Two Left Needles

Knitting, spinning and dyeing
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Gram's sock is doing well:

Gram's sock - heel turned

I think I will knit another coupla inches then put it on string (so she can try it on) and start the second sock.

Meanwhile, I finally spun up the Kool Aid dyed roving. Not at all how I expected it to turn out, but I kinda like it:

21: Kool Aid dyed merino

For all my restraint, I think I put too much red in there after all. Or, too regularly. Plied it looks so different, almost like a tweed. Will have a pic for you tomorrow.

I also spun up the other half of the blue Fleece Artist Blue Faced Leicester.

22: Fleece Artist Blue Faced Leicester

It's purty. I had problems with it last time, and now I think it's because it was a little felted. I spent several minutes prepping this half and did a lot better. Methinks I may be bandying spinning jargon about, but that's my assessment.

Still waiting on that roving... the one downside to online shopping (besides the whole color issue) -- for all its instant gratification, much patience is required.

And I just can't hide it! I know I know I know I know --

A couple of days ago I spun this:

17: more Northern Mist

and was very pleased with the evenness and how fine a yarn I was getting.

And then, yesterday, I spun this:

20: Coopworth 2 ply - to be plied

which I plied to make this:

20: Coopworth 2 ply

and I am so very proud! It is my best batch yet, and I did it without parking, without cursing or even breaking a sweat! I was relaxed and having fun. Here is another photo:

20: Coopworth 2 ply

and one last one, to give you an idea of the weight:

20: Coopworth 2 ply

It's the last of my white Coopworth that I bought on my honeymoon. I'm slowly using up that stash, but guess what came in the mail:

Finn wool

That's 2.5 lbs of Finn; and here's 8 oz of Corriedale (both of which I've never spun before):

Corriedale wool

and 4 oz of merino-silk:

Silk/Merino fiber

When your unit of measure moves from ounces to pounds, from skein to sweater quantities, you know you've hit that next level. And I have. Oh how I have.

This stash was purchased from al_spinner on the Knitter's Review Forums. I have another box due to arrive soon, handdyed fiber from Winderwood Farm on eBay. Can't wait!

The results (from my first dyeing experience) are in! Here is the dried dyed top (or is it dyed dried top?):

Dyeing Fiber - finished

I had been sooo patient letting it dry that I couldn't wait to spin it up (click to see the larger version, looks better):

19: Kool Aid dyed merino

Here it is on my water bottle, ready for plying (ignore the in-need-of-manicure nail):

19: Kool Aid dyed merino

And my first ever by-my-hand dyed 2-ply yarn:

19: Kool Aid dyed merino

I'm so thrilled! It came out better than I expected. The red was actually very pink, and there was much blending of blue and pink, which created a vague purple. There is more blue than pink overall, though I used more pink Kool Aid. I liked the areas with bits of white peeking out so I will play with that effect more in the future. Not what I expected, but pretty cool. It's only 1 oz, so not enough for anything, really. But a good experiment.

I blended info from The Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook (love this book now that I spin), and the Knitty article on Kool Aid dyeing.

Other notes: My twist when spinning was pretty uneven. I wasn't paying much attention to twist, just spun as fast and evenly (thickness) as I could to see how it would look.

Also, the merino is quite soft; my first time spinning with merino. I see more merino in my future.

Oh yeah, yesterday marked month 1 of my spinning adventures.

In knitting news...

In my attempts to whittle my overextended WIP list, I picked up this hat:

Manos Pompom Hat

Can you believe it, it only needed a tassel and a couple of ends woven in. I didn't want the pouffy pompom, but I didn't know how to get what I wanted. I couldn't even think of the word "tassel" yesterday when I was searching the Internet for photos.

The hat is knit with Manos and I winged the pattern. I didn't even take notes; I think I made it in '04. It was my first winged hat, so it came out too big for me (forgot that it would stretch). Fits my sister, though, lucky her!

Lookie what came in the mail -- stitchmarkers and soap from soapfibergal! They're from a trade on The Knitty Coffeeshop. I couldn't wait to use them. Look how purty! And they match the yarn perfectly.

Bead Stitch Markers

The soap smells wonderful. Thank you, soapfibergal!


