Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What's Goin' On?

Well not much is really going on right now. Since I finished Lady Eleanor, I don't have a big project in the works. I have several that are hibernating in my closet, but I haven't pulled one out yet. I need to get one of those out and finish it one way or another. But I'm really not motivated to do that yet.

I bought this Kureyon Sock yarn on Saturday. I have a shawl pattern in mind and intended to come home and buy the pattern online and get started. Unfortunately, the pattern is not available for download. I ordered it, but now I have to wait for shipping. That was disappointing.

I do still have to seam up and add the trim to Halfobi. I'm hoping to do that this weekend. I think I'll try and get that finished before starting the shawl and give myself a clean slate to start the shawl in earnest.

I still have my Fair Isle class project. It's coming along, but I haven't worked on it since my class. I'd like to finish it so I can try a larger stranded color work project. Because it actually isn't nearly as hard as I originally thought. It is a little awkward but I have no doubt it will get easier.

I've also got my carpool/travel project. I'm already on the second sock. I'm expecting to finish these over the weekend. The colors are turning out pretty wild. I was surprised with an overnight trip for work so I know I'll have plenty of time in the airport to finish these. I fly out at 7:00 am tomorrow and return at 11:30 on Thursday. I'm not really looking forward to the trip, but getting out of the office will offer a little variety I guess.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Lady Eleanor

I love it! The colors are good and it is long and warm for wrapping up on a cold day. It's almost sad to finish it now because it will be put away until next fall. I love how the long color repeats of the Silk Garden work with the rectangle pattern of the entrelac. I hope to be able to mimic these results with hand spun yarn sometime soon.

Knitting entrelac is actually pretty simple. It does get a little monotonous turning the work around for each row of each rectangle. You can accomplish the same thing without turning the work around if you learn to knit backwards. Really all that is purling without turning your work around.

There are all kinds of tutorials on accomplishing this. There is an article on Knitty, or do a search on Google or even you tube to watch it. I tried it and it was a little awkward for me, but I think if I would have stuck with it I would have been able to get the hang of it. I must admit I gave up on it really quick.

In the end, turning the work just didn't bother me that much. Otherwise this is a really straight forward project and is was a lot easier than I ever thought it would be. I guess that goes to show I shouldn't put off the hard stuff for later - you never know what you're missing.

I have some Silk Garden Lite stashed away to make a lighter weight version of this stole. I'll probably wait a little while to cast on though. I have some other projects I'd like to do first. Sometimes I really just wish I could knit all day.

Project Info

Pattern: Lady Eleanor Entrelac Stole by Kathleen Power Johnson
published in Scarf Style from Interweave Press

Yarn: Noro Silk Garden; color # 258
11 skeins = 1342.0 yards

Needles: addi TURBO - US# 9 (5.5 mm)

Finished Width: 19 inches

Finished Length: 78 inches

Notes: The stole is unblocked, I like the texture. I followed the pattern as written and continued until I had used 11 skeins. I ended up with about 2-3 yards leftover. The stole is made up of the base row, 51 tiers, and the final row of triangles.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Handspun Friday - Portobella

Another fiber spun up; and this one is from Fat Cat Knits. I love her fibers. She does a great job dying and picking colors. If you are in the market for hand dyed spinning fibers or yarn, check out her shop.

This time I started with two 4 oz braids of combed top this time. So far I've mostly spun up 3-4 ounce chunks at a time and I think that amount is good and a nice way to try out new fibers. But I'm starting to wonder what I'm going to do with all these single skeins of handspun yarn. I've got to get better at coordinating my choices of these small fiber purchases. Or, I can go ahead and start buying fiber in larger quantities.

This time I ended up with two skeins about about 400 yards. I think I can get a nice sized scarf or a hat and mittens set with this yardage. I love the softness of the merino. It was very nice to work with and I'd pick it again anytime. I have the skeins sitting on the little table next to the chair I use for spinning and everyone in a while I pick them up and give them a quick squeeze.

Geddesburg Handspun Yarn
Fiber Source: Fat Cat Knits
Weight: 4 ounces each / 8 ounces total
Fiber Preparation: hand dyed combed top
Yardage: skein one - 204 yards; skein two - 210 yards; 414 total yardage
Spinning Style: worsted / long draw
Spinning Ratio: 10 to 1
Plying Ratio: 9 to 1
WPI: 9-10
Other Details: 2-ply, hand wash, air dry

Sunday, April 20, 2008

F is for Fiber Festival

I got a trip in to the 2nd Annual Averasboro Fiber Festival yesterday. It was a nice festival but it was very small. I'm going to estimate that there were 10 vendors there in total. They did have a few demonstrations. I watched a sheep shearing and a Border Collie demonstration. The Border Collie was herding the sheep and following both voice and whistle commands. The spinning guild I belong to was there demonstrating spinning and had a couple wheel set up for demonstration too. There was a nice little crowd there. I hope that the festival grows over the years.

Of course the real reason I went to the festival was the fiber.

Most of the vendors were local farmers and sheppards. They were selling everything thing from unprocessed fiber to yarn, honey, and goat's cheese. The bad thing is the camera I took quit working after about two pictures.

