Two Left Needles

Knitting, spinning and dyeing
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Like the Yarn Harlot, I may have bit off more than I can chew.

After much internal wrestling, I decided to join the Tour de Fleece. Between the heat and the Mobile One,

IMG_8422

spinning time has been non-existent of late, and the TdF was a good excuse to get back to it.

For my challenge, I wanted to choose something that would push me (ergo, challenge), but something do-able, and useful.

I considered spinning a sweater's worth of yarn out of a beautiful colored Corriedale fleece I had washed, which is high on my list of spinning dreams right now:

Colored Corriedale Fleece

But when I considered:

  • the fleece was only partially washed, and
  • I had not sampled, and
  • I did not have time to sample or wash more fleece AND spin; and furthermore,
  • I didn't know which sweater from A Fine Fleece I would spin for (because that much was a certainty) and sweater choice would affect the type of yarn I would need to spin,

I nixed that idea.

I nixed several other ideas, but finally settled on:

Clearing the bobbins. The Schacht bobbins. All 8 of them.

Certainly challenging, but most likely do-able, and very useful. Besides, one bobbin was clear, 2 bobbins were full and ready to be plied, and one had a very small amount of fiber on it. Totally do-able, right?

I also decided to add a second challenge:

Spin every day, for at least 15 minutes, but shoot for an hour.

That would get me in the right mindset, and perhaps back on track with this whole spinning business.

So. Crazy? Do-able?

The ready-to-be-plied bobbins are 5.4 oz Handspun by Stefania Corriedale/Silk roving in osage and indigo, purchased at MDSW this year. It's difficult to capture the blue/greens and gold tones:

Handspun by Stefania Corriedale/Silk

So much fiber sits around waiting it's turn so I put this on the wheel almost as soon as we got home.

Handspun by Stefania Corriedale/Silk

It's mostly plied already.

Next, 8 oz of A Touch of Twist Rambouillet/Silk roving that I bought at Rhinebeck last Fall:

A Touch of Twist Rambouillet/Silk

A Touch of Twist Rambouillet/Silk

and started spinning at Spa in February:

A Touch of Twist Rambouillet/Silk

I finished spinning it tonight! Only about 1.5 oz of it was previously spun at fingering weight, so it was quite a bit of work. There's still the plying, though...

And here's where it starts to get a bit hairy.

5 oz of Lorna's Laces Sheperd Top in Glenwood, to be chain-plied for self-striping socks:

Lorna's Laces Sheperd Top in Glenwood

Half is done, so 2.5 oz to spin. Thin.

Foxfire Fiber & Designs Camel/Silk in gorgeous Honeysuckle. So soft and yummy, but a tough spin with the long silk fibers and short camel fibers.

Foxfire Farms Camel/Silk

2 oz already spun, 2 oz to be spun. Thin. Lace weight. Hmmm.

And perhaps the home stretch:

9 oz of Hello Yarn Shetland:

Hello Yarn Shetland

Half already spun:

Hello Yarn Shetland

to match 4 oz of this Hello Yarn Shetland:

Hello Yarn Shetland

that you previously saw as this 2-ply (my latest favorite skein):

Hello Yarn shetland - 2-ply

...

Two weeks to go...

...

Crazy, right?

...

Dare I tell you... the final bobbin, the one I laughingly said had only a small bit on it... it's 4 oz Susan's Spinning Bunny Merino/Tencel in Tamarack & Spruce:

Susan's Spinning Bunny Merino/Tencel in Tamarack & Spruce

Beautiful, isn't it? There's only a very small amount spun up. Technically, it could just be "spinning a sample". (Right?)

Susan's Spinning Bunny Merino/Tencel in Tamarack & Spruce

Or...

Maybe it will be my TdF "Bonus Round"...

Susan's Spinning Bunny Merino/Tencel in Tamarack & Spruce

I finally finished spinning the neverending cormo/alpaca! That little bit in the photo ended up taking closer to 6-8 hours to spin, rather than the "couple of hours" I had guessed. Oy vey. I plied a sample and am looking forward to seeing the rest of it plied up:

Foxhill Farm cormo/alpaca 2 ply sample

I can't guess how many yards it will be total, but it will be many hundreds. I've already spent 2 1/2 hours plying the main batch, with at least as much to go. I'm trying not to let it get to me, but I tell you, I'm getting really good at counting to 7.

Foxhill Farm cormo/alpaca 2 ply sample

This little bit is 35 yards and weighs... very little (my regular scale does not do well on the low end):

Foxhill Farm cormo/alpaca 2 ply sample

I think it will be nice stuff! Naturally, it will (eventually) become something lacy.

With the spinning done, I got the itch to start something else. All that birthday fiber I showed you? I didn't touch it. I wanted to practice spinning worsted weight, so I pulled out this merino I traded with Natasha back in January:

Luxe Merino in Earth and Sea
1 lb Luxe Fibre merino in Earth and Sea

I split it into 8 sections and then tore those into strips and arranged them to get good color distribution:

Luxe Merino in Earth and Sea

The last several months I've been very into fibers combining blues and browns. Something very organic/earthy about it. Then again, lately I've had a few cravings to spin hot pink, too...

