Two Left Needles

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It's been a while, I'm not sure I remember how to do this, hehe.

Hope you had a Happy Halloween:

Happy Halloween!

No trick or treating for us this year; I think next year will be our first. Scott's been a "turn the lights off and hide" kinda person, but Lily's softened him up, heh.

Speaking of Lily, here's a pic from September, at 16 months:

Sept 2008

and in October, when she insisted on trying on my sweater (Wicked in Koigu Kersti) with me:

Oct 2008 - Trying on mama's sweater

(She now regularly asks to take off her shirt when she sees my WIP's on the sofa.) 'Course, it took mere seconds for the yarn to be wrapped around her once:

Oct 2008: Trying on mama's sweater

so I reminded myself to breathe and took it off her casually. Dropped stitches? Pshaw, I may forget this when I see them, but they don't intimidate me. (I'm thinking a similar sweater fit to her size would be wicked cute on her, no?)

We made it to Rhinebeck this year! (I had high hopes of finishing Wicked, but it was not to be.) I nearly went a day early and took a carding class, but I wimped out. To make myself feel better, I took the day off work anyway and carded up some washed Romney from a fleece I picked up at MDSW earlier this year (pictured here):

Drumcarded Romney with silk

One pass on my SuperCarder made a nice prep; from R to L, pure Romney; 20% white Tussah Silk; 20% dyed Tussah Silk.

I spun a small sample:

Sample skein; drumcarded Romney with silk

Overplied; but I think it will make a nice sweater yarn. Definitely like the 3 ply on this one.

I digress.

I had a wonderful time at Rhinebeck. On Friday, we went to the Culinary Institute of America and dined in their cafe. We remembered why we don't eat out any more. Having a VERY active toddler makes it much harder to enjoy a meal. But it was worth it.

We only took 1 photo at the festival; we were too busy running around or dealing with crowds or taking care of Lily to pull the camera out. But Friday was more relaxed. After lunch at the CIA, we hung around a bit and took a few pics:

Rhinebeck 2008: Hanging out at the CIA

That's Scott's new toy. Mega wagon. It worked out well at the CIA, but was too large to navigate the crowded barns at the festival (holy crowds, Batman!). Lily did get to nap on it the first day of the festival, though, so that worked out well.

Rhinebeck 2008: Hanging out at the CIA

Yes, those are technically capri's. It was on the chillier side, but Lily is always warmer than we are. She's still at 90th percentile for height, but down to 50th for weight. We don't know where she gets it from. It's a mystery. Yeah, the capri's - she goes through clothes shockingly fast. At 18 months now, she's just outgrown her 18 month clothes.

Rhinebeck 2008: Hanging out at the CIA

She loves to run away from me:

Rhinebeck 2008: Hanging out at the CIA

She hasn't figured out how to climb stairs yet:

Rhinebeck 2008: Hanging out at the CIA

Or else she just has way too much fun leaning.

Rhinebeck 2008: Hanging out at the CIA

Running down the hill!

Rhinebeck 2008: Hanging out at the CIA

Spinning! It's a bit blurry, but I love my off-centeredness in this one:

Rhinebeck 2008: Hanging out at the CIA

Later that afternoon, we discovered the car tire had a slow leak. While we had it fixed, Scott showed Lily a cricket:

Rhinebeck 2008: Found a bug!

and she did a good job of being "gentle, gentle" with it.

Rhinebeck 2008: Found a bug!

The only Rhinebeck picture:

Rhinebeck 2008: Asleep at last

Ahhh, asleep at last.

The best part of Rhinebeck was getting to hang out with my fiber friends. I've been so out of the blog world and generally out of touch and isolated. It was good to feel welcomed and be part of the community, even for a short while. Thank You!!!

Hooboy, it's been so long I don't know where to begin. Let's keep it short and manageable, shall we?

We're alive and well!

Lily is thriving and a real trip to watch. She's got such personality!

IMG_7528

Though most people don't see it because she's become very reserved with strangers. She's learning and growing so fast; loves to dance,

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tells stories, crazy curious about everything, and just started walking across the room.

Walking!
wearing papa's hat

It still amazes me that we all started this way, that we all had to learn to crawl, and walk, and eat.

Motherhood is really hard, harder than I expected (and I expected hard). I think the hardest part has to do with having another person around all the time, someone who needs constant interaction and care. Scott and I are both introverts, and cherish our quiet time. We need downtime to recharge from the day. Learning to be around and interact with someone (almost) 24/7 was exhausting. We're getting used to it, and she doesn't need the same constant interaction now, so it's getting better. But when she goes to sleep, man, do I need my knitting/spinning time!

