Saturday, August 29, 2009

It's A Beautiful Baby...Scarf!

Today we welcome to the world a brand new, beautiful baby scarf, knitted from HANDSPUN!!! My first completed project knitted with my own yarn. Wahoo! Yes, it's chunky, not delicate and lacy, but it's my very own, and perfect in my own eyes. Though weighing in at only 8 ounces, this baby is long - about 78 inches!!! Great for keeping one's neck cozy in the midst of winter.

The original intent was to gift this to someone, but it's a wee bit bulky, so I'm afraid that the recipient might see that and miss the handspun, handknit, made-with-love elements. It'll keep Hartland Ziarniks warm.

Done in a free Ravelry pattern - "Easy Drop Stitch Scarf" - this knitted up FAST on US size 8 needles. Took just two days, really one day, given the fact that I worked from 9 to 5 at school yesterday, and spent half of today driving my younger son back to college.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Incredible Morphing Sock

I finished the first "Aidan" sock - cheating, as the pair is supposed to be knit simultaneously, but the yarns got all twisted and I got annoyed, so I abandoned the Simultaneous Ship and carried on with just the one.

This sock positively freaked out Zig, Abe, and Stu, as it looks like it would fit a very skinny chicken leg:

Fortunately, when slipped onto a sock blocker, it morphs into something that might actually fit a human being's appendage: Why so skinny to begin with, you ask? Well, the intended recipient has, to be blunt, skinny legs, and "normal"-sized socks are too loose for her. These socks are actually meant for children - this pair is the child's large size.

Sock #2 proceeds apace...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Finishing Up

Today I plied a cake of black merino into 120 yards of soft 2-ply. I purchased the roving from Enchanted Knoll Farm in Detroit, Maine. It's lovely, laced with sparkly bits and recycled sari silk threads. The colorway in Aurucana, named after a breed of chicken with iridescent black feathers. I have another 4 ounces to spin up. I think it'll make a lovely scarf for someone's Christmas gift...

Continuing with the theme of finishing things up, I completed the 2-at-a-time "Twilight" socks I started on the 18th. Knitted using Koigu - I think the colors look like stained glass. Very pretty. Another Christmas gift!

I just found out that I have to go in to school tomorrow - my unlimited hours for spinning and knitting are drawing to a close. But there will still be time in the evening, and if I get up REALLY early...?

Ruit Farm Coopworth

Just finished plying up the second half of one pound of natural white Coopworth that I purchased in July from Nina Ruit of Ruit Farm North in South Bristol, Maine. I washed it and it's drying - it'll need at least one more washing to get completely clean. Not sure if I'm going to dye it or knit it up sans couleurs. We'll see.

Given the damp we're afflicted with here in Connecticut, I wonder if the yarn will ever dry out!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Rockin' Sock Blockers

I finally ordered myself two pairs of socks blockers - small and medium. They're from KnitPicks and very reasonably priced - $13.99 each. Here are the two most recently completed pairs of socks, drying nicely, thank you very much.

And it looks like...

this. I'm not too happy, but, on the other hand, I'm not too disappointed with the result. Just not sure what I'll use it for. I've washed it with Eucalan several times, but it still smells like fruit punch. I guess there are worse things to smell like. I am surprised that the Ice Blue disappeared - there are only tiny glimpses of any sort of blue at all. This is Corriedale, which isn't very soft. I imagine it will felt well.

Maybe a felted purse or pouch?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Kool-Aid Venture #2 - Mud?

It's too early to tell - the roving is cooling on the deck - but I think I might have just created the muddiest mud ever. Using Tropical Punch and Ice Blue, with a bit of Lemonade mixed in to the Ice Blue, and a indeterminate amount of green and blue food coloring thrown in for good (bad?) measure, I just nuked 4 ounces of lovely white Corriedale, quite possibly sending it to its doom. But who knows? Maybe it'll come out a beautiful shade of...brick? Blood? Madder? Burnt umber? Stay tuned...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Two For One

Yesterday I cast on for my first-ever "2-at-a-time" socks...from the book by Melissa Morgan-Oakes. A dear friend gave me the book for my birthday, and I finally mustered up the courage to actually try the method. After an hour or so of confusion and weirdness, I was able to sort out what was going on, and I have to say that I'm really enjoying the project now. Yes, it seems slow, but whenever I catch myself wanting to write down how many rows I did for the ribbing or the leg, I realize that I don't have to, because I'm doing the second sock simultaneously. That's a very pleasant feeling, indeed. I'm approximately 25% of the way through. Cool.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Rock School House

Yesterday I gave a knitting talk at The Rock School House in Colebrook, Connecticut. A small group of friendly, encouraging women attended, and we all had a fabulous time. Lots of laughter! I brought lots of knitted items, with the intention of talking about different knitting methods(cabling, fairisle, mosaic, mitred, gansey, felting, etc.) and different uses for knitted items (tea cosies, framed artwork, holiday decorations, and, of course, garments of all kinds). Jean M. from Colebrook kindly sent me these photos - you can see that a good time was had by all.

By the way, the "model" in the photos is my dear sister Rebecca.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Monsoon Season

Canal du Midi Socks in Blue Moon Fiber Arts "Socks That Rawk" in the MONSOON colorway. For a knitting friend...more than halfway done!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Finished Product

So here's the final product - 310 yards of 2-ply merino. I've named it "Peach Melba" because of the interplay between peach and raspberry shades. I think I'll use this yarn to knit a simple drop stitch scarf.