I spun a sample and quickly realized that it's been a LONG time since I've spun anything heavier than sport weight. This will take some practice.

I'm pretty sure I'm suffering from startitis because after plying the sample, I promptly stopped and dug around for something else. This is Montadale roving from Christopher Hall that I purchased at last November's The Gathering:

Christopher Hall Montadale roving

I'm not used to spinning roving. Mostly I spin dyed top using a short forward or backward draw. With the Montadale I tried a longer point of contact draw; it was nice to play with a different (and faster) spinning style. This would make good social spinning.

Of course, after a while I got bored and wanted to spin something else. I don't know if I'm having that too-many-choices indecision (so many things I want to spin!), or if I'm having that post-major-project lull after the cormo/alpaca (though it still needs to be plied). I imagine that's more common with knitting. Have you felt it with spinning?

More happy news

I won a skein of Vesper Sock Yarn in Tandem!

Vesper Sock Yarn in Tandem

If you recognize it then you likely contributed to Claudia's MS Ride. Besides being a good cause, I won something last year, so I knew I would be contributing again. Woohoo!

Fall Anklets

Fall Anklets

Fall Anklets
Started:
6/23/07
Finished: 7/4/07
Pattern: basic toe up, same as the Summer Anklets
Yarn: Fleece Artist Merino Sock in Origin (less than half a skein)
Needles: 2.5mm Addis
Notes: Me loves the Fleece Artist Merino Sock. Squishy soft, feels so good. Me loves quick anklets. Knit knit knit done!

Me slightly surprised by longer striping sequence in sock #2:

Fall Anklets

Me feet happy.

Fall Anklets

Beaucoup

I mentioned my burgening stash of beaucoup de sock yarn. More evidence:

Fleece Artist Merino Sock

Me loves the Fleece Artist Merino Sock! Origin, used in the anklets, is in the middle. Next pair, already started, uses Jester, second from left. Plain vanilla socks, good for mindless knitting.

How fast she grows!

For Bea:

IMG_4242
My Lily Bear

My birthday nearly coincided with a sale Miss Babs was having on her fibers (she's closing out her handdyed fibers to focus on handdyed yarns), so I went a bit nuts. Here are some of the goodies:

Miss Babs merino/silk in Rose Garden
80/20 Merino/Silk in Rose Garden

Miss Babs BFL in Rock Wall
Blue Faced Leicester (BFL) in Rock Wall

Miss Babs merino/silk in Soft Falling Leaves
80/20 Merino/Silk in Soft Falling Leaves

Miss Babs merino/silk in Deep Triad
50/50 Merino/Silk in Deep Triad

Miss Babs SW Merino batt in Sunrise!
Superwash Merino batt in Sunrise!

I keep thinking about gorgeous colors and spinning and get all excited! And then I look at the neverending white/brown cormo/alpaca on the wheel and sigh.

Must. Finish. Cormo/alpaca!

With Retro Rib Socks out of the way, I had to cast on for another pair of socks.

I know. I said I wasn't a sock person. I wasn't. But then, the belly thing happened, with attendant unpredictable sweater knitting. And before I knew it, I was in possession of beaucoup de sock yarn. Since then, even more sock yarn has found its way here. From Yarn4Socks.com:

Lorna's Laces Sheperd Sport
various Lorna's Laces

Fleece Artist Sea Wool in Ebony
Fleece Artist Sea Wool in Ebony

Fleece Artist Sea Wool in Ebony
in its full glory

That's some of it. I don't want you to hyperventilate or think me too insane. I'll spread out the photos...

The new socks-in-progress are Waving Lace Socks (also from IK's Favorite Socks):

Waving Lace Socks - started

and the yarn

Handdyed by Sheila of Wool2dye4

was dyed by Sheila of Wool2Dye4. Sheila was my Dye-O-Rama angel, since my pal went AWOL. I wasn't much of a sock knitter back then, so I was considering knitting a shawl, and waited for inspiration. I've been wanting to do something with this yarn all this time!

I wore my Flower Basket Shawl to my birthday sushi dinner, and it was all I could do to convince my mom she could not leave with it. Scott threatened to do a luggage check. She set out to tell me:

  • all the reasons why it was perfect for her (size, color, drape; you know, all the reasons I love it)
  • how much she really really really in-no-uncertain-terms liked it

If I weren't so attached to it, I would have waved bye-bye to it. Alas for my mom, I am. But, the only way I could:

  • convince her not to abduct it
  • feel okay about keeping my shawl

was to show her this skein of Sea Silk:

Handmaiden Sea Silk in Lily Pond

and promise to send her a like shawl in a few weeks. Because, you know, I have all this knitting time now. (Ha!)