I wouldn't trade it for anything, though.

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sock shenanigans

There has been a good bit of spinning

Hello Yarn shetland - 2-ply
Hello Yarn Shetland in browns and greens, spun 2-ply

Indigo Moon Merino/Alpaca/Silk - 2-ply
Indigo Moon Merino/Alpaca/Silk, spun 2-ply

and knitting going on (and the usual stash enhancing),

November socks - in progress
November Socks; yarn is Zen String Serendipity Fingering in November

Monkey socks - in progress
Monkey socks; yarn is Shibui Knits Socks in Orchid

even a bit of drum carding.

Drumcarded merino/silk
carded merino and silk

I finished my Skater's Undertop (and wore it to Spa!),

Skater's Undertop - in progress
last pic I took

and Scott's Cobblestone (the week before it got too warm to wear), and I'm in the midst of the ZephyrStyle Tree Jacket in Tess' Designer Yarns Cultivated Silk & Wool.

Tree Trunk: in progress

After seeing Julia's finished sweater, I immediately cast on. The yarn is softalicious, but catches on any scruffy bits on my hands. Now that it's too warm to wear, I'm not as motivated to finish...

I'd like to have some gorgeous finished object photos like Cheryl, but I tell you, finding an afternoon with Scott and I both free and me freshly showered and baby okay on her own is not so frequent. Nevermind the fact that I am in serious need of a haircut. (Lily gets almost twice as many baths as I do showers. I'm beginning to envy her.)

We're heading to MDSW next week, can't wait! I'll be volunteering at the Fleece Show again (guess how many fleeces I'll walk away with?). Lily turns 1 the day we leave. She doesn't know it yet, but she'll finally get to eat some of that ice cream she keeps seeing us eat (I've been able to eat a lot of ice cream while nursing, it will be a hard habit to break).

Hmm, not so short or manageable, but good to be back.

Thanks for your kind words about Gram. They were virtual hugs, understanding pats, sympathetic looks and squeezed hands that shored my spirits. I'm glad that so many of you mentioned you could feel my affection for Gram through my previous posts. Somehow that makes me feel better. And you're right, when I have this to enjoy:

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there are more smiles in my day.

I feel so behind -- Rhinebeck (where I had a wonderful time and wished I could have spent more time with people but was so glad just to be there), Rhinebeck goodies (3 fleeces!), knitting (That Cute Flirty Skirt is done! and I was so crazy about the cabled Layered Skater's Undertop from Veronik Avery's Knitting Classic Style that I immediately bought the book -- we're reading it above -- raided the stash, swatched, and cast on), spinning (many squishy skeins to share), and even a little fleece washing (um, did I mention the 3 Rhinebeck fleeces?) and drumcarding! Maybe this long weekend is a good time to catch up?

On sleep. Hahaha.

Here's a teaser of things to come:

Drumcarding fun

The 3 rovings in front are white 100's merino and dbpg silk in blues. Would you believe it's the same blue silk as this carder 'speriment???

Darker roving in back is charcoal merino/silk, dbpg silk in reds, white alpaca fleece washed by moi, and white cashmere! Sooooooft.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

(Warning: Photo Heavy but Fun!)

Last year I was slackerly in my Project Spectrum involvement. This year I decided to make a better effort to work on some kind of project for each set of colors. I cut it close by doing the work on Feb/March colors on March 30, but hey, better late than never.

About a month ago I had my first carding 'speriments with silk, color and the carder. I decided to do another carding 'speriment for my Feb/March Project Spectrum project, and to incorporate the "lessons learned" from the last 'speriment.

Feb/March colors are blue, white and grey:

Project Spectrum Carding Experiment - materials

I used:

in about a 1:2:1 ratio (first applied "lesson learned": use less silk).

The SuperCarder

Once upon a time, I promised photos of the drum carder in action. I eventually make good. ;)

Here she is:

Pat Green SuperCarder

Note the "No Fingers" warning and the red line. I give the carder proper respect and keep my fingers away from the line.

The lock was not to protect my carder from wily carder-lifting fiber fiends. It's a safety measure to keep the carder power switch in the Off position:

SuperCarder - lock

The variable speed dial goes from quite slow to quite fast. I usually keep it at 50:

SuperCarder - speed dial

In motion, it's a blur:

SuperCarder - in motion

'Sperimenting

I started with a thin layer of white merino (second applied "lesson learned": thinner layers of each color):

Starting with white merino

I figured with merino as the base, the batt would come off the drum easier than it would with a merino/silk or silk base.

