself.

And a close-up of the utterly fabulous stitch pattern, and my equally fabulous hand spun yarn in a Merino/Seacell blend.

So, I AM finding stuff to do during the down time, but seriously hoping the down time does not go on past mid-January...

Monday, November 5, 2012

Hurricane Relief

From now through Friday, November 30th, Mad Angel Creations will donate 20% of all sales to the American Red Cross for hurricane relief.

The shop is well-stocked, and there are a lot of nice things from which to choose.

So, treat yourself to some lovely yarn and/or fiber, and help someone in need at the same time.

Here's a peek at some new stuff, just listed!

Thanks for looking!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Use coupon code HAPPYHALLOWEEN
and receive 15 % off your entire order,
now through midnight on Sunday, Nov. 4th!
Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sayonara, Sandy!

Well, it appears we are safely past the crisis with Hurricane Sandy. Schools are still closed, but hubby's work place has re-opened, and life is beginning to go back to normal.

I did a lot of cooking early in the day, anticipating a power outage, so we would at least have one good meal and some treats before being left in the dark.

For the third time, I made a batch of my Storm Cookies. The first two times I made these in the face of a major storm (one Nor'easter and one Hurricane), we did not lose power, though many folks around us did. I hardly dared hope that this might work a third time, but it did. I now believe quite firmly in Storm Cookie Mojo.

I shared the blog page with the recipe among a group of friends on Ravelry, and am utterly gobsmacked at how many hits this blog got as a result! Not only that, a bunch of people also made them yesterday, in hopes of spreading more good mojo around to others caught in the storm's path.

Here's all we have left of mine.

Also, since we never lost power, I got a bunch of knitting done, and this morning I put the finishing touches on my second Westknits Rockefeller Shawl.

With the first one (pictured below) I ran short on my chosen yarns, as did a lot of other folks who made this when it was a Mystery Knit-Along. Even though I loved what I ended up doing to salvage the first one, I was determined that such a thing would not happen again, and so dyed more than enough of my own yarn for the project. (Onyx kettle-dyed, and Borealis hand-painted).

I have a dress that goes well with the first one, and also a black turtleneck dress that will be perfect to wear with the new shawl.

Now, I am officially suffering from post-project let-down, and need to find either something new and exciting to make, or finish one of my many works-in-progress...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Seasons - a new song

We've all had them. You know, those relationships and/or friendships that seem so fresh and vital while we're in the midst of them, and then one day, for no apparent reason, that oh-so-important person just -- disappears. Your phone messages go unreturned, and your e-mails and letters unanswered, and soon it feels like the thing never happened in the first place.

You think to yourself, was I crazy? Was I dreaming? Or worse still, I must have done something wrong.

You re-examine every written word that ever passed between you and that special person, and you find -- nothing. Or at least, nothing that would offend YOU, if you were that person.

Sometimes, one has to simply walk away, but me being me, I can never do that completely with anyone. Just like Motel 6, I'll leave the light on, and when the bulb burns out, I'll replace it as many times as necessary.

Whatever, whenever, I'm still here. Until...

Seasons come and seasons go;
Oh, how I wish it were mine to know
If we'd have years of seasons, or only a few
Passing in the blink of an eye.

What has become of you, my friend?
You've disappeared; will you return again?
Or are there one too many links
With the sorrowful past,
And in this world is anything ever
Destined to last?

Seasons come and seasons go;
Oh, how I wish it were mine to know
If we'd have years of seasons, or only a few
Passing in the blink of an eye.

The silence is deafening...
And I can't help feeling that this bodes ill,
And I'll wait for some word from you, until...

Seasons come and seasons go;
Oh, how I wish it were mine to know
If we'd have years of seasons, or only a few
Passing in the blink of an eye.

Time to journey on; maybe we'll meet again,
Or maybe this is really the end.
I'll pretend I'm tough enough to say goodbye,
Then I'll hide away alone and cry.

Seasons come and seasons go;
Oh, how I wish it were mine to know
If we'd have years of seasons, or only a few
Passing in the blink of an eye.

CP Warner
25 October 2012

Friday, October 19, 2012

Can't make it to Rhinebeck?

Well, I can't make it to Rhinebeck this year, either.
You are not alone.
Still need a yarn/fiber fix? Here ya go!
Link to shop is directly below the ad banner.
Thanks for looking!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Interior Color Changes

We finally painted over the ugly wood paneling in our front foyer. The color is brighter and golder than I could capture in the photographs, but it sure makes a huge difference!

