November 27, 2009

The Ultimate WIP

It has been mighty quiet around here, hasn't it? Well, believe it or not I do have an explanation. I haven't been making much progress on my knitting WIPs, but there has been major growth with one very important project:
November 076

That's right - we're expecting a baby!! EDD 5/27/10
We're super, super thrilled and excited and nervous and everything else that goes along with this, but mostly excited and full of hope and wonder.

What I have not been full of, however, is food and knitting. I've been touch-and-go for the past few months and knitting acts as a nausea trigger. Terrible! So my knitting has been almost entirely packed away until the day when I wake up with itchy fingers and a settled tummy. Hopefully it won't be long.

Sorry for the long silence, but hopefully I'll make up for it in the future with lots of tiny adorable baby knits! And thanks for your patience in the meantime!

October 22, 2009

The Wheel Restored

Wheel restoration

This wheel has done its fair share of traveling. According to Dave (who restored it) it was probably originally made between 1780 and 1820. All I know is that a friend of my mother's found it in the 1970s and had it restored and gave it to her as a gift. After that, it came across the ocean with us, and last year it made the flight across the US and the drive up to NY. Hopefully it'll be settled down for a while now.

So! First things first.
Wheel restoration
You'll notice that there's no flyer/bobbin unit on the wheel. Well, as it turns out this is a quill wheel! Dave made an adorable tiny flyer bobbin that fits on the wheel, but I'm hoping I can learn to spin on the quill. You know how I love a new challenge.

The maidens (the things holding up the quill (that's the pointy thing)) are from another old wheel. The originals were damaged beyond repair and Dave did a wonderful job of finding these replacements and then painting them with the black stripes like the rest of the wheel has.

Wheel restoration
After a good cleaning, the old painting shows through beautifully.

Wheel restoration
Here you can see how people have futzed with the wheel over the years to keep it spinning. The deep, blackened groove is where the axle used to go, but now it sits higher up. Someone at some point put metal supports into the wood.

The wheel alignment is suuuuuper finicky, and I'm going to be fussing with it quite a lot over the coming weeks, but I'm hoping that pretty soon I'll be spinning up a storm on this old beautiful wheel!

Thanks to my Mom for letting me fix it up, and thanks to Dave at The Merlin Tree for doing such a fantastic job on the restoration! I love the wheel and feel so lucky to have it in the house.

October 20, 2009

Rhinebeck 2009!

Yes, we made the trek north again for the New York Sheep and Wool Festival. And what a year it was! It was such a good time that I hardly took any pictures, but I have plenty of haul shots to share, not to worry.

It's always a big treat to get to wander among the sheep who grow all the wool for us. Thank you, sheepies! (and shepherds!!)
Big sheep!
(this photo doesn't begin to capture the enormity of this Rambouillet ram. He's HUGE!)

The Ravelry meetups are also a blast.
Ravelry meetup
(thanks for this photo, E!)

And it is was great to catch up (in the rain and frrrreezing cold) with Ysolda. (Her Vivian design from fall 2008 Twist Collective was a very popular sweater at this year's fest!)

And that's where my actual Rhinebeck shots end. Sad, no? Next year I'll try to take more pictures. The knitwear spotting was fabulous and I wish I had caught more (any??) of the beautiful sweaters in photos.

I came home with everything I wanted, and stuck well to the shopping plan. Hurray!!

Briar rose lace
Braving the early Saturday morning crowds in the Briar Rose tent rewarded me with this beautiful slate green merino/tencel laceweight.

Ruit farm yarn
And holy Coopworth. This pile of yarn comes from two farms in Maine that shared a booth at the festival, and both farms raise the longwool breed Coopworth. I wish you could feel this yarn! It counts as next-to-skin soft in my family!
The naturally dark brown yarn comes from Hatchtown Farm (4 skeins) and the natural silver/pewter comes from Ruit Farm North (10 skeins!). Lots and lots of 2 ply dk weight fun in my future!!

