Sunday, February 21

Cold weather items for warming weather

I'm a cold lady. No point in denying it. Come summer, when temps have risen anywhere from 75-90*, I will still be that person in jeans and a hoodie. As you can imagine, this has a profound effect on my clothing choices. I'm often complaining about being cold even when no one else is.

Enter the sweater.

 I've made 2 others at this point (pics and their sad story to come) but neither have made me nearly as happy as this one. Look at the pockets! Bright and sassy against a potentially boring blue. Up close the blue has a nice depth to it with hints of purple. The fit is fantastic. I do plan on reblocking the arms a bit but only because I would like a different drape in that area. It's heavy enough to keep me warm in the cooler weather of winter and fall but will be perfect for summer nights camping. Win-win in my book.

Doesn't make sense to cover my top half and leave my bottom half freezing. Enter some pretty basic socks. These were a trial despite being my own pattern. The first sock was done in rapid fire style. The second one languished. Which isn't a terrible thing but I had tried on the first one so much AND forgotten to write down various changes I made while knitting that the second one doesn't have the same fit in the cuff. It'll block out but this initial wear was irritating. I like my socks to fit a very specific way and small differences are noticeable to me. These bad boys are beyond perfect otherwise. As our weather warms up and the snow melts, my driveway becomes a swamp of slushiness. Within hours of finishing these my help was required in getting a car unstuck. Up to my knees in slushy soup, my pants and boots were soaked. When I finally came in I noticed that my feet and legs were not cold even with this being the case. Took my shoes off and the socks were easily double their weight from the amount of water they soaked up. I'd say they did their job.

Pattern: Hideaway
Yarn: Knit Picks
    Body: Wool of the Andes Superwash- Solstice Heather
    Pocket: Stroll Brights- Pucker
Size: S1

Pattern: My own. Possibly coming soon!
Yarn: MadTosh: Vanilla Bean
Needles: 1, 3, and 5 (for bind off only).

Current Wips:
Broken Seed Stitch socks- possibly frogging these
Rainstorm Shawl- handspun (not my own)

Thursday, January 28

And then it had been two years....

Lookit! Lookit my bunneh!

Obviously it's been quite some time since I've blogged. I won't pretend to have any excuses. I'm lazy. I didn't want to. It takes a fair amount of effort to compose a post. Pictures and oh so witty text. I'm lazy.

I'm working on that though. I have a new camera, am happy with the way life is going, and far more motivation.

The above bunny is one of 3 that got completed during warmer months. This one went to the middle offspring. Yarn look familiar? It might to anyone who has read here in years past. That is handspan I did to make longies for said child. I was rifling through a box looking for something unrelated and pretty soon I was elbow deep in itty bitty baby clothes that hadn't seen the light of day in years. Longies included. I brought them out, washed them, frogged them, and reset the yarn. As it sat there looking at me I had an idea.

It was coming up on summer break for them (meaning they would go spend 6 weeks with their dad) and I knew she wasn't thrilled with the idea. In fact, she was asking not to go. I had been trying to come up with something to send her to help ease her mind a bit, something that could comfort her. Along came this rabbit.

The body is handspun originally worn by her, the belly and tail is some random nonsense I had hanging around, and the heart (put there to remind her I love her, I know....cheesy) is some purple sock yarn. I did stuff it with wool but only because that's what I had on hand. I would have preferred cotton stuffing for washability but in the end, it was a perfect combo. So far, the only thing that needs fixed is an arm end worked its way out. I'll weave it back in once I'm done here.

Lookit! Lookit mah yarn!

And for good measure, some new (ish) handspun. This also was completed when the earth wasn't trying to freeze me to bits. See the green bush? This happens when I'm not cold.

The yarn itself isn't miraculous. It was some leftover felting fiber I had bought when I bought a needle felting kit. I don't like felting or felted items. I don't know why I bought the kit. I ran the colors through the drum carder to create some randomness (I think there were 8 colors total) and then got to spinning. The original plan was to make it a 3-ply (like everything else I do) but a tester of that turned out fairly ugly. The colors lost their brightness and the yarn became even more rough than it already was. I left it as a single in the end. It is semi felted. On purpose. When I leave my yarns as a single, they are usually fairly thin. Some spots are weaker by default of not having the added strength that another ply gives. The buddy system works for yarn too! I recently knit this up into a custom piece. I'll share that later. Part of returning to blogging means making sure my pictures are all in one place. They aren't.

Current WIPS:
Hideaway sweater
Broken Seed Stitch socks
Rainstorm shawl- handspun (not my own)
Basic socks- my own pattern
My mother had me tested- spinning

Tuesday, July 29

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

Or so the saying goes.

I sort of drifted away from blogging for a bit and if I'm honest, knitting and spinning too. At the time of my last post I was one month out from a separation. Since then I've gotten divorced, moved, closed my physical location, and enrolled in school. What time I had left at the end of the day went to things like sleep and keeping my head on straight.

That has passed though. I start school in a month. My kids start in two. I've settled into my new home and have some idea of a routine going for my day. I work and am able to do so at any time of day that I want. I have time again.

