All posts by yarnzombie

The 21st century is when it all changes…

It snowed quite a bit today, and now I guess it’s sleeting or something? Who knows. The weather forecast keeps going weird, but altogether I don’t think it’s been as bad as it was made out to be. I took some snow pictures earlier, but they were all pretty lame, so I’m not even bothering to upload them.

I got the one sock finished that I wanted to get done (yay!) and also finished weaving another scarf.

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So, I’ll be starting on the hat next and hopefully get the loom warped again tomorrow to do scarf #3.

I do have two pieces of news regarding TV. First off, as you may know, the Writer’s Guild has been on strike for a while now. Scripted shows, including the late night talk shows, have stopped producing new episodes, and the networks are getting set to roll out new winter shows, consisting primarily of competitive reality crap and new shows that weren’t good enough to be picked up during the fall season, but had some shows already filmed and sitting around, ready to be shown. The two good pieces I had heard before today is that there are some episodes of Jericho (yay for apocalyptic cheese!) and 8 episodes of Lost ready to be shown. So, that’s some small thing to look forward to.

As the strike continues, I’ll probably be watching more shows on BBC America, including season 2 of Life on Mars, which just started last week., and Top Gear, which I watched for the first time last week and was pretty damn fun. But the main event is the debut of season 2 of Torchwood, which begins January 26th, I think, on BBC America. The neat thing about this is that season 2 of Torchwood debuts in England only about 10 days earlier, so US audiences will only be a little bit behind the UK audiences, instead of having to wait a year or more to see it.

Torchwood is a Doctor Who spin-off, in case you didn’t know, and features the wonderful Captain Jack Harkness, who is omnisexual and also can’t die. There is a *lot* of Captain Jack love in this house. But too be honest, I actually thought season 1 of Torchwood was pretty much a hot mess, as Tim Gunn might say. I think they were trying too hard to make Torchwood an adult Doctor Who, but it seems like their interpretation of “adult” was all of the main characters having sex with just about everyone, except for Captain Jack. I understand that Jack has to be more hard and bitter than he was in Doctor Who, but did they have to make his character almost entirely joyless? And did he get to shag anyone last season at all? Poor Jack.

What’s encouraging is that the makers of Torchwood seem to have realized that things went horribly wrong during season 1, and apparently have worked to address a lot of the issues. I’ve read a few early reviews of the first new episode, and they’ve all been really positive, which was a bit of a shock. I think one even said that the first episode was one of the best hours of TV ever featured in any series of the Who-verse. So here’s to being able to watch Torchwood that’s actually a good show!

Getting back to the Stateside in TV news, I read something tonight which, if proven to be true, would be awesome regarding the writer’s strike. Apparently David Letterman’s production company, Worldwide Pants, is rumored to have started separate negotiations with the Writer’s Guild. To date, the AMPTP has been negotiating en masse, and the Writer’s Guild is going to try a new tactic of divide and conquer, trying to convince smaller companies to be reasonable instead of dealing with all production companies at once. Letterman’s in a good position because his show is actually owned by himself, instead of being owned by the networks. Also, Letterman happens to be an all around decent guy (and, he’s a graduate of Ball State, just like me! It’s not often that you hear about someone from Ball State being a success!).

Anyway, here’s the post on Deadline Hollywood that goes into what’s going on with the WGA and Worldwide Pants. I really hope that they can work out a working agreement, because it’ll be nice to have something interesting to watch at night, especially since the Daily Show and Colbert are off the air (and man have they been missed in this primary season). What I’m looking forward to most is having Letterman go back on the air and be able to just rip the networks for the crap they’re pulling with the writers. I can almost smell the snark already.

So, two happy pieces of TV news for you – potential Letterman return without screwing the Writers Guild and potentially good Torchwood. It’s more than I could have hoped for!

We need emergency Chex Mix, stat!

