Thursday, December 31, 2009

When it rains...

It pours. A lot.

I'm a little sad not to have posted in so long, but I definitely want to explain a little of why there isn't anything in the Etsy shop right now and why it's going to stay that way for a little while. Life (somehow- even beyond how life was early last month) really became overwhelming. Not bad, though. Just a lot of really big, good stuff all at the same time.

In the last month our home, which has been on the market since this last summer, got a solid offer. We're working through the final closing stuff right now and expect to be moving out by mid-January. We've also found out that we have a second child on the way -which was a HUGE surprise. Right now I'm around 11 weeks, and for the last month I've had pretty nasty morning sickness. It hasn't been as bad as it was with Paige, though it still usually lasts all day long. It's made work a much bigger challenge for the last four weeks, but I only have to muscle through one more week of work before I begin staying home full-time to pack for our move. When I was pregnant with Paige my morning sickness stayed until I was about 16-18 weeks (it's been so long I don't remember exactly), but I'm trying to stay hopeful that it will be done earlier this time.

So, with all this new stuff going on I haven't knitted a thing. I've only sat down at my wheel for 15-20 minutes a couple of different times in the last month, and I don't really expect to be doing anymore knitting or spinning until after we've moved. Though once we have moved, I expect to be doing a lot more knitting and spinning, as I wont be working and there is nothing to do in Forks during the winter, unless you hunt and fish.

I'm glad that I'll have a comforting activity to keep me occupied. My husband and I went out to the new town a couple of weeks ago to look at some rentals, and I ended up leaving with a very dismal feeling. I'm trying to keep things in perspective, though. I know I'm experiencing things through a lot of pregnancy hormones right now, and that can really mess with your point of view (if it didn't, we wouldn't start crying when our husbands tell us we're not going to the restaurant with our favorite salad bar). I'm just going to keep hoping that things will fall into place, and that when we do start looking to buy a home in Forks, we'll find just the right one for us.

So, to get back on track, what does this mean for the shop? It means once we've moved and I get over the morning sickness (I'm thinking early this next spring) I will start adding handspun yarns to the shop. It also means (and I'm sorry if this comes as disappointing news) I will not be doing any dyeing for the duration of this pregnancy. For me, dyes are too toxic and potentially hazardous to work with during pregnancy, and I'm sure that any well-balanced person would agree that it's okay not to take chances when it comes to the health of your babies. You have to do what's right for you.

So, having said that, I'm really looking forward to the New Year. I'm excited to finally have the end of this torturous home-selling experience in sight. I'm excited for the new life that's growing (and I'm excited to spin and knit for that new life, too). I'm excited that once we move, I'm going to have 3 extra hours a day of having my husband around because he wont have to commute anymore. I think that as scary as all of this change is, we're going to be a very happy family once it happens.

Here's to everyone having a safe and happy new year! Cheers!






Friday, November 20, 2009

Still on Earth...

...And this is really the only fiber(y) sort of thing I've accomplished in a few weeks.


It's my Angel Lace Shawl. I knit it with some merino/silk handspun I received in the Funky Junkies Handspun Swap. The yarn was perfect for this and I had very little left over (there was no way I would have been able to squeeze in another pattern repeat so I'm glad I didn't try). I did finish my pumpkin pie merino (585 yards!!) but it took me over two weeks to finish it and I still haven't photographed it.

The very same night that I finished this shawl, I got a phone call sometime after 10:00 pm from my grandmother, because her house was on fire.

I went, taking her a coat and a sleeping bag (this was a bad time for me to realize that we actually don't have any extra blankets in our house) and a few woolly things as well, and stood with her and my granddad as they waited outside -in the rain- for the fire department to get things under control. After about an hour, the fire was out and the firemen had started chopping out large chunks of wall, ceiling, paneling and anything else that might have been dangerous left inside.

The house didn't burn to the ground, but it's currently uninhabitable. Even though the attic and the very center of the house is where most of the damage and fire was, most of their possessions were destroyed by the smoke. I wouldn't have thought that smoke (on its own) could be so destructive, but it really permeates everything. Not like plain wood smoke at all.

I'm very grateful that my grandparents were still awake. As it turns out, even though there was smoke billowing out from the ceiling, their smoke detectors, complete with new (and tested-out) batteries did not go off!!

This knowledge is leading me to search for the best smoke detectors that I can find and to test the batteries very, very often. I hope that this post will remind anyone who may have let this little important bit of home maintenance slip for a while, to go check their smoke detectors and replace anything that may need to be replaced.

Since the fire, I've been trying to help my grandmother whenever I have time, as she and my granddad get settled in their new rental. I have so much sympathy for her. Going through something so stressful would be a challenge at any age, and at her age it's very, very difficult. To add to her stress, my granddad suffers from senility/memory loss and he keeps getting confused. About every twenty minutes he forgets why they're staying somewhere else. He doesn't remember the fire at all, even though he was there when it happened. It's extremely frustrating for my grandmother. I'm glad, though, that he still remembers who all of us are. If he didn't, I can't even imagine how much harder all of this would be.

So, that's where I've been and what I've been doing. I just hope that things settle down soon. Today was the first day I've had available to be alone in my own house, and to be doing what I choose. I chose to spend time with my dye-pots. I'm not having an update any time soon (sorry) but I'd had a few more special requests for rovings that still needed to be taken care of, so that's what I've been doing today. If you've made a request for something on Etsy, you should be hearing from me soon.

Wish me better luck with December.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween

After being sick all week, I'm glad that my weekend proved to be productive. I (once again) got all caught up on my laundry, I kept the house relatively clean and I manage to finish spinning my sw merino/alpaca from All Spun Up.


fingering weight
approx. 4.2oz and 525+ yards
chain plied

I love how this one turned out (though the amount of yardage I got was a shock -I'd been aiming for around 400). I'm not absolutely sure what I'm going to do with it yet, but I do have some ideas.