The bureau belonged to my grandparents aeons ago, and various family members have been urging me to get rid of "that ugly old thing" for years. But you know what? I LIKE that "ugly old thing." It has an unusual shape, and now has a proper "distressed" look about it. It ought to look "distressed." It has been moved to various houses and apartments many times over the years. Steve finds it a handy place to perch whilst spying on the dogs.

And finally, my bedroom. Yes, it really is THAT purple. Now, to find all the knick-knacks and personal kitsch hubby put "in a box someplace," so the room doesn't look quite so bare. Also, need to switch the bureaus around. This one does NOT belong in this corner! Hubby asked to me to consider. Well, I looked, I considered, and I vetoed.

This coming weekend, we will hopefully finish the hallway, which is going to be a dark mossy green color.

Adding color is so exciting, after years of all the walls and trim being either cream-colored, or non-descript wood paneling!

Monday, September 10, 2012

More Teeswater

These are the last two Teeswater rovings for the moment. As soon as the order I just placed for more arrives, I'll be painting again, and listing. I'm really trying to resist the urge to just keep one of these for myself.

This is Red Hat Gal, in celebration of having turned 50 this year, even if I don't have time to get involved with the Red Hat Society.

And this one is Violets in the Grass. No one will make THESE violets disappear with a lawnmower!

Both of these are in the shop now.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Still Life with Cat, & some Dyed Teeswater

Steve decided to arrange himself on the kitchen table with the gorgeous eggplants we got from our garden yesterday. I have to confess, I arranged the eggplants around him for the best effect. Picturesque, isn't he?

Here he looks like he's wondering if he needs to kill them for me.

But no. That would be too much work. When in doubt, take a cat nap!

Friday I finally got around to painting some lovely Teeswater roving. I love, love, LOVE Teeswater! Longwool breeds are wonderful, but Teeswater is the best of them all. I tried combing and spinning some dyed locks over the summer, and thought the yarn came out really nice. So nice, in fact, that I am hanging on to it until exactly the right project comes to mind. It's really special stuff.

THEN I found out recently that sometimes one can get Teeswater in roving form, so I bought a pound. That seems a decent amount to invest in for dye experimentation, and just to see if the roving was as nice as those locks. Well! I haven't spun any of this yet, but I can imagine it would be much like spinning the locks, once pre-drafted and fluffed. The natural sheen of the wool is fabulous, and it sucked up the dye better than just about any roving I have ever hand painted. Needless to say, I ordered more to paint up, and will probably hold about four ounces back for myself. But what colorway to do for my own?

"Copper Blue," pictured below, is tempting. It seems to be a pretty popular colorway, too. I've sold it in various types of yarns, and a couple of different types of wool roving. (Bob Mould has an album of that title, with his band, Sugar, allegedly one of his/their best, but please do not mistake me for a fan. The roving is copper and blue, so the name suits the fiber well. But I am a tried and true Grant Hart Fan, as anyone who has read this blog more than once knows!)

Anyhoo, "Copper Blue" is still available at Mad Angel Creations, AND I am still running my Customer Appreciation Sale. Now through September 30th, use coupon code SEPTEMBER15 at the checkout, and you will receive 15% off your entire. Includes  EVERY EVERYTHING (hee-hee) in the shop, and as always, free shipping for US customers.

This one, "Borealis," sold within a half hour of being listed! I guess I'll be painting more like this when my next batch of Teeswater arrives. And until then...sigh....I'll just have to content myself with painting some superwash BFL and some superwash Merino....sigh...

Oh, and FYI -- they are all approximately 4 ounce rovings, give or take a few tenths of an ounce. Plenty to do a pair of socks, or a scarf, or fingerless gloves, or...???

Monday, September 3, 2012

My Next "Rockefeller" Shawl!

Well, the next Rockefeller is underway, and was, in fact, cast on the very day I took the first one off the needles and blocked it.

This is "Borealis Tweed Sock," my own hand-painted creation. It's a neat Merino yarn made up from one strand of superwash Merino, and one plain. The two fibers take up dye at different rates, which results in a lovely tweed effect. I painted two skeins, so this time I am guaranteed not to run short on my yarns, and won't have to go hunting for a complementary third color two-thirds of the way through the project.

This is all of Clue # 1, and a large portion of Clue # 2. Must say, I am really liking this colorway!

And here's a close-up shot. The black is the same base yarn as the multi-colored yarn, but it was kettle-dyed, not hand painted.

