Have Ewe Any Wool?

Monday, March 31, 2008

Anita's Gorgeous Sweater and Anne's Rug Hooking

Our knitting guild meeting last Wednesday was a combined meeting with the stitching group from Holy Cross Lutheran Church. We had a fabulous turnout....and totally overflowed the room. We took over the common room as well. I believe there were about 24 of us.

We had a fabulous time sharing all our projects with each other....I'm especially intrigued by the rug hooking. Ann was busily working on her Habitat for Humanity project - isn't it gorgeous? I find it absolutely amazing that strips of wool can be used to create spectacular pictures.

Many of us continued working on knitting sweaters or afghans. During the meeting, Anita finished her latest sweater. It's always exciting when you can finish your project and can share it with all your friend! Both the front and back have lots of interesting textures from the X and O pattern. It's absolutely gorgeous!

Anita makes the most awesome sweaters. I absolutely love the Tree of Life sweater she knitted a few years ago. My sweaters look kind of blah compared to hers. Maybe someday, though......

And here's the latest progress on my Mr. Greenjeans Sweater. I can definitely say that it will NOT be completed in March, but it won't be much longer. It's really starting to look like a sweater!

And finally, a closeup of the unblocked cable pattern - the cabling shows up much better here than it did in Sunday's picture. It will really stretch out once it's blocked.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

More Progress on the Mr. Greenjeans Sweater

I have made a lot of progress on the Mr. Greenjeans Sweater but I sincerely doubt it will be finished by the end of March (midnight tomorrow). Here are the progress photos from this past week - both front view and back view.

On the left is a closeup of the cable detail. The bottom half of the body of the sweater as well as the bottom of the sleeves is done in the cable and rib pattern shown on the left. Oddly, the cable section is on a smaller needle than the stockinette and it will require blocking to get the gauges to match.

I did manage to work quite a bit more on it yesterday, but I haven't yet downloaded the photos yet. The body is done and I've started a sleeve. My big dilemma now is whether or not to make the sleeves long (to the wrist) or leave them as 3/4 length. I'll need to try it on and see.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter!

What a beautiful and sunny day for Easter! Although it started out below freezing, it's warmed up nicely and the bright sunshine promises that Spring is finally here! The trees are budding, the flowers are coming up....ahhhh.....what a joyous time of the year!

I received some darling "lambie" Easter treats from my DH - the stuffed lamb talks and "baaahs" - it's soooo cute! I just love the Pez dispenser! It's mounted on a keychain that I can attach to my knitting bag - how cool is that? The little egg-shaped lamb is full of Hershey's kisses.....mmmmm.....chocolate!

On the knitting front, I've made some great headway on the "Mr. Greenjeans Sweater". I've completed the split for the arms and finished the stockinette portion of the top. I'm now ready to start the cable portion of the sweater body. I'm quite pleased with how well this is turning out.

The only part I don't like is working with the circs....I prefer to knit on straights - it's much faster for me. I find that I knit MUCH slower using the circs, but with around 200 stitches on the needles at some pointes, I definitely needed the circs. I don't think I'll quite finish it during the "March Sweater Madness" time period, but it will be close!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Tiffany's New Loom

We're slowly converting Tiffany into a total fiber enthusiast. She's not overly keen on the "spinning" bit, but is quite intrigued by weaving and was lusting after a loom. So.....Amy, Lynn, Sue, and I got together secretly and purchased her a Kromski Rigid Heddle loom and presented it to her yesterday. It took some doing to lure her into the shop at a specified time so we could surprise her, but we pulled it off!

She was definitely surprised! Many thanks to Lynn for coordinating the whole transaction!

(Tiffany's DH really wants a Clint Eastwood style poncho, so she better get busy and start weaving ASAP!)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Nordic Weaving

Friday night at the Sons of Norway meeting, Christine Spangler (left) gave a presentation on Nordic Weaving. It was absolutely fascinating. She also provided a number of samples of some weaving projects she completed - including some tapestry weaving. They were gorgeous!

