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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Something Old, Something New, Something ... Blue!

Clearly, not blue.

First, the new: the silk hankies, or mawatas, FINALLY got here today! I ordered them from Blue Moon Fiber Arts on the third of February. This color is very true to the actual color. They smell like Elmer's Glue!

The idea, according to Knitty.com, is to pull apart one thin layer at a time ... well, that will be next week's blog post. I was just so excited to finally get these in the mail, I had to start with them. Undecided whether I will spin them, or just knit them without spinning.

Thanks to a little bit of snow, I had a four-day weekend instead of the three-day, President's Day weekend I was expecting (thank you, Baltimore County, for being perpetually unprepared for the slightest snowfall), and aside from a lot housecleaning and cooking, I did a lot of spinning and knitting, as well as sorting through my yarn and neatening my stash. Don't you love doing that? I do :-)

In all the neatening, I found an old project:

Uh ... sorry, cat got in the way. Lemme try again:

Okay, slightly better. This is my first dyeing and spinning project; corridale yarn, sapphire and lilac Jacquard Acid dyes, plied barber-pole fashion, and I started to knit a scarf and got sidetracked. I did not do a great job on this yarn; overspun, dyewater too hot, etc, but it was my first effort. I have a hat I made from this yarn that I wear almost every day. It's scratchy, but very warm.

Merino ....

More merino .... very poor color representation. The blue on the far right is from the bowl above. The living room has better light, apparently!

The honey clover shawlette, roughly 2/3 done (alpaca from Wonder Why)

When I block this, I must be patient and allow it to remain on the pins for several days. I always take my knits down too soon, and they shrink all the way back down. It's so hard to wait, sometimes!

And finally ... a series of pictures to show you how challenging it is to spin or ply in this house:

Pesky Petunia ... she is rubbing her face against the yarn and making the cutest noise ... like purring with her mouth open, sort of "khhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh..." It's cute, but impossible to work around. Nothing distracts her from this .... I think it's the fiber that draws her. I guess I understand that, but I refrain from rubbing my chin on it and purring.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Fast Forward to Friday!

And, might I add, it is now only 78 days until Maryland Sheep and Wool 2011!

I have been to MD S&W three times. The first time, I cautiously bought a tiny amount of yarn. The next time, I was full into carding and spinning, and I bought mostly uncarded, pre-dyed wool that had to be worked over on my Fancy Kitty drum carder. I still have most of that left. Then, last year, I bought nothing but ready-to-spin wool and camel and alpaca -- from top left, camel, merino (both blues) pink bombyx silk, BFL, and polworth. I have spun and used the bombyx, polworth, and spun the BFL. I spun some of the merino for a hat. This year, I might buy some silk cocoons; they were everywhere last year, still in the cocoon shape, and dyed all sorts of gorgeous colors.

The spindle in the middle is a turnip. I want to buy another "resting" spindle this year, a Phang or Russian. They look so fancy ... it's funny, though, because when I watch videos of Tibetan, Andean, and Peruvian women using that type of spindle, it's always just a rough chunk of wood, and they spin beautiful yarn from it. But I must have a nicely carved, polished, and patterned one for my efforts! 

I love MD S&W. I wish they'd have it twice a year. It would be so much better to have it in February, when it's still cold, and there is two more months of chilly weather. I'd go bankrupt.

So, best of intentions ... I am trying to spin up what I have before buying more ... that means the camel and both merinos, plus the alpaca I've been slowly hand-spinning. About 12 ounces, probably. I doubt I'll get to it all, but I'll get an A for Effort!

 I finished up some of the fiber from the Wild Orchid Arts exotics sampler ... I think this is camel, silk, and some bunny... I mixed them all together, since the amounts were small. This is a mini-niddy I bought at last year's S&W. I don't know how much it measures, I just like miniature things :-)

It's just too cute! And perfect for small amounts.

Here is the clover honey shawlette thingie, in Wonder Why alpaca ... it's hard to see, but there is a color change, about an inch and a half down from the top. I am not even halfway through the yarn for it. I have been working on this steadily -- I really want to have it done while the weather is still chilly! 

And a new WIP ... because six just wasn't enough. A while back I bought a 36-sampler pack (Yes, I have a problem with sampler packs ... I just cannot resist having 12 or 36 little bits of something). It's Knit-Picks, fingering weight I think, and I am making a baby hat in a rainbow of shades (top left). I haven't used this yarn too much, but here is something else I made from it:

Socks from the fabulous "Knitting Traditions" magazine. Turkish socks, to be exact. Aren't they gorgeous? Unfortunately, in a typical twist of fate -- or, as I like to call it, "life with Beth" -- they are too narrow to fit my foot. They won't even go over my heel!

A happy hello to all the Fiber Arts Friday Folk who came by way of Wonder Why blog ... this is my 3rd FAF and I am enjoying being part of the community! I look forward to visiting your blogs.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Alpaca Madness Continues!