I also started spinning this. It's some solid-colored merino top (I suspect it's Ashland Bay) that I purchased from WC Mercantile on Etsy (I really enjoy shopping with them, btw. Super friendly with fast, excellent customer service). This color is called pumpkin pie and it seemed like the perfect color to spin in celebration of Halloween.


On Saturday, Paige was a fall fairy. I took her down town to go trick-or-treating and she had a blast. This year she made her biggest candy-haul yet. Here she is posing with her pumpkin, named "Jack."


Over all, I'd say we had a really good weekend, and although I did purchase my fiber for the All Spun Up SAL, I successfully fought temptation and purchased nothing else. I think I'm on a roll.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lioness

I finally finished spinning the Pigeonroof Studios South African fine in Lazy Daisy. This one really surprised me. I chain plied it and it did end up plying as I had thought it would: just like bfl. While I don't think I would do another chain plied yarn with the South African fine wool, I wouldn't be opposed to doing another fingering weight yarn with it. It's surprisingly soft.

"lioness" handspun sock yarn
approx. 4oz and 500 yards
chain plied


The name came to me upon finishing it and putting it in the bath. It reminded me much more of an African Lioness napping in the shade than a daisy. I don't name all of my handspun yarns, but this yarn seemed to want one.

I haven't decided what I'm going to do with this one yet. I might keep it, then again I might not. At least I don't have to decide on it today.


As far as my being cut off goes, I've been extremely good. I am still planning on joining the next SAL round for All Spun UP (it would feel wrong not to), but I haven't let myself buy anything else. I'm going to keep spinning and spinning on the stash and try to get as far through it as possible. We'll see how long it takes before I break. ;)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Cut off.



The other night I was able to sneak in another kettle-dyeing practice session and I ended up with this one. It is a grey Shetland wool, over-dyed in an autumnal combination of rust, gold, brown, deep green, navy and even a few hints of black.

I imagine this one spun into a nice worsted weight 2 ply and becoming a pair of Mitered mittens (E. Zimmerman). I think they would look nice. I've also considered spinning for a knitted hat, and although I see several patterns which would be lovely in these colors, I have a very sensitive noggin and I think my head would resent the Shetland. (My forehead -so far- seems to be the most picky when it comes to itchy wool -I could completely tolerate this wool as a sweater. While admittedly rustic, it's still quite soft.)

I've finally finished spinning my PRS Lazy Daisy roving and I'm going to let it rest on the bobbin over the weekend while I spin a lovely braid of sw merino/alpaca from All Spun UP. I bought it because A: it's one of my favorite blends and B: because the colorings remind me exactly of the ASU May/June SAL coloring. It's a rich blend of greens and dark blue/greens with little shocks of golden rust running through it.

Actually, I've noticed that I've been on a severe green-binge lately. I buy many different colors of handpainted rovings and I tend to have a month or two where I'll really be drawn to specific colors. I didn't notice this until I was looking through my past purchases on Etsy. For a whole month I'll buy nothing but blue -or gold -or green -or brown -or... you get the idea, and as I look at my purchase pages I see big blocks of just one or two colors. So, anyways, right now I'm really into greens and blues.

I also gave myself another shock when I started going through my fiber stash, photographing things I hadn't taken pictures of yet so I could add them to my stash on Ravelry. I think (at least for me) I almost have too much fiber. As much as it pains me to say it, I think I need to be cut off for a while. =(

P.S. Spin-A-Longs don't count.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Weekend

My weekend went by way too fast. It didn't help that I had to pull an extra shift at work. At least I was still able to get stuff done, laundry in particular (I was able to get everything washed but some sheets and wool-things, which is a win in my world). Yesterday, my daughter and I made some chocolate mint marshmallows. They are very yummy and should be excellent on cocoa.



Also, my kettle dying experiment came out with great results. Now I know that less water in the pot is a good thing. I am thinking of spinning it into a 2-ply fingering to use in another February Baby Sweater. I have a friend who's expecting a baby girl in just a couple of months and this lovely, soft shetland might be just the ticket.


I'm also still plugging along at my PRS south african fine. I'm getting close to the end of it. Once it's done I'm going to let it rest for a week or so while I decide whether to go 2-ply or chain-ply. I think a chain-ply would be beautiful, though I have my doubts whether or not I've spun it evenly enough to have it look nice. I think it would probably react to chain-plying a lot like BFL. It feels like it will. Then again, it could be a very nice 2-ply, too. Maybe for a small shawl? We'll see...

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Dyeing for color...

It's been a while since the last time I dyed fiber and tonight my desire to do so was overwhelming. I haven't ordered any fiber in a while, but as I was rummaging through a box I found some white Shetland I'd forgotten about. Within five minutes I had it soaking for the dye pot.

(This photo is a bit unflattering, but blogger rejected the nicer picture.)

I've thrown in a combination of greens as well as some brown and gold. I really hope this one turns out nice. I'm not all that great at kettle dyeing, but the only way I'll improve is with lots of practice and experimentation. Right?

I think that part of my problem in the past has been that I usually add too much water. So long as it's not boiling this isn't necessarily bad, though it seems to dilute the colors more than I like. When it comes to colors, I'm a big fan of bold, I always have been. Even as kid, I didn't care for pastels. I loved bold colors and earthy colors, and I'm still pretty much the same as an adult. So, this time I've added roughly less than half the amount of liquid to the pot and we'll see how it turns out.

I like doing rovings the other way (more of a hand-painted style) too, it's a lot easier for me to redo them, but sometimes they just seem to be missing something. I love kettle-dyed rovings, and personally I think they almost always have more character than my hand-painted ones. In the kettle the dyes get to mingle and when they do, it's magic.