Christine studied in Norway under very talented weavers, including Maria Brekke Koppen. She later translated Maria's book, "Norwegian Tapestry Weaving", into English. The author's daughter even provided Christine with original drawing and photographs to assist with the publication of the translation.

I was fortunate enough to be able to purchase a copy from her after the presentation - and she graciously signed it. I was absolutely thrilled! The book is absolutely fabulous and provides many details on the hand weaving process for creating Norwegian Tapestries. It's a definite "must have" for any weaver's library - and it's available from Amazon!

Christine was a bit thrown off at the start of the presentation as she had a number of slides to present, but we had not projector - Murphy's Law had intervened! She is quite an engaging speaker. I personally enjoyed hearing her account of her weaving adventures better than I would have enjoyed viewing the slides. The most memorable quote from her presentation was, "I went to Norway a History Major and I returned a Textile Designer"! Quite a switch, eh?

Here's several shots of Christine's creations - some of her tapestry weaving samples as well as a scarf. My friend Melanie helped hold up some of the pieces for display. (The edges of the scarf are a bit curled and the scarf itself was shrunk by the dry cleaners. It's definitely safer to care for your own fine tapestries and not trust them to others that may not understand how to properly care for your works of art!)

I was intrigued by the fringing technique used in the piece on the left below. The book details how to finish your tapestry...including how to fringe it. The "cut section" (photo below right - the part being held by Christine) is part of a piece that she had completed and sold. It was done on a computerized loom. The "feel" of each piece varied as well. The fringed piece (held by Melanie) was rougher to the touch whereas the larger piece Christine is holding was divine as it was woven with a very fine Merino.

My favorite piece was the Fjord tapestry (on the right below). The variety of colors used to show the Fjords was unbelievable - I love the subtle color changes. The warp is the horizontal threads in the Fjord tapestry - the "picture" is therefore woven on it's side and when complete, is then turned 90 degrees.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

My Fabulous Tops and Pots!

Wow! In this month's installment of the "Monthly Adventures" on Ravelry, we did an exchange where we knit a hat or headband for our swap partner - the "Tops" part of the swap. We were to also provide a recipe for them to make in a single pot - thus the "Pots" part of the swap.

I had a lot of fun knitting the hat for my partner....and I sent her the recipe for my homemade beef barley stew. The stew and some bread make a hearty winter treat - and it's good for you too!

The package I received came all the way from France! It was fantastic! I received a LOVELY hat in the perfect colorway for me - purples and pinks! Yum! The pattern is the "Fetching Inspired Hat" and it's absolutely gorgeous. My swappee said this was her FIRST time using DPN's and circs and I think the result was absolutely perfect! Rebecca should be very proud of herself - she did a great job!

In addition to the hat, she included some extra yarn and instructions for me to make a "Mystery Project" I can't wait to start on it - I'm real anxious to see what it is. (Obviously, I'll have another post with an update when I complete my "Mystery Project".)

The package also included a tin of morue (cod) - one of the required ingredients for the recipe she provided. The recipe is for a typical French family dinner of Brandade de Morue. It's mixed with mashed potatoes and cheese and them baked. It sounds delicious! Of course, if you're not a fish eater, a dinner of Brandade de Morue may not appeal to you, but since I love fish, I'm certain I'll love it! (I'll provide a "food critique" once I've made and enjoyed this dish.)

Thanks Rebecca!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Knitting Progress for the Week

It was a "light week" for me on the knitting front - life kept intervening. I did, however, manage to knit another inch or two on my Colinette socks (the hot pink and purple one....very subtle colors....LOL!!!) I should have the sock done by the end of the month. I would have predicted sooner, but I'm also working on a sweater for "March Sweater Madness" as well as the Ravelry "Monthly Adventures C/KAL", so that will be occupying MOST of my knitting moments this month.

I'm pretty excited about the sweater - it's the first top down and first Raglan I've even knit, so I'll be blazing new trails for myself with this project. Also, since I've been so lame at completing sweaters (even sleeveless ones!), I'm really looking forward to actually FINISHING one!

