Have Ewe Any Wool?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Oh, the "Enablers"!

For several months (actually years), I've been lusting after the Hanne Falkenberg sweater kits. I just didn't really see one that "I had to have"....though there are several that are incredibly tempting. It also doesn't help that two of my friends (Nora and Yvonne) are working on some fabulous looking Hanne Falkenberg sweaters. It's very difficult to "ignore" the "call of the sweater" when you get to see and touch them over a period of months....watching them develop, getting caught up in the excitement as the sweater takes shape, etc. (If you recall, I'd posted a photo of Nora's progress a few months back - March 28, 2007 - at the half-way mark.)

This month, I got a peek at the one Yvonne is making. With not one, but two "subtle enablers" in my guild, I couldn't resist any longer. I started perusing the web in search of the "perfect" style with the "perfect" color.....and I found it! At a fabulous price as well! It's the "Mermaid" in lilac, purple, and aubergine. It's going to be incredible! (Sorry about the slight blur of the photo....I tried to get a close up)
I ordered the kit from the Cucumberpatch out of the UK. They are an absolute delight to deal with and ship VERY fast. I ordered on Aug. 23 and received my order today...Aug. 29! All the way from the UK to the US in 6 very short days! I highly recommend this vendor. Shipping was very reasonable as well.

Oh, speaking of the "subtle enablers", after seeing Yvonne's Norwegian sweater (see my Aug. 23 post), Lisa and I were desperate to get the pattern...and we started searching. Lisa succeeded in locating a couple of copies and placed the order, so they should be on the way (wahoo!). I have plenty of great yarn to make the sweater with, so I can even knit it from stash! What a bonus! Keep your fingers crossed....getting the pattern book has proven to be quite a challenge...and it's not over yet.

On to my knitting progress...I've done several more rows on the Lilith and had to wind up another ball of yarn. I did have to "undo" a row because there was a knot near the end. It was very frustrating - with only about 10 meters of yarn left, I encountered a knot just 15 stitches from the end of the row! Grrr! THEN when I was winding the second ball of yarn, I found that there was a knot about 1/4 of the way through that skein. ARGH!!! And since the yarn is a very fine double stranded (one strand of lace weight linen and one strand of lace weight kid mohair), you really can't "gracefully" connect a new skein mid-row...you need to do it on the ends. I wonder if anyone else has run into this with the Louet Kid-Lin Pixie? (I usually don't have a problem with the Louet yarns...I've used several skeins of the Euroflax line and had no problems!)

I started the heel of my Wildfoote socks in "Purple Splendor". I'm about 2/3 down the heel flap...almost ready to turn the heel. Then, it's smooth sailing down the foot as I'm one of those people that has short stubby little feet. The big advantage with that is that I don't have to ever worry about having enough yarn to make a full pair of socks! (And my friend Elizabeth loves it as she gets some of my "scraps" for her "sock yarn" afghan!)

And, believe it or not, I've managed to work another 14 rows or so of MS3. I'm deciding that I'll definitely do this one "as designed"....I'll see if I like the asymmetry of it. If not, I have plenty of Zephyr and I'll just make the symmetrical version or wait until I purchase the pattern and check out the "double wing" version.

I still need to do the washing/rinsing of my yarn and fiber samples from my dyeing adventures last Saturday, but that may have to wait until later this weekend. I also need to make it to the fabric shop and pick out some nylon strapping for my yoga bag as well as some interesting fabric so I can try out my new sewing machine. Maybe I'll make a couple of spindle bags???? Hmmmm.....

Today's "cute animal" shot is one of my doggie. She loves to lie on her back in the most ackward positions....and this time, she actually stayed still while I shot a photo! Her normal reaction to me reaching for the camera is to hop up and "check out" what I'm doing or to "sniff the camera". This position must be comfortable, why else would she keep on doing it?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

A Saturday to Dye For!