I cast on this weekend:

FBS Redux - started

and as before, am enjoying the lusciousness that is Sea Silk. Good thing, because I happened to order some more in an, ahem, recent sale. Ahem.

(It seems that buying yarn is a replacement for knitting when you're time-poor. Don't tell me you don't know what I mean.)

This weekend I also made time for spinning! It's been a couple of months and I was definitely rusty. But, like riding a bicycle, it slowly came back to me. I'm not quite in my old groove yet, but I'm sure I'll get back there eventually. I've got almost 4 oz of Amy's superwash merino spun:

Spunky Eclectic Superwash Merino in Toronto
(see the fiber)

Soon we'll see what I remember of plying.

Still big and round here. And still gaining weight!

Ze Clapotis, she ees blocked:

Clapotis - blocking

Isn't the striping cool from afar?

Clapotis - blocking

The Artyarns Supermerino socks are in a baggy waiting for labor. (My sister helped me to realize that planning projects (plural) to take to the hospital really didn't make sense. But we did reason that taking one project was OK. Just in case.)

The Ribby Cardi I resurrected had the back done. In the last week I've added the two fronts and 2/3 of each sleeve to the pile. I'm making adjustments for row gauge, and I'm not sure how my modifications will work out. I may block what I have of the sleeves to see how the to-armpit length looks.

I'm getting really bored knitting it so monogamously, though. I sooooo want to start knitting a summer top! And all the tops I have in mind need this baby to pop so I have an idea of fit.

So I started another pair of socks, Grumperina's Jaywalkers with the Lorna's Laces Amethyst Stripe. And, color me clueless, but it never occurred to me that Amethyst Stripe would, like, totally stripe.

No photos of those projects, so...

The yarn, it is taunting me

Besides what I bought from Knit Happens' crazy sale, I partook in Yarnzilla's sale and got some goodies. Some Rowan Damask for the little wrappy-do in the lastest Rowan magazine:

Rowan Damask

More Calmer, in Garnet, enough for a top for me! Summer Tweed for something for Scott.

Claudia Handpainted sock yarn:

Claudia Handpainted

and a few skeins of Koigu:

Koigu KPPPM

Mmmmm, Koigu:

Koigu KPPPM

I've not bought so much sock yarn before. Or currently selling yarns for actual projects (never mind Rowan yarns). There are actual current patterns available for these yarns! I'm so used to buying rag-tag and willy-nilly from sales, or getting full bags from discontinued lines; and then casting about for patterns that might work with the yarns. Inevitably, buying yarns without project plans (or ideas, at the very least) leads to yarns sitting around, marinating, waiting for "inspiration" to hit. This is quite a new feeling. It's exciting!

And the sock yarn thing, also new. I've not been much of a sock knitter, especially for fingering weight sock yarns. Finishing the Fleece Artist Summer Anklets did something to me. I always thought knitting socks on #1's or #0's was a bit on the insane side, something that would drive me batty. The Fleece Artist anklets were knit on 2.5mm Addi's. Which, I didn't realize, are effectively #1's. I did it without realizing! So I'm a little less intimidated/daunted now.

(Not to mention, knitting socks SO does not depend on my belly.)

Here's more proof:

Artyarns Ultramerino 4

Artyarns Ultramerino 4 from a sale at Sarah's Yarns (sorry, she's all sold out). I LOVE the colors of the middle skeins. Can't wait.

And I'm officially all budget-monied out. For a while. Quite. A while.

Perhaps the second part of nesting, for me, has been picking up lovely yarns and fibers to surround me. I'm under the delusion that, during the weeks I'm home, not working, I'll have time to knit.

Knit Happens had an amazing sale a couple of weeks ago, with all of their yarn discounted, many by more than 50%! This brightened my doorstep last week:

Koigu Kersti
Koigu Kersti for a top; colors are richer reds than pictured

Rowan Calmer
Rowan Calmer; more baby knits?

Alchemy Bamboo
Alchemy Bamboo for... a baby knit if I'm strong, something for me if I'm not

Artyarns Royal Silk and Supermerino
Artyarns Royal Silk to combine with 2 skeins I received from a friend,
and Supermerino for socks

Lorna's Laces Sheperd Sport
Lorna's Laces Sheperd Sport for socks

Many (all?) of these yarns fall into the luxury category that I couldn't justify in the past; but at more than half off, how could I resist? I want to dive in and start new projects left and right; but I'm ever aware of my WIP count and have some projects to finish up first. More soon!

Last week was a good spinning week for me. In addition to finishing up the Lagoon singles and doing a small amount of sampling:

Lagoon 2-ply sample

I picked up the Foxhill Farm cormo/alpaca that I started many months ago (but abandoned in frustration while I fidgeted with the Schacht) and even finished the first 2 of 4 oz:

Foxhill Farm cormo/alpaca

Well, that's not 2 oz, don't have a photo of that yet, but just imagine the bobbin a little more full. Here's a gratuitous close-up:

Foxhill Farm cormo/alpaca

I also had a little fun with the drumcarder:

carder 'speriment - merino/silk and tussah silk

The colors didn't work the way I hoped (yellow/green was the wrong color to go with charcoal, methinks), but the effect was interesting and the experiment fun.