I’ve been spending the past few days working on Christmas presents. I’m in the homestretch now – I have 1 sock (well, less than one sock, really, since I started it last night) and 1 hat left to knit, which is doable. And I’m going to try to get a few more scarves woven, but since weaving can make my back hurt if I overdo it, I’m not going to freak out if I don’t get them all done. So, I’m in pretty good shape. I still have my little fabric Christmas bags I need to sew, too, but I’ll probably start working on those in the later part of next week. Here’s a scarf for Travis’ grandmother I finished up weaving yesterday:

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It turned out kind of long, like 84″, but hopefully that’s okay.

We got some freezing rain the other morning.

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Apparently this is just a preview of coming attractions, since we’re supposed to get Major! Sloppy! Blizzard! of DOOOOM!! today. We’re right on the line we’re we’re supposed to get not only substantial snowfall, but some more sleet and ice as well. It’s supposed to start late morning here as snow, change to sleet in the afternoon and early evening, and then change back to snow and blizzard all day on Sunday. So that’s exciting. Travis went to work yesterday evening, and if the weather is as bad as they claim it’s going to be, I probably won’t see him for a few days. When he goes to work he’s normally gone for about 36 hours anyway, but the way it’s looking like right now, he’ll be getting off work when the weather is supposed to be at its worst, so he may wind up just staying in Columbus instead of trying to drive home in a blizzard. When we were living in Indiana, he was at work when a huge storm hit, and he wound up being on duty for something crazy like 54 hours! Holy overtime, Batman!

We did a little bit of storm prep yesterday. We went out and got kerosene for our kerosene heater in case our power poops out on us. Later on in the day I had a mini freak-out and we wound up going to Kroger’s for emergency storm rations. Specifically, we bought supplies to make Chex Mix. Because if we’re going to go through Major! Sloppy! Blizzard! of DOOOOM!!, what better food is there to snack on?

What was weird is that Kroger’s was sold out of Rice Chex, of all things. Maybe everyone else had the same thought that I did? So I wound up doubling up on the Corn Chex. It’s all good.

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Toby really, really wanted some Chex.

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We’ve gotten some fun mail the past few days. We got some fun Christmas ornaments from my Aunt Dor that I need to take pictures of, and we also received a package of beer and fiber related goodies from Yarn Love Katie. Travis blogged about the beer (he hasn’t tried any of it yet, but I’m betting after he finally gets home, he will :), but here are pics of the lovely merino/tencel she dyed for us. Here’s Travis’:

Wild grapes

And here’s mine:

Strawberry crush

I’m trying to be good and finish up my Christmas stuff, but I keep sneaking over to the fiber stash and fondling the braid.

I also got the Hanukkah Joy handspun shipped off to Sarah Lou. I’m really pleased with the way this skein came out, although the pictures aren’t really accurate in terms of the color and bling-age. It’s a lot more blingy in real life.

Hanukkah Joy Close Up

What I noticed when I was knitting the Peach Fizz socks is that I wound up liking the way the yarn looked in sock form better than it looked in skein form. So I can’t wait to see what Hanukkah Joy looks like knit up. Have fun, Sarah Lou!

Finally, here’s the best picture I could get of the Red Planet Blue scarf knit from handspun spun from Dianne‘s Creatively Dyed roving. (And hey, I see on her blog she now has gift certificates available! Just a thought for anyone looking for a last minute yarny/fibery Christmas gift!)

Red Planet Blue scarf

This scarf is really sproingy and bouncy. I may wind up wearing it today when I’m shoveling snow!

Well, wish me luck for this weekend! I hope the power stays on, but if not, I think we’ll be okay. I’ll just have to break out the knitting raft again. 🙂

The post about food

Welcome to part one of the Archer Farms Taste Explosion review! As I mentioned in my last post, I was blinded by packaging at Target and bought a bucketload of Archer Farms foods and mixes. Archer Farms is apparently the store brand of Target, and I’ve never had anything by that brand before. But the packaging is so appealing! So, I’ve decided to take everyone on a taste journey with me as I see whether or not these were actually worth buying.

The first Archer Farms product I made was the Vanilla Bean Shortbread Mix:

Archer Farms Shortbread

I’m not a big shortbread person. Travis likes it more than I do, but I was drawn to this mix not only by the packaging, but by the tantalizing beckoning of the Vanilla Bean. Love vanilla bean. It makes me happy. So I chucked it into the cart.

