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December 11, 2005

My roving has a project

On the spinning front, I've been making as big a dent in this as I can.

That's my merino silk blend roving, which I've been spinning for a while now. I went back and forth, trying to decide what I'd knit with it, but I've decided to use it for this. Right now, I'm attempting to design my own shawl. I should note that I've never designed a shawl before, but hey, the worst that can happen is I make a less than stellar, piece. Who hasn't done that before?

Here is everything I've spun to date. I would say these photos are fairly accurate in showing the texture and color. I'm rather surprised at how much I've spun without getting bored. That braid at the top is about 5.8 ounces and the stuff on the bottom represents about 1.5 ounces. There has probably been another half an ounce of various problems, frustrations, knit swatches that wouldn't come undone and the like. We will speak no further of those.

So far, my experience with spinning this fiber has been good. There are occasional slubs of the merino content. Sometimes they are easy to pick out and sometimes they become "features" of the yarn. Otherwise, the spinning is fairly easy if rather imperfect. The silk content makes drafting smooth and delightful but not very even and it occasionally gets away from me. Since I haven't actually started the piece, I simply spin when the mood hits me. I may be more flustered if knitting is held up by spinning. We shall see.

Either way, it has to take a back seat as it is "that time of year" (which should be said in a most ominous tone) so there are other projects that take priority.

By the way, I'm so happy that a bunch of you left a comment to assure me that you still manage to make it to my site. My bloglines account hasn't shown a single new post for me since I switched to MT, but if at least a few of you are still stopping by then I'll keep posting away. I have fodder for several more posts, already.

December 16, 2005

A little more progress

The Dragon Hoodie is moving right along. I love knitting baby stuff. I feel like such a prolific knitter.

The body is done and a sleeve begun. The sleeves are going slowly because this yarn is hard to knit on plastic needles. Metal is definitely the best choice but since I'm saving my pennies for Christmas presents, I'll get by.

I've also been working on my shawl a bit. You can use the squares on my ironing board for scale, if you like. The top pieces hoodie is about 11-12" wide (it's not blocked so I'm estimating a bit)

December 19, 2005

If it's green, it's good

What do you think of the shawl?

I ripped her out and washed and dried the yarn, so I could start over. There was a problem, several rows back, no life line and not enough shawl in existence to really warrant a tedious fix, so I ripped her. The deadline is so far off, that I'm not terribly bothered by that.

But it hasn't all been the foul smell of failure. The Dragon Hoodie is progressing beautifully.

I'm working on the hood right now and will begin all the little dragony details after that.

In spinning news, my parents sent me roving for Christmas. What? Christmas is a week away? Are you saying that when I get a package at my door, a couple weeks before Christmas, with my parent's return address, I should know not to open it? Insanity!

And look at what was inside! Each bag is half a pound of gorgeous roving. The left two bags are a rich olive green Corriedale roving. It appears that MJ has almost identical roving, herself. I met her in person for the first time this weekend, at a knitting get together. It's a little eerie that we both have matching Kundert spindles and green roving, if we hadn't been seen in the same location at the same time, someone could have assumed we were the same person.

I managed to snap a pic of the Corriedale, on the spindle this weekend. She has her own ray of sunshine here. That means this is the only picture with enough lighting to be any good.

It sort of makes the rest of the pictures look even worse. I began spinning this on the Kundert, and it spins well, but I really found myself feeling like I had to spin pretty thick singles on it, so I switched to the Golding. I may have to invest in a few more Goldings just so I can spin more than one roving at a time. This 0.9 oz has been perfect for just about everything. I love it.

This is how it looks plied. The color is really a true olive green, despite the variety of shades you see here. When I was spinning it near daylight, I saw undertones of yellow shine through, it's actually quite lovely.

The other roving in the bags is a Merino/silk blend. It spins up into more of a sage green shade because the white of the silk soften the colors.

You know, though, there's a pretty good chance that I'm not going to be able to spin all that roving by hand. I mean, I'm a relatively quick spinner (spindler? spinster?) but a pound of sock weight yarn is a lot of yarn to spin. So Julia and I are talking about renting a wheel. I'm a little scared to go down that road, but I think it's time. Look for news of that next year.

December 23, 2005

Is this what I think it is?

I think I may have spun a balanced yarn. I'm not sure here, I'm still a relative novice, but fresh off the spindle, after plying, it appears to rest pretty comfortably, without twisting back on itself.

This is some of the beautiful green merino and silk roving my parents sent for Christmas. I haven't washed it and hung it yet and it's still seems to be hanging in a manner that would suggest it is balanced. I didn't mean to but there you go. After taking the pictures, I gave it a quick soak, so it'll be knit ready by dinner time.

More pics after the bump.

Continue reading "Is this what I think it is?" »

December 28, 2005

After the bath

That green merino silk roving gets even better after a wash and hang.
It really seems to even things out a bit and make the yarn look slightly less "hand spun." Don't get me wrong, I'm proud of the fact that I hand spun it, but I don't want it to be too obvious.

I plied Panda with belly rubs to get another shot of her donning my handiwork.

In fact, she is mid belly rub in the picture.
Can you hear her? "Oh, the suffering, the indignity, the....a little to the left please."

And do you see her bucket of toys and treats in the background? Yes, that's only one of two. Don't even get me started about the whole cabinet full of treats for the little pooper. She lives a hard life.

December 30, 2005

He's done good

My brother and his girlfriend are in town visiting. We haven't seen too much of each other because of scheduling conflicts, but we've seen enough to swap gifts. Matt got some Hooray For Me Gloves and Jess got the Dragon Hoodie for her little girl.

But they came bearing gifts for us. So sweet. Jess brought us a huge basket of gourmet yummies, many of which Leo and I have already consumed, partially or fully. She even brought Miss Panda some cookies. And Matt, a man who referred to my knitting as "sewing" at one point, got me this.

It's about 11 oz of beautiful purple merino/silk roving. It's soft as a bunny a stunning color. The image isn't a perfect representation, the color is really a pretty deep purple with shades of burgundy, lilac and everything in between. He got the roving from Shuttles Spindles and Skeins in Boulder Colorado. I love it. It's so sweet that he walked into a fiber shop, looked for the perfect roving and came back with something so great.

That spindle shows what I've spun this morning. It's working up very nicely. The color becomes richer and the various other shades sparkle through.

Quick Update on the Purple Stuff

I spun a bit more of my new purple roving and plied it. I thought you might like a pre-wash shot of it in all its glory. The shades came together in a striking tweed-like way. It's even better than I could have hoped.

A bit more after the bump

Continue reading "Quick Update on the Purple Stuff" »

January 4, 2006

90 yards

I have a lot of "well duh!" moments, which would be "Aha!" moments if they weren't so obvious. One of those moments was when I realized I had everything I needed to determine the yardage I'm getting with my spinning.

Here are two skeins of my soft and lovely yarn spun up from the roving my brother gave me. Before this weekend, I would have told you that I had no idea how many yards were in there, but the answer was obvious all along. To make my skeins, when done plying, I wrap the yarn from the spindle around my calf, from foot to knee. the long way. To find out my yardage, I wrapped the tape measure the same way, found out my length and multiplied it by the number of times I wrap the yarn around my leg. Well duh!

More gratuitous yarn shots after the bump.

Continue reading "90 yards" »

January 9, 2006

It's not just Panda and Politics around here

I've been doing my crafty thing as well. Here is some left over wool/soy silk roving I've had a little sample of. Since there was such a small amount, I spun it as finely as possible. I used my 0.6 oz Golding spindle which helped me achieve a true lace weight yarn. I knit a little swatch of it last night and got 9 stitches to the inch on a US #1 needle and I certainly could have gone down a needle size without a problem. This stuff spun beautifully. I assume it's the soy that gives it its smooth drafting ability since I still find myself struggling a bit with pure wool.

It's taken me a little while to adapt to my 0.6 oz spindle. I learned on a 1.3 oz, have been using my 0.9 oz for almost everything but I'm now really starting to appreciate this lighter one. I know there are people who can spin spider web thin yarn on a 3 oz spindle and I tip my hat to those folks. I just can't get enough spin into the fiber soon enough to ever be successful. My spindle will have proven its dropping ability long before I get a yard spun. But a light spindle holds its own challenges. I realize it's all simple physics, but it's hard to know exactly how it will feel if you aren't well versed on those sorts of sciences. In my case, I face two big hurdles with a lighter spindle.


  1. I have to spin the spindle harder to get a long enough spin to be productive. Or, I have to spin the spindle more than once to spin the same length of yarn.

  2. The spindle tends to be less stable in its spin. I suspect this is partially technique on my part, but, while drafting, I sometimes maneuver in such a way as to send my spindle into a planetary like rotation, where the poles no longer sit at a true north/south*. While this works splendidly for our fine earth, it's less effective for a spinner.

* Ok, ok, I know that North and South are relative to our own planet and not the least bit relevant once you step off the planet or out of our solar system. Let's think "grade school diorama," for this analogy, ok?

More spindly fun, after the bump.

Continue reading "It's not just Panda and Politics around here" »

January 11, 2006

Watching sausage being made

I really want to show you images of the handspun I've been knitting. What is my problem? Lighting. I get up at 4:30 am to blog, and I've spent an hour trying to get a decent picture. It's not light out when I'm home, this time of year. While I've certainly offered my fair share of crappy photos, I genuinely do strive to have something decent to show you.

There are some bloggers who just never seem to have bad pictures up. They tend to photograph their pictures in natural light to ensure that everything looks beautiful.
I am not these bloggers, nor any of the others, who, ifI weren't so sleepy, I'd remember. Nope, I take pictures when I am ready to blog and light be damned! But it doesn't mean I don't lament my crappy photos. This morning, I took my soy silk yarn on a field trip around the house in hopes of finding a decent shot.

Go on the adventure, after the bump.

Continue reading "Watching sausage being made" »

Shine your light on me

Well, I found a couple minutes to snap a photo of my knit handspun. There's a big old window near a couple of empty work stations, in my area, and since I get to work so early, there was no one to ask, "Marnie, why are you taking pictures of a band-aid sized piece of knitting, at the office?"

Here is a picture that shows how textural the stitch is.

And this shows, fairly nicely, what the stitch really looks like.

The handspun has proven to knit up much better than I could hope. There's a gradual transition from one dominant color to the next and a subtle second color that acts like a highlight.

Here's my knitting enjoying the view. If you were able to look right, up a steep hill and into the "nice" part of town, you could also see where Leo works.

Many of you have asked about the stitch. It's the same stitch used in this cardi from Vogue Knitting

I've found a couple variations in my Harmony Guides. They refer to this one as "Star Stitch II"

I really like this stitch because of its versatility. Worked on larger needles and blocked out, it produces a lovely flower like lace stitch. Worked tightly on smaller needles, you get a great textural stitch that doesn't curl and is just unusual enough to catch peoples' attention.

The stitch is worked as follows.


With a multiple of 4+1
Star: P3 tog, but leave old stitch on left needle, yo, P same 3 stitches together, removing the old stitch from the left needle.
Rows 1 and 3: Knit
Row 2: *k1, star stitch* repeat to last stitch, k1
Row 4: k1, p1, *k1, star stitch* repeat to last 3 stitches, k1, p1, k1

Actually, I knit it slightly differently, because I knit in the Combined method, which means my knit stitches sit differently. I essentially reverse the pattern. I Purl the odd rows and I work purls between the stars and work the stars with k3togs, only, because of the way my stitches sit, it's like I've done an SSSK. I'm not sure that's actually of any interest to anyone, but there you go.

January 13, 2006

Spin spin spin

As I reported before, almost all my knitting has been on my stealth project so I can only entertain you with spinning, for now. I hope that those of you who aren't spinners aren't too bored with it all.

After such success with my soy silk roving worked on my 0.6 oz spindle, I thought I should try it on some of my other roving.

The result is about 52 yards of two ply Lace to DK weight yarn.

More yarn porn after the bump

Continue reading "Spin spin spin" »

January 18, 2006

Mangos, Pumpkins, Saffron, Ginger

Not very long ago, Wendy spun up the most beautiful orange roving. You can see it in all its splendor here.

If you swing by my blog, with any regularity, you know that I'm not terribly drawn to warm colors, as a general rule. Blues, greens, and purples dominate over all other colors. It's not that I don't love a wide variety of colors, its just that, given a choice, I stay in my color comfort zone and stick to shades I know look good on me and that I love looking at. But this orange had me smitten. So I headed on over to Nistock Farms, where Wendy had gotten her roving, and I got myself 8 delicious ounces of Autumn Spice.

It arrived last night and I didn't even shed my heels and suit before I was spinning away. We reached the front door at 6pm, by 7:30, I had spun, plied, washed and set to dry 26 yards of handspun.

Since these pictures were taken around 3:30 AM (I'm having me a little bout of insomnia, thanks for asking) there is no proper lighting. I think, all things considered, the pictures are fairly representative of the color overall, but they don't really capture some of the beautiful subtleties of the shade. It's mostly a lovely pumpkin color, with shades of a soft pink, some grey and yellow. The overall effect is amazing.

The wool is definitely not as soft as, say, a merino or alpaca, but I love it and it spins surprisingly easily on my little 0.9 oz spindle.

In addition to the 8ozs of Autumn Spice, I also got myself 4oz of the Fudge Brownie shade you'll find on the same page. I haven't even begun to spin that.

To all of you spinners out there, I'm starting to find myself overflowing with roving. I have absolutely no issues with this. I am wondering, though, what is the best way to store the stuff to avoid any problems with it as it waits for my little spindles to spin it up? It's relatively warm and dry here in LA, though I live within a very short distance of the ocean.

Make love to the camera

I snapped a quick picture of my roving, basking in the sun at work.

Just thought I'd share.

January 20, 2006

Brownies and Pumpkin Pie

I just love my Autumn Spice Cotswold. I think about spinning it when I'm at work and it's become increasingly hard not to burn dinner while I try to work spinning into my nightly routine.

Here's a bit more of it spun up and plied. Why do I love this yarn so? I don't know. It's not the softest yarn I have, but it's certainly soft enough to be knit into a nice wrap or a cardigan. The little halo of fuzziness delights me. At first I was thrown by it, but now I love it more and more. I pre draft the roving and the yarn just seems to spin itself. It's nearly effortless.

But I also got myself some of the Fudge Brownie roving. This stuff is gorgeous. The color is dark chocolate and the feel is silky, dense and smooth. Fudge Brownie is the perfect name for it. I find it harder to spin though. Instead of long snakes of roving that I can predraft, this tends to want to fall into clumps. It's smooth but the fibers like to grab ahold of each other in unexpected ways so I end up with more thick and thin areas than I'm used to. I tried my 0.9oz and then my 1.3oz spindle. The extra weight seemed to help. I decided to try spinning it a bit thicker than normal, and this is the result.

On top is both of my skeins of Autumn Spice held together in a single skein. You can see that the brown top is much thicker. Spinning thicker yarn is turning out to be challenging for me. I did notice, in the process, that I like the way the yarn looks when it is really tightly spun. It loses some of it's softness but it picks up a sheen that's decadent. I think my next skein will err on the side of overspun, to see what happens.

Here's a close-up of the two yarns. You can see that my brown yarn is not very even.

MJ has been trying to spin more thickly too. A lot of people feel that spinning fine weight yarn is harder than thicker yarn. But I think most people acclimate to spinning a certain weight of yarn and need time to learn to control other weights. It's not a matter of "this weight is good" and "this weight is bad." I'll consider myself a good spinner when I can spin many weights well. For now, I proudly wear my "novice" crown, with my head held high. No shame in it.

There's just one thing that bothers me. Do you hear it? I know I do. I hear the sweet song of the wheel calling me. I'm trying to be strong and, luckily, I do not think I could reasonably justify the cost right now. But that doesn't mean I'm not haunted by the thought of spinning all my gorgeous roving in a couple days instead of needing months to do it. I can't deny that seeing huge skeins of continuous roving, wound off a bobbin, doesn't make me drool a little. I'm counting on a certain friend of mine, to keep me sane. And if I happen to visit this site several times a day, it's only for research purposes.

January 23, 2006

Finally, some knitting

Before I bore you with more of the same, how about a little something new?

I finished my stealth knit a little while ago, and it's awaiting whatever fate the yarn gods have in store for it. That left my needles free for other things.

I begin teaching some classes at the KnitCafe, starting this week. The owner asked me to come up with a simple eyelet scarf pattern and the above image shows the results.

I'm relatively picky about scarf stitches. I don't believe they have to be completely reversible, but I do feel that, if others are respecting your personal space, it shouldn't be apparent if the back and front don't match. So my quest was for a stitch pattern that used only knits, purls, k2togs, ssks and yos, and did so in a manner that was very simple, basically reversible, and would lie flat without any additional edge stitches. I couldn't find anything that entirely suited my needs, so I modified a stitch pattern and came up with what you see above.

Here are some close ups.

There isn't a front or back, per se, but let's call this the front.

And here's the back

The yarn is the leftover Karabella Aurora 8 from Hopeful. I used exactly 2 balls with less than a yard left over after I wove in all the ends and cut the fringe. The scarf blocked out to about 6 feet long. The stitch pattern is a modified 5x5, with a 3 stitch selvage on each side.

I will post the pattern, for free, sometime soon.

And now, some entirely unnecessary images of my Cotswold as it basks in the California sun, after the bump.

Continue reading "Finally, some knitting" »

February 1, 2006

I'm almost reluctant to post this

I'm back to trying to design a shawl with my handspun, and once again, I'm starting from scratch with a new design and new yarn.

For those of you who visit regularly, you are probably well aware of my current fascination with my Autumn Spice Cotswold from Nistock Farms. It will then come as no surprise that I want to actually knit what I've spun.

This is what I have so far.

I like it. So why am I reluctant to post this? Because I'm a bit worried it will go awry, as my previous attempts at a shawl have. I'm not terribly fond of repetitive knitting. I'd much rather work something with an intricate stitch pattern or lots of shaping, than something that's very repetitive. I can manage a scarf or sock, here and there, but it's hard for me to keep my interest. So will this piece ever be anything more than a glimmer in my eye? Time will tell.

Even more questionable, though, is whether or not I'll ever spin enough of the roving with my spindle to have a shawl large enough cover my shoulders. I suspect I’ll need quite a bit once my rows get a bit longer.

More spicy goodness, after the bump

Continue reading "I'm almost reluctant to post this" »

February 5, 2006

Not much progress

I haven't had as much time to knit as I'd hope, so the shawl is going slowly. Admittedly, that's partially because I don't consider it a traveling knit. I really have to focus on it pretty well to make sure I don't mess it up and that means it's hard to work in poor lighting or while commuting. But, I am still really happy with it and am channeling all those words of encouragement from folks.

Wanna see more?

It kind of looks like it did in the previous post, huh? But I'm not just knitting for it, I'm spinning for it too.

Here's everything I've spun to date. It comes out to about 74 grams sock weight yarn.

My most recent batch is 67 yards and weights 20 grams. Anyone have any idea how many yards/grams I'll need to make an averaged sized shawl?

March 3, 2006

I like my birthday to last as long as possible

Wednesday was a long day. It wasn't a bad day, but it was long. Leo and I left the house at 5:15 AM, so we could make some early morning work obligations, and we didn't get home till almost 9 PM, because I had a beginner knitting class to teach that evening. That's a long day. But, awaiting me, when I returned home, was a big package with a little surprise inside.

It's a belated birthday present from my step father, a brand new spindle from Golding.

I now have four wonderful spindles in my collection.

From left to right, their weights are:
1.9 ozs, 1.3 ozs, 0.9 ozs, 0.6 ozs

I've been spinning some merino and I think I'm getting a feel for the heavier weight. It's been a nice match and a good chance to practice spinning some thicker gauge yarn, though I have to admit that my left arm gets tired more quickly. I can see myself using this spindle a lot. The larger whorl means I can use it to ply my finer yarns and the weight is a nice match for roving that tends to be grippier (technical term).

March 6, 2006

My spinning's getting a little worsted

Ah, my beautiful new spindle!

One of the reasons I asked for a heavier spindle for my birthday was because I wanted to start spinning different weights of yarn. Of course, any of my lighter spindles can be used to spin chunkier yarn, but I think the extra weight is helpful. So, after practicing with some spare merino, I pulled out my gorgeous olive green Corriedale and I tried spinning some thicker yarn.

The singles are about a DK weight, it's much thicker than I usually spin, but by the end, I was getting pretty consistent results. Since I use the Andean Plying method, my most even bits are plied against my most inconsistent bits so the overall effect doesn’t look so great, but I can live with that.

When plied, I got something around a worsted or a little thicker weight. Actually, fresh off the spindle, it was more of a chunky or bulky weight, there was a lot of loft, but having washed and hung the yarn, I’ve still kept a bit of loft, but the yarn is closer to worsted in weight. I still love the finer weight yarns I’ve spun, but it’s good to practice spinning a bit thicker.

As for the spindle, it’s working beautifully. A couple people asked if I had noticed a wobble or any other problems, and I have not. This is a beautifully balanced spindle that gets enough momentum to keep spinning and spinning. I would guess that people who have had problems may be using a design without as much symmetry, which could throw the balance off a bit. That’s just my guess.

March 10, 2006

The spin zone

While at Stitches, I got myself some lovely light sage green merino/silk blend roving. I bought it from the Angora Cottage booth. The first day, they had a sale and I got this roving for a great price.

I've been spinning it up on my 0.9 oz spindle, working the singles into about a fingering/DK weight with hopes of having a light worsted when I'm done.

I am finally feeling comfortable spinning slightly thicker weight yarns. I'm not sure I could do a big chunky yarn yet, but it's getting better each time I try.

Let me tell you, though, I've been acquiring roving at a pace I can't imagine ever catching up to with my lovely little hand spindles. Janel of both Spindilicity and Cameleon Colorworks fame, sent me 3 gorgeous servings of her hand dyed roving.

I got two of the Merino/Silk dyed in colorway "Catalina".

This was the same colorway I used for this pattern.

And then there's this:

The colorway is Indian Wedding and the fiber is Merino/Tencel. I'm not sure why I've been so drawn to warm tones lately, but this color is decadent. I've never spun a Tencel blend before, so we'll have to see how that goes, but if it's anything like spinning a silk blend, I think I'll like it.

And if that's not enough roving to add to the bunch, I'm awaiting an order I just placed with Amy for some of her Almost Solid Series roving.

March 16, 2006

Beyonce, why you gotta be like that?

Work has been interesting, lately. We have a set of conference rooms that used to be the senior management's offices, back in the company's more opulent days. They are now a lovely set of rooms, perfect for holding one's various meetings. Skylights and lovely views offer that little flash of daylight that can make an otherwise dreary day, a touch less so. However, they are all booked this month. Apparently, Beyonce is shooting a movie in or amongst them. Now we are faced with a constant scrabble to compete for the remaining conference rooms, peppered about the building, in corners unknown. Working in downtown LA, movie shoots are not a new inconvenience in life, and we have had our conference rooms used for filming before, but never for quite so long. Such is life, I suppose.

Anyway, that's neither here nor there. I wanted to show you a little bit of the plying I did this weekend. Remember the sage colored merino/silk I spun up into singles recently? Well, it's plied now.

I wish you could see it in person, it has a beautiful depth to it. Most of my other spinning has been for the shawl, so it's more of the same. Speaking of which, I will hopefully finish it up this weekend, and will post pictures as soon as I can. Send your good shawl vibes my way.

Finally, Panda would like to thank you for all the love.

We have an agreement that for every sweet comment you leave for her, she gets belly rubs. It seems only fair.

March 17, 2006

Guess who's blocking

It's only about 4 feet wide, so it's a mini-shawl, but it's my first and it's made from my handspun so I'm as happy as can be.

Leo said "It looks like it could fall apart, like it could break." I informed him that the term is "delicate" and that, for lace, that's a good thing.

It should be dry tonight and I'll be able to get some better pictures, but for now, this will have to do.

And boy, Panda has been in belly rub heaven. She loves the love, so thanks to all of you who sent her some. For those who asked, yes, she is getting cuter and yes, I'm a complete sucker for her big brown eyes and yes, she knows she's working it.

March 19, 2006

Taking it for a whorl

Since finishing my shawl, (pics coming soon) I've been spinning a lot. It could be the influx of new roving that has me excited or maybe it's seeing something I've spun worked up into something I'm proud of, but whatever it is, I just can't seem to stop.

First, I spun up some of the merino/tencel I got from Janel. The colorway is called "Indian Wedding." It beautiful, though I found it harder to spin than some of the other fibers I've used. I want to try again with a different spindle and see if that helps. The final product is so soft and the sheen is so nice, I know I'm going to want to spin it all up.

I also got my order from Spunky Eclectic. I ordered two batches of Amy's Almost Solid Series.

I. Love. This. Stuff.

It works up into a yarn that looks a lot like the Twisted Sister Monochromatic Variegated yarns.

I got myself a batch of Corriedale in Sunflower.

And worked it up into a big ol' skein. My new spindle has allowed me to make much larger quantities of yarn in a go. Why on earth I chose yellow, I don't know. I certainly can't wear that color alone and the other colors I have don't really go with it, but it makes me so happy to look at it. Don't get me wrong, I think yellow is an amazing color, I'm just not so sure it's a logic choice for me.

I also bought myself a batch of Merino in colorway, Red Maple. I think the color is really more like Plum. It's got a warm red undertone, but it's a pretty deep purple overall.

I'm spinning this much finer than the yellow, which is between a sport and worsted weight. This is going to be more like a sock weight, once plied.

From some of the sweet comments I've been getting, I am starting to think that we might need a "Knit Your Handspun Along," because there are a lot of you who don't seem to ever do anything with the yarn you create. Julia suggested that to me a while ago, so I can't take any credit for the idea, but I'd love to know what folks think.

March 23, 2006

I'm knitting with sunshine

I just think you need to see how beautiful that Almost Solid Roving is when spun and knit.

I knit this while commuting, just trying to think of different stitches off the top of my head. That's why the lacy bit at the top is kind of wonky. I think I'm going to have to spin up more and see if I can come up with a cute scarf pattern. My gut is to go with a mitten/glove/mitt sort of pattern, but I have so many of those, it feels like a bit of a cop out. I can't really do a hat, because that color looks pretty bad right against my face. I'm sure a scarf isn't really better, but since I have this scarf already, and it's never bothered me, I figure another yellow scarf won't hurt.

In case you are wondering, I've also spun up that other Almost Solid shade I bought. It's drying now.

March 24, 2006

Shawl Project Notes

All the notes after the bump

Continue reading "Shawl Project Notes" »

March 31, 2006

Cardigan Trim

I have been working on the trim for my machine knit cardi, for a couple of days. I started by trying to pick up stitches around the whole piece but found that none of my circular needles were long enough. Next, I tried crochet, but I couldn't quite get the effect I wanted. Crochet just tends to be denser and less drapy, and I wanted to keep the trim soft.

So today, I went to an LYS and picked up a longer circular needle. It's funny, really, while it only took me a couple days to knit the piece on the machine, it's taking me much longer to actually finish it.

Not much to look at, really, though I tried it on before picking up to knit and I am very happy with the fit.

When I'm not working on the cardi, I've been spinning up more of my sunflower colored roving

I've spun just over half of the 4 ounces that I bought. The left skein is my first and the right, my most recent. It's a little finer than the first round but not by much.

I've also made one last addition to the shawl.

It's a little rose crocheted from the same yarn. I think it'll be a nice way to close shawl without tying or holding it.

April 11, 2006

What have I learned this weekend?

I got so many great comments and even more votes in my little poll. It appears that around 62% of folks that voted like the cardi as it is. However, most commenters leaned more towards softening or modifying the ruffle. I think, based on the feedback, I'll keep the piece as is for now. It seems like most of the people who didn't love the ruffle are not ruffle kinds of people anyway. What can I say? I'm pretty girly sometimes. I'm also working on a matching camisole with no ruffle, to wear with the cardigan. It's a simple square neck, fitted piece with a very simple crochet border that should compliment the cardigan without making the whole thing too busy. Yes, I know, a good blogger would have a picture. Sorry about that.

This weekend, I also learned that Deciduous likes to go out dancing. Want to see pictures? Check 'em out after the bump.

Continue reading "What have I learned this weekend?" »

April 17, 2006

Merigold

I know I said I was going to knit a scarf with my sunflower colored Corriedale handspun. I know I said I wouldn't knit a hat because I don't look good in yellow.

I say a lot of things.

So yah, I knit a hat with my handspun and I'm pretty happy with it. The stitch pattern is from a Barbara Walker book and is called "Bleeding Hearts." It doesn't really look like bleeding hearts to me, unless it's some commentary on my political stance, then maybe.

Here's a little close up of the stitch pattern

Panda decided she wanted in on the photo shoot, so I picked her up and gave her a big smooch.

And then I took her picture because after the last post, I felt I needed to prove that I do not condone the humiliation of doggies except inasmuch as I find it funny and post pictures of it which means I sort of do condone it. But let's not dwell on alleged ducky slippers and robes. Instead, let's admire how cute Miss Bear is.

Awwww...

Anyway, I've submitted the hat pattern for consideration in a future edition of Spindlicity. If Janel doesn't want to run it, I'll post the pattern here, so either way, if you want yourself a similar hat, it'll be available somewhere, at sometime.

April 20, 2006

Almost published

It seems like forever ago.
The talented and wonderful, Shannon Okey, contacting me to ask if I'd design a piece for the second of her KnitGrrl books. I hadn't ever worked with her before but her enthusiasm was enough to sway me. I drafted up a proposal and sent it to her and she accepted the idea. The result is Drake the Dreaded, the Dragon Backpack:

I think he's cute. You see that tongue there? It's functional.


When you open him up, that tongue is the pull cord to cinch the bag shut.

Here's his backside.

Shannon gave me great positive feedback when I finished him and sent him off. I was excited. Unfortunately, he didn't hold nearly as much charm for the editor of the book and he was cut, last minute. It happens and it was definitely not a personal thing. I was offered the choice of having him be a free promotional pattern for the book or just getting him back to use as my own pattern. There was some problem getting any final paperwork from the editor so we decided to cut our losses and Drake is back home with me.

Since I still have my original pattern instructions and I now have my sample back, I was thinking I'd offer the pattern up on my site, for a very small fee, say $3.50. I wanted to feel it out though and see if folks thought that would be of interest to them. So leave me a comment and let me know what you think and if there's a lot of interest, I'll post a pattern this weekend.

In spinning news, I've been spinning up some of my yummy Almost Solid Series Sampler.

This is some BFL in colorway "Redwood." It's my first time spinning BFL and it's a delight. I'm spinning it on my 0.9 ounce Golding. When plied, it should be about a DK weight.

If you've been wondering about the machine knit cardi and cami, they are done, I just need to get them on me and in front of a camera when there is actual daylight.

April 26, 2006

G'day? I'll say!

Last night there was a package for me.

It was from Australia.

It hasn't been light out during any time since I got it, so just know that these pictures don't do the contents justice.
If you would like to see what's inside, it's all after the bump.

Continue reading "G'day? I'll say!" »

April 27, 2006

Keep going while the going is good

I've been cranking away on Leo's sweater, which I simply must find a name for since it's early stages bare a striking resemblance to someone else's sweater for a Leo. I am happy to report that while my Leo will be wearing a ribbed sweater, I have not accidentally designed a piece that is nearly identical to that one. But I do believe that the two men are cut from the same cloth (or should it be; knit from the same yarn.)

So, for the start of the sweater I cast on of about 120 stitches, and worked in ribbing for about 120 rows. In the world of exciting things to do, this rates at about a -3. But, we are at the early stages of knitting this piece and, like a relationship, the things that may annoy or bore me later, are simply delightful now.

So knowing that the thought of casting a new piece may feel like torture, by the time I finish the back piece, I've decided to leverage my existing enthusiasm and get the most tedious bits out of the way first.

So there is the back, knit up to the armsceye, with the front, cast on and knit for a few rows, sitting on top.
I gently blocked the back so you could see the fabric as it will be when completed. The first inch of each piece is knit on a slightly smaller needle so that the bottom edge won't flip out in some wonky way.

Now, when it comes time to knit the rest of the back, it won't seem quite so dreary. I'm thinking I'll need to knit both sleeves at the same time as well, to rid myself completely of second sleeve syndrome. Some people find knitting the sleeves first to be the best remedy, but in a man's garment which will be knit rather long, I suspect that this portion of the knitting will be the hardest to find motivation for. Time will tell if I'm correct.

I've also been spinning a little. I actually completed this skein several days ago.

It's the Redwood colorway from my Spunky Eclectic haul.

May 1, 2006

Crazy week ahead

Blogging may be sparse over then next few days. I've been asked to work out of the Orange County office for the week, to oversee part of a project we've been working on for a few months. This effectively doubles my commute, which, when added to 10 hour days, means that I'll have time to do little more than wake up, drive, work, drive, go to sleep. Fun! I don't mind so much except that I can't take public transportation so my knitting time is almost nil. Thank god for lunch breaks.

In the mean time, take a look at the beautiful silk yarn I spun up from the care package that Lynn sent me.

It's about a light sport weight and was spun up on my 0.9 ounce Golding.

May 19, 2006

Pleading Patients Overlooked

I can't quite decide what my the PPO portion of my medical insurance is referring to. I thought it was shorthand for "the world is your medical oyster" but I'm finding myself a tad frustrated today. The short story is that I need to get some inoculations so I can take a business trip to India in July, which is a very cool opportunity but is involving a lot of effort I hadn't originally considered. I think I've sorted most of the confusion out in what appears to be the first instance of my insurance company being more helpful than the doctor's office. Who knew? Anyway, I have two sore upper arms and a yellow card detailing my immunities to some rather icky viruses. There was also a bit of time to knit on Leo's sleeves.

I will still need some boosters and a tetanus shot, as well as a few prescriptions, but I've got the stuff that needed a lot of lead time out of the way.

Working on Leo's sweater, I've given myself little leeway to do much else. Obviously, I knit Gir but there really hasn't been much else. I occasionally pick up my spindle which has some lovely alpaca on it.

It's not that I'm not enjoying spinning it, it's just that I really want to crank through Leo's sweater and I cannot spin and knit at the same time. But, imagine if I could...oh my own vision of Valhalla.

Knitting miles of ribbing does give me ample time to consider what comes next. I'll definitely be working on the clown hat, but what should I do in India. July = monsoon season in the area. Temperatures, apparently, can average around 120 degrees though I'm told it's quite a bit cooler where we'll be. Even so, I'm thinking small, portable, and able to be worked on mindlessly. All signs point to socks. I'm not a huge sock knitter, but I am feeling that 2 socks on 2 circs will prevent second sock syndrome AND be more likely to survive a trip through security and customs without a lot of explanation. I like working on DPNs, but having a preference for metal to wood means that's probably a bad idea.

So last night I ripped out a partially knit, now abandoned project that was started with some Socks that Rock in colorway, Carbon. It needed a bath and hanging to get the kinky bits out but now looks as good as new.

I also have some solid shades of koigu around and plenty of self patterning sock yarn, all of which will only take up a small amount of space in my luggage but which should easily entertain me for my 24 hour long commutes to and from India as well as the small amount of down time I'll have during the trip.

May 26, 2006

Breaking up and moving out

I think it's been 5 years now, maybe 4, my memory is not so good, but it is time. We've had a good run, going many fun places together, but let's be honest, we're both more worn than when we met and my needs are simply greater than you can accommodate.

This is the conversation I had with my old Klimt purse.

You know, I still really love the design and its small size always kept me from carrying too much stuff, but it could never quite accommodate my cell phone, wallet AND the digital camera, along with things like keys and such that are purse mainstays. I think, if the image weren't fading, I'd carry this purse forever. It was a gift from my mom, several years ago, and it's gone with me just about everywhere. I am not a purse floozy. Occasionally I'll carry something different when I'm going out for an evening, but in general, I'm a one purse kind of girl.

But yesterday, a package arrived from my mom. She has graced me with a brand new Klimt purse, which is bigger and even more lovely than the last.

Gorgeous, no? It's a deep chocolate brown and nearly twice as big as my old purse. They are both Icon purses and I can say, with some authority, that they are very well made. Despite the fact that I have carried my old purse for years and stuffed it full on many occasions, it only showed wear at corners, the main image is still perfect, and the lining has never so much as considered ripping. The new purse has a lovely assortment of pockets and pouches and even came with this matching key chain.

It has taken me all of 5 minutes to move everything out of the old purse into the new one and it feels like moving from a studio apartment into a 3 bedroom house; there's just so much extra space. Yay!

In crafty news, the sleeves on Leo's sweater are nearly done with only about 30 more rows left, I hope to have pictures soon. For now, here's a peek at some of that pink roving that Lynn sent me, which I've been spinning on my Kundert spindle.

June 21, 2006

Four Plying Out Loud!

A certain someone gave me a wonderful little book recently on spinning.

This is a book one can read in a day but I have a feeling I'll be reading it a few times more, to really absorb what's inside. There are two techniques in particular that I've been meaning to try but haven't. The first, is the spinning of the spindle up or down one's thigh. It's not a particularly hard or scary prospect, I just never bothered trying.

Well, I'm here to tell you that if you feel hampered and slowed by spindle spinning, this is the way to go. I haven't spun much because I've been frustrated that I can't get as much spin as I can draft before the spindle hits the floor. Instead, I would spin, draft, spin again to get enough twist in my yarn. That bores me. It's probably why I find plying a bit of a bore too. It's a lot of spinning the spindle, but not much else.

Launching the spindle off my thigh, though, allows me to get more spin than a flick of the wrist has ever afforded me. I have had to get my bearings, though. Too much spin and the spindle goes a bit out of control, too little and the spindle goes off balance. But, like Goldilocks, I think I've found the right method for my little 0.9 ounce Golding.

This leads me to the second technique I've wanted to try; this one for an entirely different reason. Since starting the whole spinning endeavor, I've been using a standard Andean ply which gives me a nice little two ply yarn. This has worked great and since I prefer a rather fine weight yarn and I'm not a huge fan of singles, I get most of what I need out of this method. However, I'd always wondered if I couldn't just use the same method to ply the two ply against itself. I'd been meaning to try, but never had, because I worried that with all the time spent spinning my singles and plying them, I might bungle the whole thing and be left with garbage.

Well, take a gander:

It's a four ply, approximately worsted weight yarn, spun with some of my Almost Solid samples from Spunky Eclectic. If you are wondering, that colorway is "Redwood."

The technique is outlined in the book and it gave me the confidence to proceed with gusto.

This probably won't replace my usual two ply yarn, but it's a nice change. The four plies means that small inconsistencies in spinning, don't really show and the texture is delightful.