The charcoal is 50/50 merino/silk JaggerSpun mill ends I bought from Diane at Pollywogs Yarn and Fiber, along with same in natural, and some Fiddlesticks patterns. Since the merino/silk is mill ends (mostly fluffy batts), it benefits from carding.

Dyed tussah silk from dbpg Spinning Wool, Fiber and Yarn

The yellow/green is handdyed tussah silk from Pamela at dbpg Spinning Wool, Fiber and Yarn. I got several colors from her, all gorgeous! Great experiences with both vendors, I highly recommend them.

Here's the finished yarn (well, only 1/4 oz, and not washed or set):

carder 'speriment - merino/silk and tussah silk

carder 'speriment - merino/silk and tussah silk

And now, if you have no interest in carding or fibers, you can skip down to the preggers pics below. :)

I wasn't sure how to go about blending to get the effect I wanted, so I started with 1/2 oz each of the charcoal and silk, and decided to do a layer of each. The charcoal was straightforward, just a little fluffing of fibers before carding. The silk was slightly more involved.

This was my first time carding with silk, and for some reason, I thought it would be difficult. I pulled off lengths similar to how I prepare to spin from the fold, fluffed them out and passed them into the carder. If I tried to put too much through at once, it did get a bit clumpy or want to stick to the smaller infeed drum.

One problem I ran into was static - the last of the silk didn't want to go onto the carder and I had to use the burnishing tool several times to push down the fiber on the drum to make room. I was really thinking of doing another layer of each, but 1 oz was all that would fit. I've read that spraying/spritzing some kind of water/water-oil/water-conditioner solution will help with the static, so I'll try that next time.

I was concerned that the different fiber lengths between the merino/silk and silk would cause problems carding or spinning. Because I carded them separately, it wasn't a problem, but I wonder if a second pass to blend them more might show problems? In the spinning, I occasionally found the silk getting picked up before the merino/silk, which is what I would have expected with the longer fiber length; but for the most part it was fine, and I adjusted my spinning style to "capture" more of the merino/silk (I think I used more of a point-of-contact spinning style towards the end).

While spinning I ended up feeling like there was too much silk in the mix. Next time I would either add less silk, maybe 75% charcoal and 25% silk, or maybe add in more non-silk charcoal as well. Next time I will probably also make the layers much thinner, throw in a bit of the charcoal followed by a bit of the silk, alternating small batches, rather than doing all of the charcoal and then all of the silk. I might also be more careful with the colors in the silk and try to preserve the color variations, which I feel were lost in this batch.

All in all a fun experiment and much learned. And that, to me, is success.

Preggers pics

Still growing. 33 weeks now! From the front, the flash point near my belly button hints at the contours:

Week 33

But my profile doesn't hint, it shouts "WOAH, PREGGERS!"

Week 33

Those 5-7 pounds had to go somewhere, eh?

Hands for scale:

Week 33

Thank goodness for yoga pants and an understanding workplace; I'm running out of clothes...

Warning: photo heavy post

Spunky Eclectic

At the end of December I took advantage of Spunky Eclectic's 99 cent shipping sale and ordered me some yummies:

Spunky Eclectic Superwash Merino in Toronto
Superwash Merino in Toronto; how could I not buy fiber named after my hometown???

Spunky Eclectic Merino in Boogie Woogie
Merino in Boogie Woogie

Spunky Eclectic BFL in Kites
Blue Faced Leicester in Kites

Some months ago I lamented that there were some handdyed fibers that I really wanted to try, including Hello Yarn, Spunky Eclectic, and Lisa Souza. After posting, I realized that, instead of lamenting, I should just save up my budget money and get some! Since then I've picked up some of Adrian's merino/silk, and now Amy's stuff -- 2 down, 1 to go!

At Spa I spun up 4 oz of the Kites BFL and plied when I got home. While pre-drafting, the colors looked much softer and more muted than in the dyed top, but when you compare the fiber to the handspun, they translate well. I love spinning BFL, soft and bouncy with a nice hand. The yarn feels the same:

Spunky Eclectic - 2-ply
Yummy! Wish you could feel it.

I spun with the intention of making socks and I'm curious to see how it stripes. 304 yards should be plenty for me.

Crosspatch Creations

In January I finished spinning up the two Crosspatch Creations batts I bought at Rhinebeck. Here they are post-wash:

Crosspatch Creations - 2-ply
286 yards

Crosspatch Creations - 2-ply
342 yards

I used tepid water because of the silk content, but there was still some dye run-off in the red-magenta skein in both the wash and rinse. I'm not sure if it affected the final colors/look, however.

