Summer of Dreams Warm Up

I’m getting so excited about starting my Summer of Dreams projects! And I’m also excited about our group! I started a Ravelry group a couple days ago, and it’s grown quickly to 20 members from across the USA and Europe! There’s still plenty of time if you want to join us. Find Summer of Dreams HERE on Ravelry. My yarn is wound for the Waffle Blanket I’m knitting. How about a big pile of yarny goodness? I sure wish I knew where that missing skein was. The last thing I want to do is finish my blanket and THEN find it!

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So, I finished my three fabric projects for Loopy Academy, and I’m so itchy to cast on my summer projects that I can scarcely bear it, so in order to defuse a bit of that energy, I decided to work on a shorter term dream project today. I’ve wanted to play around with some Nuno Felting for several years, and just to get a toe in the water, I’d purchased a couple kits last autumn from Heartfelt Silks. Today I dug them out, along with the other gear I’d collected for the project, and I decided to tackle the “Lightweight Scarf” project. First thing I discovered left me a bit puzzled… I had not one, but three lengths of colored cheesecloth for a backing. My BFF was the one that solved the riddle by discovering online that I should be able to make 3 scarves or one wide shawl. Not sure why that info wasn’t in the package… After trying to figure out what I’d do with 3 scarves, I decided to try to blend them into one shawl instead, but this will definitely be an experiment. Figures I’d end up making my first project harder… πŸ˜‰

This evening I staked a claim on our large, covered, concrete porch and started to work on part the first, not finishing until it was dark. Sigh… No good photos of “so far” and no part the second. However, here’s a teaser:

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I’m hoping against hope that overlapping the two layers and adding wool will “glue” them together. I most certainly wish that: 1. She hadn’t cut the cheesecloth in the first place, as it’s easier to cut it apart than put it back together again. 2. She’d put in more wool, as my 1/3 of simply didn’t cover the entire length of the cheesecloth, so I ended up shortening it. 3. That I’d not run out of daylight! πŸ˜€ What I did right so far – watch LOTS of YouTube videos! I think I would have felt totally lost reading the directions if I’d not seen the process demonstrated.

 

 

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Published in: on May 31, 2016 at 5:47 am  Leave a Comment  
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Summer of Dreams

I’m going to try something new. It seems like the only blogging I get done anymore is explaining why I’m not blogging. I’ve decided that’s a total waste of time. So I’m just going to pretend like I’ve not been AWOL and go for it. πŸ˜‰

So…

For the past few years, along with my BFF (joylinnknits on Ravelry), I’ve been participating in The Loopy Ewe’s Summer Camp and having a lot of fun. However, there’s been a naggingΒ feeling growing as I work on those projects that perhaps I’m being more true to The Loopy Ewe (which I love, so don’t get me wrong here…) than to myself. As the last half of the final project sped across my needles last August, a plan took shape in my mind which seemed a most excellent alternative – now dubbed “Summer of Dreams.”

Very logically, in order to win a skein of prize yarn, The Loopy Ewe requires participants to purchase their project yarn (on sale) from them during the month of the particular challenge and to fulfill their specific inspiration and yardage challenges each month. I have absolutely no pick with this, as they always have a nice prize, and it’s a very well run event.

However…

I also have some very nice yarn in my stash, and I have a LOT of projects favorited on Ravelry and planned, and by spending my summer buying new yarn and starting projects that fit the criteria for the Camp challenges, I wasn’t getting anywhere on them. This was making me a little sad. And I’m sure I’ve started hearing fuzzy little sobs coming from a few particular tubs of yarn.

What to do?

Well…

This summer I’m still doing a challenge, but it’s a challenge of my own design – Summer of Dreams. Requirements are:

  1. Using new or recently purchased yarn, make a project that I’ve been wanting to make for a good while.Β (For my purposes, it’s been “at least” a year.)
  2. Make a project that’s been dreamed of and stashed for awhile. (See that “year” business in #1.)
  3. Complete a UFO that got pushed aside (probably when I started working on a Camp Loopy project!).
  4. As with Camp Loopy, this will start June 1 and needs to be completed by August 31. However, the three projects don’t have their own months and can be worked in any order or simultaneously if that suits.
  5. As with Camp Loopy, the total yarn usage is at least 1800 yards. However, there isn’t any yardage requirement on any particular project, just the overall total, so if you’ve been dreaming forever of making a couple of headbands and a full-sized Shetland Lace shawl, then go for it!

As with Camp Loopy, there is a prize at the end, BUT it’s something of my own choosing (think “DREAM”) and it’s purchased with the money I didn’t spend buying yarn. I’ve already picked out the Taj Shawl knit in the Moroccan color way of some ridiculously delicious Artyarns camel/silk – something I’d have never splurged on otherwise, but which is definitely less expensive than a summer of Camp purchases.

I’m excited, because my BFF is committing to knit Summer of Dreams with me. I have my projects picked out, and I’m chomping at the bit to cast on! I’ll FINALLY be knitting a Strandwanderer, using some (need I say yummy?) Wollmeise I purchased this past spring, Ana Sancho Rumeu’s Waffle Blanket from the brownΒ Plymouth Marley yarn I purchased a couple years ago, and I’ll be finishing my barely begun Gallantry, which I started April a year ago and put down within a week or two when vacation, then Camp, took over my life.

So… Now that I’ve said all this, I’m issuing an invitation. Do YOU need a Summer of Dreams? Are there projects you’ve wanted to do “forever” that just aren’t happening? Here is your chance to join us as we make some dreams come true! Perhaps you just love the idea and want to set up your own challenge, or perhaps you want to knit along with us using the same rules we have set. If so, drop a comment at the bottom of this post saying you’re joining us on this adventure. If we end up with at least five knitters, I will come up with a prize and have a drawing at the end of August, with everyone who completes the Summer of Dreams challenge being eligible. So not only will you have made 3 of your dreams come true, but maybe you’ll get a prize, too. Sure can’t beat that combination!

So, what do you think?