As a side note, I've been plying my hair for years. I used to wind my hair in the same way and then throw it into a bun which produced the most gorgeous woven effect.
If you have very long hair, you might want to give it a try. Put your hair into a ponytail, separate into 4 even sections. Take two adjacent sections, twist both in one direction and around each other in the other direction. Make sure you twist them around each other much more than you twist them individually so you have an over twisted ply. Secure with a small elastic. Repeat with the other two sections making sure to match the twists so they are both going in the same direction. Secure with a small elastic. Now twist the two plies together, remove both small elastics and replace with a single elastic over all the ends. Twist into a coil around the base of the ponytail and secure with a few bobby pins. You won’t need many because all the plies hold themselves in place so the bobby pins are more to secure the shape of the bun.

Panda wants to know when this turned into a beauty advice column.

June 22, 2006

Peppy Long Stockings

So I am weak. I had every intention of knitting a whole pair of socks on 2-circulars needles. I was going to force myself to become a skilled practitioner of the technique. I said to myself, "Marnie, you cannot judge a method until you have really learned it, so do a whole pair of socks this way."

But it's all I can take. The socks have gone their separate ways and are now to be knit on DPNs alone. In my defense, I did move them well after the production of both heels, so I certainly knit a full sock's worth of sock, these are just going to be particularly long socks.

And on the topic of long socks, my most current measuring efforts suggest that I should have no trouble reaching my knees with this babies. I'm not sure that's necessarily a good thing. This may be a case of You Knit What? But I'm proceeding ahead regardless.

From what I can see, I am nearly doubling my knitting production, now that I'm back to knitting socks on DPNs (and yes, I am accounting for the fact that I was knitting twice the number of socks before). What really slowed me down was the pushing and pulling of socks and needles to get started on a new row. In general, I find it inefficient, but on a bus, it's nearly exasperating, as I contort to move everything around without touching my bussly neighbor. I'm as much of a process as product knitter, finding my fingers antsy when I have no knitting to do, but my process needs to be product oriented. Does that even make sense?

On a different topic, now that I'm back to spinning more regularly, here's some more Almost Solid Roving, this time in Corriedale in colorway, Pine.

For those of you for whom my ability to describe a technique, has let you down, here's what I meant by the thigh roll. I haven't been able to find a good example of the cabling method I described for both my hair and for the spinning.

June 25, 2006

You know what they say about women with big feet, right?

They've got HUGE socks.

Well, my feet are pretty average, but check out this sock, baby. I've just started the ribbing portion which will run three color stripes deep, ending in a red stripe.

I don't know, maybe I'm getting subliminal messages about stripes but I'm really smitten with these socks. I should note that I own no (appropriate) skirts or shorts with which I could wear these and display them to best advantage, and yet I simply cannot wait to finish knitting both socks so I can wear them. There's a little twisted part of me that thinks I should wear them with one of my official work outfits, you know blazer, long trousers, ankle length boots, and the most crazy arse socks ever. The likelihood is that no one would know I had on my peppy long stockings, but if someone did catch a glimpse it'd definitely confirm my "not quite right in the head" status with them.

I've got some new handspun too.

Same technique as the redwood colorway, but in pine instead. This particular batch of roving has tended to leave a little dye on my fingers, and lost a bit of blue in the bath, but is otherwise lovely and really does spin up to look like a pine forest.

July 23, 2006

Pygmie + Angora = CUTE

For my birthday, Julia got me the Bellwether Exotic Fiber Kit. The first fiber I grabbed was Pygora and having never heard of it I decided to see what it was.

The little cutie to your right is the first picture I saw. Read all about him here. I've quite enjoyed spinning pygora, though I've only spun a small amount. I'm using my 0.9 ounce Golding and haven't had any problems spinning it, yet. The color is actually more of a creamy shade than it appears on screen and I'm spinning the singles at a about a lace weight.

I've also been plodding away on my N2JW sock.

I'm about an inch away from the heel right now.

July 25, 2006

A bit of follow up a bit late

You know, I never mentioned that the new Spindlicity was up. It's rather silly that I never mentioned it because my pattern, Merigold, is there.

And if that weren't enough, the results of the Shawl Contest that I entered are there too. No, I didn't win, but my god, go see the beautiful piece that did. It was spun and knit by Nancy Ratliffe and it's a beaut! You can see all the other finalists' entries as well. I'm really glad I didn't have to judge that competition.

As always, there are a ton of great articles in this edition. I never cease to be impressed with Janel's in-depth reviews of fibers and/or techniques. Of particular interest to me in this edition is the article on different silk substitutes.

July 27, 2006

Zounds and Pygora!

Who knew moving to Portland would garner me so many comments? It's almost frightening how many people love the city and how few bad things people have to say about the area (rain and you can't pump your own gas, I think I can live with both).
There are so many of you I need to write back to. I can't believe how many great suggestions you've sent and warm welcomes you've offered. I'm really looking forward to moving.
I don't arrive in Oregon until the end of August, and in the mean time, I hope to be able to see all my LA friends, so I can say goodbye.

But enough of that, take a look at my yummy pygora yarn.

Here it is almost completely spun up. The kit comes with half an ounce (about 14 grams) of each fiber, so that's just enough to fill up one of my smaller spindles.

I simply loved spinning this stuff. I don't know enough about the properties of various fibers to say why, I just know that whatever it is, I'm able to spin it up superfine, balanced, soft and with a bit of loft.

I've included a dime for scale. The yarn is a two ply and check this out...

Balance, baby!

This hasn't been washed yet, it's right off the spindle. I have just shy of 54 yards (49 meters) of yarn here. Since pygora is aplenty in Portland, I plan to get more soon.

I've now started spinning some of the Yak fiber and it's not going quite as well. It's more poofy and fluffy and I don't quite have the best technique for managing that sort of fiber. It's gotten better as I've worked with it, but compared to the pygora, it's pretty crude looking.

In a little while, I'm off to Blogher, then a visit with a friend in San Francisco, then back home to help Leo pack up the truck. It's quite a weekend, indeed.

August 8, 2006

Roughing it at home

I probably don't mind moving as much as some people do. In general, I have a slight pack rat mentality, but when it comes time to pack boxes, I'm a drill sergeant. While there are exceptions, my general rule is that if I haven't seen it, thought about it, touched, or used it in at least a year, it's probably something I don't need in my life. This is rather refreshing to me, though it does mean that I end up needing to re-buy things I may have tossed by accident. Leo is also a bit of a pack rat, but his philosophy is "Throw it in a box or trash bag and we'll sort it out at the new place."

We diverge greatly on this topic. I say, “Why move something I don't want or need?” But his take is "Let's make SURE we don't need it. Better safe than sorry." This makes for rather comical packing sessions. Picture Marnie approaching a pile of items that need to be sorting for either packing or Goodwill. Marnie begins heaping EVERYTHING in the Goodwill pile. Old family heirloom: Goodwill. Free CD from bar visited a year ago: Goodwill. Wine glasses so delicate that we never use them because we keep breaking them: Goodwill. If it has been tucked away in a dark cabinet for a year or more, it gets little more than a passing glance before heading into the pile. And then Leo turns around to say something to me. His eyes grow large as they land upon some cherished whatnot in the pile, then another. I already know what's coming and I yell, "TAKE NO PRISONERS!" But then he gets those puppy dog eyes as he snatches something dear from the pile. I relent.

Though, on the other end of the spectrum, when it comes to books, I'm like a mother with too many children. I know I can't possible house and care for them all but every one of them is dear to my heart. Leo took to packing the books himself and threatened to toss them all, their numbers were so great. "Don't you dare!" I exclaimed. All of a sudden, this drill sergeant went soft.

We have agreed, though, to get rid of most of our old furniture, some dating back to well before Leo and I met. This is mostly because we couldn't really justify the cost of moving it and after going from several places in Boston to Burbank and then to Playa Del Rey, it was all starting to get a bit tired. So between periods of scrubbing down the house to get it ready for moving out, I've been trying to sell this stuff on Craigslist.

This all keeps me fairly busy, but between all that, I do have some time to fill. With no TV or radio, I've been getting a lot of reading done, listened to a few audio books, and of course, I've been knitting and spinning.


The Silky Wool top is cranking along at a good pace. Isn't the stitch definition great? I’m probably another inch or so past what you see here. I’m experimenting with the construction of this piece a little which will become more apparent once I finish this main body piece.


I've been trying to spin some Yak from the Bellwether sampler. This is definitely not going as well as the Pygora, but I'm getting the hang of it.

And for a little bit of exercise, while I'm stuck at the house waiting for the next prospective buyer, I've been using this baby.

It's an Indo Board, and one of the few examples of something Leo is ready to give up and I want to keep. I don't do any sort of board sport but I find it terribly fun to risk my neck playing with this. As a responsible blogger, I need to go on record as saying that you are, indeed, risking injury using this and while I find it fun, I recommend that if you do try one, you do so at your own risk.
We have wall to wall carpeting which makes this less perilous to use. A grassy lawn would offer even more security. I’ll play around with it for a few minutes here and there just to get my blood moving and the next day my tush and abs will be just a little achy (in a good way.)

It’s a bit stressful being away from Panda and Leo, it’d be a lot more fun to do all this stuff together, but we’ve been making the best of the situation and time is flying by with all there is left to do.

Oh and the best news of all, it looks like I may be able to keep my current job and work remotely from Portland until the end of the year. Talk about taking a load off my mind.

August 22, 2006

If crafting were a narcotic, we'd need Betty Ford

It has been a whirlwind week at Chez MOW. We've fit more of just about everything into these 7 days than I usually fit into a month. I love it. It's a fiber fueled binge and the neighbors are ready to call the authorities.

I won't say "the highlight of the week" because I think it's all been fun in a myriad of ways, but one of the best photographically documented events has been our trip to the Santa Monica Fiber Festival. Now, many of we yarnly types think of "fiber" as being roving and fleece and perhaps some handspun, and, boy oh boy, the best of that was available. But this fiber festival featured fabrics, beads, buttons, and antique goodness all around. Sure, there were some kittens and koy* but for every bit of questionably kitsch, there’s a great deal more of wallet emptying temptation.

The organizers (no fools were they) knew what they were doing and placed some baby alpacas at the entrance.

I'm not particularly gaga over livestock but these guys are pretty darn cute. Julia and I then went in for a quick first pass and some lunch.

A little side story, because I know she won't tell you herself. As we were eating our french fries..er...I mean...organic rolled oats, we chatted away at the small area set aside for such goings on. As we prattled on about what we wanted to see, what we planned to buy and which wheels we hoped to spin on, from behind me, came the sweetest "excuse me." A woman was trying to get Julia's attention. "Excuse me." She said, one more time "Are you a model?" As Julia decided if she could hug the woman while simultaneous spitting her food out and laughing, the woman persisted. "Don't you model knitwear?" Now, of course, I think Julia is plenty lovely enough to model, but one can't help but admire a complement like that. Further discussion revealed that the woman had seen Julia's various knitwear designs online, and presumed her role as "model" was paid and as opposed to practical.

After our highly nutritious lunch, we began our official trek through the festival. I knew my little shawl would be there, and we found it in no time. Despite knowing full well it’d be on display, I couldn’t help but be pleased beyond reason to see her there.

She stood among some of the most breath taking pieces. The photos submitted to Spindlicity just didn't do them justice.

After that, it was two circuits of the vendors and then a long break to spin, gab and spin some more. If this were a night on the town, at this point in the story, Julia and I would be crawling into Denny's at 4AM, makeup streaming down our faces, nylons ripped and at least one high heel broken. We were just about ready to pass out, but we couldn't bring ourselves to stop. We kept running into people we knew and things to see. We knew we were doomed when we finally found Miss Andrea walking around with her sister. So pulling out one of my purchases, a decadent 2 ounces of Merino and Silk roving, I decided to start spinning.

See Marnie.
See Marnie spin.
Spin, Marnie, spin!

And let me tell you, I didn't stop until yesterday morning. This stuff spun like it didn't even need me there. The results? 72 yards of 2 ply yarn on my brand new niddy noddy. Did I mention I bought a niddy noddy? No? Well I did and I’m smitten.

The yarn is about a DK to a light worsted weight and spun on my 1.9 ounce Golding Celtic Ring. And if the color and fiber composition weren't yummy enough, how's this for a little balance?

That is right off the niddy noddy. This yarn hasn't seen water yet. I'm so very proud.

As you can see, it's fairly loosly spun which I find easier to keep balanced. It was hard not to keep this yarn as singles because they looked so beautiful, but I knew I'd be unlikely to knit with singles, and I want to make sure I actually use this handspun

Oh and while I was at the festival, I may have also tried myself a wheel. And it just so happens that I love it and that it maches my new niddy noddy. I was thinking I might get myself the entry level model for Christmas, but more and more I'm thinking that what I want to do is save up for the super fabby model instead. As Julia says, in an entirely believable and reasonable sounding manner "If you get the good one, you won't need to upgrade later, then you'll only need one wheel ever."

You heard it here first, folks.That's my plan; one wheel, monogomous relationship for life. No really, I mean it.

*This will make more sense if Julia posts some of her aquisitions.

August 29, 2006

A quick recap of the road trip

I'm home in Portland with both a feeling of elation to be back with my sweet Leo and Little Miss Panda, but also a sadness that the trek is over and Julia has gone back home. I have so much to tell you about, but I’ll try to keep from making this post too long. It was an amazing trip; one I'll look back on as being among the most memorable, but I'm exhausted. Like all of the past few weeks, we've packed as much into as little time as our little psyches could handle and it'll be days before the effects wear off.

The trip started with an easy jaunt to Santa Barbara from Los Angeles. We stayed at a place owned by a friend of Julia's. This allowed us the opportunity to stop by Village Spinning and Weaving in Solvang, CA.

While there, we availed ourselves our their various wheels, including Ashfords, Majacrafts, Louets and a Windwheel. When I left the shop, I thought I was happy with the Ashford Kiwi. That's definitely not what I expected, but it was a lovely little thing, easy to use, and it felt fine.

As we embarked on the next leg of our trip, we decided that we'd see if we could try a Schacht Matchless at Carolina Homespun in San Francisco. We figured that with the $600 price difference, the Matchless would have to be pretty darn wonderful to sway us.


I. Love. This. Wheel.

DAMMIT!

After spending hours at Carolina Homespun, spinning until we had to concede to the road trip agenda (and our rapidly waning blood sugar), we made our way to lunch and then back on the road. It was noon, and we were going to drive to the Sequoia National Forest, a mere 38 miles from San Francisco.

Five hours later, several wrong turns, some swearing at the atlas and not a Sequoia in sight, we were in stop and go traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge. In case the impact of that isn't entirely clear, that's a 5 hour detour to get us back to where we started, without actually seeing what we had hoped to see.

The sun was setting and the question became: Do we drive as far as we can at night, missing a good deal of the redwoods but still trying to get to Crater Lake the next day? Or do we drive a more reasonable distance, enjoy all the of the redwoods and skip Crater Lake?

We decided to drive as far as we could without overshooting the redwoods. There is no anxiety quite like that feeling that you've made a horribly bad decision. As we wound through the dark roads at night, hour upon hour passing, we calculated our optimal stopping point. Finally, having passed up most obvious points of civilization, we found ourselves in a quaint little area...where every light in town was turned off. The towns were silent and the motels could have as easily been abandoned, for all the life we could detect. Beam me up Scottie! I see no life here.

As the crew (all two of us) grew ever more punchy and concerned, we wound down one sleepy town's main street after another, until we found our oasis. Motel Ravenwood was open. As unlikely as it was, the owner just happened to be awake, awaiting another guest and he just happened to have an open room. We could have cried with happiness. Instead, we snatched the keys, paid our rate and made a bee line for the warmth of our beds.

The next day we awoke refreshed and ready to complete the last day of our journey. The redwoods are everything we hoped they'd be. Following the 101 up the coast, we stopped for a walk on the brisk sandy beach.



Doesn't Julia's sweatshirt look like it belongs on this beach?


From there, we followed the directions the motel owner gave us and found a quiet little trail off a well groomed dirt road.



My little spindle even joined us on the walk.

As we left the redwoods and headed to Crater Lake, I had a little twinge of excitement when I realized I had finally hit my new home state. If you are wondering, it's beautiful and Crater Lake is no exception.

We stopped at each little vista point and the little spindle joined in the oohing and ahhing. The atmospheric haze made the lake look dreamy and almost unreal. The spindle particularly enjoyed seeing the chipmunks. None of them broke into song.





Even the firemen were a delight to look at.

All said, it was an amazing trip. I’m still recovering, but I’m so glad I had the chance to do it. Portland is wonderful, and being back with my sweeties, is as grand as I hoped.

I should have more pictures up soon, and I feel pretty sure that Julia will have some stories to regale you with as well.

September 1, 2006

Settling in nicely

It's really hard to tell this early, but so far, I'm very happy in Portland. Seeing Panda so happy, eating great food and meeting kind people, it all seems a bit too good to be true. Perhaps when the rains start coming in earnest, I'll be singing a different tune. For now though, I will fall asleep counting Pygora, and wake up to great coffee, I'm going native, people.

Maybe it's unfair to compare the accommodations of a second story apartment versus the little house we are renting now, but from my office window, it's not uncommon for me to see birds and squirrels, fattening themselves up for the winter. We have some sort of tree with berries, growing right outside the window, which makes for no end of visitors.

But you know, the contents of this blog have been leaning pretty heavily towards talk of road trips and shenanigans (that's right, I call shenanigans!) I feel it's time to at least make a passing reference to something crafty.

I did a little more spinning on, and then plied the roving that saw all the great sites on our trip.

The fiber is a blend of BFL and Alpaca. I think this shot makes it seem a little course, but it isn't. It's an example of a fiber blend that is greater than the sum of its parts; soft, drapey, silky and unbelievably spinable.

This skein is exceptionally special to me because not only has it seen great sites but it's a combination of work by both Julia and me. I love the work I spin on my own, but it seems all the more special when someone else has spun a little of it too. I think both of us learned a lot going to the Fiber Fest and stopping at several shops on our way to Oregon. By Crater Lake, we were both able to match each other's spinning quite well.

To add a little more specialness still, I asked Panda to give me a hand with the photo shoot.

You'll have to excuse our yellow lawn. Once the weather gets cooler and rainier, I'm told I expect plenty of lush green grass.

And since there's been a bit of clamoring for Panda pics, here's a bit more to sate your appetite. After work, the three of us decided to take a jaunt around the neighborhood. I rode my pretty pink bicycle, and Panda and Leo....

Well, they do things their own way.

GO PANDA GO!

September 4, 2006

Dammit Janice, and OH BOY OH BOY OH BOY!

The day I arrived back from the road trip, I had an email from Janice suggesting I get my tukus over to ebay to bid on this.

It's been a rollercoaster week of waiting to see if I'd be the top bidder. On the few occasions when I have bid on items on ebay, it's always for stuff I would like but can completely live without. And while I can live without this item, man, did I want it.

Well, I'm the big winner. I suspect the item will go out UPS ground sometime Tuesday, so I might even have it by next weekend. I think she'll need a little TLC to get her started again.

If anyone has suggestions for a place in Portland where I can get her a new drive band, some oil and maybe a once over by an expert and some help setting up, I would love the recommendations. Of course, I'd be happy to pay for the expert's time. I've done enough work in yarn shops to know that when you bring in something you've bought elsewhere and ask for help, you should really be offering to pay for said help.

September 6, 2006

A little glimps of what I'm doing

While I have a myriad of knitting ideas and projects in my head, and a couple on the needles, right now I'm working on two projects for Kat Coyle's upcoming book, so knit blogging will be sparse at best. She has granted me permission to post little unrevealing bits of what I'm doing, and so, I give you a swatch’s eye view of my current progress.

This is the public side of the fabric. It's worked in Alpaca in a stitch known by several names. I believe Barbara Walker refers to it as a "Woven Stitch" and the Harmony Guides refer to it as "Linen Stitch." Either way I love the way it looks though it's a beast to knit and a real yarn hog. I don't care though, it's worth every hour spent. Check out how the back of the fabric looks:

Isn't it great? It's a sort of highly defined seed stitch, though of course, not reversible. Despite the fact that all the knit stitches face the front of the fabric and all the purl stitches face the back, the fabric does not roll the way a stockinette does, which means that the requirement for edging is really minimal. All in all, I'm very happy with the results so far.

But that's about as much of that as I can show you. Instead, how about a little spinning?

Here is some roving from Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks (no site, but you can search google to see all sorts of shops that sell her work.) It's tencel/merino blend in colorway "Sandlewood"

I can't decide which shot I like better.

On the left is the roving in the shade. There's a bit of a flatness to it but it's got a soft and pleasant look to it. On the right, she basks in direct sunlight. You might need sunglasses for the glare but it really shows her sheen. Either way, I'm in love. And can I just say how much I love this tree stump in my backyard?

September 8, 2006

A little eye candy

While I wait for my spinning wheel, I have been passing the time on my non-public knitting projects and my spindle spinning. I'm pleased to say that my tencel/merino blend yarn turned out every bit as lovely as I hoped.

Here it is looking rather unassuming on top of my laundry hamper.

It's about a sport weight, two ply, spun on my 0.9 ounce Golding Tsunami

It's fairly balanced, with only a single twist in it after removing it from my niddy noddy.
But check out how much better she looks basking in a little ray of sunshine.

I actually had the skein on my desk and I had already downloaded a bunch of pictures I had taken earlier. I saw the way the sun glinted off the yarn and just had to take this second picture.

And because she makes my heart melt, here's a little picture of Panda napping near me while I work.

It doesn't get much cuter than that.

September 13, 2006

The UPS man cometh

I checked my tracking number yesterday, knowing that the wheel was scheduled to be delivered that day. Google Maps, the bloody liar that it is, told me that package was 11 minutes away. Ok, it's not Google Maps's fault, but having checked the site at 6AM, by 5PM, I was starting to lose hope. What if they delivered it to someone else's house? What if the UPS truck went off the edge of a cliff? What if, what if?

So I decided to take a shower and midway through, the doorbell rings. It takes all my self control not to run to the door, hair lathered, naked as the day I was born, and greet the UPS man. Luckily, Leo was home, dressed and not otherwise indisposed and he was able to get the door.

While I got myself rinsed off and dressed, he did what any good fiber lover lover would do and he started to get the box open for me. Check this baby out:

Whoever said that good things come in little packages never had a Schacht coming their way.

Inside, was my wheel, in great condition and looking beautiful.

After about 15 minutes on the Schacht website, I had him going. I used a little bit of motor oil that Leo had, and tied some Rowan Cotton Glace on for a drive band (I know it's not ideal, but it got the job done). For the next 3 hours I spun spun spun spun. The only whorl I received was a slow whorl and I like to spin very fine with very slippery yarns, so this will have to change. Adjusting to this took a little bit of time. The results (though poorly lit) aren't as bad as I feared.

I have no idea what the fiber is. I got it from Greenwich Yarns and have always found it very spinable on the spindle, but it's even more so on the wheel.

Despite the slow whorl, I think I still managed to overspin the singles, but who cares, at this point I'm just enjoying the sound and feel of spinning. I am itching to do it right now, but will have to wait until my lunch break.

I probably have enough of this fiber to, more or less, fill this bobbin. This means I can andean ply the yarn or ply it with another fiber. I'm thinking I may do the latter, so that I can use my new lazy kate. Woohoo!

September 16, 2006

496 yards, 3 skeins, 2 colors, 1 happy camper

I love my new wheel. I just feel I need to say that, in case it needs saying. El Matchador and I have been spending a lot of time together lately and these are the fruits of our loins labors.


First, about 500 yards of the mystery white wool I got from Greenwich Yarns. This was spun up at a fingering weight, more or less. It's fairly consistent but with a few thick spots and some areas that are probably closer to a lace weight


And here is probably 550 yards of Alpaca/BFL that I bought on the road trip. This stuff wanted to spin up super super fine. I think it spun up mostly at a lace weight but there are points that were basically thread weight.

When I paired them, the result is nothing you would ever want to buy, but I love it. I really think that knit up, it will look fine, but there's no doubt these skeins have "character" in spades. I think you can see how inconsistent the plying is in these pictures, what you can't see are the various repair jobs for breaks and occasional run away ply that plies on itself, making little appendages. I think I only have one or two, but they are in there. With nearly 500 yards, though, I should be able to make a little something special out of my yarn.

Yesterday, I picked myself up a few extra accessories at Pacific Wool and Fiber. All they had were high speed bobbins (and only two of those) so I grabbed those and a fast whorl and will begin my adventure with those this weekend.

September 17, 2006

Ole!

With my first skeins of yarn completed, I'm ready to expand my wheel horizons. Thanks for all the encouragement and kind words towards those humble skeins. I have no idea what I'll knit from them (too much deadline work right now to think about it) but whatever it is, I expect to cherish it for it's significance. In the mean time, when I'm not knitting away on my projects, El Matchador and I are making sweet whirring music together. First, I attempted to spin a few thicker skeins of yarn. Admittedly, my first roving choice was poor. It was a Merino blend that, I think, had felted ever so slightly, making it a real bastard to draft. The result is the beautifully dyed but poorly spun specimen on the right.

My second attempt was with more of the roving I spun up recently on my spindle. The results (on the left) are still a little rough, but much improved over the first skein. Both are relatively balanced and neither has been washed and hung to dry, which would probably smooth out their appearance a little.

I used an Andean Ply for both so I could spin up a small amount and not waste any trying to get two bobbins perfectly matched.

After remembering that I don't like knitting with thick yarns and so should probably focus on worsted or lighter weight yarns, I opted to pull out an old favorite
and finish off my stash of it. It's weird to me that my spindle spinning is so much more controlled and even, but this practice is good for me.

I spun up two bobbins, partially full and am plying them now.

And because you can only look at so much yarn spun up by a novice, Panda wanted to give you a little pearl of wisdom. She says:

"If your parents take forever to unpack your toys, you must play with all of them at once, when you finally get them back.

September 19, 2006

I think they call that "loft"

I never cease to be amazed at how very spinable the Cotswold is that I bought from Nistock Farms. Cotswold is not a very soft fiber. It's certainly not as rough as some wools, but I wouldn't make a bikini out of it, that's for sure. But there's something about it that really appeals to me. It's got a soft halo with just a bit of sheen and the way they dyed it (the color way is called, Autumn Spice) is simply spectacular. I love this yarn. Spinability wise, I think it bears a bit of resemblance to the A type Pygora, though, of course, the Pygora is much softer.

Much like Julia felt while spinning her first skein on her gorgeous Rose, I wasn't so sure this skein would live up to my expectations. It seemed a little flat and blah and perhaps a bit too thick and thin, while plying up. Then when Laura (alas, no blog) pointed out that in my complete newbie haze I'd used my bobbin backwards, I though for sure I'd blown it. But beginners luck shined down upon me and this is what I pulled off the niddy noddy.

I don't know if it counts as "balanced" since it doesn't twist as a whole, but it does have little kinky bits in there. I would guess it'd be considered unbalanced in its constituent parts yet oddly balanced overall. But man, this is 152 yards of lofty goodness. At this unwashed state, it is just a big poof of orange yumminess. Do you see that other mini skein in back? That's the leftover Cotswold and the leftover BFL/Alpaca, plied together to clear off the two bobbins. There was more of the brown than the orange, so after I exhausted the Cotswold, I Andean plied the remaining BFL/Alpaca into the same skein. It's a pretty unattractive little skein but I just couldn't bring myself to simply toss the leftovers.

The big skein though? She is one sexy mama. I'll let the images do the talking. Just try not to love these.

Thank goodness I have an extensive stock of unspun fiber right now because if I didn’t I’d be buying up a whole bunch more of this roving.

September 20, 2006

Purple is the color of my true love's roving

Every time I pull a new skein of wheel spun off my niddy noddy, I'm inspired anew to crack open my stash of roving and see how the next fiber will work up. This time, I pulled out my supply of Red Maple Merino, one of the Almost Solid Series fibers that Amy offers. It took me a few yards before I really started to get the feel for the merino. It's a more challenging fiber for me to control than some of the others I've spun lately, but I think the practice paid off. This stuff is sproingy, soft and airy. I'm spinning it a little thick and not too tightly (I hope) in an attempt to maintain it's great innate qualities.

During my lunch break, I often eat a quick bite before sitting down to spin a bit. Monday was no exception. As I did so, Spongebob playing on the tube and Panda sitting beside me (try to top THAT for a lunch break), Leo stopped and watched me for a moment. I look up and our eyes meet. He smiles and says "Can I try?"

Well, short of offering to do all the housework forever onward, there are few things he could have said that would have filled me with more joy. So hurtling over pre-drafted yarn, a sleeping pup, and nearly crashing into the coffee table in my excitement, I ushered him over to El Matchador. We practiced starting up and maintaining the speed of the wheel with the treadle and then I reattached the unspun fiber to the yarn on the bobbin and held his hands while we drafted together. After a bit, I left him to try it on his own, offering advice when he asked.

Let’s be honest, though, I am probably not the person to be teaching anyone to wheel spin right now. After a few minutes, Leo gave up in frustration. I removed his yarn from the bobbin and piled it carefully next to El Matchador and started back to my own spinning.

Later, he picks the small pile of yarn up off the table and begins to straighten it out and untwisting it. "How will you salvage this?" He asks innocently.

"I don't plan to salvage it, I love it," I say as I snatch it from his hands before the fibers are completely set loose. "It's sentimental now."

He smiles and walks off and I go into the kitchen to do the dishes. And then he realizes the implications of what I've said. From behind me, I hear "You're going to BLOG about this aren't you?"

I don't meet his gaze.

"I won't if you don't want me to."

Silence

He kisses my neck, gives me a little hug and says, “go ahead.”

He's a keeper.

September 24, 2006

Great, now I have even more to miss

Well, it looks like I'm headed back to India for a couple weeks, starting on Wednesday or Thursday. So now, I will be away from Leo and Panda, my two little rays of sunshine AND El Matchador, my new constant companion (is it just me or does "constant companion" sound like a personal hygiene product?). I expect this trip to be much more intensive and less fun all around, but I still hope to make the best of it. I'm a touch nervous about going without anyone I know and as the sole representative for my company. But let's not talk about work, let's talk about freshly spun yarn.

The Red Maple roving worked up quickly at a nice thick and thin, mostly worsted weight yarn, once plied. Do you want to see something amazing? Here are the two bobbins after I finished plying them.

Please excuse the lighting, it was evening when I did the plying.

I had all of maybe 12-18 inches of singles on one bobbin when the other emptied. There was no planning, no trying, just magic. *sigh* It'll never happen again.

I thought the red purple would look nice against the cement of the back patio.

It's a thick and lofty yarn, with out too much spin, and the results are every bit as squoochy and sproingly as you'd want it to be. I already have plans for some of this.


Panda gives it a due air of elegance.

After the merino, I pulled out some more roving dyed by Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks (alas, still no website) that I bought from Carolina Homespun. The colorway is "Purple Haze" and it's a heavenly mix of purples and steel grays. The blend is Merino/Bombyx and I had 2 ounces worth.

I spun it up pretty finely because I wanted to try to use the Navajo Plying technique. For those who haven't tried it before, Navajo plying is a means of achieving a three ply yarn off a single bobbin by, in essence, working very long crochet chain stitches. It takes a touch of coordination, but with a little practice, it's actually quite fun. I started with some scrap yarn I had and got the motion down, before trying it with my new singles.

The results are nice; a nearly balanced 3 ply with lots of sheen and a soft hand.

There's a lot I'm going to miss while I'm away.

A lot indeed.

Went to OFFF today, will post about that soon.

September 26, 2006

Last post before I leave

I'm in a bit of a fog with all I have to do before I leave tomorrow, so this post will be a bit haphazard. That said, let's get to it.

I stopped by OFFF on Sunday for just a little while. Leo and Panda drove down with me but when we found out dogs weren't allowed even to the outdoor sections, Leo and Panda went off to check out the town and I wandered the booths.

My first and favorite stop was Janel's of Chameleon Colorworks and Spindlicity.

Hey Julia, see that big bag on the left, that's all BFL, baby!"


More about what I got there, below.

I walked around all the other booths and showed surprising strength of will, even when passing the Wooly Winder stand. Mmmmm, Wooly Winder.

But what would a flock and fiber festival be without some flock?


I'm not crazy about livestock but I can't help but appreciate these guys.
I didn't take a ton of pictures of the festival, knowing they'd be a dime a dozen online. But let me tell you, there was much to be seen. I'll have my calendar marked for this event again next year.

After the festival, Leo, Panda and I were thirsty and ready to find some lunch. Leo spotted this place on his way back to pick me up.

It seemed serendipitous, I had to go in.
There was a bar and a restaurant and I went into the bar portion.

I enjoy a beer as much as the next person but Bud?


Lunch was every bit as spectacular as the decor. The "Coke" I ordered for Leo was a grocery store brand and the bags she packed our lunch in came from the 99¢ store. Now that is one classy establishment.
When I asked about the history, the bartender said it'd be around for many many years, and had gone through several incarnations. She didn't seem to know much more than that. When I told her there was a spinning festival going on down the road, she seemed politely half interested.

On the way home, I fondled my new rovings. 4 ounces each of 4 different colorways from Janel's booth.

Here, from left to right, Optim in colorway "Pearl," Merino/Viscose in colorway "Autumn" and a one-off colorway that I simply think of as "Peach" in the same Merino/Viscose blend.

Also, on the wheel and nearly completely spun up, some alpaca in colorway "Iris."

It's spun at a pretty fine weight and has a range of shades from nearly yellow green to blue to purple and all sorts of in-betweens.


I don't know about you, but when I spin these beautifully dyed colorways, there's always one color that makes a minor cameo amongst all the more dominant shades. Usually, it's a color that on its own, may not impress me, but mixed in with all the colors, it just sings. With this colorway, the shade is a soft dusty blue, more subtle than the dominant blue shade you see in the pictures. When I see that special blue coming up to my fingers, I always get a little excited. I felt the same way about the pink shade in my Autumn Spice roving. I hope to finish spinning and maybe even plying this fiber before I leave, but if not, I know I’ll be coming home to a relaxing treat.

September 28, 2006

International Dork of Mystery

So after my internet session expired in Frankfurt, I decided I needed to up the dork factor while I passed the time.

Let's be honest, it's pretty darn dorky to be blogging, taking pictures of yourself blogging and listening to .wav files of your boyfriend and doggy back home.

But why not crank out the ol' ipod and listen to science podcasts while spinning on a drop spindle? Short of bringing along a TRS-80 and a butter churn, there are few things I could have done that would have been less cool.

Sorry guys, hands off, this girl is taken! When it started to get too crowded to comfortably spin, I reverted to knitting and listening to the Unger Report.

Finally, 1:45 rolled around and I boarded my flight to Mumbai. Since I was already 17 hours into my 22 hour travel itinerary, I wasn't expecting much of note for the last 5 hours. The plane was definitely rockin' the ol' school business class, but it was roomy and they kept us well fed, so who am I to complain, but I did find one things particularly blog worthy.

Do you see that woman's tray? Note that we are in business class, which means that anytime other than those when the plane is actively taking off or landing there are folks pushing free booze your way. And if, perchance, you happen to feel a thirst coming on during the 5 minutes that the beverage cart isn't at your side, any of the flight staff will gladly hand deliver the liquor of your choice. However, this woman must have feared they'd run out before they reached her again. She has not one, but TWO glasses of white wine and a glass of cognac on her tray. I'm not sure what the glass of water is doing there. Maybe she thought it was vodka.

I passed out for a fitful 3 hours of sleep after the meal and woke up in time for the next meal and a little tea. Now I'm in my temporary hotel room for a couple hours before heading back to the Mumbai airport to fly to my final destination.

The room is nice, though for 5 hours, probably more room than I need. Heck, I never thought I'd feel this way, but if the Mumbai airport had those chest of drawer style sleeping quarters that they have in Japan, I'd have been perfectly content with that. But hey, I’ll enjoy it while I’m here. Wanna see a shot of the pool from my room?

Don't you think that would make a banging night club? Did I just say "banging night club"?

Man, I need some sleep. I'm almost out of internet time, so I'll sign off for now. Presuming my hotel near the office has internet connection, I'll be posting more soon.

September 30, 2006

Pre-drafting stubborn fibers

I miss El Matchador but I'm rekindling my love for my beautiful little spindles while I'm here in India.

I've noticed that there is a wave of knitters taking up spinning lately and so I have a couple of simple tutorials I plan to post while I'm here, to help the newbie. I'm sure these are "well duh!" items for most people but they have been useful for me so perhaps they will be useful to others.

Today's tutorial will be on pre-drafting fibers that are being a bit stubborn. If you don't know how to pre-draft yet, there are a couple videos here. The process involves separating your roving into strips then gently tugging the fibers, lengthwise, to loosen them up.

I'm spinning some pygora right now, on my 0.9 ounce Golding spindle. The pygora is prepared as a pencil roving, meaning you do not need to separate the roving into separate strips as it's already thin enough.

Pygora spins up beautifully when properly pre-drafted

However, this particular batch has some areas that are a wee bit hard to pre-draft. I think areas have matted ever so slightly in transport, making them impossible to pre-draft the normal way. The solution is as follows.

Break off a length of roving to your liking. I prefer a couple feet of roving, many other people prefer a shorter, more manageable length. Do what you like best.

Attempt to pre-draft as you normally would.

Excuse the awkward photo, I only have 2 hands and no tripod. Imagine I was trying to do that with both hands.

To loosen the fibers, begin stretching the roving side to sides. Gently part the fibers, starting at one end and working up the length of the roving.

When you hit the matted area, spend extra time carefully releasing the fibers. Remember, you don't want to break any of the fibers, just loosen them up.

When you have worked the entire length of the roving, you have something that looks a little like this.

I then like to tug the roving, very gently, lengthwise. This not only makes it a little easier to handle, but it allows you to pre-draft it a little more.

Again, this should really show me doing this with two hands.

When you are all done, you can wind it around your distaff (if you have one) or, as I prefer to do, make a little bracelet out of the fiber, by winding it around your hand.

The finished roving looks like this:

Now just spin spin spin.

Next tutorial will be on achieving a balanced two ply on your spindle.

October 3, 2006

Achieving a balanced plied yarn on a spindle

I've been spinning a little bit here in India and it got me thinking about creating a balanced ply. I've had pretty good success doing this on a spindle and I thought I'd share the method I like to use.

I like to think that my spindle has seen more sights than most.

