Two Left Needles

Knitting, spinning and dyeing
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That's what I've been lately (and tired). I been napping all evening, conked out. I hope I can sleep tonight.

We went to see Gram yesterday and she's in rough shape. She didn't look like herself and, as it's been lately, it was hard to figure out what she's talking about. A few weeks ago it became evident she didn't know my name. She's forgotten Scott's name as well. She still knows who we are. It's really hard to see her like this.

Reminds me of an ex's grandmother, who also had Alzheimer's. His mother said to me, I wish you could see her the way she was, she was always so elegant and careful with her dress. She said, she is a shadow of her former self. It was hard to understand, since I didn't know her before the Alzheimer's. But I understand now. I can imagine what she might have been like, because I know what Gram was like. And how she is now.

She's been falling so she's been moved to a new place so she can be watched and cared for more closely. It's hard to accept that it's the best place for her because each time she moves, I see her losing more freedoms, or living in a place that seems "less nice" than the last place. She seems to be okay there, though. Adjusting and being sociable. And she asks about the baby every time we're there, which is good. I put my hands on my belly and tell her I'm still cooking. I look forward to bringing the little goober with us in a couple of short months (!). I wonder how Gram will react?

We've been hit with more snow, but without the ice, it's not much to speak of.

Snow

On a sunny day, it makes a nice background for newly washed handspun:

Freshly washed handspun

Hiding in the back (leftmost) is the Spunky Eclectic BFL (turquoise/purple) I spun at Spa. I'll have a better photo tomorrow. 

I haven't done much for Project Spectrum yet, so here's my token photo:

Winter sky

I think I'll spin up something in the appropriate colors (blue/white/gray) next month.

And for Twisted Knitters:

Lagoon - all spun up!

Yep, I finished the second bobbin of Lagoon! They rest on my wristwarmers, knit from, naturally, handspun. To protect against the snow.

It took longer to spin than I liked, and the slightly-felted-sometimes-very-felted-ness was not so pleasing. But I chugged along, and careful pre-drafting did wonders. In my head I kept a spinning deadline of February, so that I can spend March doing the knitting. That really motivated me to finish spinning.

I'm not looking forward to plying, though. I ply by sight and this stuff is pretty thin. And, there's a lot of yards of it. I'll have to buckkle down and do it this week.

On the bobbin now is cormo/alpaca from Foxhill Farm, purchased at MDSW. I'm spinning it finer than the Lagoon, if you can imagine. Gorgeous stuff, but talk about taking longer to spin... I feel like I'm hardly making progress.

Tomorrow is our next doctor's appointment. Running through my head: "I must have gained at least a pound. I must have gained at least a pound."

I took woefully few photos at Spa this weekend (New England Textile Arts annual weekend of fiber fun and relaxation). I was too busy having a good time! It was really wonderful to see old friends and make new ones.

I'm not up for a Spa post just yet, so I'll catch you up on a couple of things.

The night before Spa, not only did I finish Scott's Re-Grow sweater, I also blocked Diamond in the Rough:

Diamond in the Rough - blocking

Of course, I don't have any photos of me wearing it. Yet. Maybe this weekend?

Scott is SO happy with his sweater. The almost 2 years it sat partly done, he didn't have a favorite sweater. And now he has a favorite sweater again! It felt really good to be able to give thim that. I don't think he took it off all weekend. Good thing I was in Portland and didn't have to smell him. ;)

I finished off 2 oz of the Lagoon superfine merino:

Lagoon - halfway there!

and have started on bobbin #2. The second half seems to be more felted so it may be slower goings. But I'm determined to get this spun up (hopefully?) by the end of February so I can be knitting it into something during March before Twisted Knitters is over.

Did I mention I started a new project? It really pained me to do it. I never would have imagined starting a new project to be so ... conflicting! In the past, I would regularly get itchy for a new project and cast on 3 or 4 new projects in a day! That, my friends, is how I wound up with 67 WIP's in the first place. Now that I'm trying to control startitis and manage the number of WIP's, adding a new project without finishing an existing project doesn't feel right. I don't recognize myself.

I planned to start it soon anyway, and a 3 hour gestational diabetes test was the catalyst. I got to a sticky point on Trellis during the first hour and had to abandon that ship. Instead, I cast on for Clapotis with Noro Silk Garden Lite:

Clapotis - started!

I love this colorway. There are some purty greens and blues to come.

This is the 3rd Clapotis I've started; this time, I'm using a yarn I picked out specifically for this project, so I'm hopeful I'll actually finish this one. I like the lighter weight of the Silk Garden Lite for this project. And did I mention I love the colors?

PS  The diabetes test came out totally normal. It was a bit of a scare, though. On the 1 hour diabetes screen the week before, I got a very high score and was quite worried.

I've been wearing Norwegian Hat for a week and still haven't decided if I'm going to redo the lining. It's a little tighter than I'd like, but it sure is warm and all sewn up and stuff. I know I'll feel marginally better about the fit if I re-did the lining. But it's a lot of work for marginally feeling better, y'know?

