Buried Treasure

Surprise! No, this isn’t what I thought my next blog post would be either! πŸ˜‰ I’ve been so busy the past few days that I’ve not done any “real” carding yet, just practicing with my “junk” wool, if there is such a thing. I’ve learned some things I needed to know, and am looking forward to some clear time to do something for keeps soon!

Meanwhile, as I said, I’ve been really busy. As my mobility is increasing, I’m gradually getting into some of the projects and cleaning that has been rather neglected lately. Now at this point, I’m going to start a story that has two ends coming together in the middle, so bear with me here!

A few years ago, I was working on restoring an antique doll. In addition to the work she needed, she made a very intriguing rattle when she moved, and with some effort, I was finally able to extricate a small brown object from her insides. I was disappointed to see that it was a small metal button, totally corroded, and identifiable only by the two holes in the shallow shank on the back. Now a logical person would have tossed it in the trash can, but it was the first treasure I’d ever found in a doll, and I’m not always logical. πŸ˜‰ That button has laid on my bathroom counter for several years now.

Skipping to the other end of this tale, I decided if I was going to clean up several months worth of ick in the bathroom, I may as well do it as a fall cleaning sort of project. Despite our water softener, the water in this town is so hard that we still have lime deposits to deal with, so I got out the vinegar to soak them off. What I didn’t notice was that I splashed a puddle of it on that silly button. If I’d seen it, I’d have quickly rinsed it off… and if I’d done that, I wouldn’t be writing this post!

Going back to check on the progress of the soaking an hour or so later, I saw the button, laying in a now brown puddle. “Great,” I’m thinking. “I just ruined it even worse.” But when I picked it up and turned it over, I was startled to find the vinegar had only ruined the corrosion, and I was left with a sparkly button! I sure wish I knew what metal this was and why the vinegar didn’t hurt the button – and for that matter, how it is that the button was so bright under the rust.

I can’t seem to get a photo that shows the glimmer, but this one came close. Needless to say, I’m very pleased with the result of this happy accident, and one of these days, this tiny treasure will have to grace anΒ  outfit on one of my dolls. It’s a diminutive 3/8″ and sits very flat, despite the shallow shank on the back, so it’s perfect for dolly clothes, and I have to wonder if it may have come off an outfit the doll I was working on once owned. I really wish I knew the vintage. Isn’t it fun how something so tiny can just make the day sparkle? πŸ™‚

Published in: on September 25, 2010 at 7:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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The Time Has Come

A couple of years ago, which would be long before I started spinning this spring, I bought a drum carder – or more accurately, a Strauch Petite Drum Carder kit. Why? Well, let’s just say that I dream big. I KNEW I was going to be spinning, and if I was going to spin, I’d read enough to know that eventually I’d want a drum carder, so when I received a generous cash Christmas gift, I invested in my future. I’ve spent two years wondering if I was crazy – until just last week when I met that roving from – well…

Sunday, I managed to excavate the big brown box from its “safely stored” location, and this evening was the big event. My drum carder is officially birthed! I chose the Strauch Petite for both size and price. I purchased the kit version with a brush, rather than assembled without, and it was a good trade off.Β  I bought it from Copper Moose – an absolutely exceptional dealer, who in addition to providing perfect service, is kind enough to send babies to their new homes liberally padded with generous packs of fiber. I received silk noils, bamboo, mohair, icicle, and some wool, which I’ve managed to temporarily mislay, so I can’t say what it was. I’m eager to put some fiber through my new machine, but first I wanted to share the excitement of putting it together. Besides, I figure there is at least one person out there who will actually need these pix eventually, and if I start playing before I put them up, guess what will never happen. πŸ˜‰ So, here’s how to assemble a Strauch Petite Drum Carder:

Despite there being what looks like an awful lot of pieces, I had it together in less than 45 minutes. This would have been a bit faster if I’d realized there were more instructions to part one than just the first two lines… The directions are clearly written and complete – if you read them carefully again when you begin each step. The only tools I used were a #2 Philips screwdriver, and a slotted screwdriver, though I have to confess that I used my screwdriver as a light hammer a couple of times. πŸ˜‰

Step 1 – Attach the back and base to one side with 5 screws. Take it back apart, align the back correctly, and reassemble, using the pretty little finishing washers this time. πŸ˜€

Step 2 – Insert the drums. The big one is prickly, but can be handled. The small one is like picking up several hundred razor blades. Happily, it came wrapped in a foam sheet. I decided it was expedient to use that foam for a mitt…

Step 3 – Attach the other side of the frame with the remaining 5 screws, remembering those pesky, but snazzy washers.