Pattern - Mr. Greenjeans (from Knitty)
Yarn - Aslan Trends Artesanal in a flecked brick red colorway
Content - 40% Cotton, 30% Alpaca, and 30% Polyamide

I am a bit behind on the sweater as I didn't even have the yarn until yesterday. I've already completed about 21 rows, and it seems to be going quite well. I really like the "feel" of the fabric knitted up.

In other knitting, I completed my hat for the "Tops and Pots" swap and sent it and some other goodies off to my secret pal. The hat I made was the "Retro Cloche" in white with a rolled brim and Mauve ribbon accent. I made it from Elle's 50% Cotton /50% Wool yarn.

My friend, Lynn, made some lovely stitch markers for me that I've sent off to another swap partner. I can't wait to see if she likes them or not. She hadn't had any pretty stitch markers...just the standard stuff you can buy at the supply stores, so she was quite happy with the first set I sent her. These are a bit fancier....and I think she's REALLY like them. I had a hard time sending these off.....they were so pretty, I was tempted to keep them for myself!

Sunday, March 02, 2008

"Yarn Tasting"

I finally attended a "Yarn Tasting" at Nature's Yarns. It was fabulous! I got to try out 9 different types of yarn. This month, they featured the Bouton d'Or yarns as well as Annie Blatt. This is definitely a great way to "sample and play with" a number of yarns BEFORE committing to a major project. Snacks are also served...to keep our "energy up" while we're sampling the yarns.

You get several yards of each yarn to fondle, knit, and examine. This was definitely a "win-win" situation. I got to really examine and "test drive" the yarn....making a decision as to whether it's something I like and might possibly buy or something I'm not interested in at all. The store benefits as well since we provide feedback on the yarns "tasted" - what we like/dislike about it - texture, cost, color, drape, content, etc. which may influence the decisions on future purchases.

So far, I've only "tasted" 5 of the 9 yars. I still need to "try" the remaining 4 mini-skeins.
Of the five skeins I tried, I definitely had two favorites: Onyx (Anny Blatt) and Spiga (Bouton d'Or). I just played around with various patterns using each of the five yarns one after the other. I tried stockinette, seed, double moss, and eyelets with varying results. I doubled the thinner yarns so it would be close in thickness to the Onyx.

Onyx (beige and green multi-colored) is a somewhat bulky yarn that would make a fantastic edging on a garment. It has a bit of metallic in the yarn, but it's not scratchy at all. The color we used had a bit of iridescent blue that was absolutely beautiful!

The stitch definition was lost in the Onyx - although I had stockinette, then seed, then back to stockinette, you can't see much differenc. I think this yarn would be an easy yarn to embellish edges with - the colors and yarn provide the texture without the need for textured stitches.

The onyx yarn provides a nice complement to the plain "Selene"...the two together are stunning and would make a fabulous garment.

Spiga (yellow) is very cushy...and comfortable to knit with. It's a 60% cotton / 40% corn fiber. I used a double strand of the yarn when I knit , so my sample was extra "squishy". It feels like it would make wonderful baby clothes - a very soft and easy on the skin...perhaps a little hat, jacket, and matching booties? It was so soft against the skin...definitely a plus for baby wear. It would make wonderful summer shells as well.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

My Moosie Has Arrived - Safe and Sound

Wahoo! My Moosie has arrived! She's dressed in an elegant red roving with a bit of gold glitz added in....the perfect attire to set off her lovely whirl of natural moose antler and her shaft of elegant tulipwood. I LOVE it!

I got to select which whirl I wanted as well as specify my wood preference. It was a VERY difficult decision as I fell in love with ALL of them! I wanted a whirl that was colorful and had a lot of character. I can't wait to try her out. I'm sure she'll spin like a dream! Thanks Sheila and Jonathan!

Oh...I finally decided on my spindle's name. I think I'll call her "Serena" after a small town in Illinois where I've gone canoing. It brings back very fond memories of drifting down the Fox River with my DD and Biscuit, her childhood dog. These memories are full visions of natural beauty, calmness, and serenity. When I spin with "Serena", I think it will help me recapture that same calmness and serenity while I appreciate the natural beauty inherent in the spindle itself.