What's that thing with the stitchmarkers, you ask? Yep, that's right, new project. I couldn't help myself. A friend was having trouble with the Multidirectional Silk Scarf on Magknits so I did a swatch to see what was going on, and well, this is what happened:

Multidirectional Silk Scarf - in progress

Me loves the colors, but I'm worried about how it will look in the end. The garter borders are knit in cashmere/wool from Danette Taylor, and the multidirectional part is her silk boucle. The original pattern calls for Artyarns Regal Silk, which is much slinkier. Here it is up close:

Multidirectional Silk Scarf - closeup

You can sorta make out the square that I just knit. Because it's boucle it doesn't have the same give, so... well, we'll see.

I took the plunge and steam blocked the Silky Soft Confection. Fingers are crossed.

Silky Soft Confection - blocking

The cashmere scarf is now about a foot long. Below is the back, which looks a little different from the front. The pattern is Vintage Velvet from Scarf Style. The original is knit with Muench's Touch Me, hence the "velvet"; but since mine is so very not velvet, I'm calling mine Vintage Unvelvet. Original, eh?

Vintage Unvelvet - in progress

And finally, I did some spinning! The brown is coopworth 2-ply. Worked on my long draw and non-parking techniques. It's a worsted to bulky weight, which was tough to do on my spindle (it's too light; good for finer yarns, though). Mebbe time to shop around for a second spindle. Any suggestions?

18: Brown coopworth 2-ply

The bottom skein is the Northern Mist quiviut/alpaca/merino blend that I spun the other day. I wound it around a small water bottle, and then put the ball around my wrist and plied it that way. Of course, it wasn't until it was all wound that I realized an empty water bottle would be easier...

I had seen a photo of something like this somewhere and thought I'd try it out. I like this method much better than the over-the-shoulders method. The ends don't twist around each other so much and I have much more control drawing them out. On the down side, it does take longer to wind. There's probably a way to incorporate the yarnwinder, maybe add something to the cone to increase the diameter...

I finished knitting the second Gatsby sleeve! Torture by twisty yarn. Trying to decide what to do about all that lanolin. Wash and block? Or just block and keep the lanolin? No photo because it looks just like the first. At least, I hope it does.

Started spinning up the Northern Mist roving from Belfast Mini Mills. It's 1/3 each of quiviut, alpaca, merino. I was saving it for when I'm a little more experienced, but I figured the alpaca and merino would give it a longer staple and make it easier. It did.

17: Northern Mist (quiviut/alpaca/merino)

It spins up pretty easily, feels nice in the hands, and the yarn on the spindle is so pettable. I spun with enough twist to make a 2-ply and maybe a nice (small) lace scarf will come out of it.


In the comments, Jane says:
Gorgeous blog! And, you have a real eye for colour. The scene on your opening page looks so much like the Annapolis Valley near my home in Nova Scotia. Where are you other than virtually?

Thanks so much! I've always thought of myself as color impaired. Only in the last year or so have I gone boldly where I have been too chicken to go before: mixing colors and yarns in unspecified ways, letting my instinct guide me. My first steps were to buy handdyed yarns that I love - colors are already there, just have to make something with it. I slowly started mixing yarns and colors here and there. I have a ways to go before I'm truly comfortable with it, but it is exciting. Unlike you! You're VERY comfortable with colors and playing. It's inspirational.

The photo was taken on Prince Edward Island on our honeymoon. We didn't make it to the Annapolis Valley this run but hope to take another trip out that way soon. We LOVED PEI. Love love LOVED it. This photo though, we were driving from Charlottetown to the Belfast Mini Mills, and stopped to check the air. Behind the gas stand was that gorgeous view. When I was putting together my blog, I thought of the colors I love. Whenever I see handdyed yarns (or any yarns, for that matter) I always go for the reds and the blues. Always. Then I thought of this photo. Perfect.

Hubby and I live in Holliston, MA, about an hour's drive to Boston (durned traffic). Nice and quiet, lots of trees and breathing room.

Wheee, thanks, Celia! I agree, need some more spinning going on. By the way, I like your WIP icons. Congrats on your 150 posts!

Last night I spun some more Fleece Artist Blue Faced Leicester. Had to fluff it up a good bit, and even then, it didn't draft nicely. Felt like I had forgotten how to do it. I wasn't too concerned, took the opportunity to try different drafting methods to see if I could find a way to make it work. Had fun experimenting.