The mix cost $2.49, and the only ingredients needed were 2 1/2 sticks of butter. Ingredients contain actual food – seriously, here’s the entire ingredient list: Enriched flour, sugar, salt, natural and artificial flavor, and vanilla bean. Nothing weird or scary, except for possibly the artificial flavor. Yay! Instructions were a piece of cake – cream softened butter, slowly add mix, continue beating until dough forms, press into pan, pierce with fork, and bake. Piece o’ cake. Except I screwed up and just dumped the butter and mix in together without creaming the butter first. Oh well. It all worked out in the end.

Like I said, I’ve never been crazy about the shortbread. But oh my god, this was the best shortbread I have ever tasted. It’s moist (one of my issues with shortbread is how dry it normally is), the texture is crumbly and elegant, but the flavor is the star – the vanilla is definitely present. It doesn’t overwhelm the cookie, but adds to it, both in taste and aroma. It is a cookie that you take a bite of, and just close your eyes and sigh blissfully.

Travis agreed that this was a damn fine cookie. I don’t think he had the same out of body experience that I had, but he was definitely munching on them throughout the day and took some to work with him.

I would definitely buy this mix again and recommend it to everyone I know (seriously – next time you’re at Target, buy this mix). My only concern is that now the bar has been raised so high that none of the other Archer Farms products can compare. We’ll see – I’ll let you know next time I make one.

Summary – Archer Farms Vanilla Bean Shortbread Mix – 10 out of 10 points. This is the single best cookie mix I have ever made.

So I made those last night, and today Travis and I busted out a double batch of Hershey Kiss cookies, made from scratch. Nothing fancy, I just used the recipe on the back of the Hershey Kiss bag. First off, I unwrapped the Kisses, and discovered a disturbing trend – the Kisses now talk to you! At first, they’re friendly and benign.

Hershey Kisses say Hello!

Then they kind of start getting weird and nostalgic.

Nostalgic Hershey Kisses

They then morphed into scary stalker Kisses.

Hershey Kisses get kind of creepy

“You love me”? Really? Because that’s always a winning line.

Finally, I discovered the Hershey Kisses of angst.

Hershey Kisses are in pain

Who wants to eat a chocolate that’s in pain? I don’t understand this at all. Travis thinks it’s a secret message from someone trapped in the Hershey Kiss factory.

Mmm...

Anyway, the cookies came out awesome. For some reason, the past few times I’ve made these, the cookies have seemed to be too dry and crumbly – I really enjoy a smooshy Hershey Kiss cookie, so I get disappointed when I bake dry and crumbly ones. I’m pretty sure I used the same recipe. Maybe the difference has to do with the humidity today, where it’s not as dry as it normally is in winter. Who knows. They came out perfectly this time, and we have a big cookie jar full of them, so I’m happy.

Artsy Hershey's Kiss cookie

I’ve got some yarn and fiber fun stuff going on, but I’ll post about that stuff tomorrow. For a sneak peak, check out my Flickr photos. Got some awesome roving from Yarn Love Katie, shipped off the Hanukkah Joy yarn to Sarah Lou, and got started on a new weaving project. Not to mention potential Christmas crafting still on my list of things to do. Fun times ahead!

Target owns me

Let’s get this out of the way first.

I am Target's Puppet

Seriously, what is wrong with me? I am such a packaging whore. In case you can’t tell in the picture, all of the products are by Archer Farms, who I’m guessing is Target’s generic food brand. And because the packaging is so appealing to me, I couldn’t stop putting more Archer Farms stuff into our cart. It’s a good thing there isn’t a Target closer to me, because I would not have any money, especially since Target started adding grocery sections to its stores. Anyway, I’m going to make the vanilla shortbread mix tonight as my first foray into Christmas cookie making (I know, it’s a mix, but I’m easing my way into this. Don’t judge me.). I’ll give you a review later. There’s a small part of me hoping that the Archer Farms stuff turns out to be bad so I won’t buy a ton of it next time I go to Target.