This Saturday was definitely a "Saturday to Dye For". I trekked down to Alexandria to Springwater Fiber Workshop for the Indigo Dyeing Class which was taught by Sylvia. I've been anxiously awaiting this class ever since I signed up for it shortly after the American Folklife Festival where I saw some fabulous Shibori dyeing using Indigo.

The morning started at a wonderful coffee shop just down the block from the studio...Perks Coffee Shop...where I had a wonderful cappuccino. I strolled back down to Springwater and began to settle myself in for class. When my friend Mia arrived, she delivered the yarn and roving she'd shopped for on my behalf when she went to Stitches Midwest. It's GORGEOUS!

The roving is Hand painted Montadale Top from the Illinois Greener Pastures Collection and Esther's Place. I LOVE the colors! Thers's some fabulous superwash sock yarn in the "Fidelio" color way from Hand Painted Knitting Yarns. It's 65% superwash wool, 25% nylon, and 10% Donegal - it's very soft and the Donegal gives it a very unique look. The final purchase is some incredibly soft Socks That Rock "Silkie" - it's 81% superwash Merino and 19% silk in the Rhodonite color way. I'm just thrilled with the fabulous yarns/roving that Mia selected for me....and the Stitches Midwest booklet....so I can see what I missed. Thanks Mia!

Now, for the part of Saturday that I "Dyed For".....

The class was everything I'd hoped for. We all had a fabulous time and came away with lots of experience and lots of fabulous samples and fibers. Our instructor, Sylvia, was fabulous! She's very knowledgeable and really made the class fun. The class was all day - from 10 am - 5 pm....and we all were very reluctant to leave - we'd had such a wonderful time!

All the yarns, fibers, and fabric that we dyed today were dyed with Indigo....the variety of shades of blue (and green) that you get is absolutely astounding! The more times you dip it, the deeper and richer the colors get.
Some fibers took to the dye much more quickly than others. We had 3 dye vats going, and those too produced different "intensities" of blues. One vat used "freeze dried" Indigo - it's ready to go immediately after being reconstituted. We did add a pinch of "Rit Dye Color Remover " to take the oxygen out of the vat. The second vat used Indigo we'd crushed using a baggie and hammer as well as a mortar and pestle with washing soda and Spectralite. The final vat used some of the Indigo we crushed as well as lye and Spectralite. (The photo is a random shot of my classmates dyeing their skeins.) Indigo dyeing is basically chemistry - it's "oxidation" that causes the blue color...and the dye has to be properly "reduced" before you start!

We completed three types of dyeing. (1)Immersion where we immersed the entire sample in the dye vat for a few seconds. Some of our samples were dipped multiple times to obtain the varying shades of blues or greens that you see (2) Shibori where we tied threads around little bunches of the silk fabric or used a running stitch and pulled it tight and tied it. (3) Ikat where we wrapped string tightly around a section or two of the yarn and dipped it a second time in the dye vat and on a second skein, wrapped and tied string a second time and dipped it a third time in the dye vat.

The first photo shows the single dipped yarns samples for everyone in the class - my samples are the 5 skeins on the top in the forefront. The second photo shows a closer view of my yarns "single dipped". The third photo shows our yarn samples again with our Ikat tied samples. The fourth photo again shows our yarns, but also shows the results of our Shibori dyeing. (In the 3rd photo, my yarns are on the outside of the "drying rack" and in the fourth, my Shibori dyed silk is drying on the top left of the rack.) The yarns we dyed were mainly cotton or wool.

My Shibori sample was quite light, so I dipped it a second time. I liked the color much better the second time. I also learned that I should have tied it a bit tighter to get more of a contrast. This photo is of my classmate's Shibori - her results were much darker than mine and the contrast between the tied and untied areas are more distinct.

