Have Ewe Any Wool?

Monday, February 26, 2007

What Type of Yarn Are You?

I found a cute yarn quiz via Angel Yarns Forum.....and surprise, surprise, I came up as "Merino Yarn" - Merino is my favorite fiber to spin.....and I love knitting with it! (Notice too that the "swatch" they show is purple....how appropriate!) (Be sure to check out Angel Yarns too - they're a fabulous mail order source in Great Britain - especially useful if you want some of the British Yarns!)

What kind of yarn are you?

You are Merino Wool.You are very easygoing and sweet. People like to keep you close because you are so softhearted. You love to be comfortable and warm from your head to your toes.
Take this quiz!

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On to the current status of my projects:

  • Parasol socks - I didn't finish the first sock as planned (easily sidetracked I guess!) - I hope to get it done withing the next day or so.
  • Finished the Haiku (40% silk/60% merino) Feather and Fan Scarf - I still need to block it
  • Almost done with the garter and drop stitch scarf using Noro Aurora
  • There are sooooo many projects that I want to do that I don't know where to start!
  • I did manage a couple more pattern repeats on the Swallowtail Shawl....I'm not making progress nearly as quickly as I'd like!
  • I have been keeping my New Years Resolution of finishing at least one previous WIP/UFO every month!
  • Finished spinning the Brown BFL - just need to ply the last 2 bobbins worth
  • Almost finished spinning some "generic" multi-colored blue wool (from Little Barn) - I have very little left to spin - only about a 3 ft. length of roving. I plied 2 full bobbins of it and have at least 2 more full bobbins to do. The final 2 bobbins will be relatively small
  • Sent off my final skeins to my downstream "Spin-to-Knit" secret pal (sponsored by Interweave) last Thursday and sent the samples of the Jan. and Feb. skeins on to Shannon Okey, the author of the book, "Spin to Knit".
  • I'm very excited - I got a message from my new upstream secret pal - she's just sent a package to "tide me over" until she completes the "real" skein she intends to send me. That's sooooo sweet....and totally unnecessary! (My original upstream pal had to drop out due to health issues - I'm keeping her in my thoughts and prayers.....hoping she'll have a speedy recovery!)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Let It Snow!

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon at a "Spin In" at Susan Withnell's in Maryland. I had a wonderful time spinning, eating, sharing spinning/fleece washing stories, and as an added bonus, even managed to purchase some additional fiber and some fabulous bags! I bought some Merino Silk and Merino Tencel from "The Drafting Zone" (they're located in Bowie, Md). I also bought some sumptuous 40% angora/60% Border Leicester from our hostess - it's to die for! It's so incredibly soft! The wool and angora are from Susan's own rabbits and sheep! Artemis Imaging (darn....I forgot the fellow spinner's name)had some fabulous spindle bags and tote bags - yes, I had to buy some of them too!

Today, we've had about 5-6" of snow...which is beautiful to look at - from inside a warm house. Here are a few photos out my front door and back door. It truly looks like a "Winter Wonderland"!

As beautiful as it looks outside, all that's supposed to change this afternoon. We're slated for sleet and freezing rain - which means it's the perfect time to continue working on my "Parasol Socks" using a pattern designed by my friend Kay. I've now completed the heel flap and will be moving on to the heel shaping. These pictures do not properly show the beautiful detail of the Parasol pattern or the "Eye of the Partridge" heel pattern. It's beautiful in real life.....and definitely enhanced by the gorgeous Fleece Artist Merino I'm knitting them with.

Monday, February 19, 2007

How I Spun Straw into Gold and Other Fiber Tales

What a fabulous weekend!

Saturday started with a "yarn crawl" in Alexandria, VA with my Secret Pal from SP8, Mia, and her friend Erica. We started out at Springwater Fiber Workshop. I bought some gorgeous Colinette sock yarn, some linen yarn, and lots of interesting spinning fibers. Oh....Erica is now going to spin! Wahoo! Another convert! She picked up some roving and a drop spindle....she'll soon be on her way!