Step 4 – Slide the adjustable bearings onto the small drum, then adjust them and tighten the thumbscrews. (I believe this last part is so the small drum remembers who is really the boss…)

Step 5 – Tap a pin through the axle on the large drum with your screwdriver small hammer. Mount the pulley. Spend 5 minutes trying to figure out how to squeeze the retaining clamp in place, then get a slotted screwdriver, place it flush against the pulley and tap it lightly with the other screwdriver small hammer. Pat yourself on the back for having wasted only 5 minutes.

Step 6 – Install the removable tray, adjusting the tray holders. Then be wise enough to store it in the slot under the carder so you don’t have it in the way during the rest of the assembly process. Note later that being this wise also means you took the finished project picture with the tray stowed…

Step 7 – Install the highly recommended brush, with 4 little screws, 4 washers, and 2 wing nuts.

Step 8 –Β  Install the large pulley the same way as you did the small one, omitting the 5 minutes of frustration. Skip ahead to Step 10 and install the band because you are impatient to do that part.

Step 9 – Screw the threaded handle onto the other end of the large drum axle. Important note: It is totally unnecessary to attempt this step five times. There really are only two ways to screw something down, and counter-clockwise is rarely the correct option.

Step 11 (Remember you already did step 10…) – Run into the house and douse bug bites with anti-itch stuff before you go completely mad!

Step 12 – Step back and admire your new toy tool. Note: If you have a man nearby, he should be suitably impressed with this item, as this is not only mechanical, but it’s sharp and has a danger sticker on it, so be sure to show it off.

VoilΓ‘! Wasn’t that easy?! πŸ˜€

So, does anyone want to hazard a guess as to the topic for my next post? πŸ˜‰

Wool Gathering 2010

With a sated grin, I’m here to report on this year’s Wool Gathering in Yellow Springs, which at this point is my only fiber festival each year. I have to say that this year is the very best it’s ever been, only shortcoming being that it was impossible to do the entire place “well” in just one day, as it’s grown dramatically this year! If I’d not had my focus list, I’d never have seen even half of it, and as it was, much of what I did see was just as I cruised past. Much to my chagrin, there were many booths to which I wanted to return, but I simply ran out of time – not that I didn’t find a “few” things that did come home with me. I’ve just never had it play out that I couldn’t go back for those few special things that were sticking in my mind as “must buys” – you know, the ones you walk away from, then can’t get out of your mind later… Anyway, in addition to the increased size, I was also struck by how much “tidier” the grounds looked this year. This isn’t in reference to litter, but rather to the set up. It just had a clean and organized appearance which was nice and approachable. Somehow, they also managed to arrange for lovely weather, though the big tents in particular became extremely warm by the middle of our sunny afternoon. My biggest challenge was that this was my first major outing since I fell, and I have to confess that I arrived home last night somewhere beyond exhausted, feeling a bit like someone who has been an invalid for the past two months and tried to forget that fact for a day…Β  πŸ˜‰

I have to confess that when I arrived and saw three main tents and more, I felt a bit like an Indy driver at the starting line so neglected to take any pictures of the venue. I’m glad that I started out in the smaller livestock tent first, though. If I’d not gone then, I would have run out of time. In the past, there either hasn’t been a livestock tent or it’s been elsewhere and I’d not seen it. I could have spent several hours in there happily taking pix as I watched the goats, sheep, and llamas (and would have had better shots had I done so), but even though my time was much shorter, I had fun, and I’m SO grateful to those who brought their animals to share with us.

