Sunday, August 31, 2008

Labor Day Weekend Labors


2 oz of Spring Baby Green superwash merino from Sereknity for Evie's dress. I thought to weight out the roving ahead of time so I'd be reasonably sure that each spool would contain half of the yarn so when I ply it I won't have much/any leftover singles. As uneven as my spinning is, this is a pretty big stretch, but it will get me closer at least... don't you think??


The back of Edgar's Cambridge Jacket. I also cast on for both front panels at once and have gotten about 1/4 of the way up on that as well. The photo doesn't do the pattern justice - the ribbing that appears suddenly in the shoulder area is simple and elegant. I'm still unconvinced that the enormous rolling that's happening at the hem can be fixed with the single crochet edge specified in the pattern, but I'm going to give it a try anyways. What do I know, after all? ;-)

The yarn is Di'Ve superwash and it's a lovely, soft, squishy yarn but very splitty, so you have to keep a close eye on it. Which is a little unfortunate since the pattern is so simple. The other unfortunate thing is that it's so simple and attractive of a pattern that The Mister now wants one too. *sigh* Gotta keep an eye out for a cotton/cashmere blend for him, I think. Maybe a chocolate brown or a real reddish brown. Mmmmm!

We also walked about 5 miles this weekend, which is a good start to our renewed exercise/weight loss program. Another season, another shot at it. lol! ;-)

For those interested in such things, we also spent a couple of hours down at the river watching the boats and the birds and we saw: the usual mallard ducks and cormorants, two bald eagles, an osprey (unusual, as we're a little upriver from their usual fishing spots down closer to the mouth of the river), a great blue heron, and a large white egret. The eagles were there circling and hunting over the river the whole time we were there, which was a real treat. I'm assuming this is the pair that set up housekeeping a bit upriver from us in the spring. It was definately the two adults as the white head and tail were clearly visible, even from across the river. They never did come to our side for a visit, but the osprey flew right overhead and the white egret was no more than 15 feet from us as he flew up the Merrimac and turned right up the Powwow. So cool!

Now back to the usual work week... blargh!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Road trip = HAPPY HAT!!

Eight days from roving to finished hat. I present to you...

Happy Hat
"Making the world a happier place, one hat at a time..."

Pattern: Amanda Hat
4 oz of Wild Side superwash merino roving by Sereknity spun up to about 144 yards of dk weight yarn
US8 circs (magic loop)
one road trip to PA/NJ

We had a lovely trip, fabulous weather, and I got to travel my favorite road, the Taconic Parkway in NY. We saw deer, eagles, loads of scenery, and most of The Mister's old crew from his childhood in NJ. What a crowd! :-) When I wasn't sharing the driving, I was knitting and the Happy Hat was born. I finished it Sunday afternoon just as we were pulling into our last stop in South River, NJ. All the time I was knitting it I had a song in my head. I love show tunes, but I tend to change the lyrics to fit the circumstances. Who can name this tune?

"Knit a little, drive a little, knit a little, drive a little, knit, knit, knit, drive a lot, knit a little more..."


Monday, August 18, 2008

Fiber Obsession Strikes!

Fiber Revival Part Deux was held this past Saturday at the Spencer Pierce Little Farm in Newbury MA. The weather was incredibly beautiful and the place was packed! We had alpacas courtesy of Alpaca Kathy (the little guy in the center is just 3 weeks old!!)

Fiber, of course (that's Heather's booth in the front with Amy Boogie's on the left)

We even had a Turkey-In-Residence (turkeys love spinning)

I had every intention of taking more pictures, but I got enthralled with spinning some of Heather's awesome fiber on my new wheel, and when I finaly looked up, I saw this

As lovely as it is, this does not bode well. We delayed as long as we could but eventually we knew it was time to act, (possibly it was the distant thunder) so the crowd scattered to their cars to put away their own toys then came running back to help the vendors pack up their trucks before the rain started. That was quite a site I can tell you! People packing goods, breaking down tents and tables, packing everything into trucks - I think half of us had no idea who we were helping, but I tell you it went so smoothly we'd have made an army drill team proud. It certainly looked to me as thought we got done just in time - the sky opened up just as I was walking back to my own car with my last minute fiber purchases! ;-)

The obsession part of this post is all Heather's fault. She's the devil, truly. I adore her fiber and yarn (just look in my Ravelry stash - good heavens!) and I just can't seem to get enough. In this case, it was fiber. I had been watching Kelly and Cheryl spin her Wild Side colorway for months, and was intrigued. So I finally dove in and bought a hank for myself in a superwash merino, along with a hank of a gorgeous merino/tencel blend in Gothic Rose. It's a lovely rose/hydrangea blue/lilac color that I was just unable to capture well, so you'll just have to trust me when I tell you how entrancing it is in person. I loved it so much, in fact, that I went back at the last minute and bought a skein of laceweight merino/silk in the same color so I could knit it sooner! There's plenty in a skein to make a shawl and the price is fantastic. You just can't go wrong in Heather's shop!

So... the Wild Side Obsession...