These were fun to spin, a break from much of the "spinning for consistency" I do. I did try to have an overall consistent "core", while allowing the lumps and bumps to form as they would. To be honest, I did limit the size of the lumps and tried to distribute the bumps so they weren't all in a row. It wasn't all willy-nilly. But that doesn't surprise you.

For a yarn of this type, the proof is really in the knitting, don't you think? You don't know what you have until you knit it up. Wouldn't the red-magenta handspun make a nice hat?

The batts were fairly easy to spin from, as well. I pulled off strips and did a little pre-drafting before spinning. The lumps and bumps occasionally got separated out from the rest of the fibers, but for the most part, they stayed fairly well distributed.

Next up, Calico Cat!

Calico Cat was last seen as singles on new WooLee Winder bobbins back in December. (You can see the dyed fiber here.) Now it's yarn!

Calico Cat - 2-ply

I ran into a problem with my WooLee Winder. For some reason, the twist was not translating from the last hook onto the bobbin! Very frustrating and confusing. There was plenty of twist in the yarn going to the last hook, but between the last hook and the bobbin, there was only half as much twist. I couldn't see why this should be! Of course, I didn't realize this until I had finished spinning almost 8 oz and started plying. In the end, I pulled off what I had already plied and ran it through again to add more twist; and for the unplied portion, once I had the amount of twist I wanted, I super-quickly let it jump onto the bobbin so that it sailed past that last hook. Not so fun, and not good for consistency, but more twist.

In the process, I realized the singles had also been spun with less twist than I expected, so the resultant yarn, as a whole, was not what I had envisioned. Not as bouncy or "tight". Also, much less consistent and a little overplied to compensate. Still, the yarn is soft, and I do love the colors:

Calico Cat - 2-ply

Calico Cat - 2-ply

Calico Cat - 2-ply

The jumbo skein is 5.7 oz and 536 yards, which is more than would have fit on a regular Schacht bobbin! I have a second, smaller skein which is 1.5 oz and 142 yards. No plans for it yet.

I emailed Nathan at WooLee Winder a couple of times about the problem, but then saw on one of the lists I'm on that he's been pretty busy, and calling is the way to go. I described the problem, and he was as boggled as I was. In the end, he said to try it again without the WW and if that eliminated the problem, to send it back to him. He was really nice about it. I think I'll give it one more go on the WW and then off the WW to make sure. I dunno, I feel bad just sending it back. At the same time, I want it to work! Hehe. The only problem is, when I'm home with my Schacht, I don't want to spin on the Joy. ;)

Corriedale

Last up, some Corriedale 2-ply:

Corriedale - 2-ply

It fluffed up quite a bit after washing and whacking.

I bought this Corriedale from someone reducing their stash about a year ago, and wasn't crazy about it. It had some short pieces in there that caused bumps in my singles, and it didn't draft nicely. It was so long ago, though, that I'm not sure how much pre-drafting I did. But I imagine that the top had become compressed over time.

Anyway, it was another case of, "what do I have to lose?" I ran it through the carder, which took out some of the longer, coarser hairs/fibers, as well as some of the short pieces and a little VM. It also made a nice airy preparation that was easy to spin from. There were still some bumps because of the shorter pieces, but it wasn't as bad. It was a good way to revive the fiber. I still have about a pound of it, but I'm not a big fan of spinning natural colored fiber. :P

Clapotis progress

I've added a few rows here and there to the Silk Garden Lite Clapotis:

Clapotis - in progress

Clapotis - in progress

After knitting, I end up with bits and bobs of hay on my lap. Not crazy about that. But I'm still loving the colors. I'm almost done with the first skein and the first section of the pattern, which means it should be pretty easy to ballpark when to end the sharf/scawl. I'm still optimistic that this will be the one Clapotis I do finish.

PS

Thanks for your kind words about Gram. I wish it could be easier, but it can't. It's Life.

On a brighter note, the doctor's appointment went fine, and I gained -- wait for it -- 7 pounds. In 2 weeks. Holy crap! And I was worried I might not gain 1 pound!!! It's a bit scary, that I can bulk up that fast. In addition to eating more, I added ice cream into my daily diet. Now that I know what it takes, I can back off some of the food and ice cream and eat a more comfortable amount.

[To be fair, my stomach was fairly empty before the last appointment; I could have easily added 2 pounds, between food and water. Today, I made sure to eat a good breakfast (and Ben & Jerry's ice cream; I love me some Cherry Garcia) and drink puh-lenty of fluids before the weigh-in. So really, we're talking about 5 pounds in 2 weeks. (Which still seems like a lot...)]

Here's the thing I didn't get about Spa last year.

Last year I had been spinning only a few short months before I went to Spa. I heard people talking about how much they looked forward to it because it was in the cold dark days between fiber festival seasons. For me, it was my first spinning event and I was thrilled for the experience.

And then I went to MDSW and NHSW in the Spring, and Rhinebeck in the fall. Then nothing. For months.