Shropshire Sheep

Finn Sheep – Extra fun for me to see since I bought a Finn fleece a few months ago

Tunis Sheep – VERY fun since I’d taken the notion that I wanted a Tunis fleece this year! Quite endearing with their ultra white coats and sweet brown faces. πŸ™‚

Border Leicester Sheep – Undoubtedly the “ugly duckling” here, but looking ever so dignified and intelligent, and I took quite a shine to them. They were fascinated by the children’s train ride directly outside the tent and would run to watch each time it started up. I meant to go back and get one of their fleeces, but ran out of time, so will have to contact the owner later.

Mystery critter – This pen was not identified, that I saw, and was the least cooperative of the bunch when it came to picture taking. I didn’t manage get even a half decent shot of my favorite, a shiny locked little white gal, who I could have brought home in a heartbeat if I didn’t live in the middle of town! She was an angora goat, but I have no idea what this endearing fellow is.

Llama – Definitely the prima donna of the entire livestock tent, posing and repositioning, then giving me this look like, “You are going to take another picture, of course?”

There were also alpacas and of course, a profusion of angora bunnies, but they were in the vendor tents and by the time I got to them, my camera was buried under ummm… a few things… πŸ˜‰

A definite highlight of the day was meeting up with some online friends, members of the Handprepared Fibers Group on Yahoo. What fun to put smiles and voices names!

I had a mission list – things I needed to find and some people I definitely wanted to see, and as mentioned earlier, this kept me moving. I ended up getting very little that wasn’t on my list, but I did still find some wonderful surprises!

I called The Yarn Shop in Columbus at the end of last week, and they brought my Seville pattern to the show. πŸ™‚ This pattern is a spinner’s dream! It has 6 sizes in the pattern, plus each size is written for 3 different yarn weights. It could easily be made in a half dozen ways and look totally different each time, I think. I also found a pound of black merino (with crimp this time!) to blend with my nasty no crimp stuff detailed in my Double Detour post. When I did the math, I realized I wasn’t going to get enough yarn from the 14 ounces I had (duh!), and I’m guessing the finished yarn will only be improved by the addition of some crimp anyway. πŸ˜‰ Added bonus is that I got my black merino from Ohio Valley Natural Fibers for half of the best price I’d found in my quick search online. πŸ™‚ I also got an 8 oz. black Suri alpaca batt from MOA Handknits, but I decided I wouldn’t post pix of either of those items. Somehow, black fiber tends to look like black fiber, not very interesting to see in a photo, no matter how marvelous it is in person. And the Suri is definitely that! It was delicious enough to entice be to purchase it before I finished my rounds!

I seldom spent much time at the booths that sell basic supplies and manufactured yarn lines, since I can get those items easily at other times, but while I was picking up my pattern at The Yarn Shop’s booth, these neat little charms caught my eye – and came home with me. They are called Sig’nits, and they are designed to be knit onto a project in the same fashion as beads are added. They are nice quality, and I couldn’t resist. Besides, I knew what I was doing with them about 2 seconds after I spotted them. πŸ™‚

I always have to find some little trinket to bring home for “the girls.” This year the Bleuettes got these cute little sheep from Three Bags Full. The Hittys got a surprise gift from a vendor. The tiny llama in the next picture is nearly identical to a large one I have, and it was gifted to me with my purchase from La Llama Place, a booth I spent a very long time enjoying! The llama will look ever so cute standing on their knickknack shelf. πŸ™‚

I brought home all sorts of goodies from Peru. πŸ™‚ The beautifully made knitted doll came from Cupola Alpacas, and she will go on my high shelves in the sewing room.Β  The beads, finger puppet, and llama were from La Llama Place, which specializes in treasures from Peru, as well as items from Mexico and Central America. My best treasures from that booth are…

these two spindles

and this backstrap loom and weaving, which was such an exciting find for me that I couldn’t possibly walk away and come back later, despite my resolve to complete my list shopping before digressing into other items. I just had to have it! Neat or what? πŸ˜€ I’ve been told that the piece of tubular weaving is very special stuff. πŸ™‚