I took a page from Ms Hello Yarn for the lining and used up some 4-ply DK cashmere I had leftover from my birthday scarf.

I guessed on the number of stitches I wanted for the lining, and after picking up stitches from the provisional cast on, decreased accordingly. The yarn is a similar weight to the Jaeger I used for the hat, maybe a hair heavier; if I had used a lighter weight yarn, I'd have less bulk issues, and therefore a looser fit. But it's so purty:

Norwegian hat - sewing in the lining

and though no one else can see it, it does match my scarf:

My Birthday Scarf

Too short a lining made the bulk more noticeable. I put the stitches onto waste yarn several times to test the look and fit and decided on a good sized lining. After pinning it into place, I basically kitchenered to a row of knitting using black JaggerSpun Zephyr.

Norwegian hat - sewing in the lining

I kept the kitchener stitches loose because I didn't want the point-of-kitchenering to pucker the row, but after the fact I realized they were too loose, so the purl row folding edge is not perfectly at the folding edge, if ya know what I mean. I could go stitch by stitch and tighten it up.

Off the head, the row does look a little puckered:

Norwegian hat

But on the head, it's not at all noticeable.

There is zero itch factor with the cashmere, and the hat really keeps my head toasty, even with the frigid temperatures we had last week. Because it's tighter than I would prefer, it does flatten my hair a bit. Again, I haven't figured out if I will make any changes. But... considering how much effort I put into this hat, perhaps it's worth re-doing?

If I did make changes, I'd reknit the lining entirely and with fewer decreases, therefore having slightly more stretch to the hat. If I were really serious about it, I'd switch to a lighter weight cashmere so there'd be less bulk to boot. But I don't have anything nearly as pretty lying around.

Maybe another week will decide it.

Meanwhile, here's my current Twisted Knitters project:

Lagoon on the Schacht
colors not quite accurate

It's the superfine merino I dyed a few weeks back and started spindling. I'm not a big spindler since the wheel, so if I'm going to get anywhere with Twisted Knitters, it's gotta be on the wheel. I'm not quite happy with how my Schacht is handling laceweight (it hiccups and tugs on the fiber supply) but I'll make it through this batch.

New Year's came early! (My family celebrates New Year's, not Christmas.)

I saw a great deal on a barely used Ashford Joy Woolee Winder and jumped at the opportunity. It arrived quickly! Of course I had to spin something up. First I finished some white superwash for a 3 color 3-ply that I've been working on, off and on, for months. And plied it. (More on that soon.)

Then I started on some blue faced leicester Calico Cat that I had dyed up a while back:

Woolee Winder Woolee Winder

I agree with my original impression that it looks more camo than calico.

The WW screws into the Joy, replacing the entire flyer/bobbin assembly. It's not a tight fit, however. There is some wriggle room. At Rhinebeck, when Anne and I were spinning on our Joys, I noticed a difference between her flyer and mine. Mine seemed to be just a hair longer, or shorter, I forget which, so we weren't able to interchange our flyers (we were troubleshooting some wobbling on hers, I think).

That the WW doesn't fit my Joy in exactly the same way is not so surprising. I think there were some changes made between when her Joy was made and when mine was made. Or, if I'm making that up, maybe mine is just off. Either way, I hear the WW folks are helpful, so I'll give them a shout and see what's what.

Meanwhile, I cut out the centers of some flat cork pieces to temporarily make the bobbin flush. Of course, I don't have a picture to show you.

Now that I'm writing this, I'm sure I'm not being all that clear.

Calico Cat 2, bobbin 1
a bit faded but shows the color variation

Do you see how the singles are winding more on one end than the other? That's because the hole where the flyer screws in is a little shallower than the WW flyer is made for. So, there's room for the bobbin to move. Consequently, the bobbin doesn't wind evenly.

Well, I tried. It's late. I don't think I can explain it any better. :P

Calico Cat 2 is spinning up differently than the original. Both are BFL, I think, but I like the other BFL better. I think this one will still have an interesting tweedy thing going on when plied. This photo is darker, but I think the colors are more accurate:

Calico Cat 2, bobbin 1

What do I think of it? The WW, I mean?

It's different. I don't have quite the same "humming classical music" feeling that I used to get with the Joy. It did take some adjusting.

The bobbins are larger and pack more tightly so I can fit 4 oz on a bobbin, vs 2 oz, which is a HUGE plus.

Not having to change hooks is AWESOME. But it also means I have to consciously stop to take a break. I'm not used to that.

The WW really ROCKS when it comes to plying. Not having to change hooks while plying and being able to fit a lot more onto a bobbin makes a TREMENDOUS difference. Not losing the plying rhythm is NICE!!!

I miss the "humming classical music" feeling. I don't know if I'll get it back with time. But I really like the uninterrupted spinning. It's a trade off.

