Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Fruity Goodness (and another scary thing)

Last night our kitchen was a busy place. I made cupcakes for The Yarn Sniffers Halloween/October Birthday party for his kindergarten class.

So while I was in the kitchen, I pulled out some roving that I've had forever, two pots and eight pouches of Kool-Aid. Four Tropical Punch and four Black Cherry. I mixed up the Kool-Aid in the pots (one for each flavor) and then added the roving. The Yarn Sniffer FREAKED when he asked what in the world I was doing and I told him I was making dinner.

Heated the pots for about 20 minutes (not boiling, but close) and turned off the pots and waited for the wool to soak in the dye. I then rinsed the yarn in a bath that was the same temp as the water in the pots (110 degrees -- I used my meat thermometer). Then I hung it up to dry.

This morning I wound it (tropical punch on the left, black cherry on the right) and took its picture in the early morning light outside.

Tonight, I spin.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Scary Stuff to Share

Halloween is two days away, and it's time to start thinking about scary things. There's plenty in my fiber world that can be pretty alarming, so I thought I'd share.

But first, the second Widdershin is nearly complete. A few more rounds on the cuff and they are done. The jury is still out on whether they will be for me, or for the holiday box.

Scary Thing #1: The Shark Scarf
OK, so this isn't frightening or anything, but since it's dubbed "the shark" and those guys can be scary, I dub this #1. I finished it this a.m. for The Yarn Sniffer, who has been waiting a whole two days for me to finish (I was late starting after the spinning ... yarn's gotta dry, after all).

Scary Thing #2: Oreo
In and of itself, the yarn itself isn't scaring me. What terrifies me is that I have about 900 yards or so of this delicious homespun and now, quite frankly, I'm terrified to cast on for anything for fear of destroying my largest spinning endeavor ever. If anyone has any ideas for 900 yards of bulky yarn, or a pattern that is virtually indestructable, let me know. I could make a bunch of scarves for the holidays, but something just tells me that Oreo (the CVM darling) is destined for something much greater than a simple scarf. Truth is, I'm really freaked about the challenge.

Scary Thing #3: Fleece Among Us
I may be completely in over my head on this one. A few months ago, I went on eBay and purchased 8 oz of raw fleece -- I honestly can't remember what breed -- and started processing it bit by bit in the sink. No fun in the sink, let me tell you. Lock by lock, 8 oz takes FOREVER. So this past Friday night (in between cleaning my house to prep for my mother in law's visit yesterday, which is why I am still a ghost at spinner's group) I threw it in the tub (before I got to that part of the cleaning) to scour it. Worked very well, I must say, and I just threw what was left in there. I don't completely scrub each lock ... if there's a little dirt at the end of the lock it usually brushes out during carding.

So what's scary about that? Well ... there's the fact that I have to card it all still ... that's going very, very slowly. There's also the small problem of my subsequent order of 18oz of Targhee/Merino cross wool that is awaiting processing. What have I done?

Friday, October 27, 2006

Wild Kingdom

I'm not a big dreamer, but sometimes when I do have them, they're doozies. Last night I dreamed that I was heading to a fiber festival (it wasn't specific, though when I got there it turned out to be Maryland). It was cold, windy and rainy but there were tons of people and I was desperate to get to the Koigu mill ends and the Socks that Rock. So I was going behind pavillions and racing -- jumping over things (small things, don't think The Matrix or anything) and going in pavillion after pavillion from the back doors trying to get to Building A. I was ahead of the crowd (I was peeking through between the buildings to check as I ran) ... and just as I was reaching Building A, my damn alarm went off. Ugh ... I hope it's not a prelude to the Stitches East marketplace next week (I have a ticket to go on Friday).

Anyway, in fiber news -- in my last post I showed you all the fluffiest puff of fiber that I've ever held in my hand (I can't say "fluffiest puff ever" because I've touched quivet but never really held it in my hand...). No it isn't quivet, and it isn't guanaco and it isn't camel.

No guesses? That fluff I showed you is yak. That's right ... hair from one of these. It's the most beautiful heathery gray and oh so very soft.