I am so pleased.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


OH, boy, am I excited! I just finished my first attempt at hand-painting some white merino roving, WORKED! I used Kool-Aid (black cherry, orange, and lemonade). All I needed, besides the roving and the chemical punch mix, were vinegar, water, measuring cups, and turkey basters. Right now it's cooling - can't open up the plastic wrap until the steam dissipates, but, from what I can see, the colors are vibrant and fairly well distributed. There's undyed white left, too, which is what I wanted. Lessons learned? In the future (and there will be more attempts!), I will flip the roving over so that I am sure that the dye reaches the underside. Woo-hoo! I can't WAIT to spin this up!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Friend Are Gifts

I have found friends - friends have come to me, during my life, and I don't often appreciate them as I should. But this morning I started thinking about the many people who have given me something of themselves, and as I was remembering my blessings, my eyes happened to fall upon a gift that one of my friends gave me recently. It's a knitting notions bag that Joan knitted, felted, and embellished. She gave it to me on the very last day of school in June.

This little pouch embodies so much: it's soft but sturdy, knit in deep, warm reds, and it's whimsical, just like Joan. It holds my tiny scissors, measuring tape, yarn needles, and stitch markers, and it resides in my knitting basket (my grandfather's old market basket). It goes where I go - I am never without it.

And I am never without my friends, and all that they have given me.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Stockings For A Friend

Here are four Christmas stockings I just completed for a friend. She chose the four background colors (hunter green, navy, gold, and burgundy) and I chose the rest. The entrelac section at the top keeps the knitting interesting, and it's fun to choose which colors to add as the stockings grow. The pattern is the creation of Marji, owner of Marji's Yarncrafts.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

My Favorite Podcasts

Not wanting to feel that I am "wasting" time when knitting or spinning, I usually have a podcast playing as I craft. Here are some of my favorites.

Cast On - Podcaster Extraordinaire Brenda Dayne regales her "knit sibs" with tales of knitting from her home in Wales. Great music, too.
Craftlit - Heather Ordover combines crafting (knitting, spinning, sewing, painting, etc.) with literature. Heather plays audio recordings of classic literature (e.g., Pride and Prejudice, The Scarlet Letter, Tristan and Isolde) in the public domain and then teaches the listener about the books.
Family Knits - Allison Williams from Brighton, England, talks about knitting and family psychology. Fascinating. This is a new podcast that shows a lot of promise.
Forgotten Classics - Julie D. from Texas has the most amazing voice. She narrates books in the public domain. Mesmerizing.
The Moth - 15-minute true stories told without notes before a live audience. Most are hilarious (many with explicit language), some are poignant, some heartbreaking.
The Tolkien Professor - being a huge LOTR geek, I was thrilled to discover Corey Olsen - a college professor who teaches a course on Tolkien's oeuvre. He's currently lecturing on The Hobbit - I love to revisit all my old dwarf friends!
Whole Lotta Singer - Again, this is brand new - only one episode so far, but I really connected to the podcaster's beliefs about the importance of connecting to your craft, whatever it is, without relying too much on technology.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Spunky Eclectic!

I just finished spinning up 3 ounces of the most lovely fiber - a 60/40 merino bamboo blend from Spunky Eclectic.
It's not plied yet - that's the next step. Spunky Eclectic offers a monthly yarn club - this is the first and only club I've joined, as I slowly venture into the glorious world of handspinning.
The colorway is "Beach Day" - a mix of aqua, turquoise, while, and soft brown. Having just returned from a month on the Maine coast, I was surprised (and VERY pleased) at how much these colors reminded me of Pemaquid Beach in New Harbor.
I can't WAIT for the next shipment of fiber from Spunky Eclectic!!!!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Re-becoming a Spinner

WAY back in 1983, I took a handspinning class, offered by my town's adult education program, at the local high school. I'd been married for less than a year, we had no children yet, and I wanted to learn how to create my own yarn (I'd been avidly knitting for several years). After the class was done, I bit the bullet and bought myself a Louet S15 wheel - one of the easiest to use and least expensive wheels available at that time. A small drum carder, handcards, and a niddy-noddy rounded out my basic equipment needs. I joined a local spinning group, and I was on my way.

I spun a lot of wool way back then; nothing fancy, just 2-ply BULKY. I experimented a bit with dyeing wool, but never went beyond solid colors. I used the yarn I spun to knit simple baby sweaters, giving most away to friends but also selling some to a local baby boutique.

Our first son, Abe, was born in August of 1986. I spun, dyed, and knitted a couple of tiny baby sweaters for him, but found that I had less and less time to spin, as he grew and started moving around on his own. Little fingers seem to be drawn to flywheels!!! I put my wheel away, and focused exclusively on knitting. I missed making my own yarn, but toddlers and spinning wheels don't mix.

Stuart was born in October of 1988. The wheel stayed in the closet. The drumcarder was sold - for $50 - fool that I am!!! Little did I know just how much a new one would cost 20 years down the road.... But I held on to the wheel.

So, twenty-plus years flew by. I brought out my wheel from time to time, but I'd somehow convinced myself that I really didn't know enough about spinning to produce a decent, balanced yarn, so I'd always give up after a few half-hearted tries. Believe it or not, the last time I tried (5 years ago?) I'd actually forgotten that yarn needs to be plied in order to be balanced - I tried to knit up a single into a vest - disaster!

What got me going again? This past April, I took a drop-spindle spinning class during "Ewephoric Weekend", a 2-day knitters' workshop hosted by Marji's Yarncrafts in Granby, Connecticut. The class was a blast! Jackie, the teacher, was patient and helpful, and, most of all, encouraging. During the class I spun up some pathetic lumpy yarn, and made plans to meet with Jackie to take a look at my wheel.

That's all it took. I spun up some very old roving - it was dry but spinnable - into some heavy worsted. Now I'm spinning every day, and have hopes of becoming an accomplished spinner.