Time to spin. Time to knit. Time to finish writing patterns that have sat neglected for far too long. Time to blog.

I have a test knit on the needles right now. It's staring at me, atop the pattern notes on my desk. On the other side is some yarn, that while not spun, is a new idea I have. On the wheel in the other room is some silk. Somewhere in my email I have directions for the table loom I got last year and have yet to touch. Stashed in my knitting bag is a shawl intended for Rhinebeck.

Slowly, but surely, it's coming back to me. My fingers are loosening into the movements they know and love. My feet are getting into the flow of the up and down motion needed to power my wheel. I find myself browsing patterns late at night and jotting down thoughts for my own. My mind and my muscles can once again focus on the small things that set me at ease, that soothe the bumps and scrapes of the day to day, that settle my thoughts when everything else in the world has gone to sleep.

Slowly, but surely, it's coming back to me.

Wednesday, October 2


It's that time of year! For the next couple weeks knitters and other fibery folks will be talking about Rhinebeck, whether it's their submissions or their travel plans or the budgets.

That includes me. This year I submitted two things.

The original plan was to send in just the BeeKeeper.

As time went on I thought about sending in some yarn. And then a shawl. And then something hand spun. Then nothing. After all, a 3 lb blanket is surely enough right? Wrong.

Enter: Chale Gaufrette. It was the best of everything. Hand spun, lace, shawl. As I was writing out my cards for the Bee Keeper, I glanced over and saw Chale sitting on the shelf, folded in a tidy little pile. I knew it was meant to be. Luckily, I had recently reblocked this with blocking wires so my points were nice and neat and firmly in place.

Both were carded, folded, and stuffed in a box. Based on tracking, it should arrive tomorrow. After that, it's just a matter of waiting. I was hoping to be there in person this year but no such luck. Next year maybe.

For tomorrow: a beaded shawl.

Friday, August 30

Shawl? What shawl?

I'm going to just admit it right now.

I knit shawls. Despite my many claims otherwise, it's time to just accept it.

Pattern: Olympic National Park shawl
Needles: US 7
Yarn: Superwash Merino/Mulberry Silk blend (bought off Etsy)
Mods: Only 1. The picot edge is done with 2 stitches. I worked mine with 3.
Start date: July 19
Finish date: August 29
Blocked dimensions: 41"x17" (vs. the patterns 39x16)

I have no idea why this took me over a month. It wasn't for lack of knitting time. It's an easy pattern. For some reason though, I had many a set back with it. In the end it didn't matter because it turned out better than I had hoped for. The picot edge was new for me. It's fiddly and time intensive but so worth it. So, so worth it.

 The tree trunks and stems are neat. A combination of twisted stitches (not to be confused with stitches knit through the back) and cables they just flow naturally. The first few inches can be hard to see but once things start to split and become more than the trunk it becomes rather intuitive.
 The leaves are just are easy to read once you get past the first one or two. I was sure that they'd be a pain in the butt based on the fact that I had to restart this 3 or 4 times (not sure wasn't hard) but I was happily surprised to see it wasn't.
 I'm not a fan of how the pattern was written out. It's formatted to be printed and while that is handy I think it's limiting. The charts are large with each one on it's own page (i.e. left side of the first chart is on a separate page from the right side) so there is a lot of scrolling back and forth if you read it from your computer. The chart legend is also on a separate page so if you forget something you have to go all the way to the top.
There are written instructions as well and I used those hoping to circumvent the scrolling issue. It worked BUT you have to read the written instructions similar to a chart. Odd numbered rows are left to right and even numbered rows are right to left. They are not written out that way though. Once I got the hang of it (it helped to highlight each row in each section as I went) it's irritating to have to zig zag back and forth across a pattern like that. It's an odd complaint because it's not a real complaint. The pattern is easy and intuitive. The hardest part about it is figuring out how you want to read it. That's not all that bad really.

Already on the needles: Cladonia. First 7 rows done and now that this is finished, I can work on it without guilt. Win-win.

Wednesday, July 17

And then there was poodle.

Alternate titles: Never, ever again.
What was I thinking?!
Think before saying yes.

Back in November I did a craft fair thing. I only had a half booth which meant I got to share space with another half-er. The lady I shared the space with did machine embroidery and made awesome ornaments. Near the end of the first day she started asking me about spinning. Being a spinner, and I imagine this is the case with any craft really, opens me up to a whole host of questions regarding what I can spin. I've been asked about everything from the obvious (cotton etc) to the less than obvious (corn silk). Without fail, no matter the person, I will get asked if I can spin pet hair. This is a resounding yes. Anything with fur/hair/coat can be spun. Technically. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. As is usual, she asked if I could spin dog. Then she got specific. Could I spin poodle? Would I need a carrier fiber for it? She wanted all the details.