Once you've spun your singles, you are ready to ply. I like to use the andean plying method but this works just as well from two center pull balls or from two ends of the same center pull ball.

Begin to ply your singles until you are ready to wind them onto the spindle.

Here's a two ply, but how do I know if it's balanced?

Holding both ends of the plied section in place, bring your two hands together and watch the way the yarn reacts. Pay close attention, you need to note which way the yarn twists, if it twist at all.

The yarn may twist around itself clockwise

Or it may twist counter-clockwise

If the yarn twists back on itself, you will need to drop your spindle and twist it in the SAME DIRECTION as the yarn twisted around itself.

This is the key. Note how many times it twisted back on itself and use that as a gauge for how much you will need to correct it. After attempting to correct the twist, do the same test again. Your goal is to have the yarn hang straight down, no matter how close you bring your hands together. The results should look like this.

It may take a little while, but with patience you will achieve this result.

After a couple of sections, you will begin to get a feel for just how long you need to let the spindle spin to get a balanced yarn. At that point, you will not need to check each section before winding on to the spindle. Instead, you can do spot checks occasionally as you ply the remaining yarn.

That little extra effort yields beautifully balanced yarn.

66 yards of perfectly plied A Type Pygora lace weight yarn.

I hope this tutorial is helpful to those of you who haven't been happy with your spindle plied yarn. And for those of you who are advanced spinners out there, feel free to leave your recommendations in the comments.

October 16, 2006

Home sweet home

Wow, I have been one lazy bum these past few days. I think my body had finally gotten used to being 12.5 hours off from PDT and coming back my mind just gave up on me and said "Forget it, you can just sleep ALL the time, for all I care." We went out for a really nice dinner on Friday night and caught some bands and clubs downtown, but it was an act of pure will power to stay awake. However, I wasn't a complete and utter bump on a log. El Matchador and I enjoyed a sweet sweet reunion.

The first thing I did was to finish plying my 4 ounces of Alpaca in the Iris colorway. There are about 315 yards of DK-ish weight 2-ply.

It was actually nice to start off with something as mindless as plying.
Once all my alpaca off the niddy noddy and hanging out to dry, I broke into some of my Merino/Silk in colorway Catalina.

Both fibers are from Janel's store

This skein is 2 ounces and is a 3 ply, using the Navajo plying method. There are about 190 yards and it's, more or less, worsted weight. I love this method of plying, but man am I good at getting it messed up. I had a few "ugly moments" in this skein. Let us not speak of it again.

I, of course, have more fiber on the wheel right now. I'll have to show you that some other time.

We did manage to get out of the house yesterday, to give Panda a proper run around the park. Our hope had been to go to the beach, but the weather, being Portland an all, wasn't quite suitable for such endeavors. This is not to say that it wasn't beautiful out, though. After 5 years in LA, I sort of forgot how beautiful drizzly autumn days could be.

We swung by Leo's office and I snapped pictures of the ducks in the little river near the parking lot.

And all around us, the trees were turning.

The overcast skies really make the colors pop by comparison.

With an adventurous spirit and a little luck, we even found a nice little park to let the girl run around.

It had an apple tree just overflowing with ripe fruit

And lovely little roses giving their last blooms before winter.

I love that Portland offers some of the vivid colors of autumn that I remember from New Hampshire, but offers mild enough weather to sustain roses. Talk about the best of all worlds!

October 17, 2006

Vavavavooom!

While in India, I spun the aptly named Indian Wedding fiber I got from Janel.

The first time I spun this fiber, I think I was using a death grip of some sort because I recall having trouble drafting the fibers. This time, no such issues. It was pure delight to spin. I think the colorway is now discontinued not currently in stock but available by request. I'll have to think of something small and special to knit with what I have. As you can see, this is a fiber that loves the camera.

Here it is all plied up, using the always reliable Andean Plying method, to produce a soft 2-ply yarn. The results are about a DK weight or a touch lighter.

Here it is. in skein form, lounging about.

And what's that I see?

Ahhh, soft enough for a baby girl.

October 27, 2006

First carved pumpkin

Leo has never carved a pumpkin or had roasted pumpkin seeds before. Who knew? So last night, I sketched out a design and Leo used his brawn and patience to produce this:

Isn't he great?

And the pumpkin seeds? That's my department.

Roasted in a little butter and olive oils with salt, pepper and onion powder.

Meanwhile, I've been doing a little spinning. I haven't mentioned much about it recently, partly because El Matchador and I have had a couple ugly moment recently. There were some tension issues.
Let's be honest, these issues were my fault and I'm a big enough person to admit it. Wheels just weren't meant to spin with a mercerized cotton drive band. When I switched to a synthetic one that I had picked up a few weeks ago, it was as though the heavens opened up and angels began to sing. Another "oh duh!" moment for Marnie.

I haven't even calculated how much yardage I have here but it's a Merino/Tencel blend in a colorway called Sandstone. I bought it at Carolina Homespun, while on my road trip to Oregon. It's relatively fine, maybe a sport weight overall.

And here it is with my unblogable work, basking in a sun beam with Panda.

November 2, 2006

The roving is safe

You can all rest easily. I did not run out of candy. The supply of roving has not been depleted and even our jack-o-lantern is still whole (albeit a smidge withered)

Being the frigid evening that it was, we thought it best to light a big ol' fire instead of relying on our heating system. If we hadn’t we know that every time we opened the door, we'd be channeling our inner crotchety old man and worrying about "heating the whole neighborhood". So down went the thermostat and up when the kindling.

The trick-or-treaters were few and far between but so adorable and polite!

Faces blurred to protect the adorable

At the end of the night, we still had a full bowl and a half of candy, which Leo has been slowly funneling to his colleagues. If you aren't much for networking, this is a great way to earn brownie points.

Unbloggable knitting is still full steam ahead but when I can't be entirely focused on knitting, I have granted myself a little bit of time to spin. This is the beautiful Merino/Viscose roving I got from Janel, in colorway, "Autumn."

If your heart didn't just skip a beat, you may want to check your pulse.

November 13, 2006

I love autumn

This might be the longest I've spent spinning any amount of fiber. Since I spend most of my free time cranking out projects I cannot blog about, I'm only granting myself about 1 hour of spinning for every 8 hours of knitting work. That one hour includes all pre-drafting, bobbin changing and other spinning related activities involved in producing yarn.

The lack of time is no lack of devotion, though, and I'm so pleased with the outcome. The fiber is a merino/viscose blend in colorway, Autumn, dyed by Chameleon Colorworks. The end result is about 425 yards of sock weight, 2-ply yarn. It's definitely got some thick and thin areas but I think it may be my most lovely yarn to date.

My blocking board is in the one spot in the house getting sufficient enough natural light to allow pictures without a flash.

While I was spinning the fibers, I was thinking that I didn't c are for the green as much as the other colors. But spun up, the colors come together in a beautiful way. Even though the green plays very heavily, the effect of the yarn, as a whole, is more orange-brown.

Using a good drive band made a big difference in the final product.

I was getting a lot of yardage with pretty thick looking yarn and I realized a lot of that had to do with my yarn being a bit underspun...or maybe a LOT underspun. It would result in a very soft and light yarn but one that looked a little sad and limp. This was my first yarn spun using one of those synthetic drive bands and the results please me to no end.

The good drive band gave me much more control over the wheel. It seems obvious, but it's another "well duh!" moment for me. Before, I was using a mercerized cotton and I sometimes couldn't get the wheel to spin at all if I had the break on too high, and even when I kept the brake rather slack, it'd still spin the fibers too little and the yarn would break a lot.

Another lesson learned.

November 15, 2006

Just some things I enjoy looking at

A relatively random collection of recent photos that make me smile. As always, click to make them bigger.

My new yarn all balled up and begging to be swatched

Dew drops on the grass in the early morning.

Panda watching the rain.

Dog friendly park with a lake

Duck duck...

GOOSE!

Little critter A nutria (thanks Amanda!)

He can swim.

The purple center of a Queen Anne's Lace flower

November 27, 2006

Weather!

I'm sitting in Portland International Airport, enjoying their free (FREE!) WiFi while I await my flight down to John Wayne Airport for a quick business trip. My flight is a little delayed today. Why?

Snow-ish stuff.

And since I'm just now starting to acclimate to Portland weather, I'll spend almost all of the next two weeks in California and get my resistance to cold back down to nil. Yay!

Knitting on unbloggables continues in earnest, but I've spent a little time with El Matchador, here and there.

Candy pink Polwarth from Lynn. I spun the singles up lacy fine and created a 3-ply using the Navajo plying method.

Would you like to see it closer?

I knew you would.

But I won't be seeing much of El Matchador these next couple of weeks. I think I can live with that. But there are two things I'll miss bunches and I have a picture of one of them right here.

Three guesses what the other is...first two don't count. Well, time to check my flight status. Jet setting is soooooo glamorous.

December 4, 2006

PDX again

So I didn't get to go to San Francisco this weekend. It's sad, but Leo and I were not going to let the weekend go to waste. On Friday, we met up with the bi-weekly Restaurant Roulette group to try an Ethiopian restaurant named Queen of Sheba. The food was delicious, the atmosphere; not so much. But, if you forgo any drinks, you can eat for about $10 a person and be pretty full. It's communal finger food, so bring someone whose cooties you don't mind getting or already have.

After a long week of working, Leo and I didn't make it out after dinner. We headed home and hit the sack. I've started a new book *sigh,* it is wonderful. If you are one of the 3 people who hasn't read it yet, pick it up. I'm supplementing this with some nonfiction, or a reasonable facsimile. With topics like String Theory and Quantum Mechanics, we move into the realm of scientific philosophy, which may or may not be classified as nonfiction. Feel free to let loose with your own thoughts on the topic.

On Saturday, we hit our favorite little hippy bar for some live music, good munchies and a pint.

Someone offered to take our picture for us and told me to do something silly.
So I did.

But lest you think I'm a face licking freak, I do have proof of my better behavior, or as itty bitty Marnie would have said "I am being ha(i)ve!"

But let me tell you, for all the excitement of coming home to see the ones I love, I'm embarrassed to admit how exceedingly excited I was to get this.

That's right, it's a WooLee Winder, in the flesh...er...timber.

There was a slow start with my new toy. You see, the WooLee Winder works by way of a pair of gears; one on the bobbin and the other on the flyer. The two must engage in order to wind the yarn onto the bobbin. The whorls I have for El Matchador, appear to be hand machined and while they fit just fine for the purposes of general spinning, they leave a bit of a gap between the bobbin and whorl that causes the gears to barely touch and producing a noticable off balance load onto the bobbin. It's also distractingly loud. This is not a fault with the WooLee Winder. The gap was present on my old flyer as well. It looks a little something like this:


You can actually see my first attempt at filling the void, as well. It’s your standard issue rubber band. OK, but not great.

After a few nearly near catastrophic attempts to make the whorl opening wide enough to properly fit the flyer, I decided it was best I come at this from another angle. I'm not sure how many of you have read my two part series on stitch markers (if you are suffering from insomnia, this may be just the ticket!) but I've found yet another use for some of my most favorite stitch markers.

With three of my black rubber stitch markers, the whole system works like a dream. I have to apply a lot more tension with the break to get the bobbin to take up any yarn, but it sure beats trying to re-machine my whorls with a screwdriver and hammer. SHHHH! I know it was a bad idea, just be glad I’m not showing a broken whorl in this post.


I've been spinning some of my beautiful silk/merino blend that I picked up at Stitches West. The overall color is a soft sage green but spun very fine, the other colors really shine through.

The overall effect is still a soft green but more neutralized, with flecks of red and yellow glimmering through. It's hard to get a really great picture of the yarn that shows the color, but it's lovely indeed.

I haven't had a lot of luck working with these types of vertical color blends in the past, it always seemed like the color changed too abruptly and never looked quite right. But I think I've found a technique that normalizes the results a bit. Basically I use a fairly wide strip of roving, maybe 1/2 or 1/3 the total diameter of the roving as it comes. Then, I work the fibers into yarn by splaying them slightly and allowing the drafting zone to move right to left across the unspun roving. Does that make any sense? Perhaps I'll need to enlist my sweet Leo to help me take pictures when I'm back in Portland.

I think I'll still see some color variance from length to length of the yarn, but less so than if I had worked the fiber as I normally do — from a pencil sized diameter of roving — which would have given far more variance from section to section.

Ok, this is about as rambling and disjointed as any post I've made in recent history, so I'll sign off for now.

December 26, 2006

Purple and Green make...

I have finally finished all my unbloggable work except for the editing portion which will probably be ongoing for a month or more. That means I can now do stuff just for me! Yay. Don't get me wrong, I love the stuff I was doing, but it's a relief to have the work done.

The first thing on my plate was to do something with that yummy sage green silk/merino blend I've been spinning.

I only had a small amount left, just enough to half fill a bobbin, so I decided, instead of doing another navajo ply, that I would make a funky tweedy yarn with something else from my stash. But what? I have some beautiful green fiber from my parents, but I have enough of that to make a garment and don't want to disperse too much of it amongst other projects. Plus, green and green is not so exciting a combo. It occurred to me that I have a nice quantity of purple merino/silk that my brother gave me last year. Basic color theory would tell you that purple and green are not generally a combo that would blend well, but I wasn't going to be deterred by none of them thar theories. So I cranked out a half bobbin of beautiful purple roving into some very fine gauge singles to be plied with the green.

In total, I spun up about 1.6 ounces of each fiber.

I plied them together and noticed that the bobbin, when being filled (i.e., spinning really fast) was actually a navy shade. Who would of thought?

Close up, there's no navy at all, but the overall effect is sort of a deep muted shade of bluish something.

It's a little hard to put your finger on it.

I love all the various colors that shine through. The green had a lot of red, yellow and bits of blue in it, so that areas of the yarn show no green at all, but instead, soft shades of pink or a shocking flash of blue.

I'm not sure I'd suggest this color combo, but I think there's a place for it in my stash.

Specs

  1. Ounces: 3.6 ounces
  2. WPI: 20 (give or take)
  3. Weight: Lace/Sock
  4. Yards: 380

It's fairly consistent though, while getting used to the WooLee Winder, I did manage to get a few underspun bits in the green singles. even so, the yarn should knit up pretty evenly.

December 29, 2006

As I spin, so shall I knit

I generally do not knit variegated yarns. Firstly, when knit normally, they create a horizontal line that, in garments, may tend to add weight where not desired. Additionally, I tend to prefer solid or small scale patterns lest I be lost in all the noise. But I cannot deny the allure of colors combined beautifully and when spinning, it ads another level of interest to the whole process. So I've been thinking about ways to use my variegated handspun yarns. Chevrons and feather and fan stitches are a great way to add interest and I've used those in the past. Lace can produce a similar effect, but tends to clash with the variegation, leaving both looking a little haphazard. So how about a slip stitch pattern?

Good choices are ones that are meant to combine multiple colors and will work best with yarns that have a lot of very intense color changes. So a monochromatic or subtle variegation is probably not ideal. I thought this would be a great way to work my Autumn yarn.


This is a relatively simple slip stitch pattern meant to be worked in two colors. You work a series of double YOs over on one row, then slip those YOs for 4 rows, working the other stitches in stockinette. Then you fan out and work those YOs, over the course of 3 more rows, to produce a leaf like motif. The idea is that you'll probably be working a different color in the yarn than that used when you first created your YOs.

This breaks up the very horizontal effect of the variegation and introduces some interesting vertical lines from the slipped stitches.

Here's a close up for you as well. And for those of you who think I'm a consistent and skilled spinner, you'll note all the thick and thin/over and underspun sections as well

I think this is the first time I've ever wished my yarn had even more variegation. The whole piece will need some good blocking, but I think you get a good idea of the effect.

The goal is to work this up into a little hat, and maybe a pair of gloves or mittens. It'll be a nice reminder of the colors of autumn through the long winter months.

January 1, 2007

Panda happy new year

Those of you who have been visiting my site for a while may recall that Leo only celebrates holidays that involve lots of fun having and which are, basically, secular. This means that Halloween, Thanksgiving and New Year's top the list, with a nod to Valentine's day and, of course, a month for my Birthday. However, that last one is more mandated by the relationship than anything.

Since the plan was to have a rocking good time, I made sure that Panda got a nice long walk during the day.

Does anyone notice that besides the lovely view and adorable dog, there is also a new FO in this picture? A few of you have asked for the stitch pattern, but I plan to do you one better and post the whole hat pattern soon. The stitch is from one of the Barbara Walker books, but I'll have to dig back through to get the exact name. More on all that to come, in the future.

So back to the evening's events. Having moved to Portland, late in the year, we were a bit behind the eight ball in coming up with plans. We really didn't know where we'd wanted to go, because we hadn't really been anywhere and once we decided where we might like to go, all the options appeared to be filled up. Thus ensued a mad romp about the internet in search of options.

Leo found this posting online.

Tango lessons, a 5 course meal and Cirque Du Soleil style acrobatics; it all sounded like a perfect evening.

Well, it wasn't quite what we expected. The reservation secured us a spot at one of the wedding/prom style communal tables for 8 and a chance to visit the buffet and purchase wine by the glass from the bar. While the performers were excellent, much of it happened closer to terra ferma than we expected, so we missed a great deal of it. It wasn't a bad evening, but we still felt it was pretty oversold in the flier.

Oh and there may have been the slight issue in determining where the event was held. The picture above tells you all about the event, but not where it is. Combing their site, I managed to determine where they were performing on December 31st, which just happened to be 37 blocks from the event we had tickets for and lucky us, having taken public transportation in to the city, we found ourselves in a mini-predicament. All that got sorted out with an inexpensive cab ride, though it did put us pretty far from any means of getting home again. Oh, and we'd been warned that starting at about 9PM it would be about a 2-3 hour wait for a cab if we needed it, so if we wanted to take a cab back to the train, we were probably out of luck. Ooops.

Once seated, Leo took to procuring wine and I met our new friends.

That adorable couple would be Erica and Larry. It's a good thing they are gregarious because I am one of those shy folks who probably wouldn't have said a word if they hadn't been so outgoing. That would have been my loss because they are delightful dinner companions.

Most of the evening's performances were set to tango-like music.

Though, I swear, one piece was done to an instrumental version of Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters."

After dinner, there was a tango lesson. I did manage to guilt Leo into a few minutes of dancing with me. But when he lost interest, I began my rounds as the dance floor floozy; dancing with both dance instructors, some old Russian man named Alex, whose wife was getting pointers from one of the instructors, and finally a last dance with Larry, who had taken pity on me and my dance addiction. But I can stop any time. I can.

While watching some more floor shows, we heard a rushed "Four...Three...Two...ONE!" and realized it was now officially 2007 in our time zone.

A big wet smooch and hug and then we bid 2006 a fond farewell.

At this point, we began scheming about our plans to get home. Do we see if we can catch a bus back downtown? Do we even know which direction downtown is? Can we walk to a train station? None of that was necessary, instead, Larry and Erica invited us to join them for wine at their place and we jumped at the chance. They'd been so much fun to talk to AND they'd get us close to public transportation and cabs. What good fortune for us.

They have the most lovely and immaculate place in the Pearl. Did I mention is was also impeccably clean? Dear lord! I can understand having your place in order when you plan to invite folks over, but who the hell has their house that perfect just for normal every day living? Damn them!

We kept them up for another few hours, Erica and I talking fondly of road trips and pets, the guys discussing, who-knows-what.

At nearly 3AM, we decided we'd imposed ourselves long enough and began our voyage back to little Panda and the warmth of our home sweet home. But I don't think that's the last we'll see of them.

It may not be what we expected but it was a great way to start the year.

January 5, 2007

Comeing soon to a browser near you

I have finished the hat and gloves I've been knitting from my handspun, and they have already helped me keep out the chill as I did my errands today.

I'm hoping to finish up writing the pattern by the end of the weekend. It'll be available for free, and will contain suggestions for using different weight yarn.

As a side note, I wanted to show you how great store bought variegated yarns can look in slip stitch patterns. If you like the pattern but don't spin your own yarn, or prefer not to spin such fine gauge yarns, you can definitely substitute any variegated sock yarn.

Obviously, the stitch pattern is a little different but the effect is the same. The yarn is Socks That Rock in colorway, Carbon. If you'll notice, there is some definite flashing going on but the slip stitch sort of breaks that up.

Oh and here's hoping a few of you out there got to see Miss Panda on TV today. She was a natural, I tell you.

January 8, 2007

I've got your hat right here

The hat pattern has been posted.

The gloves are coming soon.

January 9, 2007

Perhaps the longest glove pattern ever

The Lake Park Glove pattern is now available for free in the pattern section of my site. This thing was a beast to put together so if you find any issues, feel free to drop me a note.

The pattern is very simple, but I've offered lots of information for modifying the pattern and I made charts and verbose instructions for those of you who have a preference. I give because I love.

I hope a few of you will show me your hand spun and variegated yarns worked up in this stitch pattern. I think it'll be great to see how different yarns look.

January 29, 2007

Side projects

I just got back from a quick business trip down to LA. It was so short, it hardly seemed worth mentioning, because I knew I wouldn't have time to see all the people I wanted to. In the process, I did manage to catch myself a little cold. I suspect I got it in the airport or in one of the many meetings I attended. Leo may have another cold all together, which means in the next few days, we may be in a mountain of tissues and in a cold medicine haze. This is my lead in to saying that, for the time being, if it isn't cozy and snuggly warm, I won't be modeling it here on my blog, which means there are no progress posts of the silky wool piece.

So while I eat my chicken noodle soup (with a splash of lemon juice,) I've been sticking to less taxing projects, like, spinning some beautiful Chameleon Colorworks fiber.

This is approximately 4 ounces of peachy colored singles. It's an unnamed colorway, in a Merino/Viscose blend, spun at a fairly fine weight. I'll be making a 2-ply with it sometime soon. It's definitely not as exciting to spin a monochromatic colorway, as it is to spin something vary variegated, but I love the subtle shading that is produced. The colorway is mostly very soft and muted shades of orange, with touches of gray throughout. The best way to describe it would be "cream of pumpkin." I've actually been spinning this fiber for several weeks, but finally finished the last little bit of it last night.

I started this other project last Wednesday night.

It'll eventually be a pair of socks for Leo -- he of the arches so high you could fit Donald Trumps ego under them.
The yarn is Blue Moon Sock Candy in Pecan. The fiber is 96% cotton and 4% elite. The pattern is a variation of one of the patterns from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks. Normally, I prefer to knit socks toe-up, but I've heard those aren't so good for the sky high arches that Leo was blessed with, so it seemed as good a time as any to start acquainting myself with the more traditional cuff-down variety of sock. Leo is particularly concerned that there be no seams, which I have assured him will be the case. I've also made it clear that he should not get used to wearing handmade socks. Luckily, he's always been very appreciative of hand knits.

February 3, 2007

Pickled ginger

I finished spinning up my peach colored fiber and the result reminds me of the pickled ginger served with sushi.

I'm simply unable to get a picture that really shows the depth of the color and the subtle sheen the viscose gives it.

It's not quite as pink as the picture above and not quite as yellow as the picture below. It's somewhere in between.

About the Yarn
Fiber: Merino/Viscose blend
From: Chameleon Colorworks
Colorway: Unnamed
WPI: About 28
Ply: 2-ply
Yardage: About 475

This batch isn't as evenly spun as I usually get but I think it will still knit up well enough. The color is absolutely delicious and very subtly variegated. I love how the viscose ads an almost iridescent quality. Despite being a bit over spun in spots, it's still quite soft to the touch.

February 24, 2007

Heather

Not too very long ago, Ms Janice (whose sweet dog, Ivan, recently passed, so send your hugs her way, if you can,) linked to this Etsy shop. I saw the most beautiful hand painted merino roving in her shop and I knew it had to be mine. I'm such a sucker for those nearly solid rovings.

I decided I really wanted to put my lazy kate to work and make a 3-ply that wasn't a Navajo ply. My scale has been on the fritz lately and my backup scale is somewhere in the deepest reaches of the city of boxes, we call our garage. The only thing to do was to wing it and hope for the best.

When all three bobbins were filled, it was clear that they all had a different amount of yarn on them. I plied all three until the first bobbin was empty.

I'm sure this is pretty common practice among other folks, but in case someone hasn't thought to do this, here's a technique I like that works as well for 2-plies as it does for 3. I decided to take the fuller bobbin and wind it into a bracelet for the Andean plying method. If I were working a 2-ply, I'd just take the only bobbin that had yarn left on it and wind it into a bracelet.

Once the bracelet was complete (note that I didn't cut any of the singles) I overlapped the the end tail of the bracelet, with the end of the tail from the first empty bobbin. I can now make my three ply from the one full bobbin and the two ends of the bracelet.

It's a bit fiddly, but it gets the job done.

I was either going to end up with a little extra bracelet or a little extra bobbin. I had hopped for the latter. It would have meant I could have finished the batch with a Navajo ply, maintaining a three ply through the entire skein (albeit with three different methods).

However, I had just a very small amount of bracelet left and it hardly seemed worth the effort to get it to a place where I'd only be feeding off the singles again, so I proceeded with a 2-ply to the end.

I ended up with about 3 yards of 2-ply, and almost 350 yards of 3-ply. Arguably, no waste, though the three yards of 2-ply are darn near useless.

The end product is pretty nice. There are definitely thicker areas and thinner areas, and over and under spun sections, but that's pretty much par for the course with my skill level.

The end product is about a worsted weight, with tons of sproing and softness. I'm toying with the idea of making some sort of felted bag, but maybe a scarf would get more use. Only time will tell.

February 27, 2007

The ugliest yarn I've ever loved

For my birthday, among other things, my mother got me a gift certificate to Chameleon Colorworks. I combined it with a store credit I earned from some Spindlicity designs and decided to get the Luxury Fiber of the Month.

Janel was gracious enough to give me some advice before starting. The fiber would need to be spun into a yarn with a lot of twist, using the long draw method, and the finished yarn would need to be plied. Twist and ply are not a problem. I have lots of teeny tiny whorls and I always ply my yarn, but this long draw thing would require some practice.

I worked the last bobbin of my heather yarn using the long draw method. With careful pre-drafting and a little patience, I got the technique down fairly well. I won't be writing any books on the method, but I think I was able to make a passable yarn with the technique.

My first sample was Gray Yak. This stuff is SOFT. My long draw method, though, sucked yak knobs, when I tried it with this fiber. Pre-drafting seemed necessary, but hard to do because of the very short staple length and my inability to get a nicely pre-drafted fiber resulted in lots of thick and thin spots.

The finished fiber is just about 100 yards of some of the ugliest most "designery" yarn I've spun since I started spinning. The yarn itself averages around 10 WPI.

But, my god, even where it's overspun, this fiber is soft unlike anything I've ever spun before. If I were a yak, I'd touch myself all day. Wait, I didn't mean that to sound as dirty as it did. While I wouldn't consider this first luxury yarn a screaming success, I'm still excited to get my next fiber and try to improve on the method.

I'd actually really like to try spinning some of these fibers with a supported spindle of some sort. I feel like I'd be able to hone the technique better, but for now, that's just not in the budget.

If anyone else would like to offer any advice for next month, I always appreciate it, just comment away.

April 6, 2007

A little slice of heaven

When I worked on site, at my job, I was often pretty far away from windows throughout the day. What little of the day I saw, was usually while I bustled between meetings.

Now that I work from home, I sit right next to a window, and I have Panda by my side. It's all I could ever have hoped. I love it.

There is one downside, though, when the days are absolutely beautiful, I feel like I'm in 3rd grade waiting for the school bell to sound and mark the end of the day.

Yesterday, was one such day. The sun is absolutely beaming, everything is verdant, and it was a mere hours before my weekend was scheduled to start. I could barely contain myself.

When my shift was up and I'd finally completed all those little things that seem to come up just when I think I'm done for the day, I decided that Panda and I needed a relaxing afternoon in the backyard.

We don't have any proper lawn furniture, but we do have some portable camping chairs. Ours happens to have a perfectly sized drink holding divot and yarn holster.

For a drink, I had myself a beer, though, to be honest, I was more like 25% of a beer, because I am a cheep date and it started to make me sleepy. For knitting, I had my super secret Stitchy McYarnpants project, so all you get to see is the gorgeous plum color and a big heap of knitted fabric, stitch holders and needles.

For entertainment, A Game of Thrones on my iPod. I'm such an audio book junkie. I'm so enamored of them, I exercise to them instead of music.

Panda made good use of the backyard as well.

Then she finally settled into a nice shady spot to watch me knit.

In the evening, I spun some of the Pearl colored Optim I got from Janel, last year.

This is my first time spinning Optim and it is unbelievably smooth and soft. Her colorway is beautifully subtle, which I love. This will be a colorway I can work into a very wearable item. I've started the second bobbin and will ply the two before moving onto my new Luxury Fiber of the Month; Baby Camel! I'm sure I'll absolutely bastardize the camel like I did the yak, but who cares, it's too soft to let languish.

April 20, 2007

Supported

What can I say, I'm a weak weak woman. With all the gorgeous luxury fibers I've been getting, and my poor results with them on both a drop spindle and the wheel, I thought it was time that I give into the siren call of the supported spindle.

I ordered myself a Spindolyn which I had first seen in action while shooting this episode of Knitty Gritty with the magnificent Shannon Okey. Of course, as soon as it came in, I wanted to play with it, but decided to be a good doobie and at least wait until my work day was over. The days are long enough that I had just enough time to snap some progress pics before the sun was completely gone for the day. Here is


Spindolyn nestled in a clump of flowers in my back yard

 

It's probably not a fair to make an assessment of the Spindolyn at this point since I've used for all of, maybe, 2 hours, but this in the internet and lack of authority on a subject has never stopped anyone from waxing unintelligibly before. What's to stop me now? Of course, when I have a new opinion in a few months, all of this will be moot, but here's a virgin's assessment of the Spindolyn.

Why I chose the Spindolyn

Firstly, for the price, it definitely seemed worth the risk. At $26, the Spindolyn is cheaper than many spindles of a similar size or smaller.

 


A couple full frontal shots.

 

 

There are several types of supported spindle on the market including the Navajo and Tahkli. Since both have long histories, I'm guessing they are excellent tools and well tested. However, the Navajo seemed a bit large and unwieldy and definitely lacked the sort of portability I'd hope for and the Tahkli seemed so small that you would only be able to work super fine lace weight in order to get any sort of yardage on the spindle. The Spindolyn seemed like a nice middle ground and a tool that would be easier to learn on since you could use both hands to draft.

Taking her for a spin

The movie on the Spindolyn homepage seemed fairly straight forward so I got right to spinning. At first, it seemed nearly impossible to get the spindle to spin for any length of time and since all the cuts in the demo movie were relatively short, I started to wonder if this is just the nature of the beast. With a bit more time, I was able to get a longer spin. Excessive predrafting helps a lot. After I got the hang of it, it seemed to go fairly well. I'm not dancing on the tree tops with delight at my progress, but do feel I'm getting the hang of it.

 


And my first little skein

 

Comparison to a drop spindle

In general, I don't feel I got as long or as effective a spin as I get on a drop spindle. This isn't necessarily a problem since you don't have that same risk of the fiber breaking from lack of twist, but it's definitely something I noticed. I love spindles and the processes, but not so much that I want it to take any longer than it has to. I'm about efficiency.

The shaft onto which you store your fresh spun is short compared to my drop spindles so if feels like I have to make a significantly smaller cop than I normally do. I was usually able to get close to 50 yards of 2 ply out of a single cop. With the Spindolyn, I think I'll have to settle for less.

In this same vein, being limited to the spinning the distance from my knees to as far as my arms can reach overhead, before having to wind the yarn on, also feels limited. I played with placing the Spindolyn between my feet which was awkward when just spinning close to the floor but does seem to give me more spinning time before winding on, which I like. I don't think this is a negative of the Spindolyn, more an issue with supported spindles in general.

 


Obviously, you knew there'd be a Panda shot too.

Benefits of the Spindolyn

I do love that the Spindolyn works as its own lazy kate, though. This is much nicer than my old shoe box lazy kate, I use with my beautiful Goldings. This is not a deal maker but it's pretty darn nice.

Additionally, as I mentioned before, there's little risk of breaking your yarn for lack of twist, though, I'm skilled (ha!) enough to manage this nonetheless. Later in the evening I tried a bit of angora and found it far easier than my previous experiences on a drop spindle. For the purposes of short silky fibers, this really does seem to be a great option.

The Spindolyn also seems to be well made, durable and a good value. For the price, I think you really do get a lot.

Conclusion

Obviously, it's too early to make any final conclusions but based on my first impression, I think this is a good purchase and one I'll have plenty of use for. I still love the drop spindle and find it more relaxing and more efficient. I don't like to have to wind on the fiber every few seconds. I find myself spending a lot more time with my arms craned uncomfortably over my head in an attempt to extend the time drafting and spinning than I do with the drop spindles. However, as I said, I do not see this as a shortcoming of the spindle but as a byproduct of supported spindles in general and my own impatience.

I would love to see these, at some point, come in a model with more wood at the edge of the spindle, to facilitate longer spin time, and perhaps a longer shaft as well, to allow for a larger cop. I don't know if this would adversely effect the performance, but it seems like both would allow for more efficient spinning.

May 15, 2007

Konichiwa Crochet

I'm almost always a guest, never a host. Our home is small and lacking in furniture and it's not just anyone I'd subject to a single small (very small) bathroom shared between three adults. But when Julia said she'd be in town for work, I vacuumed up the dog hair and gave the tub an extra scrub. We had us a guest in town!

Recently, Julia has decided to learn crochet in earnest and her enthusiasm is infectious. On a recommendation we found our way to a huge Japanese market replete with...wait for it...a Japanese BOOK STORE. Great googily moogily! Their selection of crochet books was small but packed full of goodness.

There may have also been some shopping at a couple LYSs and the opportunity to meet a really great blogger and designer. Have yarn, will craft, and there was no dearth of that. In the 3 days that Julia and I spent together, not a single solitary picture was taken until the third and final day. Luckily for you, it was the most photogenic day of the lot.

Early that day, we packed the car up for a trip to Horsetail falls. If you read my non-crafty posts, you may remember our last visit, not too long ago.

The day was perfect for hiking. It was a little cool, but not so much as to require substantial outerwear. The sun was out but shaded by some light and poofy clouds. Didn't we agree they were Stradivarius clouds or were they igneous, Julia?

Leo was doggy wrangler for the day. It's no small feat to keep two dogs from intertwining on leash especially when one of them is just a pup. They were each other's yin and yang. Panda would duck every time someone would try to pet her. She wanted nothing more than solitude from everyone she didn't know. Thea, on the other hand, wanted to jump all over every person and dog we passed (and there were many people celebrating Mother's day by hiking on these beautiful trails). Between these two extremes was our handsome hero, dragging one girl ahead and holding another back. Me thinks we have some more training to do.

On the drive home, I crocheted from my new Japanese crochet book. This little wonder is chock full of sweet motifs. While the book is all in Japanese, everything is charted which makes them delightful to use. The yarn? My lovely peachy Merino/viscose handspun, from Chameleon Colorworks. The viscose gives a subtle sheen and the brilliant dyeing gives depth to the simple colorway. When you see the yarn, it's clear the spinning is average, at best, but the fiber was so beautiful to start with that I can't help but be proud of the final product.

Blocked, the finished pieces look like snowflakes.
What am I going to do with them? Perhaps a doggy babushka.

Perhaps not.
I have more — what's the word — sane ideas. I don't have enough yardage to do a whole garment in this yarn (unless I want to go particularly scantily clad) but it could be paired with another handspun or store bought yarn in some creative way. All that is still in deliberation.

After our long hike and short ride home, I took a marathon nap and then arose with ample time to join Julia at Lake Park for a photo shoot. I'll leave those pictures for her to post. Instead, check out the fresh batch of ducky goodness from the same outing.

They can give me avian flu, any old day. I just want to scoop them up and snuggle them.

And now, Julia is back at home with all her fur balls. And all that's left is the now deflated air mattress where she was set up. Thea payed homage to Miss Tuna in Julia's absence. I think that's Thea's way of saying she was glad to meet her.

It was a great weekend and I hope there will be more like it soon. And someday, we'll own a house with more than one bathroom and a proper spare bedroom. I'm dreamin' big, baby.

May 31, 2007

There's just been something missing

Since we brought a certain little beast into the home, El Matchador has had to go into hiding. The girls accidentally knocked her over and the injury that could have come to any of the three of them, was simply not worth the risk.

Recently, a friend posted a bowl of deliciousness, and it had my heart aching to do more spinning.

I'm working on a few unbloggable projects now so this is a perfect diversion that doesn't make me feel like I'm ignoring my other responsibilities.

A teeny tiny skein of merino silk worked up on my Spindolyn.

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There are only about 18 yards of yarn here, but it's my best little skeinlette off the Spindolyn, yet. I'm still having some trouble getting a good cop on it. When I start to build up too much, it either doesn't hold its shape and goes all wonky, or the yarn starts tucking in under the cop making it impossible to wind it off later. I think I'll get better with practice.


Up next, some "Fudge Brownie" from Nistock Farms. I was never able to get this stuff to spin well on a drop spindle, but on the Spindolyn, it works up beautifully. This gives me hope that I'll also do better with the luxury fibers I have.

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And finally, some silk/merino blend that I've had forever. I believe it's Ashland Bay. I'm spinning on my 0.6 ounce Golding.

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I haven't been able to use my 0.9 ounce, which was formerly my workhorse, because the hook got a little bent while traveling to and from India, but I'm told I'll be able to get her sorted out at the Fiber Frolic in Maine. It's amazing how much an unbalancedness hook can throw you off. Hopefully, I'll be able to pick up enough information from the fine folks at Golding, to fix it myself in the future.

And now for some proof that I shouldn't be allowed to have dogs, after the jump

Continue reading "There's just been something missing" »

June 5, 2007

A few little cuties

These are actually now hanging to dry, but while I had some defused sunlight today, I thought I'd snap some photos of my little skeins of handspun.

Firstly, off the Spindolyn, about 24 yards of Fudge Brownie 2-ply. The roving was from Nistock Farms. I'd say this is my most successful and longest skein off the Spindolyn so far. I am going to keep trying to get better with it. I really strive to have at least 50 yards of plied yarn off a single cop. Maybe that's just silliness, but I think it's enough yarn to actually feel like I can start to knit with it.
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The fibers were spun quite fine but there's tons of loft in this stuff so it looks like a worsted weight. I suspect that after washing and drying, it will lose a touch of that loft. I'm estimating it around 18 WPI. My spinning is a little irregular so it definitely won't be mistaken for store bought, but it's really soft and the color is impressively rich.