The fibers I purchased were:
Soy silk - in a natural ecru
Dyed Soy Silk in a bright magenta pink (wow!)
Merino/Organic Cotton - a super soft 50/50 mix from Peru
Baby Llama - oh.......talk about soft!
Eco Spun - recyled denim and plastic soda bottles. Yes, I said plastic soda bottles! It's surprisingly soft. I can wait to spin some up to see what it looks like!

We ate lunch at the Thailand Restaurant - thanks Mia! We then zipped on over to "Knit Happens". I'd never been to Knit Happens before, so that was a new experience for me. I've seen so many of their ads, including ads in British magazines, so it was very exciting to finally see the shop. They had some really cuddly lace weight alpaca that called my name as well as some very bright reddish pink silk that was 50% off! I'd been wanting to make an eye bag for yoga...and the silk will be PERFECT!

We're already planning future excursions - perhaps to the various shops here in Northern Virginia as well as out to one of the fiber farms!

Sunday afternoon was spent with the usual "Knit Knutz" group - knitting to our heart's content. Many of us stayed the entire afternoon. There were some lovely projects in progress. A few of the projects I remember are: Val's double knit hat for her son, Pamela's French Market Bag (in GORGEOUS colors!), and Karen's Swallowtail Shawl. Oh......Claudette has a fabulous "stash buster" shawl that was almost done - which she modeled with great flair! Everyone else had lovely stuff too.....I just can't remember what everyone else was working on. We were missing several regulars because of the ice storm we had last week - many are still "ice-locked".

Spinning Update: When I got home from Knit Knutz, I fixed Louie - and found that the SECOND treadle was also needing a new connector! I also tightened a couple of loose bolts and now he "spins like a dream"! I finally finished the second skein for the Feb. "Spin-to-Knit" Secret Pal exchange. This time I did two smaller skeins - very different - one in the "Creamsavers" colorway using BFL and Finn and one spun thin (sportweight?) out of Black Welsh Mountain (cross). I also "de-squeaked" Lennie 2 - my Lendrum double treadle folding wheel - in preparation for Monday's workshop and next Saturday's "Spin-In".

Monday - what an absolutely fabulous day! I took Kati Meek's spinning workshop, "Spinning Straw Into Gold". It was FANTASTIC! Kati is a wonderful teacher - she provided a wealth of information and was a very interesting speaker (photo below)! The workshop was sooooo enjoyable, none of us wanted it to end. We learned all about flax - growing, harvesting, preparation/drying, fiber preparation, and finally spinning!

We took a "fingers width" of rhetted flax to "process" into spinnable fiber. We broke it, skutched it, and combed it which resulted in a VERY small bit of fiber to spin after lots of work. You can see the mess that we made breaking the flax and how much is wasted in the photo on the above right. I managed to spin 19 whole inches with the flax I processed. It really helped us appreciate the "cost per pound" of the processed flax......as well as linen products!

Here is some of the flax I spun (in natural colors - ecru and tan) - I wish the sheen of the spun flax showed more! There are 6 segments of spun flax on the bobbin: one on the left, four in the middle, and one on the right. The left most segment as well as the third segment in the middle of the bobbin were spun using "Super Fine Water Rhetted Top". The first two and fourth segments in the middle of the bobbin were spun very fine - about 4 times finer than the thread you see trailing out of the orifice - and had a wonderful luster using "Line flax". The segment on the far right of the bobbin as well the thread trailing out of the orifice on the right of the picture was spun from with "Water Rhetted Flax Top from Great Britain". Kati sent us home with some Combed Flax Top, Euroflax Dyed Flax, China Grass (Ramie), and Hemp to try spinning as well. (Don't forget to "single click" to get a closer look at the spun fibers.)

The "straw-like" stuff you see above is called "tow" - it's the stuff that fell to the ground after skutching. Believe it or not, you spin that as well! When you spin it, you simply run your fingers back and forth on the thread as you spin it and the straw falls off - it makes a big mess but you do get a bit of decent yarn out of it. I managed to spin 6" of thread using the "tow" during the workshop.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy!

