January 5, 2008

Still Mo Spinning

Yesterday I plied the rest of the samples from my Madrona class.



I also attended my first St. Distaff Day. Along with 200 other spinners. It was packed!

I started out trying to spin my Batt of Beast I got in November. This was tricky to spin and I just wasn't up for the challenge.

The batt is not very thoroughly blended so every time I got to down fiber section (yak, cashmere, camel)it would fall apart because the down fibers need more twist. I also didn't have my wheel adjusted properly and was trying to spin the finest thread I could. It became too frustrating so I moved on to Rose, the Corriedale fleece I got earlier this year. I've only combed a small part of the fleece but realized that I should probably just start spinning it now and can comb the rest as I go. It's been in a plastic bin for months and when I pulled it out I realized that I had not scoured the fleece very well. It was stiff and slightly tacky. It wasn't too hard to spin but I did want to wash a small sample when I got home. I made a two foot sample of a 2 and a 3-ply. I put them in a cup with some very hot water and some Dawn dish soap. The water immediately changed from clear to murky gray. Ewww. I really did not get this fleece very clean. Oh well. I'll spin it up then wash the skeins in the hottest water I can get.

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August 5, 2007

Do I Know How to Party or What?

Wes and the boys went off to visit my in-laws this weekend. I went pretty nuts.
First, on Friday night I went to spinning at the shop. I'm ashamed to admit that it was the first time I touched my wheel since the first Friday of last month.
Then when I got home I tried to tackle continuous bias binding for the Lotus quilt.

It's a little mind-bending. Then I spent a very, very long time trying to make the two ends of my binding meet at a nice 45° angle. There was a lot of cursing and ripping out. I finally just fudged it. It looks fairly shitty in that one spot. I can live with it.

On Saturday I went to Bainbridge Island with six other Purlygirls. We hit the sale at Churchmouse, visited the farmer's market, got lunch and went to the fabric store. When I got home with all my fabric goodies I saw that I really have a problem. There was a fat quarter bundle waiting on the front porch that I had mail ordered. I had just bought a fat quarter of one of the fabrics. Then I realized that I had already bought one last week. This is the third time in the last few weeks that I've purchased fabric only to find that I already own some. At least my taste is consistent.

Before Wes left I asked him to turn the water heater all the way up. After nearly killing myself getting in to the shower (hot!) I knew the water was hot enough to clean some fleece. I pulled out the corriedale I bought this year at Black Sheep. It got two good, long, hot soaks. It came out very clean. This evening I cleaned the rest of the targhee I bought at Oregon Flock and Fiber. It came out very clean too. Mostly. It's very clean, fluffy and white with hardly any grease left but there are still patches that are unspeakably filthy. I don't know how to best deal with this. I guess I'll collect up the grossest parts and send them back in for another soak. The entire house smells sheepy and warm right now. I think it's wonderful. For Wes and the boys, not so much.

So Saturday night Wes snuck back to Seattle and we went out for dinner at Tilth (so delicious) and we saw The Simpsons Movie. If you like The Simpsons you will love the movie. I laughed very hard. Wes then had to slink back to his parent's house. I stayed up way too late sewing the borders on the County Lines quilt and piecing the backing.

Today I had to work. But first I ran to Jo-Ann's to get batting for County Lines. A word to the wise, don't buy white batting in a dark colored shirt. I spent the rest of the day covered in white fuzz.

I started a Gypsy Shawl for the shop out of Cashsoft 4-Ply.

Even thought I'm on the really easy part of the shawl right now I made some strange little error that I tried and tried to fix. I finally gave up and ripped but then realized after knitting several rows that I hadn't ripped back far enough. I did this over and over. I left work with 3 rows fewer that I had at the beginning of the day.

Evelyn Clark stopped in the shop today so I got to show her the quilt I finished last week. She'll be delivering copies of her book to us on Tuesday!

Then tonight I made my first attempt at foundation paper piecing. The first square went pretty well.

Messy foundation block

All clean!

The second block was like the shawl. Stitch, rip, curse, repeat. I finally got the damned thing finished and accidentally trimmed off the seam allowance on one side. Shit! I decided I'd just trim them all down and I'd have blocks that are half an inch smaller. I may change my mind tomorrow and just scrap that block. I'm only planning on making four or six to make a little baby quilt. We'll see how I feel about it later.

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June 26, 2007

Still on a Fiber High

Plying takes time. I always forget that. I spin singles and think, "Now I just have to ply it." Last night I sat down at my wheel at 11:30 with my poor attempt at Navajo plying from this weekend and the two full bobbins of merino. I plied and plied and plied. I finished the first bobbin at 2 am. I have no idea why I didn't just stop at a more resonable time.