I bought the fiber and immediately went back over to my wheel and started in. It's addicting - the colors are so bright and the superwash merino so spinable - I just couldn't stop. I chatted here and there, waved to Julia and other friends passing by, stopped to chat with Blogless Sarah and Mister Onion, spotted a few famous knitters (I'm not sure, but I think most of the TwistCollective brain trust was there, yes?), went for a couple of wanderings around the grounds to say "hey", but mostly I just sat and spun. And spun. And spun! Joined the collective hive mind to get everyone packed up before the rain, went home, trundled my goodies into the house, and sat and spun some more. Gave up when it got too dark to see (we have serious lighting issues in our home. Bah!). Woke up at 6am Sunday morning still thinking about that fiber. Crept out of bed, fed the cat, and sat down to spin some more. By the time The Mister got up I was plying. By the time we'd finished coffee, I had the yarn in a hank and soaking in the sink. By noon it was hanging on the front porch in the sun to dry, and by evening,... I had this

It's awesome. Approx 144 yards of awesome.

I tried so hard to split the roving lengthwise just so and to join the strips just so so that the colors would line up when I plied... but I guess I'm just not there yet. I got long stretches where they did match, or close enough, but then there's at least as many long stretches of random barber pole-ing (is that a word??). It's lovely and squishy and I totally adore it. I was cooing over it so much that the Mister finally looked over with a grin and said "well - you have to swatch, don't you?"

Isn't he marvelous?

So swatch I did. I didn't save the result as I was off by 2 needle sizes from the fabric I think I want, but it felt good and looked really intense. I'm pawing through Rav now looking for hat patterns that might do. Maybe something with a herringbone pattern like My So Called Scarf would show off the colors nicely. What do you think?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A very Spinnery Weekend!

After what feels like years of rain, we had a perfectly lovely, sunny, DRY, weekend... so things got a little... fibery ... around here.

There was something fiber-y in a pot in the kitchen sink

(Trevor's BSJ being coffee-dyed!)

There was handspun drying on the porch

There was handspun hanging from the mailbox

There was yarn from the Portsmouth Farmer's Market

(If you are every near Portsmouth, NH on a Saturday morning you MUST go to the Farmer's Market up by the Police Station and you MUST stop in and say hello to Ingrid. Her yarn is amazing and she is a delight to talk to.)

And... there was something amazing in the back yarn

Yes, it is. It's a wheel of mine very own. It's an old kit traditional, made in Finland (that's what it says on the bottom) but no maker's name I can figure out. It was a gift from the every-thoughtful and ever-generous Blogless Alpaca Kathy, the same wonderful fiber enabler who has let me borrow her Fricke for all these months. This gem was apparently sitting in someone's garage for aeons when Kathy got it, so it needed a little love, to say the least. I took it to spinning where the every-patient and helpful Seedstitch Cheryl puzzled over it for a good portion of the evening, trying to figure out why the drive band kept jumping the track. We finally decided that a new driveband from Cheryl's bottomless bag o' goodies and a shim under the axle would likely set it right enough. This morning I got up early, took the wheel all apart and laid her in the sun to warm up. After about 3-4 coats of Butcher's Wax, a touch of tinted wax, and a little bit of wood glue, there she sits in all her glory in the flower gardens. Not only is she now looking much happier, but I spent some time fiddling with her and watching how she moved and I made a couple of adjustments that's got the mechanism running much more smoothly! Yay me! ;-)

I spun on her a little bit this afternoon and she treadles like a dream. I'm still fiddling with the whole direct drive equation, but it's a very cool little wheel and I'm just thrilled. This actually all came about at the perfect time, because something else fascinating arrived this weekend...

My first installment of Fleece Study!

Linda Williamson Hodgkins of the Genesee Valley Handspinners Guild in NY has come up with this great program for learning all about the fleeces of as many sheep breeds as she can gather up. My first package came with all you see her - study guide (which I'm revamping with color photos - pm me if you are interested and I'll share the PDF with you when I'm done), all sorts of samples of wool washes, a little lingerie bag for keeping the fleece segregated while you wash, and TWELVE one-ounce samples of fleece to play with. I've talked about wanting to do this since I started knitting, nevermind spinning. There are so many breeds out there, I've always wondered what they each feel/smell/spin/knit like and now I'm going to know! Part one has the following breeds: Cormo, Texel, Polworth, Columbia, Rambouillet, Corriedale, Black Welsh Mountain, Cheviot, Shetland, Lincoln, Romney (my personal favorite sheep), and California Variegated Mutant (CVM). I like that the samples run the gamut from fine to coarse and include breeds that I've never heard of before like Texel, which weren't even bred for their fleece. I do realize that I have to go out now and get a set of hand carders which are dismayingly pricey ($50/pr and up), but I know it will be worth it to go from raw wool to finished yarn for each of these breeds. I'll be posting here as I run through them, so stay tuned! If you're interested in playing along, you can reach Linda on Ravelry as fleecestudy and order your very own Kit One for about $35 (postage costs vary). Linda has said that she will continue providing more breeds as long as interest keeps up.. which means she'll be selling me little packets of fleece for the next, oh, 40 years or so. ;-) Hooray!