Lately, I've also been daydreaming about dyeing yarn. For weeks now. I keep trying to push the thought to the back of my mind but it wont go away. Wildly-colored kettle dyed yarns... semisolids... yarns with layers and layers of color... I'll have to consider ordering a cone of yarn to experiment with. Soon. If my experiments don't turn out well, then at least there's always over-dyeing. I'd have plenty of yarn to make socks for the family.

It's about time to take my beloved Shetland off the heat. We'll see if it turned out as soon as it's dry.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Today

Today is exactly the kind of day that makes you appreciate being wrapped up in warm wool.



The sky outside is an unrelenting grey and the hum of drizzling rain and rustling leaves can be heard from inside the house. I really enjoy this time of year. I like how the darkness comes early and leaves late. It's cozy.


This is the first of my two days off this week and I'm going to spend it doing laundry, knitting and spinning. I've been doing rather well on my monogamous knitting kick. I do have two projects on the needles at present. Though, it doesn't feel like cheating because one of them is my Angel Lace shawl and it's almost done. I'm not even going to bother with trying to photograph it until it's entirely finished and blocked. To me it's like photographing a woman with no make up (against her will). It's kind of insulting.

The second project is a new pair of socks for my husband. I like taking socks to work with me. It's good, small knitting and seeing as I haven't knit anything for my husband in a while and in this time I've stockpiled 4 different skeins of yarn to make socks for him, I thought I'd better get moving on it. Besides, as much as my husband gives me a hard time about my knitting, he redeemed himself yesterday when he surprised me by wearing one of the hats I knit for him. Willingly. He put it on in the morning before we left the house and he wore it all day. He finally took it off at bed time. He must have really liked it.


I'm using the Gentleman's Fancy Sock pattern from Knitting Vintage Socks and some KnitPick's Bare Merino/Nylon yarn that I kettle dyed into a rich, dark brown. I'm modifying the pattern for a shorter leg, as I don't have the yardage required for the pattern and my husband has an eleven inch foot. I weighed out the yarn ahead of time and I have 103 grams. I figure I'll stop to knit the heel after the first 16-18 grams. I suppose if I was really worried about it I could modify them to be knit from the toe up, but after knitting several socks toe up and then knitting them from the cuff down again, I've decided that I much prefer knitting from the cuff down. Toe up socks are great. I'm sure I'll knit many more in the future, but today I'm going to indulge my cuff-down craving.

Now, I'm going to go drink my Earl Grey, listen to A Perfect Circle: Mer de Noms (it's been in my stereo for weeks -I can't seem to get tired of it) and spin some Pigeonroof Studious South African Fine in the Lazy Daisy colorway. It going to be a great Friday.



Sunday, October 11, 2009

New Group!

I have decided to go ahead and start the Flickr group. I have only had a handful of people share their finished yarns and projects with me, but those few projects have been so wonderful I think they ought to be shared with everyone.

You can find the new group here. I hope that everyone who has something to share will join. Everyone is welcome. =)


Friday, September 18, 2009

Time lapse...

It amazes me how fast life changes. We get very busy. Life throws us a curve ball every now and then, and it just takes a while to work with it and make adjustments.

We managed to get through the first partial week of the school year and then, sadly, that weekend my husband's grandmother passed away. It really came as a shock because she had just (seemingly) recovered from some major health issues with her heart that she experienced back in April. We almost lost her back then. Somehow, against very bad odds, she made it through the recovery. It's sad to lose her after all of the hardships she endured, but then again, she was able to do a few last things that she wouldn't have been able to do otherwise. Mainly, she got to see two more of her great-grandchildren come into the world. That has to count for something...

In this time I've had to work several extra hours (it was my MIL's mom that passed on, and as I work part-time for my MIL it meant that there were some extra days that needed to be covered at work), so I haven't had a whole lot of time to work on dyeing fiber for the shop, and I definitely haven't had a lot of time to spin, but I have managed to finish a number of things in the time I haven't been blogging. Here are a few of the UFO's which are now done...


Socks for my SIL knit from the handspun in this post...

The Waffles sweater for Paige -knit from kettle-dyed Knit Picks Bare Merino sock yarn (Paige was very pleased with me for finally getting this one done)...

And most recently this Ishbel for my grandmother's birthday. I was really proud of this one, not just because it's a shawl, but because (for once) I knitted this one on time (actually, I had a whole week to spare before gifting it) and that is a very rare occurrence.



Now that things are finally calming down a bit, I've been relishing the few minutes here and there when I get to sit down at my wheel. I'm slowly working my way towards finishing my Angel Lace Shawl, though there's no hurry for that one. It's coming along beautifully, and I'm looking forward to finishing it (so I can wear it -it'll be getting cold soon), but for now I'm just enjoying being able to take my time with it, savoring every stitch.

So that's what has been going on. I'm hoping that this weekend things around here will fall into place (at least mostly), and I'm hoping to get some fiber dyed and more spinning done once the household cleaning is all caught-up.

P.S. Lately I've had some wonderful messages from people sharing pictures of the yarns they've spun from my fibers & knitting projects with (which have all been lovely) and I've been considering starting a Flickr group so that they can share them with everyone. Is there any interest for this? Please feel free to voice your opinion in the comments. =)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Queen of the night...



I know I've been lazy about the blogging lately, and what I'm about to share isn't relevant to fiber at all... Still, it's special.



This is my favorite house plant. It goes by a handful of different names, but one of the most common (and easy to remember) is Queen of the Night.

It's a kind of succulent. This kind of plant doesn't bloom often and only at night when it does. By the time the sun comes up, the blooms wilt and fall to the ground, so it's a very special occasion when you get to see them (at least it's very special to me).


