Thursday, January 31, 2008

Thought for the Day - 1/31/2008

This was found in my February spinning guild newsletter. Usually I just glance over these things, but this one struck a chord and I decided to share it with the rest of you. Take a minute to really think about it.

Who is blind? He who can see no other world.
Who is dumb? He who can say nothing pleasant about his lot.
Who is poor? He who is troubled with too many desires.
Who is rich? He who is happy with his lot.
- Indian Proverb

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Knitting FO

Yea! I finished the baby gift for one of James' friends. One of those last minute things that was not going smoothly. The cap was done using the edging from a baby bonnet in a little Vogue Knitting on the Go book, then finished in stockinette by evenly decreasing down to about 8 sts. The booties are from a Debbie Bliss baby book and done in her Cashmerino, but the first one came out so huge that I had to completely redesign it to cut the size by about half. The test knitter for that pattern must be a REALLY tight knitter! Oh well, they came out really cute so I need to write the pattern changes down in case I want to do another pair. Now it's time to go get my cello practice in.

Bonnet and Booties

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Another Spinning Day!

January isn't even over yet and I've already got in another full day of spinning! 2008 is going to be a good year. Today Roddie and Paula came over to try out my drum carder (Louet Jr.). BTW, for those interested, Louet has a good little carding tutorial on their website. Roddie had brought a bag of red llama that we got from Jane's stash. The fiber hadn't been washed or skirted yet, so there were some second cuts and grass but she and Paula were able to get a lot of that out as they carded it. The final batts were soooo soft! Made me want to make a trip to storage to dig out some of mine!


After everyone left, I cleaned all the fiber off the small drum of the carder and ran it through my Indigo Hound combs and was able to salvage a nice little handful of fiber. Is that not the most fabulous color?

While Paula was carding, Roddie worked on spinning another batch of llama fiber that is more brown. It looks like it's going to be a wonderful laceweight yarn. The only bad thing about spinning for lace is the fact that it takes so long to fill up the bobbins! I'm still working on my moorit merino, but am on my last bobbin. Hopefully I'll have enough to do something good. Here are some pictures of Roddie at her Ashford Traditional. That's Bailey snoozing in the background. She had a great time having a houseful of people to pet her.



I spent the rest of the day (and evening) spinning up a couple of bobbins for a plying demo tomorrow. Early in my spinning days I bought a white fleece, that I have since lost the name of, and some Black Welsh Mountain roving. I did quite a bit of bulky weight "barberpole" yarn that is currently in storage. Then recently I found more white uncarded fleece. So now I'm trying to use it up and have enough yarn to make either the Einstein Coat or the Asymmetrical Jacket (pictured on the cover) from Sally Melville's book, The Knit Stitch. The two contrasting bobbins will make a good demo because the singles are heavy enough to really see the fiber direction while plying. I learned early to make sure the fibers lay parallel in the final yarn to be sure that it will be balanced after you wash it. That really helped since I normally am plying from bobbins that have taken weeks, if not months, to fill (I do mostly laceweight yarn). Below are pics of the singles and the final yarn. It is deliberately a bit "thick & thin" so there is approximately 30 yards in 100g of finished yarn, and it varies from 5-7 wpi. I'm planning on dyeing it a dark plum before knitting.


Originally I had started this yarn with another project in mind and knit this hat to test my sample yarn. The hat yarn was the same "barberpole", but I added locks of mohair every 4" as I plyed the singles together. It was a pain in the neck and that project was scrapped immediately. But I do love the hat and may make two more for my grandsons! Before knitting, the finished yarn was dyed with koolaid. I didn't keep any kind of records, but I think I used cherry, lemon, and lime. Don't hold me to it though. I do remember that the colors didn't come out the way I expected.

Handspun-handknit hat
This does get some looks when worn!

Unfortunately, tomorrow I will be back to real life again and catching up on all the things I didn't do today. Unless of course, that my Lotto numbers come in! One can only hope! After all, somebody has to win it and it may as well be me.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Knitting Books

Recently I've had several people ask what my favorite knitting books were. That really depends on what kind of knitting you're doing, or what purpose you want the book to serve. Considering the fact that I have a bookcase full of various fiber craft books, I thought I'd go through and make a list of the ones that I use the most. I'll break them down by category, and they are in alphabetical order so no one gets their feelings hurt. You'll notice that I put Latvian Dreams in twice. That's because it is not only a fabulous book on Scandanavian knitting, but it is full of good, well-explained knitting technique. Joyce is a fabulous knitter. I only wish I could have taken a class with her sometime. We met her knitting away on a beautiful fairisle sweater in a dark bar at Stitches West. I couldn't knit that well, that fast, under the best of conditions. Amazing!