When previewing the vendor list, I was thrilled to see that two Etsy sellers I frequent were having booths this year. It was definitely a high (and costly!) priority to meet them in person. I have to say that both ladies were as delightful in person as they’ve been online, and they both managed to lighten my purse a bit. πŸ˜‰

From Lunabud Knits, I bought these gorgous silk noils as a gift for my drum carder…

some yummy angelina, and one of my fleeces (hang on a minute!). She also insisted on toting my fleeces out to my car for me because of my leg, and it was NOT a short trek! She said she wanted to stretch her legs, but I think it’s more that she’s a genuinely nice person. πŸ˜‰ Whatever the reason, she’s got a customer for life!

I’ve always found the Fiber Optic shop on Etsy to be a wee bit overwhelming, but I have to say that Kimber Baldwin’s booth is exponentially more so! At shows she has items that never make it to Etsy. ‘Nough said? I took Catenary along with me so I could show her what I spun from some of her fiber, and I came away with seven times as much as I’ve already spun – and that was with seriously slapping my hands!!! This BFL should keep me busy for at least a little while. I know what I’m doing with all of it, but it’s going to take a bit of thinking and planning to execute. Stay tuned! πŸ™‚

Of my three remaining goals, one I didn’t accomplish, as I could not find any black dyed BFL anywhere. Another was to buy A (as in one) fleece. I have to confess that I more than made up for the lack of black BFL. Somehow or other, my “fleece” multiplied and I brought home:

1. Okay, my first fleece was an accident. I had several possibilities in mind, but none of them were Cormo x Romeldale lamb. Of course, if I’m not going to buy something so delectably lamby delicious, I shouldn’t look, right? This came from Denise’s Fleeces, and I’ve managed to mislay my receipt, so I don’t know how much it weighs, just that it’s soft and crimpy and wonderful…

2. My second fleece was a traditional buy for me, and one I’d considered ahead of time. The first fleece I ever bought came from Jackie Deems of Amazing Grace Farm (and was actually two fleeces, since I was unable to choose just one.) This year’s fleece came from Sarah, a white Shetland, and weighs 4 pounds. I’d gone with white in mind, since I’m going to be doing some dyeing this coming year. My tendency to buy colored fleeces sort of handicaps me there… πŸ˜‰

3. By the time I found this fleece, I was nearly to the end of the third and last tent, and scanning ahead, I’d not seen any more fleeces anywhere. Since I obviously wasn’t going to have my Tunis (sigh…), I decided I “needed” this pretty BFL fleece, donated by Emma, and sold at the Wool ‘n Wood booth. I “tried” to buy a colored fleece, but just kept coming back to this appealing 2 pounds, so ended up with a third white fleece. I justified it to myself by saying that it’s SO different from the other two, and preparing and spinning different fleeces will be great experience for me. πŸ˜‰ With 3 fleeces – and still thinking I was going back to grab that Border Leicester – I was most definitely done fleece shopping – or so I thought…

4. But while hanging out at the Lunabud booth, I mentioned that I’d hoped to find a Tunis fleece, but no one had any.Β  Moments later, she was pulling from under the table, a Tunis/Targhee cross, which she was selling for a friend. She had several, but since I’d gone looking for a Tunis, I took this one, as she assured me that it leaned much more toward the Tunis than the Targhee. I felt SO guilty buying yet another fleece, but since I’d gone after a Tunis… And this one was the biggest of them all – somewhere around 5 pounds! Obviously, I’m not likely to run out of fleece this winter, but storage space is another story!!! In my defense, at least all four are distinctly different… πŸ˜€

And now I’m down to one last booth to share – one that was on my list to visit early. I’d decided several months ago that this was the year I was buying my wool combs from Ben, and I wanted to make sure he didn’t sell out or anything crazy like that before I got to the booth.

I do love his combs! They pack together in a compact, locked kit when not in use, then everything comes apart and the perfect economy of the set is evident as each piece has a second purpose. On top of that, he builds them from walnut and cherry and other lovely woods, then sells them for a very competitive price. Such a delight!