I got my fleece last night.

First prize for variegated medium wool. Mmmmm. (I forgot to mention it's a Corriedale.)

I spread it out on a sheet on the deck and pulled out any short cuts, globs of poop (hardly any!) and bits of veg. This is a very clean fleece. Of course, once I put it in the washer the water immediately went to that sickly green-brown. Blech. I let it sit in the sun and heat up before washing. I thought it might help soften up the grease. The first batch is in its second soak right now.

I got some more little bundles of wool/mohair roving from Dawn's Custom Carding. I love these. They're quick and fun to spin and really inexpensive.

I bought, spun and plied this one on Saturday.

I also picked up these two skeins of Corriedale 3-ply fingering weight yarn.

I might use them for Anemoi Mittens or Endpaper Mitts. Or they may be socks.

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June 23, 2007

Fleece Lessons

Day one of Black Sheep was amazing. We left Seattle at 6:30, stopped for a nice breakfast along the way and made it to the fairgrounds at 12:30. After a quick tour of the vendors (and seeing lots of familiar faces) I found out that Judith Mackenzie-McCuin was the fleece judge. I ran over to the fleece judging. Unlike last year's judge, who would look through the fleeces and rank them, Judith shared as much information as possible. She discussed class standards, what makes a healthy fleece, how certain fleeces should be prepared, what garments would best be made from them, etc. I stayed for several hours taking in all the great information. I fell in love with a few fleeces too.

I finally finished spinnign the merino top I got from The Artful Ewe last November. I attempted to Navajo-ply it. My samples skeins were horrible. One dreadfully over-plied. One pitifully under-plied. I also finished my first Welsh sock and got loads done on my sock yarn blanket.

I believe I have managed to take one photo.

More later.

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March 9, 2007

Time for Timer

Wes asked me the other night, after peering into the fridge, "Why'd you buy that hunk of blue cheese?" I told him that I "hankered for a hunk of cheese."

All kidding aside, I have been really feeling like my "get up and go has got up and went" lately. I'm feeling uninspired. I still love my whole hand processing fleece thing I've got going on but that project will take many, many more hours to comb, then I have to spin it.

For a little inspiration I put together a Flickr set with projects that interest me. I think part of my ennui is that I have been knitting from stash. And while I dearly love my stash I don't always find the right yarn for the projects I'd like to knit. So then I wrestle with do I try to knit a project I love from a yarn that's not quite up to snuff or do I suck it up and buy more yarn then feel guilty because I have perfectly good yarn at home. Back and forth I go. But I did order some some Gems in Eggplant to make the Katharine Hepburn cardigan from Lace Style.

Pretty, isn't it?

In the meantime I'm wondering what to do with my sweater's worth of Cotton-Ease. I had been thinking of making one of these two items from an old Mission Falls pattern books. Most likely the cardigan. But now there's a new Rowan Classic Yarn book, Classic Coast, that has lots of patterns I really like. They're mostly very simple, classic all designed for RYC Natural Silk Aran or Cotton Jeans. Both yarns are very similar in weight to the CE. I'm most interested in this cardigan. I also toyed with the idea of chucking everything aside and starting A Cardigan for Arwen tonight with the Cotton Angora I frogged a few months ago. The cardigan is shorter than I'd like but I know the yarn will sag and stretch a lot.

I'm feeling so torn right now I'm a bit paralyzed. It's just knitting, right? Why am I so wound up about it?

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March 7, 2007

How Can You Argue With This?

Last night I started processing the prepped locks with my English combs. It's heaven. I didn't get very much done though because I was feeling very tired. When I accidentally scraped my hand across one of the combs (did not break the skin or draw blood) I realized that it's a job for someone fully awake. I did just get my tetanus shot updated recently, just in case.

Instead I finished a little ribbed Dulaan hat made from some leftover Cascade 220.

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March 6, 2007

Tunnel Vision is Boring to Watch

Sorry to be so dull as I am consumed with processing my fleece in all my spare time. It's all prepped now and ready to comb. I will get to that tonight once I get the kids in bed.

Last night at Purlygirls I pulled out the not-centered ribbed neckline edging and button band on Retro Prep the Third and started a simple garter band with mitered corners at the neckline just like my FI Yoke Cardi (I know you've seen it before but damn I love that sweater). I completed the buttonholes after screwing up the calculations. Note: When figuring out how many stitches go between the buttonholes you must subtract the number of stitches used to create the buttonholes. Oops. No matter. I had already pretty much decided to put in the buttonholes but not sew on any buttons right now. I haven't found ones I like and I never button my cardigans anyway. Why take the time and money to add buttons I won't use? If I change my mind the holes will still be there.

