Socks for Ankles

My first try at making ankle high socks! I’m happy with the way they came out and the recipient says that they fit really well.

The socks are a blend of two different yarns – one is cotton/bamboo and the other one is superwash wool blend. you can see the details of the pattern and project on Ravelry at

Bunnies for Spring!

Socks, I love making and wearing handmade socks. A pair of socks takes quite a while for me to make, but it’s a lot of fun and easy to do on planes and during downtime when I might not have a lot of space.

My most recent socks were my first pair of socks from a sock blank. If you don’t know what a sock blank is – companies make a rectangle of sock yarn, then it gets dyed and decorated. When you unravel the blank, you end up with some really long stretches of individual colors. If you’ve added extra design elements – like this one did – then you get some nice

I got a decorated sock blank from Gale’s Art on Etsy called “Dancing Bunnies.” After unravelling it, I divided the yarn into 2 balls and started making my socks!

I’m thrilled with how they came out .. there’s nice wide sections of the different colors and little flecks from where the bunnies were. The socks are squishy and very soft on my feet. I’ve got some of the yarn leftover but not enough for a pair of socks.

Check out my socks on Ravelry.

Stitches West 2015

It’s been a crazy and busy few weeks, so I’m a little behind on this post.  

I managed to get down to Stitches West this year for only one day!   I was able to attend a class on Knit-Weaving with the fabulous Lily Chin.  The class was pretty cool, and just the right level of theory and practice!  We learned a few different ways of utilizing weaving 

In addition to class time, I was able to squeeze in 2 hours of market time!  I think it was the fastest that I have ever run through the market 🙂  I got to visit some old friends very briefly and find some new awesome vendors.  

Included in the super fast shopping spree are bags from Slipped Stitch Studios,  Miss Babs Hand-dyed YarnsRedFish DyeWorksDizzy BlondeDimensions RakuFiredClay,  Western Sky KnitsShaky K Fibers, and Wagtail Yarns

The class was amazing, the market was fantastic!  It’s probably a good thing that I didn’t find more time to cruise the market 🙂 For those who can afford the time and money, Stitches is a great place for goodies and learning!  For folks who are a bit tighter on money, it’s a great place to browse!

Blending boards fun

Colorful Rolags

Colorful Rolags

At Stitches this year, I purchased a blending board from Clemes & Clemes.  Clemes & Clemes are a family run business, with at least 3 members of the family involved in either the creation of product or the running of the business.  I got to know them a bit at SOAR in 2012, and they are a great bunch of folks. I’m always happy when they have something that I want because I know that the quality will be great and they will back their products completely.  I managed to get the last blending board that they had at Stitches this year!

For the non-fiber folks, a blending board is one of many tools that the fiber artist has to mix fibers together.  The blending board allows the novice to get striped and mixed-fiber preparations much more easily than other options such as drum carders.

Checking Values

Checking color values for rolags

A couple weeks ago, I found myself at home with nothing that I had to do, and I thought that I’d give the board a try.  I had a bag of differently colored wool, some sparkle and some nylon, so I played with fiber!  I got a photo of a color wheel and mixed and matched a bit!  Using the black & white option on my phone photos, I checked values. With the color tool, I checked for contrasting colors, and in the end, I came up with a LOT of rolags!  I’m looking forward to spinning them and making socks or shawls … or maybe a tank top out of them!

Never stop learning

Learning is one way to stay young.  It’s a great way to keep yourself young and your mind flexible.


Sole of commercial yarn

I love making socks, so I’m always seeking out new techniques to learn with socks!  Lately I discovered a book called “Solefull Socks” by Betty Salpekar.  The premise of this book is that socks often wear out on the soles, so why not make socks that make it easy to replace or repair the sole?  Salpekar took inspiration from a number of other designers who knitted socks sole first, and came up with her own technique.  The socks are pretty easy and fairly adjustable for different feet shapes and sizes … and they really fit very well!

My first pair of Solefull Socks was the Irises.  I used some commercial sock yarn for the soles, and then my handspun for the tops!  I love the idea of being able to put commercial yarn in the “danger zones” and keep my handspun where it can be seen and is safer from the wear and tear of shoes.


Pretty handspun tops!

I wore these shoes in a pair of boots that I have that highlight any issues with sock fit (they’re useful, and sometimes frustrating!) and they worked just fine!

I’m looking forward to trying out some of the other techniques in this style and maybe even designing a few of my own!

Caramel Apple Beer!

appleCrateI’m so happy with the way this beer turned out!  It’s my first recipe that I’ve modified myself.

