Monday, May 19, 2008

Knitting, Spinning, Meme-ing

Heh, heh... even if I'm not up-to-date in my blog reading, I'm making an effort to be up-to-date in my blog posting : )

Knitting Update

I'm still working along on my sweater-length, top-down version of the Serpentine Coat from Knitting Nature. I've finished the yoke and one sleeve (the bottom half of which I re-knit several times to get the right fit).


There's one hitch: I've read over and over again that when doing stranded knitting you need to be sure to keep the floats loose. I think I took that way too seriously (doh!) - hence, my floats are too loose (making the stitches around them wonkily loose, too), and I think I'm going to have to try to redistribute the extra yarn in some fashion - probably by shifting the slack row by row to the edges, cutting the yarn, and weaving the ends in. I honestly think this will be much faster than starting over (I'm not a speedy two-color knitter, and it took me a while to finish knit the yoke, which I guess is arguably not finished yet...)

Dublin Lake Redux

So, what did I do with the other half of the lovely "Dublin Lake" Bluefaced Leicester roving I got from The Painted Sheep?


I split the remaining roving lengthwise into halves, then split one half into 8 lengthwise pieces and the other into only 4 (this is something I've seen suggested by Kristin of All Spun Up - another wonderful fiber artist - on the Ravelry boards). This resulted in longer color-runs on one bobbin, which you can see here:


Here's a close-up of the singles (I just love the colors):


I plied the singles from the two bobbins together, aiming for a bit of extra plying twist. Since my bobbins weren't very equal, I ended up having to transfer about half of the remaining singles to the empty bobbin, spit-splicing the ends to my two plies before finishing plying. As you can see, I still ended up with a little bit of singles left over:


...and here it is after finishing:


...and closer (click to see better):


The yarn seems nicely balanced. (I washed it in hot water and whacked it on the tub a few times before hanging it to dry unweighted.) I ended up with approximately 345 yards (2.15 oz.) of 22 wpi yarn - which is more or less a lace weight (I think I spun my singles finer on average than I did for the Navajo plied yarn... oops!). Here's my 2-ply hanging out with the Navajo plied yarn for comparison:


I like them both!

A Quirky Meme

Brandy of The Purl Parables tagged me (a while ago!) for a quirky meme. The rules are as follows:

* Link to the person who tagged you
* Mention the rules in your blog
* Tell about six unspectacular quirks of your's
* Tag six following bloggers by linking them
* Leave a comment on each of the tagged blogger’s blogs letting them know they’ve been tagged

1. I will look at my (non-digital) watch to see what time it is, only to promptly forget what it said. This is generally only an issue when someone else, having just seen me check my watch, asks me what time it is : )

2. I prefer very dry, chewy raisins to plump, juicy ones (so I'm not a big fan of raisins in baked goods).

3. I like yarn a little too much... yes, some people would consider that a quirk - why do you ask?

4. I often look down to check that I'm in gear ("Drive") while driving in an automatic transmission vehicle.

5. I like to have a salt shaker handy when I'm eating dinner in case I need a little extra flavor.

6. I would rather not have a cat pacing back and forth between me and my keyboard while I type, wooshing it's tail in my face and snuffling my fingers with each pass. (Pretty quirky, I know!)

If you would like to participate, consider yourself tagged. Have a great week!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Contest Winner! (and Spinning Update)

*Teaser for spinning update below!

And the winner is...


Congratulations are in order for laughingmuse, the randomly drawn winner of my Blogiversary Contest : ) Green yarn will be heading your way as soon as I receive your mailing address...

Thanks, everyone, for entering!

One Last Bit of MDSW

Now that I've gifted it, I can tell you about one last purchase I made at Maryland Sheep and Wool: a beautiful turned wood crochet hook made by Bill Hardy...


... modeled here by Larry, the little green alien guy that Heidi gave me on our ride home from the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival (Thanks, Heidi!):


This (the crochet hook - don't worry, I kept Larry!) went to the very deserving (and crafty!) friend who cared for my kitties while I was at Maryland Sheep and Wool (my husband was also out of town at the time). It was accompanied by a gorgeous skein of Brooks Farm Solo that I bought at Rhinebeck last year.


It was difficult to part with, as I completely adore the yarn, but I had no specific intentions for it, and I wanted to give her something lovely to use the crochet hook with. She seemed to like it : )

Spinning Update

Yes, I really am trying to make a dent in my recently expanded spinning fiber stash : )

A few weeks ago, I finished spinning up the squishy, soft Cormo I got from Foxhill Farm (no website). Here's a summary of it's transformation:


I ended up with about 413 yards (3.67 ounces, although it was supposed to be 4, and I had only a few yards of singles left over) of 16 wpi (light fingering weight) 2-ply yarn. I think it's lovely!

I also plied up the Icelandic wool (that I previously showed you as singles) into about 328 yards (~7 ounces) of 13 wpi (sport/fingering weight) 2-ply yarn. I had about an ounce of extra singles (some of which were created by my friends when they tried out my spinning wheel) that I plied together for about 23 yards of thick and thin yarn (not shown here).