As much as I just threw my money down the Archer Farms food aisles at Target, I am also incredibly pissed at the store. Why? No frickin’ Legos (cue Elliot Reid: Frick! Frick frick frick!)! We went to two Targets yesterday and at both all they had was the same Spongebob set. I’m all about the Spongebob, but apparently my nephew Tyler (who is going to be 5 in February) has no clue what Spongebob is. Which leads me to the following – 1. Where the hell can one find a decent Lego selection in central Ohio, and 2. When do kids start watching Spongebob? Because I can munch on Krabby patties and watch that all day.

Travis and I had our Christmas shopping day yesterday, and as normal, I think we wound up buying more stuff for us than for others. In our defense, I’m making a ton of Christmas gifts this year. Mainly, besides the Archer Farms Taste Explosion, we bought some more books:

More new books

I haven’t finished the first Sherlock Holmes from a while ago, or started the Dickens yet, but my January is going to be spent cuddled up in a warm mess of yarn and words.

Unfortunately, both Travis and I pooped out enough at the end of the day, and we didn’t wind up buying our luxury food item for Christmas Eve. Of course, the one day I’m actually willing to buy the gourmet marshmallows from Whole Foods, their selection was awful. I almost went for the smoked salmon, but I think we’re going to be both better off to go to Trader Joe’s/Fresh Market/Whole Foods one day next week maybe and just concentrate on the food and not everything else.

In addition to the flotilla of knitted gifts I’ve made for Christmas, I also wanted to make some cookies (and yes, actual cookies will be involved, not just fake cookie mixes – although probably not on the scale of Katie’s cookies) and do a little bit of Christmas crafts. I’m going to try and sew up some fabric gift bags later on in the week, but today I made these. They’re kind of homely, but kind of cute, too:

Christmas Craft #1

I bought a pack of small ornaments at Target and painted people’s names on them. I’m going to be using them as gift tags.

I was pretty productive today, actually – got the laundry done, did a bit of dyeing which actually turned out pretty nifty, got some knitted items washed and blocked, made my little ornament tags, blocked some handspun (including Sarah Lou‘s Hanukkah Joy, which hopefully I’ll be able to mail tomorrow!), etc. I’m all excited because we bought some deli food from Whole Foods, which means I have instant meals for the next few days. I like cooking, but when I’m trying to get other stuff done, I forget to eat and then all of a sudden I’m starving – and of course then, I don’t feel like making anything that’s more complicated than opening up the toaster oven and sticking something frozen in it. So yesterday we got a bunch of good, no-effort foods – pineapple from Cut Fruit (Hi, Terry!  Sorry we missed you yesterday, Lizzie!), egg salad, blintzes, latkes, couscous, sushi – stuff like that.

Almost forgot to mention that I did knit a random garter stitch scarf. I used the Red Planet Blue yarn I had spun from Dianne’s Creatively Dyed roving. Here’s a bit of it (it’s still being blocked right now):

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It was fun and mindless to do.  Which is nice right now.

Have a kosher weekend!

Yesterday I got my annual Hanukkah gift from my parents, a box o’ goodies from the Popcorn Factory:

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There’s popcorn in the two silver bags in case you were wondering. I haven’t gotten into those yet, but the big chocolate pretzel and some chocolate coins have been devoured.

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Inspired by the spirit of Hanukkah giving, I combed up some roving and started spinning some yarn for Sarah Lou. It’s not quite the colors you were talking about, but if you like it, it’s yours!

Close up of the yarn (I’ve got one bobbin spun so far):

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And the bobbin with some of the combed roving balls.

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It’s mainly superwash roving, with a bit of nylon, nylon sparkle, and viscose mixed in. There’s only a tiny bit of the viscose, but it’s really fun when I hit a spot of it because it goes all shiny and green. I think I’m spinning it thinner than the Peach Fizz, so it should be appropriate for socks. I’ve got the other bobbin to spin and then plying, which is my best part. I didn’t really intend to bust ass on this and get it done really quick, but after I started combing up the roving I just really, really wanted to see how it spun up. The second set of roving balls are a touch lighter than the first on average, so I hope to get a bit of contrast between the yarn on the two bobbins.