Wound on my yarn winder and then used the ends to ply. Had a good bit of trouble until I remembered that Heidi told me to put an end over each shoulder. Brilliant! Still had troubles, and at one point thought, "shoulder shmoulder, I'll just keep an end on each side of my waist". Hah. Didn't work at all.

16: Fleece Artist Blue Faced Leicester

I like the colors, sometimes barber pole, sometimes solid. Will try to stretch the roving lengthwise on the second half, see if that helps with the drafting.

I wound what I had spun of the blue merino/silk. It (gasp) broke while I was winding around my trusty shoebox. Right around where I ended the first sitting and picked up on the second. Hehe, will have to be more careful next time I spin after a break.

15: Merino silk

It's so soft and purty.

No! More!

On a side note, I think I've been using a lot of exclamations in my posts. That will stop. No more sounding like a giddy knitter who just started a blog. Man that's uncool.

Haha. Tough beans. I AM a giddy knitter who just started a blog! Muahahahahaha!

I was "in town" (Boston) yesterday afternoon, so I figured I'd stop by Mind's Eye Yarns before heading home. Lucy, the proprietress (is that the right word?) pointed out the Ashland Joy, parked it in front of me and gave me the keys! Wheeee! After I got used to the "patting your head and rubbing your stomach" sensation of doing so many things at once, I relaxed and realized I was making yarn. And man, I was making it so much faster and easier! Gotta get me one of dem wheels.

I liked the double treadle. Tried the other line she carries (Schacht?), which was a single treadle, and did not like the feel so much. I think I'm a double treadle kinda gal.

I was going to buy some roving but I'm really into the handdyeds right now, and without a wheel I don't want to get the ... what are they called ... the combed silky kinds. Rather get roving. So, picked up some white merino roving and decided to give a go at Koolaid dyeing.

What I realized: 4 oz of roving is a heck of a lot!! This from a spindle spinner who purchased a bunch of 50g bags, one 4 oz bag of merino-silk, and a few 2 oz bags of luxury fibers. Well, maybe 4 oz to any spindle spinner is a lot... but for me, getting through a 50g bag is an accomplishment! Can't imagine buying POUNDS of fiber... but it will happen soon enough.

Shutter happy

Took some more photos of the yarn I've spun. They're on flickr and you can see them here. I'm getting much better at the manual focus thing, but I sure could use some lessons in photography. Some natural light in this house would help, too! I like having bright rooms and workspaces, but Scott (the new hubby) is very photosensitive and is prone to migraines. We compromise, so neither of us is quite happy, hehe.

The house is surrounded by trees and the placement of windows is not the best, AND we tend to sleep in and miss the best sunlight. So I guess I have a few barriers to taking great photos...

I love the photos on Felicia's blog, sweet georgia. Besides the nice light and things being in focus, her composition is really nice too.

Back to the horse and buggy...

Tried my hand at tussah silk last night, HATED IT. Maybe I need experience, or a wheel, but man, how do you draft consistently??? Or at all??? I suffered through about 10 yards of it and then gave it up. When I get a wheel or a lot more experience, I'll try again.

13: Tussah Silk

I sought solace in some unknown dyed wool in blue and teal. I had tried it before (my second spun thing ever), with a tight twist, blending the two colors, but this time I spun each separately with minimal twist. I like how it came out, kinda like an icelandic.

14: Handdyed wool

It spun up pretty fast, so I switched to the merino silk blend, which was also my fourth ever spun thing. Amazing what some experience will do for you. My yarn is much more consistent and it goes a lot faster! :)

15: Merino silk

So... what does one do with lots of small amounts of handspun yarns?????

The luscious scarf

Made a little progress on the silk-merino scarf, just took a pic, losing light so it's a bit dark. I'm wondering how long a scarf I can get with the 1 ball. Any bets?


This is my second foray into the more "exotic" yarns I bought at Belfast Mini Mill in PEI (the first was a bit of camel, came to only 20 yards when plied). Equal parts soy silk, alpaca and mohair. I figured this was a good candidate because the soy silk would probably have a longer staple. The other candidates are cashmere, cashmere/yak, quiviut/merino, quiviut/alpaca/merino, and more camel. Did I make a good choice?

I liked spinning this soy silk blend. It reminded me of some of the luscious silk/merino yarn I've knit with. It seemed to hold the twist more than some of the other fibers I've spun (I'm not sure of the lingo or how to explain...).