Off my trusty 0.6 ounce Golding, just under 60 yards of 2 ply. This yarn is fairly consistent with a few "designer" moments throughout. She is about 24 WPIs.
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A little closer, if you like.
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While I was shooting these photos, Ms. Thea was giving me this look.
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Nope, she's not growing into her ears, but I still think she's gorgeous.

June 11, 2007

Chapeau Marnier

The new Knitty is up and I have a pattern there.


There was some confusion about whether the dark version of the hat would run in Knitty Spin or the green version would run in regular Knitty and the short version of the story is that both hats are pictured which is great, but that I flubbed and did the ribbon loops differently on each. So the instructions on Knitty are for the dark hat's loops and you can get the green hat's loops chart here. As always, feel free to press that little "contact" button up top if you need any help or clarification.


In other news, I went to the Maine Fiber Frolic, this weekend and had a great time. See some fun pics from my stay in Boston and visit to the Frolic, here. What, you need more motivation than that to look at my pictures? How's this for temptation?

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I leave to go back home, early tomorrow morning and while it's been wonderful to see my family and friends (so so great, really) I will glad, indeed, to see my little girls and Leo again.

June 13, 2007

I've never been so happy to see so much dog hair

I'm beyond exhausted. Yesterday started with my getting up at 1:30AM pacific time and I didn't go to bed until nearly 11PM, but I'm happy and tired and with my sweet pups, and tired and exhausted and tired and in sorry need of some unpacking and a shower and tired. I seriously thought I might log in for a full day of work today but to paraphrase Zapp Brannigan, the spirit is willing but the brain is spongy and bruised. I may still pop in for a few hours, just to catch up, but I'm not making any promises.

Little Thea is getting so big. A week away from a puppy is a jarring (though rather relaxing) thing. I'll post pictures when I can get some good light.

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I did acquire a few things on my trip and did a bit of hand spinning. I mentioned before that my spindle hooks had gone a little wonky. The kind folks at Golding, were happy to realign them but needed to hold onto the spindles for a couple days to do so. Feeling a decided void in my bag, I decided to peruse their new selection. While there are some amazing new designs, I know I like my spindles between 0.5 and 1 ounce, so I picked up a gorgeous 0.9 ounce, purple heart Le Fleur.

Additionally, my mom treated me to some magnificent Schacht carders so that I could attend an intro class on carding fibers. The class was taught by Debbie Bergman of Purple Fleece and was wonderful. I want to card all my fibers forever and always, into punis.

And with my spindle and my carders, I needed a bit of fibers. I just knew I had to get me some of Amy's lovely BFL batts. Mine is in rich shades of burgundy and brown with a creamy peach color. I would never, in a thousand years, think to combine those colors but they come together beautifully and the touch of shimmer makes it so decadent. I'm not usually gaga for BFL but these batts are a delight.

Here it is being spun up and basking in some Maine sunshine.

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And here is a closeup of the final two-ply skein.

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I got a few other goodies but I haven't had a chance to photograph them.

While I miss all the great people I got to catch up with back east, I'm so very glad to have spent a night in my own comfie bed.

June 18, 2007

Good as new, maybe better

The folks over at Golding just rock. At the Fiber Frolic, owner, Diane, offered to take my 0.6 ounce and 0.9 ounce, align the hooks and mail them back to me, complete with instructions for aligning, should I ever with to try myself.
A couple days after the frolic, she wrote me to say that they have updated the design of the smaller spindle, to have a thinner shaft, and would I like them to install that shaft on my 0.6 ounce. Well, that sounded just dandy to me.

A couple days later, my beautiful spindles were back in my hands, all buffed up and looking good or maybe better than new.

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Pre-surgery, the old shaft, on my smaller spindle, was about the same size as the larger spindle. You can really see the difference now. It spins amazingly well.

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The shaft switch also changed the weight. Now it's a petite 0.45 ounces. Just think of the cobwebs I shall spin.


While I was awaiting the return of my spindles, I was putting my new spindle to good use spinning up some beautiful fiber from Nistock Farms. The colorway is called "September Glow" and it's a cotwold and silk blend.

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The color of the fiber goes from a soft cream-of-mahogany color to vivid oranges and pinks. It's like a more neutral version of the Autumn Spice colorway I spun last year. The silk shows up as lovely white flecks. They tend to form little nubs, but I like them. The batts are as light as air so it spins like a dream. I may even bring El Matchador out of hiding.

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Panda, as always, humored my insanity. This has grown all the more exasperating for her since Thea tends to grab whatever I'm photographing and run off with it.

Speaking of Thea, hasn't she gotten big? Her spots are becoming more and more pronounce too. She's really starting to show her cattle dog side.

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The two girls have also gotten really close. They play like puppies, and snuggle up with Leo, any chance they get.

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Admit it, you want in on that pile of cute.

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July 2, 2007

September Glow

Well, El Matchador has been purring like a kitten and helped me produce another little skein of delicious yarn.

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Specs

  • Fiber: 90% Cotswold / 10% Silk (the white bits)
  • From: Nistock Farms.
  • Color: September Glow: Shades of gingerbread cookies with orange and raspberry sorbet.
  • WPI: About 20. It's a little inconsistent, leaning mostly a bit lighter, though some areas are a little thicker. The silk also tends to form nubs.
  • Length: Over 225 yards.
  • Spun on: Schacht Matchless wheel (El Matchador to you)
  • Plies: 2, plied off of two bobbins until one ran out, then switched to Andean plying to avoid waste.
  • Impressions: I just love spinning this fiber. The batts are well prepared with only the smallest amounts of vegetable matter. The fiber is not too slippery, and has a lovely sheen. It's not really next to the skin soft, but it's not all that rough either. The colors are divine. I'm looking forward to spinning up more.

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For the first time, I have washed but not weighted my yarn. This skein did get a rather good beating against the pole, but otherwise, she is unmanipulated. Apparently, there are two rather strong camps on this topic. Some people are weighers and some are not. I imagine there are good reasons for both. If I had to guess as to why you shouldn't weigh, it would be that weighing might give a false sense of balance that would then be undone the next wash the yarn (probably in knit or crochet form) went through. But that's just a guess. What do you all have to say? Anyway, after soaking in some warm water and Eucalan, and a couple thwacks before it dries, the yarn seems pretty darn balanced.

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Recently June posted about Spinning Spider Jenny. If you haven't found her, and you are a spinner, go find her now. She's a wealth of information. Jenny happened to post about her method of 2-plying. Alas, I didn't read it until mere hours after I had completed my yarn, but next time I'm definitely going to try this method. It seems rather like common sense but it's sheer brilliance to me.

In entirely unrelated news, we found another great hiking site for the girls, and this is only 5 minutes from home!

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There's a lovely place called MacLeay Park (I like to think it's a typo and should actually end in an "n" instead of "y.") in Portland that feels like its 100 miles from the closest city.

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It was a gorgeous day, though perhaps a bit hotter than we are all used to. Thank goodness we've evolved so as not to be covered in hair. How do dogs do it? It's funny, though, both girls showed some unexpected personality changes that day.

Thea, our normally fearless (seriously) hero, decided that wooden bridges were the scariest thing EVER.
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With a little coaxing and encouragement, she got a bit better, a good thing, because we crossed a good many of them, but she definitely wasn't loving them. Each time we'd reach one, she'd pull on the emergency break, I'd run across the bridge and call her and she'd muster up her courage and then bolt across. Silly monkey.


And Ms. Panda, our normally indifferent and withdrawn wallflower, suddenly decided she needed to keep an eye on Thea and defend her against dominant (not aggressive, dominant) dogs.
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She was fine with this little ball of happiness, but Panda tried to get a little b*tchy with some other bigger dogs. That's definitely something we're going to have to work on. We definitely don't want a dog that's going to be picking fights. That's no fun.

But don't let those two issues lead you to believe we didn't have a great time. It was gorgeous. You can see all of the photos from the hike here.

July 12, 2007

One way to predraft your fibers

Sachi sent me some absolutely beautiful fibers, recently, including some Carbonized Bamboo. I spun a little bit of it during lunch today and draped the remainder of the wad I was working on, over the top of El Matchador.

As many of you know, Thea is a great fan of the fiber arts and has shown much interest in my tools, before.

Today, she showed me an alternative method for predrafting. What do you think?

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Thank goodness, Sachi sent me a bunch and I only had a small amount out on the wheel.

Thea, do you feel sorry?

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Ok, no hard feelings. I can't be mad at you.
Anyway, look at your face, you are so cute and sweet and such a good little girl, I just love you to pieces and....


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HEY! That just seems unnecessary.
Kids today.

July 17, 2007

(Janel + Sachi) x Jenny = New Handspun

So my last two posts have collected more comments, each, than I usually get in a week. WOW! I have tried to reply to each and every one of you but I'm a little behind. All I can say is that I really really appreciate every single comment.

To all of you who commented on the sweater, I'm now seriously considering revisiting it when I have my deadline work completed. I will likely use one of the heather Aurora 8 shades, perhaps green again, maybe in an oatmeal shade.

To all of you who have weighed in about parenthood, thank you. I am realizing that I need to not let crazy people get under my skin and that most normal people think you should do what feels right for you. I just hope that you guys out there represent a fair sampling of the public at large because there was a lot of very thoughtful feedback. It's especially nice to hear some of the personal stories. I may not want babies for me, but I love that other people are raising wonderful children, since, I hear, they are our future.*

Ok, back to normal posting, just as promised.
So, today's post is about the beautiful optim roving I got from Janel, some luscious carbonized bamboo, that Sachi sent me, and some great instruction from Spinning Spider Jenny, which I have employed rather poorly but enthusiastically.

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The girls, of course, help me model my new yarn.

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Everything came together for me, when Jenny posted about spinning from the fold. I've spun from the fold before and didn't have a problem with it, but I didn't really see why I would choose this method, over my normal method of spinning from the end of roving. It was when Jenny mentioned that spinning from the fold was a good option for very slippery fibers that I became excited. I had spun a bit of the bamboo before that, and had some trouble, but this changed everything. All of a sudden, my hard to control fiber was just gliding into place. I was smitten. Jenny, if I ever meet you in person, I may have to hug you. You've been warned.

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After spinning up a bobbin of the carbonized bamboo, it occurred to me that I had a bobbin and a half of optim just waiting to be put to good use. I plied the two together, using Jenny's instructions for Plain Vanilla Two-Ply et voila, yarn.

I have about 238 yards of worsted weight two-ply yarn that should work up into a pretty, every so slightly variegated, tweedy gray fabric. The yarn is unbelievably soft to the touch and I'm pretty excited to knit it up into something special.

Tomorrow, Thea has her first Puppy Agility class. You can bet there will be pictures, if I can drag Leo along.

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* Yes, I know that was corny, go tell it to Whitney Houston.

July 24, 2007

In which the car gets towed, the girls get a new bed and I spin up some yarn

Thank you all for the concern and well wishes. We are all, thankfully, doing fine. We believe we've found a reliable mechanic (based on a couple testimonials from Leo's colleagues) and Stewie (the Element) is off to get fixed up.

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It's weird sending your car off with a stranger. I am sure he thought I was insane but I decided to get shots of him and his vehicle and his plates, juuuuuuust in case he was a craze Element steeling maniac. You never know.

Between writing up my super secret Stitch Diva project and working on a couple other projects for a book, I've been putting El Matchador to work. Oooh baby.

While at the Fiber Frolic, I picked up 2 ounces of a cashmere and tussah silk blend from Fox Fire Fibers. This stuff is yum-ME (as in mememememememe give me more.) However, it is also a real challenge to spin. The silk fibers are substantially longer than the cashmere and, when spun from the end, all the silk gets drafted out first leaving a poof of cashmere.

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I decided to try a 90 degree turn and see if that helped at all. Once again, spinning from the fold seems to have helped me coerce the fibers into submission. Instead of fibers flowing freely from the end, the folding seems to lightly link the fibers together, like those pop-up boxes of facial tissues. As fibers get drafted out, they bring more fibers with them. While the silk and cashmere may not have been perfectly distributed, with this method, they were far more so than when spinning from the end. That's as close to success as I can ask for.

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The final yarn is luxurious and the color makes me positively hungry, it's so decadent.

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Final Product
Content: Cashmere and Tussah Silk (quantities not specified)
Color: Summer Berries
From: Fox Fire Fibers
Quantity: 2 ounces/109 Yards
Singles: From the fold using a long draw technique
Plies: 3-ply using the Navajo plying method
WPI: Approximately 16
Results: The yarn is not perfect but I absolutely love it. The colors are rich and the feel is soft, silky and full of drape. I think this would make for a really fabulous hat, though if I had more, I'd gladly make a sweater from it. I'm curious to see how much the fabric pills and if the silk helps control that at all. The yarn bled substantially, when I washed the skein. I added just a touch of vinegar to the water, in hopes it might set the color a little more, but I can tell you, I won't be mixing this with any other yarn, in my finished knit piece, for fear of color contamination.

And in doggy news, guess what Leo got for the girls?

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This will replace the small bed we keep in the Element (whenever he is back) to allow room for both girls to snuggle up. The old bed was fine for one dog or one adult and one baby puppy dog, but it's gotten quite cramped in there. We've been on the lookout for a replacement, since adopting Thea and finally found this one, here.

And hey, if we are ever homeless, this bed will be big enough for all 4 of us to sleep on.

July 27, 2007

Craft and Whacking Baby Camels

So a friend of mine from many moons ago (hi Doug!), comment the other day that I should go look at the upcoming cover for Craft magazine, as I'd find something rather familiar there.

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So wow, yah, it looks a lot like my Crime of Fashion scarf. Similar, but definitely different (the font, for sure, is different and the finishing as well.) I scratched my head a bit and went to their site, but couldn't determine if the pattern was inspired by mine or not and whether I should say something. Of course, only one thing to do, bug my friend Julia and ask her what she thinks, since Julia is always my sounding board, especially for all things knitterly. At the time, she found that there was already a link to MagKnits on their about page for the scarf, which suggested that they had seen my version, but no link to me. It's another week before the magazine is released so I wrote them.

Turns out that right before publication, they did, indeed, find my version and that I get a little shout out in the end AND, as you may now have noticed, they've added a link to me on that same about page.

How
Cool
Is
That?


I'm sorta kinda in Craft!

I've also been spinning some more, while I work on my deadline projects. Remember that rather pathetic attempt at spinning Yak fiber? It was so soft and oh-so-ugly. While I was glad I was actually able to spin the fiber at all, I was hesitant to spin up any more of my Luxury Fiber of the Month goodies, for fear I'd just end up with 6 skeins of nearly useless novelty yarn. Well, I broke down and had my hand at baby camel down.

I spun 167 yards of of 3 ply, from the 2 ounces I have and am much happier with the results. I did slightly under spin it, so the yarn broke a lot as I was working the navajo ply. Pretty crazy, since I was using the super high speed whorl on El Matchador, but I guess those short, downy fibers, need a LOT of twist.

Even so, I'm happy and the camel down got itself a rinse and a royal whacking.

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Final yarn pictures to come.

That's all for now, check out some pics of Thea's second agility class, here.

Thea sends a puppy kiss (or at least a cold nose in your ear) to each of you, Panda first.

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July 31, 2007

It's not all fun and games around here

Sure, my dogs live a good life. We don't bat an eyelash at driving and hour and a half to spend the day at the beach, just for them. And sure, we buy them high quality food and shower them with love and live with ungodly amounts of hair so that they might join us on the couch and bed, at their whim. Yes, it seems like the world is their oyster, but don't be fooled, these are some hard working girls.

Both Thea and Panda, showed their style, grace and excellent sit stays, in today's photoshoot.

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That, my friends, is the unbelievably soft baby camel down of whacking fame.

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Final Product
Content: Baby Camel Down
Color: Natural
From: Chameleon Colorworks
Quantity: 2 ounces/167 Yards
Singles: Spun using a long draw method, after gently fluffing the fibers.
Plies: 3-ply using the Navajo plying method.
WPI: Oh, 12-14. This is some lofty fiber, indeed. Fresh off the bobbins, the plied yarn was closer to 18 WPI, but everything just bloomed after the beating.
Results: I can't get over how soft this yarn is. Every time I touch it, iI want to drop everything and make something of it. The navajo plying didn't really go as well as I hoped. I don't think I put quite enough twist in the singles to carry it off successfully and I'm darn horrible at reattaching fiber when I've broken it. Something about controlling the loop, aligning the fibers and not losing all the twist in the singles, just eludes me. Does anyone have any handy dandy tips?

I don't think the yarn's a loss though. There are lots of good solid area and the little bits of ugly will be well concealed once knit up. I love this yarn.

If you aren't burned out on black and white doggies, you can see the pictures from our weekend adventures, over here.
Stewie (the car) is till out of commission, but we'd never let a little thing like that get in our way.

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Today, I handed off the first draft of my super secret Stitch Diva project, which is a huge relief. Two projects down, 3 to go.

August 8, 2007

When is three less than one?

It's funny, when we got Panda, she was 9 months old and a very gentle and timid sort. You could give her a stern look and she'd tuck her tail and hide in a corner. Teaching her what is ours and what is hers was a breeze. She quickly learned, "leave it," and anything that was ever dubbed as such was unharmed.

Thea, she is much younger, much more confident and far less concerned with the repercussions of her mischief. She's a good girl, don't get me wrong, but she lives in the moment and runs a little fast and loose with the law of the house. One must be ever diligent to catch her before she slips up, which is why I have only myself to blame for this.

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I closed the girls out of the office, during an important conference call, and when I came out, Thea had her handiwork on display. It's that delicious baby camel down that Thea so beautifully modeled, a little while back.

She tried to look sorry

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But then something interesting passed by the kitchen window

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As you can imagine, it was no small feat to untangle the mess, but the yarn was salvageable.

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Only two breaks, leaving me with two small and one larger ball of yarn. So, while my three little balls might not be quite as good as my one larger skein, it could definitely be worse.

Now, tell me again about how lucky I am to have such well behaved little girls. I think I need a reminder. Oh wait, here's one.


August 14, 2007

Hey, how about some knitting and crocheting?

I've been posting a lot of dog photos lately, mostly because I can't post much else, but look. I have crafting!

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Remember those motifs I crocheted? I have been playing around with how to use them. I knew I didn't have enough of the motif yarn to make a whole garment, but I realized that the September Glow Cotswold and Silk yarn I spun, would look nice with the muted peach color of the motifs.

I think I want to make this into a skirt. I have quite a bit more of the Cotswold, that I can spin. I've played around with knitting and crocheting the skirt portion. Right now, the motifs are joined in such a way that they make a natural chevron, which is great for this subtly variegated yarn. I tried crocheting the skirt, but I wanted it to be a little softer and drapier, so I switched to knit instead.

It's actually really hard for me to post a this point, because I'm not totally sure I love it and I might very well rip the whole darn thing out if I'm not satisfied with the results, still, so far, it looks good enough that I feel I can share.

And aren't I doing well, not a doggy in sight.

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Urm, well, yes, Thea did sneak her paw into that shot. You can see her little goth pinkie nail. But we aren't looking at puppies in this post, we're looking at handspun yarn working up into a skirt.

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*Sigh* I'm sorry. I couldn't help myself. I mean, come on, that's funny, people. Even if you hate dogs. Plus, I think the color really brings out the pathetic expression plastered on Panda's face. Don't you agree?

September 3, 2007

Lovely long weekend

Leo and I have put this labor day weekend to good use, if I do say so myself. Since we are renting a house, it's always a struggle to decide how much time and money we should invest in beautification of our humble abode. It's a great little place, but after years of being rented, there's a lot that has gone neglected. This is not the loving little first home, it was originally built to be, but a way point in the lives of folks like Leo and me. Still, never one to shy away from a little hard work, Leo has decided we should get things tidied up, so on Saturday and Monday, we shoveled, we weeded, we hauled masses of toppled brick and we planted a little flower garden that we hope we'll stick around long enough to see bloom once, and only once, before buying our own home. But Sunday, we put aside our shovels and spades and seeds and bulbs and packed up our car for a trip to Manzanita Beach.

On the way, we listened to Harry Potter and I got in a little knitting.

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This skirt remains my one mindless piece of knitting, that I can plug away on when I don't want to have to worry about row counters and lace patterns and other distractions.

We were expecting some serious crowds at the beach, and places like Cannon Beach and Hug Point, were, indeed, crowded, but Manzanita proved to be an ideal spot. While there were many people, we never felt crowded or cramped.

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The girls had a wonderful time and Thea is really starting to come into her own. Slowly, Thea is building her recall and we are able to keep her off leash for longer without incident. She's still so filled with social excitement that I wouldn't trust her implicitly, the way I do Panda, but she's proving to be a wonderful little girl.

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After a quick stop over at Blue Heron to pick up some provisions, we went back to Manzanita and set up camp. We are currently conducting reconnaissance in preparation for a bigger excursion with our friends; Erica and Larry and Jackie and her pup Tulip.

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Leo is in charge of setting up the fire.

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I am in charge of proving that pups will do almost anything for salami.

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Thea was a little scared of the fire at first. Can you see her hiding behind the log?

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But she came around after a little while.

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We attempted to take a family portrait, by way of self timer.

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Twas not so successful.

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And as the sun set and the air got a little cooler, my ample tush proved excellent insulation for the not-so-little one.

See more pictures over at Flickr.

September 11, 2007

Hola, El Matchador

You know how I said that spinning puts Thea to sleep? Well, that seemed as good an excuse as any to spend some quality time with El Matchador.

At first, I thought I'd just spin up enough of my Cotswold to have a skein ready when I run out on my skirt.

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But once I plied the yarn and skeined it, I had, what appeared to be, a relatively small amount of fiber remaining, so I figured, what the heck, I'll spin up the rest.

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The result is a skein that is 297 yards long and a second skein that is 217 yards long. Added to the 225 yards I already have, I have a total of [insert calculator here] 739 yards. That should be plenty to finish the piece.

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Thea helped me with the photoshoot. It's nice that we can have both an out of focus AND poorly lit image. She's really an artiste.

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I'm not going to do another whole round up of the yarn, since I've already done one here and it's the same, only different, or whatever. I will say that I continue to really enjoy spinning this yarn. It is well prepared, with only a little bit of vegetable matter and the colors are gorgeous.

In my next post, I start doing the spinning equivalent to making a gauge swatch. Good girl, Marnie, here's a cookie.


Quick question, would anyone out there be interested in some very basic tips for using Photoshop to adjust color and exposure in an image? I'm no expert and I sort of wonder if anyone who can afford Photoshop, already knows it well enough, not to need any help, but if folks are interested, I'd be happy to do a tutorial. Just leave a comment with your thoughts.

September 12, 2007

Going boldly where many spinners have gone before

For the most part, when I spin, I grab my fiber, pick a whorl and go for it. I think this has worked out for me, largely because I tend to spin small quantities (generally around 2-4 ounces) and I have a pretty limited skill set and comfort zone with spinning. Even my last batch of fiber, which was closer to 7 ounces, came out pretty consistent despite my making little effort to check consistency along the way.

But, like the person who has reasonable success knitting patterns without making a gauge swatch, past successes do not mean future success. I've been holding onto a pound of fiber my parents got me, for over a year, awaiting a time when I felt I had the skill and patience to spin up the whole lot into enough yarn to make something substantial. I'm not sure that I've actually met either of those qualification but dammit, the fiber is gorgeous and I want to spin it.

Spurred on by Amy's great article in Knitty, I decided to try to approach this project with a semblance of a plan and, perhaps, some organization.

A while back, I ordered these Spinning Project Cards (I refuse to spell the last word with a "k" unless someone can give me a good reason for it being spelled that way) by mistake, thinking they were something else.

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They are basically index cards with preprinted areas for information you might wish to include about your yarn. I don't think I'll be ordering them again. For the same price, one could buy a pack of 100 index cards and only include the info relevant for the project. I am not saying these are poorly designed. If you like the look of clean, unlined cards, and spin enough that you don't want to have to write out all the labels, this might be totally worth it for you, just not for me.

Even so, I had no normal index cards lying around and no need to waste these. Surprisingly, despite the myriad of fields preprinted, there didn't seem to be a spot to indicate the whorl used so I just slapped that info in wherever.

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If all goes according to plan, I should be producing a 3ply yarn (off of three bobbins, not Navajo plying) that works up to, oh, 14-15 WPI. The fiber is corriedale in a beautiful deep olive shade.

So far, it's spinning up quite nicely. The fiber is well prepared and needs only minimal predrafting. We'll see how long I can spin a plain green fiber before I get bored. Luckily, I always have my spindles.


In doggy news, Thea seems to be healing up well enough. She's still a bundle of energy and I think I'll be as excited to be able to let her play as she will.

Our vet is quite awesome. Check out what we got in the mail yesterday:

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They took a picture of the little girl, before her surgery and printed out this lovely award. If you click the image, you can go to flickr and find a higher resolution version. Check out the text below the Vet's signature.

We pulled the crate out of the bedroom for use when the two of us have to leave the girls unattended. Theoretically, the crate should be for Thea, when she needs some quiet time.

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Panda, however, seems to think it's all hers. Could you say no to that face?


As for the Photoshop tutorial, it sounds like there's enough interest that it's definitely worth my doing it. Getting stuff together, I'm thinking I may have to break it out into a couple smaller, more digestible pieces. Hopefully, the first tutorial will be posted by the end of the week.

September 22, 2007

Assessing the skirt progress

It seemed about time to move the skirt to some waste yarn and see how it's coming along. I have mixed feelings

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Things I like:
  • The crochet: I think the motifs are cute and hang nicely.
  • The colors: While I don't usually buy these colors for myself, I think they are lovely and the colors compliment each other nicely.
  • The chevrons: Who doesn't like chevron? It breaks up the horizontal nature of the subtly variegated yarn.


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Things I don't like:


  • Yarn choice: I feel like the main yarn should be a little drapier. I don't feel there's enough weight to the piece to pull off the effect I'm envisioning

  • Skirts: I don't wear skirts. What the hell am I thinking?

  • Shape: Would a-line instead of straight have been better?

I'll probably finish the piece, just to see how it comes out, but I'm starting to think there may have been a better project for these yarns.

On the plus side, I should have 300 or more yards of the main yarn leftover when I'm done. What will I do with it? I dunno. I'll have it nonetheless.


I've been spinning bits of the Corriedale, here and there. It's been quite relaxing and mindless.

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I'm annoyed, though, with my Woolee Winder. It's great, don't get me wrong, but it really upsets my sense of balance that it doesn't load the yarn evenly. Some of it appears to be that the whorls from Schacht aren't perfectly machined. There's an ever so slight gap, but I'm realizing that it's not enough to account for the severity of the imbalance.

Has anyone else who has a Woolee Winder seen this and if so, is there a way to fix it?

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Oh and Thea had her stitches taken out and has been taking full advantage of the ensuing belly rubs.

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She's such a little floozy.

October 2, 2007

Fine tuning

A little while back, I posted this picture and lamented that my WooLee Winder wasn't filling evenly.

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Well, June came through with a most excellent suggestion. If I twist the traveling loop so that it is angled towards the smaller end, it will shift everything in that direction, resulting in a more even feed.

It's going to take some fine tuning, but I'm definitely seeing improvement.

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The skirt is progressing. After taking this photo, I threw in a lifeline and am now deciding how I want to work the chevrons into flat stitches. The key is not only making smooth transition from the zigzag to flat, but also adjusting the gauge which changes from 8 stitches per inch in chevron to 6 stitches per inch flat.

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And look, my garden gave me another bloom. I am pleased.

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Quite a few more buds have popped up and several look ready to burst open in the next day or two.

I don't know how obvious it is to you, but I think we have two different varieties of Cosmos here. The smaller flower actually has slightly different shaped petals than the bigger one. I may be totally wrong but since we dumped several different mixes of seeds here, I think it's possible.


And finally, I'll be posting an interview with Donna Druchanus at the end of the month. I'm day 23 of her blog tour. I'm about halfway through the book now and gathering my questions.

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I've worked with Donna before and am really looking forward to the interview. Expect lots of questions about the book and her travels and maybe some little tangents into her other interests. I just hope that I'm able to come up with questions she hasn't already answered a million times.


October 4, 2007

Getting there

Boy do I love life lines. I've used this one a couple times, but by Jove, I think I've got it. Some of the mishaps may have been caused by watching an episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Man, that show is funny, and distracting.

Here's a closeup of the lifeline, subsequent filler stitches and Thea's paw.

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The vertical row of locking stitch markers indicated decrease rows. I really don't want a huge amount of cinching required to hold this skirt up. When you have a 10 inch difference between hips and waist, that can be a substantial amount of extra fabric.

Here's a view of the whole skirt so far. There's only one spot in the house that gets much natural light and it's where Thea and Panda's bed resides. They seem to find it curious that the spot also becomes my photo studio, some days.

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It's really easy to tell how far I've knit since I blocked the piece.

Tomorrow, I fly down to the greater San Fransisco area for a quick meet up with the owner of Stitch Diva Studios. We're finishing up another project together. That's all I can tell you for now, but I hope there'll be a sneak preview up in the near future.

October 10, 2007

Shoes that hurt with a brand new skirt

It was rainy most of this morning so I thought I'd only have crappy indoor shots to show you.

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Or pictures of the piece being blocked

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A closeup of the waistband facing might be interesting

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But we got a bit of sun and I was able to take some better shots.

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With a little help from my friends

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December 17, 2007

A weekend of goodily goodness

Panda is today's Grown-Up Daily Pup.


*Sigh* I had so much fun this weekend that I'm all the more sad it's Monday. On Friday, Leo and I watched bad movies while I spun up my batt of sparkly BFL that I got from Amy back at the Fiber Frolic, in Maine.

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Photos never do sparkly things justice, so take my word for it, when I say it looks lovely without being garish, almost like it was lightly sprinkled with silver dust. I spun the singles up and then plied it into a 3-ply using the Navajo plying method. The photos are pre-wash and thwack. I have about 98 yards of approximately DK weight yarn. I will definitely work this into something, but what, I'm not sure.


On Saturday night, we celebrated a friend's birthday by going out for dinner and playing pool...very very poorly. If any of you watch the American version of The Office, it's like when Kelly and Pam played ping-pong. That certainly didn't take away from the fun.
Actually, it probably made it more fun. The best part is, I got to flip off a hummer.

Awesome.


If that weren't all good enough, on Sunday, we packed up the girls (who were feeling plenty stir crazy with all the rain we've gotten) and headed to Mt. Hood for a good hike in the snow.

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See all the pictures here.

December 27, 2007

Bigger, longer and unchomped

Some of you might remember a certain little beast doing quite a job on my old niddy noddy. The poor thing was cut down savagely in the prime of its life. I probably could have sanded it down, refinished it and put it back to use, and, who knows, maybe I will someday, but it certainly hasn't happened yet and I don't see myself doing it anytime soon, so I've been using my leg as a niddy noddy since then, or just winding right off the bobbin, onto the ball winder.

But between you, me and the lamppost, I'd been wanting a longer niddy noddy. The short one is fine for what I can spin off a spindle, but off the wheel, I knew I wasn't getting an accurate yardage count because I'd have to wrap the yarn around the noddy so very many times, that it would bulge out substantially.
Plus, these Kromski niddy noddies are really a pretty good price.


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And what's that pretty skein up there, you ask?
Why, it's some more of the fiber from my Almost Solid Sampler pack. I grabbed three shades in two fibers,
BFL in Hosta
Corriedale in Delphinium
and
Corriedale in Juniper Berry


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The camera doesn't show the blues very accurately. The middle bobbin is like a dusty indigo color while the outer bobbins are a little less saturated but similar in hue to what you see.

I got about 130 yards of all three colors combined and then another 20 or so yards of just the two outer bobbins combined and maybe 3-4 yards of just the green yarn. You can see the streak of very green color in the finished skein.

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Embiggening the photo should allow you to see the individual colors of the skein a little better.

Also

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That is all.

January 25, 2008

Spinning for Speed and Softness

Lookie what one of Santa's elves delivered the other day.

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Belated has never been so fantastic. Great googily moogily, I've been pining after this book for a while. It's no small feat to track this little gem down and to get a signed copy to boot, just makes me all the more lucky.

In the simplest terms, the method described has you configure your wheel and position your hand and fiber in a certain way so that the tension and twist coming from the wheel, simply pulls the fiber from your hand. The resulting yarn has just enough twist to hold together. This offers the most softness and works best done very quickly. Speed and Softness!

Of course, reading about it and executing it are two entirely different things. To start with, you are encouraged to find a good, medium length fiber with impeccable preparation. After learning the fundamental one can respond to other types and preparations of fiber with additional techniques, but first, I needed to unlearn what I've been doing.

I started by predrafting some Cotswold. I bought my fiber from Nistock Farms, who send lovely lofty batts of beautifully dyed fiber. After about 20 minutes, I had this.

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Soft? Yes. Speedy? Si. Well spun? Non.
But not too bad for a first attempt. This is about 30 yards of two ply thick and thin yarn. I really had to ply this yarn because parts of the singles are so under spun, they couldn't possibly hold up on their own, to any sort of knitting or crocheting.

For attempt number two, I decided to try a bit of my Almost Solid Sampler. I used some wool blend, in colorway, Merigold.

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This time, things didn't go so well. The singles were so underspun, they wouldn't even hold up to being worked into an Andean plying bracelet. It was fast and very soft, but definitely not successful.

After talking with the elf a bit, she mentioned my hand carders. At her suggestion, I carded up some rolags with another wool blend from my sampler.

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The colorway is Azalea, and it's a pretty purpily mauve shade. Working with carded fiber made the process loads easier.

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The resulting 68 yard skein is more even, a bit finer and just as soft.

I still have a long way to go with this technique, but I'm happily drinking the kool-aid, here. I can see how this would be a great method to master.

In other news, two pups can fit in one wee little bed, if they put their mind to it.

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April 2, 2008

Spin Off

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A couple of my online friends have already sent me congrats on my shawl write up in Spin Off. In fact, Deb saw it before I even got my copy.

When Interweave contacted me about including my shawl in a "gallery of shawls," I imagined a couple of page of a dozen or more baseball card sized boxes with a photo and a short description. Even after filling out the questionnaire, I simply assumed they wanted enough material to be able to cherry pick what they printed. When I saw that I got a whole 2-page spread I was floored...and pleased.

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One thing I discovered, while filling in the details, is that I am still a real neophyte at this spinning thing. How many twists per inch in the singles? I dunno. What drafting method do I use while spindling? Anything that keep the spindle from going plummeting to the floor, I'd say.

But still, it was fun to revisit this piece and I'm still proud, of the fact that I produced so much yardage on a little hand spindle.

April 21, 2008

Brightening an overcast day

It's one of those Mondays that feel like it needs brightening up. I'm a bit tired, the sky is overcast, work is crazy and I'm trying to sort out an issue with my taxes (don't ask.) So what's my remedy?

How about knitting a little handspun into a vivid scarf.

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I'm about halfway through the scarf, and thought I'd give it a little bit of blocking to see how I like it.

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Simple but effective.

I used the Spinning for Speed and Softness method on this yarn. My technique is still a little rough so the finished two ply has a lot of personality. I wanted a stitch pattern that had a bit of an organic feel to it to highlight those thick and thin areas and I think this one fit the bill.

From the looks of it, this stitch pattern is a half sibling to one used in a really gorgeous piece you may have noticed in my knitting neighborhood. The version I'm using is in one of my Japanese stitch dictionaries under the leaf heading, but blocked out it's really pretty abstracted.

The yarn is some of Amy's BFL in the colorway Poppies. I have enough yardage that I'll be able to knit an entire scarf and a hat to match with plenty leftover.

This is just a brief little break from the knitting deadlines I have and after I crank this little project out, I'll be back to the grind, but I do think I'll work you up a quick freebie pattern for this, as a thanks for all the support for both Astoria and Crime of Fashion.

Out of curiosity, could you guys let me know your preference. What do you like; PDF downloads of patterns or HTML pages that are printable?

I have my opinion, but I'd like to see what other think.

And for those of you who wonder what a dog does on a day when it's too cloudy to go out and play, I have your answer right here.

Sleep

Thea takes a nap.

And enjoy treats

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It's real torture.

May 5, 2008

Mmm Cormo

Spin-Off-Spring-2008.jpg You know that edition of Spin-Off that has my shawl in it? Well, it's evil, EVILLLL!

Why, you ask? Because it has a writeup about Cormo fiber that will make you drop everything, sell your possessions and buy gobs of it. I'm not necessarily saying this is a bad thing. If you get properly prepared fiber, you'll probably be over the moon with your purchase, but still, evil.

It doesn't help that Aoife left me a comment saying how she had picked up some Cormo herself and was really enjoying it.

So with a nearly nonexistent degree of arm twisting I ordered myself a pound of creamy white roving.

The fiber has a bit of VM in it...maybe a bit more than I'd normally like, but based on what I've read, the more gently the fiber is treated at the prep stage, the better, since aggressive carding lead to a snaggly mess.

With just a quick fluffing of the roving, I was able to produce a pretty decent singles using an unsupported long draw method on El Matchador.

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After spinning the singles, I chain plied them into a soft 3-ply yarn. It's a little thick and thin but I would say it averages about 15 WPI overall.

The yarn was so amazing to spin that it was hard to stop. Even more fantastic is the sproing of the finished product. When you put your hands in the skein and stretch it out, it's got an amazing elasticity to it.

I was having so much fun with this fiber that I decide to take it for a ride on a spindle. My go-to spindle is my 0.9 ounce Golding Tsunami (though, jeeze louise, there are some seriously gorgeous new designs that are making my wallet itch. Must. Resist.) Spinning this fiber on a spindle makes me feel like I'm the greatest spinner ever... BOW TO MY AMAZING POWERS OF YARN PRODUCTION FOR I AM A SPINNING GODDESS! Ahem, sorry about that. Anyway, like I was saying, this fiber seems tailor made for spindles. It has enough crimpy grabbiness, to make it really easy to control the fiber and you don't need oodles of twist to keep it all together. Except for giving me an overinflated sense of my own skill, It's a darn near perfect fiber for spindling, as far as I can tell.

After spinning super fine singles, I used the Andean bracelet method to create a 2ply yarn.

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The finished yarn is about 24 WPI and I have about 46 yards total.

Both batches of finished yarn got a bit poofier after plying, washing and twacking, than the wound singles would have you believe. I would bet this yarn would have great insulating properties when knit up.

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This shot is a little nod to Mary-Heather's adorable photoshoots. This sweet little tea cup was a gift from a friend whose mother collected tea cups before she passed away. I think it's a delightfully graceful way to drink tea and a cute way to show off a delicate handspun yarn.