We also dyed a variety of fibers. Hemp, Soy Silk, Sheep's Wool, Bamboo, and Silk with silk noils. The first photo shows the hemp after a single dip in the Indigo/lye vat (bottom left of the photo). Most of us did NOT like the resulting color. I then dipped it a second time - this time, I used the "freeze dried" Indigo and the resulting color was much more pleasing (bottom left of the second photo).

Home at last - I have all my fibers and samples safely laid out in the bathtub to dry. They need to be completely dry prior to the clear water rinse and final water/vinegar bath so the maximum oxidation of the Indigo has occurred. I literally brought home a "tubful of goodies".

These final shots are closeups of the various fibers/yarns. My silk fabric was tied with thread and dipped twice - once in the Indigo/lye vat, rested, and then into the Indigo/washing soda bath. The green yarn you see here is the result of a single dip into the Indigo/lye vat with brownish wool - I really like the color of green that was produced. The lace was our "final exam" - our final project of the day was to dye a bookmark for ourselves.

Above are all the yarns I dyed today (from left to right). (1) Green yarn (again) - from brownish wool in the Indigo/lye vat. (2) Bookmark (again)- lace dipped in the "freeze dried Indigo" vat on one edge, then the Indigo/washing soda vat on the remaining 3/4, and finally the freeze-dried Indigo on the other edge. (3) Single dipped heavy cotton yarn dipped in the Indigo/washing soda vat at the same time as the mercerized cotton. (4) Mercerized cotton dipped in the Indigo/washing soda vat at the same time for the same amount of time as the heavy cotton. (5) Acrylic single dipped in the Indigo/lye vat. This was an experiment to see if it would take the dye. Next to the blues, it looks like it didn't, but it's actually a slightly grey-blue color compared the pale tan with fabric flecks that it started as! (6) Ikat tied - dipped once with no ties, once with one tie, and once with the second tie - there should be color gradients once the drying and rinsing are complete and the ties undone. (7)Single dipped wool in the "freeze dried Indigo" vat. (8) Ikat tied - dipped once in the Indigo/lye without a tie and once in the Indigo/washing soda with two ties. Again, there should be some color differential once it's dried and rinsed (and untied). (9)Cotton dipped once in the Indigo/washing soda vat. (10) Single dipped wool in the "freeze dried" Indigo.

The fibers - clockwise from the top left: (1)sheep's wool dipped twice in the Indigo/washing soda vat. The greenish areas were where the wool was yellowish. (2) bamboo in a lighter shade (not sure which vat.) (3) bamboo in a darker shade - either dyed twice or dyed in the "freeze dried" Indigo vat (4) soy silk (not sure which vat) (5) silk with silk noils (not sure which vat) and (6) hemp - dyed once in the Indigo/lye vat and once in the "freeze-dried" Indigo vat.

Strange "animal" picture......

Just when you think you've seen everything, I spotted this vintage round-fender truck at the corner of King St. and S. Henry St. on my way out of town. I don't know why it's setup like this, but I found it fascinating - a flag mounted on a garlard wrapped square arch hung over a plastic horse mounted in a pickup truck bed??? Hmmm....am I really seeing this, or is it the dye fumes?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Knitting and My New "Baby"!

First, I'll address the knitting. On Tuesday, it was pretty rainy and damp, so I didn't feel like dragging my spinning wheel out in the "elements". So, instead of spinning, I decided to knit. It seems that most of us felt that way! Not a single one of us had our spinning wheels in tow!

As a result, I've made some blazing progress on my "Lilith" in Louet Kid-Lin Pixie - a double stranded yarn - one strand is kid mohair and the other strand is linen.I'm pretty close to finishing the first skein - and it only uses three for the shrug/stole/vest. Don't you just love patterns that can be used multiple ways?) I do knit relatively loose, but I decided not to go down a needle size....I like the very "open" results that I'm currently getting. If I make another, I may go down a needle size or two - I think that will make a more elegant "Lilith" while this one can be more "casual"...

