My current work in progress:

1. Mighty Mini, designed by Rachel Henry, knit from Socks That Rock Worthy in the "Tanzanite" and "The Green That Sings" colorways on a 3.0 mm needle.
2. Myriad stealth projects.

Mac Daddy Ball Winder

I have worked my way through many a ball winder in my knitting life.

My first ball winder was one of those small plastic ones. It more or less got the job done until it broke.  Then I found an electric ball winder that lasted me many years before finally dying  last year. It was expensive, but it didn’t owe me anything: I wound countless skeins of yarns into balls on that bad boy before it finally gave up the ghost. (I did take it apart to perform a postmortem in hopes that I could resurrect it, to no avail.)

Since the old electric winder died I’ve been in a quandry. I have one of those Boye electric ball winders, but it does not work well for large jobs and the tension control is not good.

Recently I have been using this winder, which has done a fairly good job:

BallWinder061213 240x230 Mac Daddy Ball Winder

It winds large skeins: 8 ounces and bigger. That made me happy. What made me not-so-happy is that the metal L-shaped arm that sticks out in front that you feed the yarn through is not firmly affixed to the base of the winder. There is a wing nut that is supposed to hold it into place, but it does not. So for every skein of yarn I wind, I end up turning the handle with one hand and holding the L-shaped arm in place with the other. As you might expect, this is not a terribly comfortable position to be in for more than a few minutes. When one has back and spine issues, it quickly degenerates into unbearable.

So last week I got this:

NKKWinder061213 240x160 Mac Daddy Ball Winder

This is the heavy duty ball winder I ordered online from Nancy’s Knit Knacks.

(Disclaimer: I purchased this ball winder at retail price — it was not sent to me at a discount or free of charge to review, nor was any review solicited from the company. I proactively ordered it because I needed a new ball winder. I mention this only because someone posted in a Ravelry forum recently questioning my integrity and the integrity of a product review, conjecturing that it was likely that I was being compensated for writing a positive review.)

I paid for 2-day FedEx shipping and got an email from Nancy — because they are located one state away from me, she sent it regular FedEx (because it would arrive just as quickly) and refunded me the difference. Nice customer service and attention to detail there.

Before purchasing the winder, I checked out the video tutorials posted on You Tube. There are lots of great tutorials on Nancy’s Knit Knacks YouTube Channel for a number of their products. By viewing the videos, reading material on the website, and reading comments made by other people on Ravelry, I got the impression that this is a company that makes quality tools and stands behind their work.

When the winder arrived, I was pleased to see how well-packaged it was — very little chance of it getting damaged in shipping. I took it out of the box and set it up. It was completely assembled, apart from my needing to attach the table clamps. Nancy’s Knit Knacks had recommended trying it as-is without making any adjustments the first time. (They did  include in the box the one tool you need to make adjustments — a nut driver.) I wound a 400-yard skein of sock yarn into a ball with absolutely no problems or issues whatsoever.

This is a big, sturdy ball winder and it is beautifully crafted. The handle turns perfectly smoothly and effortlessly. No added strain on arm and back!

Yes, it is expensive ($250), but for me, totally worth the money. I think this is the last ball winder I will have to buy.

You can purchase a separate “power base” for this winder so you can turn it in to an electric winder. It is not a cheap add-on, but if the power base is crafted with the same quality as the winder, I think it would be worth it for people who need a production winder. Before I got the winder I was considering the possibility of adding on a power base, but don’t think I will. The manual winder works so beautifully for me, I don’t think I need it.

I wound some Wollmeise Merino DK on it this past weekend.

InUse061213 240x160 Mac Daddy Ball Winder

This is a large skein — over 200 grams. 236 grams, to be exact.

Wound061213 240x160 Mac Daddy Ball Winder

The winder handled it beautifully.

The only criticism I have — I think the Nancy’s Knit Knacks website needs to be re-designed — I found it jumbled and confusing. But it is worth digging through — there is a lot of great information there.

Oh, that skein of Wollmeise? Here it is:

WIP061213 240x134 Mac Daddy Ball Winder

Can you tell what it is going to become?

Lucy sez:

Lucy061213 240x160 Mac Daddy Ball Winder

“When the weather is hot and humid, frequent naps are essential to keep up one’s strength!”

 

Not Viajante

I finished my Not-Viajante on Friday night. Here is a photo of it, unblocked.

Viajante060913 132x240 Not Viajante

I had purchased 5 skeins of Dream in Color Smooshy With Cashmere, but ended up using only 4 of them. I was going to use the fifth ball, but decided the piece was long enough after 4 skeins.