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A little yarny cheesecake for your viewing pleasure.

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The lighting director and photo stylist weigh in on the shoot.

June 4, 2008

Making a travel case for your spindle

Or how to keep your spindle in good spirits

I love to spindle and love it even more for its portability, but with an unsupported top whorl spindle, even a little abuse to the hook can turn your spindle from a delightful tool into an instrument of frustration.

Before heading out to visit some friends, this weekend, it hit me that I could make a great protective case for my spindle and store enough fiber for hours worth of entertainment.

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For as long as I've know Leo, he's been a big fan of scotch. Over the past 7 or so years, we've acquired a few of those sleeves in which some of the bottles are sold. These sleeves are made to protect the glass bottles during shipping, as well as make them easier to stack, and they come in a variety of sizes to suit the different shaped bottles, contained within.

If you happen to know of some non-alcoholic resources for these sleeves, please leave a comment. The basic structure is a firm cardboard tube with a metal base and removable metal lid.

These tubes are generally big enough to store a single spindle as well as some fiber for spinning. Frankly, if you didn't feel like doing anything else, there's no reason you couldn't use the tube, as is, with just the fiber for added cushioning, but you can step it up a notch by adding a loop from which to suspend the spindle.

It's easy and I'll show you how.

Obligatory common sense safety note: Please be careful when working with bangy, pokey, pointy, stabby, drilly, or otherwise ouchie producing implements. Children and inebriated adults should be supervised or distracted with something shiny. Wear eye protection or at least be willing to don full pirate regalia, if things don't work out according to plan.

Continue reading "Making a travel case for your spindle" »

June 16, 2008

The unblogable list just keeps growing

If you were to look at my Ravelry notebook, you'd notice a lot of projects that are super top secret. (If I showed them to you, I'd have to kill you, and nobody wants that.)


Sadly enough, this doesn't even represent the full list of unbloggables. Two are to come (awaiting yarn) and one two-part pattern isn't represented (didn't get a good swatch shot before I sent it off.)

So, that means I've been very busy and haven't much to show for it around here.
But, in the next month and a half, or so, I expect to have a new self published pattern for you, which will reveal the whole behind these two little pieces.

Swatch1 Swatch2

And, the premier issue of Twist Collective will be out with this bad boy.

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The rest will come in its due time. So funny too, I had this grand idea that I'd work on all self published stuff this year. How silly I am. I have been trying to do more of my own designs, but the opportunities that have arisen, to work on other projects, have just been too good to pass up. In the end, I think it's all worked out for the best.

That said, with several patterns being tech edited right now, and other patterns due very soon, I've been so entrenched in numbers and details that I needed to give myself a little break yesterday.

That's when El Matchador, some Spunky Eclectic merino and I, had ourselves a luxurious few hours while watching Deadwood on DVD.

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These are the singles spun not-too-tightly, using a supported long draw method. I plan to ply it pretty tightly once I've spun the 4 ounces I have. I think this will retain the softness without being too prone to pilling. The colorway is called Sage and it's an amazing mix of greens and browns, ranging from deep leafy green to red and yellow ocher. The picture really doesn't show the color well. You'll just have to take my word for it.

I'm eager to finish spinning up the remaining fiber, yet also feeling mentally refreshed enough to dive back into my deadline work.

In unrelated news, my parents arrive on Wednesday when we will belatedly celebrate Father's Day with my now-legitimate-no-longer-step father. Huzzah! And to add to the fun, my mom and I will be at the Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene on Friday and, maybe, Saturday. If you'll be there too, please say "hi." I have a feeling my wallet will be substantially lighter after leaving the event.

June 24, 2008

In which I show you some fiber and embarass my dog.

A super quick lunchtime post to show you some handspun yarn.

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Spunky Eclectic 100% merino in Sage.

There are about 272 yd/248 m of two ply, slightly thick and thin yarn. I used mostly a supported long draw method combined with the spinning for speed and softness technique I've been practicing.

This is thick and thin partly because I did a little experiment with this fiber. For the first bobbin, I predrafted and spun, as usual, producing a softly variegated and relatively even yarn. For the second bobbin, I didn't do any predrafting at all, I just spun directly from the wad (technical term) of fiber. The roving is pretty wide, so I carefully directed the drafting zone back and forth across the expanse of unspun fiber, to ensure that each color change was worked completely before going to the next color.

The result is that bobbin number two has more intense colors and less gradual color shifts. I found it harder to spin an even yarn, but my technique got better as I practiced. From the picture above, I think it's easy to tell which ply came off of which bobbin.

There's something to be said for the instant gratification of just sitting down and spinning without any prep or much agonizing over a perfect yarn. Still, I think my technique could do with some serious fine tuning and my goal is to produce yarns that, if I saw it in a store, I'd want to buy it. I like this yarn, but it's a little thicker than I normally like to knit with, so it doesn't quite meet that expectation.

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The singles were spun fairly lightly to keep their softness and were plied together with a little extra twist to help control pilling (I hope.) After that, I just gave the whole thing a wash and thwack and hung it to dry with no weight.

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If Panda kills me in my sleep, I doubt anyone would fault her.

July 25, 2008

Random trip stuff

I'm officially at the halfway point of my business trip, end of day 5 of 10 days total. It's been a mostly good trip, I'd say. There have been some hurdles and unexpected challenges that have come up at work, but we've managed to make the best of it.

Anyway, I feel like this blog has been sorely neglected lately, and it has really nothing to do with my desire to blog, and everything to do with my limited time. So in the spirit of poorly planned blog posts that are light on content, here's some random stuff from my trip so far.


My brother and his girlfriend Aileen treated me to sushi.

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Matt's grown himself some extravagant facial hair and is now known as "the colonel," amongst some of his colleagues. This shot really doesn't do the handlebar justice.


Apropos absolutely nothing, I think this picture from today's Cute Overload, is so funny I can't stand it.

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I've brought along a bit of my recent handspun. I don't really have any good spot to shoot them (not much natural light in my hotel room) so I've taken a quick, "what's that weirdo doing" shot of the skeins, draped over the balcony here at La Quinta.

handspun.jpg

The solid one is some silky B-type pygora from Peppermint Pastures. The multicolor is called Iridescence. It's black alpaca and all kinds of sparkly stuff. I bought it from this Etsy shop.
Both are 3ply, spun up on El Matchador. I still have another batt of the sparkly that I'll spin up at some time. I do want to take some better shots of each skein, at some point. In case you are wondering, I have no idea what I'll do with it all.



Last down our road trip of nonsequiturs, here in the no segue zone, is me being all laughy and silly, while talking to Leo on the phone.

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He went to a local jazz bar, in Portland and was listening to some great Motown music. Every time a good song would come on, he'd call me so I could hear.

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That's the band I missed. It sounded great, but damn, it made me miss home.

Oh well.

This weekend should have lots of fun in store for me, which will make up for all the hours spent working.

July 29, 2008

Sam I Am Cardigan

I was sort of on the line about whether I wanted to blog this garment, because I thought it could be something fun to submit to Knitty Spin or Spin-Off, but I've decided, what the heck, it's another top-down fitted raglan. If you can't find 450 patterns like it, you just aren't looking hard enough.

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I'm calling it the Sam I Am Cardigan because it feels very Dr. Seuss to me, with the sort of wonky stripes. The wonkification (technical term) comes from using handspun yarn, of course.

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I've been working on this piece between deadline projects. It's good, relatively mindless knitting and it's in my favorite color combination, if you haven't noticed. The showcase yarn is merino in the colorway, Sage, from Spunky Eclectic. The purple is from Penchant to Knit, and the white cormo is from Black Berry Hill Farms. All three finished fibers have some seriously thick and thin qualities with the white tending to be thickest and the purple tending to be the thinnest. I'm amazed at how they all seem to come together into a cohesive whole.

I don't know how long the finished piece will be and I don't have a scale with me, in LA, to check on my current usage, but I'm a little further along and expect to be able to get half length sleeves, and the body at least a few inches below my waist, plus all the bands. I'm looking forward to diving into my stash of vintage buttons to finish off the look.

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I had to include a shot of Julia's cat, Townes when I was over her house, knitting this piece. He was giving that yarn the hairy eyeball and when I tried the piece on later, he crawled up and grabbed himself a little pawfull. I guess I can't criticize his excellent taste in handspun.

In entirely unrelated news, my friend took me to see Diana Ross in concert at the Hollywood Bowl, this weekend. It was a lot of fun and crowd was nearly as entertaining as the performance.

August 8, 2008

Sam I Am Cardigan....Again

The Sam I Am Cardigan is complete, and I got way more length than I thought I would.

There is something truly satisfying about creating a garment from pure fluff (albeit, pre washed and dyed fluff, thankyouverymuch.) I simply haven't had the sticktoittiveness to spin up 1000 yards of a single fiber, so stripes are an obvious solution.

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The finished piece fits well and is soft enough to wear near skin, which isn't surprising since it's mostly merino with some silk and cormo.

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I don't think I'll ever use more than one button on this. It's how I wear almost all my cardigans, but I put in a whole set of them, just to leave my options open.

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Speaking of the button band, I can never remember which way it should open for men versus women, so if I reversed it, I'm not surprised. I had a 50-50 chance to get it right.

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I can't finish this post without including a shot of me wearing the piece. Here I am on our dormant lawn. Portland goes pretty hot and dry in the summer and it's a rare person whose lawn is actually green, but come winter, with all the rain and mild temperatures, it's lush as all get up. So, um, ignore the lawn, if you would.


Completely unrelated, but of great importance, there's a new pusher in town. For those of you who read JenLa, the La half has started her own little crack yarn line and I'm fortunate enough to have a sample of it. It's damn fine stuff, indeed. Think soft, smooshy merino in gorgeous and rich monochromatic variegated colors. I foresee quite a following for it.

It looks like she may be sold out right now, but keep your eyes peeled, I expect she'll be dying up more.

August 19, 2008

One Wild Night

Last year, my friend, Mary-Kay gave me some gorgeous fiber and yarns. I'm just now getting around to spinning the roving and I love it.

The roving started out like this:

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Once spun up and plied using a chain (Navajo) plying method to maintain the stripes, the finished yarn looks like this.

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Extreme close up

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I think the yarn is plenty pretty enough on its own, but throw in some pathetic doggy faces and it just gets better.

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I love the finished yarn. I had some worries that the colors wouldn't blend well, especially where opposite colors abutted, like where cyan sits next to orange. But I didn't get muddy colors, probably because there's so much negative (white) space in the colorway, instead I got really rich tones in some areas and soft almost iridescent transitions that just glow from the silk content. I can't wait to see how it knits up.

The Stats

Half my supply of Red Rock Fiber Works roving

Colorway: One Wild Night.
Fiber: 50% Merino / 50% Silk
Weight: Approx 4 ounces
Yardage: Approx 260 yards
Plies: 3-ply via chain plying method to produce clean stripes
Weight: Light to heavy worsted
Finishing: Wash and thwack

August 26, 2008

Reading and Spinning

I just finished reading The Alden Amos Big Book of Handspinning and by "reading" I mean "felt my brain ooze slowly out my ears." Don't get me wrong, there is much that is useful and splendid about this book, but I wasn't expecting to need a slide rule and protractor to learn how to spin yarn well. I wouldn't recommend this as a learn-to-spin book, and I feel, perhaps, his opinions lacked nuance, but I did learn a lot and have found myself joined at the treadle to El Matchador.

Along with the One Wild Night fiber I spun up recently, I have two new skeins of yarn to share with you.

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The blue and white is 100% cotton from A Verb For Keeping Warm

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The colorway is called Kyoto, and it was far less scary to spin than I thought it would be. I used a long draw method and plied it from both ends of a center-pull ball. I just made sure to add in loads of twist to the singles and the finished yarn.

Weight: 1 ounce. I have another ounce to spin.
Yards: 154
WPI: Approx 24
Plies: 2

The other yarn is a Pygora/Silk blend from Rainbow Yarns NW

pygora closeup.jpg

This colorway is called, First Love, and it's a luscious, deep, rich red. I made this a two ply from two bobbins, since this fiber is sold as two floofy little batts. Of course, I didn't spin both bobbins perfectly evenly so I andean plied the last little bit from the bobbin with more singles.

Weight: 2 ounces
Yards: 224
WPI: Approx 22
Plies: 2

I bought both fibers at the Black Sheep festival this year and am very pleased with both purchases. Kristine Vejar of A Verb For Keeping Warm was so gracious when I wrote to ask her if I had to boil the cotton after spinning it. In case you are wondering, no. Before dying the fiber she had to remove the wax that boiling is needed to remove. If you are not a spinner, her yarns look lovely too.

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And if you have been waiting for an excuse to try Pygora you won't find a nicer example of it than the stuff from Terry and Susan, over at Rainbow Yarns NW. When Leo first touched these batts, I thought he was going to dive into the bag and make a nest. This stuff is luscious and these women really stand by their product. I've loved pygora since I first spun it but I've never spun any quite as nice as this.

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I'm hoping to spin up the Blue Moon roving next.

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I'm sure it'll look great on the girls' heads knit up.

October 1, 2008

Spindlicity is back

Hey, guess who's back and looking better than ever?

I even have a pattern in this edition.

I actually designed this way back when, right after I designed my Lake Park Hat and Gloves. In fact, I designed it so long ago, it was before we adopted Ms. Theano-Purl. (Excuse me while I get a little nostalgic for puppy cuteness and then remember what a huge pain in the keister she was and how much more delightful she is now.)

Anyway, I haven't had a chance to actually look through the whole site but what I've seen looks great. Yay for the return of Spindlicity.

November 11, 2008

What I'm doing when I'm not doing thing I can't show you.

I finished spinning the One Wild Night roving I got from Mary-Kay last year. The 4 ounces yielded approximately 500 yards of 3-ply worsted weight yarn that I'm knitting up into a long skinny scarf. I will probably also make a pair of mittens to go with them, time permitting, and if I'm really motivated, a little hat to boot.

But first things first, the scarf:

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The piece is worked in linen stitch which is worked kind of like ribbing, only every other stitch is slipped. This results in a lovely soft transition between rows, as the color from the previous row is carried up into the next row, every other stitch. I thought that would be perfect for yarn that already had fairly subtle gradations between colors. This stitch would also work great in something like Noro.

scarf colors.jpg

The final fabric has a woven look on the right side and a sort of seed stitch look on the wrong side. The seed stitch really highlights the unevenness of the handspun which might bother some people, but I'm going to consider it "charming" and "rustic."

I'll probably work a little i-cord edging around the piece to even off the edges, or maybe single crochet. I haven't decided.

Of course, the knitting pictures are boring without a certain you-know-what. This is for my friend Erica who always chastises me for draping stuff on Panda's head.

panda and scarf.jpg panda and scarf 2.jpg

Oh you can all just shush, she got so many kisses after that, she hardly remembers the embarrassment.

And seriously, look at what the rest of her life is like:

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Yah, life is tough, around here.

With all that I have on my plate, it doesn't leave too much time for other projects, but I did start some more roving on El Matchador.

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This is the absolutely exquisite bamboo/merino from Blue Moon, in colorway, Eggplanted. I kind of want to marry this roving. And yah, that's Thea's blurry butt in the shot. She's just checking to make sure there's plenty of dog hair on the floor. Wouldn't want to run out.

November 17, 2008

Eggplanted in front of El Matchador

I can't get enough of this roving.

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Love love love love love.

Love!

The colors are really rich and the way the two fibers (bamboo and merino) take up dye, produces a ton of depth in the singles. Also, I love purple.

eggplanted fatter singles.jpg

The first bobbin has about a sock weight singles on it. The second bobbin (currently in progress) has a much thinner singles, maybe lace weight. My plan is to ply the thick singles with two strands of the thin singles, fed from a center pull ball, though I might just do a single strand of each singles. I'm kind of on the line about it.

I love this colorway so much, it makes me sad I don't have more time to spin, but it's a nice little treat when I need to rest from my deadline work.

And since we're talking spinning, I thought I'd show you my pretty calendar from Spindlicity. Janel sent it to me along with my payment for the neck warmers I designed.

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This will be going up right next to my computer, in the office. It's a lovely reminder that El Matchador isn't my own spinning tool, in the house.

December 2, 2008

One Wild Scarf

Scarf
1. IMG_0008.jpg, 2. IMG_0006.jpg, 3. IMG_0003.jpg, 4. IMG_0012.jpg
Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

It's always good to have one little mindless project on the needles that can go anywhere. I've been toting this little project around for a month now, and mostly working it on the train, when my more involved projects would be unmanageable.

The final piece is really dense, so very warm, long enough to wrap around the neck several times, and bright and cheery enough to counteract the winter gloom in Portland.

Stats

  • Pattern: my own
  • Fiber: Merino/Silk roving from Red Rock Fiber Works
  • Color: One Wild Night
  • Spun on: El Matchador (Schacht Matchless)
  • Plied: 3-ply using the chain plying method to produce self striping yarn
  • Weight: Approximately worsted
  • Needles: US#9/5.5mm
  • Finishing: Single crochet

January 26, 2009

Wiiner

I had a damn fun weekend. My birthday came early when Leo got me a Wii. Before you say anything, yes, I plan to get the fit.

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Leo beat me roundly at golf. Our first game was somewhat embarrassing but I assure you that he now beats me by a much narrower margin.

But golf is for chumps, and I smacked his arse in boxing and bowling

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Heck yah!

Also, I've been spinning.

Eggplanted two-ply yarn
1. IMG_0049.JPG, 2. IMG_0048.JPG, 3. IMG_0046.JPG, 4. IMG_0041.JPG
Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

General Specs

  • Roving From: Blue Moon Fiber Arts
  • Colorway: Eggplanted
  • Fiber: Merino/Bamboo
  • Yards: 290
  • Ply: 2
  • WPI: 12-ish
  • Weight: 3.4
This is just over half of my total stash of this fiber.


February 9, 2009

Now I want to knit it

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El Matchador and I are spending a lot of quality time together lately. I think watching the videos on the new edition of Spindlicity played no small part in my recent spinning binge.

I was able to finish off all 7 ounces of Blue Moon Fiber Arts roving, and I'm already a bobbin and a half through some more of the creamy white Cormo I got a little while back.

Specs

  • Roving From: Blue Moon Fiber Arts
  • Colorway: Eggplanted
  • Fiber: Merino/Bamboo
  • Total Yards: 690
  • Skeins: 2 and a baby skein
  • Ply: 2
  • WPI: 12-ish
  • Weight: 7 ounces

I think I could make a little something fitted with this or get a little more mileage by using another yarn and working stripes. Or maybe I'll make a vest. Hmm. Whatever I do I want to make it something special. I just love the colors.

Also, I'm just wondering, is it just me or is this cute?

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February 18, 2009

I look like a monkey and I smell like one toooooooo

It's my birthday and I decided, at the last moment, to take the day off and be, you know, crafty and such. Try to contain your shock.

The first thing I did, after kissing Leo goodbye, was to warp my heddle loom with two shades of Kauni. I think the gradual color shifts will make for an interesting final piece. Both shades are monochromatic so it'll be subtle.

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I managed to warp the loom in less than an hour, which isn't bad, considering how fast it goes after that. I've spent longer working a tubular cast on for a sweater.

I've also been spinning some more of the Cormo I picked up a little while ago.

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I love this stuff. I used a long draw method to spin the singles and then plied the singles into a 3-ply. The final yarn is about a worsted weight and very sproingy and soft. I have just under 300 yards and quite a bit more roving to spin. It's going to have to be something with cables, I think.

I hope my birthday is as fun for all of you as it's already been for me.

March 12, 2009

Wanna watch?

I love watching people spin.

Now, I'm no Abby or Beth or Janel or Jenny. I'm just a novice spinner, so definitely don't take this as a technique post.

But in the interest of doing unto others and blah blah blah, here's me spinning on my 0.9 ounce Golding Spindle.

If you are so inclined and technologically capable, I'd love it if you posted a video of your own spinning style too. Just leave a comment here and let me know if you do so.

March 15, 2009

Twisted

As much as I love my wheel, there's something truly satisfying about spinning yarn on a spindle, and my spindles are quite lovely, don't you think?

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I wanted to play around with combining colorways and pulled out some variegated orange and pink fiber as well as some warm vivid red, both merino/silk blends. I thought the solid red would dominate. It's so intense on its own, but the finished yarn really just looks like an intensified version of the variegated fiber.

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I'm thinking it'd be pretty knit up into some sort of lace. I've only used about a third of the total quantity, maybe less, so I should be able to get a decent amount of yardage out of my stash.

Stats

March 19, 2009

I'm just dyeing to show you this

These aren't the best photos ever taken, but I wanted to record my first ever dyeing experiment. If you can believe it, I started with some handspun cashmere. I know, loco.

But, lest you think I'm completely irrational, part of the reason I went with cashmere is that I knew it would just languish in a big pile of undyed lovely handspun I have sitting around and also, it doesn't felt, so it'd be harder to ruin. So there, method + madness = marnie.

Dyeing Cashmere
1. Undyed Cashmere, 2. Cashmere in Black Cherry Kool-Aid, 3. Cashmere dyed with Kool-Aid, 4. Overdyeing Cashmere, 5. Kool-Aid used for overdyeing, 6. Exhausted dye bath, 7. First go at dyeing, 8. First go at dyeing
Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

Specs

  • Fiber: Mongolian Cashmere
  • Yards: 168
  • Source: Chameleon Colorworks
  • Plies: 2 (using the Andean Plying method. Can you say, "hand cramp"?)
  • WPI: 12
  • First Dye: 2 packets of Black Cherry Kool-Aid
  • Second Dye: 1 packet of Ice Blue Raspberry Lemonade and 1 packet of Grape Kool-Aid

I found out the hard way that you need to tie your figure eight even looser than you think you need to. My first dye session didn't quite get around some of the knots and left a few white patches. I knew I was going to overdye the yarn so I figured it'd just add more interest, but it still wasn't my intention, you know? To make sure the second pass dyed properly over those spots, I reskeined the yarn to distribute the light patches, and tied really loose figure eights all around. Way more beuno.

The second go, I used two flavors and, what surprised me is that the yarn drank the grape way faster than it drank the blue raspberry lemonade. The water started out a deep dark, nearly black purple, but was pure cyan about ten minutes after dropping the yarn in. It took almost a full hour for all the cyan to be absorbed. So there you go, cashmere likes grape. Take note.

So dyeing went fine. I'm not sure it's my "thing" but I'm glad I gave it a go. Kool-Aid is a great safe bet for the uninitiated who has some wool lying around. If you want to learn more, yourself, you can check out this knitty article.

April 13, 2009

Out of towners

My brother and his girlfriend came up from So Cal to visit. It was great to see them.

Matt and Aileen Visit

We took them to our favorite fancy pantsy sushi restaurant, then out for cocktails and some dancing.

Matt and Aileen Visit

In case you were wondering, Leo's still shaving his head.

Ooh and Matt brought along an awesome belated birthday present; a whole POUND of undyed soy silk fiber. That's just half of it, there.

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I plan to hand card it with some wool. I was playing around with it a little on my spindle and I really like the way the soft creamy color plays against the cool purple.

It's always nice to have a little spinning project when I'm also working on a knitting project, like, say, another super secret publication piece.

New project

What-o-what will it be?

By the way, my tech editor for La Cumparsita has been the awesome and we're already ahead of schedule so I'm hoping to have the final pattern available for sale in the next week or so.

May 13, 2009

Isn't that Wallace's favorite cheese

Any other Wallace and Gromit fans out there? And if so, did you know that Shaun has spun off his own series?

How is this even remotely related to my ostensibly craft themed site? Here's how:

Wennsleydale - Perfect Storm

4 ounces of Spunky Eclectic Wennsleydale Longwool in colorway, Perfect Storm. That's right, Wennsleydale, as in Wallace's favo[u]rite cheese and the one thing that keeps him from true love. I get it, Wallace: cheese is full of the awesome.

This fiber was a gift from my dear friend, Julia, and it's my first interaction with Wennsleydale Longwool. Wow, what a delight to spin. It's a little courser than the types of wools I usually choose but not unpleasantly so. It'd certainly make for a great layering piece and it's a dream to spin. I spun it semi-worsted, but man alive does it have some loft going for it. I bet this stuff would keep you mighty warm in the winter.

This is about 170 yards of 3-ply using a chain ply method to maintain the color shifts. After washing, this poofed up to nearly a worsted weight.

But this is only my most recently finished yarn. I also spindle spun another 130 yards of the merino blend, I posted about before.

Merino/Silk - spindle spun

And I spun 2 ounces and 150 yards of Mongolian Cashmere/Silk in a three ply as well.

Cashmere Silk

Let me tell you, silk is soft, cashmere is softer, but the two are just naughty when combined. I don't think there's another word to describe how soft they are. It's a warm glassy smoothness with a bit of sheen. Heavenly.

And just because I can, more of all three yarns.

My handspun yarn
1. All my recent handspun yarns, 2. All my recent handspun yarns, 3. All my recent handspun yarns, 4. All my recent handspun yarns
Created with fd's Flickr Toys.


June 10, 2009

I'm back

Well, I'm still trying to catch up from being away from home, but the trip was, by all accounts, a great time.

June 2009 -- Maine

Maine is beautiful this time of year. And if you can find yourself a properly sized hamster ball, in which to travel, you might even survive the mosquitoes.

My parents brought me to Halcyon which was lovely and fantastic and where I found a book on Scottish plaids, which contains my own last name. All was going fine until mom proclaim, aloud, that I was a "famous knitwear designer," and that I had been on tv. She brought visual aids. Dad, of course, contributed to the public shaming. I am pretty sure that if people have to be alerted to the fact, it pretty much tells you everything you need to know about how famous you are. Bad parents, no cookie. But thank you to the staff at Halcyon for being so gracious about it.

Also, in New England, you can get a properly made clam roll.

June 2009 -- Maine


They don't make 'em like this anywhere else. FYI, "clam strips" are not even food. If you are going to eat a clam, you should be committed to eating the whole thing. I may, perhaps, have strong opinions on this topic.


The Frolic was great, as always. It's just the perfect sized event, with a little of everything but never too much.

June 2009 -- Maine June 2009 -- Maine June 2009 -- Maine

Do you see that wee little goat? I held her too. She was warm and snuggly and oh so cute. I think I want a goat. In case you are wondering, yes, my mom knit her sweater. If you go over to the flickr set for my trip, can see a few more shots of it, though I neglected to get a full on view of it.

Continue reading "I'm back" »

June 22, 2009

In training for the Tour de Fleece

I've decided to join the Tour de Fleece (also, on Ravelry) after Mary-Heather invited me. As you can see, I started my own team, Fleece Bottom Girls. If you want to join my team, the thread is here on Ravelry, along with some buttons and a ravatar.

In light of the upcoming event (or just because I love spinning) I've been honing my skills and cranking out some yarn.

Deep Sea fingering weight 2-ply
1. Bobbin--Deep Sea merino/tencel, 2. Schnoz--Deep Sea merino/tencel, 3. Dime for scale--Deep Sea merino/tencel, 4. Skein--Deep Sea merino/tencel
Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

I picked this up over at Etsy and I love it so much. The bottom two images are closest in color. I should have dropped the red a bit in the top two.

The finished yarn is about a fingering weight. There are ~430 yards and it's a 2ply, plied off of two bobbins until the end, with the remnant off of one bobbin andean plied. The tencel ads a great drape and gives the finished yarn a real shimmery quality.

I also decided I needed to try to spin a little novelty yarn, mostly because I've been reading about some of the techniques and while I don't like novelty yarn, and I don't have any desire to knit it, it seems like it'd be fun to spin.

So I took some cotswold (which is a lot like mohair) and spun up some singles thick and thin.

The fiber came in batts so it is super floofy and hairy and the thick and thin really just looked like messed up dreadlocks. It probably doesn't help that my thick and thin intervals were pretty uneven.

So then I spun up some very fine singles in the same fiber, and worked them semi-worsted (as much as I could with carded fiber) to get a smooth and sleek singles. I plied both singles together and got this.

Novelty yarn

Yah, I won't quit my day job.

I've also been spinning some merino/tencel on my new spindle.

Black Cherry spun on Goldings

This fiber is from Spunky Eclectic and the colorway is Black Cherry.

Lastly, also from Spunky Eclectic, is the Cormo I got from the Fiber Folic.

Cormo Cross on the bobbin

I've professed my love for cormo, here, before, and having it dyed so beautifully only makes the heart beat faster.

June 29, 2009

Lovely locks

I couldn't help myself, I had to spin up all those gorgeous cormo locks I got in Maine.

Extreme closeup

I spun the locks up semi-woolen, by simply loosening the locks lightly with my fingers and spinning them from a very lightly held fist. I tried hand carding them, but cormo is really delicate and the carders tend to snap the fibers. It's really unnecessary to card them, anyway and hand prepping the locks lets you pick out any random second cuts and VM (of which there was very little.)

Cormo green sea

I spun up three bobbin and plied them together into a three-ply. With all it's sproing and bounce and just a wee bit of halo, it should make spectacular cables; perhaps on a warm pair of mittens. I chose to ply off of three bobbins instead of chain plying because I wanted to blend all the tonalities as much as possible and minimize any strong striping. I'm really happy with the end result.


Two skeins of cormo

In the end the 4 ounces worked up into about 230 yards and about 10 wpi. Now all I need is more time to knit my spinning.

July 5, 2009

4th of July

I remember being a small child, my younger brother just an infant, and going to some large rolling field with our blanket to watch the fireworks. Every year I'd cry but this year, I was going to be brave. We'd sit down and get comfortable and my parents would coo a little bit, reminding me that it'd be loud and asking if I was sure I'd be ok. I thought I was.

And then the fireworks would start.

I felt like maybe it'd never end and I'd hear the fireworks forever. They seemed so loud, so piercing, so inescapable. I would cry. I'd feel horrible about it, my parents would try to console me but I also knew I was letting them down. I really wanted to be brave.

I don't really believe in karma, though I think that genetics tends to give you back in children, what you gave your parents. I thought I bucked the system by opting never to have kids, but Panda gave me what my mother faced every 4th of July, for much of my younger childhood. She's absolutely inconsolable around fireworks. We hoped that a full day of running on the beach would quell the fear a bit, and the cool ocean air would calm her fragile nerves but the close proximity of those boisterous noisemakers were more than she could manage.

Still, the day was wonderful and the bad parts were brief. We headed out just before the show really started, giving our campsite up to an incredibly thankful wedding after-party, and drove home during the best (or worst, as the case may be) portion of the show.

4th of July, 2009 -- Manzanita, Oregon
1. Fireworks, 2. Setting up the tent, 3. Spinning on the beach, 4. Panda goes for a roll, 5. Can we come in?, 6. Miss Bear looking sweet, 7. Thea zonks out, 8. Silly dog hug, 9. Panda finds a safe spot to hide from the firecrackers, 10. Making a fire while the sun sets, 11. Carrying a bad little dog, 12. Leo in front of sunset, 13. A very sleepy Thea on my lapCreated with fd's Flickr Toys.

Panda is no worse for the wear having had a largely great day at a beautiful beach in weather much cooler than the 90+ degrees back home. All in all, a great day.

See all the pictures from our trip here.

And a little video from right before we left.

July 8, 2009

Making the rockin' whorl go round

The Tour de Fleece is going well. The first three days of it, I didn't have to work, so I got in a fair amount of spinning.

Spinning on the beach didn't amount to too much yardage, but who can focus on spinning when there is so much to look at and enjoy around you? Still, I was able to spin a bit of the Black Cherry merino/tencel I got from Amy's booth at the Fiber Frolic, and I confirmed my initial suspicion that the Spindolyn may not be the best match for me. It's a fine and well made tool but it just doesn't fit my spinning style.

For the two days after that I worked on a decadent batt of superwash wool, recycled sari silk and sparkle, that I got from the Enchanted Knoll Farms booth at the Frolic. Here I am spinning the singles.

I spun one bobbin on one day then the other bobbin and the plying the next to get about 422 yards of two ply at around 12 WPI.

My creation
1. Panda in sparkly skein, 2. Rolags make festive dreads, 3. Singles with sparkle, 4. Sparkly singles, 5. One full bobbin of plied yarn, 6. Bobbin and spindle, 7. 2ply on niddy noddy, 8. Smoochin my good dog, 9. Your head smells weird, 10. Girls with skein, 11. Girls with skein, 12. Girls with skein, 13. Finished red sparkly skein
Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

The finished yarn was soft and got even softer when washed. I think it'd make a fantastic shawl or wrap of some sort. The red is intense and the sparkle makes it a little special.

Now that I'm back at work, I don't have as much time to spin so I've been fitting in little spurts of spinning on my spindles. On my smallest spindles, I'm working the Black Cherry merino/tencel I mentioned before and on my biggest spindle, some soft tan merino/tencel I got from Carolina Homespun on my trip to Oregon with Julia.

Two different Merino/Tencel blends spun on Golding spindles
1. Merino Tencel blends on spindles, 2. Black Cherry Merino/Tencel, 3. Black Cherry Merino/Tencel, 4. Pretty spindles and a pretty face, 5. Look what I spun, 6. The fiber appreciation society, 7. Can I eat it?, 8. Merino Tencel blends on spindles, 9. Merino Tencel blends on spindles, 10. Merino Tencel blends on spindles, 11. Merino Tencel blends on spindles, 12. Merino Tencel blends on spindles, 13. Cafe Merino/Tencel
Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

We're only 5 days in but I can already tell that pushing myself to spin every day is also pushing me to try new things to keep it interesting. Also, it makes me think I might make a little dent in the ol' fiber stash. Of course, that means greatly increasing my yarn stash so it's probably a wash on that count.

July 16, 2009

Skein as fashion

I'm frantically prepping for the Twist fashion show tonight at the Tigard Knitting Guild. I'm pretty sure I'll make a complete ass of myself at some point. I hope I do so in a way that's funny. Funny asses are way better than offensive asses. There's a life lesson for you.

In the mean time, here are a few more shots from the Tour de Fleece.

Faux-hawk

Dyeabolical singles in progress
1. Dyabolical bobbin, 2. Dyabolical bobbin, 3. Dyabolical bobbin, 4. Yah, spinning is great. Where's breakfast
Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

Dyeabolocal 3ply and Black Cherry 2ply
1. More Black Cherry 2ply on plying spindle, 2. Red heads, 3. Red heads, 4. Dyeabolical 3ply
Created with fd's Flickr Toys.

July 27, 2009

23 days of spinning

The Tour de Fleece is over and I managed to spin every single day. No one is more shocked than I am. I admit, I may have splurged on a few hits of fiber, along the way, but the result is thousands (!!!) of yards of finished yarn. If I were to add all the individual plies, I'd have quite a few miles, but even when I count only the yardage of the finished yarns, I have something like 2 miles worth of yarn of my very own making. I'm feeling pretty good about that.

My stint in the tour is marked by some truly wonderful memories. Not only did I take my spindle to the Tigard Knitting Guild

Spinning while I wait

But we also had a visit to Ladysmith Black Mambazo at the Oregon Zoo (thanks Erica!)

Oregon Zoo -- Ladysmith Black Mambazo

And we saw Neil deGrasse Tyson at the Bagdad Theater. If you are wondering, which you shouldn't be, he is awesome.

Spinning at the Bagdad Theater
Neil deGrasse Tyson at the Bagdad

At home, the girls donned some works in progress.

IMG_0063.JPG Prism as hat

After 22 days, I had all this.

End of the Tour de Fleece 09

On the 23rd day, I added some lace weight singles to the pile

Finished prism singles

And in an effort to pose a mile in my pup's shoes, I wrapped almost all my new skeins around my own neck (in 95 degree weather, no less) and snapped a few more shots.

End of the Tour de Fleece 09

Even after 23 days of spinning, I was still enjoying myself and I'm surprised to report that I don't feel burned out on spinning at all. Perhaps it's the fact that I worked with such beautiful fibers or that I produced yarns I'm excited to knit, or maybe it's just that I didn't feel pressured to produce a certain amount or a particular type of yarn. Regardless of the reasons, I feel it was a good exercise and the girls got mighty used to all the treats they'd get after the various photo shoots, so they don't seem to be complaining either.


And as a side note, you can see some beach pictures from the weekend, here.

Beach fun in the fog

August 2, 2009

Burying the lead

I spun up my first, ever, Grafton batt recently. It's a lovely gradation from gray to blue to purple and it's colorway 142, if you want to know.

Grafton Batt

It's about 300 yards of slightly felted singles at about 20 wpi. I've bought a few lame batts in my day (I haven't blogged any of them) and a bad batt is just a straight up chore to work with and produces a darn ugly finished yarn. This was not one of those batts. They are a little pricey but are clearly made with care which means I will definitely be treating myself to more of these in the future.

Also, we bought a house. We move in on Friday. I'm thrilled and also slightly nervous but in a really happy way. I can't remember who posted this on Twitter, but it sums up my feelings on the matter very well.

August 19, 2009

Sunrise

I've never been a morning person, but this new house might just change that about me.

From the bed, the other morning, this is what I saw.

Sunrise

Look closer and you can see Mt Hood rising up through the clouds.

Sunrise

We may not have much furniture, but things are pretty smiley all around.

Thea during sunrise View from the

Also, I finally broke El Matchador out this weekend for a spin on the deck.

Lazy Sunday on the deck

September 13, 2009

Memories of Mumbai

The Tour de Fleece pushed me to do a lot of spinning and now I feel compelled to knit my new skeins.

The thing, though, with knitting your own handspun is that the quantity you have is it, especially if you buy handpainted fibers produced in small quantities. Mostly, my skeins run 2-4 ounces which may vary in yardage depending on fiber type, ply and weight. Ideally, I want to avoid projects where I'll come up short on yardage, but I still want to use as much of the yarn up as possible so as not to waste any of my hard work spinning it. A challenge!

My very last skein from the tour was a merino/bamboo blend from Freckle Face Fibers that I spun up into a little more than 600 yards of fingering weight singles. It seemed like plenty of yardage for a rectangular wrap, so I got to looking through some stitch dictionaries to find something that was lacy but simple enough to stand up to the highly variegated rainbow colorway.

Making use of my kitchen scale and a center pull ball, I managed to achieve my goal of using the entire skein, with no waste.

last-of-the-handspun
I call this, "burning the skein at both ends."

I trimmed the shawl with a little Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud in a light beige shade, blocked and voila.

Handspun and Alpaca shawl


The colors make me think of the lovely silk saris I admired on my brief trips to India and the simple scarf shape and ruffle remind me of one of my favorite shawls that I bought there.