I'm contemplating getting one for my Schacht. I'll see how it goes. I wouldn't use it for laceweight, but for other weights, it might come in handy. And for plying. Especially if the bobbins are larger than the Schacht's already larger bobbins.

Do any of you Schacht owners have a WW? What do you think?

Do any of you Schacht owners have a WW for another wheel but not the Schacht? Why?

 

PS: The Guernsey Dress pattern is from Cotton Knits for All Seasons.

At The Gathering I started spinning the Crosspatch Creations batt I bought at Rhinebeck. Such joy! I tore strips off the batt, attenuated just a bit to get the fibers moving, and then went at it.

From the outside, the batts look light colored, with hints of mint and fuschia:

Crosspatch Creations batt

But opened up there is quite a bit of dark grey lurking underneath:

Crosspatch Creations batt

The nubby bits add wonderful texture and overall spin quite nicely into the yarn:

Crosspatch Creations batt

The yarn: dark grey with pops of color; tweedy, flecky, happy:

Crosspatch Creations

spun mostly thin with little fight to the natural bumps. There's no point in striving for pure consistency with this fiber. Instead, revel in the texture and color. Know that you're not spinning for a "perfect" yarn and enjoy the spinning, the feel, the nubs, the surprises.

Crosspatch Creations

I spun the second bobbin once I got home, but I've been faithful to The Project since then. I spun with the intention of making a 2-ply so that's probably what I'll do. And, it looks so good with itself, too.

The project is going swimmingly well. I was able to get past the last hurdles thanks to your suggestions and advice. The stitches and pattern are a bit fiddly, not my usual speed, but the results are lovely:

the project, in progress
as of mid-last week

Look at that texture!

And progress as of a couple of days ago (thank goodness for sunshine!):

the project, in progress

I've got a head start on some of the finishing work and I'm hopeful for a quick finish. I've been putting off spinning to get this done and I'm ready to get back! Quick question, though: do you think a simple mattress stitch would suffice or should I start pulling out the finishing books and do it right?

Look for More Progress soon!

Spinning

Before heading to The Gathering, I cleared off a few of my bobbins:

clearing off the bobbins
cormo 2-ply; laceweight merino 2-ply; CVM 3-ply

At top is some dyed cormo from MDSW (0.4 oz, 66 yards). I was lured in by the color but the neppiness and VM really made this No Fun to spin, so I plied what I was able to get through. After sitting on the bobbin so long it definitely needs a warm bath to re-energize and balance it. It's fairly soft and skooshy, but I'd be hard pressed to spin more.

The blues were last seen as dyed top (100's merino; 1 oz, 200 yards). I spun it very fine, but unfortunately, I felted the fiber in dyeing it, so it was slow goings. Still, what I did spin is very soft. Also, I've had a good bit of trouble getting my Schacht to spin laceweight nicely. I just haven't got it set up quite right. It's my Next Project; I've been holding back on the laceweight for too long.

And my favorite is the 3-ply CVM (1.25 oz, 102 yards). Why? Well, it's my first 3-ply! I know, it only took me just over a YEAR after learning to spin to do a proper 3-ply. I did my first navajo-plied yarn within 3 or 4 days of learning to spin (on a spindle, no less). Why did I wait? Honestly, it seemed like a lot of work, and seemed harder to do. It wasn't.

My first reaction when I was done (or as I was spinning): "It looks like real yarn!"

I was elated, dancing up and down inside. It's silly, of course. I have been making real yarn all this time, after all. But it looks like "regular yarn". It was a real wow moment for me.

The second reason I love it: I made it from the fleece. I separated the fleece by color, washed it, ran it through the carder (first drum carded thing!), and spun it. How cool is that?

my first 3-ply handspun

Thanks again for your kind words and condolences. The DC memorial ceremony was moved to Thanksgiving weekend, so this last week has been down time for me to just be, especially the weekend. I had Friday off and, despite the recent and sudden (pregnancy induced?) appearance of a strangely normal internal clock, I managed to sleep in until at least 11 am. Ahhhhh.

The weekend at The Gathering was mixed. I know I would have enjoyed it more under different circumstances: sometimes I really enjoyed the company of other spinners; other moments I just had to get away and cry.

Since I signed up a couple of months late, I didn't get most of my first choices. My backups were all spinning classes, since that's what I was most interested in learning. I shoulda known myself better. My first and third classes were Beginning Spinning and Hand Spindling, respectively. Now, before you start snickering, I'll admit... I guess I'm no longer a beginner spinner. And, I guess 4 months of spindling before I got my first wheel taught me a lot about spindling. Go ahead, you can laugh now.

In Beginning Spinning, I learned to Andean ply, which came in handy through the weekend. I spent most of the class practicing what I thought might be long draw with clouds of yak I had brought. In Hand Spindling, I took the opportunity to try out the myriad spindles she had on hand. (I really gotta get me a Golding spindle. Niiiiiiice.) And in both classes, I helped someone learn to spin. Which is always cool.