I was able to get the shot of the little lambs above and this bunny. His name is Rumplestiltskin and that fiber is angora from the bun man himself. The bunny was the last photo I was able to capture.

This fiber is unprocessed alpaca from Prissy. It's too bad my camera quit working because Prissy was there and was so cute. Although she did look a little naked with out her fleece. I got a little more than a pound of this fiber. When I bought it I figured I was going to learn a little bit a about fiber prep. Now I'm not sure I want to mess with it; I might try and find someone that will process it for me.

I also bought this roving. It is a mix of natural Border Leicester, alpaca, mohair, and silk. The colored bits are dyed Border Leicester. It is very soft and will spin up kind of heathery and tweedy. They had a yarn that was spun from a very similar mix (minus the alpaca) and it looked very nice. There is about a half of a pound in this ball.

There was very little hand dyed fiber there; and there were no indie dyers there selling hand painted rovings. Most of the fiber was still in the natural color of the particular animal in ever state from raw fleece to combed top. I did end up buying some hand dyed Border Leicester locks. I'm always a sucker for this blue green type of color and it just looked so pretty sitting in a basket. It will require some prep before spinning. Although the lady I bought it from did say that some do use it as is for art type yarns. But I love the color, so seeing it sit in a basket in my craft room won't be a problem. All in all I have to declare this Fiber Festival a success.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Handspun Friday - Blackthorn

I really like how this fiber spun up. I'd say it is a bulky weight yarn. It is nice, thick, soft and fluffy. I think I'll use this to knit a hat or maybe mittens. I don't think there is really enough yardage for a scarf.

I really like the color too. Purple has always been one of my favorite colors and this one is nice and rich. It is almost black in places. It makes me think of nice plump juicy blackberries.

My father is coming for a visiting today and will stay through Sunday. He's taking some type of continuing education class for some business license he holds in this state; so he will be out a good portion of Saturday. I'm going to try and get in a quick visit to a local Fiber Festival while he is in class. The festival starts Saturday at 10:00 am and this is it's second year. If you are in this area the festival is being held at the Averasboro Battlefield Museum located at 3300 NC Highway 82.

Geddesburg Handspun Yarn
Content: Bluefaced Leicester
Fiber Source: Pigeon Roof Studios
Skein Weight: 4 ounces
Skein Length: 132 yards
WPI: 8-9
Spinning Ratio: 10 to 1
Plying Ratio: 9 to 1
Other Details: 2-ply, superwash

Monday, April 14, 2008

E is for Extraordinary

Spring has finally emerged (another e!) here at Geddesburg and I'm behind on finding and photographing my alphabet. But it is April and that means it is time for my most extraordinary garden plant to show up.

Arisaema sikokianum (Japanese Cobra Lily) grows from an underground tuber and rises in early spring, the dark pitcher and two five-lobed leaves emerge on a 1' tall fleshy petiole (stalk). As the pitcher opens, it reveals a swollen, pure white marshmallow-like protrusion (spadix), which provides a dramatic contrast with the purple of the pitcher. After flowering, the foliage remains attractive until it goes dormant in late summer.

I planted this flower two years ago. It hasn't spread, but it has always produced the one flower each year. From what I've read, this plant won't produce viable seeds. You need a male and female plant for that. So hopefully it will eventually spread out and have more flowers. I'm mostly impressed that the deer haven't eaten it yet.

I won't have much knitting to share this week, but I do have handspun ready for Friday. We are having company this weekend and my long neglected household chores have to be finished before Friday. So I spent a good portion of the week doing some of those tasks, so the knitting was put on hold. I still have a lot of chores to finish too.

I have been working on Lady Eleanor and it is getting close to finished, maybe next week. It will just depend on if I get any time to knit through out the week or over the weekend. I've also been working on my carpool socks, but this is my week to drive so I probably won't get very far this week.

My fair Isle class was great. I'm only about halfway through the class project; it is a small headband. As soon as I get it finished, I'll write up a post about the class. I did enjoy the class and I"m encouraged that I can actaully finish this small project and move on to something larger.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Handspun Friday - SAFF BFL

This yarn was spun from one of my first fiber purchases. I bought this hand dyed top while I was at SAFF last year just after I purchased my spindle and before I really knew anything about spinning. I love the color combinations in this and I also like the idea of the long color repeats.; I don't see that very often.

I had the idea that I would try and spin a self striping yarn from this roving. If I hadn't tried to make a two ply and left the yarn as a single I would have had a self striping yarn. But I couldn't leave well enough alone and I decided to go for a two ply yarn. So I divided the yarn into two long strips. You can see those strips in the photo below.

I spun each strip onto a separate bobbin starting with the orange colored end. I figured I had split the fiber evenly enough and if I spun everything in the same order I would end up with a self striping yarn after plying the two separate singles together.

That actually worked until I got about halfway through plying and I could see the colors starting to swirl and barber pole together. I know I didn't get the fiber separated exactly even and that resulted in certain colored sections being longer than others. So the results were that about half of the yarn will stripe with a single color and the second half of the skein will have a barber pole effect. I'm actually looking forward to knitting this up and seeing what happens.