Handspun and Alpaca shawl
Do you see anyone peeking around the corner.

The main motif is out of one of the Barbara Walker treasuries, and then I scaled it down near each end and finished it off with a simple ruffle.

Handspun and Alpaca shawl

The cast on edge is actually the center back and to use up as much yarn as possible I used the tail from the cast on and felted it to the start of the yarn that I used to pickup and knit down from the other end. So the only ends were at each end.


And lastly, my dogs are cute.

Manzanita 09/06/09

December 1, 2009

Coast, Kool-Aid and Kale

I don't ever recall Thanksgiving being particularly stressful, as a kid, but really, what's there to be stressed about other than the inevitable battle for that first slice of turkey breast with the big piece of crispy skin.* I'm sure it was much harder for the adults with all the cooking, cleaning and kid/drunk in-law wrangling, but as a kid, it always just seemed like lots of good food and playing with the cousins. As adults, I think Leo and I have kept a lot of the same relaxed attitude. We don't tend to make a production of the holiday, thought we do like some good lumpy mashed potatoes and crispy bird skin on a plate. Since we have yet to really put our new kitchen through the paces, we did (and by we, I mean me) a whole chicken, garlic mashed potatoes, dressing and cranberry sauce and dug in at our leisure. I'm still working through the last of the starchiest bits.

And being the long weekend that Thanksgiving is, we had plenty of time to fit in a trip to the ocean on Saturday. It was brisk but dry and that's pretty much good enough for us. I don't think the dogs have ever been put out by a little cold weather.

Manzanita Oregon -- November 27, 2009 Mosaic
1. Leo got frenched by a puppy, 2. Thea takes a victory lap, 3. Birds, 4. Throw it again, 5. Lift off, 6. Manzanita Oregon November 27, 2009, 7. Manzanita Oregon November 27, 2009, 8. Manzanita Oregon November 27, 2009, 9. More birds, 10. Manzanita Oregon November 27, 2009, 11. Manzanita Oregon November 27, 2009, 12. Manzanita Oregon November 27, 2009, 13. Where'd it go?
Created with fd's Flickr Toys

I also finished spinning about 200 yards of some angora, alpaca and soy silk I hand carded together. Using a bit of Kool-Aid, I dyed it in three successive dye baths to get a rich orange shade.

Bath 1: 1 orange + 1 lemon aid packet

Kool Aid dyeing

Bath 2: 2 orange + 1 lemon aid packet

Kool-Aid dyed Handspun Yarn

Bath 3: 1 tropical punch packet

Kool-Aid dyed Handspun Yarn

I love the color and it smells so sweet. I find dyeing really stressful, because you can't really undo it if you blow it, but this time seem to work out great.

To finish off the long weekend, I made a big batch of lemon garlic crispy kale.

Crispy Kale Chips Crispy Kale Chips

Click either image for the recipe, inasmuch as it is one.

I hope all of you had a lovely weekend too.

*Most of my teen and college years, I did thanksgiving at friends houses and I watched in horror, one year as my friend's mother whipped her mashed potatoes (no lumps!) and removed the skin from the turkey after cooking. I've never fully recovered from the memory.

November 30, 2010

Rosa Rugossa Singles

It's a funny thing, I love to knit with solid or semi-solid yarns and large swathes of stockinette don't bore me a bit. From the comments I've seen in many people's ravelry projects, my taste for knitting is a veritable snoozefest for many. It's peculiar, then, that I can't say the same about spinning. As much as I love to knit solid yarns, spinning solid yarns takes me forever. Of course, I am more likely to then knit that final yarn but I drag my feet the whole way. Those crazy handpainted yarns in all their vivid colors are just so much more fun for me to spin (at least the singles are, I don't care what the fiber color, plying makes me yearn for the excitement of watching grass grow.)

But there's a compromise; solids that gently fade into other solids producing a gradual transition from one color to the next and one of my favorite dyers is serving up a beautiful assortment right now.

Rosa Rugossa
1. Rosa Rugossa Singles, 2. Rosa Rugossa Combed Top, 3. Rosa Rugossa Singles, 4. Rosa Rugossa Singles

The colorway is Rosa Rugossa and it's a soft blend of superwash merino, bamboo and nylon. The 4 ounces gave me about 792 yards of singles at about 24 wpi. I think it'll make a really lovely shawl one of these days.

I bought another 4 ounces in her Blueberry Campout colorway as well.

Blueberry Campout Combed Top

There's something about that shade of orange that just makes my heart go pitter-pat.

January 14, 2011

Perspective

Yesterday was one of those days; those days that ensure I won't be a dog horder in the near future. Rainy weather and long working hours have left me making excuses not to walk Darwin as much as I should. When you have a young herding dog and you decide to skimp on walks and training you might as well batten down the hatches and prepare for the storm because you are about to see what 25 lbs of super smart and endlessly energetic has in store for you.

Darwin Socializing_03
Being cute is a survival mechanism

It was a rough day but today is already better, we've left our minor setbacks behind us and braved the downpours for a a nice long and positive walk. A little perspective (and a good nap) is usually all I need to get past a particularly bad day. I mean really, look at this lot.

Darwin's First Trip to Mt. Hood_29
Cute, non? Cute, oui!

In the same way, our other stresses in life can seem overwhelming. With one of us out of work for nearly a year now and the economy showing few signs of life, it's easy to get caught up in the uncertainty and doubt and fear. We could let the setbacks and rejections cripple us but we try to keep perspective. We have our bad days and sleepless nights but we try to remember that we have so much even if it feels like we are teetering on the edge. When I heard a friend and her son had lost their partner and father, respectively, my heart just broke. It's one of those moments where the only thing I can think to do is hug everyone in the house and tell them how important they are to me. The dogs mostly just wag and hope for a cookie. That's good enough for me.

I know that nothing can ever bring back this wonderful man my friend and her son lost and no small gesture can change that pain left behind, but perhaps it was as therapeutic for me as anything, to make them each a small gift with empathy for their terrible situation. I guess, on some level, I feel like the time I spent on each was time I was reminded to value the people I do have in my life; forget my petty concerns and endeavor to be as honest and caring as I can while time still allows me to do so.

Handspun Shrug_10
Handspun Grafton Batt crocheted side to side. Trimmed in knitted handspun optim

And maybe, if you'll indulge me a bit longer, you can find someone you love, human, dog, cat or other, and let them know you love them for no reason at all except that you do, even if they drive you up the walls sometimes or always leave a mess. Chances are, they overlook a few of your shortcomings as well and love you equally.

Lil_Monster07
Monster crocheted with DK weigh merino, with knit socks and scarf worked in sock yarn

December 19, 2005

If it's green, it's good

What do you think of the shawl?

I ripped her out and washed and dried the yarn, so I could start over. There was a problem, several rows back, no life line and not enough shawl in existence to really warrant a tedious fix, so I ripped her. The deadline is so far off, that I'm not terribly bothered by that.

But it hasn't all been the foul smell of failure. The Dragon Hoodie is progressing beautifully.

I'm working on the hood right now and will begin all the little dragony details after that.

In spinning news, my parents sent me roving for Christmas. What? Christmas is a week away? Are you saying that when I get a package at my door, a couple weeks before Christmas, with my parent's return address, I should know not to open it? Insanity!

And look at what was inside! Each bag is half a pound of gorgeous roving. The left two bags are a rich olive green Corriedale roving. It appears that MJ has almost identical roving, herself. I met her in person for the first time this weekend, at a knitting get together. It's a little eerie that we both have matching Kundert spindles and green roving, if we hadn't been seen in the same location at the same time, someone could have assumed we were the same person.

I managed to snap a pic of the Corriedale, on the spindle this weekend. She has her own ray of sunshine here. That means this is the only picture with enough lighting to be any good.

It sort of makes the rest of the pictures look even worse. I began spinning this on the Kundert, and it spins well, but I really found myself feeling like I had to spin pretty thick singles on it, so I switched to the Golding. I may have to invest in a few more Goldings just so I can spin more than one roving at a time. This 0.9 oz has been perfect for just about everything. I love it.

This is how it looks plied. The color is really a true olive green, despite the variety of shades you see here. When I was spinning it near daylight, I saw undertones of yellow shine through, it's actually quite lovely.

The other roving in the bags is a Merino/silk blend. It spins up into more of a sage green shade because the white of the silk soften the colors.

You know, though, there's a pretty good chance that I'm not going to be able to spin all that roving by hand. I mean, I'm a relatively quick spinner (spindler? spinster?) but a pound of sock weight yarn is a lot of yarn to spin. So Julia and I are talking about renting a wheel. I'm a little scared to go down that road, but I think it's time. Look for news of that next year.

December 16, 2005

A little more progress

The Dragon Hoodie is moving right along. I love knitting baby stuff. I feel like such a prolific knitter.

The body is done and a sleeve begun. The sleeves are going slowly because this yarn is hard to knit on plastic needles. Metal is definitely the best choice but since I'm saving my pennies for Christmas presents, I'll get by.

I've also been working on my shawl a bit. You can use the squares on my ironing board for scale, if you like. The top pieces hoodie is about 11-12" wide (it's not blocked so I'm estimating a bit)

December 28, 2005

After the bath

That green merino silk roving gets even better after a wash and hang.
It really seems to even things out a bit and make the yarn look slightly less "hand spun." Don't get me wrong, I'm proud of the fact that I hand spun it, but I don't want it to be too obvious.

I plied Panda with belly rubs to get another shot of her donning my handiwork.

In fact, she is mid belly rub in the picture.
Can you hear her? "Oh, the suffering, the indignity, the....a little to the left please."

And do you see her bucket of toys and treats in the background? Yes, that's only one of two. Don't even get me started about the whole cabinet full of treats for the little pooper. She lives a hard life.

December 11, 2005

My roving has a project

On the spinning front, I've been making as big a dent in this as I can.

That's my merino silk blend roving, which I've been spinning for a while now. I went back and forth, trying to decide what I'd knit with it, but I've decided to use it for this. Right now, I'm attempting to design my own shawl. I should note that I've never designed a shawl before, but hey, the worst that can happen is I make a less than stellar, piece. Who hasn't done that before?

Here is everything I've spun to date. I would say these photos are fairly accurate in showing the texture and color. I'm rather surprised at how much I've spun without getting bored. That braid at the top is about 5.8 ounces and the stuff on the bottom represents about 1.5 ounces. There has probably been another half an ounce of various problems, frustrations, knit swatches that wouldn't come undone and the like. We will speak no further of those.

So far, my experience with spinning this fiber has been good. There are occasional slubs of the merino content. Sometimes they are easy to pick out and sometimes they become "features" of the yarn. Otherwise, the spinning is fairly easy if rather imperfect. The silk content makes drafting smooth and delightful but not very even and it occasionally gets away from me. Since I haven't actually started the piece, I simply spin when the mood hits me. I may be more flustered if knitting is held up by spinning. We shall see.

Either way, it has to take a back seat as it is "that time of year" (which should be said in a most ominous tone) so there are other projects that take priority.

By the way, I'm so happy that a bunch of you left a comment to assure me that you still manage to make it to my site. My bloglines account hasn't shown a single new post for me since I switched to MT, but if at least a few of you are still stopping by then I'll keep posting away. I have fodder for several more posts, already.

January 11, 2006

Watching sausage being made

I really want to show you images of the handspun I've been knitting. What is my problem? Lighting. I get up at 4:30 am to blog, and I've spent an hour trying to get a decent picture. It's not light out when I'm home, this time of year. While I've certainly offered my fair share of crappy photos, I genuinely do strive to have something decent to show you.

There are some bloggers who just never seem to have bad pictures up. They tend to photograph their pictures in natural light to ensure that everything looks beautiful.
I am not these bloggers, nor any of the others, who, ifI weren't so sleepy, I'd remember. Nope, I take pictures when I am ready to blog and light be damned! But it doesn't mean I don't lament my crappy photos. This morning, I took my soy silk yarn on a field trip around the house in hopes of finding a decent shot.

Go on the adventure, after the bump.

Continue reading "Watching sausage being made" »

January 9, 2006

It's not just Panda and Politics around here

I've been doing my crafty thing as well. Here is some left over wool/soy silk roving I've had a little sample of. Since there was such a small amount, I spun it as finely as possible. I used my 0.6 oz Golding spindle which helped me achieve a true lace weight yarn. I knit a little swatch of it last night and got 9 stitches to the inch on a US #1 needle and I certainly could have gone down a needle size without a problem. This stuff spun beautifully. I assume it's the soy that gives it its smooth drafting ability since I still find myself struggling a bit with pure wool.

It's taken me a little while to adapt to my 0.6 oz spindle. I learned on a 1.3 oz, have been using my 0.9 oz for almost everything but I'm now really starting to appreciate this lighter one. I know there are people who can spin spider web thin yarn on a 3 oz spindle and I tip my hat to those folks. I just can't get enough spin into the fiber soon enough to ever be successful. My spindle will have proven its dropping ability long before I get a yard spun. But a light spindle holds its own challenges. I realize it's all simple physics, but it's hard to know exactly how it will feel if you aren't well versed on those sorts of sciences. In my case, I face two big hurdles with a lighter spindle.


  1. I have to spin the spindle harder to get a long enough spin to be productive. Or, I have to spin the spindle more than once to spin the same length of yarn.

  2. The spindle tends to be less stable in its spin. I suspect this is partially technique on my part, but, while drafting, I sometimes maneuver in such a way as to send my spindle into a planetary like rotation, where the poles no longer sit at a true north/south*. While this works splendidly for our fine earth, it's less effective for a spinner.

* Ok, ok, I know that North and South are relative to our own planet and not the least bit relevant once you step off the planet or out of our solar system. Let's think "grade school diorama," for this analogy, ok?

More spindly fun, after the bump.

Continue reading "It's not just Panda and Politics around here" »

December 23, 2005

Is this what I think it is?

I think I may have spun a balanced yarn. I'm not sure here, I'm still a relative novice, but fresh off the spindle, after plying, it appears to rest pretty comfortably, without twisting back on itself.

This is some of the beautiful green merino and silk roving my parents sent for Christmas. I haven't washed it and hung it yet and it's still seems to be hanging in a manner that would suggest it is balanced. I didn't mean to but there you go. After taking the pictures, I gave it a quick soak, so it'll be knit ready by dinner time.

More pics after the bump.

Continue reading "Is this what I think it is?" »

January 18, 2006

Make love to the camera

I snapped a quick picture of my roving, basking in the sun at work.

Just thought I'd share.

Mangos, Pumpkins, Saffron, Ginger

Not very long ago, Wendy spun up the most beautiful orange roving. You can see it in all its splendor here.

If you swing by my blog, with any regularity, you know that I'm not terribly drawn to warm colors, as a general rule. Blues, greens, and purples dominate over all other colors. It's not that I don't love a wide variety of colors, its just that, given a choice, I stay in my color comfort zone and stick to shades I know look good on me and that I love looking at. But this orange had me smitten. So I headed on over to Nistock Farms, where Wendy had gotten her roving, and I got myself 8 delicious ounces of Autumn Spice.

It arrived last night and I didn't even shed my heels and suit before I was spinning away. We reached the front door at 6pm, by 7:30, I had spun, plied, washed and set to dry 26 yards of handspun.

Since these pictures were taken around 3:30 AM (I'm having me a little bout of insomnia, thanks for asking) there is no proper lighting. I think, all things considered, the pictures are fairly representative of the color overall, but they don't really capture some of the beautiful subtleties of the shade. It's mostly a lovely pumpkin color, with shades of a soft pink, some grey and yellow. The overall effect is amazing.

The wool is definitely not as soft as, say, a merino or alpaca, but I love it and it spins surprisingly easily on my little 0.9 oz spindle.

In addition to the 8ozs of Autumn Spice, I also got myself 4oz of the Fudge Brownie shade you'll find on the same page. I haven't even begun to spin that.

To all of you spinners out there, I'm starting to find myself overflowing with roving. I have absolutely no issues with this. I am wondering, though, what is the best way to store the stuff to avoid any problems with it as it waits for my little spindles to spin it up? It's relatively warm and dry here in LA, though I live within a very short distance of the ocean.

January 4, 2006

90 yards

I have a lot of "well duh!" moments, which would be "Aha!" moments if they weren't so obvious. One of those moments was when I realized I had everything I needed to determine the yardage I'm getting with my spinning.

Here are two skeins of my soft and lovely yarn spun up from the roving my brother gave me. Before this weekend, I would have told you that I had no idea how many yards were in there, but the answer was obvious all along. To make my skeins, when done plying, I wrap the yarn from the spindle around my calf, from foot to knee. the long way. To find out my yardage, I wrapped the tape measure the same way, found out my length and multiplied it by the number of times I wrap the yarn around my leg. Well duh!

More gratuitous yarn shots after the bump.

Continue reading "90 yards" »

December 30, 2005

Quick Update on the Purple Stuff

I spun a bit more of my new purple roving and plied it. I thought you might like a pre-wash shot of it in all its glory. The shades came together in a striking tweed-like way. It's even better than I could have hoped.

A bit more after the bump

Continue reading "Quick Update on the Purple Stuff" »

He's done good

My brother and his girlfriend are in town visiting. We haven't seen too much of each other because of scheduling conflicts, but we've seen enough to swap gifts. Matt got some Hooray For Me Gloves and Jess got the Dragon Hoodie for her little girl.

But they came bearing gifts for us. So sweet. Jess brought us a huge basket of gourmet yummies, many of which Leo and I have already consumed, partially or fully. She even brought Miss Panda some cookies. And Matt, a man who referred to my knitting as "sewing" at one point, got me this.

It's about 11 oz of beautiful purple merino/silk roving. It's soft as a bunny a stunning color. The image isn't a perfect representation, the color is really a pretty deep purple with shades of burgundy, lilac and everything in between. He got the roving from Shuttles Spindles and Skeins in Boulder Colorado. I love it. It's so sweet that he walked into a fiber shop, looked for the perfect roving and came back with something so great.

That spindle shows what I've spun this morning. It's working up very nicely. The color becomes richer and the various other shades sparkle through.

February 1, 2006

I'm almost reluctant to post this

I'm back to trying to design a shawl with my handspun, and once again, I'm starting from scratch with a new design and new yarn.

For those of you who visit regularly, you are probably well aware of my current fascination with my Autumn Spice Cotswold from Nistock Farms. It will then come as no surprise that I want to actually knit what I've spun.

This is what I have so far.

I like it. So why am I reluctant to post this? Because I'm a bit worried it will go awry, as my previous attempts at a shawl have. I'm not terribly fond of repetitive knitting. I'd much rather work something with an intricate stitch pattern or lots of shaping, than something that's very repetitive. I can manage a scarf or sock, here and there, but it's hard for me to keep my interest. So will this piece ever be anything more than a glimmer in my eye? Time will tell.

Even more questionable, though, is whether or not I'll ever spin enough of the roving with my spindle to have a shawl large enough cover my shoulders. I suspect I’ll need quite a bit once my rows get a bit longer.

More spicy goodness, after the bump

Continue reading "I'm almost reluctant to post this" »

January 13, 2006

Spin spin spin

As I reported before, almost all my knitting has been on my stealth project so I can only entertain you with spinning, for now. I hope that those of you who aren't spinners aren't too bored with it all.

After such success with my soy silk roving worked on my 0.6 oz spindle, I thought I should try it on some of my other roving.

The result is about 52 yards of two ply Lace to DK weight yarn.

More yarn porn after the bump

Continue reading "Spin spin spin" »

January 11, 2006

Shine your light on me

Well, I found a couple minutes to snap a photo of my knit handspun. There's a big old window near a couple of empty work stations, in my area, and since I get to work so early, there was no one to ask, "Marnie, why are you taking pictures of a band-aid sized piece of knitting, at the office?"

Here is a picture that shows how textural the stitch is.

And this shows, fairly nicely, what the stitch really looks like.

The handspun has proven to knit up much better than I could hope. There's a gradual transition from one dominant color to the next and a subtle second color that acts like a highlight.

Here's my knitting enjoying the view. If you were able to look right, up a steep hill and into the "nice" part of town, you could also see where Leo works.

Many of you have asked about the stitch. It's the same stitch used in this cardi from Vogue Knitting

I've found a couple variations in my Harmony Guides. They refer to this one as "Star Stitch II"

I really like this stitch because of its versatility. Worked on larger needles and blocked out, it produces a lovely flower like lace stitch. Worked tightly on smaller needles, you get a great textural stitch that doesn't curl and is just unusual enough to catch peoples' attention.

The stitch is worked as follows.


With a multiple of 4+1
Star: P3 tog, but leave old stitch on left needle, yo, P same 3 stitches together, removing the old stitch from the left needle.
Rows 1 and 3: Knit
Row 2: *k1, star stitch* repeat to last stitch, k1
Row 4: k1, p1, *k1, star stitch* repeat to last 3 stitches, k1, p1, k1

Actually, I knit it slightly differently, because I knit in the Combined method, which means my knit stitches sit differently. I essentially reverse the pattern. I Purl the odd rows and I work purls between the stars and work the stars with k3togs, only, because of the way my stitches sit, it's like I've done an SSSK. I'm not sure that's actually of any interest to anyone, but there you go.

January 23, 2006

Finally, some knitting

Before I bore you with more of the same, how about a little something new?

I finished my stealth knit a little while ago, and it's awaiting whatever fate the yarn gods have in store for it. That left my needles free for other things.

I begin teaching some classes at the KnitCafe, starting this week. The owner asked me to come up with a simple eyelet scarf pattern and the above image shows the results.

I'm relatively picky about scarf stitches. I don't believe they have to be completely reversible, but I do feel that, if others are respecting your personal space, it shouldn't be apparent if the back and front don't match. So my quest was for a stitch pattern that used only knits, purls, k2togs, ssks and yos, and did so in a manner that was very simple, basically reversible, and would lie flat without any additional edge stitches. I couldn't find anything that entirely suited my needs, so I modified a stitch pattern and came up with what you see above.

Here are some close ups.

There isn't a front or back, per se, but let's call this the front.

And here's the back

The yarn is the leftover Karabella Aurora 8 from Hopeful. I used exactly 2 balls with less than a yard left over after I wove in all the ends and cut the fringe. The scarf blocked out to about 6 feet long. The stitch pattern is a modified 5x5, with a 3 stitch selvage on each side.

I will post the pattern, for free, sometime soon.

And now, some entirely unnecessary images of my Cotswold as it basks in the California sun, after the bump.

Continue reading "Finally, some knitting" »

January 20, 2006

Brownies and Pumpkin Pie

I just love my Autumn Spice Cotswold. I think about spinning it when I'm at work and it's become increasingly hard not to burn dinner while I try to work spinning into my nightly routine.

Here's a bit more of it spun up and plied. Why do I love this yarn so? I don't know. It's not the softest yarn I have, but it's certainly soft enough to be knit into a nice wrap or a cardigan. The little halo of fuzziness delights me. At first I was thrown by it, but now I love it more and more. I pre draft the roving and the yarn just seems to spin itself. It's nearly effortless.

But I also got myself some of the Fudge Brownie roving. This stuff is gorgeous. The color is dark chocolate and the feel is silky, dense and smooth. Fudge Brownie is the perfect name for it. I find it harder to spin though. Instead of long snakes of roving that I can predraft, this tends to want to fall into clumps. It's smooth but the fibers like to grab ahold of each other in unexpected ways so I end up with more thick and thin areas than I'm used to. I tried my 0.9oz and then my 1.3oz spindle. The extra weight seemed to help. I decided to try spinning it a bit thicker than normal, and this is the result.

On top is both of my skeins of Autumn Spice held together in a single skein. You can see that the brown top is much thicker. Spinning thicker yarn is turning out to be challenging for me. I did notice, in the process, that I like the way the yarn looks when it is really tightly spun. It loses some of it's softness but it picks up a sheen that's decadent. I think my next skein will err on the side of overspun, to see what happens.

Here's a close-up of the two yarns. You can see that my brown yarn is not very even.

MJ has been trying to spin more thickly too. A lot of people feel that spinning fine weight yarn is harder than thicker yarn. But I think most people acclimate to spinning a certain weight of yarn and need time to learn to control other weights. It's not a matter of "this weight is good" and "this weight is bad." I'll consider myself a good spinner when I can spin many weights well. For now, I proudly wear my "novice" crown, with my head held high. No shame in it.

There's just one thing that bothers me. Do you hear it? I know I do. I hear the sweet song of the wheel calling me. I'm trying to be strong and, luckily, I do not think I could reasonably justify the cost right now. But that doesn't mean I'm not haunted by the thought of spinning all my gorgeous roving in a couple days instead of needing months to do it. I can't deny that seeing huge skeins of continuous roving, wound off a bobbin, doesn't make me drool a little. I'm counting on a certain friend of mine, to keep me sane. And if I happen to visit this site several times a day, it's only for research purposes.

February 5, 2006

Not much progress

I haven't had as much time to knit as I'd hope, so the shawl is going slowly. Admittedly, that's partially because I don't consider it a traveling knit. I really have to focus on it pretty well to make sure I don't mess it up and that means it's hard to work in poor lighting or while commuting. But, I am still really happy with it and am channeling all those words of encouragement from folks.

Wanna see more?

It kind of looks like it did in the previous post, huh? But I'm not just knitting for it, I'm spinning for it too.

Here's everything I've spun to date. It comes out to about 74 grams sock weight yarn.

My most recent batch is 67 yards and weights 20 grams. Anyone have any idea how many yards/grams I'll need to make an averaged sized shawl?

March 6, 2006

My spinning's getting a little worsted

Ah, my beautiful new spindle!

One of the reasons I asked for a heavier spindle for my birthday was because I wanted to start spinning different weights of yarn. Of course, any of my lighter spindles can be used to spin chunkier yarn, but I think the extra weight is helpful. So, after practicing with some spare merino, I pulled out my gorgeous olive green Corriedale and I tried spinning some thicker yarn.

The singles are about a DK weight, it's much thicker than I usually spin, but by the end, I was getting pretty consistent results. Since I use the Andean Plying method, my most even bits are plied against my most inconsistent bits so the overall effect doesn’t look so great, but I can live with that.

When plied, I got something around a worsted or a little thicker weight. Actually, fresh off the spindle, it was more of a chunky or bulky weight, there was a lot of loft, but having washed and hung the yarn, I’ve still kept a bit of loft, but the yarn is closer to worsted in weight. I still love the finer weight yarns I’ve spun, but it’s good to practice spinning a bit thicker.

As for the spindle, it’s working beautifully. A couple people asked if I had noticed a wobble or any other problems, and I have not. This is a beautifully balanced spindle that gets enough momentum to keep spinning and spinning. I would guess that people who have had problems may be using a design without as much symmetry, which could throw the balance off a bit. That’s just my guess.

March 3, 2006

I like my birthday to last as long as possible

Wednesday was a long day. It wasn't a bad day, but it was long. Leo and I left the house at 5:15 AM, so we could make some early morning work obligations, and we didn't get home till almost 9 PM, because I had a beginner knitting class to teach that evening. That's a long day. But, awaiting me, when I returned home, was a big package with a little surprise inside.

It's a belated birthday present from my step father, a brand new spindle from Golding.

I now have four wonderful spindles in my collection.

From left to right, their weights are:
1.9 ozs, 1.3 ozs, 0.9 ozs, 0.6 ozs

I've been spinning some merino and I think I'm getting a feel for the heavier weight. It's been a nice match and a good chance to practice spinning some thicker gauge yarn, though I have to admit that my left arm gets tired more quickly. I can see myself using this spindle a lot. The larger whorl means I can use it to ply my finer yarns and the weight is a nice match for roving that tends to be grippier (technical term).

March 17, 2006

Guess who's blocking

It's only about 4 feet wide, so it's a mini-shawl, but it's my first and it's made from my handspun so I'm as happy as can be.

Leo said "It looks like it could fall apart, like it could break." I informed him that the term is "delicate" and that, for lace, that's a good thing.

It should be dry tonight and I'll be able to get some better pictures, but for now, this will have to do.

And boy, Panda has been in belly rub heaven. She loves the love, so thanks to all of you who sent her some. For those who asked, yes, she is getting cuter and yes, I'm a complete sucker for her big brown eyes and yes, she knows she's working it.

March 16, 2006

Beyonce, why you gotta be like that?

Work has been interesting, lately. We have a set of conference rooms that used to be the senior management's offices, back in the company's more opulent days. They are now a lovely set of rooms, perfect for holding one's various meetings. Skylights and lovely views offer that little flash of daylight that can make an otherwise dreary day, a touch less so. However, they are all booked this month. Apparently, Beyonce is shooting a movie in or amongst them. Now we are faced with a constant scrabble to compete for the remaining conference rooms, peppered about the building, in corners unknown. Working in downtown LA, movie shoots are not a new inconvenience in life, and we have had our conference rooms used for filming before, but never for quite so long. Such is life, I suppose.

Anyway, that's neither here nor there. I wanted to show you a little bit of the plying I did this weekend. Remember the sage colored merino/silk I spun up into singles recently? Well, it's plied now.

I wish you could see it in person, it has a beautiful depth to it. Most of my other spinning has been for the shawl, so it's more of the same. Speaking of which, I will hopefully finish it up this weekend, and will post pictures as soon as I can. Send your good shawl vibes my way.

Finally, Panda would like to thank you for all the love.

We have an agreement that for every sweet comment you leave for her, she gets belly rubs. It seems only fair.

March 19, 2006

Taking it for a whorl

Since finishing my shawl, (pics coming soon) I've been spinning a lot. It could be the influx of new roving that has me excited or maybe it's seeing something I've spun worked up into something I'm proud of, but whatever it is, I just can't seem to stop.

First, I spun up some of the merino/tencel I got from Janel. The colorway is called "Indian Wedding." It beautiful, though I found it harder to spin than some of the other fibers I've used. I want to try again with a different spindle and see if that helps. The final product is so soft and the sheen is so nice, I know I'm going to want to spin it all up.

I also got my order from Spunky Eclectic. I ordered two batches of Amy's Almost Solid Series.

I. Love. This. Stuff.

It works up into a yarn that looks a lot like the Twisted Sister Monochromatic Variegated yarns.

I got myself a batch of Corriedale in Sunflower.

And worked it up into a big ol' skein. My new spindle has allowed me to make much larger quantities of yarn in a go. Why on earth I chose yellow, I don't know. I certainly can't wear that color alone and the other colors I have don't really go with it, but it makes me so happy to look at it. Don't get me wrong, I think yellow is an amazing color, I'm just not so sure it's a logic choice for me.

I also bought myself a batch of Merino in colorway, Red Maple. I think the color is really more like Plum. It's got a warm red undertone, but it's a pretty deep purple overall.

I'm spinning this much finer than the yellow, which is between a sport and worsted weight. This is going to be more like a sock weight, once plied.

From some of the sweet comments I've been getting, I am starting to think that we might need a "Knit Your Handspun Along," because there are a lot of you who don't seem to ever do anything with the yarn you create. Julia suggested that to me a while ago, so I can't take any credit for the idea, but I'd love to know what folks think.

March 10, 2006

The spin zone

While at Stitches, I got myself some lovely light sage green merino/silk blend roving. I bought it from the Angora Cottage booth. The first day, they had a sale and I got this roving for a great price.

I've been spinning it up on my 0.9 oz spindle, working the singles into about a fingering/DK weight with hopes of having a light worsted when I'm done.

I am finally feeling comfortable spinning slightly thicker weight yarns. I'm not sure I could do a big chunky yarn yet, but it's getting better each time I try.

Let me tell you, though, I've been acquiring roving at a pace I can't imagine ever catching up to with my lovely little hand spindles. Janel of both Spindilicity and Cameleon Colorworks fame, sent me 3 gorgeous servings of her hand dyed roving.

I got two of the Merino/Silk dyed in colorway "Catalina".

This was the same colorway I used for this pattern.

And then there's this:

The colorway is Indian Wedding and the fiber is Merino/Tencel. I'm not sure why I've been so drawn to warm tones lately, but this color is decadent. I've never spun a Tencel blend before, so we'll have to see how that goes, but if it's anything like spinning a silk blend, I think I'll like it.

And if that's not enough roving to add to the bunch, I'm awaiting an order I just placed with Amy for some of her Almost Solid Series roving.

March 24, 2006

Shawl Project Notes

All the notes after the bump

Continue reading "Shawl Project Notes" »

March 23, 2006

I'm knitting with sunshine

I just think you need to see how beautiful that Almost Solid Roving is when spun and knit.

I knit this while commuting, just trying to think of different stitches off the top of my head. That's why the lacy bit at the top is kind of wonky. I think I'm going to have to spin up more and see if I can come up with a cute scarf pattern. My gut is to go with a mitten/glove/mitt sort of pattern, but I have so many of those, it feels like a bit of a cop out. I can't really do a hat, because that color looks pretty bad right against my face. I'm sure a scarf isn't really better, but since I have this scarf already, and it's never bothered me, I figure another yellow scarf won't hurt.

In case you are wondering, I've also spun up that other Almost Solid shade I bought. It's drying now.

April 17, 2006

Merigold

I know I said I was going to knit a scarf with my sunflower colored Corriedale handspun. I know I said I wouldn't knit a hat because I don't look good in yellow.

I say a lot of things.

So yah, I knit a hat with my handspun and I'm pretty happy with it. The stitch pattern is from a Barbara Walker book and is called "Bleeding Hearts." It doesn't really look like bleeding hearts to me, unless it's some commentary on my political stance, then maybe.

Here's a little close up of the stitch pattern

Panda decided she wanted in on the photo shoot, so I picked her up and gave her a big smooch.

And then I took her picture because after the last post, I felt I needed to prove that I do not condone the humiliation of doggies except inasmuch as I find it funny and post pictures of it which means I sort of do condone it. But let's not dwell on alleged ducky slippers and robes. Instead, let's admire how cute Miss Bear is.

Awwww...

Anyway, I've submitted the hat pattern for consideration in a future edition of Spindlicity. If Janel doesn't want to run it, I'll post the pattern here, so either way, if you want yourself a similar hat, it'll be available somewhere, at sometime.

March 31, 2006

Cardigan Trim

I have been working on the trim for my machine knit cardi, for a couple of days. I started by trying to pick up stitches around the whole piece but found that none of my circular needles were long enough. Next, I tried crochet, but I couldn't quite get the effect I wanted. Crochet just tends to be denser and less drapy, and I wanted to keep the trim soft.

So today, I went to an LYS and picked up a longer circular needle. It's funny, really, while it only took me a couple days to knit the piece on the machine, it's taking me much longer to actually finish it.

Not much to look at, really, though I tried it on before picking up to knit and I am very happy with the fit.

When I'm not working on the cardi, I've been spinning up more of my sunflower colored roving

I've spun just over half of the 4 ounces that I bought. The left skein is my first and the right, my most recent. It's a little finer than the first round but not by much.

I've also made one last addition to the shawl.

It's a little rose crocheted from the same yarn. I think it'll be a nice way to close shawl without tying or holding it.

April 11, 2006

What have I learned this weekend?

I got so many great comments and even more votes in my little poll. It appears that around 62% of folks that voted like the cardi as it is. However, most commenters leaned more towards softening or modifying the ruffle. I think, based on the feedback, I'll keep the piece as is for now. It seems like most of the people who didn't love the ruffle are not ruffle kinds of people anyway. What can I say? I'm pretty girly sometimes. I'm also working on a matching camisole with no ruffle, to wear with the cardigan. It's a simple square neck, fitted piece with a very simple crochet border that should compliment the cardigan without making the whole thing too busy. Yes, I know, a good blogger would have a picture. Sorry about that.

This weekend, I also learned that Deciduous likes to go out dancing. Want to see pictures? Check 'em out after the bump.

Continue reading "What have I learned this weekend?" »

April 20, 2006

Almost published

It seems like forever ago.
The talented and wonderful, Shannon Okey, contacting me to ask if I'd design a piece for the second of her KnitGrrl books. I hadn't ever worked with her before but her enthusiasm was enough to sway me. I drafted up a proposal and sent it to her and she accepted the idea. The result is Drake the Dreaded, the Dragon Backpack:

I think he's cute. You see that tongue there? It's functional.


When you open him up, that tongue is the pull cord to cinch the bag shut.

Here's his backside.

Shannon gave me great positive feedback when I finished him and sent him off. I was excited. Unfortunately, he didn't hold nearly as much charm for the editor of the book and he was cut, last minute. It happens and it was definitely not a personal thing. I was offered the choice of having him be a free promotional pattern for the book or just getting him back to use as my own pattern. There was some problem getting any final paperwork from the editor so we decided to cut our losses and Drake is back home with me.

Since I still have my original pattern instructions and I now have my sample back, I was thinking I'd offer the pattern up on my site, for a very small fee, say $3.50. I wanted to feel it out though and see if folks thought that would be of interest to them. So leave me a comment and let me know what you think and if there's a lot of interest, I'll post a pattern this weekend.

In spinning news, I've been spinning up some of my yummy Almost Solid Series Sampler.

This is some BFL in colorway "Redwood." It's my first time spinning BFL and it's a delight. I'm spinning it on my 0.9 ounce Golding. When plied, it should be about a DK weight.

If you've been wondering about the machine knit cardi and cami, they are done, I just need to get them on me and in front of a camera when there is actual daylight.

May 1, 2006

Crazy week ahead

Blogging may be sparse over then next few days. I've been asked to work out of the Orange County office for the week, to oversee part of a project we've been working on for a few months. This effectively doubles my commute, which, when added to 10 hour days, means that I'll have time to do little more than wake up, drive, work, drive, go to sleep. Fun! I don't mind so much except that I can't take public transportation so my knitting time is almost nil. Thank god for lunch breaks.

In the mean time, take a look at the beautiful silk yarn I spun up from the care package that Lynn sent me.

It's about a light sport weight and was spun up on my 0.9 ounce Golding.

April 27, 2006

Keep going while the going is good

I've been cranking away on Leo's sweater, which I simply must find a name for since it's early stages bare a striking resemblance to someone else's sweater for a Leo. I am happy to report that while my Leo will be wearing a ribbed sweater, I have not accidentally designed a piece that is nearly identical to that one. But I do believe that the two men are cut from the same cloth (or should it be; knit from the same yarn.)

So, for the start of the sweater I cast on of about 120 stitches, and worked in ribbing for about 120 rows. In the world of exciting things to do, this rates at about a -3. But, we are at the early stages of knitting this piece and, like a relationship, the things that may annoy or bore me later, are simply delightful now.

So knowing that the thought of casting a new piece may feel like torture, by the time I finish the back piece, I've decided to leverage my existing enthusiasm and get the most tedious bits out of the way first.