The original recipe, the Apple Crisp from “Brooklyn Brew Shop’s Beer Making Book: 52 Seasonal Recipes for Small Batches” was tasty but I wanted something a little sweeter and a little less earthy. I think I’ve managed to make a yummy beer.

Maybe next year I’ll make more than a gallon.

Here’s the export of the recipe from BeerSmith – the program that I use to track and scale my recipes.

Caramel Apple

Brewer: VictoriaV
Asst Brewer:
Style: American Amber Ale
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: The caramel is barely there, but it adds a lovely complexity to the beer. The apple flavors come out much more when the beer is just barely chilled.Recipe Specifications
Boil Size: 1.60 gal
Post Boil Volume: 1.35 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 1.00 gal
Bottling Volume: 1.00 gal
Brewhouse Efficiency: 68.00 %
Boil Time: 60 MinutesIngredients:
Amt Name Type
1 lbs 8.0 oz Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)
2.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt – 60L (60.0 SRM)
1.0 oz Aromatic Malt (26.0 SRM)
0.8 oz Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM)
2.0 oz Candi Sugar, Amber (75.0 SRM)
8.50 g Willamette [5.50 %] – Boil 60.0 min
1.00 Items Cinnamon Stick (Boil 30.0 mins)
2.00 Items Apples, peeled and diced (Boil 20.0)
2.80 g Hallertau [4.50 %] – Aroma
0.5 pkg Burton Ale (White Labs #WLP023)

Mash Schedule: Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge

Total Grain Weight: 1 lbs 13.8 oz
Name Description Step Temperat Step Time
Mash In Add 2.17 qt of water at 168.2 F 156.0 F 45 min

Modified from the Apple Crisp recipe from “Brooklyn Brew Shop’s Beer Making Book: 52 Seasonal Recipes for Small Batches”.

Created with BeerSmith 2 –

Image from

Insights in Brewing – the magic of time

Hops detail in the hop-fields close to Olomouc by Dušan Gavenda

Hops growing

I was experimenting with different brews in small batches.  Two of the batches I brewed tasted VERY hoppy when I put them into the fermenter.  I was concerned that they would be too hoppy.  One of the hops (Fuggles) didn’t even taste good when the beer was put into the fermenter.

To my pleasant surprise, 3 weeks later when I went to bottle the beer, I tasted the fermented-but-flat beer and was very happy with the results!  The hops had mellowed a bit and were now part of the complex flavor of the beer rather than a sharp, unbalancing punch in the mouth.

I started brewing beer because it’s so much faster than brewing mead.  Yet, there’s still a component of time.  I’ve found that sometimes letting the beer sit for a week or two extra is very beneficial.  You do need to be aware of the environment that you’re leaving the beer in because certain conditions will have a negative effect after enough time.

It’s a bit like life …. often a little time can help a problem work itself out, but sometimes it can get worse.  You need to be aware of the situation and evaluate if more time will help, or if it could hurt.

Spinzilla 2013

Organic Cotton from Cotton Clouds - Spinzilla 2013

Organic Cotton from Cotton Clouds – Spinzilla 2013

This year The National Needlearts Association (TNNA) put on an event called Spinzilla.  The goal of the program both to build encourage spinners to talk about their art, and to raise money for  a spinning mentor program.

The Needlearts Mentoring Program goes out and teach needlearts to teach children crochet, knitting, embroidery, cross-stitch, needlepoint and now, spinning.

I joined up with the Cotton Clouds team to spin cotton!  I spun on my takli and spun more in a week on it that I’ve ever spun on it before!

Our team didn’t place, but we had a lot of fun spinning, and everyone spun tons!

All told, Spinzilla spinners spun more than a million yards of singles!

Brewing up a storm

Grains for Brewing

Grains for Brewing

If you follow me on Facebook, you might know that I’ve started brewing beer.  I have brewed mead in the past, and there is a mead ageing now in my craft room. I have now started 5 batches of beer.   My first two batches were extract brews, but I found the extract to be sticky and difficult to manage.  I had tried doing the boil in a bag method (BIAB) but I’m not happy with the efficiency, so this weekend I’m going to try sparging (pouring hot water over the grains after I’ve extracted the sugar – to wash the sugar off so I can use it!)

I really enjoy brewing the beer, and then making bread with the used barley! It’s fun to experiment with the different ingredients, and it has helped me to refine what I like in a beer.  I’ve been making smaller batches of one to three gallons (mostly 1 or 2 gal) because of my limited space as well as because I enjoy a variety of drink.

This weekend’s brewing is a gallon of an “Apple Pie” Ale, and a Caramel Amber ale – my attempt to bring fall here faster!