I went with a sort of DK/baby weight, didn't want to make it too thin. And I don't think I'll ply it, keep it a single like the other silk/merino yarns I've used. I really want to see it dyed up all pretty, either before or after spinning. But I'm not yet a dyer.

Has a nice sheen. I think I spun up almost half of the 2 oz I bought.

I really want a spinning wheel before tackling most of the other Mini Mill purchases because of the shorter staple. I don't want to be parking and inching along, 2 oz would feel like 2 miles at that rate...

Here it is on the spindle:

Soy Silk / Alpaca / Mohair on spindle

and here it is wound into skein form.

Winding into skeins

This is the same type of gizmo I used to wind all the yarn I've spun so far, and while on vacation. The only difference -- on vacation, it was filled with toiletries. You use what you have, right? :)

And the twisted up skein:

Soy Silk / Alpaca / Mohair

Isn't it purty?

In the last week I also spun up some Fleece Artist handdyed blue face leicester.

Fleece Artist Blue Face Leicester, 2 ply

Talk about luscious! For a wool, I mean. :) I LOVE spinning handdyed fibers, keeps my interest going. Waiting to see what color comes next, wondering what it will pair up against when plied... and when two colors blend and you get the barber pole effect, it's mesmerizing. It's like having a cup of water and adding a drop of dye -- watching it swirl and wisp like a living expanding being. Only with spinning, the fun lasts a lot longer!

This was my second time using the Fleece Artist BFL and it was a lot of fun. I have one more "braid" of it left, in blues.

Also tried my hand at spinning from a silk hanky.

Handdyed Silk Hanky

Ouch! My poor fingers... :( Very tough to draft, and not easy to keep the diameter even. Makes some pretty yarn, though, and the spinning part is easy 'cuz the silk is so strong. Easy to attach new ends. Pre-drafting helped a lot and was easy to do without the fibers falling apart (the soy silk blend didn't take well to pre-drafting; in fact, I had to keep the bag in my lap so that no undue pressure split the roving).

Not bad for a newb, eh? :)

That's from "Cats". Okay, probably more info than I wanted to share on my first post... I used to listen to that CD over and over again and again. And I still don't know more than... 25% of the lyrics... and that's probably being generous. Not sure where my CD's are these days, haven't opened that particular box since moving into the house, since there's no place to put them. Ahh, well, one of these days. Maybe now I'm unemployed I'll get some shelves put up.

Website Woes

I spent the better part of the last 24 or 48 hours trying to set up my website with DNN 3.1.1 and CS 1.1 and getting them to play nice together just did not work. So, for now, they share the same database and live as virtual directories under the same domain name, and we'll call it a day. One of these days one or the other will finally figure out how to integrate with the other and the rest of us (whoever we are) will be very happy indeed. Until then... enh, what are you gonna do?

First Handspun Skeins!

I soaked and hung up the rest of the skeins of handspun I made during my trip to Canada. Pictures when they're dry. Here's a picture I took on the trip:

My first yarn

From top, L-R (this is the order they were made): Brown Coopworth single; some blue and teal wool that I tried to combine while drafting, also a single; awesome bulky locks single; I think merino/silk blend single; white Coopworth single; greens/blues/yellow wool, single; more white Coopworth single (much smaller skein, I was getting bored); Fleece Artist dyed blue face leicester navajo plied (my first plying!); more fun locks single; more Fleece Artist BFL navajo plied; a bit of camel 2 ply (my first 2 ply!).

All of these were done in the week and half after I learned, and while honeymooning/vacationing in Atlantic Canada. I learned from Heidi at London-Wul just outside Moncton/Dieppe in New Brunswick, and not only did I have an excellent teacher, I just picked it up like breathing. Well, a little forced breathing there at first. I am truly addicted and can't wait to get a wheel! More pics and details will follow.

Coupla Scarves

Also pinned out a couple of scarves today. Can you tell I'm jobhunting? Below are "Branching Out" from

Branching Out - blockingBranching Out - close up

and my version of Balloon Scarf from Interweave Knits' Scarf Style. Like my slippered feet?

Balloon Scarf - blockingBalloon Scarf - close up

Haven't figured out how I will post project info yet. Geez, I'm being overambitious adding photos in my first post. But I've got tons of photos from the last couple of months and I've been thinking about starting a blog for ... a long time. All in good time, though, all in good time.

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