This plant was grown from a cutting taken from a plant belonging to my family's beach house before it was sold. The plant couldn't be taken from the house because it's home was in the garden room of the house and it was firmly rooted in the dirt floor. It was also ancient (as far as house plants are concerned). I'm guessing it was around 30 years old. When it bloomed, it really bloomed. Because of it's age, it would have blooms, usually 4-7 a night, every night for a couple of weeks. Along with their visual beauty, these blooms have a lovely scent.

I'm celebrating this occasion and sharing it here on the blog because this house plant of mine is about 7 years old and this is it's very first bloom. This particular plant had me fooled into thinking that it wasn't ever going to do anything. Mostly I held onto it because of it's sentimental value. Then, one day it just surprised me. I guess it's another good thing worth waiting for. =)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Still alive...

I feel like I have been doing, doing and going, going for about a week too long... I did finish my Aug/Sept All Spun UP spin-a-long fiber, though...


3 ply handspun sock yarn
chain plied fingering weight
approx. 4oz and 515 yards
ASU Aug/Sept SAL fiber - merino/bamboo/silk

I really like this yarn. It's very soft, it has a beautiful shine and the colors are perfect to welcome in the fall. I've decided to knit a Clothilde shawl with it. I think it's gonna be great. =)


I hope to get started on the shawl by October. I'm really (for once) being diligent about finishing up all of my UFO's. Tomorrow I'm going to be picking up Paige's waffles sweater again. (I'm currently about 1/3 of the way done, though I had a slight hiccup with it before putting it down. There's a slight chance I may rip it and start over, so we'll see.)

Also, I finished knitting a pair of handspun socks from the handspun I shared back here. I love the way these turned out and I can't believe I'm giving them away (though I know my sister-in-law will enjoy them and I can't think of a harder-working, more deserving person to give them to). But I'm saving that for next time. They really deserve their own post.

I've been working 4+ days a week now and though I am feeling it, my body is starting to adjust to the change. I've been getting a lot more done around here lately and I've even pulled out my dye pots 2 times within the last week. I'm hoping to have a fiber update by this weekend (early next week at the latest). I've been a bit non-commital in my dyeing lately, so a lot of the rovings I've dyed have been OOAK's. I'm really enjoying the spontaneity.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A powerful thing...

This week has been spent doing even more finishing. I finished a very old sock in progress (it's been so long since I started these it's just sad), but forgot to save the photos to my computer, so here's a link to the flickr photo. I'm very glad they're finally out of my WIP pile.

I also finished the crocheted baby blanket I've been working on for baby Sage.


pattern: Granny Square by Purl Bee
yarn: assorted odds & ends (leftover) sock yarns -both handspun and commercial
hook: 4mm


I'm very happy about how this one turned out and I plan on making more in the future. I can't think of a better way to dispose of leftover sock yarn scraps. I wish I'd been able to get better pictures of it, the colors are pretty, subtle and earthy all at the same time. I hope this blanket will give lots of warmth to it's wonderful little recipient and maybe even get some love in return.

Baby blankets really are something special. When I was nearing my due date with my own little girl, a very wonderful customer from my work gave me a hand-knitted baby blanket that, in time, became one of my daughter's most beloved possessions. Seeing that love inspired me to get into knitting. The bond between a child and a blanket can be a powerful thing...

Now that the blanket and sweater are ready to be shipped out I'm looking at the rest of my WIP pile and sorting through what to finish next. I'm very tired of all the WIPs and think I'm at least ready to consider dabbling in monogamous knitting for awhile. The last time I had startitis it got very out of hand. Right now I'm fed up with finishing things I can hardly remember starting. Time for change, no?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Welcoming Sage...

I first started kniting this sweater back in January. Sadly, it was quickly pushed to the back of my WIP pile in favor of other projects. When I picked it back up in May, I ripped it out and I started it again, getting about half way through it before setting it aside a second time.

pattern: Baby Sweater on Two Needles -by E.Z.
yarn: Mama Blue Knitting Goods Sea Merino in Palomino

About a week ago my husband's cousin gave birth to Sage, a beautiful, healthy baby girl. Since this sweater was intended for her, I thought I'd better get it finished.

I spent a lot of time yesterday working on the body of the sweater and finished knitting it last night while my husband and I watched The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. This morning I wove in the last end and sewed on the buttons. Last night I was having doubts about it, but this morning after giving it a soak and blocking it out on the towel I'd say that all in all it turned out pretty good.

Today I'm working on the crocheted blanket (also meant for baby Sage) and hope to have it finished by tomorrow evening. All of this finishing feels good. =)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Handspun Socks

Finally, after poking along on these for several weeks I've finished a pair of handspun socks. It frustrates me when I drag a project out like this, especially when it was such a simple one.



These sock were knit from the handspun I finished back in May. I had cast on for socks with it as soon as the yarn was dry and knocked out the first sock in a matter of a few days. The second sock sat around (needing only a couple of inches on the foot and a toe) for the last month or so until I picked it up the other day and finished it so I could start on something new:


Approx. 4oz and 400yds
chain-plied fingering weight
SW merino from All Spun Up

This yarn turned out very pretty and is currently becoming socks for my sister-in-law (if she wants them -lucky for me, we have the same size foot if she doesn't). I really can't wait to post about these when they're all done. They are knitting up so beautifully and this is some of the nicest (of my own) handspun that I've ever knitted with. The weight of the yarn is just right. My favorite commercial sock yarn is Lorna's Laces Sheperd Sock, and that's usually about the thickness I aim for when I'm spinning a 3-ply sock yarn (not that I usually meet that goal, it's just what I try for). This yarn has probably been the closest I've come so far to meeting my goal.