White merino on the drum
thin layer of white merino on the drum

I then added a thin layer of the charcoal merino/silk:

Adding charcoal merino/silk

You can see the hint of color on the spinning drum (third applied "lesson learned": spritzing the drum with water periodically to prevent static and allow more fiber to stay on the drum):

Drum in motion

I'm sure I added more charcoal merino/silk than this, but it's the only photo I took:

White merino and charcoal merino/silk on the drum
charcoal merino/silk over white merino on the drum

Next, the fun part - adding color!

Adding dbpg tussah silk

Drum in motion with some blue silk
a little blue

Drum in motion with more blue silk
more blue

Drum in motion with a nice layer of blue silk
nice blue layer

After adding a thin layer of each color:

White merino, charcoal merino/silk, and blue tussah silk on the drum

I continued adding more fiber in whatever order occurred to me:

Adding more fiber

until I got tired or it seemed like the drum carder wasn't holding on to the fibers as well (due to static).

There was a little waste on the infeed drums:

Waste fibers

but not as much as last time.

Also, on the far side of the drum, stray fibers collected:

Stray fibers post-carding

Using the doffer tool in the above photo, I loosened the fibers at the ... I dunno what it's called, the join or the groove or the whatever section that doesn't have any teeth:

Using the doffer to lift up the ends

and then used the batt lifter to roll the batt off the drum:

Using the batt lifter to roll off the batt

You can see the "bottom" of the batt is white because I started with the white merino:

"bottom" of the batt

while the "top" is mostly blue/green from the last tussah silk layer:

"top" of the batt

(there's a better color photo at the end)

Spinning the batt

I tore off a section of the batt, and then split that into 4 strips to spin. No further attenuating was necessary:

Splash of color in the pre-drafted strip
hints of bright color

I spun quickly just to see how it came out, and then created an Andean plying bracelet so I could ply it from both ends:

Creating an Andean plying bracelet with the singles

The resulting 2-ply:

Spun sample

Thoughts

  • I liked the hand/feel better than the last batch; the added merino made a nice difference. The yarn actually feels quite nice.
  • The resultant yarn reminds me of Ashland Bay merino or merino/silk in their multi's colorways because of the tweedy color variation. But I didn't have to spin from the fold. ;)
  • The final colors are much darker and toned down compared to the original silk. It's to be expected, since adding black to anything will mute or tone down a color. But still, it surprised me.
  • I do miss the deep colors of the original silk.
  • The white adds hilights, which is a nice effect.

The carding went about as expected/hoped. The applied "lessons learned" went smoothly and improved the process and results. The colors did not go as expected, however. I felt like I lost the gorgeous colors of the silk. Next time I might try blending with a slightly more muted or lighter shade of the silk so that the silk really stands out. Overall, I had a LOT of fun with this 'speriment and couldn't wait to see how it turned out. :)

Beginning to end

Project Spectrum Carding Experiment

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...

A few weeks ago, while organizing and trying to reduce the piles of fiber in the dining room (I call it that out of convention, but really, it's "the open space adjoining the living room where my wheel and current 'want to spin' bags of fiber sit" ... which happens to also share space with the dining room table, the hutch...), I set aside two bumps of fiber that I knew I would never spin, that I wouldn't want to gift, and that would make excellent experiments for the carder. First up, a couple of ounces of 100's merino I had dyed back in April in blues and purples, which was slightly felted and therefore no-fun-to-spin:

more stripes
100's merino on the right, dyed in the roaster

Second, ~5 oz of red and green cormo I bought at MDSW, which was a hair felted, a good bit neppy, and full of VM (vegetable matter), also no-fun-to-spin:

Winterhaven Fiber Farm, cormo in "Autumn"

I've been afraid of the drum carder. Intimidated. Worried about breaking it or screwing up. With fiber I was not going to spin, I had nothing to lose.

I started with the cormo and ran it through, spreading it out as I went, and picking out the larger pieces of VM. I didn't try to do anything special with the sections of red and green, and knew that red + green = mud brown. The colors would not be as rich and vibrant, I knew that. But with no-fun-to-spin fiber, who cares?

The carder kept out the neppy bits and maybe half the VM, and there was a fair amount of waste. The crimp on the cormo made the fiber take up a good bit of space on the drum, so I had to do at least 3 batches, but just once through each time. Each batch came out a little different depending on how much green happened to be in that batch:

dyed cormo, recarded

dyed cormo, recarded

I tried to diz off into roving, but it didn't go smoothly, so towards the end I gave up and pulled off wide strips.