Has anyone seen one of these Murval bags in person? Is it as totally cute as this picture?

Click for more info.

And cheap!

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March 4, 2007


I have hardly knit a stitch in days. I'm having a love affair with my fleece. I brought her to spinning night on Friday at the Fiber Gallery. I didn't even bring my wheel inside. I just sat with my dog comb and my fleece and prepped the locks.
Then last night I sat down with a movie and worked some more. There's still about 12 ox left to prep.

Just 12 oz left!

This bin is packed as full of fiber as it can get. I have several hours of prep left then I can comb it all with my beautiful Forsythe combs.

I've also been lazily working on the body of Poppy. I can't remember the last time I worked on flat stockinette stitch. I'm having a terrible time "adding garter ridges (as desired) and occasional stockinette stripes." Random is hard.

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March 2, 2007

Fiber Processing Math

Tonight I spent 2.5 hours using a dog comb to prepare locks for the English combs. Total amount of fleece prepared--6 oz. I have approximately 26 oz. left to prepare.

Only 11 more hours to go.

Until I can comb it.


Fiber Processing Central


Rose is washed.

I have started to experiment with different ways to prepare the fiber.

I flick carded.

I used a dog comb.

I used my drum carder.

I used my English combs.

It's no surprise that the combed fiber came out the nicest. But it also took the most time and created the most waste. The tips on this fleece are really crusty and compacted. The flick card hardly opened them up at all. Even the English combs didn't get them completely opened up. The best method so far has been opening the tips with the dog comb then combing with the English combs. Somehow this seems like "cheating" though I know if I'm getting a result I like then it doesn't matter. I suppose if I was better with the English combs and had lots and lots of time and lots and lots of patience I could work back and forth on the combs and get lovely fiber to spin. I'd also have to throw out half the fleece. With the dog combs I can really get in there and work on just the parts I want. I just comb the tips and the cut end of each lock once or twice. It really opens them up and knocks out a lot of the dirt and any bits of VM or short cuts. My shirt was filthy with dust after spending a few hours combing last night. There is very little VM in this fleece. It seems to have been pretty aggressively skirted. The drum carder, of course, just takes those bits of VM and mashes them into the fiber.

After several hours last night I still have barely made any progress with this fleece. This whole hand processing thing is slooooooooow. Maybe I'll bring the rest with me to spinning tonight and work on it then.


February 27, 2007

Fleece With Photos

A good sign.

Her name is Rose. It was meant to be. I love the crimp and color variations.

I finished up another quick Dulaan hat last night.

I also steeked Retro Prep and picked up for the edging. I'm not sure I like the way it looks in ribbing. I might rip it out and do garter stitch. No picutres of that. Sorry.

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February 26, 2007

Weekend Wrap Up

Just a quick post to say that I'll get a photo of the fleece I bought yesterday up as soon as I can. It's a multi-colored Corriedale with many of shades of gray. It's small--only 2.5 lbs. It was lots of fun to fondle all the fiber and especially fun to watch the little lambs. Unfortunately it was pouring. Note: Next year wear boots. I still have lots of dried sheep slurry on my shoes from slogging around near the barn.

I finished my secret project. Finally! It's soaking right now. I'll block it and photograph it. Once it's been received I'll post pictures.

Tonight I'm cutting the steek on Retro Prep the Third at Purlygirls. Before I machine stitched it on Saturday I double-checked to make sure I stitched in the right spot. That's when I discovered that I had placed the neck two stitches off center. There was a bit of ripping and reknitting.

Oscar recap: No big surprises this year. No outfits I completely hated except Sally Kirkland who has obviously gone completely off her nut. There were only a few outfits I absolutely loved. Kate Winslet looked gorgeous. I loved her hair, make-up, jewelry and her gown. The color and cut were so flattering and fresh looking. Reese Witherspoon looked fabulous. I loved the dash of color at the hem of her dress and the way it flowed. Rachel Weisz also looked so elegant in her champagne-colored Vera Wang. For the men, George Clooney was the reincarnation of Cary Grant. So dashing. And what happened to Philip Seymour Hoffman?? He looked like he'd been licked by a goat just moments before coming on stage.

I've got to run. More soon!

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February 25, 2007

Fleece Sale