I based this on the Viajante pattern by Martina Behm, but completely changed the increases to make it wider and shorter. I am very pleased with the results!

I have released the pattern for my Camp Loopy Project One: As You Like It Scarf. The pattern is a free download on Ravelry.

Scarf060513 119x240 Not Viajante

It is highly customizable and an easy and fun knit. You could use pretty much any yarn you like.

Speaking of Ravelry, there are apparently some hiccups n their pattern update notifications. I released Part 2 of my Mystery Shawl at midnight on Friday, and apparently not everyone got the email and Ravelry message notifying them of the update. So if you are in that situation, check your Ravelry library — the Mystery Shawl pattern should show that there is an update available.

Lucy sez:

Lucy060913 240x216 Not Viajante

“It’s important to stay hydrated in warm weather!”

Fun With Cupcakes

Last weekend I attended a family barbecue and volunteered to bring a dessert. Because one of the guests of honor is fond of Boston Cream Pie, that’s what I thought I would make. Until I got the idea to make Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes.

I started by making two dozen yellow cake cupcakes. You could make these from scratch or use a mix. A recipe for a regular two-layer cake will make 2 dozen small cupcakes. I used, for the first time, silicone baking cups, and they worked beautifully: I did not have to grease them and the cupcakes fell right out of them after cooling for 10 minutes. And they washed up very easily: I let them soak in a sink full of warm soapy water for a few minutes, after which they needed only minimal scrubbing to remove a stray crumb here or there.

I did not use cupcake papers because the next step was (after letting the cupcakes cool completely) to split each cupcake in half to make a tiny layer cake:

CupcakesSplit060513 240x134 Fun With Cupcakes

Next, I made a batch of vanilla pastry cream.

PastryCream060513 240x134 Fun With Cupcakes

I spread the pastry cream on the bottom half of each cupcake and put the tops back on:

FillingCupcakes060513 240x134 Fun With Cupcakes

 

Next, I topped each cupcake with a simple chocolate glaze.

GlazingCupcakes060513 240x134 Fun With Cupcakes

To make transporting the cupcakes to the barbecue easier, I purcvhased cardboard cupcake boxes.

CupcakeBox060513 240x134 Fun With Cupcakes

These boxes are nice because they have a form inserted in them to hold the cupcakes in place.

CupcakesCompleted060513 240x134 Fun With Cupcakes

Because the cupcakes contain pastry cream, I stored them in the refrigerator until it was time to take them to the barbecue. They were a big hit and the boxes came in handy again for people to take home the extra cupcakes!

Here is my brother’s big Maine Coon cat, Perry Mason, wondering why he can’t have a cupcake:

Perry060513 240x190 Fun With Cupcakes

“Aren’t those for me?”

In other news, I finished my Camp Loopy project.

Scarf060513 119x240 Fun With Cupcakes

I plan to write up the pattern and post it as a freebie — stay tuned.

Scarf060513a 240x131 Fun With Cupcakes

Lucy is busy contemplating life and cupcakes.

Lucy060513 240x190 Fun With Cupcakes

 

Campy Loopy Project One

This is my Camp Loopy Project one:

WIP060213 240x190 Campy Loopy Project One

It’s a scarf that I am knitting from Alisha Goes Around Tracks of Bison fingering weight yarn. The yarn is 90% merino wool and 10% bison. It’s a nice yarn — very pleasant to knit. I am using the “Diadem” colorway.

The pattern is one that I just made up — garter stitch with a simple lace edging. I weighed my skein before starting so I can knit according to weight. The increase section took 12 grams so I will knit the straight section until there is just a bit more than 12 grams left, then I’ll do the decrease section to match the increase section and use every bit of the yarn.

Closeup060213 240x160 Campy Loopy Project One

I started knitting this shortly after midnight on June 1 and I’ve used up close to half the skein, so I shouldn’t have any issues finishing by the Camp Loopy deadline, the end of June. I have set aside my not-Viajante but will go back to working on that when this peice is done.

Giveaway

The winner of my review copy of Uncommon Cards by Jeanne Williamson is Eileen Bunn, who has been emailed.

WendyKnits Summer Mystery Shawl 2013

The first part of the mystery shawl pattern was released on June 1. The pattern cost is still 50% off until June 8. So if you wanted to join in the KAL, you still have plenty of time to get the pattern at the reduced price, here.

Lucy’s Plan for the Day

Lucy060213 240x160 Campy Loopy Project One