Above with the Trindle is the might-be-alpaca ... Isn't that a lovely halo? This fiber floats onto everything, including the black cat that likes to sit on my lap when I spindle (yes, I sit and spindle, I'm lazy ;-)

The Trindle is a great spindle. I like all my spindles, but for alpaca, the Trindle is my go-to spindle. It doesn't spin as long as my other spindles, but I don't think I've dropped it but once or twice (by dropped, I mean the weight of the spindle pulling the fiber apart while spinning, not just my natural clumsiness).

To the left, Wonder Why alpaca coming in at about 9 WPI.  And what am I making with my alpaca ...

A clover honey shawlette from "Sock Yarn One Skein Wonders." This is the darker of the Wonder Why alpaca. I plan on alternating the light and dark and hope it looks all right :-). The yarn itself is very slightly striped, so I am hoping it will blend in nicely. I don't have enough of either to make an entire shawlette from just one color. This pattern is easy enough to memorize, except for the lace panel in the middle on the RS; I have to consult the chart for that.

This is my first skein of the might-be-alpaca ... Still damp from its bath. I spun it on the Trindle, but cheated and plied it on the wheel. It's SO much faster! Plying on spindle takes forever (I know, spinning on a spindle takes longer, too, yet I do it ...)

I thought it would be fun to take some 'action' shots of the spinning wheel: 


Monday, February 7, 2011

Going on a Picnic? Al-pac-a Lunch!

Oh, bad pun! You know the penalty for punning? Get thee to a punnery!

There, now that that is out of my system ...

    This may look like two kitties just sitting at a window, but if you'll look closely ... the window is OPEN. That's right -- the temperature hit a balmy 46 degrees yesterday, and in addition, there was a ball of fire in the sky lighting everything up! For about an hour, it was just warm enough to open the windows and get some fresh air in the house. The kitties are enjoying a rare winter privilege.

And, the ice on the duck pond has started to crack. It was pretty thick near the shore.

Doggie and I went down to the extremely muddy, slippery, snow-slushy duck pond and fed the ducks some old cereal. FYI: it is nearly impossible to throw puffed-rice cereal.

I don't know what made these holes. Bubbles rising from the bottom, maybe?

The Wonder Why alpaca  is all spun up.

The fiber on the right that looks gray is actually lavender, it just doesn't show through well on film. The other is plum. Or I might have that backwards ;-)

It comes out to 408 yards total. I must start going through my books to find an appropriate pattern ... I am thinking shawl-ette, perhaps.

I have no shortage of material to spin -- here's my next, alpaca again. I think it's alpaca. It didn't show up in my Etsy purchase list, so maybe I bought it at last year's Maryland Sheep and Wool. I'm pretty sure it's alpaca, at least. I think. I actually have been spinning so much that I can count my fiber stash on one hand -- merino, merino, alpaca, camel, corriedale. I'm not counting the exotic fiber sampler kit, because then I wouldn't be able to count it all on one hand.

The socks continue. I was knitting at the dentist's office today and the dental tech asked me a few silly questions that made it clear she is not one of the Chosen (or, a knitter):

1. Do you ever finish "sewing" something up and find out it didn't come together right?

2. When you knit a sweater, do you just knit a sleeve and then keep going till it's a sweater? 


My kitty got through her spaying without too much difficulty.

She looks a bit cranky here, but she had just taken a big bite out of her little orange buddy and was savoring the kill. I guess.

My next project is one I saw on another blog ... knitting from silk hankies. I have purchased 40g of silk and am awaiting them now. I am planning on knitting directly from the hankie, and not spinning the silk first ... we'll see how it goes!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Happy First Friday in February!

In a bit of an alliterative mood here, and anticipating Friday ...

Look! A magic floating bobbin!

The fiber is Wonder Why alpaca (I guess it's magic alpaca!), lavender on the bottom and plum on top. I have been doing a lot of spinning this week.

2-ply silk-yak from the exotic fibers sampler kit. Spinning this was very difficult, and I don't think I'll be doing silk again unless it's from a hankie... it was very slippery and floaty and got on everything.

Pretty stuff, though.

The same silk-yak, and black Suri alpaca I purchased from Etsy a while back. I've only spun about a third of it. Both were very slippery and took a lot of concentration. I'm thinking of making something black-and-white out of it ... a small bag, maybe.

And the one WIP I am working on this week, the interlochen socks. I brought these to work this week and knitted during several long meetings. I got a lot done on them. They will be lavender on top and blue from the heel on down.

The other big event this week ... getting this monster spayed. This is two hours after I was told to keep her still and quiet for 24 hours ...

She seems to have lost a pound in just one day of not eating. Poor l'il thing. She's recovering pretty quickly. She's eating and cleaning herself and I could do nothing to keep her from climbing the stairs.

There is a huge difference between spaying at a vet's office, and SPCA spaying clinics. At the vet, they give you pain medicine for the pet, and a set of instructions, an Elizabethan collar, and sit down with you and discuss everything before letting you have your pet. At the SPCA, for spaying stray/feral cats, it's pretty much out-the-door-you're-on-your-own! This is not to say I am not grateful for what the SPCA does, I just think the contrast is funny.

Happy Fiber Friday!