I do know that I could have used the Navajo plying technique and been a lot more successful in keeping my colors together during plying. But I decided not to try it for a couple of reasons. The first being I've never done it before and the second is that the result of Navajo plying is a three ply yarn. I would have ended up with a lot less yardage that way. I wish I had more, but I only had three ounces. I thought that was a lot at the time I bought the fiber - but as it turns out it really isn't. I'm not sure what I'll knit with this yet. I'm thinking either a hat or a little bag to hang on my wheel and hold all my little tools and spinning doo dads.

Geddesburg Handspun Yarn
Content: Bluefaced Leicester
Fiber Source: River’s Edge Weaving Studio
purchased at SAFF 2007
Skein Weight: 3 ounces
Skein Length: 118 yards
WPI: 11
Spinning Ratio: 10 to 1
Plying Ratio: 9 to 1
Other Details: 2-ply, hand wash

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

One Stitch at a Time

I've been working on my Lady Eleanor Stole from Scarf Style and I'm almost half way finished. I think I'm currently on skein five out of ten to twelve. It is a project that I've anticipated for quite awhile and I'm looking forward to having it finished. The picture shows the back of the stole. I'm leaving the front side for the reveal of the finished project.

I'm enjoying knitting this so much that I've even started to think of knitting a second one. I think I have a couple of choices in my stash that would work. I have some Silk Garden Lite that would work. I really like how the self striping yarn works with the pattern. I would like to spin something that would stripe like that.

I've seen so many little projects that people carry around and knit while they are in line or waiting at a Dr.'s office, but I've never kept a project like that handy before. I've started carpooling with a couple ladies from work; each of us will take turns and drive a week at a time. So I'll have a two week stretch of time I won't be driving so I think this might be a good time to give a project like this a try.

I decided the first project has got to be easy. So I picked a skein of sock yarn that has been hanging around a while and I'm planning a pair of simple ribbed socks. I have no idea how long it will take to finish these socks if I only work on them in the car. Hopefully it'll work out well. I think I picked the ugliest skein of yarn I had to start with though. It kind of looks like self-stripping clown barf.

The other active project on my needles is a bit of homework for a class tonight. I'm going to take a Fair Isle 101 class this evening. I was sent an assignment that needs to be completed before coming to class. The project is going to be some sort of headband and several rows had to be done in advance. I'm using Knit Picks Comfy for the project. It is a cotton and acrylic blend that feels incredibly soft.

I know I'll enjoy the class, but I'm hoping I"ll enjoy doing the work too. I'd love to be able to knit some Fair Isle hats and incorporate the techniques into the yoke of a sweater or something.

I've been spinning too, but that can wait until Friday.

Monday, April 07, 2008

The Purl Beret

After I finished the Feather and Fan shawl I decided to go ahead and do another quick project instead of heading right back to the other shawl I have on the needles.

I decided on another hat. I have a bunch of Koigu KPPPM stashed away in two skein bundles that I got on clearance awhile ago and want to start using it. I got it thinking I'd use it for sock knitting. I've realized just how much sock yarn I have, so it won't hurt to repurpose a little of it.

I chose the Purl Beret pattern. The pattern indicates that it only takes one skein of Koigu, but I definitely needed part of a second. In fact, most of the top of the hat came out of the second skein. I did make the floppier version so maybe the smaller one would only take one skein, but I doubt it.

You can see that the Koigu did pool a little but during the decreases in the crown of the hat and during a few of the rounds in the square. I haven't seen it pool before. I do have some of that second skein leftover. I went ahead and made a blanket square with some of the leftovers. I might have enough left over for another baby hat.

Project Info
Pattern: The Purl Beret by The Purl Bee
Yarn: Koigu KPPPM; color P823
one and a partial skein used
Needles: addi TURBO - US# 3 (3.25 mm)
Notes: I added about 1/2 to the ribbing and knit the body of the hat about 4.5 inches tall; I have 22 grams from the second skein leftover after knitting the blanket square

Friday, April 04, 2008

Handspun Friday - Burnished Violets

This is my second go at spinning Falkland wool and I have to say that it is very nice to spin. I'm hoping that the knitting is just as pleasant. I think I'm going to combine this skein with the one from last week for a nice stripey scarf. I don't have a photo of the fiber before I spun it up, but I will for the next round of handspun.

I spent part of last weekend cataloging and photographing my fiber stash so I would have some before photos to share. I had a little more fiber than I realized, but I don't think that's bad. And fiber is good for the diet right? And, if I'm going to so you new handspun each week I actually need it.

I'm also officially changing the my Friday offering of yarn to "Handspun Friday". I've managed to have a new skein of handspun each Friday since the beginning of this year and I plan to keep going with that theme instead of commercially spun yarn. The problem isn't spinning the yarn - but figuring out what to knit with all these single skeins.

Brand: Geddesburg Handspun Yarn
Content: Falkland Wool
Fiber Source: The Yarn Wench
Skein Weight: 4.1 ounces
Skein Length: 292 yards
Spinning Ratio: 10 to 1
Plying Ratio: 9 to 1
Other Details: 2-ply, hand wash