I’m still working on Christmas socks, haven’t started the new scarf pattern I was talking about, and think I’m just going to randomly start a garter stitch scarf for no apparent reason whatsoever. I normally knit no-thought scarves in seed, but again, after viewing of some of Jay’s designs from Project Runway, I have a new appreciation for the simplicity of a garter stitch scarf. I’ve also got some miscellaneous Christmukkah related things I need to get done: Figure out what Travis would like for Christmas, sew up some simple little gift bags (using disposable wrapping paper just seems like such a waste when I have so much fabric I can use instead), get my luxury food item for Christmas Eve, stuff like that. I think Travis and I are going to run to Columbus next week and do a little shopping. I’ve got a 20% off coupon for Blick’s that’s burning a hole in my pocket, I know Travis wants to hit the Container Store (Lizzie, are you working on Monday or Tuesday?), and I’ve got a bunch of books I want to look at and probably buy.  Breathe deep – can you smell the consumerism?

Oh, I’m still hopelessly addicted to watching the Obollywood video from two posts down.  I think I watched it 6 times yesterday.  It’s mesmerizing.  I made Travis watch it yesterday and I think his brain melted.  When it was over he asked, “Okay – exactly whose vote is this targeting?”  I replied, “Mine?”

Speaking of Obama, I was reading Americablog this morning thought this was funny:

If Obama gets the nomination, the Dem party powers-that-be are going to need to have a talk with him about his staff. Say what you will about Hillary, but her staff is full of sword-wielding ninjas who don’t take crap from anyone. Pair Hillary’s ninjas with Obama’s likability and you’d have one hell of a partnership.

Because seriously, the Democratic party needs an ninja injection right now.  Ninjas!  Woot!

Hey, I’m actually getting some stuff done!

First off, in case you, like me, live in a cave sometimes, the new Knitty is out. There are some really fun patterns in this one, including a set of three tams and some kilt hose. I would be all over these patterns right now, except I’m having technical difficulties with my printer, so I just kind of keep drooling at the computer monitor wistfully. It’s kind of sad. Hopefully Travis can hook me up when he gets home.

Secondly, I got all motivated and finished up a few things yesterday. I knocked out my Peach Fizz socks in the afternoon.

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You can kind of see the sparkly here.

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Even though the color kind of encourages one to enter a diabetic coma, I’m loving these socks. Very warm. Very comfy. The nylon content in them doesn’t make them feel any different to wear than my other handspun socks (although while knitting the yarn felt a touch rubbery – that wasn’t a bad thing, just a little odd). Looking forward to blending up my next superwash/bling roving, which I’ll probably do this afternoon.

After getting the socks done, I finished up a little hat I had started a few days ago.

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I say it’s a “little” hat because my intent was to make it adult noggin sized, but I miscalculated (due to the colorwork) and it came out small. I’m guessing that it will be the perfect fit for one of my nephews, though, so accidental Christmas gift! Hooray! I still need to block it, though.

And finally, I felt refreshed enough to go back to doing Christmas gifts. So I started a new sock. I double stranded some hand dyed yarn I had dyed earlier this week. Here’s how it’s looking so far:

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I really like how the orange is flecky and not too overwhelming. Double stranded knitting rocks!

My agenda today is to comb up more roving, work some more on the flecky socks, and maybe start working up a scarf pattern. I actually don’t knit up scarves that much, but when I was linking to the picture of Jay’s Chrysler Building dress yesterday, I noticed the scarf the model was wearing in that photo and really liked it. So I may try making something inspired by that.

Oh, crap! I almost forgot to show off the fun skein o’ yarn I spun up yesterday from one of Terrabellaspun’s carded batts.

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It’s a smallish skein, only 75 yards, but I may see if I have enough to weave a really skinny scarf out of it – maybe only 4 inches wide or so, and use the yarn just as the weft. It’s really fun yarn. The sparkle in it is awesome.

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We’ve gotten some more snow, too! I may have to get out the snowshoes. 🙂

As promised

Pictures of the first silly sparkly Peach Fizz sock!

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You can’t really see much of the sparkle in that photo, but believe me, it’s there.

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The sock isn’t as obnoxious as I thought it would be, although the color is a bit cloying. I don’t care, though, since blingy = good. I’m about 40% done with the matching sock, and hope to finish it today.

