Have Ewe Any Wool?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Weekend Retreat Cardi

The "Weekend Retreat Cardi" I've been working on is now at the "mindless knitting" stage. I've completed the top portion and have put the sleeves on stitch holders for now. I'm working on the body of the cardigan, so it's just plain old stockinette stitch - row after row. This will continue for several inches as I've decided I want a much longer sweater than the design in the pattern. Mindless knitting is good - no need to stress out this time of year!!!

I also finished and shipped the felted Christmas stocking I had started last month. I loved the final shape of the stocking - it came out perfect! I then decided to keep the embellishments simple - a little gold ric-rac, some lace, and a "silk" poinsettia. I'm quite pleased with the results and definitely plan to make more of these!

I've started a "Potato Chip" scarf as well - as if I don't have enough projects going! I'm using two very different yarns for added interest - I'm knitting it with a strand of Trendsetter "Super Kid Seta" run along with a strand of Gjestal "Ullteppegarn". I'll post pictures when it's done as it doesn't really look like anything while it's on the needles. I have a couple of other very small projects that I've completed, but can't post pictures yet because I don't want to spoil the surprise for the recipient(s)!

On another note, we had our annual elections tonight at our Sons of Norway lodge. Once again, I've been elected as a "Greeter"....and so was my friend Greta! I truly enjoy the job...and sharing the responsibilities with a good friend is even better!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Weaving...and a Bit of Felting

New "toy" - I bought a loom last Friday - it's a LeClerc Artisat 4 Shaft 36" weaving width folding loom! I'm so excited - I always wanted one with foot treadles, so this is perfect! I purchased it from my friend, Jayme. She has a nearly finished scarf on the loom making it easy for me to practice weaving before I warp it for a project of my own!

I've been searching for a "Weave-It" (a very small loom) for quite some time now. I dearly wanted one of the old vintage versions, but needed the box and instruction set as well. I finally found one and it arrived this past Tuesday. Isn't it adorable? I think I now have a complete set of looms....from 36" to 2"! (At least until I finally get proficient at weaving and need to add a "Mighty Wolf"!)

On the felting front, I've felted my Christmas stocking for my MA exchange. The felting process really shrunk this one - it's now:

  • 13" (top of sock to base of heel)
  • 6 3/4" (across the midpoint of the leg)
  • 10 1/2" (heel to tip of the toe)
Originally, the measurements were:
  • 25" (top of sock to base of foot)
  • 10" (across the leg)
  • 17" (heel to tip of the toe)

The stocking looks a bit plain at the moment. I'll be decorating it all weekend and hopefully it will be transformed into a thing of beauty. At least that's the plan.......

From the same source that I got the "Weave-It", I also got a needle felting tool called a "Tangle Tool" as well as a bunch of additional felting needles. I believe that my felting tool set is now complete as well. The only thing I'm missing are the molds - I have no foot molds or hat molds...but I'm not sure I really need them.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tomatoes and Lutefisk

Friday night, after the spinning class with Galina, I had to harvest all of my tomatoes so they could ripen in the safety of a warm house. We were having the first hard freeze of the season! I couldn't believe it, but my 4 tomato plants were absolutely full of grape and cherry tomatoes as well as a number of blossoms. I couldn't let them go to waste, so I picked all of the somewhat "mature" tomatoes - those that were mature in size anyway! It was sooooo cold! I thought my hands were going to freeze - the temperature was hovering at about 33 degrees, so I harvested these babies "just in time"! Several have already fully ripened and have found their way into late harvest salads.

Saturday I attended the annual Lutefisk dinner at my Sons of Norway Lodge. Once again, the lutefisk was actually quite tasty...and I had seconds! I also got the almond that was hidden in the rice pudding, so I got a little prize - a candle/tea light.

Of course, I had a very full plate (left) - I like most foods, so the amount of food on my plate should be no surprise. DH did much better this year and actually had a relatively full plate (right)- much better than the nearly empty plate he had last year!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Fabulous and Fascinating Galina!

Wow....This year has been the year of incredible retreats and incredible classes and workshops. Last Friday, Galina Alexandrovna Khmeleva of Skaska Designs came to Leesburg to teach a full weekend of workshops sponsored by the Blue Ridge Spinners and Weavers guild (one of the local guilds I belong to).

On Friday evening, Galina taught a workshop on "Spinning in the Russian Tradition" and then Saturday and Sunday she taught a full two day workshop on lace knitting - Orenburg Lace. I was only able to attend the spinning workshop due to schedule conflicts, but I'm hoping she'll be teaching again in the area in the next year or two so I can take the lace knitting class!

The method of spinning for lace making is very different from any other spindle spinning I've done. This spinning method uses a supported spindle. The spindle rests in a bowl and then you spin. It took a bit of practice, but I think we all finally got it! You can literally spin anywhere....even in the car! How cool is that?

The class covered fiber preparation (cleaning/aligning fibers), spinning, plying, and setting the twist in addition to some educating us about the various fibers and their pros/cons. She displayed many wonderful examples of shawls out of all the luxury fibers. Some of the examples were also used to display "what not to do" - something that many instructors seem to forget.

Cleaning and aligning the fibers

Spinning in the Russian Tradition

Plied ball (below)

Galina is a marvelous teacher - full of many tips and hints. Her style is very engaging and she's a fabulous story teller as well. We learned so much! The presentation of the material was fabulous - she'd teach, then we'd try it, then she'd teach some more. My head is absolutely crammed full of the wonderful knowledge garnered from this class. One student had never spun before - and she seemed to have mastered the technique as well - proof positive that Galina is a fabulous teacher! If you ever get the chance, you definitely should take one of her classes!