Unless you're incredibly lucky and have ready access to a variety of fibers locally, fiber festivals are your best opportunities to see/buy fleeces and fiber in their many forms. Between October and May, you're bumming.

Unless you get to go to Spa. Or a Spa-like event.

There aren't that many vendors, but they have nice stuff; and better than the vendors is the comraderie, and being surrounded by like-minded lovers of the fluff.

I got it this year. Definitely.

As for purchases, I tried to be judicious. I tried to resist yarn and stick to fiber. My one exception:

Ball and Skein laceweight merino/silk

Judy's beautifully dyed laceweight merino/silk. Just one skein, for something small, because I wanted to have her colors near me.

At Spunky Eclectic, some irresistable merino/silk in The New Black and Thunderstorm:

Spunky Eclectic merino/silk in The New Black

Spunky Eclectic merino/silk in Thunderstorm

And from Indigo Moon Farm (soon to close), the last 3 oz of their light blue merino/alpaca/silk roving, which looks very like what Laurie got:

Indigo Moon merino/alpaca/silk

That's not all I walked away with, though.

Cheryl brought my prize for winning her contest, lovely alpaca/silk that I wonder if Scott can tolerate:

alpaca/silk

Something lacy for him, don't you think? (ha! as if.)

And some sock yarn I won as door prize:

Spa Door Prize!

I know, I'm shocked, too. I won two prizes? Within weeks? Two??? And one of them was a random drawing, too. Shocking. As next Saturday is Fabric Place's Spring Knitters Breakfast, I'm thinking either:

  • My luck is changing, I'm sure to win something!
  • I've used up all my good luck, it's another year of nothing!

Half full? Half empty? Only time will tell.

Norwegian hat is done! For now. I'm not 100% sure on the lining, but I figure I'll wear it for a while and see how I feel. (I do like wearing it.) Photos when I can combine Scott, sunlight and me with hat.

I want to do a post but I'm not feeling very post-y. Know what I mean? I've been fighting off a cold the last several days and I'll be heading to bed early again today to ward it off.

The little goober gave me a scare last week. She's been very active throughout my workday for the last couple of weeks, and without warning, went into seeming hibernation for several days. That and a couple of other things panicked me so off to the doctor we went, Scott driving and consoling, me crying. Everything is fine, everything checks out, and naturally, as soon as I was back in the office, she started moving around again. I'm sure an ultrasound would have revealed an innocent look on her face. I'm back to trying not to worry about things I can't control, and she's back to bopping around to her own drummer.

There has been some spinning, but I'm not up to talking about it. Here's a peak, though:

Crosspatch Creations
Crosspatch Creations batts spun up

What I can show you without much talk is some fiber that's joined the flock in the last couple of months.

From The Fiber Denn, some lovely finn and merino (8 oz ea):

Fiber Denn finn in Blue Fescue Fiber Denn merino in Poppy
I want to eat up those blues

From Hello Yarn, gorgeous merino/silk (4 oz ea):

Hello Yarn merino/silk Plush and Lavish
my photos don't do the colors justice, though Adrian's photos are quite good

And from Alpaca Direct some Ashland Bay multi-colored merino (found them via Google Checkout promo) in Sandalwood (2 lbs) and Sapphire (4 oz):

Ashland Bay multi merino in Sandalwood Ashland Bay multi merino in Sapphire

All happy shopping experiences. Yum yum.

Before I forget

You may have heard by now, Mini is organizing hat knitting for Children's Hospital Boston:

"There seems to be a ward of 10-16 year olds who are undergoing radiation and chemo for cancer and other life-threatening illnesses who need some hats. No, not just ANY HATS... they want the fun fur. Yup, I said it. FUN FUR. And they want a lot of it! Girls, boys... teens, preteens... all running around the wards at Childrens' Hospital with fun fur "hair"--- laughing, playing, raisin' hell.... sounds good, doesn't it?"

(Okay, non-fun-fur hats are allowed, too.)

She's got a bunch of patterns put together, you can find all the info here. There'll be prizes for most hats knit, random drawings, etc. She's got a bunch of prizes already and I'm donating a skein (or two?) of to-be-determined handspun. If you're able, sign up and knit a hat!

Knitting

Pebbles sock 1 is done! I wanted to knit the pair from one skein, and the skeins are about 3.5 oz, so I had to stop a bit sooner than I might have. Here's the last photo I have of it: 

Pebbles Socks - in progress

I really like how the color swirls around the foot.

I like knitting socks with this weight yarn, it's just right for me. It makes a heavier sock, which maybe is not ideal (especially this winter); but it takes less time and requires fewer stitches, which is more my speed. For socks.

Sock 2 is already at the heel! Some lunch knitting and Knit Club tonight did some damage. I suppose it helps that I have small feet...

Stash

Last weekend we met up with a friend in Cambridge and I was too close to Mind's Eye Yarns not to stop by. Dangerous, I know. I couldn't help picking up a couple of things.

Merino/tencel sock yarn dyed by Lucy. Gorgeous! Socks? Lacy scarf?