I started knitting on it last night while watching Keith Olbermann and Project Runway (not at the same time, although it would be cool if Keith was a guest judge on PR). I’m throughly unimpressed with PR this season, although it hasn’t quite filled me with the searing hate I felt watching last season’s debacle (I never even finished watching that season, actually, since I hated Jeffrey so much). Where are the challenges like “Make a dress out of candy and tinfoil!”? I think I was spoiled since Season One featured the perfect trifecta of Jay, Austin Scarlett, and Kara Saun. Really, there hasn’t been anything on PR since to compare to Austin’s cornhusk dress or Jay’s Chrysler Building dress (or really, anything Jay designed – I still covet his entire runway collection for the season finale). Sigh. Project Runway, stop sucking! Be cool again!

Snow fun!

Hey, we finally got some decent snow! It started snowing last night around 11:30, and it’s still going right now. I think we’ve got around 4 inches on the ground, which is cool, because the snowfall here normally tends to be lame. Anyway, we took the dogs outside and had fun snow time with them:

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I had to change pants once I got back inside.

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We wanted Ellie to get in on the fun, so Travis scooped up some snow and brought in in for Ellie.

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She seemed bewildered by it.

In other news, I got the Craftstravaganza woven shawl-thing finished up yesterday. It only took me about an additional hour and a half to get it done.

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It wound up being 21″ x 68″, so it is big enough to be a shawl thingy. Except 1. I never wear shawls and 2. It’s kind of itchy. So I just wound up folding it in half and hanging it up in my hallway. Instant wall art! There are some really fun spots in it:

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We made Toby play pack mule for a little bit, carrying the shawl around on her back.

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I started knitting a pair of socks out of the sparkly Peach Fizz handspun yesterday, and I just want to say, they would be the perfect socks to wear if I was six and was playing My Little Ponies. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a good My Little Pony playtime for about 20 years now. Fortunately, I have no shame and will wear them anyway. I’ll try to have progress pictures by tomorrow.

More pictures of snow and shawl up on my Flickr, as always.

So many gifts… not enough attention span…

I think all of the holiday knitting is getting to me. I keep starting different projects for people, knit for a few hours, and then go, “Bleh” (which is, incidentally, a much more negative response than “meh” but not quite as bad as “blürg”). So I’m going to take a few days off and work on Fun! Happy! Stuff! Specifically, I want to get the shawl/rug thingy (it’ll depend on how long it turns out to be as to what it winds up becoming) I started weaving with the Craftstravaganza yarn finished. It’s about halfway done, so I’m hoping to get it done today.

Here’s the other day’s spinning all happily skeined up and blocked. First up is Adios, which is the blue chunky single ply:

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It turned out pretty squishy, but still not quite as soft as I want it to be. I overspun it a tad. My goal is to produce something that’s Malabrigo-soft, but since I felted the roving a tad, that wasn’t going to happen with this particular batch. Still, not a bad yarn. It’ll make a nice something.

And here’s Peach Fizz, my blingy soft superwash sock yarn!

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I should be able to get a pair of socks out of this without any problem. It’s a touch thicker than some of the other sock yarn I’ve spun, but I’ve got over 4 ounces of it. It looks like it’ll be just fine knitting with size 4 needles, so the socks should go fast.

I’m curious to see how the socks hold up to being washed. I wash all of my handknit socks in the gentle cycle of our washing machine in lingerie bags. Unfortunately, our washing machine is pretty hard on handknit socks. We’ve got some pretty raggy looking ones now, but it’s not that big of a deal because of how many socks I wind up knitting for myself and Travis. With the handspun socks, as long as I knit with a pretty tight gauge, they seem to make it through the wash okay. With this particular yarn, since I added the nylon content to the superwash, I’m interested to see if that makes the socks withstand the washing machine better than some of the regular superwash socks.

Incidentally, the Wollmeise socks I knit for Travis? Have been washed 3 or 4 times now and look pretty much identical to the way they looked when I got done knitting them. So rock on, Wollmeise!

Well, I’m actually going to go and weave! Wish me luck!