The second class was all I had hoped it would be. Building Your Spinning Repertoire with Bobbie Irwin. We covered a few short draws, point of contact, spinning from the fold, long draw, faux chenille novelty draft and tailspinning from locks. Turns out I had done many of these before without knowing specifically what it was called. And, turns out long draw is not what I thought it was. It was great to learn the specifics, see it in action, and learn tips for each. 

We used wools, including a really nice Finn top that made me love Finn and not hate inchworm true worsted short draw. We also used ramie, silk waste, cotton (for long draw), yak (with guard hairs), and a few others. What fun!

Friday and Saturday evening were Spin-Ins in the same room as the handful of vendors. I wasn't planning to buy anything, but then, well, you know how it happens. I'll just say it's Judy's fault. And Cindy's. I may as well have been following them around. I bought cashmere/silk from Foxfire, a pound of Montadale roving from Christopher Hall, and a light weight Forrester spindle that spins and spins.

The Spin-Ins were easily my favorite part of the weekend. Being in a room full of spinners and knitters, spinning and hanging out, was really lovely. I sat with Judy and got to meet a few of her RI spinning buddies: I sat next to Cindy and Muriel (see Cindy's photo); Marva was in two of my classes; and I picked Beth's brain about the Schacht Matchless. What a nice bunch.

I had zero signal on my cell phone and without it and Internet, I felt out of touch and far away. By Sunday I was ready to come home and get some hugs from Scott. And what a sweetie, he did some more cleaning while I was away. Clearly, spinning and fiber weekends are GOOD for me, aren't they?

It's been raining and grey since the weekend, dark when I leave work, and getting cold for green picnic table photo ops. I'm still trying to figure out what I'll do. Mebbe just go back to nighttime flash photos?

In the meantime, PumpkinMama reminded me I owe another bump pic. Here's what I looked like today:

  

And this one was to prove I still have a waistline:

But it didn't work...

For the past week or so I haven't felt like spinning, knitting or dyeing. And when I don't feel like spinning, knitting or dyeing, you can bet I don't feel like blogging about not spinning, knitting, or dyeing, either.

Life Chez 2LN is a little weird right now. Well, clearly, given the above.

Scott is taking 2 classes on top of a full time job, and that is changing our schedule and energy levels quite a bit. He's in class two nights a week, and tired tired tired from all that reading, writing, and 'rithmetic. I've been helping with papers and generally trying to be supportive, but I've also been tired tired tired from who knows what. Maybe I've got something. When you'd rather sleep than spin, knit or dye, you MUST be sick, right?

It could be the weather, Fall melancholy, global warming. It's hard to say.

Actually, my Fall funk is not so bad now. Maryse brought up a good point. She lives not far from me and also used to live nearer Boston. She said that Fall hits sooner here, even though we're only 26 miles away. Something about Boston and warming ocean waters. I have noticed that every time I go into Boston, it seems at least 5-10 degrees warmer. As far back as the alpaca spin-in, I remember thinking, wow, it still feels like summer here! Ditto for the Knit Out last week. We've lived here 3 years, but this is our first Fall not commuting into Boston, and therefore not experiencing Fall through Boston. Somehow, just knowing this has helped me accept it.

Okay, let's throw in a picture or two:

Navajo-plied Sunfires

That's what I finished up at the alpaca spin-in. The first bobbin was spun months ago, and I didn't keep a sample to work from, so the second skein is clearly skinnier than the first:

Navajo-plied Sunfires, closeup

Oh well. It's very soft and squishy Navajo-plied superwash merino, dyed and spun to be self-striping, from yellows to deep red and back. I was thinking socks, but I haven't been so good with finishing socks lately. Any suggestions? It's 4 oz of DK to fingering weight.

I also let it soak too long when setting the twist, so the little bit of color that bled warmed up the yellows. Oh well. No big deal.

There have been some fibery activities in the past week. I did go to the BASD meeting last week and had a good time. It was "show and tell" after a summer of not meeting, and it really struck me how much knitting with your own handspun is taken for granted among the members. I mean, sure, that's to be expected, right? They've been spinning for years and years and years, surely they're doing something with that handspun? But seeing just about everyone there making something or other with handspun was just such a breath of fresh air. So encouraging.

Saturday morning I went to the Fabric Place Knitters Breakfast. I was sure my luck would change this time. Third time's the charm. Well, in a way it was true. I had gone up at the beginning to show my handspun shawl-in-progress (they were giving out freebies, I was determined to get something; I got a pattern pamphlet I'll never use). After a long presentation from Berroco, they called out one round of numbers. I didn't get called. I had to leave. BUT. A friend of someone in my monthly Knit Club group won The Magic of Handweaving

and didn't want it, and kindly gave it to me! So, as usual, I didn't win anything; but I did walk away with a nice gift!