Beyond being happy with the spinning job, the colors in this one make me weak in the knees. There is a lot of pink and yellow, but there are also some beautifully deep reds, golds and greens and the way they're all coming together is lovely. Handspun socks are the best.

This last week was my first week back at work and today was the first of 3 days off. Over the weekend I'm going to try to get the last pound of fiber I have in my closet dyed up. Then maybe I'll be able to proceed with my plans to do a weekend update the following weekend. I think I might be able to make this new schedule work afterall.

For any of those lucky enough to be going to Sock Summit, I hope you'll have a chance to drop by the Sweet Sheep booth where you can find Michelle's awesome goods and snuggle some of my handspun! =)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Oh, and this too...

Last night we had a most impressive sunset. It would have been criminal not to take pictures. It was very warm out, and within a few minutes of going outside to take these shots, it began to thunder and then it started to rain...




Unrealistic

So it turns out my goal for Tour de Fleece was highly unrealistic. It might have worked, had I already been done with my Summer project spinning. That first week, I was plugging along on track (expecting to get started on my TdF spinning by week 2 at the latest) and then my husband anounced that we were going to have company for a few days. Actually, he managed to keep me away from my wheel for most of that week.

So, eventually I did finish spinning up the Summer project yarn, and was able to crank out the first bump of sw merino/alpaca in about 3 1/2 days.


All Spun Up sw merino/alpaca
chain plied - fingering weight
approx. 4.3oz and 464 yards

And seeing how unlikely it was going to be for me to finish a second bump before the end of the tour, I decided to finish spinning the last half or so of my May/June SAL fiber from All Spun Up.

All Spun Up sw merino
chain plied - fingering weight
Approx. 4oz and 450 yards

I'm pleased with how both of these turned out. The sw merino is going to become socks for my husband (he absolutely promised me that he did like the color and that he would wear them if I made them -this was my condition for knitting him socks out of my handspun).

I'm glad I joined in on the Tour de Fleece this year and I know I'll be among the first to jump headlong into it next year -though I'll have a better understanding of what sort of goals I should make.

I'm also glad to have gotten in all the extra spinning time, especially as my life is about to take another turn this week. Tomorrow I go back to work...

Work has been very unpredictable this year. Since about January I'd been working two days (sometimes more) a week and then about a month ago the coffee shop had to close down for a while. This week the coffee shop is going to be opening back up and it looks as though I'll be working at least twice as much as I was before. As much pressure as this is going to put on me for keeping the house perfect for potential buyers, I'm looking at it as a blessing because I know how much easier it will be for us to pay the bills. I'm excited about getting out of the house, too.

I'll still try to get fiber dyed up and put in the shop when I have the time. It would be nice if I could get into a routine of having one dyeing day every week. Friday would be excellent, as I will be working Mon-Thurs every week. It would give me time to get all the fibery stuff done on the weekend. I'm hoping that once I get going on it everything will fall into place.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tour de Fleece: Days 2 & 3

I hope everyone had a safe and happy 4th of July. Mine was good, though not particularly eventful. I spent part of the day with my family. We watched a parade, some decent fireworks and ate some great home-made food, but most of the day was spent spinning for TdF.

Here is an in-progress group shot of the yarns I've been working on for my Summer spinning project.


These are yarns I'm spinning for the Sweet Sheep booth that will be at Sock Summit in August. I've been working on them for several weeks and I'm almost done. These yarns have been a fun challenge for me. Spinning them on a somewhat relaxed deadline has been nice (and under ordinary circumstances wouldn't have been all that challenging) but with all the work we've been doing to get our home on the market it's been a little bit hectic.

Spinning these fibers has been a special treat. All of them (except for the bright pink one all the way to the right which is "Love Affair" merino/tencel from C*Eye*Ber Fiber) are hand dyed fibers from the Sweet Sheep. This experience has been my first real encounter with merino/tencel. So far, the merino/tencel has been my biggest spinning challenge. I'm used to spinning sock yarns with fibers that have a lot more grab and the merino/tencel is (pardon the expression) slicker than snot. I have one more braid of the slippery stuff left to spin (had to take a break in between with some SW merino and SW bfl) and then this project will be finished.

::one of the sw BFLs in progress::

As soon as the last fiber for this project is off the wheel, the SW merino/alpaca will be on it. Can you tell I'm excited for the change in colors and textures?

Yesterday (day 2 of TdF) I only managed to get in a little bit of spinning time. I spent the majority of my day with my dyepot. I only have one pound of fiber left to dye (which will have to wait a day or so as there's no more room on my drying rack at the moment) and then as soon as I have a good day for taking photos I'll do an update. I've decided not to do a sneak peak this time, but I did make sure to dye up at least 3 braids of Bacchus. There's been so much interest in that colorway lately, I wanted to have more available.

I'm going to get back to it now. I'm finishing up the yarn that's on the wheel and hoping to start the next one if there's time. I've got to get the extra spinning time in today since there probably wont be much spinning time tomorrow -it's my little girls birthday (she's turning 6)!!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Tour de Fleece: Day 1

Today is the first day of the Tour de Fleece and I'm excited to be participating this year.



For a long time now I've had this pound of All Spun Up SW merino/alpaca (all in the same colorway) sitting in my stash, waiting to be spun into 3-ply fingering weight yarn for an upcoming project. A few days ago (when I realized there was still time to join in) I signed up for the TdF thinking it would be a perfect opportunity for me to spin all of it from start to finish. I still have about 6oz of my summer spinning project left to finish before my wheel is completely free -which should make reaching my goal a little more difficult, but the TdF is supposed to be a challenge, right?