The really big surprise for me was that it paid off for me to get to his booth early. I almost inevitably save it for last, as I’m often buying a large, awkward item, but the combs were small and would fit in my pack, you see… They netted me an early bird bonus though, and I’m grinning from ear to ear over this find!

He’d built two pickers, then decided not to make any more. I now own one of the two! A picker was on my fantasy list for someday, but the combination of the large size and matching price made that seem a bit unlikely to happen. Ben’s small picker was VERY affordably priced, and its compact size is perfect for me, not to mention that it’s pretty! If you want to get in touch with Ben, he has an Etsy shop, though it never has anywhere near all the wonderful items he makes. You can convo him and ask about his hackles (next year for me!), skein winder, drying racks, marudais, and more. Tell him I sent you… πŸ˜‰

As thrilled as I am with my booty from Woolgathering this year, this and the backstrap loom are the stars of the show for me, both wonderful finds that were only untouchable fantasies for me until the moment they materialized so unexpectedly. Then I topped it all off with one of my all-time favorite desserts, a hot apple dumpling with cinnamon ice cream at Young’s Jersey dairy. Happy day for sure! πŸ˜€

Double Detour

Since the doctor said I HAVE to spin (like that’s the only reason…), over the weekend, I was trying to choose my next project. I had a little help, as I was online with my best bud, and she found “IT!” without much effort at all, after I’d been looking forever. “IT!” is the Whippoorwill Shawl, which is going to be absolutely killer in handspun yarns. πŸ™‚ As icing on the cake, before I knew it, she’d gifted me the pattern through Ravelry, and in about 2 more seconds, I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that I wanted to make it from this scrumptious roving she bought me for my birthday.

Now there were just two challenges remaining. First, I need two colors, and second, it would be iffy as to whether I could get enough yarn out of the 4 oz. braid I own. After hours of IM discussion, and shopping Etsy left me dissatisfied with options, we went different directions to do some legwork. I’m the one who scored in the end, as I found The Dyeing Arts is on Etsy, and though Tara didn’t have any more Viole(n)t listed, she replied to my convo that she could dye some more for me, AND she was willing eager to take on my challenge to dye a coordinating colorway. Perfect! Only problem is that it would be about a week before she could get it done, and then I’d still have to wait for the mail. I needed to spin now – for medical reasons, of course…

Detour #1 led me to picking up the gorgeous Oaks and Hickories BLF roving I bought from from Three Waters Farm a while back. I’d planned to ply it with some black merino I bought from another Etsy seller, who shall remain unnamed for reasons you will soon understand, at the same time, and this would give me about 8 oz of finished yarn – enough to do something sort of big, and in wonderful, seasonal fall colors.

Spinning the Oaks and Hickories went smoothly, and I think I even managed to make slightly thicker, and ever more even singles from it. I was absolutely drooling in anticipation of seeing this plied with the black!

Last night’s encounter with the supposedly merino pencil roving more than countered the joy of spinning the BFL, though, and before I went to bed, I was in an entirely different world! Now when I bought the black, I knew it was sold as being in pieces (Caveat emptor! This stuff is still available on Etsy in various colors!), but even that knowledge didn’t prepare me for the reality of what I found when I opened the bag. It wasn’t just pieces; some of it was shreds and some was wads and lumps, and it didn’t take much handling for me to understand why it was in this condition. Working with this fiber was like trying to spin butter that had been sitting out on the counter for several hours on a summer afternoon. It practically melted in my hands! It has the short staple one would expect of merino, and it’s oh so soft and fine, but it has absolutely no crimp! There is nothing in it to hold a pencil roving together, and it reacts accordingly by disintegrating almost on contact. Whatever this fiber’s story is, it was not an appropriate choice to turn it into pencil roving, especially served in a hank! After spending somewhere between 4 and 5 hours starting one little bit after the other, creating 2 ounces of not surprisingly lumpy, but soft and shiny singles, I was about ready to tear my hair out. How I wished my stash included more black fiber! Why don’t we think about stashing the basics when we are buying all these gorgeous hand-dyes? The entire last hour of my determined effort to succeed was haunted by, “Get a brain here and stop, would you? Patience is a virtue – and Woolgathering is this weekend!” At last my better sense won out, but what despair accompanied giving up! I have an entire pound of this “merino” or whatever it is, and I can’t spin it (at least if I want to maintain my sanity), I have no black for my delicious Oaks and Hickories – and I want to spin!