I left early to meet up with Pixie, who had flown up for a wedding. We had a really great time! She has a better description on her blog but I have the same picture:

Me n Pixie

As she said, she and I geeked out on fiber talk, and our husbands geeked out on computer and game talk. We're all BSG fans, so we knew we'd get along. ;)

Speaking of BSG, school is getting in the way of watching Season 2 episodes. We're halfway into Season 2.0. We'll just have to TiVo until we catch up. All you BSG-ers who ARE caught up: don't tell me what happens!

I am expecting to shake this funk soon. I've joined Margene and the Twisted Knitters:

and I'll be dyeing, spinning, and knitting something or other over the next several months. Reminds me of the Knitting Olympics, sans stress. I may call on you for opinions on a suitable project.

I also joined up with Carole and the Lonesome Skein folks today:

because I've got skeins, and I need to knit gifts. Do you?

I'll be leaving for Rhinebeck in just over 2 weeks! I can't wait! I will be really bummed if my mojo hasn't returned by then. Then, again, maybe my wallet (and Scott) will thank me?

If you're going, you can find me on Stitchy's Rhinebeck Bingo cards:

I'm so square.

If my mojo doesn't return soon, it may be quiet 'round here. But, my spinnaversary is Sunday, so I'll at least have a contest or something then.

Look at this gorgeousness:

Cloverleaf Farms merino/silk

That's the Cloverleaf Farms merino/silk, in two colorways, plied. If you remember, I hoped the rose/green colorway would brighten the autumn colorway, and the autumn would tone down and warm up the rose/green. I'm really happy with the results!

Before plying the whole shebang, I plied up a sample to see how it would look. As you can see above, in plied form the yarn looks pretty barberpole-y. I knit up a swatch:

swatching the merino/silk

I love the color gradations. And the colors. I feel the two different colorways bring a little more complexity to the final yarn, and parts that I thought would have stood out, like the sections with the green, blend in quite nicely.

The only thing I didn't like was the roundness of the yarn. I spun the singles to make it that way, so it's my own damned fault. I knew I was spinning to knit a shawl of some kind, but I figured it would be a cozy shawl, maybe with garter base. I didn't think a rounder yarn would be a problem. And, I really liked the look of the rounder yarn. But... it's not a "problem" per se; it's more that I wanted a little more drape than I was getting.

So, I plied the rest of the yarn with a little less twist to compensate. I think it's a good compromise.

The yarn bled a good bit in the wash, despite very very tepid temperatures (I kept the temp down fearing the silk would bleed). A lot of yellow/yellow-orange bled out. The colors are still gorgeous, though:

Cloverleaf Farms merino/silk

Of course, I couldn't help myself. I started knitting right away.

Cloverleaf Farms merino/silk

I've got just under 800 yards and 8 oz.

Cloverleaf Farms merino/silk

I'm not sure how much shawl that will get me, but I'll find out.

Oh. my. god. You have to see the BSG Mini Series! I mean, if you haven't already. It's SO GOOD!

We bought the DVD's in preparation for Season 3. I needed to get hubby addicted so we could watch it together. He figured he'd probably like the show, just hadn't been watching enough to know what was going on. The Mini Series comes with the set we bought. It presents continuously with mini fade-to-blacks where commercials would be, but running continuously for 3 hours. 3 hours! I sat and knit for 3 hours wondering why there were no episode beginnings or endings, no credits, no theme song. Only figured it out after the fact when I talked to Scott. Hehe.

It really helps explain the storyline, little bits that I didn't quite get but didn't question. And it's so freakin' gripping and well done and so awesome to watch without commercials or fast forwarding. Or interruptions.

'Cuz Scott was at school. He's taking a coupla classes and pretty excited about it. And he's the one that said we should watch at our own paces and not wait for each other, 'cuz he usually watches 'em faster than I do. We agreed. Ahead of time. Hehe. So now he's behind.

So freakin' excited. I was hooked for all of Season 2, and, though TiVo-less, was a devoted Sci Fi Friday fan, so I'm pretty good for those. Not so sure about Season 1. Muahahahaha, all "new" episodes to enjoy before the season starts.

No, this is not "all BSG all the time" here at 2LN.

The skirt is in time out. Words were exchanged, there will be a cooling down period. Not to worry. I've knit through the end once and passed all pattern notes to Anne, and she's released Sangria for your hot little hands. Go have a Sangria, you know you wanna.

Meanwhile I'm taking a break by casting on for the shawl version of Sand River with the wool/alpaca I bought from Seacoast Handpainted Yarns. The yarn was doing some crazy vertical pooling, so I frogged back and am alternating between 2 balls of yarn, something I've never really done for variegated yarn. I've always just gone with the flow, with pretty good success. I would do that now, but I know that when I attach the second skein, and the third, the pooling won't be the same. There's still a surprising bit of pooling, but it looks like it'll start un-pooling soon. I'm not sure about the colors, definitely not my colors. I'll be curious to hear your thoughts tomorrow when I have pics.