 

Published in: on May 28, 2016 at 3:23 am  Comments (1)  
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First Two FO’s of the Year

I may be behind posting, but at least it’s not as far behind as I am on last year. πŸ˜‰ I have not one, but TWO projects finished, and before they become ancient history, I want to share.

The first official finished project of 2012:

I started this yarn last August when I needed something to do and demonstrate with whilst acquainting a new spinner with her new wheel. The colored fiber was a lightly roving of Australian 54’s – pretty enough, but nasty to work with since it was lightly felted. Predrafting took some effort, but paid off in the end. I bought the roving as part of a destash before I knew anything at all about spinning. Good thing I only paid $5 for it, but I still wonder about the morals of the woman who sold a novice roving in this condition. 😦 The white I picked up at Heritage in Michigan last summer. It was possibly the most unpleasant roving I’ve worked with. It was chock full of VM of the sort that doesn’t fall out during spinning, so I had to stop regularly and pry the bits loose. It also was prone to tangling, forming little neps constantly. Wish I’d written down what sort of fiber it was, as I don’t want to make that mistake again, but for some reason, I don’t have that information. Regardless of the struggles, I do have well over 600 yards of “Buttermint,” as I’ve christened it, and almost 50 spare yards of white to use as trim on something. It came out about sportweight. Not sure what I’ll do with it yet. It felts easily and it’s not my normal colors, so it will take some thought. Open to suggestions!

The second project I finished just this week, marking one of the 3 past due Christmas gifts off the to do list at long last. πŸ™‚ That is a tremendous relief! Although I started this project last February, life quickly got in the way, and it didn’t much progress for quite a while. Ultimately, it was nearly all knitted after mid-October and while I was working frantically to do so many other major tasks at the same time that I couldn’t begin to count them.

The story behind this is that for Christmas 2010, my younger daughter had put a knit afghan sold by Land’s End on her Christmas list. I found this somewhat insulting, beings as I’m a knitter, so I finally braved asking her why that one and not one that her mom made for her. Her response was, “If you can make one that pretty, go ahead!” Considering how simple it was, that was NOT a problem! This is a close copy of the one from the catalog, but possessing more cables and substantially larger, since both of them are tall and my son-in-law is definitely not a scrawny fellow. At Christmas, it was larger than the average afghan, so I took it out to show, hoping for the go ahead to bind it off and be done. She asked how much more yarn I had – answer being 8 balls, which was 40% of the total I’d purchased. She told me to use it all! WAH!!! 😦 Well, it’s done now, and it’s a BIG blanket!!! It’s so big that I had to start carrying it in a mammoth tote bag with more internal capacity than my roll on suitcase, limiting the places I could take it as social knitting. The yarn is Lambs Pride Superwash Bulky, and I really enjoyed working with it. It was a pleasure to knit, and despite running 2136 yards through my needles, I never really grew tired of it. Since it is superwash, it was a bit of a bear to wet splice, but with perseverance, all superwash wools that I’ve used have finally capitulated, and I’d rather work hard for that bond than darn in 40 ends in a somewhat slippery yarn on a project that is going to receive heavy use by a non-knitting family. This yarn, though called bulky, knits more like an aran weight, IMO. The basic pattern I used was All Natural Cables by Lion Brand, biggest modification simply being the length. If I had it to do over again, knowing I was going to use all the yarn, I’d have made it one cable wider and just run out of yarn sooner, I think. It’s being delivered to her as I type this, and hopefully she will send me a picture of it in her lovely home, so I can update the post with an in situ photo.

Wool Gathering 2011

So I’m going to see what happens if I try to do some blogging. It’s been so many weeks that I almost feel like a stranger here, and, of course, I’ve not been around simply because so very much has been happening.

Today, I thought I’d share Wool Gathering 2011 (Yellow Springs, Ohio) with you. It was such a joy to be able to do something that is a special annual treat despite the strain and pressure of my current real life. It sure was hard to believe it had been an entire year since the last event! I also couldn’t believe I walked out of the house without my camera for the first time ever. I knew I was forgetting something, but for it to be my camera tells you that my brain just isn’t all here! Anyway, that means that all the pix are after the fact, with the exception of the one I shot with my phone, which turned out much better than I’d expected. Now I wish I’d have done a bit more of that. 😦 Ah, well…

In addition to the hours I enjoy chatting with vendor friends I see just once a year, time exploring new ideas and gaining knowledge about fiber and using it, and just enjoying the general atmosphere (and when I have it, keeping my camera busy…), cruising through the vendor’s area is always a huge part of the fun. πŸ˜‰ I really think I did well this year in thinking through my purchases. I saw every booth at least briefly, found virtually everything on my wishlist (except for a particular skein of commercial yarn that I was planning to buy online), and shopping carefully even came home with a few dollars (note “few”) in my purse. 24 hours later, I still love everything I bought, am enjoying the diversity of my choices, and don’t think I made any mistakes, so I’m happy. πŸ™‚ So, what did I bring home? With apologies for the pix, as WordPress seems to be rationing how many large photos I can post at once:

A carved bone shawl pin from Gita Marie. Believe it or not, I didn’t have a white shawl pin!

Paco, a new alpaca for the Hitty crew, which pleases them greatly. He’s ready to shear, and they are ready to spin! Hitty D was out in the pasture with him today, and reports he’s settling in quite nicely.

I picked up a lovely lucet made from Honduran Leopard wood from Margaret Ledrich. She had dozens of beauties from which to choose, so I finally decided to narrow my choices down to just those made from Honduran wood. That at least helped. πŸ˜‰

Wolle was a new vendor this year, and I was captivated with her yarn, which is gradient cotton thread, 4-strand, untwisted. Sadly enough, she didn’t have the colorway I was desperate to own in the size ball needed for my first choice pattern, but I’m quite fond of my Plan B, and I look forward to knitting it. πŸ™‚ I’m going to keep an eye on her etsy shop in hopes of snagging my first love sometime soon.

