Have Ewe Any Wool?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

First Sock Complete


The first sock in my "Plymouth Zino" vs. "Jawoll Magic" yarn comparison is complete.

Plymouth Zino
  • Ease of knitting - it knit easily, but tight knitters will have some difficulty since it's a loosely spun single and may break threads when attempting to "wedge" the needle tip into the stitch. The yarn does not wear well when you have to "frog it", so I wouldn't recommend this to new knitters.
  • Softness/Feel - very soft - primarily due to the loose ply.
  • Splittiness of the yarn - it's not really "splitty", it's just very loosely spun, and therefore, if you're not watching, you can easily pick up most of the threads for a stitch and leave some of the others behind. In multi-ply yarns, some plies are loosely plied together and you may pick up two of three plies, but with this yarn, you pick up individual threads...and if you don't pick them all up, the resulting fabric is not as smooth and sleek as expected.
  • Colors contained within each ball - colors were limited to varied shades of green
  • Length of color changes - This produced wide stripes for subtle color variations that I really liked.
I did run into a knot in the Zino in the middle of the heel back. I really dislike knots in my sock yarn as it creates a tactile difference that's easily felt by the foot. Taking out the knot and pit-splicing would minimize the impact, but with super-wash, that's not an option. My second choice would be to take out the knot and do a Russian Join...but again, this is not an option with this yarn as it's a single ply. I left the knot in and tried to position it for the least amount of discomfort.

I do understand why knots occasionally appear in yarn, but for sock yarn, I do not expect to have knots. It would seem that additional care should be taken to avoid knots in sock yarn specifically.

I'll end this post on another subject altogether. I just LOVE the crispness of fall weather...and it's finally arrived! There have been some lovely trees this fall, but the maple tree is by far my favorite. A single tree contains so many beautiful colors! I just love it! I only wish that the colors stayed longer.

The final "fall color spectacular" is a sunset. Last evening, I caught this shot from the parking lot of Nature's Yarns. It was unbelievable. The colors were so bright and vibrant! (You'll have to ignore the car lights and lighted signs and concentrate on the sky.) I don't think I've even seen such a bright hot pink and orange sky!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

More Projects...

The Brandywine Shawl is finally blocking - I'll have it for "Show and Tell" on Wednesday! Wahoo! It only used 1.2 oz. of the Jaggerspun Zephyr (50% Merino/50% Silk). (Sandy the intrepid "Guardian of the Wool" is helping "protect" the shawl as it dries.)

I also finished a scarf out of Plymouth yarns "Kaos Mystify". It only used a single skein (183 yards) to create a nice long scarf - 5 ft. plus in length. I didn't use a pattern, just a very familiar pattern stitch...Feather and Fan. In general, I liked how this yarn changed texture throughout the skein as it join different yarns. However, I was NOT happy with the actual joins - they were quite thick and stiff. Oh, well...nothing is perfect I guess!

This pattern will work for any worsted weight yarn...though if there's mohair or some fuzziness to the yarn (as there was with the "Kaos Mystify") it works up quite nicely - filling in the empty spaces in the lace without overpowering the over-all pattern .

Feather and Fan Scarf

Use US size 10 1/2 needles
1 skein of "Plymouth Kaos Mystify"
Cast on 24 stitches
Knit 4-6 rows (your choice... for the edge)
Row 1 - Knit across
Row 2 - Knit across
Row 3 - Knit 3, Purl to last 3 stitches, Knit 3
Row 4 - Knit 3, [Knit 2 together] three times, [YO, knit 1] six times, Knit 3
Repeat rows 1-4 until scarf is the length you want
Knit 4-6 rows (your choice....for the edge)

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Ah....the yearly dinner of Lutefisk with the Sons of Norway Lodge. Once again, the Lutefisk this year was FABULOUS! Karen and her husband are the perfect chefs. They're retiring this year, so hopefully next year's cooks will be just as good! (Click on the photo to read more about Lutefisk.)

Oh...the anticipation! The lefse is ready. The Lutefisk is being cut into chunks....ready for cooking.

Ah....the buffet is finally ready. The only thing missing is the rutabagas - they're a bit "slow" this year, but I'm sure I'll get a nice portion once they're ready! Check out the full tray of delicious Lutefisk!

My yummy plate....without the rutabagas. I did go back and get some, but my plate was a bit messy by then, so I didn't want to photograph it. Once again, I had seconds of Lutefisk. DH is still skeptical...after eating Lutefisk a couple of times that wasn't cooked well, he's "sworn off" the stuff!

Of course, no Lutefisk dinner is complete without dessert! We Norwegians LOVE our desserts! This time I had a banana bread, rice cream, and apple/peach crisp. Mmmmmm!

Cooking Lutefisk

In case you're suddenly overcome by the urge to fix and try Lutefisk on your own, here are some cooking tips...direct from the chefs extraordinaire!

General Tips

Cook in sea salt ONLY! Iodized salt ruins it.
Do NOT use aluminum pans - they'll be forever blackened.
Use either stainless steel or glass pans for cooking the lutefisk.
Do not use silver/silver plated silverware/utensils...again, they will turn black.