So there is the back, knit up to the armsceye, with the front, cast on and knit for a few rows, sitting on top.
I gently blocked the back so you could see the fabric as it will be when completed. The first inch of each piece is knit on a slightly smaller needle so that the bottom edge won't flip out in some wonky way.

Now, when it comes time to knit the rest of the back, it won't seem quite so dreary. I'm thinking I'll need to knit both sleeves at the same time as well, to rid myself completely of second sleeve syndrome. Some people find knitting the sleeves first to be the best remedy, but in a man's garment which will be knit rather long, I suspect that this portion of the knitting will be the hardest to find motivation for. Time will tell if I'm correct.

I've also been spinning a little. I actually completed this skein several days ago.

It's the Redwood colorway from my Spunky Eclectic haul.

April 26, 2006

G'day? I'll say!

Last night there was a package for me.

It was from Australia.

It hasn't been light out during any time since I got it, so just know that these pictures don't do the contents justice.
If you would like to see what's inside, it's all after the bump.

Continue reading "G'day? I'll say!" »

May 26, 2006

Breaking up and moving out

I think it's been 5 years now, maybe 4, my memory is not so good, but it is time. We've had a good run, going many fun places together, but let's be honest, we're both more worn than when we met and my needs are simply greater than you can accommodate.

This is the conversation I had with my old Klimt purse.

You know, I still really love the design and its small size always kept me from carrying too much stuff, but it could never quite accommodate my cell phone, wallet AND the digital camera, along with things like keys and such that are purse mainstays. I think, if the image weren't fading, I'd carry this purse forever. It was a gift from my mom, several years ago, and it's gone with me just about everywhere. I am not a purse floozy. Occasionally I'll carry something different when I'm going out for an evening, but in general, I'm a one purse kind of girl.

But yesterday, a package arrived from my mom. She has graced me with a brand new Klimt purse, which is bigger and even more lovely than the last.

Gorgeous, no? It's a deep chocolate brown and nearly twice as big as my old purse. They are both Icon purses and I can say, with some authority, that they are very well made. Despite the fact that I have carried my old purse for years and stuffed it full on many occasions, it only showed wear at corners, the main image is still perfect, and the lining has never so much as considered ripping. The new purse has a lovely assortment of pockets and pouches and even came with this matching key chain.

It has taken me all of 5 minutes to move everything out of the old purse into the new one and it feels like moving from a studio apartment into a 3 bedroom house; there's just so much extra space. Yay!

In crafty news, the sleeves on Leo's sweater are nearly done with only about 30 more rows left, I hope to have pictures soon. For now, here's a peek at some of that pink roving that Lynn sent me, which I've been spinning on my Kundert spindle.

May 19, 2006

Pleading Patients Overlooked

I can't quite decide what my the PPO portion of my medical insurance is referring to. I thought it was shorthand for "the world is your medical oyster" but I'm finding myself a tad frustrated today. The short story is that I need to get some inoculations so I can take a business trip to India in July, which is a very cool opportunity but is involving a lot of effort I hadn't originally considered. I think I've sorted most of the confusion out in what appears to be the first instance of my insurance company being more helpful than the doctor's office. Who knew? Anyway, I have two sore upper arms and a yellow card detailing my immunities to some rather icky viruses. There was also a bit of time to knit on Leo's sleeves.

I will still need some boosters and a tetanus shot, as well as a few prescriptions, but I've got the stuff that needed a lot of lead time out of the way.

Working on Leo's sweater, I've given myself little leeway to do much else. Obviously, I knit Gir but there really hasn't been much else. I occasionally pick up my spindle which has some lovely alpaca on it.

It's not that I'm not enjoying spinning it, it's just that I really want to crank through Leo's sweater and I cannot spin and knit at the same time. But, imagine if I could...oh my own vision of Valhalla.

Knitting miles of ribbing does give me ample time to consider what comes next. I'll definitely be working on the clown hat, but what should I do in India. July = monsoon season in the area. Temperatures, apparently, can average around 120 degrees though I'm told it's quite a bit cooler where we'll be. Even so, I'm thinking small, portable, and able to be worked on mindlessly. All signs point to socks. I'm not a huge sock knitter, but I am feeling that 2 socks on 2 circs will prevent second sock syndrome AND be more likely to survive a trip through security and customs without a lot of explanation. I like working on DPNs, but having a preference for metal to wood means that's probably a bad idea.

So last night I ripped out a partially knit, now abandoned project that was started with some Socks that Rock in colorway, Carbon. It needed a bath and hanging to get the kinky bits out but now looks as good as new.

I also have some solid shades of koigu around and plenty of self patterning sock yarn, all of which will only take up a small amount of space in my luggage but which should easily entertain me for my 24 hour long commutes to and from India as well as the small amount of down time I'll have during the trip.

June 21, 2006

Four Plying Out Loud!

A certain someone gave me a wonderful little book recently on spinning.

This is a book one can read in a day but I have a feeling I'll be reading it a few times more, to really absorb what's inside. There are two techniques in particular that I've been meaning to try but haven't. The first, is the spinning of the spindle up or down one's thigh. It's not a particularly hard or scary prospect, I just never bothered trying.

Well, I'm here to tell you that if you feel hampered and slowed by spindle spinning, this is the way to go. I haven't spun much because I've been frustrated that I can't get as much spin as I can draft before the spindle hits the floor. Instead, I would spin, draft, spin again to get enough twist in my yarn. That bores me. It's probably why I find plying a bit of a bore too. It's a lot of spinning the spindle, but not much else.

Launching the spindle off my thigh, though, allows me to get more spin than a flick of the wrist has ever afforded me. I have had to get my bearings, though. Too much spin and the spindle goes a bit out of control, too little and the spindle goes off balance. But, like Goldilocks, I think I've found the right method for my little 0.9 ounce Golding.

This leads me to the second technique I've wanted to try; this one for an entirely different reason. Since starting the whole spinning endeavor, I've been using a standard Andean ply which gives me a nice little two ply yarn. This has worked great and since I prefer a rather fine weight yarn and I'm not a huge fan of singles, I get most of what I need out of this method. However, I'd always wondered if I couldn't just use the same method to ply the two ply against itself. I'd been meaning to try, but never had, because I worried that with all the time spent spinning my singles and plying them, I might bungle the whole thing and be left with garbage.

Well, take a gander:

It's a four ply, approximately worsted weight yarn, spun with some of my Almost Solid samples from Spunky Eclectic. If you are wondering, that colorway is "Redwood."

The technique is outlined in the book and it gave me the confidence to proceed with gusto.

This probably won't replace my usual two ply yarn, but it's a nice change. The four plies means that small inconsistencies in spinning, don't really show and the texture is delightful.

As a side note, I've been plying my hair for years. I used to wind my hair in the same way and then throw it into a bun which produced the most gorgeous woven effect.
If you have very long hair, you might want to give it a try. Put your hair into a ponytail, separate into 4 even sections. Take two adjacent sections, twist both in one direction and around each other in the other direction. Make sure you twist them around each other much more than you twist them individually so you have an over twisted ply. Secure with a small elastic. Repeat with the other two sections making sure to match the twists so they are both going in the same direction. Secure with a small elastic. Now twist the two plies together, remove both small elastics and replace with a single elastic over all the ends. Twist into a coil around the base of the ponytail and secure with a few bobby pins. You won’t need many because all the plies hold themselves in place so the bobby pins are more to secure the shape of the bun.

Panda wants to know when this turned into a beauty advice column.

June 25, 2006

You know what they say about women with big feet, right?

They've got HUGE socks.

Well, my feet are pretty average, but check out this sock, baby. I've just started the ribbing portion which will run three color stripes deep, ending in a red stripe.

I don't know, maybe I'm getting subliminal messages about stripes but I'm really smitten with these socks. I should note that I own no (appropriate) skirts or shorts with which I could wear these and display them to best advantage, and yet I simply cannot wait to finish knitting both socks so I can wear them. There's a little twisted part of me that thinks I should wear them with one of my official work outfits, you know blazer, long trousers, ankle length boots, and the most crazy arse socks ever. The likelihood is that no one would know I had on my peppy long stockings, but if someone did catch a glimpse it'd definitely confirm my "not quite right in the head" status with them.

I've got some new handspun too.

Same technique as the redwood colorway, but in pine instead. This particular batch of roving has tended to leave a little dye on my fingers, and lost a bit of blue in the bath, but is otherwise lovely and really does spin up to look like a pine forest.

June 22, 2006

Peppy Long Stockings

So I am weak. I had every intention of knitting a whole pair of socks on 2-circulars needles. I was going to force myself to become a skilled practitioner of the technique. I said to myself, "Marnie, you cannot judge a method until you have really learned it, so do a whole pair of socks this way."

But it's all I can take. The socks have gone their separate ways and are now to be knit on DPNs alone. In my defense, I did move them well after the production of both heels, so I certainly knit a full sock's worth of sock, these are just going to be particularly long socks.

And on the topic of long socks, my most current measuring efforts suggest that I should have no trouble reaching my knees with this babies. I'm not sure that's necessarily a good thing. This may be a case of You Knit What? But I'm proceeding ahead regardless.

From what I can see, I am nearly doubling my knitting production, now that I'm back to knitting socks on DPNs (and yes, I am accounting for the fact that I was knitting twice the number of socks before). What really slowed me down was the pushing and pulling of socks and needles to get started on a new row. In general, I find it inefficient, but on a bus, it's nearly exasperating, as I contort to move everything around without touching my bussly neighbor. I'm as much of a process as product knitter, finding my fingers antsy when I have no knitting to do, but my process needs to be product oriented. Does that even make sense?

On a different topic, now that I'm back to spinning more regularly, here's some more Almost Solid Roving, this time in Corriedale in colorway, Pine.

For those of you for whom my ability to describe a technique, has let you down, here's what I meant by the thigh roll. I haven't been able to find a good example of the cabling method I described for both my hair and for the spinning.

July 27, 2006

Zounds and Pygora!

Who knew moving to Portland would garner me so many comments? It's almost frightening how many people love the city and how few bad things people have to say about the area (rain and you can't pump your own gas, I think I can live with both).
There are so many of you I need to write back to. I can't believe how many great suggestions you've sent and warm welcomes you've offered. I'm really looking forward to moving.
I don't arrive in Oregon until the end of August, and in the mean time, I hope to be able to see all my LA friends, so I can say goodbye.

But enough of that, take a look at my yummy pygora yarn.

Here it is almost completely spun up. The kit comes with half an ounce (about 14 grams) of each fiber, so that's just enough to fill up one of my smaller spindles.

I simply loved spinning this stuff. I don't know enough about the properties of various fibers to say why, I just know that whatever it is, I'm able to spin it up superfine, balanced, soft and with a bit of loft.

I've included a dime for scale. The yarn is a two ply and check this out...

Balance, baby!

This hasn't been washed yet, it's right off the spindle. I have just shy of 54 yards (49 meters) of yarn here. Since pygora is aplenty in Portland, I plan to get more soon.

I've now started spinning some of the Yak fiber and it's not going quite as well. It's more poofy and fluffy and I don't quite have the best technique for managing that sort of fiber. It's gotten better as I've worked with it, but compared to the pygora, it's pretty crude looking.

In a little while, I'm off to Blogher, then a visit with a friend in San Francisco, then back home to help Leo pack up the truck. It's quite a weekend, indeed.

July 25, 2006

A bit of follow up a bit late

You know, I never mentioned that the new Spindlicity was up. It's rather silly that I never mentioned it because my pattern, Merigold, is there.

And if that weren't enough, the results of the Shawl Contest that I entered are there too. No, I didn't win, but my god, go see the beautiful piece that did. It was spun and knit by Nancy Ratliffe and it's a beaut! You can see all the other finalists' entries as well. I'm really glad I didn't have to judge that competition.

As always, there are a ton of great articles in this edition. I never cease to be impressed with Janel's in-depth reviews of fibers and/or techniques. Of particular interest to me in this edition is the article on different silk substitutes.

July 23, 2006

Pygmie + Angora = CUTE

For my birthday, Julia got me the Bellwether Exotic Fiber Kit. The first fiber I grabbed was Pygora and having never heard of it I decided to see what it was.

The little cutie to your right is the first picture I saw. Read all about him here. I've quite enjoyed spinning pygora, though I've only spun a small amount. I'm using my 0.9 ounce Golding and haven't had any problems spinning it, yet. The color is actually more of a creamy shade than it appears on screen and I'm spinning the singles at a about a lace weight.

I've also been plodding away on my N2JW sock.

I'm about an inch away from the heel right now.

August 8, 2006

Roughing it at home

I probably don't mind moving as much as some people do. In general, I have a slight pack rat mentality, but when it comes time to pack boxes, I'm a drill sergeant. While there are exceptions, my general rule is that if I haven't seen it, thought about it, touched, or used it in at least a year, it's probably something I don't need in my life. This is rather refreshing to me, though it does mean that I end up needing to re-buy things I may have tossed by accident. Leo is also a bit of a pack rat, but his philosophy is "Throw it in a box or trash bag and we'll sort it out at the new place."

We diverge greatly on this topic. I say, “Why move something I don't want or need?” But his take is "Let's make SURE we don't need it. Better safe than sorry." This makes for rather comical packing sessions. Picture Marnie approaching a pile of items that need to be sorting for either packing or Goodwill. Marnie begins heaping EVERYTHING in the Goodwill pile. Old family heirloom: Goodwill. Free CD from bar visited a year ago: Goodwill. Wine glasses so delicate that we never use them because we keep breaking them: Goodwill. If it has been tucked away in a dark cabinet for a year or more, it gets little more than a passing glance before heading into the pile. And then Leo turns around to say something to me. His eyes grow large as they land upon some cherished whatnot in the pile, then another. I already know what's coming and I yell, "TAKE NO PRISONERS!" But then he gets those puppy dog eyes as he snatches something dear from the pile. I relent.

Though, on the other end of the spectrum, when it comes to books, I'm like a mother with too many children. I know I can't possible house and care for them all but every one of them is dear to my heart. Leo took to packing the books himself and threatened to toss them all, their numbers were so great. "Don't you dare!" I exclaimed. All of a sudden, this drill sergeant went soft.

We have agreed, though, to get rid of most of our old furniture, some dating back to well before Leo and I met. This is mostly because we couldn't really justify the cost of moving it and after going from several places in Boston to Burbank and then to Playa Del Rey, it was all starting to get a bit tired. So between periods of scrubbing down the house to get it ready for moving out, I've been trying to sell this stuff on Craigslist.

This all keeps me fairly busy, but between all that, I do have some time to fill. With no TV or radio, I've been getting a lot of reading done, listened to a few audio books, and of course, I've been knitting and spinning.


The Silky Wool top is cranking along at a good pace. Isn't the stitch definition great? I’m probably another inch or so past what you see here. I’m experimenting with the construction of this piece a little which will become more apparent once I finish this main body piece.


I've been trying to spin some Yak from the Bellwether sampler. This is definitely not going as well as the Pygora, but I'm getting the hang of it.

And for a little bit of exercise, while I'm stuck at the house waiting for the next prospective buyer, I've been using this baby.

It's an Indo Board, and one of the few examples of something Leo is ready to give up and I want to keep. I don't do any sort of board sport but I find it terribly fun to risk my neck playing with this. As a responsible blogger, I need to go on record as saying that you are, indeed, risking injury using this and while I find it fun, I recommend that if you do try one, you do so at your own risk.
We have wall to wall carpeting which makes this less perilous to use. A grassy lawn would offer even more security. I’ll play around with it for a few minutes here and there just to get my blood moving and the next day my tush and abs will be just a little achy (in a good way.)

It’s a bit stressful being away from Panda and Leo, it’d be a lot more fun to do all this stuff together, but we’ve been making the best of the situation and time is flying by with all there is left to do.

Oh and the best news of all, it looks like I may be able to keep my current job and work remotely from Portland until the end of the year. Talk about taking a load off my mind.

August 22, 2006

If crafting were a narcotic, we'd need Betty Ford

It has been a whirlwind week at Chez MOW. We've fit more of just about everything into these 7 days than I usually fit into a month. I love it. It's a fiber fueled binge and the neighbors are ready to call the authorities.

I won't say "the highlight of the week" because I think it's all been fun in a myriad of ways, but one of the best photographically documented events has been our trip to the Santa Monica Fiber Festival. Now, many of we yarnly types think of "fiber" as being roving and fleece and perhaps some handspun, and, boy oh boy, the best of that was available. But this fiber festival featured fabrics, beads, buttons, and antique goodness all around. Sure, there were some kittens and koy* but for every bit of questionably kitsch, there’s a great deal more of wallet emptying temptation.

The organizers (no fools were they) knew what they were doing and placed some baby alpacas at the entrance.

I'm not particularly gaga over livestock but these guys are pretty darn cute. Julia and I then went in for a quick first pass and some lunch.

A little side story, because I know she won't tell you herself. As we were eating our french fries..er...I mean...organic rolled oats, we chatted away at the small area set aside for such goings on. As we prattled on about what we wanted to see, what we planned to buy and which wheels we hoped to spin on, from behind me, came the sweetest "excuse me." A woman was trying to get Julia's attention. "Excuse me." She said, one more time "Are you a model?" As Julia decided if she could hug the woman while simultaneous spitting her food out and laughing, the woman persisted. "Don't you model knitwear?" Now, of course, I think Julia is plenty lovely enough to model, but one can't help but admire a complement like that. Further discussion revealed that the woman had seen Julia's various knitwear designs online, and presumed her role as "model" was paid and as opposed to practical.

After our highly nutritious lunch, we began our official trek through the festival. I knew my little shawl would be there, and we found it in no time. Despite knowing full well it’d be on display, I couldn’t help but be pleased beyond reason to see her there.

She stood among some of the most breath taking pieces. The photos submitted to Spindlicity just didn't do them justice.

After that, it was two circuits of the vendors and then a long break to spin, gab and spin some more. If this were a night on the town, at this point in the story, Julia and I would be crawling into Denny's at 4AM, makeup streaming down our faces, nylons ripped and at least one high heel broken. We were just about ready to pass out, but we couldn't bring ourselves to stop. We kept running into people we knew and things to see. We knew we were doomed when we finally found Miss Andrea walking around with her sister. So pulling out one of my purchases, a decadent 2 ounces of Merino and Silk roving, I decided to start spinning.

See Marnie.
See Marnie spin.
Spin, Marnie, spin!

And let me tell you, I didn't stop until yesterday morning. This stuff spun like it didn't even need me there. The results? 72 yards of 2 ply yarn on my brand new niddy noddy. Did I mention I bought a niddy noddy? No? Well I did and I’m smitten.

The yarn is about a DK to a light worsted weight and spun on my 1.9 ounce Golding Celtic Ring. And if the color and fiber composition weren't yummy enough, how's this for a little balance?

That is right off the niddy noddy. This yarn hasn't seen water yet. I'm so very proud.

As you can see, it's fairly loosly spun which I find easier to keep balanced. It was hard not to keep this yarn as singles because they looked so beautiful, but I knew I'd be unlikely to knit with singles, and I want to make sure I actually use this handspun

Oh and while I was at the festival, I may have also tried myself a wheel. And it just so happens that I love it and that it maches my new niddy noddy. I was thinking I might get myself the entry level model for Christmas, but more and more I'm thinking that what I want to do is save up for the super fabby model instead. As Julia says, in an entirely believable and reasonable sounding manner "If you get the good one, you won't need to upgrade later, then you'll only need one wheel ever."

You heard it here first, folks.That's my plan; one wheel, monogomous relationship for life. No really, I mean it.

*This will make more sense if Julia posts some of her aquisitions.

August 29, 2006

A quick recap of the road trip

I'm home in Portland with both a feeling of elation to be back with my sweet Leo and Little Miss Panda, but also a sadness that the trek is over and Julia has gone back home. I have so much to tell you about, but I’ll try to keep from making this post too long. It was an amazing trip; one I'll look back on as being among the most memorable, but I'm exhausted. Like all of the past few weeks, we've packed as much into as little time as our little psyches could handle and it'll be days before the effects wear off.

The trip started with an easy jaunt to Santa Barbara from Los Angeles. We stayed at a place owned by a friend of Julia's. This allowed us the opportunity to stop by Village Spinning and Weaving in Solvang, CA.

While there, we availed ourselves our their various wheels, including Ashfords, Majacrafts, Louets and a Windwheel. When I left the shop, I thought I was happy with the Ashford Kiwi. That's definitely not what I expected, but it was a lovely little thing, easy to use, and it felt fine.

As we embarked on the next leg of our trip, we decided that we'd see if we could try a Schacht Matchless at Carolina Homespun in San Francisco. We figured that with the $600 price difference, the Matchless would have to be pretty darn wonderful to sway us.


I. Love. This. Wheel.

DAMMIT!

After spending hours at Carolina Homespun, spinning until we had to concede to the road trip agenda (and our rapidly waning blood sugar), we made our way to lunch and then back on the road. It was noon, and we were going to drive to the Sequoia National Forest, a mere 38 miles from San Francisco.

Five hours later, several wrong turns, some swearing at the atlas and not a Sequoia in sight, we were in stop and go traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge. In case the impact of that isn't entirely clear, that's a 5 hour detour to get us back to where we started, without actually seeing what we had hoped to see.

The sun was setting and the question became: Do we drive as far as we can at night, missing a good deal of the redwoods but still trying to get to Crater Lake the next day? Or do we drive a more reasonable distance, enjoy all the of the redwoods and skip Crater Lake?

We decided to drive as far as we could without overshooting the redwoods. There is no anxiety quite like that feeling that you've made a horribly bad decision. As we wound through the dark roads at night, hour upon hour passing, we calculated our optimal stopping point. Finally, having passed up most obvious points of civilization, we found ourselves in a quaint little area...where every light in town was turned off. The towns were silent and the motels could have as easily been abandoned, for all the life we could detect. Beam me up Scottie! I see no life here.

As the crew (all two of us) grew ever more punchy and concerned, we wound down one sleepy town's main street after another, until we found our oasis. Motel Ravenwood was open. As unlikely as it was, the owner just happened to be awake, awaiting another guest and he just happened to have an open room. We could have cried with happiness. Instead, we snatched the keys, paid our rate and made a bee line for the warmth of our beds.

The next day we awoke refreshed and ready to complete the last day of our journey. The redwoods are everything we hoped they'd be. Following the 101 up the coast, we stopped for a walk on the brisk sandy beach.



Doesn't Julia's sweatshirt look like it belongs on this beach?


From there, we followed the directions the motel owner gave us and found a quiet little trail off a well groomed dirt road.



My little spindle even joined us on the walk.

As we left the redwoods and headed to Crater Lake, I had a little twinge of excitement when I realized I had finally hit my new home state. If you are wondering, it's beautiful and Crater Lake is no exception.

We stopped at each little vista point and the little spindle joined in the oohing and ahhing. The atmospheric haze made the lake look dreamy and almost unreal. The spindle particularly enjoyed seeing the chipmunks. None of them broke into song.





Even the firemen were a delight to look at.

All said, it was an amazing trip. I’m still recovering, but I’m so glad I had the chance to do it. Portland is wonderful, and being back with my sweeties, is as grand as I hoped.

I should have more pictures up soon, and I feel pretty sure that Julia will have some stories to regale you with as well.

September 4, 2006

Dammit Janice, and OH BOY OH BOY OH BOY!

The day I arrived back from the road trip, I had an email from Janice suggesting I get my tukus over to ebay to bid on this.

It's been a rollercoaster week of waiting to see if I'd be the top bidder. On the few occasions when I have bid on items on ebay, it's always for stuff I would like but can completely live without. And while I can live without this item, man, did I want it.

Well, I'm the big winner. I suspect the item will go out UPS ground sometime Tuesday, so I might even have it by next weekend. I think she'll need a little TLC to get her started again.

If anyone has suggestions for a place in Portland where I can get her a new drive band, some oil and maybe a once over by an expert and some help setting up, I would love the recommendations. Of course, I'd be happy to pay for the expert's time. I've done enough work in yarn shops to know that when you bring in something you've bought elsewhere and ask for help, you should really be offering to pay for said help.

September 1, 2006

Settling in nicely

It's really hard to tell this early, but so far, I'm very happy in Portland. Seeing Panda so happy, eating great food and meeting kind people, it all seems a bit too good to be true. Perhaps when the rains start coming in earnest, I'll be singing a different tune. For now though, I will fall asleep counting Pygora, and wake up to great coffee, I'm going native, people.

Maybe it's unfair to compare the accommodations of a second story apartment versus the little house we are renting now, but from my office window, it's not uncommon for me to see birds and squirrels, fattening themselves up for the winter. We have some sort of tree with berries, growing right outside the window, which makes for no end of visitors.

But you know, the contents of this blog have been leaning pretty heavily towards talk of road trips and shenanigans (that's right, I call shenanigans!) I feel it's time to at least make a passing reference to something crafty.

I did a little more spinning on, and then plied the roving that saw all the great sites on our trip.

The fiber is a blend of BFL and Alpaca. I think this shot makes it seem a little course, but it isn't. It's an example of a fiber blend that is greater than the sum of its parts; soft, drapey, silky and unbelievably spinable.

This skein is exceptionally special to me because not only has it seen great sites but it's a combination of work by both Julia and me. I love the work I spin on my own, but it seems all the more special when someone else has spun a little of it too. I think both of us learned a lot going to the Fiber Fest and stopping at several shops on our way to Oregon. By Crater Lake, we were both able to match each other's spinning quite well.

To add a little more specialness still, I asked Panda to give me a hand with the photo shoot.

You'll have to excuse our yellow lawn. Once the weather gets cooler and rainier, I'm told I expect plenty of lush green grass.

And since there's been a bit of clamoring for Panda pics, here's a bit more to sate your appetite. After work, the three of us decided to take a jaunt around the neighborhood. I rode my pretty pink bicycle, and Panda and Leo....

Well, they do things their own way.

GO PANDA GO!

September 13, 2006

The UPS man cometh

I checked my tracking number yesterday, knowing that the wheel was scheduled to be delivered that day. Google Maps, the bloody liar that it is, told me that package was 11 minutes away. Ok, it's not Google Maps's fault, but having checked the site at 6AM, by 5PM, I was starting to lose hope. What if they delivered it to someone else's house? What if the UPS truck went off the edge of a cliff? What if, what if?

So I decided to take a shower and midway through, the doorbell rings. It takes all my self control not to run to the door, hair lathered, naked as the day I was born, and greet the UPS man. Luckily, Leo was home, dressed and not otherwise indisposed and he was able to get the door.

While I got myself rinsed off and dressed, he did what any good fiber lover lover would do and he started to get the box open for me. Check this baby out:

Whoever said that good things come in little packages never had a Schacht coming their way.

Inside, was my wheel, in great condition and looking beautiful.

After about 15 minutes on the Schacht website, I had him going. I used a little bit of motor oil that Leo had, and tied some Rowan Cotton Glace on for a drive band (I know it's not ideal, but it got the job done). For the next 3 hours I spun spun spun spun. The only whorl I received was a slow whorl and I like to spin very fine with very slippery yarns, so this will have to change. Adjusting to this took a little bit of time. The results (though poorly lit) aren't as bad as I feared.

I have no idea what the fiber is. I got it from Greenwich Yarns and have always found it very spinable on the spindle, but it's even more so on the wheel.

Despite the slow whorl, I think I still managed to overspin the singles, but who cares, at this point I'm just enjoying the sound and feel of spinning. I am itching to do it right now, but will have to wait until my lunch break.

I probably have enough of this fiber to, more or less, fill this bobbin. This means I can andean ply the yarn or ply it with another fiber. I'm thinking I may do the latter, so that I can use my new lazy kate. Woohoo!

September 8, 2006

A little eye candy

While I wait for my spinning wheel, I have been passing the time on my non-public knitting projects and my spindle spinning. I'm pleased to say that my tencel/merino blend yarn turned out every bit as lovely as I hoped.

Here it is looking rather unassuming on top of my laundry hamper.

It's about a sport weight, two ply, spun on my 0.9 ounce Golding Tsunami

It's fairly balanced, with only a single twist in it after removing it from my niddy noddy.
But check out how much better she looks basking in a little ray of sunshine.

I actually had the skein on my desk and I had already downloaded a bunch of pictures I had taken earlier. I saw the way the sun glinted off the yarn and just had to take this second picture.

And because she makes my heart melt, here's a little picture of Panda napping near me while I work.

It doesn't get much cuter than that.

September 16, 2006

496 yards, 3 skeins, 2 colors, 1 happy camper

I love my new wheel. I just feel I need to say that, in case it needs saying. El Matchador and I have been spending a lot of time together lately and these are the fruits of our loins labors.


First, about 500 yards of the mystery white wool I got from Greenwich Yarns. This was spun up at a fingering weight, more or less. It's fairly consistent but with a few thick spots and some areas that are probably closer to a lace weight


And here is probably 550 yards of Alpaca/BFL that I bought on the road trip. This stuff wanted to spin up super super fine. I think it spun up mostly at a lace weight but there are points that were basically thread weight.

When I paired them, the result is nothing you would ever want to buy, but I love it. I really think that knit up, it will look fine, but there's no doubt these skeins have "character" in spades. I think you can see how inconsistent the plying is in these pictures, what you can't see are the various repair jobs for breaks and occasional run away ply that plies on itself, making little appendages. I think I only have one or two, but they are in there. With nearly 500 yards, though, I should be able to make a little something special out of my yarn.

Yesterday, I picked myself up a few extra accessories at Pacific Wool and Fiber. All they had were high speed bobbins (and only two of those) so I grabbed those and a fast whorl and will begin my adventure with those this weekend.

September 6, 2006

A little glimps of what I'm doing

While I have a myriad of knitting ideas and projects in my head, and a couple on the needles, right now I'm working on two projects for Kat Coyle's upcoming book, so knit blogging will be sparse at best. She has granted me permission to post little unrevealing bits of what I'm doing, and so, I give you a swatch’s eye view of my current progress.

This is the public side of the fabric. It's worked in Alpaca in a stitch known by several names. I believe Barbara Walker refers to it as a "Woven Stitch" and the Harmony Guides refer to it as "Linen Stitch." Either way I love the way it looks though it's a beast to knit and a real yarn hog. I don't care though, it's worth every hour spent. Check out how the back of the fabric looks:

Isn't it great? It's a sort of highly defined seed stitch, though of course, not reversible. Despite the fact that all the knit stitches face the front of the fabric and all the purl stitches face the back, the fabric does not roll the way a stockinette does, which means that the requirement for edging is really minimal. All in all, I'm very happy with the results so far.

But that's about as much of that as I can show you. Instead, how about a little spinning?

Here is some roving from Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks (no site, but you can search google to see all sorts of shops that sell her work.) It's tencel/merino blend in colorway "Sandlewood"

I can't decide which shot I like better.

On the left is the roving in the shade. There's a bit of a flatness to it but it's got a soft and pleasant look to it. On the right, she basks in direct sunlight. You might need sunglasses for the glare but it really shows her sheen. Either way, I'm in love. And can I just say how much I love this tree stump in my backyard?

September 26, 2006

Last post before I leave

I'm in a bit of a fog with all I have to do before I leave tomorrow, so this post will be a bit haphazard. That said, let's get to it.

I stopped by OFFF on Sunday for just a little while. Leo and Panda drove down with me but when we found out dogs weren't allowed even to the outdoor sections, Leo and Panda went off to check out the town and I wandered the booths.

My first and favorite stop was Janel's of Chameleon Colorworks and Spindlicity.

Hey Julia, see that big bag on the left, that's all BFL, baby!"


More about what I got there, below.

I walked around all the other booths and showed surprising strength of will, even when passing the Wooly Winder stand. Mmmmm, Wooly Winder.

But what would a flock and fiber festival be without some flock?


I'm not crazy about livestock but I can't help but appreciate these guys.
I didn't take a ton of pictures of the festival, knowing they'd be a dime a dozen online. But let me tell you, there was much to be seen. I'll have my calendar marked for this event again next year.

After the festival, Leo, Panda and I were thirsty and ready to find some lunch. Leo spotted this place on his way back to pick me up.

It seemed serendipitous, I had to go in.
There was a bar and a restaurant and I went into the bar portion.

I enjoy a beer as much as the next person but Bud?


Lunch was every bit as spectacular as the decor. The "Coke" I ordered for Leo was a grocery store brand and the bags she packed our lunch in came from the 99¢ store. Now that is one classy establishment.
When I asked about the history, the bartender said it'd be around for many many years, and had gone through several incarnations. She didn't seem to know much more than that. When I told her there was a spinning festival going on down the road, she seemed politely half interested.

On the way home, I fondled my new rovings. 4 ounces each of 4 different colorways from Janel's booth.

Here, from left to right, Optim in colorway "Pearl," Merino/Viscose in colorway "Autumn" and a one-off colorway that I simply think of as "Peach" in the same Merino/Viscose blend.

Also, on the wheel and nearly completely spun up, some alpaca in colorway "Iris."

It's spun at a pretty fine weight and has a range of shades from nearly yellow green to blue to purple and all sorts of in-betweens.


I don't know about you, but when I spin these beautifully dyed colorways, there's always one color that makes a minor cameo amongst all the more dominant shades. Usually, it's a color that on its own, may not impress me, but mixed in with all the colors, it just sings. With this colorway, the shade is a soft dusty blue, more subtle than the dominant blue shade you see in the pictures. When I see that special blue coming up to my fingers, I always get a little excited. I felt the same way about the pink shade in my Autumn Spice roving. I hope to finish spinning and maybe even plying this fiber before I leave, but if not, I know I’ll be coming home to a relaxing treat.

September 20, 2006

Purple is the color of my true love's roving

Every time I pull a new skein of wheel spun off my niddy noddy, I'm inspired anew to crack open my stash of roving and see how the next fiber will work up. This time, I pulled out my supply of Red Maple Merino, one of the Almost Solid Series fibers that Amy offers. It took me a few yards before I really started to get the feel for the merino. It's a more challenging fiber for me to control than some of the others I've spun lately, but I think the practice paid off. This stuff is sproingy, soft and airy. I'm spinning it a little thick and not too tightly (I hope) in an attempt to maintain it's great innate qualities.

During my lunch break, I often eat a quick bite before sitting down to spin a bit. Monday was no exception. As I did so, Spongebob playing on the tube and Panda sitting beside me (try to top THAT for a lunch break), Leo stopped and watched me for a moment. I look up and our eyes meet. He smiles and says "Can I try?"

Well, short of offering to do all the housework forever onward, there are few things he could have said that would have filled me with more joy. So hurtling over pre-drafted yarn, a sleeping pup, and nearly crashing into the coffee table in my excitement, I ushered him over to El Matchador. We practiced starting up and maintaining the speed of the wheel with the treadle and then I reattached the unspun fiber to the yarn on the bobbin and held his hands while we drafted together. After a bit, I left him to try it on his own, offering advice when he asked.

Let’s be honest, though, I am probably not the person to be teaching anyone to wheel spin right now. After a few minutes, Leo gave up in frustration. I removed his yarn from the bobbin and piled it carefully next to El Matchador and started back to my own spinning.

Later, he picks the small pile of yarn up off the table and begins to straighten it out and untwisting it. "How will you salvage this?" He asks innocently.

"I don't plan to salvage it, I love it," I say as I snatch it from his hands before the fibers are completely set loose. "It's sentimental now."

He smiles and walks off and I go into the kitchen to do the dishes. And then he realizes the implications of what I've said. From behind me, I hear "You're going to BLOG about this aren't you?"

I don't meet his gaze.

"I won't if you don't want me to."

Silence

He kisses my neck, gives me a little hug and says, “go ahead.”

He's a keeper.

September 19, 2006

I think they call that "loft"

I never cease to be amazed at how very spinable the Cotswold is that I bought from Nistock Farms. Cotswold is not a very soft fiber. It's certainly not as rough as some wools, but I wouldn't make a bikini out of it, that's for sure. But there's something about it that really appeals to me. It's got a soft halo with just a bit of sheen and the way they dyed it (the color way is called, Autumn Spice) is simply spectacular. I love this yarn. Spinability wise, I think it bears a bit of resemblance to the A type Pygora, though, of course, the Pygora is much softer.

Much like Julia felt while spinning her first skein on her gorgeous Rose, I wasn't so sure this skein would live up to my expectations. It seemed a little flat and blah and perhaps a bit too thick and thin, while plying up. Then when Laura (alas, no blog) pointed out that in my complete newbie haze I'd used my bobbin backwards, I though for sure I'd blown it. But beginners luck shined down upon me and this is what I pulled off the niddy noddy.

I don't know if it counts as "balanced" since it doesn't twist as a whole, but it does have little kinky bits in there. I would guess it'd be considered unbalanced in its constituent parts yet oddly balanced overall. But man, this is 152 yards of lofty goodness. At this unwashed state, it is just a big poof of orange yumminess. Do you see that other mini skein in back? That's the leftover Cotswold and the leftover BFL/Alpaca, plied together to clear off the two bobbins. There was more of the brown than the orange, so after I exhausted the Cotswold, I Andean plied the remaining BFL/Alpaca into the same skein. It's a pretty unattractive little skein but I just couldn't bring myself to simply toss the leftovers.

The big skein though? She is one sexy mama. I'll let the images do the talking. Just try not to love these.

Thank goodness I have an extensive stock of unspun fiber right now because if I didn’t I’d be buying up a whole bunch more of this roving.

September 17, 2006

Ole!

With my first skeins of yarn completed, I'm ready to expand my wheel horizons. Thanks for all the encouragement and kind words towards those humble skeins. I have no idea what I'll knit from them (too much deadline work right now to think about it) but whatever it is, I expect to cherish it for it's significance. In the mean time, when I'm not knitting away on my projects, El Matchador and I are making sweet whirring music together. First, I attempted to spin a few thicker skeins of yarn. Admittedly, my first roving choice was poor. It was a Merino blend that, I think, had felted ever so slightly, making it a real bastard to draft. The result is the beautifully dyed but poorly spun specimen on the right.

My second attempt was with more of the roving I spun up recently on my spindle. The results (on the left) are still a little rough, but much improved over the first skein. Both are relatively balanced and neither has been washed and hung to dry, which would probably smooth out their appearance a little.

I used an Andean Ply for both so I could spin up a small amount and not waste any trying to get two bobbins perfectly matched.

After remembering that I don't like knitting with thick yarns and so should probably focus on worsted or lighter weight yarns, I opted to pull out an old favorite
and finish off my stash of it. It's weird to me that my spindle spinning is so much more controlled and even, but this practice is good for me.

I spun up two bobbins, partially full and am plying them now.