I needed two sets of knitting needles for immediate projects. How weird it is that I “need” needles with all those I have here! However, knitting a scarf on needles with 40″ cables isn’t a lot of fun, and since they won’t fit in my needle tote, I’d never gotten around to purchasing 35’s… The size 3 needles are Addi Lace, far from being my favorite needles, but since the only 3’s I had free when I started on the project last week were the Addis I never use, I was afraid to change brands now, so now I have another pair of last resort needles. πŸ˜‰ The 35’s, which look a LOT bigger in person than they do in this picture, are designed and sold by HPKY, another vendor who got my business for the first time this year – in a big way, as you will see later…

I didn’t have bunny fur on my shopping list this year, but when I saw this angora roving, I just couldn’t walk away from it! I love the teensy specks of color, and I think it’s going to make beautiful yarn. I meant to go back to her booth to buy some plain white at the end of the day, but I got sidetracked then ran out of time.

I barely managed to avoid buying any more alpaca fleece or fiber, which is tough, because Wool Gathering is particularly blessed with awesome alpaca offerings. However, I did finally buy my first llama fleece. Pia was the donor, and she lives at Agape Lland Llamas. I know this looks gray in the pix, but it’s really an intense black, and it’s also one of the softest llama fleeces I’ve touched. Took me a lot of years to get llama, but I think it was worth the wait. πŸ™‚

Since I’m on the topic of fleeces and waits, it’s a good time for me to confess I brought home a sheep fleece, too… BUT just one! I was deadset determined not to bring home any fleece unless it was a new to me fleece. There are usually a lot of really nice fleeces at Wool Gathering, but they tend to be from the same vendors, hence the same breeds. I figured I was going to be coming home fleece free. HAH! Lunabud Knits surprised the socks right off of me by having a yummy, even though unskirted, Texel fleece, and Texel has been on my priority list for a long time! Happiness is…

Thinking ahead, I was pretty sure my anti-alpaca pact was going to keep me safe at Tri-Valley Alpacas, vendors who have sent me home with a “few” pounds of gorgeous alpaca fleece in past years. What I didn’t successfully predict was the new assortment of other goods that were at their booth this year, nor did I anticipate the reaction I had when I put this really great little duffle tote on my shoulder. I’m a pushover for Latin American weaving anyway, and turning into a tote addict, too, it seems. It came in handy yesterday. πŸ˜‰

The first booth where I caved and made a purchase was also the first booth I came to after entering the gate. Basically, my reserve didn’t last as long as I’d planned for it to hold out. What I can say in my defense is that I could have very happily filled my car in the Wooly Knob tent, but managed to walk out with just one kitchen trash bag of roving dangling from my arm, so… I was affectionately calling this purchase my junk food. After spending so much time this past year washing fleeces, carding, dyeing, combing, blending, etc., buying this enticing stuff felt guiltily wonderful – fast, easy, and (stash)fattening – and I love it! πŸ˜€ This is my first Wooly Knob fiber, but what I found interesting is how many people seeing my bag grinned at me and said it looked like I’d been to Wooly Knob. I’m eager to see what I’ve been missing! I got a sweater’s worth (I hope) of the denim blue, and I’m thinking that the white with sari silk will be employed with something else – probably solid – in the end. Beyond loving it, I’m not sure what I’m going to do with the black/blue/purple/green striped roving yet.

This might be my most unexpected purchase. It also might be the item that drew the most comments from others the entire day, though I carried it around during only the last 45 minutes. I spotted this Bonnet Basket, woven by Margaret Lou Bickenheuser (contact – mylittlebasketshop at yahoo dot com) well before noon, did my drooling over it, then walked away quite certain I’d seen it for the last time. When I walked back past the booth a little after 6:00, it was still sitting there… waiting… and although I spent a good bit of time trying to convince myself that I didn’t need to take it home, as you can see, I didn’t succeed. I love the walnut inserts and the overall solidity of the basket, and it’s plenty big to hide a multitude of fiber indiscretions. πŸ˜‰

This is a bit “cart before the horse,” but it was just so perfect… In the HPKY (Hand Painted Knitting Yarns) booth, one of the very first things I saw in the entire show, but the very last purchase I made, I saw a simple garterstitch sweater that I just loved. I’m not making sweaters for myself until I can wear the size I want stay, so I’ve walked away from a lot of sweater opportunities. I’ve also favorited a lot of sweaters on Ravelry! This was my downfall. The yarn and pattern to make the sweater came home with me as a reward – my dangling carrot. When the day comes that I start knitting this, there will be a glow from my grin lighting the skies over Ohio and probably visible 3 states away. πŸ™‚ I adore the colorway, and the featherlight baby alpaca yarn (Rome) is incredibly soft! The yarn presentation is interesting. Somehow all the skeins are braided together into this big megaskein, which will definitely keep everything in one spot. πŸ™‚ I looked on Ravelry, hoping to post a link to the sweater pattern, Ilaria, but there isn’t one up there, so you’ll have to wait a while. It’s going to be so fun using this incredible yarn to do this quick knitting project. I can’t wait! (Have I said that before?)

One of the best places to spend time, IMO, is in the Benjamin Green Studio booth. If you’ve been reading my blog very long, you know I have an impressive collection of his work, including a few “rare” pieces. This year I went with the intention of adding a hackle to my line up of tools and let him know in advance. He went prepared, but ended up selling my hackle before I found his booth. Imagine my shock when he offered to sell me his own personalized hackle instead! I was very honored, and I love my new acquisition. πŸ™‚ The fun didn’t stop there, though. Having seen my wool comb photo from last year, he was horrified that I’d managed to buy the one comb that walked out of his booth with some bent teeth. I was duly provided with a comb tooth straightener, and we all had a good laugh over the whole thing. πŸ˜€ The surprises weren’t over yet, though. I’d been bugging him for several years to build a drop spindle lazy kate, and this year he came through for me with a beautifully simple design that works wonderfully and folds flat for storage. I love it! I only have one spindle loaded in the picture, but it does hold two. He also has made adapter pieces that will convert it to hold two bobbins or quills. I added an itty bitty niddy noddy to my pile off booty. I couldn’t resist its 24″ skein size. Like I said, I love shopping Ben’s booth! His only problem now is that he is going to have to come up with something new for me to buy next year! πŸ˜‰ I have an idea or two for him…

So that’s the end of what I bought at Wool Gathering – except for the typically delicious supper at Young’s Jersey Dairy, which provides the grounds where WG is held each year. What I haven’t shared is the other item that jumped into my car yesterday…

No I have no idea where I’m going to put it at this point! I’ve only been to 4 yard sales all year long, but let’s face it, if 25% of yard sales I went to always netted me things like this, I’d spend more time on the road during the summer!