Cut the lutefisk into single portion sized chunks
Bring water to approximately 200 degrees - do NOT boil!
Cook the lutefisk for about 15 minutes.
When added to the pot, the lutefisk will sink to the bottom.
When it's done, it will begin to float.
Do NOT overcook or boil...otherwise, it will totally turn to jelly and fall apart.


Preheat the oven to 200-225 degrees.
Lay the fish in a greased baking pan and bake at 200-225 degrees for approximately 40 minutes.
Do not overcook or put it on higher heat as most of the outer edges will totally turn to jelly.


This has only been tested for single portions...and it's really not recommended for larger amounts due to the risk of ruining/overcooking part of the lutefisk.
Put the fish in a microwaveable pan.
Set the Power Level to 40% (this is important - if it's cooked at too high of a temp, it will ruin it!)
Cook for 10 minutes...checking frequently to avoid overcooking.


In addition to the wonderful food, there were some interesting activities to check out and participate in...

Carla shared a children's "game" from Norway, "Kul-tur". It's actually an Activity Set. You draw a card from the over-sized deck, and it shows the craft/activity on the front and provides "how-tos" on the back. It's a great way to learn the language AND have some fun in the process! It looks like these two cards tell you how to build a boat and how to build a kite. How cool is that?

At the back of the room, another member was teaching all how to create "Pine Cone Nisse" for the holiday bazaar. I just love this little guy - he's too cute for words!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Finished Projects!


Wahoo! Tuesday night, I knit the final rows of my purple and green socks out of Opal "Maskenball" colorway 3001. No "second sock syndrome" here - once I get one sock done, I'm on a mission to finish the second one. Last night, I wove in the loose ends, so they're truly complete!

My next socks are a "comparison". At the NY Sheep and Wool, a customer noticed that the "Zino" yarn from Plymouth (made in Italy) looks nearly identical to the "Jawoll Magic" yarn - which I thought was made in Germany. However, upon closer inspection of the ball band, in white lettering against a very light grey background, I found that the Jawoll was ALSO made in Italy. Hmmmm....I'll lay odds that they were manufactured by the same company...they are just too similar! Both are superwash yarns comprised of 75% wool and 25% nylon and have nearly identical coloring. I suspect that the only difference I'll find is the way each ball is wound.

I told Linda that I'd make two pairs of socks - one from the "Zino" and one from "Jawoll Magic" and see how they compare based on the following:
  • Ease of knitting
  • Softness/Feel
  • Splittiness of the yarn
  • Colors contained within each ball
  • Length of color changes
Stay tuned for the results! (I'm going to start and complete one from each yarn before making the second sock of each pair as I'm pretty anxious to see how they compare.)

I also did the final 16 rows of the "Brandywine Shawl" - it was done in the "Iris" colorway in Jagger Spun Zephyr - absolutely a delight to work with! I also finished casting off in the "tubular cast off". The cast off took a while, but I like the way it looks. It's the first time I tried that type of cast off and I found it to be quite easy. Now, I just need to remove the "life lines", soak it, and block it! (Too bad I didn't have it done in time for the NY Sheep and Wool Festival!) Now, I need to cast on for the "Traveling Woman"....and finish my "Verdandi"! (And I have several more shawls waiting in the queue!)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Sheep of the NY Sheep and Wool Festival

This post is dedicated to the sheep of the New York Sheep and Wool Festival. The featured breed this year was the American Oxford (right).

I learned some interesting "sheepie" and alpaca facts as I wandered the fairgrounds early Sunday morning. I also learned that Alpaca come in 22 different natural colors. That's quite a color palette! Check your knowledge of sheep and wool against these "woolly" facts...be sure to click on the photos for a more "readable" view!

During my wanderings, I checked out the sheep breeds booth and discovered a very new breed as well as some great examples of familiar breeds. I also learned that for some breeds, the sheep cannot actually be imported...only the semen and it takes a few breeding generations to produce the 96% purity that's required to establish the breed. The word "American" now must precede the name of the breed. Who knew?

One breed that's in the process of being established here is the Quessant Sheep. These sheep originated on the Island of Quessant off the shores of France near Brittany. These sheep are very small and are supposedly the smallest breed. According to the information sheet at the booth, the rams are only 18-20 inches in height and weigh only 33-48 lbs. The ewes are even smaller - 17-18 inches in height and only 28-35 lbs. - talk about tiny! That's approximately 1/5 the size of the average sheep or 1/10 the size of the largest breed (again, according to the information sheet on the breed).

The Quessant is being introduced into the US by a process called upbreeding - taking the semen of a Quessant and inseminating a Shetland ewe. Over time, this will produce the new breed. The first generation of these sheep was born in April 2009 and are 50% Quessant and 50% Shetland. The upbreeding process will continue with the lambs inseminated with Quessant semen to produce 75% Quessant and 25% Shetland. The process will continue until it reaches nearly 100%...establishing this breed here in the US.

On to the breeds...