What a fabulous day! I went to the mailbox today and inside was my little package from Village Spinning and Weaving with the repair part (shown at left) for Louie ! These folks were FAST! I ordered it on Monday.....they're located in California....and it's here already! (Keep in mind that we've had a TERRIBLE ice storm here on the East Coast between the time that I ordered and now....and my order STILL got here quickly!) I must say that I'm very impressed with the fast, accurate service that I received - I'll definitely "shop" there again!

Remember the "Creamsavers" yarn from my previous post? The dyed locks at the left were what I used for the pink and the purple. I tried to keep the basic colors in tact so they'd be either mostly pink or mostly purple when I selected the locks, then I picked out the VM, flicked the locks open (if needed) and carded them in preparation for spinning. I just love the "Wild Orchid" colorway!

AND.....I finished my sister's Alpaca bed socks! Wahoo! I even got them mailed off this morning! No more cold feet for my sis! Here's what they look like - both "off the foot" and "on the foot". Sorry about the "odd" angle....it's hard to both "model" and "photograph" - as many of you know first hand!

I even found some time to work on my Swallowtail shawl! I've now completed 7 rounds of the Budding Lace 2 part of the pattern! It's really starting to shape up....and I've almost finished my first ball of the Baby Silk yarn!

Now it's off to repair Louie so I can finish my skein for Spin-to-Knit!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Spinning Betrayal!

Alas! This past weekend I was busily working on another skein for the "Spin-to-Knit" exchange, when Louie (my handsome Louet S77) betrayed me! ARGH! I had completed a skein already....the one I mentioned earlier this week. That skein, while soft and rather pretty, did not spin up as consistently as I'd intended. Therefore, I decided not to make that such a large skein and decided to spin something else. On the left, you can see Leonardo (one of my Valentine's gifts from DH) posing with the first skein. You can double click on the picture for a closer view of the colorations. The skein was made using one ply of BFL with a second ply of BFL and several different shades of "Wild Orchid" dyed Finn.

Not totally satisfied with the first skein, I started another - using a totally different fiber. Spinning for the first ply went fine. I started spinning the second ply. I was really whizzing along....spinning to my little heart's content. Suddenly......there was a strange noise...... followed by an "odd sensation" beneath my left foot. The wheel spun slowly to a halt. Further investigation revealed that the "footman to treadle" connector beneath the left pedal had sheared off! I was speechless!

The connector basically looks like a glue stick that you use for hot glue - it's pretty substantial and rarely breaks from what I've read. You can see all 3 connectors in the picture on the right....as well as the "detached" left treadle! You can also double click on the picture for a closer view of the "severed" connector. NONE of the local spinning/knitting shops carry this part in stock.....so, I've had to resort to ordering one. Actually, I ordered four - one to replace the one that broke, and 3 more so I have spare parts - this wheel uses that same connector in 3 places....so now, I'll have a full set of replacements! (This also helped make the shipping costs feel "worthwhile" - I'd rather pay $6.95 in shipping to get 4 of them than $5.95 to get 1!)

Ahhh.....the bedsocks. The spinning wheel fiasco has FORCED me to dedicate more time to my sister's Alpaca bedsocks. I have one completed (yeah!!!) and I just finished the heel shaping of the second one. For some reason, the grafting of the toe of the first sock did not go as well as I'd hoped....there's a slight "feel" to it, even though it's invisible. I'll wait and see how the second one turns out before I decide whether or not to re-do it. Hopefully, I'll get these mailed out to her before the weekend....and she'll no longer have the "cold feet" she's been complaining about!

Friday, February 09, 2007

She Likes It! She Likes It!

Hurrah! Got a call from my mom - she's received the blue Merino scarf I made her - and she LOVES it! She was wearing it as we chatted - she said it was so soft and cuddly that she didn't want to take it off! It's the FIRST (Yes, I said FIRST!!!!) project I've completed out of my hand spun!