Mind's Eye Yarns merino/tencel

4 oz merino/tencel top, soft and silky:

Merino/tencel

Isn't it weird that I bought merino/tencel in blues, one fiber and one yarn? I didn't realize until afterwards... I'm definitely into the blues these days...

Happy Friday! These 2 day work weeks are the worst, aren't they? I'm pooped.

Scott got me a video iPod for New Year's:

Welcome to the podcast generation, baybee!
Welcome to the podcast generation, baybee!

I've been wanting something like this for a couple of years, but have been waiting for prices to go down, or technology to settle, or hard drive space to increase. It was worth the wait. I lurv it!

Pebbles sock yarn

I didn't mention the yarn I had dyed back in August because I was afraid it would look like crap. Pretty lame, hunh? It was dyed in the roaster without measuring anything (shocking!):

blues and purples

I just kept adding dyes until I liked what I saw, or couldn't improve what I had with more dyes. The good thing about Kona - it's superwash. Poking and prodding to get the dyes to migrate does not felt the yarn. 

Due to how I put the skeins in the roaster, I ended up with three skeins, two alike:

blues and purples

Here they are dry:

blues and purples

And wound:

blues and purples

The white was unexpected. The dyes didn't settle to the bottom as much as I expected/hoped. I've had this happen more than once. In this case, I think it adds a nice accent to the yarn. But in general, I'd like to have more control over it. Methinks if I adds more water for the yarn/fiber to swim, that would help.

On the topic of baby knitting

Nothing started yet, though I bought some GGH Java in 2 shades of peach and white from Little Knits to make a little blanket. I knit a tank top from Java a couple of years ago and really liked the sproinginess of the cotton. I'm thinking alphabet squares or something along those lines.

I also have some Debbie Bliss Cotton DK (also from Little Knits) earmarked for another Debbie Bliss knit, but I haven't picked it out or started it yet. There's some irrational part of my brain thinking, "I've got time." Could be related to the fact that it's knitting with COTTON, for gosh sakes (see? cleaning up the language around here, there's a baby due, donchaknow). I did feel guilty after saying I wouldn't knit something fancy for my wee one. You know I would, right? Eventually? Just gotta find the right project.

Dyeing

Beth asked if I'm "allowed" to dye while I'm pregnant. As far as I understand, some dyeing is fine, provided you're taking the usual precautions (dust mask for dye powder, gloves, etc). I did feel a distinct desire NOT to dye during the first trimester, despite being in the middle of dyeing up batches of corriedale for the carder. I followed my instinct and found other things to do (not hard around here). And then I was too pooped to do much of anything.

Recently I did get the urge to throw color on fiber, so I took advantage! My dyes are already mixed into solutions, so I didn't have to deal with dye powders. I threw a whack of finn and romney in the roaster, about a pound and a half total, and threw some dyes on. (Why yes, I did make calculations and measure dyes, so I'm just being glib.)

Luck of the dyepot
layer 1

3 hours in the roaster at 250 did the job. No bubbling or boiling.

I was definitely going for particular results, and I definitely did not achieve them. I wanted rusty reds to appear, and they didn't. Instead, I got a lot of nice greens reminiscent of the primaries dyepot batch. I shoulda had an idea of how it would come out once I added the water:

Luck of the dyepot

But really, by then, it was already too late (4 layers of fiber in there).

Luck of the dyepot
left: 8 oz romney; right: 1 lb finn

No worries, I'll try again and change my tactics. And I am curious to see how it spins up.

At the same time, I tried out my new electric skillet that I bought at Home Depot:

Dyeing in an electric skillet
4 oz superfine merino

I lurv lurv lurv the colors!

Superfine merino in Lagoon

Too much fiber and not enough water meant the dyes didn't penetrate to the lower areas without a bunch of jostling with a chopstick, so the fiber did felt a bit. Lesson learned. (Maybe.)

I spun up a sample on the wheel and lurv it:

Lagoon sample wheel spun

enough to bring to NC and spindle it:

Lagoon on the spindle

Lagoon on the spindle

This may be part of my Twisted Knitters project, but (good grief) I'm STILL undecided.

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.

Yesterday's title was an obscure BSG reference. How geeky am I?

The Goods

From Morehouse Farm Merino, enough laceweight for a simple raglan cardigan:

Morehouse Farm Merino lace

merino something or other (2 strand?) for a scarf or hat or other:

Morehouse Farm Merino

more laceweight, handdyed, for lace scarves:

Morehouse Farm Merino lace

All from the sale bin! Happy dance!