Am I bored, or even remotely sorry I started a second one hard on the heels of the first one? Heck, no! And if I do find myself getting even faintly bored, I am still working on the latest hat project, and have one more to go to complete the series. That, plus a bit of spinning now and then, should give me enough variation to save me from boredom. Not to mention that although there is a LOT of stockinette stitch in this shawl, there are also enough "pay 'tensh" rows to keep me on my toes!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Grant Hart's Exciting News!

I found this press release when I logged on to Facebook this morning. Best news ever! Grant has been working so hard on this album; now it won't be too much longer before we all get to hear it!

"To Whom It May Concern;

"After six months of negotiation I have reached an agreement with a successful worldwide independent record label. It is the only label that I even considered to be appropriate for my double concept album called "The Argument." An announcement from the label will be coming along soon.

"I will let on that this label has a bit in common with Chuck Berry's label and the label who put out Dion and the Belmonts. On the surface it may seem like a game, but there is a face behind the name. Hint, hint.

"Looking forward, Grant Hart."

For the most current information regarding concert schedules, streaming audio, and a nice selection of videos, check out Grant's page on ReverbNation.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

It was a challenge!

I love most of Stephen West's patterns. I am not alone. So, when this summer's Mystery Knit Along was announced, I bought the new pattern and chose my yarns. The shawl promised to be a beauty. With a carefree "ha-ha-ha" in the face of fate, I chose two yarns that were truly one of a kind and commenced knitting. One was a hand-painted yarn from a fellow Phat Fiber vendor, and one was my own handspun. I thought I had more than enough yardage, and knitted confidently through clues 1, 2, and 3, but when I hit clue 4...

Oh, it was one of those moments when a knitter's heart doesn't just sink. It plummets down through the center of your being, rips through the soles of your feet, and crashes through the floor beneath you.

The unthinkable had happened. I had run seriously short of yarn with only one "wing" and a few rows of the second completed.

Rip it all out and start with new yarns in repeatable colorways so I could buy more if I needed it? Oh, heavens forefend! That might make SENSE!

No, no, no! I will finish THIS shawl, in THESE colors,

A complementary third color and some stripe modifications, and a crocheted edging around the entire shawl in that third color, and voila! I does not look as odd as I feared it might.

Here's a close-up shot of the second "wing" with its modification. Not bad, eh?

And here's the shawl in its entirety. REALLY not bad. Not bad at all. I will wear this proudly!

Thank you for another great challenge, Stephen West! Plain and simple, sir: you rock!

Monday, August 27, 2012

New Fun Stuff!

I have some really cool new spinning fibers in the shop now. Mostly, they are (non-superwash) Merino and firestar combos, so nothing terribly unusual about the fiber content, but the colors are a whole 'nother story!

I spent part of the weekend spindle-spinning samples of the Sultan's Treasures. They really are pretty, and a dream to spin! I think I need to try and dye some more of these, since the Amethyst and Ruby colors sold out completely within a day or two of being listed! I still have plenty of Blue Tourmaline and Emerald, but this was a very small run. While I will be able to approximate the colors in future, I will never be able to duplicate them exactly. So if you like them, don't wait! When these are gone, they're gone.

The Sultan's Treasures -- Blue Tourmaline --
Kettle dyed Merino & firestar

The Sultan's Treasures -- Emerald --
Kettle dyed Merino & firestar 

Khadijah 2 -- Merino & dyed firestar

The Seventh Veil 2 -- Merino & dyed firestar

Walk on the Wild Side -- Merino, "mystery wool," & firestar

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Handspun Hats

I have been playing around with these colors in the last couple of weeks. All the colors were hand blended on my drum carder, and some of the fibers in them were also hand dyed by me. The dark brown/black color is Merino, and I started with a bag of raw fleece, which I washed, combed out lock by lock, spun, and plied.
The hats and colors all have a common theme, but are intended as a surprise for Someone, so I can't say much more than that. I am pleased with the way these have come out, and I have enough yarn to make at least one more -- possibly two! -- in slightly different styles. Theme and variations, if you will, so Someone will have a choice when the proper time comes.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Welcome to the Musical Temper Tantrum!

It has been a long day. I need to go drum now. Maybe "nothing, nothing, nothing" is the wrong answer to "what do I want" and "what will make me happy." Hmmmm...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ah, the Songs of my Youth!