I decided that I was allowed to buy one really special fleece for myself, and so parked myself in line for the opening of the fleece sale. I knew it would be crowded, but I wasn't quite prepared for the Filene's Basement style of the opening moments of the sale.
Fleece sale
Phew! But everyone was courteous and even kind. People seemed genuinely happy for one another when they found what they wanted!
And boy did I ever find what I wanted.
Rhinebeck 2009 fleece
Check out that beauty. Four pounds of merino, dark dark dark brown (almost black in sections), cleanest fleece I've seen in a long time, and with an incredible staple that ranges from 2 to just over 3 inches! AMAZING. Not a hint of tipping or matting, almost zero VM, thoroughly skirted, and did I mention the staple length??
fleece staple
Swoon. And that isn't even one of the longer locks.
Sadly I forgot to write down the name of the farm before checking out, and they collect the tags with the farm names for the sale records, so I'll never know where this beauty came from. (Unless one of the ladies hovering behind me eyeing the fleece at the sale stumbles across the this post and happens to remember!)

The real highlight of the weekend for me was picking up the spinning wheel I dropped off for restoration at LAST year's Rhinebeck.
Wheel restoration
I am so thrilled and can't wait to tell the whole story of this wheel, but really - she deserves her own post. Check back for the saga of this late 18th century Norwegian wheel and her wonderful restorer, Dave of The Merlin Tree.

September 17, 2009

FO: Striped baby cardigan

Stripes cardigan
Tada! It turns out that I still knit, too!
Pattern: b14-27 Jacket from Drops

Yarn: Anny Blatt Baby Blatt
Needle: US2 addi circs
Mods: I added a color to the pattern so the stripes were alternating blue and purple. Since this caused ther eto be lots of floats across the edges I did a single crocheted edge.

This really is a clever pattern. I love the way that short rows are used to create the narrowing stripes, which also then creates the cardigan shaping.
Stripes cardigan
I am no not super pleased with how my crocheted edge turned out. It could be (and is fairly likely!) that I'm a crappy crocheter, but it looks messy and is way less elastic than I'd like it to be.

Stripes cardigan
But I'll deal.

I've had enough of garter stitch to last me a good three years or so, so don't expect this to be a repeat pattern! It took much longer than I anticipated and while the clever stripes were novel at first, by the end I was ready to stab my eyes out.

Out the door it goes! Let's see, that takes me down to (mumblemumble) WIPs. And my fingers are itching to cast on with my Silk Forest yarn so the number just might grow. Whatever happened to project monogamy?

September 16, 2009

Silken Forest

And she's done!

Silken Forest

I was aiming for a deep, deep, deep green with the subtle movement between a black green and a slightly warmer than forest green.

Silken Forest

Silken Forest

I'm delirious over these colors.
Silken Forest

So there she is. 410 yards of light fingering silk cashmere blend in a color I'd like to swim in for the rest of my life.
Pattern suggestions?

September 15, 2009

Silk step two

2 ply silk/cashmere

Plying this silk was so satisfying, and while it was hard to see all my mistakes as I learned to deal with this new fiber (especially in the first batch of singles) overall I'm pleased with the yarn. All 410 yards of it. It's between 15 and 19 wraps per inch and So! Freaking! Soft!!

Today: step three. Dyeing.

September 14, 2009

Silk spinning

You know the drill. Summer, distractions, etc. I'll just sheepishly (HA!) say sorry and pretend there wasn't an enormous lapse in blogging, mmkay?

So, to distract you from my distraction, here's a fibershot!
Last night I finished spinning singles from a cashmere and tussah silk blend I picked up at Rhinebeck last year. This stuff is pure luxury, and I felt entirely NOT up to the task of spinning it how it deserves to be spun. But I was determined to learn to spin non-wool fibers, and there's no way to learn to spin these luxurious fibers without, well, a learning curve. So. Off I went.

Silly as it sounds, at first I found it terrifying. I mean, it isn't like the silk was suddenly going to turn into a spider web with a giant Vilde-eating spider attached. But that's what I was feeling: terror. My good, old wool had become so comfortable to spin that I completely forgotten the feeling of being out of control of my fiber. And I swear this silk just wanted to jump out of my hands and dissolve into a million pieces. (all of which, by the way, would go right up my nose and start a sneezing fit.)

