Have Ewe Any Wool?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Spinning Progress

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I've managed to get some spinning in over the past couple of weeks. It always feels good to "create" new yarn! It's very relaxing...and playing with colors is always fun!

I spun the first skein up on "Katarina", my Kromski Mazurka wheel..and yes, she's a new addition. She's very light and easily toted about. I took her with me on a visit to my DH's grandmother at the assisted living center and it created quite a splash! All of the nursing staff had to come huddle around the room to watch the spinning wheel in action - they were fascinated! I love how lightweight she is!

The roving was some brown and pink hand-dyed Corriedale that I received from a swap partner. First, I spun all the roving into a bobbin of singles. Then, I made a small skein (.2 oz) that didn't turn out well at all - I had a hard time Navajo plying as I didn't have my lazy kate with me.....so, I kept hitting "snags" and it eventually broke the thread. Oh, well....I wanted a small sample skein anyway - plus, the exercise served as a refresher. I always seem to be somewhat rusty at Navajo plying until I've practiced for a few yards!

Once home, I set up my lazy kate and got to work on my "real" skein. The final skein has 88 yds. and weighs 1.6 oz . It looks good enough to eat! (It reminds me of chocolate and strawberry ice cream - yum!!!) I'm not sure what to make with this. I need to wash the skein and determine the WPI and then figure out what to make.


The next wool to be spun on Katarina was also a couple of ounces of hand-dyed Corriedale from the same swap partner. These colors are more typical for me - purples with a bit of pink and blue. I truly enjoyed "stepping outside my box" with the brown and pink - that had been a nice change. I've just started spinning this bundle, so I don't have any finished yarn as yet. I'm not sure when I'll get back to it - hopefully soon!



On Louie, I FINALLY finished spinning the very soft natural, lavender, grey wool that I bought from Dianne (Creatively Dyed Yarn) 2 1/2 years ago at the Montpelier Fall Fiber Festival. The wool is and incredibly soft Corriedale. I originally thought it had to be either Merino or BFL as it was so soft, but according to my notes, it was Corriedale! I LOVE it and I just love the colorway!!!! My finished 2-ply skein weighed a hearty 4 oz.....with a small .1 oz skein of singles left over.

I managed to catch some great photos of the flowers in a friend's back yard. On the left is the flower of a Paw Paw tree....I'd never seen these flowers before. I love the deep, dark red of the petals. (A couple of years ago, I actually tried the Paw Paw fruit.) On the right is a gorgeous yellow flower...I can't remember what it was called. My friend has mainly wild flowers and native plants...as well as a few imports - I can't remember which category this one falls in!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Another Project Done...

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Actually, not just one project, but two. However, the second one didn't exactly turn out as planned.

First, the successful project. I made a quick and easy Booga Bag from Shepherd's Wool that I bought at Nature's Yarns - it's great for felting and comes in fabulous colors! The pattern is free from Black Sheep Bags. This was a VERY quick knit. I started knitting on Wednesday night, finished knitting on Friday, quickly felted it, dried it overnight, and finished it on Saturday morning. Talk about instant gratification!

Before felting (left), the bag as 12" tall x 4 1/2" deep x 12 1/4" wide. Post-felting, it was "6 3/4" tall x 3" deep x 8 3/4" wide - a cute little thing!













I covered a pasta box with a plastic bag as my "felting form" to give the bag the proper shape and dried it overnight. Luckily, the air was fairly dry so it dried quickly.





Next, I poked holes in the bag to feed the i-cord through using the same DPNs that I used for knitting the bag. Knitting needles obviously have many uses - I just love a good "multi-tool"! Voila! A finished bag!

My next project didn't turn out quite as expected. I was making a tam from the Knitty Pattern, "Three Tams" - Winter 2007. I decided on Tam B. The yarns I selected looked great together - a nice medium grey in Zealana Eco (80% Merino/20% Possum) and for the variegated color, I decided on Poems (100% wool). The hat was actually started last November or December...and I had only knit about 3 rows before putting it off to the side.

I picked the project up again in early April, and the finer points of the hat's construction and appropriate needle sizes were a bit fuzzy. As I was knitting away, I discovered that the band was going to be a little too tight for an adult hat. No problem! I'll make this a child's hat. I continued on.

I had started this project with size 4 circs, and never thought to check if I was to continue with the size 4's for the entire hat. I simply continued knitting with the original size 4's, carefully following the chart until it was time to decrease. At that point, it was a bit cumbersome to deal with the circs, so I switched to my more preferred needles - DPNs. Of course, being CERTAIN that I had "pre-packed" my project bag with the proper tools, I grabbed the only DPNs inside the bag and without checking the size, began knitting once again. The needles were a size 6. I had knit only about 12 rows when I realized that something just wasn't quite right - the top of the tam was NOT lying flat...instead, it was starting to "peak". Ugh! I quickly re-checked the pattern, and STILL did not see that I should have switched to the size 6's MUCH earlier....NOT in the middle of the tam top! I simply thought that I'd somehow managed to pack my size 6's instead of the size 4's. Once again...I continued knitting away with the wrong needles.