What did I learn?

The carder is not to be feared. The Supercarder rocks. It makes a nice batt with one pass. VM in fiber sucks, and while the carder will loosen some of it, that's not what it's made for.

After cleaning the drums, I switched to the blue and purple merino. I predrafted and teased apart before running through, and I think that helped minimize waste. The merino ran through very easily and made a soft, lofty batt. Despite being ~2 oz of fiber, I had to make 2 batts because it fluffed up so much. If I was intent on packing it on, I would have prepared the fiber by spritzing with a weak water/conditioner solution, or "humidifying" it. But for experimenting on short notice, not an issue.

I loved these batts. The purples and blues blended so much that it was difficult to tell there was more than one color in the batt; but they definitely added subtlety and depth to the new blue. Plus, the resultant batt is so soft and inviting. Of course, blues and purples are really hard for my camera to capture so you'll have to take my word for it:

dyed merino, carded

Below you can see some "layers" of colors, light and dark, it's not just the sun:

dyed merino, carded

I left them undisturbed in batt form.

On this run I understood that commercially prepared top will leave MUCH less waste than roving, hands down. And I learned a bit about how much the carder will blend colors. I already have ideas for blending to retain more color definition.

Merino is a fine crimpy fleece, just as cormo is. However, this cormo had a LOT more crimp and bounce than the merino. This merino was commercially processed, and likely lost crimp in the processing. That gave it a very different feel than the cormo, and, surprise surprise, made it easier to card. Most commercially processed merino top is practically flat, crimp-free. Lifeless? Makes me understand a little more the charm of processing fleece.

~2 oz of CVM fleece carded on the Supercard and dizzed off into roving:

Supercarded CVM

I haven't figured out how to get continuous, even, long lengths, so they're mostly shorter lengths, little bundles:

Supercarded CVM

On the first batch, first 2 passes had some neps; 3rd slow and careful pass produced a lovely preparation:

Supercarded CVM

On the second, smaller batch, it only took 2 passes:

Supercarded CVM

If you hold up roving to the light, you can see neps and vegetable matter (unless your roving is very thick). This is nice stuff.

The handspun shawl is progressing. This earlier pic gives a better idea of the colors:

Autumn Waves Shawl - started

The latest photos were taken at the end of the workday (and the last rays of bright sunlight) when I suddenly remembered:

Autumn Waves Shawl - in progress

Very fall harvest colors, no?

Autumn Waves Shawl - in progress

The pattern is a mix and match of the Feather and Fan Comfort Shawl inspired by Erin's handspun version, and the Feather and Fan Triangle Shawl from Folk Shawls. I liked the particular feather and fan stitch pattern from the Folk Shawls, but the bulk of the shawl is knit in garter stitch, with only the bottom portions in lace. So I looked at how the Comfort Shawl was structured, and made the necessary modifications. I also added in half-pattern repeats at the increase edges, instead of waiting until I had enough stitches for a full repeat (as its done in the Folk Shawls version). The Comfort Shawl version has eyelet rows every 6 rows, while the Folk Shawls has it every 4, so there's a little more work. But the Folk Shawls version is mostly stockinette with one garter ridge, so I'm less worried about losing shawl length to more garter stitch.

Yes, I actually put some thought into the choice. :)

I suppose this is the first lace shawl I'm "winging". If you can call it that. It's the second started with handspun, and the 4th lace shawl I've started. I hope it gets finished.

I played with the carder last night. Took deep breaths and threw on some of the CVM fleece I had washed before. Two words come to mind: Learning Curve. I ended up with a good sized batt (about 1.5 oz) that was pretty nice, though a little neppy. I wasn't quite happy with it. And though I wanted to spin with it just to Do something with it, I don't have much experience spinning from batts so I was stalled.

Today, I had an "a-ha" moment. I split up the batt into small strips and spread those out really thin and passed them through at a slower speed. (The Supercard has a dial to control speed, from 0 to 100. The drum moves pretty quickly; the dial controls how fast the two smaller drums rotate.) Speed setting 30, and fiber spread thin enough that I could easily see through it.

It took a while, but the resultant batt is wonderful. AND, I sorta figured out how to use the RoveGuide that came with the carder. It's basically a big diz that allows you to diz off roving straight from the carder! I haven't figured out how to get a continuous, consistently sized strip, but what I got is a good start, delightful little balls of softness.

When I walk by the yarn room and see the carder in my peripheral vision, I do a double take. It's so honking big and shiny.

drum carder in the yarn room

(you can see the little carded balls in the basket below the carder)