Here they are together:


...and for your enjoyment, here is Bug modeling the cormo yarn:


Additionally, I've spun singles of most of the 4 oz. of "Dublin Lake" Bluefaced Leicester I got from Kris of The Painted Sheep at the Nutmeg Spinners Guild Meeting in April.


I Navajo plied (for the first time!) 2 oz. of the singles, resulting in about 133 yards of 15 wpi (fingering weight) yarn:


To Navajo ply you basically make a giant crochet chain with your fingers and add twist to it. Here's a video that helped me figure out how to do it. It was kind of difficult to understand (and to execute) at first, but I think I've got the hang of it now.

As you can see, Navajo Plying largely preserves the different colored sections in the final yarn. I think I did an OK job, although my yarn initially had too much twist (which I didn't fully admit until after finishing it), so I ran it through my wheel again to take a little of the extra twist out. Now it hangs much straighter after finishing (the second time!), although the joins between each looped section are a little more obvious now.

I think it's pretty : )

I plan to make a 2 ply yarn out of the remaining 2 oz. of singles for an interesting (I hope) contrast. I think it would be fun to use both yarns in one project together (if you have any ideas, let me know)!

Octopus Pattern Coming Eventually...


I've had a number of requests for a pattern for my blue-ringed octopus, and I wanted to let you know that do I plan on putting one together sometime. I made him up as I went along and didn't take great notes, so it will probably take me making a new one to figure out what I did. In other words, it may be a while - but thanks so much for your encouragement to do it : )

Have a great week!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Maryland Sheep and Wool!

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If you haven't already, be sure to enter my Blogiversary Contest by Friday...

I had a great first trip to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival (even though I had, and still have, a bit of a cold)!

I rode down to Maryland on Friday with sunflowerfairyknits and missalicefaye (Hi, guys!). We spent some time spinning Friday evening (we brought our wheels!) and had a leisurely dinner before retiring. They were wonderful roommates and fellow festival-goers (and were good sports about my sheep photographing habit).

The hotel was pretty darn full. There were a number of groups there attending the festival, but the presence of an overly-tanned, very fit man in scandalously short, rather revealing running shorts (you know, the kind with the side "vents") at the check-in desk should have alerted us that there was a marathon going on in Frederick (we figured this out later).

After a continental breakfast at the hotel, we arrived at the fairgrounds around 9 am (opening time) on Saturday, and the parking area was already starting to fill up:

There was a lot of fair food (naturally), and swarms of people were everywhere:

My lunch on the first day consisted of a "pit lamb" sandwich, coleslaw, and potato salad with limeade to drink:

We wandered around, trying to visit every barn and outdoor vendor booth. There were all sorts of things to see in addition to yarn and fiber (don't worry, I'll get to that eventually).

Sheep were being trimmed in preparation for show and being sheared in demonstrations:
IMG_3807.jpg Nice hooves...

Sheep were being shown:

There was a fleece sale:

There were alpacas:

...and llamas:

...and goats:

...and loads and loads of sheep:

There was plenty of human-sheep interaction going on:

This guy cracked me up, lounging in the pen with his critters:

This little lamb was very interested in the ewe next door:

All in all, an embarrassment of wooly riches!

Speaking of which, here are some close-ups for your textural enjoyment (click for bigger):

NOTE: Don't worry - I didn't make Heidi and Alice follow me around while I photographed sheep : )

So, I bet you're wondering what I bought. Mostly I went for a bunch of lovely spinning fiber:

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1. Bamboo top (4 oz., "Caribbean") from Opalessence
2. Merino roving (4 oz., "Cassis") from Opalessence
3. Organic Long Staple Uplands Cotton combed top (8 oz., "Pima Cotton") from the Little Barn
4. Organic Cotton combed top (8 oz., "Mocha") from the Little Barn
5. Tussah Silk roving (8 oz., "Natural") from the Little Barn
6. Merino batt (3.5 oz.) - I don't remember the vendor (and, darn it, the receipt doesn't say)
7. Merino roving (4 oz., "Sunset Gold") from Gale's Art
8. Corriedale roving (7.1 oz., dyed with cochineal & iron) from Handspun by Stefania

I did buy some yarn -- one skein of Canopy (200 yards, 50 g, "Purple Passion," alpaca/merino/bamboo blend) from The Fibre Company (no I don't have a plan for it, but it's lovely yarn, and it was 50% off!) and three skeins of coral Solo Silk (400 yards, 4 oz. each, "SW," silk/wool blend) from Brooks Farm for a Printed Silk Cardigan:
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Describing my Solo Silk purchase, I told Heidi and Alice that I "fell down" in the Brooks Farm booth. Heidi immediately expressed concern and wanted to know if I was alright - I guess my euphemism (I hadn't intended to buy any yarn) was a little ambiguous : )

Alice totally egged me on when I expressed interest in getting a Bosworth drop spindle. I came home with a beautiful Midi (1.02 oz., Canarywood) from Journey Wheel, shown here with some of the "Cassis" merino roving (#2, above) spun up on it:

Pretty good stuff!

Oh yes... I never showed you what I got at the Connecticut Sheep and Wool Festival. Here you go (click on photos for bigger pictures and info.):

Clearly I have enough fiber to keep me spinning for some time... now I just need to get to work on it : )