I know I have left out many great books, many of which are in my own library. These are just the ones that use, or refer to, the most.

Basic Patterns, Designing, How-To:
Knitter's Handbook, Montse Stanley
Latvian Dreams, Joyce Williams
The Knitter's Book of Finishing Techniques, Nancie Wiseman
The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns, Ann Budd

New Knitters:
Sally Melville's series

Lace, Lace, and more Lace:
A Gathering of Lace, Meg Swansen
Folk Shawls, Cheryl Oberle
Heirloom Knitting, Sharon Miller
Stahman's Shawls and Scarves, Myrna Stahman
Victorian Lace Today, Jane Sowerby

Folk Socks, Nancy Bush
Debbie Bliss' children's pattern books
Handspun Handknit, Linda Ligon
Latvian Dreams, Joyce Williams
MinnowKnits, Too, Jil Eaton
Vogue Knitting on the Go books

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

One more resolution begun!

For many years I've wanted to learn to play the cello. I know, I'm odd. When I was in my 40's I always said that I was going to start lessons when I turned 50; then it was 51, and 52. Well, at 54 I'm finally taking cello lessons! Thankfully I can already read music (thank mom, for giving me piano lessons in elementary school), and I played flute in junion high school. When I was in my 20's, I took piano for a few more years so I know the challenges that the adult student faces. The only one I didn't think about was how much I need some calluses on my left hand fingers. I'm really having to do a lot of short practices rather than one long one each day, at least until I can build up the required hand strength. But it is exciting when I actually make some nice sounds come out of it. I'm hoping to be able to play a little for my patients by next Christmas. They are a wonderful, non-critical audience. Anyway, I'll let you know how it goes. Maybe I'll figure out how to post a short video.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Frosted Fern Finished

Well, I'm feeling a little better about it today now that I've got all the ends finished and it's on the table. I still don't care so much for the solid border and if I did it again, I think I'd figure out how to replace that. Here are a couple of photos of the finished doily.

Blocked and finished

with flowers

And I finally got started on Lyra today. I thought my arm was going to fall off before I got that skein of Tencel wound into balls! 2200 yards is a lot of winding! At first I was kind of worried about the long color changes pooling, but now that I'm going, it doesn't look like that is going to be so much of a problem. What I am worried about is being able to see the pattern with is multi-colored yarn. It's still too early to make the call, but I wouldn't be surprised if I had to start over with a solid color. Maybe by next weekend I'll have enough to solicit some opinions.

This was a pretty productive weekend considering I spent all of Saturday spinning. Tall Pines had a spin-in instead of our usual January meeting since it would have fallen on New Year's Day. We had a good turn out with 4 or 5 new spinners. Esther's new wheel got here just in time, so we put it together there and she was able to finish the bobbin she started at my house, and almost finish another one! All were impressed with how nice it was. Looks like she's just a natural spinner. Sure made me look like a good teacher!

T and Esther spinning

Friday, January 4, 2008

Happy New Year 2008! (a little late...)

Ok, so I didn't quite finish up my 2007 projects, but December was a blur and I had a bad cold during the last week. But now I've finished spinning the green merino/silk that I've had on the bobbins for quite a while. I think I lost some of the fiber somewhere and ended up with 500+ yarns of fingering weight yarn. I was very pleased with how even it turned out. When I plyed the two bobbins together, they actually came out pretty even with only a few yards left on one. I think I'm going to make a present for someone out of it. Here's a picture of the finished skein. It is kind of a heathery bluish green.
1st skein of 2008

I also finished the "Frosted Ferns" doily by Herbert Neibling. It is a free pattern, but is not charted. I knit it using a couple of OLD odd balls of J&P coats six cord mercerized no. 20 cotton thread on size 1 needles. It was ecru, but when I finished up there was a definite line at the spot where I changed balls. Since it wouldn't wash out, I bleached it white then treated it with "bleach stop". Don't cringe! This is not an heirloom in any sense of the word, so I'm not worried about it degrading the thread. I had some problems with this doily in several places (stitches slipped of the Addi Turbo needle), I don't like the hand of the thread, and I don't really like the edge. Mostly I just knit it to get of feel for Neibling's work before I start "Lyra". Frosted Fern will make a nice table topper, which is ok. Everything has it's place. It's funny how you just kind of know while you're knitting, when the project is going to totally exceed your expectations or when it's just going to be a learning experience. And materials play a big part.

Frosted Fern doily

Frosted Fern (closeup)