Wednesday, at our knitting guild meeting, I fell in love with a sweater that Yvonne made for her daughter. When we arrived, she was completing the final finishing. It's absolutely stunning! Yvonne knits absolutely beautifully! Here I've shown the front view as well as the sleeve detail. Her finishing is so professional....she's absolutely awesome! Her daughter is definitely one lucky girl! (Dale of Norway pattern book # 121)

Now, for my "New Baby". I've been absolutely lusting after an electronic sewing machine for I don't know how long. I've had the very basic maching - circa 1940's that was my grandmothers....it only did straight stitch and could only run "forward". I graduated to a basic Kenmore machine.....a few straight stitches and limited zig-zag - NOT a free arm machine....that made it challenging. I later gave that one to my sister and purchased a better "basic" machine - more varieties of zig-zag and even a method for blind stitches and an official zipper foot....and best of all, "free arm"!

I found a great buy on a used PFAFF Tiptronic 2020 in pristine condition from a vendor I trust on e-Bay - so, now, I have my "dream machine"! I do plan to do a bit of sewing, but I'm not planning to spend ALL my time doing that (got to get in some spinning and knitting time too!)so this machine with something like 47 stitches is PERFECT!!!! I'm so excited about it.

Why sewing? What pushed me over the edge? Javajem and all fabulous creations she's made....especially the "bend-the-rules Sewing" (some great bags) and the fabulous coasters she created from "Denyse Schmidt Quilts" - they're fabulous! (I am ordering the book too!) I've really been inspired by her creations....and, you have to have the proper tools, right?

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Fabulous Saturday!

The weather was absolutely PERFECT on Saturday.....warm but not hot with a nice breeze and believe it or not, NO HUMIDITY! In August around here, that's almost unheard of!

Several of us met at Panera on Saturday for lunch and knitting and had a fabulous time. Since the weather was so wonderful, we decided to stay outdoors for the entire afternoon. Lisa, Gretchen, Catherine, Elizabeth, Charlotte (Gretchen's mom) and I were there - chatting and knitting up a storm. Most of us stayed until 6 PM and then reluctantly had to head home.
Elizabeth has been really busy creating 3 darling bags. I took pictures of two of them. The third one is a nice purse from the "Pattern a Day" calendar. It's a basic oblong purse shape with a fanned flap - it's quite cute. The "My Constant Companion" felted bag she made is fabulous (photo on the left)! She used a Lion Brand yarn that had acrylic in it, so when the wool shrunk, it made the acrylic really pop! I DEFINITELY need to make one ASAP to put all my knitting gear in....it's the perfect knitting bag! (I've added it to my official "Projects in Waiting" list...but I'm not sure when I'll get around to making it!

The second bag was amazing. She made the felted bag from the Spring or Summer Knitter's magazine, but with a twist. She was not happy with the size once she completed the bag (minus the handles). So, being the creative artist that she is, she improved on the original design. She made a second bag, then picked up stitches around one side of each bag and did a 2-needle bind-off, thus joining the two bags together. This created "compartments" within the bag - a fabulous idea. Finally, she added the top part to create the handles. Needless to say, we were all intrigued by the design and definitely plan to make one ourselves.

The rest of us were working on various projects - Catherine is almost done with her walking stole. Lisa is still in the beginning phase of her Margie Mills sweater. Gretchen completed the shawl she was working on the last time I saw her - the Lavender Garden Shawl and is starting a square shawl using denim colored hemp. The hemp seems as "pleasant" to knit as linen yarn but should soften up with handling. Charlotte was taking a knitting "time out" and instead soaked up some inspiration from what everyone else was making. Elizabeth was finishing the 2nd of a pair of baby hats with cute little looped top knots instead of pom-pons. They're really cute.