On the spinning front, I washed and beat the primarily green primaries dyepot yarn. 12 oz, a little over 900 yards, about a sport or DK weight:

Primarily Greens BFL

The colors look a little different depending on the lighting -- lighter, darker, bright, somber. Soft BFL. And if you remember from this post, each 4 oz batch was a little different, one had a little more greens and light green, one more reds, and the third more blue. Can you see the difference?

And a close up for fun:

Primarily Greens BFL

From seeing people's TiVo lists, I'd say TiVo lists are like fingerprints or snowflakes, no two alike. Also, you'd never guess what some people watch! Interesting stuff. I did forget a couple of shows. Pre-TiVo I watched Nip/Tuck, so I'll be adding that back into the line-up. And Windyridge Farm will be happy to know that Rescue Me is on our TiVo list because Scott LOVES the show. I think it's his current favorite. I have to admit, Denis Leary really shines in that role (remember, I'm speaking from an actor's perspective, I couldn't really use those words for the character he plays), and the show as a whole is pretty darned good. My list is long enough so it can stay on Scott's TiVo list for now.

Kate's finished her version of Sand River! You can see in progress pics here, and the finished scarf here. She loved it so much she's started another in red Bamboo! Can't wait to see how that turns out. As soon as the skirt is done I'll be casting on for a shawl version, and then making the pattern available.

Speaking of the skirt, yup, I finished it! And promptly starting frogging after realizing it's too short. Okay, to be honest, there was that panicked phone call to Anne first. (She's even nice on the phone.) I'll be adding another repeat of the second lace section, and then redoing the final lace section.

Kathy corrected me on the Fabric Place Knitters Breakfast date, it's actually 9/30. There is an event on 9/24, though -- the Boston Knit-Out and Crochet Too 2006. Again, if you're in the area, think about going! I plan to be there.

Geez, and here I was thinking that's all I had.

Saturday I went to a spin-in at Parker River Alpaca Farm and had a fabulous time! I got to see some folks I had met before, as well as make new friends. And I met Blogless Sharon, whose name I've seen floating around a lot. Hehe.

We were on the lawn:

happy spin-in at Parker River Alpaca Farm

and at some points, the alpacas wandered by.

At other times, they ran off to the more secluded fenced off area. Were we too loud? Were they worried we'd spin the fleece off their backs? Hmm, could be another reason they were there:

long line

It's hard to say.

There were a bunch of fleeces in the top of the barn, but I've still got the alpaca fleece that came with the wheel (and I'm saving $ for Rhinebeck) so I was a good girl.

alpacas eating

As Carole said, there's something about those alpacas. Looking at them, I couldn't help but giggle "heeheehee" they tickled me so. Can you blame me?

why hello there

I finished up the BFL in the Sunfires colorway I had dyed up several months back. The colors are so bright and cheery. I'll navajo ply to make striping sock yarn.

Sunfires BFL

The superwash pinks I spun after refuses to photograph accurately. Punk.

The weather was sunny and gorgeous, the mood happy, the company smashing. Thanks so much to Kathy & Tick and Olivia & Dave for hosting!

I've been tired lately and not sleeping well to boot so some nights putting together a post has felt like more than I can handle. Good fibery stuff going on, though. So here's a quick fly-by:

Flirty Skirty is almost done! Just a couple more rows to go. I tried it on a few inches from the end and the fit was still good. It's on short circular needles now so I can't get a feel for the final shape. I'll do a proper post soon with feedback on the pattern and knitting experience and all that good stuff, but let me just tell you, Anne's patterns are very thorough, with both charts and written instructions in all the right places, so you'll be in good hands. Plus, she uses several types of increases and I like how they're incorporated and how they contribute to the skirt's flirty shape.

I've squeezed in a good bit of spinning time, though I have few photos to show for it. The primarily green primaries dyepot is all spun up! 12 oz at about DK weight sure took a long time. It's soaking now so after I abuse it and let it dry, I'll be taking photos. I also spun up the other 4 oz of merino-silk from Cloverleaf Farms. The first 4 oz were in the autumn colorway and spun up in June. Good thing I kept a sample card I could refer to. This batch is brighter and I'm not sure how they'll blend. The idea is to ply them together. You can see the fibers side by side here. I thought the common golden harvest tone would tie both together, with the pinks brightening and the browns warming. Fingers crossed.

Cloverleaf Farms merino/silk - 4 oz x 2
newly spun on left, previously spun on right

What else... Oh yeah, wanna see what 10 lbs of fiber looks like?

10 lbs of fiber

Here are my feet for scale:

10 lbs of fiber with feet for scale

That's 5 lbs of merino superwash and 5 lbs of 80's merino from Henry's Attic. Guess I have a lot of dyeing to do... I also bought a mess of undyed yarns, particularly silks and some silk/merino. 'Cuz I'm a suckah (for silk). The 80's merino is verrry soft.