One challenge of this particular blend is the mix of staple lengths. The silk has a staple of around 7 inches, longer than any wool I've spun. The cashmere? Less than an inch. Finding a drafting technique that suited both of these fibers was my biggest challenge, and eventually I ended up with a super light gripped short forward draw.

Another challenge is the fluff/shine balance. Should I be smoothing down the cashmerey fluff as much as possible to let the shine of the silk come through? Or keep a light touch to give a halo to the yarn? I don't know! I ended up feeling lucky just to have relatively even singles on the bobbin, even if the fluff/shine balance is extremely UNeven.

By the end I felt confident in how I handled the fiber, but I'll withhold any declaration of success until after plying. There's time to screw this up yet!

The natural color of this blend is luuuuucious. Sort of a steely gray with caramel undertones. I love it, but I'll love the yarn even more after dyeing it and I'm curious to see what my colors look like on this new-to-me fiber. So tonight I ply, and maybe tomorrow I'll dye.

This all started as an experimental kick, but now that I'm ten hours into this spinning project I'd be lying if I didn't say I really really really want pretty yarn when I'm done with it. But I'll try my best to remember I'm a beginner, and keep this in mind as I poke my nose back into the "non-wool" box of fiber in my stash to see what new challenges await me.

August 16, 2009

Breathess post from the road

I'm traveling but just popped my head into the fall Twist Collective and nearly fainted. There are so! many! beautiful! sweater! patterns!!!


Best of all there are some great colorwork sweaters, and guess what I've been craving?

August 9, 2009

FO: Easy baby cardigan

Handspun baby cardigan - Daydreams of Spring
Pattern: Easy Baby Cardigan by Diane Soucy

Yarn: My handspun/handdyed in Daydreams of Spring, 100% merino

This was a quick little knit and such a great pattern. The construction is delightfully almost seamless (just the top of the hood) and so easy you hardly have to pay attention.
And that simplicity suits the handspun yarn, allowing all the nubbly variagation to shine through.

Handspun baby cardigan - Daydreams of Spring
Man, I love knitting with handspun.
The toggles come from The Hickory Tree shop on Etsy. Check them out if you are looking for wooden buttons that look straight out of nature.

August 8, 2009

A return to Dyeing

I've taken most of the summer away from dyeing, partially because it's been hot and working over a hot dyepot does not sound appealing, and partially because I've had a lot of other fun stuff going on.

But this week I dipped a toe back into the world of color. A friend of mine had gotten two large cones of undyed sock yarn and asked if I would dye it for her. She wanted blue and green (hurray!) and here's what I came up with:
Wolle's yarn
I was aiming for a yarn that would be largely blue with small patches of bright green and larger swaths of a kind of aqua. I think she liked it and I certainly enjoyed the process! It made me think about the differences between dyeing yarn and dyeing fiber and it turns out that there are many - both in the design process and the execution.

Tomorrow I hope to have a FO to show. Finally something finished from the castonathon!

July 26, 2009



Things have gotten a little cast-on happy around here lately, so in the interest of accountability I'm reporting in for a works-in-progress roundup.

Let's look at them individually, shall we?

Sock in progress
Everyone knows socks don't really count as a WIP, so I hardly need to defend these. That said, the observant among you will notice that I've stopped right at the point when I need to turn the heel, which is really the only time that sock knitting becomes an actual project. So! The heel must be turned.

Growing back
The back of the equestrian blazer has grown a bit, but it has been benched for now. It was born of demand (no easy knitting on the needles!) and supply (hey look! a sweater's worth of yarn in my stash!). But this is a cool-weather project and since fall in Virginia is still many months off there's no rush to finish it yet. And it's not like I don't have other things to keep me busy...

Lace lace lace
Oh right - lace.
I'm knitting a few rows here and there, but my favorite place to knit lace is on airplanes and for the next few weeks I'm not traveling. So progress has stalled.

Start of a new back
New project #1! Some yarn never sees the inside of the stash bins. The Rowan silk-wool yarn that I got at an unbelievable sale price is such a yarn. And now that it is becoming a summer cardigan it has become priority knitting #1.