Realistically, I think it's likely I wont finish in time. Still, if I can get 3 of the 4 bumps spun and the 4th on the wheel and in progress I'll still feel like I did a very good job. The reason I've chosen this particular project for TdF is because I don't really like spinning more than 4oz of one color at a time. However, after working non-stop (with the exception of the project on my Bosworth midi) for several weeks on my Summer spinning project (fibers almost entirely in pinks and pastels), I feel that spinning the dark, wonderfully earthy colors in the SW merino/alpaca will keep me satisfied for much longer than they usually would. The fiber choice can't hurt, either -so far the SW merino/alpaca is my absolute favorite to spin. Tour de Fleece just seemed like the perfect time for me to dive headlong into this project.

It's nice to be spending time at the wheel regularly again. I have been spinning as much as I possibly could over the last 4-6 weeks, but it hasn't been as much as usual with all the work on the house. There's good news, though: we finally got the house listed with a real estate agent last Thursday and it is on the Market. Aside from one small cosmetic repair that still has to be made, all that's left is keeping it nice and tidy until it sells and then packing when it does. Both my husband and I feel like we can finally breath easy... at least for a little while.

I also want to apologize for the quiet emptiness of the shop. I've been meaning to dye up some fiber (it's still hanging out in my bedroom closet) for the last couple of weeks, but with finishing up on the house, it's had to be pushed back a few times. I think I should be able (really) to get it done this week. I don't foresee anything getting in the way now.

There's so much to catch up on. I have several different things I want to post about, but I haven't had time to sit and write. I also haven't had the best weather for photo-taking lately, so I've been putting that off as well. I'm really looking forward to the next time we have a stretch of overcast, rainy weather. 80+ degree heat makes me cranky.

Friday, June 19, 2009

School's Out!

... and so far I'm enjoying (nearly) every minute of it. I'm definitely enjoying sleeping in past 6:00 in the morning, which is something I almost never get to do -not even on Mother's Day.


This is my girl, waiting for the last day of school to begin (and wearing her favorite hand-knit sweater). I know it's only Kindergarten, but I can't help feeling really proud. Even though her crazy parents were cranky and stressed out for most of the year (on account of getting the house ready to sell), she still had a great year and did very well. I'm amazed at what she now knows how to do (seriously, 5 years old and she can read simple books and write sentences) and I'm thankful that she had such a wonderful teacher, who helped to give her the best start to her education anyone could've ask for. What a great experience. =)

So now that school is done I'm able to relax just a little bit more. Actually, I still have the same amount of stuff on my plate, but not having to juggle 2 schedules (hers as well as my own) I feel less pressured by it. I've been spending the last couple of days running errands and now I have some time to sit and knit/spin in between household chores. I'm liking it.

I've been spending a little of my evening TV time spinning this:


This is my new Bosworth Midi in walnut (27g). I'm spinning some merino (from a reject dye-job) as my first spindle-project. It will eventually become either a 3-ply fingering weight yarn or a heavy lace weight 2-ply. I haven't decided yet. I'm loving the roving, too. I was going for a very different look with the colors when I dyed it and wasn't happy with it at all, so I never put it in the shop. Now that I'm spinning it I'm really enjoying the colors, which remind me of paprika, curry and chili powder with just a touch of fleshy pink. Eventually I think this will become an Aeolian shawl (I like this idea, but am scared by the beads which I haven't worked with in knitting before).

I'm also working on a shawl with the yarn I received from my Funky Junkie's Handspun Swap partner. It's a beautiful golden-colored merino/silk 2-ply and I'm knitting it into an Angel Lace Shawl. It's my first lace-style shawl (I'm not counting the Icarus I started ages ago, which never progressed very far) and I love everything about it, both the yarn and the pattern. I don't really think of myself as the sort to knit shawls (or wear them as more than scarves), but I've grown very fond of knitting them and this one is no exception. I just love how they grow.

I'm also expecting the fiber I ordered to arrive any day now (probably today). I've already received the dyes I need and will be dyeing in the next couple of days. I'm going to do plently of Bacchus as there has been a lot of interest in that colorway. I'll post again when I'm ready to update. Cheers =)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Fast Week

Sorry if things have been quiet around here. I don't have any interesting blogging material (at least none with photos) at present. This last week was a real bum-kicker...

Last Saturday morning I woke up to a phone call at 5:40am from a co-worker calling in sick. I pulled myself out of bed to get ready for work and discovered that I was sick too. I went in anyways and by the time my shift was over, well, I was lucky to make it home at all. After a day and a half in bed I was able to get back on my feet.

This meant that Monday I woke up with a paint brush in my hand. I didn't get to put the brush down until Thursday evening-no, wait, I don't get to put it down till this afternoon... I'm having a difficult time keeping track. It must be the fumes...

The baby sweater is still chugging along. I'm not quite finished yet, but I am close.

My big summer spinning project is progressing nicely. I'm loving the first couple finished yarns and have informed my husband (now that the house is almost done) that the wheel is going to be my first priority (after being a mother, of course) for a while.

I just ordered more merino and Falkland wool and restocked my dyes. There will be more pretties in the shop soon.

Oh, and though I haven't been buying much fiber for my stash lately, I did buy a lovely new Bosworth Midi (walnut, 27g) to spin sock yarn, since all of my bobbins are currently engaged for the summer-project spinning. I'm loving this spindle. A lot.

I should have some pictures of these goings-on and info for the next shop update soon.

P.S. My little girl is finishing Kindergarten. School will be out on Thursday and I think I'm more excited about her being on Summer vacation than she is (I've really missed sleeping past 6:00am).

I can't believe I'm going to have a first-grader...

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Knitting and Crochet

I've been taking a few days off to work on some woolen goodies for the newest member of our extended family (the first baby for one of my husband's cousins) who is due to arrive soon.