I only had one of Galina's books ("The Gossamer Webs Design Collection"), so I had to purchase the other one, "Gossamer Webs - The History and Techniques of Orenburg Lace Shawls" which covers the entire process of creating a shawl - including a wealth of information on the spinning techniques. I also bought 3 spindles and a bowl. I believe I'm all set for creating an Orenburg shawl - all that's left to do is to practice spinning until I've mastered the process!

Galina had some fabulous fibers and yarns for sale. I took full advantage of the opportunity to purchase some luxury fibers. I also picked up a couple of skeins of yarn - some Merino lace yarn as well as some spun silk lace weight for plying with the luxury fibers.

The fibers I purchased were incredible. I'm definitely set for a while and have enough fibers to create a few shawls - I just need to get busy spinning! The fibers are (from left to right):

  • Australian Cashmere
  • Qiviuk (aka Qiviut)
  • Camel/Silk
  • Yak

Post Script - The funniest part of the day was realizing that I had met and talked to Galina on numerous occasions over the years. My latest encounter was the 3 days that I had spent in Rhinebeck at the NY Sheep and Wool Festival. I had spent my entire time at a booth directly across from hers, chit-chatted with her when we got the chance, and always thought of her as the "Orenburg Lace Lady" - it never occurred to me that she was "THE Orenburg Lace Lady"!!! When she arrived to teach the class, we both did double takes - until that point, I hadn't realized that she was Galina! We got quite a laugh out of it!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Thank you Secret Pal!

Wow....my final package from my Secret Pal arrived today. My pal's name is Joy....and she's from Canada. I think this is my favorite part - the big "reveal" - finding out who your partner is and getting to know them. I love to check out their projects and perhaps get some added inspirations.

Joy is a spinner, so I've received some more fabulous hand spun yarn - it's gorgeous! There are 425 luscious yards of Merino/Silk. I also got 4 oz. of "Tutti-Frutti" hand dyed BFL to spin myself. The roving has all the colors of the rainbow. I think I'll probably Navajo ply to preserve the individual colors.

Also included was a cute tote bag with lots of pockets - it's just perfect for carrying a project and all the associated goodies (scissors, stitch markers, pattern, etc.) OR I can use it for carrying my spinning supplies - bobbins, oil, niddy-noddy OR perhaps my rug hooking projects? It's the perfect size!

Of course, there were some "goodies" to help me keep up my strength while spinning and knitting - a S'mores kit - awesome! I dearly love S'mores!

Thank you so much for the fabulous package and the adorable card!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Knitting Progress

In October, I finished several projects - hurrah! I think I'm finally back in knitting mode! Hopefully, I can keep up the momentum. This month, I have numerous projects started or on the horizon:

"Weekend Retreat Cardi" (Lion Brand) - cast on and started this one this evening. It should be a quick knit. Originally, I was going to alter the pattern to have capped sleeves, but I've since decided that a long sleeved would be perfect. Therefore, instead of the featured short-sleeves, I'm creating a long sleeved version. I've also decided that I want my sweater to be much longer than is shown in the pattern. I want it to pretty much cover the back side rather than be cropped at the waist. I'm using Brown Sheep "Serendipity Tweed" in the Poinsettia colorway. The yarn is 60% cotton and 40% wool, so it's perfect for the fall and spring....as well as in the winter if you just need that "added little something" to ward off the chill.

I've wound up a skein of the Suffolk/Dorset blend from Solitude so I can cast on my boot socks at any moment. I'll probably start them by the end of the week. (My first pair will be in purple.)

I've cast on and am currently working another pair of 3x1 ribbed socks using the "Hellen's Favorite Socks" pattern by Fiber Trends. I've done this sock so often, that now, I know the pattern by heart! This is definitely my "go to pattern" for socks.

Last month, I had finished knitting my linen stitch pillow. Now, I've finally sewn it together. I really like how it looks. The Wisdom Yarns "Poems" has a lovely striping effect and is much softer than the similar Noro that I've used in the past. I also like how each side of the pillow is unique - the exact same striping does not occur on both sides. Although the knitting is complete, and the pillow has been sewn, I'm still struggling with whether or not to attach the cording. I picked my favorite colors from the pillow (purple and teal) and created a twisted cord. I'm not sure how/if I should attach it, or if I should just let it be considered complete "as is".

Front (above left)
Back (above right)
Cording (below)

In the Nancy Bush class, I learned some fabulous new "cast ons" - I'm trying to decide on which project I'll apply these cast-ons! I need to start some mittens....or perhaps yet another pair of socks....so I can properly attempt the "braided cast-on".

I need to continue working on my "giant sock" for the MA Christmas Stocking exchange. It's been knitted up for quite a while, but I have yet to felt it or embellish it. It must be shipped by Nov. 15, so I've really got to get busy. Thankfully, I have most of the gifts that are to be enclosed, so that part will be easy. I just need to wrap them all!

Finally, on the spinning front, my Rambouillet is back from Ohio Valley! Today, the postman delivered nearly 18 lbs. of luscious ivory colored goodness. Instead of "three bags full", I received "three boxes full" - it's much easier to ship that way! This wool had quite a bit of VM in it, but tOhio Valley did a wonderful job getting most of it out. The comments on the processing sheet said this wool was "yolky". When I asked what the comment meant, they told me that the slight yellow coloring is probably due to a high corn diet. Who knew? Hmmm.....I wonder if one could get pink wool by feeding a sheep lots of beets??? Just a thought......