Having a great wheel is a dream I’ve held for nearly 30 years, and I’m still trying to believe that it has really come true! To find one in working order and with a weasel to boot unexpectedly at a yard sale feels truly miraculous. Yesterday was one fantastic day for this fiber lover!!! πŸ˜€

Pamuya!

Okay, when it takes 4 days to get a shawl unpinned from the blocking mat, I know life is entirely too busy!This is my Pamuya, all finished and ready for duty. I know I’ve said this before, but I absolutely love this little shawl! The biggest reason for my romance at moment is that it is ever so much prettier than I expected it to be. I felt terribly insecure picking colors for it online, and it’s just a little out of my comfort zone to mix colors like this, so that makes a success feel all the more exciting.It was knit with two balls of Fleece Artist Trail Socks yarn, using about 75% of each ball once I rearranged my color plan. The biggest change I’d make if I knit this again is that I would do the Tiny Crosses sections with needles one size larger than the rest of the shawl. Those areas pull in quite a bit even with me consciously working them as loose as I could, and it made blocking a bit more of a challenge. I have some bits of info written out on my Ravelry page to help make this pattern look a bit sharper if you are working it in two colors, so check it out if you are planning to do that. πŸ™‚ The pattern by Alexandra Wiedmayer is also available there. I highly recommend it for a truly fun, interesting, and cheerful knit. πŸ™‚

Published in: on July 5, 2011 at 8:51 pm  Comments (3)  
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Camp Loopy: Dealing With a Few Loose Ends

So I’ve been a VERY bad girl – which doesn’t really take a lot, since I’m supposed to be fully focused on my MSP at the moment, a project that is taking many more hours than the predicted 100-150, and doing anything else is naughty. I’ve been trying hard to stay with the homework as much as possible, but there’s only so much “being good” that this person can manage. A few weeks back, I was needing a few minutes of break time and inadvertently (honest!) hit the link to the Loopy Ewe blog, where Summer Camp had just been announced. I temporarily took leave of my senses and signed up for camp, buying the requisite yarn and pattern, then feeling dreadfully guilty – enough so that I didn’t even tell my best friend what I’d done. Before my yarn arrived, she confessed to having done the same a day or two after me – and she picked the same pattern to knit… Pamuya.

Camp started on June 15th, and I could see no reason not to have my shawl knocked out by the weekend, or at least by the end of the first week of camp. Then I could go back to being a good little student, washing fleeces, spinning, writing reports… The yarn came about a week before camp started, and as tempting as it was, I did manage to wait, working hard the entire time to free myself up for some fun. All I wanted to do was knit my Pamuya, but I did such a good job of waiting that when midnight came, announcing the 15th, I realized I’d not even caked my yarn! It’s beautiful, soft stuff from Fleece Artist (a first for me), and the colors are gorgeous. What was NOT gorgeous was the discovery that the skeins were 25m shorter than promised. I called Loopy Ewe the next day, and of course, the color I needed the most was out of stock. However, the Seafoam was still available, and with another skein on the way, I rethought my design and plunged back into my renovated project.I love this pattern! I love the texture and the variation. I love the colors I chose and the yarn and the way the colors play together. And I’m going to confess that I suspect I like my remodeled colors even better than I’d have liked the original plans. I like it all a little too much, and every stitch I put into it was making me feel guilty. Finally I decided to give myself a particular assignment from my homework each day, and once it was done, I could knit. That didn’t work so well, and I went nearly a week without working on it at all! 😦Week two came to an end, and I still wasn’t done with what should have been a quick and easy project.Then I had a birthday… πŸ˜€ I had spent the weekend fighting with a part of my homework that wasn’t playing nice, and when midnight Tuesday morning announced the beginning of my celebration day, I stomped my foot and announced to the dog that I was NOT going to fight with silk and merino on my birthday – period! Instead, I knit on Pamuya through Sound of Music, You’ve Got Mail, and finally Titanic, getting tantalizingly close to the end, and loving it more by the minute.

Last night, I reached the edge, revised by the addition of two extra rows, and bound off. I so love this little shawl!Now I just have a few loose ends to deal with… sigh…And if you noticed the change in photo sizes, all the sudden, in the middle of writing this post, WordPress found itself incapable of dealing with the pictures in the normal size. 😦

Re-materializing

I figure that’s a good title, since it sort of looks as if I evaporated this past month. Now whereas I’d love to tell you I’m just home from some delicious, new foreign adventure, I make every effort to be honest here, so I won’t. Part if my MIA time did involve travel, however. πŸ™‚ And although I had a wonderful time, I was doing pretty much everything BUT lazing about! I spent a couple weeks visiting my older daughter. This used to be something we planned often, but when she moved to Honduras, that became a bit more challenging, and when I went to see her there, the focus was a lot different. I do miss going to Honduras terribly, but it was a real joy to have our old times back again, too. πŸ™‚

Since I just has my wonderful Fiber Adventure Week with so much “playtime,” when I packed for my trip, I took important stuff with me instead. To be quite honest, with what I packed, I could have stayed for 3-4 months before I’d have been in danger of running out of work to do. I had a few grand accomplishments and made some great progress on things. It’s amazing how much more gets done when there’s no internet, pets, housekeeping, and in-law attics on my daily schedule. I could use more time like that!