A while back I started knitting this February Baby Sweater, but never got past the garter stitch yoke. So yesterday evening I pulled it out, ripped it back (I had run into a few technical difficulties the first time around anyhow) and started fresh.

Pattern: February Baby Sweater on two needles by E. Zimmerman
Needles: US 4
Yarn: Mama Blue Knitting Goods Sea Merino in Palomino

I really like this pattern, except for having an idea that I would cheat a little and knit the sleeves in the round with some dpns, only to have my plan spoiled by not owning dpns of the correct size. I know I could go buy some, but don't feel like giving money up for new needles right now. I'll probably splurge on dpns the next time I use this pattern (assuming the stitch pattern would work well in the round at all -some don't). So, I'm working the sleeves on straights, while I hold the rest of it on a circular needle. I'm hoping to finish up with this by Wednesday.

In addition to the baby sweater I've been doing something out of character: crocheting a baby afghan.

Pattern: Granny Square by Purl Bee
Crochet hook: 4mm
Yarn: handspun and commercial sock yarn leftovers

Long before I ever started knitting I began my journey into the fiber arts world with crochet. I had learned the basics of crochet from a great aunt when I was a little girl and it seemed much, much less complicated than knitting (now, as a knitter, I don't entirely agree with this line of thought). To make a long-winded story short, crochet didn't really agree with me. I kept looking at knitted projects and patterns with longing, and eventually it got to me enough that I made the switch. I haven't ever looked back... until a couple of days ago.


I was clearing my stash out of the spare bedroom (it's going to be painted this week) and trying to decide what to keep readily available, what to pack up and what might need to be tossed, when I came to a big grocery sack full of sock yarn remnants. There was nearly every color imaginable in there. I save these to use for knitting barbie clothes, toys, etc. but even after knitting the occasional finger-puppet or outfit for barbie, there was still an overwhelming amount of yarn in that bag.

I was chewing on whether or not I should toss it when I remembered reading this post on Cosmicpluto Knits. I also remembered reading that crochet uses up 3 times the amount of yarn that knitting does. I had a flash-back of how fast I used to whip out a scarf with crochet and suddenly, I felt inspired to make a throw.

To my delight, the pattern was free, and I even managed to dig up the right size of crochet hook. It's coming along very nicely. When I think of the years it would take me to knit a throw from those sock yarn bits, I smile smugly to myself, feeling like a genius.

It's only been a couple of days and I'm almost done. I have spent no money and I have more room in my house. Crochet may not be my passion, but I do love that it serves a purpose.

Monday, May 25, 2009

First try...

Well, this is my first round with Bacchus. I like it, though I have to admit that so far merino seems to be the best fiber for this colorway. I love the way BFL takes dye, especially for lighter colors, but merino is still the only one that is just right. This superwash BFL took the dye in a way that made some of the gold turn rusty. It's still very pretty though. I can't help thinking of Marigolds when I look at this yarn.


3 ply Handspun SW BFL Sock Yarn
Approx. 4oz and 366yds
Bacchus colorway

I'm still working on my All Spun Up fiber for the May/June spin-a-long, and I'm already a few days into spinning for my big summer project. The first skein in the project is a merino/tencil that is making me fall in love with pink (as well as merino/tencil). My little girl gave me a very reproachful look when I told her it wasn't my fiber and I wasn't allowed to keep it.

Also, I've been knitting a pair of socks with this handspun, and I'm loving every moment of it. Spinning the predrafted fiber was a more challenging experience for me (even though it seems the opposite would be true), but I like the way the yarn handles very much. It's turning out a lovely pair of socks which I will share pictures of as soon as they're done...

I just realized that I forgot to take my camera (I really am terrible about taking pictures -I never take my camera anywhere with me) to the annual Sheperd's Festival this morning. I've gone for the last 3 years in a row and it's been a lot of fun. I love to pet the yarn, but I resisted buying anything as the size of my fiber stash (now located in my bedroom) can't be hidden from my husband anymore. I like the little Sheperd's Fest, still I hope so make it to something much bigger next year. Once the bridge is done (there is major work being done on the Hood Canal Bridge this summer, which pretty much keeps you stuck on the peninsula unless you want to drive the crazy-long way around) I'm going to have to make a day trip to Seattle to visit some of the amazing yarn shops I've heard about. I think it'd be good for me to have a fiber experience that's not entirely local.




Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Corriedale

I have been a very busy bee since my last post and I wanted to share my favorites from the new dye batch as well as a new yarn. To start with, this is my first effort with corriedale. It took a little getting used to, but I like it.

2 ply handspun corriedale yarn
sport to light worsted weight
colorway: shipwrecked

I like the way it turned out. Corriedale is a lot softer than I thought it would be. I was anticipating that it would be more like Falkland, but it's much softer and spongier. I took the picture this morning before setting the twist so it still looks a little unruly, but I'm looking forward to seeing it after it blooms a bit in the bath.

Now to the fibers. I had so much fun with this round of dyeing. Here are a couple that I pulled out to spin. The first is a brand new colorway (let's hope my notes are good enough so I can repeat it)...


Arrangement

And the second is one that I can't seem to get enough of. 


Bacchus

This braid of Bacchus turned out exactly the way I want this colorway to be -so I set it aside to spin for the shop and also so I can take finished pictures of how this will look as sock yarn. (I'm trying to go down the list and spin one of each colorway into sock yarn, so I have pictures of finished yarns along side the pictures of rovings for my colorways set on Flickr.) 

I still have a few other things to finish up on the wheel before I begin my big spinning project so I think I'll spend my free time in the next few days finishing on those.

Also, on another note, some of the fibers from this last dye batch are already headed for new homes, but I still have a few bumps that will make it to the shop near the end of this week when I have a little more time. Next time I dye up fiber, I think I'll just have to surprise everyone, so people that have been or are planning on stalking the shop will have a better variety to choose from. So, there's more coming soon.