At Little Barn, 8 oz bombyx silk and 1 lb merino/silk to be dyed (bombyx to be blended, yum!):

Bombyx and merino/silk from Little Barn
I know, boring picture

Some lurvly Crosspatch Creations at Carolina Homespun:

Crosspatch Creations batts from Carolina Homespun 

Blended rovings at A Touch of Twist. Rambouillet/silk:

A Touch of Twist rambouillet/silk

and wool/nylon for socks:

A Touch of Twist wool/nylon

Handdyed merino/silk at Cloverleaf Farm, same vendor as my Falling Leaves shawl:

Cloverleaf Farms merino/silk
I'll try my luck at combining two more colorways

And the yummy handdyed cormo/alpaca from Foxhill Farm:

Foxhill Farms cormo/alpaca
yum yum yum yum yum

In the final analysis

Inevitably, I compared Rhinebeck with my experience at MDSW. Having gone to MDSW, I was not as overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people and stimuli, but I know some were. Here are my thoughts.

Pros for Rhinebeck

  • Just as Judy and Linda described, the grounds at Rhinebeck were nicer. Not as dusty, nicer layout. There weren't the swarms of people that is MDSW. It was definitely more breathable and relaxed.
  • Fall weather means people wearing knits! I loved seeing handknits everywhere.
  • I loved the fall foliage. Loved it. And not just 'cuz it matched my shawl.
  • The food at Rhinebeck was really good and reasonably priced. I would not hesitate to eat there again.

Pros for MDSW

  • There are more vendors at MDSW. It's good to have a game plan and pace yourself. There's a lot to see and do.
  • There are more events at MDSW. More classes. And more sheep.
  • The fleece show at MDSW can't be beat. Period. When I go back to MDSW (next year I'll be in labor or recovering, so maybe 2008?), I will definitely want to volunteer at the fleece show and sale. Besides meeting some really nice folks, I learned a heck of a lot about fleeces and breeds in those few short days. A heck of a lot.
  • I felt there were more opportunities to try wheels at MDSW. I was a little disappointed that there weren't more at Rhinebeck.

Draw

  • I did better with purchases at Rhinebeck, but only because of what I learned buying at MDSW. I didn't buy anything that I regret, and I'm proud of that.
  • There were more people I knew at Rhinebeck. Most likely because it's closer to home. But also, I know more people now than I did then.

PS:  I did make noise about the early departure on Saturday. Unfortunately for my sleepy head, I would do it again. Not only was Martha right about our parking spot, but we were able to enjoy the grounds and start our shopping before the rush.

Looking over my pictures, and seeing everyone else's, I realized how few I took, especially of PEOPLE. Geez. I suck.

Rhinebeck, for me, was all about the people. Sure, I got some nice fiber (yup, nice fiber!), ate some darned good food, even tried a wheel. But it was spending time with, as Carole says, my people, that really made the weekend. From spending time with Anne and her two friends, running into people randomly and at the Blogger meetup, and hanging out with scads of knitbloggers at Winebeck, it was simply fabulous to meet people face to face, have conversations in real time, and get and give hugs.

I stayed with Anne and her friends Becky and Annette, at a house they had rented for the long weekend. They were so friendly and welcoming! I arrived on Thursday and we chilled and unwound with dinner and some spinning.

The house was secluded and spacious, with plenty of space for wheels and fiber. We spun in the living room the first night:

Our home at Rhinebeck

but moved to the dining area the second night because of better lighting:

Our home at Rhinebeck

It was fabulous.

Day one (Friday) we headed to CIA for lunch at Escoffier, their French restaurant. We had a wonderful time. Good food (student cooks), loved our servers (also students), and a great view:

Lunch at the CIA

That's right, we could see them preparing our food, performing their dance. And it was a performance. When they brought our dishes, they were covered. Two servers removed the four covers simultaneously -- the reveal -- oooooh.

Of course, we had to take photos of our food:

Lunch at the CIA Lunch at the CIA Lunch at the CIA
(damned tourists)

and our desserts, which were oh, so yummy:

Lunch at the CIA Lunch at the CIA Lunch at the CIA Lunch at the CIA

We rolled out of there, quite satisfied:

Lunch at the CIA
Becky, Annette, Anne and me

On the way to the bathroom Anne pointed out this guy in the cafe wearing a skirt and knitting. It turned out to be SweaterProject guy (we left without saying hi but saw him at the Blogger Meetup the next day). We shoulda known it'd be a blogger there for Rhinebeck.

From there it was on to the Morehouse Farm Merino shop:

Morehouse Farm Merino shop

Morehouse Farm Merino shop

Morehouse Farm Merino shop

Their yarn is sooooo sooooft.

There was a sales area, and if you know anything about me, you know... I couldn't... resist... a bahhhhgain.

Thing is, I had a budget for Rhinebeck. For the whole weekend, even for things bought outside, strictly speaking, Rhinebeck. A budget that I had proposed to Scott, and which he had accepted, followedy by, "but not a penny more!" And being more the spinner than knitter (or, having enough yarn to last my lifetime and not really needing any more), I really wanted to focus on fiber rather than yarn. But. A sale. Which amounted to almost half off.

It took a long time to decide, and I think I did a good job.

Here's our combined haul:

The Morehouse haul

Impressive, eh?

Guess how much is mine? :)

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