One huge, but no photo, project was working with my daughter to complete 15 pages in a scrapbook I’d assembled with contributions from friends and family in honor of her 16th birthday. The combination of trying to do both a scrapbook and quilt secretly while homeschooling the girls and the fact that there are a lot of procrastinators in the world kept me from getting it entirely done in time for the big day, and somehow we just never quite finished it. It’s very close to completion now, though, and we hope to see it done by the end of the year. One big sticking point is trying to locate a picture of Fairfield Elementary School, which was in Highland, Ohio. The school has since been razed, and hours of searching have so far shown me no pictures. I can’t believe that NO one has a photo, but whoever it is doesn’t seem to have posted it online, and all local sources I’ve checked have come up empty as well.

The yarn I started spinning during Fiber Adventure Week is plied, washed, and fantastic!I was counting on human imperfection causing the colors to change at slightly different rates in each of the three bobbins of yarn, with the hope being a very gradual shift in color over the length. This both worked and didn’t work. The imperfections exist, the shift is gradual, but it was a little bit TOO imperfect, and I reached the end with very unequal leftover singles, leaving me very little solid black yarn. I think I’m going to write to Kimber (Fiber Optics) and see if she can make me a bit of solid black roving.
I ended up with12 ounces, 860 yards of 3-ply yarn, about 11-12 wraps per inch, so roughly sport/DK weight. It’s soft and smooshy and absolutely gorgeous, and I’m SO wanting to cast it on right now! However, I’m trying very hard to be good. Perhaps it needs to be my reward for when I send in my completed Master Spinner homework…

Speaking of which, I spent hours making mini yarn skeins and then started the dyeing portion of that homework. Her stove was giving me fits, though, and I had a few unfortunate occurrences. I finally decided to pack that project in for when I was at home, and I’ve not looked at it since I came back.Β  Hopefully I’ll feel better about it for having been distanced from it for a few weeks now. No pix at the moment. I’m sure I took some, but must have missed them when I transferred things after I got home.

My other really big milestone was finishing the first panel of my Burridge Lake Afghan. I was “only” six weeks behind schedule when I did that, and I’ve not made up any more time since. I’ve only done one and a half repeats of the center panel so far, and it’s supposed to be entirely done by the end of June. I’ll just say now that it’s not going to happen!

I did some other spinning, some knitting, listened to 3-4 audiobooks, put a lining in my first felted bag, looked at all the scrapbooks the two of us have created, had some great food, slept well nearly every night, finally got to hear her chorus perform live, was taken out for Mother’s Day, and traded what turned out to be a totally dead sewing machine in for an entry level Bernina. In other words, it was non-stop action – the sort of which I wish I could manage all the time! I had a grand couple of weeks, despite most all of it being “work.” πŸ™‚

Then I came home.

It seems that as I was leaving town (and the internet), MyPhotoAlbum announced that they were closing the site at the end of May. I had so very much info stored there and nowhere else… Several years ago, in fairly rapid succession, Yahoo photos and Epson’s photo site both closed down, leaving me in photo-shock. People warned me away from free photo sites, saying that they are very unreliable, and that I should go to a paid set up. Enter MyPhotoAlbum. I spent untold hours setting up beautiful albums and moving all my doll stories to the new location, rewriting as I felt necessary, and when I was done, I was extremely pleased. I absolutely loved that site. In the past three years, hundreds of people have enjoyed my picture albums and stories. Now suddenly, that’s going to be gone as of midnight on Monday. It was obviously a priority for me to salvage all my captions and pix from the site, and it took many hours over the past two weeks to accomplish that job. At this point, I don’t know if I’ll ever put them back online. Twice burned; twice shy. And it’s so much work to get it all set up. On the other hand, I do so love sharing the stories… Anyway, I just thought I’d mention it here in case anyone wants to see the albums one more time before the site closes. There’s a link in the sidebar here.

I have a lot more pix I could take and much more to share, but we’ll have to see how things fit together. I’ve been really busy washing fleece and working on my MSP homework, have some new toys, found new treasures at the in-law’s… loads of things I can share, assuming I can finagle the time. πŸ˜‰ Hopefully the next post won’t be a month coming… πŸ˜€

Fiber Adventure Week – Day 7

BLOG CANDY – NEXT POST!

Sigh… So today closed the main event, and I have to go back to being a little more normal person – sorting attics, cleaning toilets, answering email, listing items to sell… But this has been SO much fun! I feel lots more energetic, and I’m surrounded by great projects started and begging my time, so you’ll be getting progress reports from time to time as I work on them. And I already have ideas bouncing around for my next event. All I need is time… πŸ˜‰

Day 7 of Fiber Adventure Week started with the weekly Knitogether, a small group of local ladies I taught to knit, and one tagalong husband, who endeared himself even more deeply to us this week by bringing a pie he’d made. Yum! This is the first time we’ve had snacks, as we meet at the library. Gathering in the back room instead of out front wasn’t such a bad price to pay for such a treat. πŸ™‚

Not surprisingly, I slipped quickly into overdrive when I got home. I had about 4 days worth of stuff I wanted to do, and only one in which to do them. After I started a dye pot going, my first order of business was some fulling (aka felting). I really wanted to see what I could expect from the square I wove a couple days back, and since I was going to be filling the washer with hot water and agitating anyway, I decided I should go ahead and toss in my second Angela’s Fabulous Felted Bag, which I’ve christened “Needlenut” in honor of the spruce and hazelnut colored Wool of the Andes Bulky I used to knit it. I’d been holding back on the fulling part, because I needed to have one when the rest of the group gathers to do theirs, but my third is close enough to being finished that I figured it was safe to wash the second.Huge and floppy going in…And a nice sized, firm tote in the end. This one had an artistic nature. I worked and worked on it, but that top edge just refused to felt up as tightly as the rest of the bag, and I have no idea why – unless it’s been considering the overloaded appearance of my oft used first bag and thought a wide fill top was in order. πŸ˜‰ I finally decided to make it a design element and shaped it prettily. It’s different. πŸ˜‰ I love these bags! It will take a couple days (or with the amount of rain we’ve had lately, a couple weeks) until it’s thoroughly dry, then I’ll shave the areas that need it, clip ends, cut a board for the bottom, and go shopping for lining. Happy me!Although the bag took 3 full cycles, the square took literally a couple of minutes to reach one version of perfection. This is the same yarn I’m using on my current triloom project – Cascade Eco + – and I dearly love the way it came out of the wash. However, I’m going to have to watch it VERY closely when I full it. My square is exquisite for a throw, I think, but it wouldn’t take much more to turn it into a yurt wall.