I have always loved this tune!
In the early 1980s, this WAS Providence!
(Rhode Island, that is.)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Unusual Spinning Requests

I don't get too many requests for hand spun yarn, ordinary OR unusual. A lot of work goes into it, and few people want to pay the price for that. But I spin a lot, and many people know this. It's a pleasant activity which keeps me out of trouble, and also keeps my stress level down.

A few days ago, I received a query from a dear friend, asking if I could spin cat fur. Since I know someone who did accomplish this, I said I thought it was possible, but knowing the cat fur in question is from a short-haired cat, I said it would have to be blended with wool. Even then, I'm not sure it will work with short fur, but I'm willing to give it a try and see what happens.

As recently as five years ago, I would have had to flat out refuse, no matter how badly I might have wanted to do this labor of love for my friend. I spent most of my life being violently allergic to cats, to the point of having to take lots of preventive medication before even visiting a house where cats resided. When visiting my sister for a long weekend, we would have to spend a number of hours OUT of her house every day, just so I could breathe during the hours we spent IN the house. Sinuses, asthma -- basically, my whole respiratory system would go bonkers, and I would do my best to pretend I really didn't feel as miserable as it appeared.

But I did feel miserable, and it could get pretty horrible at times.

Almost three years ago, my daughter brought home a stray cat, and we all fell in love with him. I figured we wouldn't be able to keep him, but thought we could give it a try. And -- surprise, surprise! -- I am older,  and my body chemistry has changed significantly. The most notable change (besides hot flashes) is that I have outgrown my cat allergy. We have had our cat all this time, and neither my sinuses nor my asthma have been affected. To me, this is nothing short of a miracle.

OK, so I still take the same old precautions, like thoroughly washing my hands with soap and water after touching the cat, but so far, so good. No hint of a problem.

I realize I may be pushing the limit with my friend's cat fur, but if worse comes to worse, I'll wear a mask if necessary. But I think blending the fur with some good, rustic wool, such as Coopworth, Cotswold, or Romney will help cut down on the fly-away nature of short, slippery cat fur, and prevent me from inhaling it as I work.

I must confess, I'm intrigued by the possibilities, and hopeful that I can do the job well. After the spinning is done, my next mission is to knit a hoodie from the yarn.

I've met the kitty from whom the fur will come, and am now remembering watching him, his brother, and his mom go scampering around in the dark of distant back yard, chasing a laser...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Seventh Veil

The theme for the August Phat Fiber Box, I must confess, did not excite me. “Arabian Nights.” What, pray tell, am I to do with a theme like that? Lawrence of Arabia and Ali? Black and purple, gold and white? Well, it was a possibility, though not a terribly exciting one.

I don’t remember now, exactly how the discussion began, but my dear internet friend, Khadijah, somehow sparked my interest in creating a lavender and pink yarn colorway, and I liked what I got when I tried it. She thought it was pretty, too, and gave me permission to name the colorway after her. There will be some more serious experimentation in that direction, hopefully at the end of this week, and the resulting yarns will be part of my samples for the August box.
But I am finding that no matter how glorious my yarns are, they simply do not move. I put them in the shop, and they sit. And sit. And sit. Why? Any number of reasons. Bad economy. A glut of beautiful, hand-painted yarns from indie dyers currently on the market. And it’s summer. In the heat, a person has to be really weird about his/her wool obsession to want to work with the stuff.
What does this say about me? Wool-obsessed nutcase, that’s what. There is, quite simply, no bad time for wool. However, weather like we’ve been having drives me to the spinning wheel more than it drives me to think of scarves, sweaters, and the promise of cooler temperatures in the not-so-distant future.
But back to Phat Fiber. I realized that I have probably been shooting myself in the foot by sending in only yarn samples and patterns in recent months. My forte appears to be the blending of spinning fibers. OK. I don’t mind shifting gears, but…“Arabian Nights?”
With vague ideas about an “I Dream of Jeannie” colorway, and a spinners’ version of “Khadijah,” I ordered some wool, and when it arrived I dutifully started to play with it. Let’s get “Jeannie” done and out of the way first, then I can really put my all into “Khadijah.”
With Suzanne Vega’s musical take on “I Dream of Jeannie” firmly lodged in my head, I started working. I was not seeing anything remotely like what I had been thinking of for “Jeannie,” and then Patti Smith stepped into my brain and abruptly shoved all thoughts of comedy out the side door.
And suddenly, there is Salome’s deadly dance, and the gold jewelry shining all over her, maybe some finger cymbals, too, and the pale pink of the final veil flung away, mingling with the blood of John the Baptist. Yikes!
But in spite of the violent inspiration, it is a lovely fiber, and a lovely yarn, and has allowed me to finally work through the grief, horror, and rage I felt as a child, when I first heard the story of John the Baptist, and Herod, and Salome. I must have been six or seven, and I had no idea where the story was going. I remember hiding my head inside my desk and sobbing inconsolably. Poor, poor John! I felt it so deep n my heart, that the story should not have ended with his head on a platter.