I spent the entire afternoon working on the body of the Cascading Fuchsias Noni Bag...and finished it last night while watching a movie. Today, I finished the handle and had to do my most hated stitch - the Kitchener stitch. I never know if it's going to be a "good day" or "bad day" with that stitch! Sometimes, it turns out so well....and other times, well.....I'd rather not talk about it! Today (lucky for me), was a "good day". And yes....those are circs that you see....Addi Turbos to be exact. I have to use circs when I'm working on a felted bag. The bag is now ready to felt - hurrah! Then, it's onto the flowers...they should be lots of fun!

Pre-felted measurements:

Height: 17"
Width: 16"
Depth: 6"
Strap: 22"

I had heard that Paton's yarn shrinks more than other yarns (vertically) so I added an additional 10 rows to the body and an additional 6 rows to the handle. Hopefully that should counteract the added shrinkage. I'll do the measurements again, post-felting, for comparison.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Hurray! A Finished Object!

I've finished knitting my yoga mat bag.....I love how it turned out. I've woven in the ends and made the pull-tie closures for the bag. The only "finishing" I have left to do is to check out the nylon strapping at the fabric store and design how I'll attach it to the bag so I can have a shoulder strap. I didn't want anything "pulling" on the knitting, so I didn't want a knitted strap integrated into the design. I have a couple of ideas that I think will work well, I just need to "try them out" now that my bag is finished. Of course, I can always decide NOT to add a strap - after all, the bag is technically finished at this point....the strap just makes it a bit easier to carry. Perhaps I'll get an inspiration....who knows?

Wednesday night, I managed to knit another few rows on my Mystery Stole. It would have been a few more, but I kept making mistakes on one of the rows and knit it and "unknit" it 3 times!!! That's so annoying! I keep fixating on the lost time and the idea that I should have had several more rows done instead of knitting the same row over, and over, and over. Now, the final clue is out! I can't believe it....and I'm not up to row 287 as I had planned.....I'm still in the "220's"!

Tonight, though, I'm continuing to work on my Wildefoote "Purple Splendor" socks. I want some mindless knitting as I unwind from the week. I'm also planning to work on these socks as well as my Cascading Fuchsias Noni bag tomorrow. A group of my knitting friends and I are meeting at Panera Bread Company at lunch time to knit, have lunch, and sip on some cappuccino. It should be a fabulous time!

Finally, here's my responses for the SP11 Questionnaire.........

  1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

Hmmm…is there really such a thing as “absolutely not liking” a yarn? My personal preference is natural fibers (wool, alpaca, cotton, bamboo, silk, etc.) – although even the synthetics and nylon have their uses. As far as the funky yarns, they can be used for embellishments or accents, so there’s little that I couldn't find a use for!!! (LOL – I’m definitely a “yarn-a-holic”!)

  1. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?

Plastic bins, a zippered needle case, decorative boxes…..and most of all, stuck in one of my many “works-in-progress”!

  1. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?

I'vebeen knitting for a few decades….off and on. I taught myself to knit in high school. As far as my skill lever, I’m more of an intermediate – proficient at most things, but still have lots to learn!

  1. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

Not really…..I always get impatient and order right away!

  1. What's your favorite scent?

Vanilla and Cinnamon….and peach is nice and soothing as well.

  1. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?

Dark chocolate! Love the stuff!

  1. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?

I spin….and dabble in some other fiber arts – like quilting and cross-stitch…though I haven’t done much of that lately. I’m planning on learning to weave (I've been saying that for a while now!) My goal is to weave something using my stash and hand spun.

  1. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)

I like all kinds of music, except I’m not keen on most country music. I love discovering new music. My PC doesn't play MP3s.

  1. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?

Purple is my favorite. I also really like teals, blues, and vibrant pinks as well as bright jewel tones. My least favorites are yellows and orange, but they’re good “accent” colors.

  1. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

Married to a great guy who tolerates my fiber obsession (that’s very important!) and have a dog that loves to “guard the wool”.

  1. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?

Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

  1. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?