Dyeing kept me very busy on Day 7. I found a lovely new way to make beautiful colors with Easter Egg dye, but I took step by step photos of the worst possible pot. They just don’t show enough to make it worth posting them, so I’ll just give you the quick details and then show what came out of the pot that has me grinning so broadly.

  1. Pick two colors that you think would be interesting together.
  2. Put 3 ounces vinegar, 4 cups of hot water, and one tablet in the crockpot. Turn it on.
  3. When dye tablet is dissolved, add 1 ounce of wet wool.
  4. Dissolve the second tablet in a half cup of hot water and soak another ounce of wool.
  5. Watch the first pot. The moment the dye is exhausted – or a couple seconds earlier, randomly add the second color solution. I used a syringe to shoot part of my color in so I knew it was clear through, then I drizzled the rest over the top.
  6. This might happen instantly, or it might take a couple of minutes, but watch your pot again. You’ll see the dye starting to strike and the water beginning to clear. Immediately put the second hunk of wool on top of the first and push it down into the water – but don’t stir. There should still be color in the water, but not nearly as strong. Your top wool will be much lighter than the bottom one, and the color won’t be entirely set in the lower one, so some will drift up into the upper one. Some of mine benefitted by me flipping the top wool over after about the first 60 seconds. Past that, I didn’t touch it. I didn’t want to spoil the mottled color effect.
  7. Simmer for about an hour, cool, rinse, and enjoy your two beautiful creations!

And this is just how I did it in my very little crockpot. You know by now that I hope you consider this just a jumping off point. Play! After all, that’s what I’m doing! πŸ˜‰First used yellow, then brown second. I almost chickened out of doing this one, but I’m really glad I didn’t!First used hot pink, then used orange. Subtle color shifts, but not so subtle colorway!First used strawberry (lighter pink), then purple. See? I finally managed to get a primarily purple dye job out of an Easter egg dye kit! πŸ˜€ Interestingly enough, the red part of the purple tablet struck at such lightening speeds that absolutely none was left for the top roving, and it came out a gorgeous pastel blue! This was the first one I did, and I didn’t have my technique quite down at that point, so the results might be slightly different if done over – though I doubt it would make a whole lot of difference. Even with 2 ounces of wool in the pot, there was a little bit of leftover blue dye in the pot.And this is my very favorite! I’d not mind having a LOT of this set. πŸ™‚ Dyed electric blue first, then teal (which, remember, looks more like grass green). See? I actually got something that LOOKS like teal in this bargain!

I reserved just a bit of the yellow dye and still had the chartreuse (so called spring green) tablet, and I decided to test drive dyeing some of the mawata I bought Monday. The first big discovery I made is that silk might be a great candidate for Kool-aid dyeing; it stinks when wet!!! 😦I’m rather surprised at my results, as silk usually dyes brilliantly. I suspect I may have needed more vinegar? Or there’s a magic trick I have to discover somewhere that needs to be used when dyeing silk. I have lovely silk, but I also washed a lot of dye down the drain rinsing them, and they left enough dye in the pot to turn another ounce of wool this beautiful pastel yellow.While dye pots were simmering, I was doing some other little projects. I braided and sewed another mug rug (Yeh, I haven’t sewn the second braid yet, but…), then steamed the 2 that are finished. Nice? πŸ™‚ I did a lot better job on this one, I think. This is a good thing, since ultimately I’d love to make a rug…And after watching Judith MacKenzie spinning from a mawata on the Luxury Fibers DVD, I was curious to try doing it. Definitely an interesting and fun experience, and not so hard as I’d expected, even though I was using my Peruvian spindle instead of my otherwise occupied wheel. It takes a LOT of twist, and the fact that I achieved a reasonably consistent yarn pleased me greatly.Because of the nature of mawata, spinning from them doesn’t create the quintessential sleek silk yarn that comes from reeled silk or even tops. There are built in slubs and inconsistencies, but they make a very pretty, strong, fine yarn with relative ease. Out of just one layer of silk hankie, I spun 3 yards of 2-ply yarn at approximately 36 wraps per inch. How fascinating it is to compare the appearance of this yarn with the project I’m knitting unspun straight from the hankies. It was a good experiment, and I want to do more of this, but next time I’ll use either my wheel or a little heavier spindle.I wondered if I could finish my first Fiber Optics roving tonight, but it was not to be. I did make good progress, finally reaching the first of the black. I’m still enjoying this project for the most part, but whereas the first half of the roving spun like butter, somewhere around halfway, I began to be plagued by nepps and rough spots. That’s slowed me down a lot, as my goal – and initial success – was a fine worsted spun yarn. These irregularities are enough to throw off the balance of this still newbie spinner, but I suspect I will still be pleased enough in the end to forget my current irritation with the roving. I guess that’s one benefit of not being good enough to even imagine perfect spinning yet. πŸ˜‰I only got to watch the first DVD of tonight’s review set, but WOW! Deborah Robson’s Handspinning Rare Wools; How to spin the, why we should care is destined to be another of my favorites. I’ve always been drawn to the unique and unusual rather than automatically being part of the flock, so when I started looking at fleeces, I quickly found myself more drawn to Racka and Black Welsh Mountain than Corriedale and BFL. I also have a collector’s nature, so love to gather variety instead of getting into the rut of having one or two favorites. This DVD set was made for me, I think! I’m really enjoying the breed stories and watching her spin some of the challenges she’s explaining within the fleeces. And she’s full of wonderful ideas for using some of the “sturdier” wools – ideas I’d not come up with yet. This is another video set that’s going to get some regular use. I’ve not explored it yet, but there is some sort of printed material on the disks as well. I’m curious to see what it might be.And tonight, one last thing. My audiobook this week has very fittingly been Bellwether by Connie Willis. It was very enjoyable – a little predictable, but quite the pleasant read, as it was written with a sense of humor. Personally, I’m rather amused at the science fiction designation on the book. It’s fiction, and the primary setting is a science lab, but that’s as far as the connection goes. If you find yourself looking for a light, enjoyable read with a gentle romance interwoven with a few laughs, in a not so ordinary background fabric, I’d recommend it.