Rather than risk f-ing it up with a ply, I (literally) took a page from a recent article in Spin Off and starting spinning with an energized single straight from the bobbin and letting this yarn work with its twist.

Here's the bobbin:

And here's the scarf I'm working on for my husband:

See that center part? That's where the biasing is. (Look closely where the stitches are slanting to the right.)

It's garter stitch all around (note: it's doesn't bend and angle in garter, just stockinette) on #4 needles with a stockinette panel in the center. I probably should have gone with #5 needles just to open it a bit ... and honestly I'm going to consider that today while I'm at work. I think frogging a charged single will be a real pain, though, so I may just grin and bear it. If I leave it alone, it will still be super-warm and it will stay a little thick (though overall thin and light). He was actually worried that a single would be too thin and perhaps too delicate for him. Come to think of it, I'll probably just leave it alone.

I got approximately 18 wpi with this, though there are definitely slubbies here and there. All in all, I'm relatively content so far. So content that I ordered four more ounces of the stuff. Why? 'Cause Mama needs a yak scarf too.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Very Un-Rhinebeck Post

This past weekend was my husband's birthday, so I didn't push the Rhinebeck issue. However, I got into the spirit of a good fiber festival from the comfort of my own desk (and the internet) and ended up spending considerably less than I might have had I headed up to NY for its wool festival.

It all came yesterday. Perfect timing ... it's as if I shopped all weekend :)

From Spunky Eclectic:

I read about this fiber shop on Janine's blog, and I was not disappointed. What you see are the Sangria and Carribean colorways. These already have holiday recipients once spun and knit. The notable roving, however, was in the Shark colorway. The Yarn Sniffer has a thing for sharks. I spun it up last night and remembered to take pictures:

Roving, singles and yarn. In that order. The yarn needs a good soak, but then I'll be a'knittin.

Secondly, I headed over to Vicki's Kendig Cottage for some exotic fibers and fun. I ended up coming out with two things. The first is a lovely colonial wool filled with dark greens and reds.

The other fiber purchased is something you have to guess on. I'll tell you it's exotic, that I'm making my husband's scarf out of it, and I promptly ordered two more ounces last night after getting a feel for this stuff.

Any ideas of what this is? I'll spill the beans tomorrow.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Colors on Parade

I've been so into spinning this past week or so that I haven't thought to take time of the pre-spun roving, the process or the singles. Hell, I haven't even taken the time to note ratios or pre-drafting activities to repeat myself later. I've just been a whirling dervish.

Spinning has been an activity of mine for about six months now ... I got the bug back in the pre-Spring months when I ordered a spindle from eBay. That one spindle multiplied and I ended up with my fair share of spindles, which allowed me to tackle multiple fibers at once. In the meantime, I stocked up with more than my fair share of fibers at MDS&W. Then i got my wheel in June, and it's been nuts ever since.

But I've never actually knit with any of my homespun. Until now.

Earlier this month, the Harlot posted a beautiful story of a Grafton batt of fiber that she spun up, Navajo plied and then knit into a very simple, one-row scarf. I was inspired, and I took to the wheel with a passion, tearing through my MDS&W fiber like a madwoman, spinning and spinning and spinning. Then I went to Cloverhill and discovered Mama E's roving, and got some of that and took to it. I showed you what I Navajo plied earlier last week (that peacock colored yumminess? I'm unplying it to do a double -- Navajo makes a three-ply), but late last week I hit the Cherry Garcia colorway.

Now I'm no pink girl, and I doubt these pictures will do it any kind of justice, but this colorway is like ice cream. No joke -- it's smooth and luscious, the color transitions are subtle and if I could get naked and roll in it, I would. I wish I could show you the process, really I do, but I spun it up, hung it to set the twist, and then made this:

There it is, all wound up. I'll note here that there were no fancy steps taken to preserve the colorway ... I wasn't about to f#@* up another batch of roving trying that. Instead, I let it go the way it wanted to, and the transitional result is (I think) pretty darn nice. See?