Socks and felted bags as they knit up quickly…..but those are “companion projects” for more intense projects – like lace or large projects. I have to have some “quick” projects going at the same time I’m working on a long term project(s).

  1. What are you knitting right now?

Socks, a Noni bag, Mystery Stole 3, and a yoga mat bag….those are the projects I've “touched” or knitted on in the past week….but there are others too! (update - the yoga mat bag is done!)

  1. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

Definitely! I love getting handmade gifts!

  1. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?

Bamboo straights – Crystal Palace are my favorites! (I’m slower on circs, but they’re definitely a necessity for some projects….like felted bags!)

  1. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?

  1. How old is your oldest UFO?

The oldest that I intend to finish is about 7 yrs. old. The others….we’ll wait and see.

  1. What is your favorite holiday?

Christmas – love the music, the holiday, the meaning, the presents, and the great times you share with friends and family during that season.

  1. Is there anything that you collect?

Betty Boop stuff – I just think she’s so cute! Antique needlecraft items – old knitting needles, crochet hooks, sewing needles, needle cases/baskets - any vintage fiber arts stuff. Oh…and recipes….I’m always looking for something new and interesting to cook – anything from “down home cooking” to “ethnic delights”!

  1. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on?

I’m too impatient and go get them right away!

  1. What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?

I get most of them….

  1. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?

I've done very little Fair Isle and want to do more. I also want to try cables…but not the general cables, I like the Celtic knots and designs like that.

  1. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?

Yes….US women’s size 6 ½ - 7 shoe size.

  1. When is your birthday?
June 30

  1. Are you on Ravelry? If so, what's your ID?
Yes……my id is: Jinann

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Spinning, Knitting, and Poutine....Life is Good!

Wow! I had a great time last night! A bunch of us gathered for knitting and spinning and had a fabulous time. The evening started with the arrival of my order from Astrid's Dutch Obsessions....more Kauni for a shawl, and enough yarn to make a week's worth of socks! (I'm blaming the sock yarn purchases on Mia and Carol.....I've seen the lovely socks Mia made with the Fabel and Carol tempted me with the Regia Galaxy!)

I showed everyone the progress I'd made on my knitted yoga mat bag....and got the concurrence of others on the "closure" portion of the bag. All that's left is to do the eyelet row (so I can put opposing ties through them to "seal" the bag), knitting another 1 1/2 inches or so for a "ruffle" closure on the other side of the eyelets, and finally adding the nylon strapping to the outside. Voila! I'll have a finished object!

I spent most of the evening continuing to spin the green "multi-colored" wool - I had a total of 2 lbs. of it, so it will take me a while to spin. I have plans to make a jacket with it, so hopefully, I'll find a suitable pattern!

Once the "formal" part of the evening was done, several of us went to Danielle's for an evening snack of Poutine. It's soooooo good.....if you like cheese and gravy and fries, then you'll like Poutine! It's a Canadian treat....and the ultimate in "comfort food"! Mmmmmm....Poutine! Thanks Danielle!

And now, for the "cute animal" shots of the day. Danielle's dog, Gracie, is such a sweetheart....and loves to "pose"....but she rarely stays still long enough to get a good picture. However, I did manage to get a few. I did manage to catch a few shots of her "cleaning" the cat. It's amazing how tolerant the cat is....especially when Gracie is licking the ear!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Happy International Lefthanders Day!

Just thought I'd wish all my fellow lefties a "Happy International Lefthanders Day"!

This "holiday" was declared in 1976 by a group called Lefthanders International....they're now defunct...but the "holiday" lives on! They sold a variety of left-handed utensils, watches, notebooks, as well as a fabulous little magazine that "read" from back-to-front...a natural way of reading a magazine for most lefties.

There are numerous famous lefties......some good, some not so good. They run the gamut from Einstein to Jack the Ripper. This site has a great list: Famous Left-Handers.