Border Leicester (left) and Coopworth (right)

Gotland (left) and Baby Doll (right)

Cotswald (left) and Horned Dorset (right)

Wensleydale (left) and American Soay (right)

Leicester Longwool (left) and Black Welsh Mountain (right)

Jacob (left) and American Miniature Cheviot (right)

Introducing, the American Teeswater...

The American Teeswater is a new breed of sheep that's currently in the process of being recognized. This sheep was introduced through the upbreeding process mentioned above. At approximately "96% Teeswater", it's now considered a breed. The UK Teeswater semen was used for the upbreeding process. This breed is a cousin to the Wensleydale. Again, the word American precedes the breed name because neither the sheep nor embryos are permitted out of the UK...thus making this an American breed.

I find it absolutely amazing that a single type of animal, like the sheep, can come in so many different shapes and sizes. Every face is special and unique....it just amazing. I just love these cuddly creatures! I wish I could take them all home with me!

Of course, with all the sheep around, we tend to forget that the Alpacas also provide some wonderful soft wool to keep us warm! Don't forget...these elegant animals come in 22 different colors! I'm still amazed at the variety of natural colors! The perfect backdrop to the festival and all the animals is the stunning fall view that surrounds me - click on the photo for a closer view.

Monday, October 18, 2010

New York Sheep and Wool Festival 2010

I got off to a bit of a slow start at the festival this year. My friend, Cathy, from HS that I stay with when I'm in NY, lost her dad on Monday, so my pre-festival time was spent with her family at the funeral home and cemetery. I'm so thankful that I was able to be there for her and her family. (God definitely works in mysterious ways...and we couldn't help but think that He timed all so I could be there with her.)

My friend, Cathy, lives in what looks like a private estate with a spectacular view. The view "out to the road" from where she lives shows the pillars and iron gates that mark the driveway entrance. The manor house (left) is where her landlord lives and the ivy covered building with the European look is where Cathy lives.

The views from Cathy's place are absolutely incredible. Each day, the leaves got more colorful. If only I could stay here forever!

I always feel very spoiled when I stay here - very warm and comfy! I just LOVE my room...it's beautiful and cozy. She has a collection of stuffed animals and Raggedy Anns. Even the door to my room is decorated! The bed is full of a variety of cute pillows atop a lovely quilt. The chest at the foot of the bed decorated with adorable Raggedy Ann dolls.

Cathy's many kitties were constant companions when I was at the house. I had to lock them out of the bedroom at night though because "Mama" likes to jump on your chest and request "petting" in the middle of the night, so the only way to guarantee undisturbed sleep is to ban the kitties from the bedroom. Of course, the minute I open the door in the morning, they run inside and place themselves strategically across the bed. Such sweet kitties! (Shelly is the only one missing from these photos...she's a bit camera shy...)

I love this area of NY. Everywhere you go, there are views of the mountains. There are even spectacular views of the mountains right from the parking lot at the Walmart in Kingston! I have always loved this area...the mountains provide such a beautiful backdrop.

I got to the fairgrounds on Friday in the mid-afternoon to help Linda and Leanna of Misty Mountain Farm do the final touches on the setup. I felt bad that I wasn't there to help them unload the trailer and do the initial setup, but I felt that my friend and her family definitely needed me more.

I had a blast again this year helping Linda and Leanna with their booth. They had some awesome new yarns this year: orange and black "Trick or Treat" yarn and some red, white, and blue patriotic yarn.

Their booth is always very busy and I truly enjoy helping out - whether it's weighing yarn, tutoring someone on drop-spindle-spinning, helping someone "test drive" a wheel or just answering general questions about the various fibers and/or yarns. It's a lot of work, but we always have a great time!

The weather was absolutely beautiful this year! Bright and sunny both days....with a bit of wind so all could "show off" their lovely hand-knits. I even got a chance to hook up with my Ravelry friend, Joan...and hand deliver her swap package! Joan's
"Traveling Woman" shawl is REALLY making me want to start on mine! It was gorgeous! I'll have to select the yarn first...perhaps silk? Or maybe Merino? Oh, the decisions!

All weekend, we were very busy, but I did, however, find time to run out and get my pot pie...and picked up one for Linda and Leanna as well! The freshly baked pot pies are FABULOUS! (And well worth the wait in line!)

I also managed to get in a bit of shopping. I purchases some goodies at some of my favorite haunts - "Spirit Trail", "Ellen's Half Pint", "Sanguine Griffin", and of course, "Misty Mountain Farm". I never got a chance to hit a few others that I usually hit - like "The Fold", "Golding", and "Briar Rose"....or the fabulous place that my friend Lisa told me about in building 36...I think (I can't remember the name of the vendor...). Oh, well...there's always next year!

On Sunday morning, I got in a bit of wandering and checked out all the sheep. (See my next post for the details.)

Like all good things, the weekend had to come to an end. Building A is now empty...except for the shipping parcels for the vendor from Wales. It's hard to believe that this room was full of vendors and shoppers just a couple of short hours ago!

I headed back to the DC area very early this morning. The sunrise was absolutely beautiful!