Monday, May 18, 2009

New Batch

Yesterday morning I forced myself to drag out my dye pots, and I spent the better part of the day dyeing up all the remaining undyed fiber I had. (Except some shetland. I recently bought a 1 pound shetland sampler from Hello Yarn, which has been a treat for me but that is for a future post.) Here is the group shot.



From the left, the first 2 are so far un-named & then there's Sandy Bikini, Thelma, Surrender, Shipwrecked, Bacchus and Toad in a variety of merino, corriedale and falkland. I know there's at least one here (second from left, a merino still un-named) that I don't want to part with, and I plan on picking out at least one more -possibly two, to spin for the shop. I tend to want to spin them all but I know it's likely that I wont have the time. If I pick one or two of the longer-staple rovings and spin some sport/worsted weight yarns I might manage it, though. That could be fun.

I'm going to be taking it easy on the shop spinning this summer, as it looks like I'm taking on a special spinning project that should last the next several weeks. So, when I do add yarns to my Etsy this summer they will probably be of a sport-to-worsted weight nature. I will still be keeping the hand-dyed fibers coming, whenever I can.

Now, I'm off to work on my May/June All Spun Up SAL fiber. =)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Yarn like sunshine...

I think by this point it's no secret that I seriously fell off the fiber diet wagon, so it probably can't hurt to share a new aquisition. This is a bump of hand dyed merino combed top from All Spun Up. I loved it, and was trying to be good and not buy more fiber, but eventually it became evident that it was time for me to adopt it (it had been in her Etsy shop for quite a while, all lonely and neglected and sitting there waiting for me). So I did buy it (as well as another one, but that's another blog post).



What made me want this one so bad was actually a pair of socks that Kristin knit herself from her own handspun yarn, a pair that I fell in love with. I've been trying to keep my eyes peeled at her shop for a blue/yellow/orange number for socks to imitate hers and this roving finally caught my eye. 

I knew right off hand that I wanted longer, more solid color repeats. So, I split the roving in four (lengthwise, and not all that evenly either) and predrafted out the thicker strips. It will be exciting to see how the finished socks come out, even if they're not all that much like hers. The experience was a good learning one for me and even though I don't like spinning pre-drafted fiber (for me it was a giant pain) I'm pretty happy with the end results. This is some of the brightest, happiest-looking yarn I've ever held in my hands. 



This yarn makes me want to cast on right now but I have way too many fiber things going on right now. I am clearly not over my start-itis. I have two (about to become 3) pairs of socks on the needles, a couple of sweaters for my daughter, a few baby sweaters, 2 scarves and 2 cowls (you don't even want to know about the pile of half-spun fiber and half-filled bobbins laying around my wheel -it's sad that my new kate is becoming a place to store my less-exciting spinning projects). About the only thing I'm really focused on right now is my May/June All Spun Up spin-a-long fiber. It's lovely sw merino in a gorgeous dark green/blue combo. It's already on the wheel and destined to become sock yarn.

Still, hope is not lost. I am close to finishing at least a couple of projects. =)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Koolhaas #2

In the last several months I haven't managed to get much knitting done and as a result I think I've grown hungrier for it than usual. I'm not usually a hat sort of person, but lately I've been indulging myself with hat knitting because of the instant gratification they offer. Here is the latest hat, my second finished Koolhaas.
  

I really like this pattern. It's not difficult to memorize (it's very intuitive), and well, I can't help but think they just look sharp as far as knitted hats go. I don't know if my husband is going to actually wear this (sadly, he has a grudge against hand knits which I suspect is because he's jealous of the time I spend with wool). He'd probably never admit it himself, but he looks pretty sharp in this hat, too. Hopefully, next winter when the days get very cold he'll come to appreciate it...

Here is a picture of the Bacchus SW BFL in progress.  



Up till now I've always balked at the idea of buying SW BFL from other sellers because A: It usually is more expensive and B: In photos it usually looks a little rough around the edges -like it's full of neps. But after my last SAL experience with All Spun Up BFL and the gorgeous, fine 3 ply sock yarn I was able to spin with it, I decided to give it a chance. I like how BFL spins, but I've knit socks with it before, and I don't want to knit socks with non-superwash BFL again. They turn out gorgeous, but I'm too hard on my socks and I tend to felt them when I wear them.

So anyhow, I'm loving this spin. For me, a good BFL/SW BFL roving can spin up into a lovely 3-ply in roughly half the time it takes me to spin merino. I'm hoping I can finish getting through this roving by tomorrow and ply in a few days. Maybe I'll be able to get a new pair of socks on the needles by late next week!

Oh, and here's a picture of the new kate. I just love the look of Kromski stuff. I know there are people out there who are a little prejudiced against Kromkski wheels for one reason or another, but (in my opinion) not many wheels out there have the aesthetic appeal of a Kromski. Especially the mahogany-stained (but obviously I'm biased). Also, compared to my last wheel, an Ashford Joy DT, I just love the way this wheel spins. It's much for comfortable for me to use, even if there have been days when it wanted to squawk like a murder of crows (white lithium grease does the trick, BTW).
 


Finally, in answer to the question in the comments from my last post, yes, I am really moving to Forks. Which is kind of sad, as Forks is not in truth a very exciting or wonderful place to be. Though I am intruiged by the idea of Forks-related colorways. I'm assuming these are supposed to be Twilight related? If anyone has any suggestions feel free to throw some ideas to me in the comments and maybe I could come up with something fun. I'm thinking along the lines of characters and places, etc. (though I'd be interested in hearing other ideas, too). 

Now, I'm off for a date with SW BFL...

eta: Notice the pretty new carpet in the first and last photos?