Or at least it was until this happened:
New project #2. Yesterday I realized I have some gift knitting to catch up on. So I opened the stash closet, picked the happiest color of handspun I saw, and got to work. This itty bitty hooded cardi is about the most mindless thing I have ever knit, and it is flying by, so hopefully I'll get back to my turqoise summer cardi soon enough.

Let's not talk about spinning projects in progress right now, okay?

July 21, 2009

Yarn call!

This weekend I went away to the most fabulous weekend of fiddling and dancing EVER but this is a fiber blog, so I won't bore you all.

Instead, here are some things that came in the mail while I was away:
Topsy Farms
Four skeins of goooorgeous naturally brown yarn from Topsy farm in Canada. It's far from next-to-skin soft, but it'll suit the project I had in mind perfectly. Very happy with this purchase!

Rowan Classic Silk Wool
Ten skeins of Rowan Classic Silk Wool DK in Porcelain, which just happens to be my very favorite color. This was an unplanned purchase, but the price was just so good that I jumped on it. Very happy I did.
Start of a back
And with all that yarn arriving I'd better get knitting! Here is the start of the back of Kate Gilbert's Equestrian Blazer which I'm knitting with the yarn recycled from my very first (and rather bad) sweater. So far, so good.

July 13, 2009


I am without a chugalong knitting project right now and as a result I'm bouncing around and dabbling in several different things.

This weekend I...
Shiny soft...
...started spinning a cashmere and silk blend...

...fiddled and fiddled and fiddled with the tension on Margaret's Matchless that she has kindly lent me (I got it worked out last night! Let the production spinning begin!)...

Frogged turtleneck
...frogged my very first completed sweater and soaked the yarn for reuse...

Man sock
...and cast on for a sock.

The brown yarn conundrum has been solved (I hope) and when the yarn comes in the mail I'll report in. Hopefully this means that I'll be casting on a sweater soon, which should help focus my fiber play time.

July 11, 2009

1/2 FO: Boxwood Primavera Sock(s)

boxwood half way

Yarn: Wollmeise, from the sock yarn club
Needles: 0s! (I know! Zerophobia is healed!)
Pattern: Primavera

The first sock is finished and the second ball is still AWOL. This wouldn't be so terribly tragic if this wasn't my very favorite sock that I've ever knit. Sigh. I love this sock. And I will display it prominently so I can admire it until the other ball of yarn decides to come home.

I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend the Primavera pattern. It's wonderfully mindless (the fiddley bits are only every six rows) and the effect is lovely with a variagated yarn. I will be knitting many more of these socks. Or, you know, at least a full pair. (sigh!)

July 9, 2009

ISO: chocolate brown, wool, worsted or dk, 2 or 3 ply, long-wearing yarn

Is that too much to ask?

I've been surprised at how hard it is to find such a yarn. My go-to solid wool (Dale's Heilo) has no good brown. I jumped to Jamieson's DK, even buying two balls to see the color in person, but no. Neither of the browns is right.

Here's what I need:
-A beautiful, solid, chocolate brown. Slightly heathered would be okay too, but no tweeds or semi-solids
-Wool, non-superwash please. I'd even take a wool/something blend if it measured up in other ways
-a good quality, long-wearing yarn. Cascade 220 won't fit the bill here - I want an heirloom knit strength yarn
-no singles yarns or no cabled plies. 2 or 3 ply prefered, but I'm willing to go up to 5 or 6 if it looks like a traditional plied yarn and not the kind of cylinders seen in, for example, Debbie Bliss's Rialto yarn
-worsted or dk. I'd go aran weight too, if necessary.

Here's what I don't care about:
-softness. Butter soft or scratchy, I don't care. Merino? Fine. (as long as it's long-wearing) Romney? Great.

This reads a bit like a personal ad, no?
Okay, so my requirements are a smidge specific. But I'm willing to pay a pretty penny for such a yarn, if I could find it! And if I can't? Well then it's time for me to start experimenting with dyeing techniques so I can get an entire sweater's worth of yarn evenly dyed.

Any an all yarn ideas or suggestions would be much appreciated!

Yarn gone AWOL

The first Primavera sock is almost finished.
boxwood toe

But there's a mysterious problem. See that ball? That's all I have left. Now yes, it is a relatively tall sock, but this yarn is supposed to have 575 yards in the skein!!