And so, that’s the end of my week – and the beginning of who knows what next! My next post will have the details about how you might win some blog candy… and prizes are, not surprisingly, related to this past week of my adventure. πŸ™‚

Fiber Adventure Week – Day 4

I’m going to start off with “business” today, but will make it short – promise! First, don’t forget that there is going to be some blog candy available at the end of the week, so stay tuned! I’ll be posting details Friday, assuming things go as planned, but I will tell you that the amount of candy passed out will be directly related to the amount of participation in the end. πŸ™‚

Secondly, I’ve received some comments that people can’t find how to post comments on my blog. It’s easy – once you know the trick! πŸ˜‰ If you are on the main blog page, scroll to the bottom of the post and look at the small print. You should see either “Comments” or “Leave a Comment.” Click on that, and you are set. The other way is to just click on the title of a post. That brings up a page that shows only that day’s post, and at the bottom of it, there will be a comment box.

Monday of my Fiber Adventure Week was just as busy as my previous 3 days, but I have a little less to share, because I spent a large part of the day away from home attending my knitting guild meeting and making my once a month pilgrimage to Fiberworks, my LYS that is actually an hour from home, to see if there happened to be any mandatory stash augmentations. Of course, since this time I was there with a shopping list, I didn’t have a lot of trouble spending too much…There’s a pile of Cascade 220 in dark green, brown, ivory, and pink for a weaving project – a throw, I believe, and some already caked (compliments of store employees) Cascade Eco + in blues and greens for another weaving experiment – a tote. The thick mawata stack is indicative of how fascinated I am with knitting from the hankies. πŸ™‚ There’s a bulk sack of generic undyed wool, bought primarily for sampling and class projects. I want to be able to use the same fiber consistently for as long as possible, as I feel that will keep my records more accurate, not to mention make my books more attractive to me. The bulky Mini Mochi was an “accident” – not on the list, but on clearance for 25% off. ‘Nuff said? And the yarn laying on the mawata is some Cascade Ultrapima and Noro Tanabata. These were an impulse buy, and I’m picturing them together, woven, and for a garment of some sort. The reason for the 3 roving nests will be explained later, and perhaps another day, also the felting tool… And I just realized, much to my shock, that the only thing I purchased to “probably” knit is the muwata. Oh dear…

The only one of my major continuing projects I worked on is the spinning. I’m now firmly entrenched in the red. The color makes me think of the flavor of my favorite cherry juice, if that makes sense. Is it possible to taste a color?Oh, and look how far I got on my Angela’s Fabulous Felted Bag! I was knitting like crazy during the guild meeting, and I think I put 4 stripes on it. Just imagine where I’d be if I’d not been late due to… ummm… checking out at the LYS… Ignore the colors. The real burgundy and mustard are a lot prettier and much more “me,” though I must say that the red and yellow I’m seeing on my screen would make an attention grabbing tote! Today’s real adventure arrived in the morning’s mail with decidedly good timing. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve wanted to make a braided wool rug, but it’s just never happened. Last week I made a serendipitous discovery on Etsy. ShepherdsRug has an intriguing spin on the braided rugs that grabbed my heart instantly. Instead of braided fabric strips, they use wool roving, making gorgeous rugs without the tedium of cutting and turning in edges, and decreasing the number of tools necessary for the project.Β  They sell gorgeous finished rugs, but they also have published a great book full of instructions and inspiration, along with some great background info on wool in general (great reference source for my MSP reports!) and information about working with the wool from various breeds when making braided rugs. Definitely recommend the book!I also recommend something else they sell – a mug rug kit. For $20, I got absolutely EVERYthing I needed to make two mug rugs with the braided roving technique, save for a pair of scissors to cut the lacing thread. The roving, sewing and felting needles, clamp, felting pad, instructions, linen thread, and even rubberbands are included. It’s one of the most complete kits I’ve ever seen. If you wonder if you’d enjoy this, get the kit and try it out. Look at the rug photos in their shop. You’ll know by then if you want the book. πŸ™‚ The basic concept is the same, but there are a few special techniques needed for the full sized rugs. BTW, those two full spools of thread aren’t part of the kit. I bought those extra. I believe in being prepared for all eventualities. πŸ˜‰And I spent the rest of my fiber time Monday night proving it works. πŸ™‚ And this would be why I picked up a few bits of roving at Fiberworks. I figured if I was going to be out anyway, I may as well take advantage of having some more colors to work with, so I took the kit along with me and plotted 4 rug mugs with the 6 included colors and 6 more yards from the store.

  1. Braid the roving.
  2. Taper the ends.
  3. Lace into a circle.
  4. Finished and fabulous!
  5. Then start another one… πŸ˜‰

Okay, so this is fun! I need to make a rug for sure now… πŸ™‚ I think I might need to check into how much it costs to have fleeces processed at a mill…Whilst braiding and spinning, I treated myself to another DVD by Judith MacKenzie – The Spinner’s Toolbox. I love this set! The focus is drafting, first an overview, then an in depth discussion of each of 6 basic techniques, with loads of examples and hints and even demonstrations of what NOT to do! She covers the strengths and weaknesses of each, and explains exactly why you need to have each of them in your repertoire.Β  I can see myself watching this repeatedly through the next few years, as it’s going to take a while to absorb, then execute everything she shares in these DVDs. After two evening of watching Judith’s instructionals, I’m seriously addicted, and I’m really glad I have two more of hers yet to go. πŸ™‚ My newest fantasy is for her to come teach somewhere in southern Ohio… soon… πŸ˜‰

Fiber Adventure Weekend – Day 3

I think today was too short. I lost track of time and was up way too late, not the least bit sleepy. I was trying to decide what to do next when I caught sight of the clock and gasped in horror. How I hated to go to bed! However, I’ve also made an executive decision. I’m enjoying this far too much to stop just yet. I have a big list of things I want to play with yet, so… drumroll, please… I’m changing this to a Fiber Adventure WEEK – 7 full days – AND…