And then this little niggling thought came to mind… and I was just angry enough at the black pencil roving bits and pieces to be willing to resort to violence… My weapon of choice? Hand cards! In minutes, I’d taken detour #2, and I had a fluffy fistful of fiber that spun ever so much easier. πŸ™‚ It won’t match my Oaks and Hickories, but it plied into a lovely, textured aran/bulky yarn with potential that made me light up with ideas! I rushed to my stash, hoping against hope that I had some sort of sprinkles, and I ended up finding two things that I had no memory of purchasing, but that were obviously meant just for this project – carded sari silk and a package of tropical angelina fiber. Oh, how delicious they looked against the coal black of my nightmare fiber! I blended the three together with my cards and spun it with more excitement than anything I’ve done yet, and all I can say is that I’m SO glad I bought a pound of that stupid black stuff!

Now I need to get things shoved around enough that I can access my drum carder. I’m desperate to spin this up, but as much as I enjoy hand carding wool, I think a pound of blending done 4 grams at a time might get on even my nerves! If I get enough yardage, I’m thinking that Seville, just might be the perfect use for this yarn…

And if anyone out there knows what’s up with this “merino pencil roving” stuff, I’d love to hear what you have to share!

Sky Drama

Leaving the library early this evening, I noticed the sky was having a dramatic moment. It looked just like some of those powerful skies that show up in oil paintings. By the time I got home and grabbed my camera, much of the energy had dissipated, but I still got some “nice” pix I thought I would share. I really should get back into the habit of carrying my camera with me all the time… sigh…

That was my favorite shot for just looking, but I have some ideas for future uses for the cloud pix below.

I drove out to the edge of town to chase the clouds as they dashed out of town.

With interesting lighting, even the world’s ugliest water tower doesn’t look quite so bad. πŸ˜‰

Our abandoned depot is always good for a picturesque shot. Today the window captured my attention.

Published in: on September 16, 2010 at 11:55 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Some Catching Up

First, I want to say thank you for the beautiful comments that have been posted about Percy. They’ve brought tears to my eyes! I would be so honored if my project did inspire others, and I hope to eventually receive some follow ups with links to other finished Percy Shawls. πŸ™‚


The beautiful blocking weather continued, though the sky wasn’t so pretty today, so I decided to take the risk and block another shawl. I knew it would take more time than Percy’s blocking, and in the end, I paid a bit for standing that long, but it was worth the risk. I’m sure there won’t be that many more utterly perfect days this year, and I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Today’s project was my “Glacier Glance,” which I finished knitting way back on August 1, so see how patient I’ve been?

The pattern is Mystic Glance by Birgit Freyer (paid download available on Ravelry), and I knit it with Windy Valley Muskox Golden Crown Suri Alpaca 2/28, a thistledown-like cobweb weight yarn with a slight halo. I chose the Glacier colorway, as that seemed the only logical choice for a shawl I was knitting on an Alaska cruise. πŸ™‚ Finished, this doesn’t weigh more than a feather or two, and it’s a marvel! I’ve managed to mislay the leftover ball of yarn for the moment, but I had only 56 grams to start with, and most of the second ball remains.I’ll update this info when I relocate it.

The wingspan is 72″ and center back 28″ as blocked.

Only real problem I had with this is that the only size 2 needles I had were Knit Picks Options, which are quite slick. So is this yarn! I didn’t have time to get some Harmony needles before we left for Alaska, so I found myself on a gently rolling ship (sometimes… and sometimes not so gently!) with super slick needles and yarn, and this project didn’t get very far until I was stuck on the sofa here at home doing hematoma knitting. Even then, it was a bit of a challenge, and my next Knit Picks order is going to include some smaller sized Harmony needles, which would have been much better suited to this project!