Well, this project was DEFINITELY not turning out as expected, but it WAS a good learning project. I continued on. My final product was a cute "beanie" style hat that's perfect for a child...but not at all similar to the intended tam...except for the color work design!

In spite of the "project mutation", I was quite pleased. The color work was nice and neat - both inside and out - and it has a very even tension - no pulling caused by the color changes. Whew....at least something went right with this project! However, I was still puzzled about the needle sizes...why would I put size 6's in the bag if they were not needed??? I carefully scrutinized the pattern yet again....determined to discover the error. Aha! There it was in black and white - I needed to change to the size 6's right after the hat band. I HAD packed the right tools...I just neglected to switch to the size 6 DPNs after the hat band.










I do like the hat...even though it definitely was NOT the same hat that I'd originally intended!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Susan's Spectacular Spin-In

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Susan had a fabulous "Spin-in and Farm Warming" party this past weekend. The weather was absolutely perfect!






We all spun either out doors or on the screened porch - I think there was a total of 31 of us! We all had a fabulous view of the field with the sheep, lambs, and alpacas were grazing - it was the PERFECT setting!


Check out all these wonderful wheels and spinners on the porch...



















And in the yard...








































Off an on, someone was in the house spinning, but for the most part, we enjoyed the fresh air and the perfect Spring weather.






Here's the view we had the entire afternoon. It was very calming and serene. The sky was so blue and the fields so green....you just couldn't help but revel in the beauty and peace that surrounded you!


And now for the animals.....

Susan's sheep had 7 lambs this year - some are just under a week old and others about 9 days old. The oldest lamb is 5 weeks old. Aren't they precious?












I even got to hold and cuddle one one of the little lambs! Isn't this little lamb the most precious thing you've ever seen?





Here's a shot of Gracie. The mom and lamb are very special to Susan - you might even say they're favorites. The lamb is a bit older than the rest - she's 5 weeks old.


The Border Collies had some fun as well - they played for a while.




















One of them even when into the sheep pen to demonstrate sheep herding skills. It was fascinating to watch. My favorite "dog scene" had nothing to do with the sheep herding...it was watching them play frisbee. Check out how the youngest pup "twirls" around near the beginning of the video. Talk about full of energy!

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It was the PERFECT day - beautiful weather, a wonderful view, fabulous company, and delicious food. There was even some fantastic home made bread and stuffed shells....unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of those goodies, but trust me...it was delicious!




Ah.....this is the life. It really doesn't get any better than this!

Many thanks to Susan for being such a fabulous hostess!

Friday, April 09, 2010

Birthday Celebrations!

Elizabeth and I had a fabulous time last Wednesday exchanging Christmas gifts (yeah...I know....a little late, eh?) and celebrating our birthdays...hers about a week late and mine a couple of months early.

We met at Minerva, a local Indian restaurant with a fabulous spread of all kinds of yummy vegetarian and non-vegetarian entrees. Mmmmmm! Great food...great company. What an enjoyable meal!

During our dinner, we exchanged presents - both Christmas and Birthday. There were so many wonderful things that I've totally forgotten which gift was for which celebration! It's sometimes difficult for us to get together for our gift exchanges, so we definitely take advantage of the opportunity when it arrives - and thus, celebrate multiple occasions in one sitting!










I was totally spoiled! She made me not one, but two shopping bags - just in time for the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival that comes up next month! The multi-colored bag is done in the "love knots" pattern and the solid purple one is the standard "chained" pattern. Nothing beats a hand-crafted bag!



One of Elizabeth's latest craft endeavors is beaded ornaments. As a result, I received this gorgeous beaded Christmas ornament - I LOVE it! I can't wait till Christmas to put it up. I think I'll try to find one of those "ornament stands" so I can hang it from that and put it on my mantle.




Lots of purple goodies - some yummy purple yarns for knitting (purple sock yarn and some gorgeous purple mohair), a lovely set of 5 sock patterns, a flexible purple pencil (won't break in the project bag!), lots of chocolate - purple M&Ms, Dark Chocolate Chips, and some purple wrapped kisses, some purple shoe laces, an adorable knitting hedgehog, some purple highlighter tape, and some luscious roving in mauves and purples (the photo makes it look more red than purple).











The final gift was some hand spun purple mohair!!!! Isn't it awesome? It even came in a clear "notions bag" that will really come in handy! I have to measure the length of the yarn to see how much I have to work with - that will dictate the project.

Thanks Elizabeth!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Spring Blooms

I believe that Spring is my absolute favorite time of the year - all the flowers and trees are in bloom. Thankfully, I don't suffer from allergies, so I can truly enjoy the entire season.

My cherry tree "exploded" with blooms over a few short days. Below, this is what the top of the tree looked like on Easter Sunday with a closeup of one of the branches where the blooms are really starting to open up.










A mere 3 days later, and the tree has absolutely "exploded" with blossoms. The tree totally dwarfs my house when in full bloom!





















Of course, I had to check out my favorite neighborhood tree - the "Red Bud Tree". I just love how the clouds and the sky looked so vibrant and crisp! Oh...DH said we could probably plant one of these trees in our backyard - wahoo!!!!

And....not to be left out, the various flowers and blooms I found throughout my neighborhood.



















And finally...a soft sunset.....in subtle blues and pinks.