I have a tote bag that I absolutely love....it says: "We're all born left handed. We become right handed when we commit our first sin". I like that sentiment....LOL! The saying I really like is: "Since the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body and the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body, then only left handed people are in their right minds!"

I'm doing my usual "celebration" - I'm bringing a homemade lemon cake with lemon frosting to work to share with my colleagues. I do request that they use their "left hand" to eat the cake though, in honor of Lefthanders Day!


Oh, my! I just got "picture mail" from my friend Mia. She was "shopping for me by proxy" at Stitches Midwest and she's found the most incredible yarns and roving for me! She definitely knows what I like! And to think....we only met a bit over a year ago through Secret Pal 8! I'll be seeing her in a couple of weeks when we take the Indigo Dyeing class, "Indigo: A Blue Like No Other", at Springwater Fiber Workshop in Alexandria. I have been fascinated by the Indigo Dyeing methods since seeing some fabulous examples at the American Folk Life Festival in DC last month.

On a "non-knitting" note, I found some fabulous cookies when I went to the breadshop yesterday. Check out the size of these babies! They're incredibly good as well! And the name of the cookies, "Butterscotch Kilt Lifters"...what a hoot!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Knitting Progress

I have managed to get a few more rows of my Mystery Stole completed - I am now up to row 221. I am quite far behind...BUT...it's intentional. This stole is asymmetrical and the designer has provided instructions for both a symmetrical stole as well as the asymmetrical version. I normally lean toward symmetrical, but I'm very anxious to see the final result as I may change my mind. I don't HAVE to make a decision until row 287. I figure if I "drag my feet" long enough, I can get to the decision row at about the same time the last clue comes out. At that point, I'm sure someone will quickly finish their stole and post photos....THEN I can make my final decision. How's that for a plan?

In other knitting news, I've continued to work on the bag for my yoga mat - it's really coming along and I love the colors. So far, it's 11" long...and it seems to knit itself! It's nice "mindless knitting", so I'm really enjoying that part - it's easy to tote around and it's "low stress" knitting - a welcome treat!

I've also progressed further on the Cascading Fuchsias Noni bag as well - I'm at row 37....so I'm about 1/2 done with the main portion of the bag. (The original pattern said 60 rows, but the Paton's yarn that I'm using shrinks a lot more than the Cascade 220...so, I decided to add 10 additional rows so the final bag doesn't end up "too short"!

On Sunday, a few of us got together at my friend Catherine's for dessert and knitting...what a great combination! Needless to say, we all had a wonderful time, and I got the chance to check out the fabulous projects Catherine and Gretchen have been working on!

Gretchen's "work in progress" is the "Lavender Garden Shawl" (by Sharon Miller). It's gorgeous and feels wonderful - the "Silk and Lavender" yarn dyed by Lisa Sousa is absolutely stunning....this picture just doesn't do it justice! Gretchen has been very pleased with this pattern and has found it to be a relatively "stress free" project. Even though it's a lace pattern, it doesn't tether you too closely to the chart....which is always a plus! It's definitely a pattern I want to check out once I finish MS3!

Catherine is working on a lovely stole. The exact pattern escapes me at the moment....but I believe it's from the book "Victorian Lace Today". She's making it in Haiku....that fabulous mohair/silk lace weight that I love so well!

She also completed a Herbert Neibling doily and I have both a "before blocking" and "after blocking" photo of her creation. It's always amazing to see how a it all morphs into a stunning work of art! (It's not obvious in the pictures, but the "pre-blocked" size was 10" in diameter and the "post-blocking" size is 14" in diameter.)

Meet Mojo....he's such a sweetie! Normally, he's rather aloof when there are visitors around, but Sunday, he was very friendly and wanted to be in the "center of things". Poor Gretchen had a bit of a time knitting as Mojo decided her lap was the perfect "siesta" location. When not napping, he cruised from person so person, pausing for the expected strokes and caresses. (The glass is Mojo's PERSONAL drinking glass.)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Fibery Adventures and the "Bunny Tour"

Yesterday, my friend Lisa and I trekked off to Westminster, Md. to pick up the loom that I purchased from Susan....the hostess of the Spin-In that I had missed. We also checked out her fiber bunnies....and the new babies while we were there.