Other than slick on slick, this was a super knit. Birgit’s pattern, as always, was excellent and easy to follow, and the yarn is delicious and blocked beautifully. Now I’m thinking I really do need another cruise so I can show this off on a formal night…

Percy Conquered

So poor Percy… I had such a great head of steam going on this shawl, then ran out of yarn about 4 days before I went to Chicago, and by the time I got home from Chicago, I was definitely in no condition to be spinning. That might have been my biggest heartbreak about the accident at the time. However, now that my dear doctor has prescribed spinning…

But I suppose I’ve gotten a bit ahead of myself here and should take you back to the beginning of the story…

There was a moment between my Alaska and Chicago trips this summer when everything just came together perfectly, encouraging me to do something crazy. I’d come home from the spinning retreat having finished my second skein of handspun yarn, and it was big enough to actually do something with it. I’d found it rather needful to surf Ravelry looking for options one evening, and the Percy Shawl by Sanne Kalkman just kept jumping out at me as being special enough for my first ever handspun knitting project. Then, much to my surprise, our Knitting the Classics group on Yahoo decided to do the Percy Shawl as a KAL. I suggested starting on the anniversary of his death (The shawl is named for Percy Bysshe Shelley.) and trying to be done by the anniversary of his birth, so cast on was July 8, with an August finish date targeted.

From the moment I cast on, I was in love! I had no idea just how much more awesome it is to knit with one’s own handspun yarn, and the pattern is pretty cool, too. πŸ™‚ It was really tough to discipline myself not to just drop all my necessary, between trips work and give in to the magnetic draw of this project.

Even when I totally lost my ability to count clear to three in the middle section and tinked repeatedly, I loved every moment of the experience.

Then, a few days before I was to leave for Chicago, a minor tragedy blessing occurred. I ran out of yarn. I still had fiber left, but when the bobbin had filled, I’d stopped spinning. The good part of this was that it meant I really had no choice but to focus on what I was supposed to be doing instead of knitting Percy. On the other hand, it about drove me to distraction to have to halt a project so close to the end – and right in the middle of the nupps, which I had finally gotten down to a fine science. I was seriously annoyed! It did, however, give me a compelling reason to look forward to coming home from my trip. πŸ˜‰

Then, I tumbled on the way to the airport heading home. 😦 Six long weeks of looking at my nearly done Percy, which was cuddled longingly against the bag of remaining fiber… Despite the major amount of knitting I was accomplishing, I couldn’t keep my mind of Percy, especially as I watched the target completion date come and go.

Finally, I was actually told I was SUPPOSED to spin – HURRAH! So what’s the first thing I did? Panicked! I have so little experience on the wheel, that it suddenly hit me I didn’t have a snowball’s chance of spinning yarn that matched the original… sigh… So I grabbed something totally different to warm up – the yarn I am now knitting into Catenary. At the beginning of this past weekend, though, I was out of excuses, and I knew I needed to face the fiber.

I learned a lot! The first thing I learned is that I’ve learned a lot. I’m not a good spinner yet, but I’m a much better spinner than I was two skeins ago. My new yarn is much more even – actually too even to blend in with the old yarn on this project. Thankfully, with where it falls in the shawl, that doesn’t much show – though I wouldn’t want the piece scrutinized by a judge or anything. πŸ˜‰ The second thing I learned is that even a beginner can make dramatically different yarns from the same wad of roving… But the funniest discovery was that somehow with all that, my new yarn came out within a few inches of being the same number of yards per ounce as the original. I was pleased with that – though it was also a jolt. So many people believe that yards per ounce/pound is the ultimate way to judge whether yarns match, but I’m here to tell you that is definitely not the case! My two examples feel, drape, handle, and look totally different from one another – and they are even from the same hunk of wool!