I like it. The only question is, is it mine, or do I put it in the holiday bin?

And I'm on to Fire. Mama E makes one hell of a roving, and I'm really looking forward to knitting with this once the twist is set (the plan is to soak it this a.m. before work and then hang it up in the hopes that it will be dry by tomorrow).

I have a child who wants an orange scarf.

In more spinning news, I'm dealing with some singles that I spun up last week in my frenzy -- a beautiful yellow merino/llama/silk concoction. I only bought four ounces of it and was hoping to get a fine yarn out of it. I did, soaked and hung the singles (they were very twisted) and now I have approximately 230 yards of singles to work with. I'm torn ... do I make a modified Melody (I cannot tell you how long the finished product is--it's ginormous) or something else. Thoughts?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I'm speechless.

Yesterday at lunch, I ran over to my LYS to pick up some more fiber to spin, and got my hands on some Alpine Meadow Artisan Fibers. It's wool with some little sparkles in it. I bought four ounces -- two in the "Mount Cook" colorway and two in "Black Lake" -- and last night sat down with Mount Cook and got started.

Here are the singles:

And here's the two-ply result:

Something clicked last night with this fiber. Now I'm an average spinner (way below average when it comes to Navajo plying), but for some reason this just blew me away. There's nothing fancy here ... just a very fine single done as a two ply. I could have done more color separation, but that's not what the fiber wanted to do. I let it do its thing, and it did it well.

I'm head over heels in love with the yarn. I can't wait to spin up the other colorway and then get started on the Mama E's "Cherry Garcia" braid that's also in the wings...

Monday, October 16, 2006

As the Whorl Turns

And boy did it turn this weekend. No knitting of note, but man, was I a spinning fool.

Now let me clarify. I haven't spun anything on my wheel in, literally, months. I've been so busy traveling for work and preparing for a new boss (started last Tuesday) that knitting has been about all I've had time for. I hadn't planned on spinning this weekend, but I got started and than couldn't stop.

Remember Oreo? I finished it. All 20 ounces of it. I have a lot of yarn to show for my efforts, but it's bulky, and so I must do lots of calculating and measuring before I make something with it. I don't want to run out. It's a delightful yarn -- sproingy and soft.

Once Oreo was singled and plied, I tore into some Caroline Homespun (picked up at MDS&W) to play around, and spun two full bobbins of singles and then plied it up into two two-ply skeins. I bit nubbly, but nice nonetheless for a nice bulky scarf. It's Merino superwash, and the drafting really was difficult and hurt my thumb, so at 2 a.m. I called it quits for the night, soaked and hung the skeins and hit the sack. Can I tell you how nice it is to wake up to see this?

Then yesterday morning over coffee, I picked up a big ball of fluff (again from my MDS&W stash... if you look at the post there's a two-tone varigated skein right in the center -- that's it) and spun that up into four two-ply skeins of itchy wool. I'm not sure what to do with that.

And then, as if I hadn't already done enough (have you lost count? I'm up to 13 skeins already) I picked up the four ounces of Mama E's Cyber Roving that I grabbed at my LYS a few weeks ago. Decided to spin that up and then try my hand at navajo plying. I love the colors and this merino superwash spun and drafted like liquid gold. It was a pleasure to spin and now I want more, more, more. Another bulky result (partly because it's a three-ply), but the holidays are coming and there are more than a few people who will appreciate a scarf with my own handspun. This one, however, may just be mine.

Monday, October 09, 2006


I certainly hope that this isn't the one day that my best friend decides to read the blog. Because I'm about to show you this past week's opus all completed:

This is the Baby Surprise Jacket, aka, the blob of the blog I showed you all last week. I have no idea what was going through Elizabeth Zimmerman's head when she designed this, but boy I'm glad she did.

Since I was in Albuquerque the day the annual Balloon Fiesta kicked off, I decided to commemorate the sweater and the trip with appropriate buttons. I think they personalize the sweater just a bit more (though how much more can you personalize a hand-knit sweater?!?)

Here's a close-up:

More about the rest of my trip later.