Oh yeah, I won a blog contest! Me, who never wins anything! Earlier this year I won some lovely alpaca yarn from Claudia's MS Ride. Now, courtesy of Arianie (thanks, Arianie!), I've won a pound of washed, uncarded Alaskan Malamute fiber, aka Chiengora, aka dog hair:

Alaskan Malamute fiber

I've read it is quite warm and Arianie says it's great for mixing with other fibers. It's soft and since it's washed, there isn't any doggy smell. Still, call me old fashioned, but the idea of spinning with dog hair spins my head around!

Alaskan Malamute fiber - closeup

I searched around and couldn't find much info on spinning with Chiengora, besides one or two people that offer spinning services to (mostly) pet owners. There are guard hairs that will need to be removed, but the undercoat seems quite fine and soft. Have you spun with Chiengora? What was your experience?

Now that I've won 2 contests this year, I feel my chances for winning something at the upcoming Fabric Place Knitters Breakfast (9/30) are definitely warming. I've been shut out at the last two. They say the third time's the charm! If you're in the Boston area, think about signing up. The food is good, you get a coupon and some patterns, and a lot of chances to win something. (Edited to correct date to 9/30. Thanks, Kathy!)

Carole asked what I was watching these days during my TiVo knitting, so here's what's on the list. It's a shockingly long list. With TiVo I watch more shows, but without commercials, it goes faster, and now I waste almost no time surfing or watching rubbish. (Except when Scott's in the mood to watch rubbish. Like Who Wants To Be A Supehero. Apparently, it had "train wreck" appeal.) I love fast-forwarding through commercials so an hour show takes 40 minutes; it's not so great for spinning, however, as I hate to stop spinning just to fastforward. (And yes, I'm getting to the point where I can spin and watch some TV, instead of just listening. It doesn't work for all shows, but it means more spinning (!) and a shorter To Watch list.)

The Closer
Battlestar Galactica (BSG) -- Is anyone else excited about the new season???
The 4400
Dead Like Me
Medium
Dead Zone
CSI (the original only)
Crossing Jordan
Saved

I'm also still watching Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis, though the former is not the same without Jack, and the latter is not as gripping as the former.

I notice a trend: a little space Sci-Fi; a lot of crime drama; a good dose of the supernatural.

What are your must see shows?

Well, I did it again. Spent more time spiffying the blog than working on a post.

In trying to figure out how to post the handspun stuff, I kinda ran into some complications.

Flickr don't like it when you use their photos to sell something on your website. So I can't use Flickr.

Etsy is a bit expensive, so I'll hold off for now.

Creating a new blog requires putting the photos some place.

My blogging software has a photo gallery, but the skin has links to a bazillion things you just don't need to see. Plus, it doesn't look like my blog.

So I worked on the skin.

And now my blog doesn't look like my blog. Heh.

I changed things around to fit the new banner. It really changed things. Plus, I was feeling like the colors were getting kinda dark. Wanted to lighten things ups. It's definitely lighter. :) But I like.

So... Handspuns are temporarily housed at http://twoleftneedles.com/shop. (Who knows what temporary is?) I'll add a linky-dink to the sidebar at some point, too.

I'm still working out formatting issues; it's not quite there yet, but close enough!

I managed to spin some this weekend, but very little knitting was accomplished. Oh, and I had to chuck that pink-purples roving. Instead of rinsing it out I let it sit ... and it grew a bit o' mold. Yuck. Chucked. I think I've learned my lesson. (I hope I've learned my lesson.)

I did go to Fabric Place's 25% off sale Saturday, and bought a sweater's worth of Classic Silk for my guy. And a couple of skeins of non-wool for a possible Alien scarf. And nothing else. 'Cuz I have enough yarn. And it's nice to know that every now and then I realize it too.

I leave you with an in progress photo of Sangria, or That Cute Flirty Skirt. Here's what a skein of Classic Silk will get you:

That Cute Flirty Skirt - in progress

I've made excellent progress on That Cute Flirty Skirt. Not crazy progress like all the obsessed Moth ladies zooming towards the flame (go cheer them on!). But progress nonetheless. We've been ironing out some kinks in the first section of the pattern; the rest should be smooth sailings. I've also complicated matters a bit by adding extra stitches to the cast on for a slightly larger waist, and adjusting increases to catch up to the pattern. I'm all caught up now so I can just follow along and knit. Anne's instructions are very thorough and the skirt is coming along nicely. You'll be able to see a lot more detail in the next update (tomorrow?).

Thanks for all the nice comments on my new banner-to-be! I originally had it reversed, in dye-spin-knit order, but changed it at the last minute to match my "byline" - "adventures in knitting, spinning and dyeing". I like it the other way, too. I think I'd like to make a couple of similar banners with projects I've taken through all three stages. Although I can only think of one other... spin-dye-knit-a-scarf. And that one I'd want to put in the project order of spin-dye-knit. Does that make sense? I'll just have to try it and see.