At the end of the week, there’s going to be some blog candy to be had! Work for you? πŸ˜€ Total amount of candy to be disbursed will be based on the amount of participation. I’ll be posting details later in the week, but for now, you just may want to think about which activities or projects look like the most fun to you…

What was on the schedule for Sunday? Well, first, I managed to convince myself that laundry was a fiber project, though not so very adventurous. Since the decision to wash clothes or not was directly related to whether I could attend Monday’s meeting of the Dayton Knitting Guild and canvas my LYS, Fiberworks, for stash candidates, you can probably guess what I decided. πŸ˜‰ Then there were my continuing large projects, of course. I had a nice chunk of phone time, so the knitting on my newest Angela’s Felted Bag made some great progress. However, I forgot to take a picture of it before it saw Monday activity, so just use your imagination for this one. πŸ˜‰ I didn’t get a whole lot done on my triloom weaving, as my back was bothering me some, but still some progress.And the spinning is coming right along. The deep orange is starting to give way to red now, and I’m eager to see the full changeover soon. I would love to be able to fast forward to see the finished yarn, but that’s a while in the future yet.And a little bit more dyeing, as I finished the last three solids from a Dudley’s Easter Egg dyeing kit. I didn’t go beyond this today, because I’m plotting what comes next. πŸ˜‰I’m a bit baffled by the color names listed on the back of the package. The best I can figure, the green is teal and the neon chartreuse is the green. Who knows which is the pink vs. the strawberry… But the colors are fun, and I’m full of ideas. πŸ™‚A very important project for today is part of an ongoing adventure. I have cotton seedlings started, a total whim. I have no idea if I can actually grow and harvest cotton here, but I’m giving it a try! I started them indoors a few weeks ago, but I have no plant lights and not the best conditions, so despite them having their little heads above ground for several weeks, I’m still not seeing the first “real” leaves, and they (along with all my other seedlings) have really been struggling. Today I put 5 of the 8 into pots, hoping this will be better conditions for them. The weather was pretty, so they got a little sunshine and fresh air as well. I need at least one more pot and more soil, so I can get the rest of the cotton potted. I’m not sure any of my other seedlings will survive at all, and there’s probably going to be a lot of direct seeding in a few weeks as I start over. It’s been so sad to watch them struggle indoors. 😦My biggest adventure today was knitting from silk mawata (aka silk hankies). The evening that Tyg died, I was online noodling around on Etsy, and Wooliebullie had just listed a 42 gram package of hand-dyed mawata, colorway “Broken Heart.” I sort of felt like she’d put them there just for me, and I bought them without hesitation. Though I’ve bought several silk cocoon hankies in the past, I’d yet to actually do anything with them, and since this is a Fiber Adventure Week, what better time?! πŸ˜€ It’s turning out to be a fascinating process, and I’m enjoying it a lot. That would be why I didn’t get as much weaving done today as I’d expected. πŸ˜‰ If you’ve never worked with this fun fiber presentation, I’d definitely recommend you try it at least once. It’s a great way for a non-spinner to still be able to produce their own one-of-a-kind yarn, with no equipment required!

  1. Put on lots of hand lotion, even if you don’t think your hands are rough. Trust me on this!
  2. Peel of the first ethereal layer. Don’t do this in front of a fan…
  3. Poke a hole in the center of the silk.
  4. Put your hands in the hole and stretch the center out to the border.
  5. Decide how thick you want your yarn. You can stop without doing anything else, or you make it thinner by working your hands around the circle and stretching the fibers apart as you go. You will need to have your hands farther apart than you’ll probably start with, and you’ll have to pull harder than you expect. Silk is a very strong fiber! Plan to go around the circle several times, thinning the thickest spots and being careful not to break the ring. Remember, you don’t have to achieve perfection. The variations in thickness add character to handmade yarn.
  6. When you are satisfied with your yarn, break it on one place.
  1. Wind it on something – fairly tightly. This isn’t absolutely mandatory, but it does make a whole lot easier to manage. I’m putting mine on my nostepinne. You can prepare several at a time if you’d like.8. Knit! You don’t need to do anything else to it if you don’t want to. The fiber is so long that it makes a perfectly solid yarn and a lovely fabric with a nice hand

I’ve chosen to stretch my hankies until they are pretty close to 3 yards of total fiber, and I’m knitting on size 2 needles. The fiber is fluffy enough that it actually also worked on size 8 needles, but I found it challenging to work on circulars with it. It didn’t like jumping the hump, and I finally ripped it out. The size 2 needles are the largest metal DPN’s I could find on short notice, so they won by default, and I’m liking the fabric I’m achieving with them, too, so it’s a go. πŸ™‚ The photo above shows 5 filmy hankie layers knit into a tube with a cast on of 40 stitches on US 2 needles. It’s already over 1.25″ of knitting.

Also, there are other ways to attenuate the silk fiber, such as pulling the hankies from the corners, but I like this circular method. It seems easier to keep the thickness uniform this way. And if you like, there is absolutely no reason not to spin, and even ply, the hankies before knitting them. I’ve not tried it yet, but it seems like spinning them might produce a little bit more luster, but that’s just a theory, and you’ve seen how my theories have been working out lately. πŸ˜‰ Anyway, if you knit, you definitely need to try silk hankies at least once, just for the experience.While I was spinning and working with the muwata, I watched The Gentle Art of Plying by Judith MacKenzie. What a pleasure that was! This is a DVD I will watch again, and I’m definitely keeping this in my library, as it suits my tastes and needs well. I love the way she shares information and methods, then reminds us that there are always exceptions to even some of the most basic rules. She also is good about giving the “whys” of things, something I truly value in a teacher. I have at least one more set of DVD’s by her, and I’m really looking forward to watching them now. πŸ™‚

Okay, that’s all for now! Don’t forget to stay connected. Blog candy coming soon! πŸ™‚

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