And because you can only look at so much yarn spun up by a novice, Panda wanted to give you a little pearl of wisdom. She says:

"If your parents take forever to unpack your toys, you must play with all of them at once, when you finally get them back.

September 28, 2006

International Dork of Mystery

So after my internet session expired in Frankfurt, I decided I needed to up the dork factor while I passed the time.

Let's be honest, it's pretty darn dorky to be blogging, taking pictures of yourself blogging and listening to .wav files of your boyfriend and doggy back home.

But why not crank out the ol' ipod and listen to science podcasts while spinning on a drop spindle? Short of bringing along a TRS-80 and a butter churn, there are few things I could have done that would have been less cool.

Sorry guys, hands off, this girl is taken! When it started to get too crowded to comfortably spin, I reverted to knitting and listening to the Unger Report.

Finally, 1:45 rolled around and I boarded my flight to Mumbai. Since I was already 17 hours into my 22 hour travel itinerary, I wasn't expecting much of note for the last 5 hours. The plane was definitely rockin' the ol' school business class, but it was roomy and they kept us well fed, so who am I to complain, but I did find one things particularly blog worthy.

Do you see that woman's tray? Note that we are in business class, which means that anytime other than those when the plane is actively taking off or landing there are folks pushing free booze your way. And if, perchance, you happen to feel a thirst coming on during the 5 minutes that the beverage cart isn't at your side, any of the flight staff will gladly hand deliver the liquor of your choice. However, this woman must have feared they'd run out before they reached her again. She has not one, but TWO glasses of white wine and a glass of cognac on her tray. I'm not sure what the glass of water is doing there. Maybe she thought it was vodka.

I passed out for a fitful 3 hours of sleep after the meal and woke up in time for the next meal and a little tea. Now I'm in my temporary hotel room for a couple hours before heading back to the Mumbai airport to fly to my final destination.

The room is nice, though for 5 hours, probably more room than I need. Heck, I never thought I'd feel this way, but if the Mumbai airport had those chest of drawer style sleeping quarters that they have in Japan, I'd have been perfectly content with that. But hey, I’ll enjoy it while I’m here. Wanna see a shot of the pool from my room?

Don't you think that would make a banging night club? Did I just say "banging night club"?

Man, I need some sleep. I'm almost out of internet time, so I'll sign off for now. Presuming my hotel near the office has internet connection, I'll be posting more soon.

September 24, 2006

Great, now I have even more to miss

Well, it looks like I'm headed back to India for a couple weeks, starting on Wednesday or Thursday. So now, I will be away from Leo and Panda, my two little rays of sunshine AND El Matchador, my new constant companion (is it just me or does "constant companion" sound like a personal hygiene product?). I expect this trip to be much more intensive and less fun all around, but I still hope to make the best of it. I'm a touch nervous about going without anyone I know and as the sole representative for my company. But let's not talk about work, let's talk about freshly spun yarn.

The Red Maple roving worked up quickly at a nice thick and thin, mostly worsted weight yarn, once plied. Do you want to see something amazing? Here are the two bobbins after I finished plying them.

Please excuse the lighting, it was evening when I did the plying.

I had all of maybe 12-18 inches of singles on one bobbin when the other emptied. There was no planning, no trying, just magic. *sigh* It'll never happen again.

I thought the red purple would look nice against the cement of the back patio.

It's a thick and lofty yarn, with out too much spin, and the results are every bit as squoochy and sproingly as you'd want it to be. I already have plans for some of this.


Panda gives it a due air of elegance.

After the merino, I pulled out some more roving dyed by Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks (alas, still no website) that I bought from Carolina Homespun. The colorway is "Purple Haze" and it's a heavenly mix of purples and steel grays. The blend is Merino/Bombyx and I had 2 ounces worth.

I spun it up pretty finely because I wanted to try to use the Navajo Plying technique. For those who haven't tried it before, Navajo plying is a means of achieving a three ply yarn off a single bobbin by, in essence, working very long crochet chain stitches. It takes a touch of coordination, but with a little practice, it's actually quite fun. I started with some scrap yarn I had and got the motion down, before trying it with my new singles.

The results are nice; a nearly balanced 3 ply with lots of sheen and a soft hand.

There's a lot I'm going to miss while I'm away.

A lot indeed.

Went to OFFF today, will post about that soon.

October 3, 2006

Achieving a balanced plied yarn on a spindle

I've been spinning a little bit here in India and it got me thinking about creating a balanced ply. I've had pretty good success doing this on a spindle and I thought I'd share the method I like to use.

I like to think that my spindle has seen more sights than most.

Once you've spun your singles, you are ready to ply. I like to use the andean plying method but this works just as well from two center pull balls or from two ends of the same center pull ball.

Begin to ply your singles until you are ready to wind them onto the spindle.

Here's a two ply, but how do I know if it's balanced?

Holding both ends of the plied section in place, bring your two hands together and watch the way the yarn reacts. Pay close attention, you need to note which way the yarn twists, if it twist at all.

The yarn may twist around itself clockwise

Or it may twist counter-clockwise

If the yarn twists back on itself, you will need to drop your spindle and twist it in the SAME DIRECTION as the yarn twisted around itself.

This is the key. Note how many times it twisted back on itself and use that as a gauge for how much you will need to correct it. After attempting to correct the twist, do the same test again. Your goal is to have the yarn hang straight down, no matter how close you bring your hands together. The results should look like this.

It may take a little while, but with patience you will achieve this result.

After a couple of sections, you will begin to get a feel for just how long you need to let the spindle spin to get a balanced yarn. At that point, you will not need to check each section before winding on to the spindle. Instead, you can do spot checks occasionally as you ply the remaining yarn.

That little extra effort yields beautifully balanced yarn.

66 yards of perfectly plied A Type Pygora lace weight yarn.

I hope this tutorial is helpful to those of you who haven't been happy with your spindle plied yarn. And for those of you who are advanced spinners out there, feel free to leave your recommendations in the comments.

September 30, 2006

Pre-drafting stubborn fibers

I miss El Matchador but I'm rekindling my love for my beautiful little spindles while I'm here in India.

I've noticed that there is a wave of knitters taking up spinning lately and so I have a couple of simple tutorials I plan to post while I'm here, to help the newbie. I'm sure these are "well duh!" items for most people but they have been useful for me so perhaps they will be useful to others.

Today's tutorial will be on pre-drafting fibers that are being a bit stubborn. If you don't know how to pre-draft yet, there are a couple videos here. The process involves separating your roving into strips then gently tugging the fibers, lengthwise, to loosen them up.

I'm spinning some pygora right now, on my 0.9 ounce Golding spindle. The pygora is prepared as a pencil roving, meaning you do not need to separate the roving into separate strips as it's already thin enough.

Pygora spins up beautifully when properly pre-drafted

However, this particular batch has some areas that are a wee bit hard to pre-draft. I think areas have matted ever so slightly in transport, making them impossible to pre-draft the normal way. The solution is as follows.

Break off a length of roving to your liking. I prefer a couple feet of roving, many other people prefer a shorter, more manageable length. Do what you like best.

Attempt to pre-draft as you normally would.

Excuse the awkward photo, I only have 2 hands and no tripod. Imagine I was trying to do that with both hands.

To loosen the fibers, begin stretching the roving side to sides. Gently part the fibers, starting at one end and working up the length of the roving.

When you hit the matted area, spend extra time carefully releasing the fibers. Remember, you don't want to break any of the fibers, just loosen them up.

When you have worked the entire length of the roving, you have something that looks a little like this.

I then like to tug the roving, very gently, lengthwise. This not only makes it a little easier to handle, but it allows you to pre-draft it a little more.

Again, this should really show me doing this with two hands.

When you are all done, you can wind it around your distaff (if you have one) or, as I prefer to do, make a little bracelet out of the fiber, by winding it around your hand.

The finished roving looks like this:

Now just spin spin spin.

Next tutorial will be on achieving a balanced two ply on your spindle.

October 17, 2006

Vavavavooom!

While in India, I spun the aptly named Indian Wedding fiber I got from Janel.

The first time I spun this fiber, I think I was using a death grip of some sort because I recall having trouble drafting the fibers. This time, no such issues. It was pure delight to spin. I think the colorway is now discontinued not currently in stock but available by request. I'll have to think of something small and special to knit with what I have. As you can see, this is a fiber that loves the camera.

Here it is all plied up, using the always reliable Andean Plying method, to produce a soft 2-ply yarn. The results are about a DK weight or a touch lighter.

Here it is. in skein form, lounging about.

And what's that I see?

Ahhh, soft enough for a baby girl.

October 16, 2006

Home sweet home

Wow, I have been one lazy bum these past few days. I think my body had finally gotten used to being 12.5 hours off from PDT and coming back my mind just gave up on me and said "Forget it, you can just sleep ALL the time, for all I care." We went out for a really nice dinner on Friday night and caught some bands and clubs downtown, but it was an act of pure will power to stay awake. However, I wasn't a complete and utter bump on a log. El Matchador and I enjoyed a sweet sweet reunion.

The first thing I did was to finish plying my 4 ounces of Alpaca in the Iris colorway. There are about 315 yards of DK-ish weight 2-ply.

It was actually nice to start off with something as mindless as plying.
Once all my alpaca off the niddy noddy and hanging out to dry, I broke into some of my Merino/Silk in colorway Catalina.

Both fibers are from Janel's store

This skein is 2 ounces and is a 3 ply, using the Navajo plying method. There are about 190 yards and it's, more or less, worsted weight. I love this method of plying, but man am I good at getting it messed up. I had a few "ugly moments" in this skein. Let us not speak of it again.

I, of course, have more fiber on the wheel right now. I'll have to show you that some other time.

We did manage to get out of the house yesterday, to give Panda a proper run around the park. Our hope had been to go to the beach, but the weather, being Portland an all, wasn't quite suitable for such endeavors. This is not to say that it wasn't beautiful out, though. After 5 years in LA, I sort of forgot how beautiful drizzly autumn days could be.

We swung by Leo's office and I snapped pictures of the ducks in the little river near the parking lot.

And all around us, the trees were turning.

The overcast skies really make the colors pop by comparison.

With an adventurous spirit and a little luck, we even found a nice little park to let the girl run around.

It had an apple tree just overflowing with ripe fruit

And lovely little roses giving their last blooms before winter.

I love that Portland offers some of the vivid colors of autumn that I remember from New Hampshire, but offers mild enough weather to sustain roses. Talk about the best of all worlds!

November 2, 2006

The roving is safe

You can all rest easily. I did not run out of candy. The supply of roving has not been depleted and even our jack-o-lantern is still whole (albeit a smidge withered)

Being the frigid evening that it was, we thought it best to light a big ol' fire instead of relying on our heating system. If we hadn’t we know that every time we opened the door, we'd be channeling our inner crotchety old man and worrying about "heating the whole neighborhood". So down went the thermostat and up when the kindling.

The trick-or-treaters were few and far between but so adorable and polite!

Faces blurred to protect the adorable

At the end of the night, we still had a full bowl and a half of candy, which Leo has been slowly funneling to his colleagues. If you aren't much for networking, this is a great way to earn brownie points.

Unbloggable knitting is still full steam ahead but when I can't be entirely focused on knitting, I have granted myself a little bit of time to spin. This is the beautiful Merino/Viscose roving I got from Janel, in colorway, "Autumn."

If your heart didn't just skip a beat, you may want to check your pulse.

October 27, 2006

First carved pumpkin

Leo has never carved a pumpkin or had roasted pumpkin seeds before. Who knew? So last night, I sketched out a design and Leo used his brawn and patience to produce this:

Isn't he great?

And the pumpkin seeds? That's my department.

Roasted in a little butter and olive oils with salt, pepper and onion powder.

Meanwhile, I've been doing a little spinning. I haven't mentioned much about it recently, partly because El Matchador and I have had a couple ugly moment recently. There were some tension issues.
Let's be honest, these issues were my fault and I'm a big enough person to admit it. Wheels just weren't meant to spin with a mercerized cotton drive band. When I switched to a synthetic one that I had picked up a few weeks ago, it was as though the heavens opened up and angels began to sing. Another "oh duh!" moment for Marnie.

I haven't even calculated how much yardage I have here but it's a Merino/Tencel blend in a colorway called Sandstone. I bought it at Carolina Homespun, while on my road trip to Oregon. It's relatively fine, maybe a sport weight overall.

And here it is with my unblogable work, basking in a sun beam with Panda.

November 27, 2006

Weather!

I'm sitting in Portland International Airport, enjoying their free (FREE!) WiFi while I await my flight down to John Wayne Airport for a quick business trip. My flight is a little delayed today. Why?

Snow-ish stuff.

And since I'm just now starting to acclimate to Portland weather, I'll spend almost all of the next two weeks in California and get my resistance to cold back down to nil. Yay!

Knitting on unbloggables continues in earnest, but I've spent a little time with El Matchador, here and there.

Candy pink Polwarth from Lynn. I spun the singles up lacy fine and created a 3-ply using the Navajo plying method.

Would you like to see it closer?

I knew you would.

But I won't be seeing much of El Matchador these next couple of weeks. I think I can live with that. But there are two things I'll miss bunches and I have a picture of one of them right here.

Three guesses what the other is...first two don't count. Well, time to check my flight status. Jet setting is soooooo glamorous.

November 15, 2006

Just some things I enjoy looking at

A relatively random collection of recent photos that make me smile. As always, click to make them bigger.

My new yarn all balled up and begging to be swatched

Dew drops on the grass in the early morning.

Panda watching the rain.

Dog friendly park with a lake

Duck duck...

GOOSE!

Little critter A nutria (thanks Amanda!)

He can swim.

The purple center of a Queen Anne's Lace flower

November 13, 2006

I love autumn

This might be the longest I've spent spinning any amount of fiber. Since I spend most of my free time cranking out projects I cannot blog about, I'm only granting myself about 1 hour of spinning for every 8 hours of knitting work. That one hour includes all pre-drafting, bobbin changing and other spinning related activities involved in producing yarn.

The lack of time is no lack of devotion, though, and I'm so pleased with the outcome. The fiber is a merino/viscose blend in colorway, Autumn, dyed by Chameleon Colorworks. The end result is about 425 yards of sock weight, 2-ply yarn. It's definitely got some thick and thin areas but I think it may be my most lovely yarn to date.

My blocking board is in the one spot in the house getting sufficient enough natural light to allow pictures without a flash.

While I was spinning the fibers, I was thinking that I didn't c are for the green as much as the other colors. But spun up, the colors come together in a beautiful way. Even though the green plays very heavily, the effect of the yarn, as a whole, is more orange-brown.

Using a good drive band made a big difference in the final product.

I was getting a lot of yardage with pretty thick looking yarn and I realized a lot of that had to do with my yarn being a bit underspun...or maybe a LOT underspun. It would result in a very soft and light yarn but one that looked a little sad and limp. This was my first yarn spun using one of those synthetic drive bands and the results please me to no end.

The good drive band gave me much more control over the wheel. It seems obvious, but it's another "well duh!" moment for me. Before, I was using a mercerized cotton and I sometimes couldn't get the wheel to spin at all if I had the break on too high, and even when I kept the brake rather slack, it'd still spin the fibers too little and the yarn would break a lot.

Another lesson learned.

December 4, 2006

PDX again

So I didn't get to go to San Francisco this weekend. It's sad, but Leo and I were not going to let the weekend go to waste. On Friday, we met up with the bi-weekly Restaurant Roulette group to try an Ethiopian restaurant named Queen of Sheba. The food was delicious, the atmosphere; not so much. But, if you forgo any drinks, you can eat for about $10 a person and be pretty full. It's communal finger food, so bring someone whose cooties you don't mind getting or already have.

After a long week of working, Leo and I didn't make it out after dinner. We headed home and hit the sack. I've started a new book *sigh,* it is wonderful. If you are one of the 3 people who hasn't read it yet, pick it up. I'm supplementing this with some nonfiction, or a reasonable facsimile. With topics like String Theory and Quantum Mechanics, we move into the realm of scientific philosophy, which may or may not be classified as nonfiction. Feel free to let loose with your own thoughts on the topic.

On Saturday, we hit our favorite little hippy bar for some live music, good munchies and a pint.

Someone offered to take our picture for us and told me to do something silly.
So I did.

But lest you think I'm a face licking freak, I do have proof of my better behavior, or as itty bitty Marnie would have said "I am being ha(i)ve!"

But let me tell you, for all the excitement of coming home to see the ones I love, I'm embarrassed to admit how exceedingly excited I was to get this.

That's right, it's a WooLee Winder, in the flesh...er...timber.

There was a slow start with my new toy. You see, the WooLee Winder works by way of a pair of gears; one on the bobbin and the other on the flyer. The two must engage in order to wind the yarn onto the bobbin. The whorls I have for El Matchador, appear to be hand machined and while they fit just fine for the purposes of general spinning, they leave a bit of a gap between the bobbin and whorl that causes the gears to barely touch and producing a noticable off balance load onto the bobbin. It's also distractingly loud. This is not a fault with the WooLee Winder. The gap was present on my old flyer as well. It looks a little something like this:


You can actually see my first attempt at filling the void, as well. It’s your standard issue rubber band. OK, but not great.

After a few nearly near catastrophic attempts to make the whorl opening wide enough to properly fit the flyer, I decided it was best I come at this from another angle. I'm not sure how many of you have read my two part series on stitch markers (if you are suffering from insomnia, this may be just the ticket!) but I've found yet another use for some of my most favorite stitch markers.

With three of my black rubber stitch markers, the whole system works like a dream. I have to apply a lot more tension with the break to get the bobbin to take up any yarn, but it sure beats trying to re-machine my whorls with a screwdriver and hammer. SHHHH! I know it was a bad idea, just be glad I’m not showing a broken whorl in this post.


I've been spinning some of my beautiful silk/merino blend that I picked up at Stitches West. The overall color is a soft sage green but spun very fine, the other colors really shine through.

The overall effect is still a soft green but more neutralized, with flecks of red and yellow glimmering through. It's hard to get a really great picture of the yarn that shows the color, but it's lovely indeed.

I haven't had a lot of luck working with these types of vertical color blends in the past, it always seemed like the color changed too abruptly and never looked quite right. But I think I've found a technique that normalizes the results a bit. Basically I use a fairly wide strip of roving, maybe 1/2 or 1/3 the total diameter of the roving as it comes. Then, I work the fibers into yarn by splaying them slightly and allowing the drafting zone to move right to left across the unspun roving. Does that make any sense? Perhaps I'll need to enlist my sweet Leo to help me take pictures when I'm back in Portland.

I think I'll still see some color variance from length to length of the yarn, but less so than if I had worked the fiber as I normally do — from a pencil sized diameter of roving — which would have given far more variance from section to section.

Ok, this is about as rambling and disjointed as any post I've made in recent history, so I'll sign off for now.

December 26, 2006

Purple and Green make...

I have finally finished all my unbloggable work except for the editing portion which will probably be ongoing for a month or more. That means I can now do stuff just for me! Yay. Don't get me wrong, I love the stuff I was doing, but it's a relief to have the work done.

The first thing on my plate was to do something with that yummy sage green silk/merino blend I've been spinning.

I only had a small amount left, just enough to half fill a bobbin, so I decided, instead of doing another navajo ply, that I would make a funky tweedy yarn with something else from my stash. But what? I have some beautiful green fiber from my parents, but I have enough of that to make a garment and don't want to disperse too much of it amongst other projects. Plus, green and green is not so exciting a combo. It occurred to me that I have a nice quantity of purple merino/silk that my brother gave me last year. Basic color theory would tell you that purple and green are not generally a combo that would blend well, but I wasn't going to be deterred by none of them thar theories. So I cranked out a half bobbin of beautiful purple roving into some very fine gauge singles to be plied with the green.

In total, I spun up about 1.6 ounces of each fiber.

I plied them together and noticed that the bobbin, when being filled (i.e., spinning really fast) was actually a navy shade. Who would of thought?

Close up, there's no navy at all, but the overall effect is sort of a deep muted shade of bluish something.

It's a little hard to put your finger on it.

I love all the various colors that shine through. The green had a lot of red, yellow and bits of blue in it, so that areas of the yarn show no green at all, but instead, soft shades of pink or a shocking flash of blue.

I'm not sure I'd suggest this color combo, but I think there's a place for it in my stash.

Specs

  1. Ounces: 3.6 ounces
  2. WPI: 20 (give or take)
  3. Weight: Lace/Sock
  4. Yards: 380

It's fairly consistent though, while getting used to the WooLee Winder, I did manage to get a few underspun bits in the green singles. even so, the yarn should knit up pretty evenly.

January 1, 2007

Panda happy new year

Those of you who have been visiting my site for a while may recall that Leo only celebrates holidays that involve lots of fun having and which are, basically, secular. This means that Halloween, Thanksgiving and New Year's top the list, with a nod to Valentine's day and, of course, a month for my Birthday. However, that last one is more mandated by the relationship than anything.

Since the plan was to have a rocking good time, I made sure that Panda got a nice long walk during the day.

Does anyone notice that besides the lovely view and adorable dog, there is also a new FO in this picture? A few of you have asked for the stitch pattern, but I plan to do you one better and post the whole hat pattern soon. The stitch is from one of the Barbara Walker books, but I'll have to dig back through to get the exact name. More on all that to come, in the future.

So back to the evening's events. Having moved to Portland, late in the year, we were a bit behind the eight ball in coming up with plans. We really didn't know where we'd wanted to go, because we hadn't really been anywhere and once we decided where we might like to go, all the options appeared to be filled up. Thus ensued a mad romp about the internet in search of options.

Leo found this posting online.

Tango lessons, a 5 course meal and Cirque Du Soleil style acrobatics; it all sounded like a perfect evening.

Well, it wasn't quite what we expected. The reservation secured us a spot at one of the wedding/prom style communal tables for 8 and a chance to visit the buffet and purchase wine by the glass from the bar. While the performers were excellent, much of it happened closer to terra ferma than we expected, so we missed a great deal of it. It wasn't a bad evening, but we still felt it was pretty oversold in the flier.

Oh and there may have been the slight issue in determining where the event was held. The picture above tells you all about the event, but not where it is. Combing their site, I managed to determine where they were performing on December 31st, which just happened to be 37 blocks from the event we had tickets for and lucky us, having taken public transportation in to the city, we found ourselves in a mini-predicament. All that got sorted out with an inexpensive cab ride, though it did put us pretty far from any means of getting home again. Oh, and we'd been warned that starting at about 9PM it would be about a 2-3 hour wait for a cab if we needed it, so if we wanted to take a cab back to the train, we were probably out of luck. Ooops.

Once seated, Leo took to procuring wine and I met our new friends.

That adorable couple would be Erica and Larry. It's a good thing they are gregarious because I am one of those shy folks who probably wouldn't have said a word if they hadn't been so outgoing. That would have been my loss because they are delightful dinner companions.

Most of the evening's performances were set to tango-like music.

Though, I swear, one piece was done to an instrumental version of Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters."

After dinner, there was a tango lesson. I did manage to guilt Leo into a few minutes of dancing with me. But when he lost interest, I began my rounds as the dance floor floozy; dancing with both dance instructors, some old Russian man named Alex, whose wife was getting pointers from one of the instructors, and finally a last dance with Larry, who had taken pity on me and my dance addiction. But I can stop any time. I can.

While watching some more floor shows, we heard a rushed "Four...Three...Two...ONE!" and realized it was now officially 2007 in our time zone.

A big wet smooch and hug and then we bid 2006 a fond farewell.

At this point, we began scheming about our plans to get home. Do we see if we can catch a bus back downtown? Do we even know which direction downtown is? Can we walk to a train station? None of that was necessary, instead, Larry and Erica invited us to join them for wine at their place and we jumped at the chance. They'd been so much fun to talk to AND they'd get us close to public transportation and cabs. What good fortune for us.

They have the most lovely and immaculate place in the Pearl. Did I mention is was also impeccably clean? Dear lord! I can understand having your place in order when you plan to invite folks over, but who the hell has their house that perfect just for normal every day living? Damn them!

We kept them up for another few hours, Erica and I talking fondly of road trips and pets, the guys discussing, who-knows-what.

At nearly 3AM, we decided we'd imposed ourselves long enough and began our voyage back to little Panda and the warmth of our home sweet home. But I don't think that's the last we'll see of them.

It may not be what we expected but it was a great way to start the year.

December 29, 2006

As I spin, so shall I knit

I generally do not knit variegated yarns. Firstly, when knit normally, they create a horizontal line that, in garments, may tend to add weight where not desired. Additionally, I tend to prefer solid or small scale patterns lest I be lost in all the noise. But I cannot deny the allure of colors combined beautifully and when spinning, it ads another level of interest to the whole process. So I've been thinking about ways to use my variegated handspun yarns. Chevrons and feather and fan stitches are a great way to add interest and I've used those in the past. Lace can produce a similar effect, but tends to clash with the variegation, leaving both looking a little haphazard. So how about a slip stitch pattern?

Good choices are ones that are meant to combine multiple colors and will work best with yarns that have a lot of very intense color changes. So a monochromatic or subtle variegation is probably not ideal. I thought this would be a great way to work my Autumn yarn.


This is a relatively simple slip stitch pattern meant to be worked in two colors. You work a series of double YOs over on one row, then slip those YOs for 4 rows, working the other stitches in stockinette. Then you fan out and work those YOs, over the course of 3 more rows, to produce a leaf like motif. The idea is that you'll probably be working a different color in the yarn than that used when you first created your YOs.

This breaks up the very horizontal effect of the variegation and introduces some interesting vertical lines from the slipped stitches.

Here's a close up for you as well. And for those of you who think I'm a consistent and skilled spinner, you'll note all the thick and thin/over and underspun sections as well

I think this is the first time I've ever wished my yarn had even more variegation. The whole piece will need some good blocking, but I think you get a good idea of the effect.

The goal is to work this up into a little hat, and maybe a pair of gloves or mittens. It'll be a nice reminder of the colors of autumn through the long winter months.

January 9, 2007

Perhaps the longest glove pattern ever

The Lake Park Glove pattern is now available for free in the pattern section of my site. This thing was a beast to put together so if you find any issues, feel free to drop me a note.

The pattern is very simple, but I've offered lots of information for modifying the pattern and I made charts and verbose instructions for those of you who have a preference. I give because I love.

I hope a few of you will show me your hand spun and variegated yarns worked up in this stitch pattern. I think it'll be great to see how different yarns look.

January 8, 2007

I've got your hat right here

The hat pattern has been posted.

The gloves are coming soon.

January 5, 2007

Comeing soon to a browser near you

I have finished the hat and gloves I've been knitting from my handspun, and they have already helped me keep out the chill as I did my errands today.

I'm hoping to finish up writing the pattern by the end of the weekend. It'll be available for free, and will contain suggestions for using different weight yarn.

As a side note, I wanted to show you how great store bought variegated yarns can look in slip stitch patterns. If you like the pattern but don't spin your own yarn, or prefer not to spin such fine gauge yarns, you can definitely substitute any variegated sock yarn.

Obviously, the stitch pattern is a little different but the effect is the same. The yarn is Socks That Rock in colorway, Carbon. If you'll notice, there is some definite flashing going on but the slip stitch sort of breaks that up.

Oh and here's hoping a few of you out there got to see Miss Panda on TV today. She was a natural, I tell you.

January 29, 2007

Side projects

I just got back from a quick business trip down to LA. It was so short, it hardly seemed worth mentioning, because I knew I wouldn't have time to see all the people I wanted to. In the process, I did manage to catch myself a little cold. I suspect I got it in the airport or in one of the many meetings I attended. Leo may have another cold all together, which means in the next few days, we may be in a mountain of tissues and in a cold medicine haze. This is my lead in to saying that, for the time being, if it isn't cozy and snuggly warm, I won't be modeling it here on my blog, which means there are no progress posts of the silky wool piece.

So while I eat my chicken noodle soup (with a splash of lemon juice,) I've been sticking to less taxing projects, like, spinning some beautiful Chameleon Colorworks fiber.

This is approximately 4 ounces of peachy colored singles. It's an unnamed colorway, in a Merino/Viscose blend, spun at a fairly fine weight. I'll be making a 2-ply with it sometime soon. It's definitely not as exciting to spin a monochromatic colorway, as it is to spin something vary variegated, but I love the subtle shading that is produced. The colorway is mostly very soft and muted shades of orange, with touches of gray throughout. The best way to describe it would be "cream of pumpkin." I've actually been spinning this fiber for several weeks, but finally finished the last little bit of it last night.

I started this other project last Wednesday night.

It'll eventually be a pair of socks for Leo -- he of the arches so high you could fit Donald Trumps ego under them.
The yarn is Blue Moon Sock Candy in Pecan. The fiber is 96% cotton and 4% elite. The pattern is a variation of one of the patterns from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks. Normally, I prefer to knit socks toe-up, but I've heard those aren't so good for the sky high arches that Leo was blessed with, so it seemed as good a time as any to start acquainting myself with the more traditional cuff-down variety of sock. Leo is particularly concerned that there be no seams, which I have assured him will be the case. I've also made it clear that he should not get used to wearing handmade socks. Luckily, he's always been very appreciative of hand knits.

February 3, 2007

Pickled ginger

I finished spinning up my peach colored fiber and the result reminds me of the pickled ginger served with sushi.

I'm simply unable to get a picture that really shows the depth of the color and the subtle sheen the viscose gives it.

It's not quite as pink as the picture above and not quite as yellow as the picture below. It's somewhere in between.

About the Yarn
Fiber: Merino/Viscose blend
From: Chameleon Colorworks
Colorway: Unnamed
WPI: About 28
Ply: 2-ply
Yardage: About 475

This batch isn't as evenly spun as I usually get but I think it will still knit up well enough. The color is absolutely delicious and very subtly variegated. I love how the viscose ads an almost iridescent quality. Despite being a bit over spun in spots, it's still quite soft to the touch.

February 24, 2007

Heather

Not too very long ago, Ms Janice (whose sweet dog, Ivan, recently passed, so send your hugs her way, if you can,) linked to this Etsy shop. I saw the most beautiful hand painted merino roving in her shop and I knew it had to be mine. I'm such a sucker for those nearly solid rovings.

I decided I really wanted to put my lazy kate to work and make a 3-ply that wasn't a Navajo ply. My scale has been on the fritz lately and my backup scale is somewhere in the deepest reaches of the city of boxes, we call our garage. The only thing to do was to wing it and hope for the best.

When all three bobbins were filled, it was clear that they all had a different amount of yarn on them. I plied all three until the first bobbin was empty.

I'm sure this is pretty common practice among other folks, but in case someone hasn't thought to do this, here's a technique I like that works as well for 2-plies as it does for 3. I decided to take the fuller bobbin and wind it into a bracelet for the Andean plying method. If I were working a 2-ply, I'd just take the only bobbin that had yarn left on it and wind it into a bracelet.

Once the bracelet was complete (note that I didn't cut any of the singles) I overlapped the the end tail of the bracelet, with the end of the tail from the first empty bobbin. I can now make my three ply from the one full bobbin and the two ends of the bracelet.

It's a bit fiddly, but it gets the job done.

I was either going to end up with a little extra bracelet or a little extra bobbin. I had hopped for the latter. It would have meant I could have finished the batch with a Navajo ply, maintaining a three ply through the entire skein (albeit with three different methods).

However, I had just a very small amount of bracelet left and it hardly seemed worth the effort to get it to a place where I'd only be feeding off the singles again, so I proceeded with a 2-ply to the end.

I ended up with about 3 yards of 2-ply, and almost 350 yards of 3-ply. Arguably, no waste, though the three yards of 2-ply are darn near useless.

The end product is pretty nice. There are definitely thicker areas and thinner areas, and over and under spun sections, but that's pretty much par for the course with my skill level.

The end product is about a worsted weight, with tons of sproing and softness. I'm toying with the idea of making some sort of felted bag, but maybe a scarf would get more use. Only time will tell.

February 27, 2007

The ugliest yarn I've ever loved

For my birthday, among other things, my mother got me a gift certificate to Chameleon Colorworks. I combined it with a store credit I earned from some Spindlicity designs and decided to get the Luxury Fiber of the Month.

Janel was gracious enough to give me some advice before starting. The fiber would need to be spun into a yarn with a lot of twist, using the long draw method, and the finished yarn would need to be plied. Twist and ply are not a problem. I have lots of teeny tiny whorls and I always ply my yarn, but this long draw thing would require some practice.

I worked the last bobbin of my heather yarn using the long draw method. With careful pre-drafting and a little patience, I got the technique down fairly well. I won't be writing any books on the method, but I think I was able to make a passable yarn with the technique.

My first sample was Gray Yak. This stuff is SOFT. My long draw method, though, sucked yak knobs, when I tried it with this fiber. Pre-drafting seemed necessary, but hard to do because of the very short staple length and my inability to get a nicely pre-drafted fiber resulted in lots of thick and thin spots.

The finished fiber is just about 100 yards of some of the ugliest most "designery" yarn I've spun since I started spinning. The yarn itself averages around 10 WPI.

But, my god, even where it's overspun, this fiber is soft unlike anything I've ever spun before. If I were a yak, I'd touch myself all day. Wait, I didn't mean that to sound as dirty as it did. While I wouldn't consider this first luxury yarn a screaming success, I'm still excited to get my next fiber and try to improve on the method.

I'd actually really like to try spinning some of these fibers with a supported spindle of some sort. I feel like I'd be able to hone the technique better, but for now, that's just not in the budget.

If anyone else would like to offer any advice for next month, I always appreciate it, just comment away.

April 6, 2007

A little slice of heaven

When I worked on site, at my job, I was often pretty far away from windows throughout the day. What little of the day I saw, was usually while I bustled between meetings.

Now that I work from home, I sit right next to a window, and I have Panda by my side. It's all I could ever have hoped. I love it.

There is one downside, though, when the days are absolutely beautiful, I feel like I'm in 3rd grade waiting for the school bell to sound and mark the end of the day.

Yesterday, was one such day. The sun is absolutely beaming, everything is verdant, and it was a mere hours before my weekend was scheduled to start. I could barely contain myself.

When my shift was up and I'd finally completed all those little things that seem to come up just when I think I'm done for the day, I decided that Panda and I needed a relaxing afternoon in the backyard.

We don't have any proper lawn furniture, but we do have some portable camping chairs. Ours happens to have a perfectly sized drink holding divot and yarn holster.

For a drink, I had myself a beer, though, to be honest, I was more like 25% of a beer, because I am a cheep date and it started to make me sleepy. For knitting, I had my super secret Stitchy McYarnpants project, so all you get to see is the gorgeous plum color and a big heap of knitted fabric, stitch holders and needles.

For entertainment, A Game of Thrones on my iPod. I'm such an audio book junkie. I'm so enamored of them, I exercise to them instead of music.

Panda made good use of the backyard as well.

Then she finally settled into a nice shady spot to watch me knit.

In the evening, I spun some of the Pearl colored Optim I got from Janel, last year.

This is my first time spinning Optim and it is unbelievably smooth and soft. Her colorway is beautifully subtle, which I love. This will be a colorway I can work into a very wearable item. I've started the second bobbin and will ply the two before moving onto my new Luxury Fiber of the Month; Baby Camel! I'm sure I'll absolutely bastardize the camel like I did the yak, but who cares, it's too soft to let languish.

April 20, 2007

Supported

What can I say, I'm a weak weak woman. With all the gorgeous luxury fibers I've been getting, and my poor results with them on both a drop spindle and the wheel, I thought it was time that I give into the siren call of the supported spindle.

I ordered myself a Spindolyn which I had first seen in action while shooting this episode of Knitty Gritty with the magnificent Shannon Okey. Of course, as soon as it came in, I wanted to play with it, but decided to be a good doobie and at least wait until my work day was over. The days are long enough that I had just enough time to snap some progress pics before the sun was completely gone for the day. Here is


Spindolyn nestled in a clump of flowers in my back yard

 

It's probably not a fair to make an assessment of the Spindolyn at this point since I've used for all of, maybe, 2 hours, but this in the internet and lack of authority on a subject has never stopped anyone from waxing unintelligibly before. What's to stop me now? Of course, when I have a new opinion in a few months, all of this will be moot, but here's a virgin's assessment of the Spindolyn.

Why I chose the Spindolyn

Firstly, for the price, it definitely seemed worth the risk. At $26, the Spindolyn is cheaper than many spindles of a similar size or smaller.

 


A couple full frontal shots.

 

 

There are several types of supported spindle on the market including the Navajo and Tahkli. Since both have long histories, I'm guessing they are excellent tools and well tested. However, the Navajo seemed a bit large and unwieldy and definitely lacked the sort of portability I'd hope for and the Tahkli seemed so small that you would only be able to work super fine lace weight in order to get any sort of yardage on the spindle. The Spindolyn seemed like a nice middle ground and a tool that would be easier to learn on since you could use both hands to draft.

Taking her for a spin

The movie on the Spindolyn homepage seemed fairly straight forward so I got right to spinning. At first, it seemed nearly impossible to get the spindle to spin for any length of time and since all the cuts in the demo movie were relatively short, I started to wonder if this is just the nature of the beast. With a bit more time, I was able to get a longer spin. Excessive predrafting helps a lot. After I got the hang of it, it seemed to go fairly well. I'm not dancing on the tree tops with delight at my progress, but do feel I'm getting the hang of it.

 


And my first little skein

 

Comparison to a drop spindle

In general, I don't feel I got as long or as effective a spin as I get on a drop spindle. This isn't necessarily a problem since you don't have that same risk of the fiber breaking from lack of twist, but it's definitely something I noticed. I love spindles and the processes, but not so much that I want it to take any longer than it has to. I'm about efficiency.

The shaft onto which you store your fresh spun is short compared to my drop spindles so if feels like I have to make a significantly smaller cop than I normally do. I was usually able to get close to 50 yards of 2 ply out of a single cop. With the Spindolyn, I think I'll have to settle for less.

In this same vein, being limited to the spinning the distance from my knees to as far as my arms can reach overhead, before having to wind the yarn on, also feels limited. I played with placing the Spindolyn between my feet which was awkward when just spinning close to the floor but does seem to give me more spinning time before winding on, which I like. I don't think this is a negative of the Spindolyn, more an issue with supported spindles in general.

 


Obviously, you knew there'd be a Panda shot too.

Benefits of the Spindolyn

I do love that the Spindolyn works as its own lazy kate, though. This is much nicer than my old shoe box lazy kate, I use with my beautiful Goldings. This is not a deal maker but it's pretty darn nice.

Additionally, as I mentioned before, there's little risk of breaking your yarn for lack of twist, though, I'm skilled (