Karen teased me with news of Classic Silk on sale at Herrschners. I rushed over in a tizzy but it was sold out. Apparently, some people were quicker on the draw than I was. As luck would have it, Fabric Place is having a 25% off sale starting Saturday! Classic Silk, you will be mine, oh yes, you will be mine. (Seriously, though, thanks, Karen!)

And the handspun yarn I was going to detail, well, I spent too long on the skirt and I'm not sure where I want to put it. Here? On it's own blog like June? On Etsy? Bah. I'm as indecisive as my brother.

Plus, I do feel weird posting them for sale after Tuesday's post. Honestly, do I expect people to pay full price plus shipping??? Hahahaha! In my defense, I've been preparing the yarns for a week. My mouth flaps and my timing's crap.

Blah blah blah blah blah. Sorry, I'll pull myself together in a minute. :)

Here's a group shot of the yarns, though:

handspun yarns

I'm even including Calico Cat, which is amazingly squishably soft with such interesting coloring. I dyed up some more fiber in the hopes of spinning more. Here's how the original Calico Cat looked:

Purples and Calico Cat
Calico Cat on the right

and here's the new batch:

Calico Cat on BFL

On initial glance, I think it looks pretty ugly, though not as ugly as the original, so I think it's a good first stab. On second glance, it looks more camouflage than the Rorschach of the original. Still could be used as a therapy tool...

I also dyed some pink-purples, to "match" the pink-purples in the original Calico Cat fiber photo above:

pink-purples on BFL

I wanted more pinks and less purples. Also, I think I used black before, which really saddened the color, so much so that I didn't want to spin it. I ran out of pink, so it's pretty purple heavy. Hehe. I hope this batch comes out better.

Thanks so much for the support. I have taken a lot of your ideas, suggestions and advice to heart, and honestly, it's helped. I'm feeling much better about Gram being in the nursing home. I think it's the best place for her right now. The nurses seem nice, and she's in the dementia ward, so they'll know how to understand and help her. We saw her Sunday and she didn't make a lot of sense to us. I'm hoping the transition disoriented her and that she'll bounce back a bit. But even if she doesn't, well, it is what it is. It's part of the process, and unavoidable. She's safe, and cared for, and that's what counts.

Scott and I are planning a trip to Montreal this weekend to take a break, get away and have some time to ourselves. Oh, and have fun! I've been to Montreal a few times. 8th grade class trip... random weekend drives in college... oh yeah, the time I went with some girlfriends for Jazz Fest, on Canada Day, when the border guy asked why we were going to Canada. Me: "To have fun!" Hands in the air! Youthful exuberance! Luckily, I looked young AND innocent, so they didn't search the car for drugs. Heh. It'll be fun.

Last week I brought this to work:

basket o' goodies
goodies galore! sunny day! green picnic table!

I finished plying the rest of the rambouillet/silk, and now have 2 empty bobbins! (I was counting my bobbins the other day and was short one. I counted, recounted, searched around, recounted, searched some more. Gave up. The next day, it hit me. It was on the wheel. Doh!) The top skein is the one I showed you before, the bottom is one of the new ones. In all, about 1050 yards over 8.8 oz. I think it's the most yards I've spun for one project. I lurv it.

rambouillet/silk 2 ply
soft and yummy

The first skein bled in the wash so I wanted to see if there were color differences. It's (slightly) noticeable in another photo, but not this one.

Those empty bobbins will be filled by the luck of the dyepot primaries batch, predrafted one sleepless night:

Luck of the Dyepot - predrafted

Because of the random way the top was laid into the roaster, each 4 oz segment is a little bit different. There are the bluer bits:

Luck of the Dyepot - predrafted

the redder bits:

Luck of the Dyepot - predrafted

and the greener bits:

Luck of the Dyepot - predrafted

I could spin each bit separately and have slightly different and somewhat coordinated skeins, or I could alternate between the bits to get 12 more-or-less-matching ounces. Not sure which way to go. I'm trying to spin up 2 matching skeins for someone and the bit already spun may be more green than the green bit above. Ah well, it's been too hot to spin most days anyway.

Sand River has grown and I'm still loving it:

Sand River - in progress

Luscious silk/merino beats cotton blend any day, so Trellis sleeves are slow goings:

Trellis - sleeves started
hey, you can see my feet!

Last, look at the color!

sample cards from dye workshop

These are the sample cards I walked away with from my dye workshop with Linda Whiting. Purty darned cool. I had a really good time, met some new folks, learned a few things. I'll try to put together a few thoughts later this week.

Tomorrow: the CVM fleece. It's sorted, and a bit of it washed. I never figured myself for a fleece processing person, but I seem to be becoming one. I've even reserved a CVM fleece for next year! 8 months from now! I know!

New update on the drum carder: 4 more weeks. Sigh.