 The next day she showed up with a tuft. A tuft of poodle. She asked if it was spinnable. I told her again that it was. She asked for all the details again and somehow, somewhere along the lines I agreed to spin it. She wanted it thin enough to do bobbin work but I told her there was no guarantee. A couple months later she gave me a call. She had recently groomed BOTH of her poodles and had found some wool roving to blend it with. She asked if 1lb of wool was enough. I assured her it was and we met up. She had 2.6 POUNDS of poodle. Not only was there a metric ton of it, she had washed it by shoving it in some pantyhose. Normally, this would be fine but it created clumps and balls of tightly matted curly poodle trimmings.
 Overwhelmed by the sheer amount of fiber and the amount of work it was suddenly going to take, I moved my attention to the roving. It was a nice large ball of a lovely white. And semi-felted. FELTED. A whole pound of semi-felted roving. This "easy peasy" spin was no longer easy.

I pulled out the drum carder and started putting the poodle through. This was a giant pain in the butt. No matter how much I spread it out and made it open, it was jamming things up and just becoming a giant floofy mess with no real direction. I ran it through again and again. And again. I finally had enough that I could run it through again, this time blending it with the semi-felted roving. I grabbed a chunk of it and ripped. It was all I could do. I ripped down the length and groaned. It sounded like ripping paper. Luckily, it opened up well enough that it went through the drum carder with ease.
The end result was nice enough that I had no complaints. I still hadn't spun it yet though. That would be the final test. I feel now is an appropriate time to mention again that just because you can, doesn't mean you should.
The bits that got double clipped resulted in tiny shorts tufts that wouldn't lay the right way or spin in easily. It would fly up and out of the wool and was generally a nuisance. Because both fibers were matted/semi-felted it made drafting rather difficult at times. The end result? Chunks of rough fiber that when forced to draft became rather sturdy. And unyielding. And not soft. It became such a mess that I didn't even bother to fill my entire bobbin. I couldn't. The fiber wasn't budging and I was tired of fighting it.
When I had first started this whole thing, I had plans of making a Navajo plied yarn with the entire amount of fiber. It did not end that way. I quickly spun up another single from just the wool and finished it off as a 2-ply. The wool spins fantastically by itself. Amazingly so. Ripping it all in half seemed to make it relax enough that even though it was hard to draft at times, it went smoothly. Well, in comparison to the blended portion. I quickly filled the bobbin and started plying. Which was another disaster. I lost a couple yards trying to get it all to behave but once it did, it was smooth sailing. Finally!
As soon as it was done, I finished off the wool single in a quick Navajo ply. It resulted in a mini skein of about 44 yds. The yarn is fantastic. Seriously lovely. There is more of the wool leftover and if I'm able, I will spin it to match this because AWESOME. The poodle though? Still debating.

Color wise, I love it. The delicate shifts from white to a light red are....well delicate. There are a few spots where it's a long blip of red but for the most part it's very blended. Unless you are holding it in your hand, you don't really notice it. It wasn't until a section of just wool passed through my fingers that I even noticed there was much color. The plain wool was significantly brighter and made it look like I had just attached a new batch of wool without blending it. I removed that piece and started again. The end result is a very subtle brownish red. When I say very subtle, I mean it.
The final yardage of poodle (prewashed...I'll re-measure in the morning) was/is 238 yds. Total between the two skeins is 282 yds. There is more. A lot more. I could easily get 1,000+ yds out of this but I don't want to. And I won't. Again: just because you can, doesn't mean you should. I will call the lady in the morning and explain everything to her and I know she will understand but this is not what I had in mind when I agreed to this. I was picturing this lofty, yardage heavy, soft yarn and instead I got a moderate yardage of yarn that smells (when wet) and feels exactly like the animal it came from. I envisioned whipping this out in a months time and having bragging rights galore and instead it took me about 2 months of fighting with the fiber and my equipment to get a yarn that I will happily never see again. I have no idea how this will work up (in any craft) and while I am curious enough to consider a quick swatch, I'm not sadistic enough to actually do it.
As a spinner (and knitter...this isn't just a spinner thing) I often have this grandiose vision of a project and the final outcome. I generally picture a serene evening where everything goes my way and I rock the hell out of the whole process. The reality is generally different and this project was no exception. It's a learning experience, as trite as that may be. I have learned a few things from this.
1. My drum carder is a beast of a machine and I love what it can do.
2. Poodle is something I never want to spin ever again.
3. Preset notions of a project will likely lead to a frustrating end result.
4. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.

Thursday, July 4

Alpaca everywhere

Back when I got my wheel I also got loads of fiber. One of them was a box full of the most gorgeous alpaca I had ever seen. Black and white and caramel brown and chocolate brown. All the colors layered and stacked together. The stuff was blissfully soft and clean and free of debris.

Except, it wasn't. The fibers were too short for easy spinning and the amount of grease left in this stuff was enough that it turned my fingers black. My lap would be covered in dust and various bits of dirt. It shed like crazy and was just, in general, a giant pain in the butt. I had started to spin it awhile ago and gave up because of how difficult it was. Then I had an epiphany late one night.

Run it through the drum carder. Why this hadn't come to me sooner is beyond me but I ran a bunch through and am thrilled with the results.

I can actually spin it now. Does it still shed? Heavens yes. Is my lap littered? Not as much. Running it through seems to have knocked quite a bit of dirt free and while I still get covered it isn't as bad. My fingers don't turn black nearly as quick either. That's always a plus. I ended up doing 8 bats and have barely made a dent in the box. I will be spinning this for a long time.