As I see it, these are the possibilities:
a) This pattern ate up a crazy amount of yarn and that small ball is really all there is left
b) I wound the skein into two separate cakes and then lost one.

I strongly suspect B. Yesterday I cleaned out my fiber closet assuming I'd run into the wayward cake, but no. This moring I hunted and hunted and hunted. No yarn. (well, no green sock yarn. I turned up some other treasures along the way.)
At this point my plan is to finish the sock and set it aside, hoping that the missing yarn will turn up. I'm feeling rather dramatic about the whole thing because I have absolutely loved knitting this first sock and was looking forward to the second, but I don't see what choice I have. (dramatic gesture)

If any of my local knitting buds have seen a brilliantly green cake of yarn wandering around, tell it to come home!

July 3, 2009

Vacation knitting

Does it get any better than this?
vacation knitting
(not pictured: gin and tonic in hand)

June 30, 2009

Where have I been?

Oh, around.

Just got back from the trip, more photos to come soonish, but I'm leaving on another trip tomorrow morning, so it may be a few days.

I did knit away busily during the travels.
china summer 356

The first primavera sock is almost a full sock, and I've gotten started on a new project:
new lace

Now I need to pack for tomorrow's trip! PHEW!

June 12, 2009

Long term project

Remember these?
zeilinger order

Spinning the fleeces
For a number of reasons I have decided to spin up those fleeces rather than dyeing and selling the fiber. I haven't added up the weights (frankly it makes my head spin to even think of it) but I'm conservatively estimating that there are about 20 pounds of fiber total.

This is clearly a long term project!

I'm happy with how the first fleece is spinning up. It's a yearling romney with tons of luster, so I'm spinning it into a lofty aran weight two ply.
Spinning the fleeces

Look at this sheen!
Spinning the fleeces

This is definitely not a next-to-skin, merino-soft yarn, but I'm sure it will find a good home in a great project.
For now I'm spinning and spinning, but eventually this yarn or a dyed version of it will end up in the shop. My hope is to have sweater quantities of the yarn available and there may be custom dyeing options. For now, I'm just enjoying the easy, relaxing, endless spinning.

June 09
Milo finds it all a bit dull.

June 9, 2009

Eyeing the frog pond.

I'm on the fence about whether to frog my Whisper cardi. On the one hand, I put it on and say, "hey! I think this'll look pretty good ." On the other hand, the knitting is supremely irritating. In order to catch all the stitches without slipping one I have to pay rapt attention. To stockinette.

I'm talking myself into frogging, here. Maybe I'll retry Whisper with a heavier weight lace yarn. This Fino is practically a cobweb and it's not working for Whisper.

So! With all this frog speculation and with the Seascape stole just finished, I am left without a big project. This can only mean one thing around these parts.

boxwood primavera
Socks! Primavera pattern in Wollmeise sock yarn club yarn. Yum.

But of course I am scheming, sampling, and swatching for The Next Big Thing. My first handspun sweater project, spun from one of the fleeces I bought last fall. The plan is to make a cabled sweater, but I am wondering whether the yarn is too variegated/heathered and if it will obscure the pattern.
When light comes from an angle, the cables show up beautifully.

But when in full, direct sun the cables fade into the heatheredness, at least in pictures. (the swatch under consideration is on the right. I have already decided against the yarn in the left hand swatch.)
Hmph. This effect is exaggerated in this photo - in person the cables don't appear this blended, but the trend is the same.
What to do, what to do? In the right hand swatch I am blending a gray fleece with a white fleece. I'm doing it a bit haphazardly, just flicking the locks together. I could try a more thorough blending technique, but that means breaking out the combs and frankly I don't know if I want to do that for this big of a project. I could try a sample with just the gray fleece, but I really like the loft of the white fleece and was hoping to include it.
I also wasn't spinning very carefully when I sampled for this swatch, and let quite a few bloops and blobs go by that I would normally fix, so the whole thing is a bit lumpier than I'd let the final yarn be.

All this to say that I am undecided.

But one thing is for sure.
Border leicester
I'm in love with the way my border leicester fleece is spinning up. I'll definitely be using this for something in the near future.