Yeah, I know, I've been spinning for a while. Hard to believe that this was my FIRST hand spun project, but what can I say, I just LIKE to spin! I do it mainly to relax. I rarely have a specific project in mind....I just love the touch and feel of hand spun skeins. Anyhow, I truly enjoy the process itself - who needs the added "pressure" of MORE projects - I have enough of those with my knitting! LOL!

Of course, when mom found out that I'd never made anything from the wool I've spun, she decided to change that. Last May, she "wondered aloud" about what wool would make a good scarf....saying she really needed a new scarf....and you all know the rest!

(I did have her take a sneak peek at her scarf by checking my post from Feb. 2.....so she did have a "preview"!)

Bed Sock Progress - well, I've managed to ALMOST complete one of the socks for my sister. These bed socks are going to drive me crazy! I'd almost finished the first sock once before, only to discover a horrible error at the heel.....causing me to rip out most of the nearly completed sock! ARGH!!! Anyhow, I'm almost to that point again.....this time with an error free heel. I only have about 1/2 inch more before I need to Kitchener stitch the toe - wahoo!

Spin-to-Knit - I've been playing around with several ideas for the February skein....and I've finally settled on which one to do. I'm quite pleased with how it's coming out.....I hope my pal likes it! Last month, I sent enough light worsted/DK weight for her to complete a very soft and warm winter scarf - especially since winter has finally arrived with a vengeance - in spite of the ground hog's prediction of an early Spring! I also sent some goodies related to one of her other pass times. This month's skein is quite different from the previous one Throughout the process, I've had to make some changes and adaptations - I'm learning more as I attempt to implement my idea - and it's not pefected yet! The other challenge is to come up with some more unique "goodies" to include with the skein!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

A Grand Finish to SP9!

My final SP9 package has arrived! Thanks Aimee! I have lots of cool stuff - candles/candle holders (purple, of course!), some dark chocolate (yum!!!!), some mints in a really cool tin that says, "Crafty Girl", a Starbucks gift card (Aimee has picked up on the fact that sometimes we meet to knit and chill in Starbucks....so now, I can have some coffee "on her"), and the final surprise was some really unique yarn.

The yarn is very intriquing - it's mostly black and grey, but also has purple, magenta, and pink - all wrapped in a shimmery metallic green - I'm not sure if the picture really does it justice - it's quite stunning. The yarn is Noro Aurora and is a wool, mohair, silk blend with just a touch of polyester. (You can "double click" on the picture for a closer look.)

And now for an update on the "Swallowtail Shawl" - I've now completed 5 repetitions of "Budding Lace 2" of the pattern. I have a total of 87 stitches on the needle right now. I need to get up to 195 stitches in this pattern before moving on to the "Lily of the Valley Border 1".

Friday, February 02, 2007

M is for Mom

Today is the one year anniversary of my knitting and spinning blog! I can't believe it's been a year already, but it has! Time really flies when you're having fun!

On to my current knitting progress. I had already finished knitting my mom's scarf out of the blue multi-colored merino that I'd spun, so I FINALLY got around to weaving in the ends as well as to washing and blocking it. Here's some photos of the progress:

Above are the photos of the unblocked scarf. I thought that since it was for Mom, I'd get artistic and "pose" the scarf in an "M" shape.....thus the title of the post, "M is for Mom"!

I blocked the scarf (above) to be about 10 inches wide. You can see both the full scarf as well as a closeup. I really like how the slight variations in color show up in the final scarf....I think it gives the color a bit of depth. I see that I was not very good about keeping the "lines of the scarf" straight while pinning it for blocking, but I did make sure the sides and ends were straight.

Finally, I started my Swallowtail Shawl on February 1 as planned. Karen, Carol, and I are doing an "informal" Knit-a-long for this. My shawl is being made in light purple Baby Silk (80% baby alpaca, 20% silk) that I received from my SP9 secret pal way back in early December (Thanks again Aimee!) Not much progress so far, but I have completed the first pattern and the first round of the second pattern in the shawl. Stay tuned for periodic updates.....