It was a lovely drive, though I wish it wasn't so hazy....the countryside and mountains in the background would have been stunning! The drought really showed as well - instead of the expected green rolling hills and lush corn fields, we saw brown fields and very sad looking corn fields - the corn stalks were quite small....and they're already starting to dry up. It looked like harvest-time corn stalks on a severe diet!

We were greeted by Susan's "herd" of border collies. They are so sweet and definitely like to be the center of attention! Being a dog lover, I was in heaven - totally surrounded and "welcomed" by these friendly canines. Susan even got them to pose for a photo op!

Susan was also in the middle of dying a bunch of roving in a HUGE stainless steel kettle. The purple "goodness" has been simmering away all morning. It looks "good enough to eat"! The mordant she's using is vinegar....I don't remember what dye stock she used......I just focused on the fact that it was a deep rich purple and didn't hear anything else!

On to the baby bunnies. These guys are just adorable! I can't believe how cute and TINY they are! These are baby angora bunnies....the smallest one is the runt, but is doing great because of the extra care and attention that Susan gave the baby during the early days. They're only 11 days old....soooooo cute!

Here's the mom (left)- her name escapes me right now. And the dad (right, Harry Potter.

Some of the other bunnies are absolutely adorable as well.....this one has already been partially sheared, so she looks a bit "funny"....but much cooler! The grey ones are only 11 weeks old, so they're pretty young as well.

The bunny with the most personality (and the wildest ears) was Peter Pan. He's so full of energy! On the left, he's trying to "climb out of his cage". On the right is a more "poised" picture of the "feisty boy".

Here's the beauty that I went to pick up - the gently used Kromski Harp Rigid Heddle Loom with stand. It's the 32" wide one, so it has a fairly wide weaving area. The really cool part is that it folds up and you can tote it almost anywhere! You don't have to use it with the stand, you can angle against a table, or whatever is comfortable for you.

There are special "bags" that are made to carry the loom, so you can easily take it to a workshop, any fiber get together, or even on vacation! (I'm thinking that there may be an addition to my Christmas Wish List this year.) There was a sample warp and a bit of sample weaving already on the loom.....I'll try my hand at weaving with that, and then warp it for real. I've made a binder with the instructions for the warping and weaving with the Kromski....I'm hoping it will become my "weaving log" as well!

While I was at Susan's, I checked to see if she had any more of the luscious angora/wool blend roving that she had last year. I was thrilled to discover that she did indeed have some and I bought about 10 oz. more. The fiber is soooo soft! The wool is from two of Susan's sheep, Mary Sue and Tess and the angora is from some of the bunnies you saw in the photos above. The sheep are Border Leicester (medium grade wool) crossed with Blue Faced Leicester (the soft wool that I love to spin!). The angora blended in makes it absolutely heavenly! She's currently working on a sweater out of her hand spun using the angora/wool roving - it's wonderful to touch...and has a bit of the "angora halo" as well - the finished sweater will definitely be "cuddle worthy"!

Susan has more of the blended fiber, so if you'd like to purchase some of this fabulous stuff, check out Ewesful Fiber Arts - NOTE: I don't see the angora/wool blend on her website, so you may want to send her an e-mail if you're interested in purchasing some of the angora/wool blend fiber (see the "Contact" info on her website). The fiber was $25.00 for a 5 oz bag - not cheap, but definitely worth every penny! And.....as an added bonus....it comes from named sheep and named bunnies! Definitely well-loved fiber animals!

On a final note, DH found a couple of rather funny comics - a cross between the superhero comics and fiber fanatics.....check it out: Useless Mutants - first one and Useless Mutants - second one.