Once I washed and dried my new yarn, it was no effort at all to pick up Percy to knit, despite my current addiction to Catenary, and in a few hours (most of which were spent concurrently in fervent prayer that the additional 113 yards I’d squeezed out of the remaining fiber would hold out ’til the end) I had Master Percy finished, cast off, sewn in and ready to block. A few hours after that, the sun rose on a perfectly splendid day, blessed with a warm, dry breeze and a clear, sunny, late summer sky. I had Percy soaking in a matter of minutes and blocked before breakfast. πŸ™‚ Although it was warm and dry to the touch by lunchtime, I left it out for the rest of the day, as wool can retain a good amount of moisture and still feel dry.

Looks a bit like a huge moth landed on the fence, doesn’t it?

It’s a little bit impossible to get perfectly even nupps with beginner’s handspun yarn. πŸ˜‰

As much as I loved it before, I’m totally blown away by it blocked. I’m doing the happy dance tonight! πŸ˜€

Vital Statistics – Percy, by Sanne Kalkman, is available as a free download on Ravelry. Mine was knit with 500 yards of handspun that vacillated from sock to sport weight wool yarn on size 6 needles. Finished wingspan is 60″, and the center back measures 29″ long.

Catenary Cave-in

This isn’t going to shock anyone who knows me the least little bit. Despite having SO many things I’m supposed to be doing, my newly spun yarn sort of jumped on my needles a couple days ago – right after it forced me to take a peek on Ravelry to see what sort of pattern might be “just right.” Actually, the first time I looked, I found some really nice patterns, but not “the” pattern. When I bowed to pressure the second evening, the first pattern that popped up was Catenary by Kiersten Brandt, and it was perfect – precisely what I wanted! I was looking for something with a plain field, but not boring, and I wanted it to be adjustable so that I could use as much of my yarn as possible. I think Kiersten designed Catenary just for me! :o)

Shadystroll on Ravelry made some modest changes in the cast on and straight edge, and I decided I like the look that created, so I borrowed those modifications. Also, after knitting a repeat or two, I decided the row of finer eyelets just didn’t fly as well in the handspun yarn, so I frogged it and reworked it with the eyelet section being k2tog, yo, k2, yo, k2tog with a purl back on the even number rows. It looks much better for my yarn, and as frustrated as I was at the time I did it, I’m glad I made the change.

This is proving to be a fun, fast little knit. I’m really enjoying my yarn, which is knitting up nicely for me, thick and thin notwithstanding. Cindy in FL, thank you for your encouragement, information, and advice to go on and trust the yarn. You were right; it works! πŸ™‚ And I also know what to try to watch more closely the next time…

Published in: on September 9, 2010 at 5:03 am  Leave a Comment  
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Best Ever Calendar!

Okay, not everyone will agree with that bold statement, but for knitters and crocheters, this is total genius! A German company has produced a calendar that is knitted – a flat sheet of knitting with the days and dates printed down the length of the piece, January at the bottom, December at the top. At the end of the day, just frog it – maybe knitting a few rows into a new project. By the end of the year, your calendar has become something much more useful than landfill. Click here to see it. (This is a 2011 calendar, so the link won’t be working 6-8 months from the initial date of this post.) I’m loving it! There has to be a fun way to play with this idea… Hmmm…

Published in: on September 8, 2010 at 1:45 am  Leave a Comment  
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Finished and Flawed, but Fantastic!

I got my singles plied last night. It took what seemed like forever, too! Turns out I got 515 yards of yarn out of the 4 ounces I spun. That would explain why I spent so many hours at the project… I certainly won’t be entering it in any competitions or anything, as it’s very far from perfect. There are some major areas of “brilliance” though, which excite me a lot, and flawed or not, I love my new skein of yarn. Now I’m feeling seriously obsessed with knitting it for some reason… πŸ˜‰

Sorry – no pix of the really bad spots. I’m trying to focus on what I did fairly well and ignoring the odd little loopy spots. I do wish I knew what I’d done wrong to produce them, though. It’s a doubly tough mystery,Β  since they didn’t show until I washed the skein. Is there a book out there somewhere with close ups of spinning errors and solutions?

Published in: on September 7, 2010 at 12:30 am  Comments (2)  
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