And in the yarn, the red dominates. The blood of John is stronger than the gold jewelry, or the pale pink of the seventh veil. Even in death, somehow, he triumphs. All is not lost.

Quite an odd journey, from one silly, half-hearted inspiration to a heavy, serious one, especially knowing how far back in my own history it goes.
Peace, St. John. This one is for you. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Mad Angel Creations Climbing Bamboo Scarf Pattern

All test knits have been completed, and the pattern tweaked for clarity, so my Climbing Bamboo Scarf pattern is now available in my shop.

I tried using a commercial yarn for one of my test knits, as well as a few different hand spun yarns from my stash. The commercial yarn was pretty enough, but too consistent to really show the stitch pattern to its best advantage. Hand spun yarn has a lot more "character."
This is kind of like a realtor saying a property that desperately needs updating has “charm.”
I try to be consistent in my spinning, but despite my best efforts, there are thick and thin parts. It’s inevitable. The phone rings, or the cat jumps on my head, or I have to leap up and break up a dog fight, or the kid accidentally sets my oven on fire…so much for a consistent thread!
The good news is, the imperfections do wonders for bringing the stitch pattern out beautifully.
One may certainly use a commercial yarn, but if so, try to choose one a bit on the “rustic” side, with thick and thin places.
Gauge is not critical. Needle sizes and yarn thicknesses are totally up to you. It is not necessary to slavishly follow my directions. Play with it. Swatch it. When you get a fabric that suits you, go with the yarn and needles that produced it, and have fun!
You may make this scarf for gifting, of course, and I won’t stop anyone from selling scarves made from this pattern. However, please credit me as the designer, and I beg you NOT to make and/or distribute free copies of the pattern. Every penny I earn goes back into my business one way or another, so I may keep offering beautiful yarns and spinning fibers, and supporting other indie fiber artists.
If you do choose to knit this pattern, please share pictures with me! And if you are on Ravelry, please post a project page. I love to see what other people make with my patterns, yarns, and fibers. It’s inspiring!

Now I'm off to do some more "Tour de Fleece" spinning!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Madam Medusa

I finished Round One of Madam Medusa! 2-ply, 3.25 oz, 203 yds. I'm thinking maybe I'll make some socks, but first I have to card and spin Rounds Two and Three, which arrived in the mail yesterday. But first I have some more Business Spinning to do, so I'll have full-sized skeins of this month's Phat Fiber samples available for sale in time for Box Drop Weekend!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Madam Medusa Locks

I forget sometimes, when I spend too much time spinning Merino top, that there is more to my spinning life than that. MUCH more!

This bunch of fibery awesomeness came from WishFox Dyeworks. The sheep who produced the excellent fleece was a Wensleydale/Lincoln crossbreed. I fell in love the first time I saw the picture of the dyed locks, and when it arrived, I quickly discovered the stuff is even better than I thought it might be. Tabitha did a fantastic job maintaining the integrity of the locks, so it's a very simple matter to gently separate a few from the bunch and flick-card them. There is VERY little waste left in the flick-carder. Wonderful!
I have not flicked the whole lot yet. I'll do that as I go, and just spin each lock as it comes to hand, and I think it will end up being, ultimately, a 2-ply heavy sock-weight yarn.
What will I make with this? Not sure yet. Very likely, I will do socks. With a long, sturdy staple such as these locks have, I bet socks would be really sturdy and last me a long, long time.
Longwool sheep do not produce the softest fiber in the world, but I knew that before I started. I love the rustic wool they produce just the same. It has more character than the Merino I've been working with, and it's a really welcome change! Also, this batch of stuff is pretty soft, as Longwools go. I will not end up with Brillo Yarn, as I did with some gray Cotswold I overspun a few years ago. (Hubby got that pair of socks, and actually loves them because they are so springy underfoot!)

Oh, and because this particular color is a limited run? Of course, I ordered more today, and I am going to keep a close eye on Tabitha's shop.

What a perfect cure for Too Much Merino Syndrome!