Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Forest Canopy Shoulder Shawl... the blocked version

Yay! It's done! It's not the straightest blocking job in the world, but it's done. It took me all of Jon Stewart to do it... Now to figure out how to keep the cat from walking across it overnight and getting a pin in his paw.

I probably should have done it in a room that I could close the door on... hindsight is always 20/20 :-D.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Color Blending Class and the Forest Canopy Shoulder Shawl

Sunday afternoon was so cool. I just recently joined the Essex County Spinning Guild, and we had a class on Color Blending with Julie Gerow from Foxcross Farms. It was fascinating! I've played a little with dyeing yarn and fiber (with a few nice results, and quite a few not so nice results! So far, my best results usually involve a crock pot.) but had never really done anything with regards to fiber blending.

It was amazing what we were able to accomplish in just a few hours. Of course, my poor husband may be regretting it b/c now I finally have a need for wool combs! I showed him a picture, and he asked "What kind of medieval torture device is that?!?!?".

After a general overview of some basic color theory, we spend most of the time playing and mixing fibers.

I'll warn you now, the following is pretty picture heavy, but it is kind of cool to see the transitions. So, we got this to start with this:

And turned it into this....

The first picture is obviously a color wheel. All of the lower colors are created just by hand mixing each of the primary colors together.

And the second one is a series of exercises playing with tints, hues and mixing in complementary colors. I still have a few more left in the exercise (plus a few others I'd like to do on my own) for this one...

Then we got to play with the combs and mix colors together. We were brought to a table that had pretty much ALL of the Ashland Bay solid colors and told to pick 4. I was in an earthy mood, so this is what I selected...

Using the combs (which I'm REALLY bad at right now!) and a diz, this is what I came up with in a very short period of time. It was amazing some of the other color combo's that were chosen, and how they came out!

So, last night, I sat down with my beautiful new spindle (since the spinning wheel is currently occupied w/ the tropical targhee, and I didn't feel like moving it off). I'm still a not that great at using a spindle -- it takes a bit more coordination that I apparently lack -- but I did quickly spin and ply a small sample to create a miniskein, to see how it looked. It came out pretty nice, if I do say so myself! (well, excepting the lousy spinning job!)

And finally, my biggest achievement of the week... I finished the knitting part of the Forest Canopy Shoulder Shawl. This is the unblocked version. Tonight, I get to try my first blocking... we'll see how it goes!

Oh and in answer to Sarah's question about the slippers... yes, I did consider using handspun. That was my original plan, actually. But I was in a hurry to get them done, and I've been having too much fun with the Targhee... so commercial yarn it is!

And Carole, yes I did use the LTK pattern for the toddler slippers. I wasn't completely thrilled with the results. They were a little too squared for my tastes. But since I knew no one would probably use them, I wasn't too worried! And yes, they did turn out a bit wide and short. The wide wasn't too big of a deal b/c my daughter has very wide feet, but the short would have been. The one time I got them on her, I could tell they'd only fit for a short time.

I do also have the Fiber Trends pattern, but I think I'll probably end up doing an amalgam. Especially since I found these really cool soles that are fleece lined (http://www.paradisefibers.net/Fleece-Lined-Suede-Slipper-Soles-p/3630.htm). So I really only need to do the tops of the slippers.

And finally, Carole, thanks for the tip on the 100purewool. I already suspected that it would shrink more than usual, so I already did a test swatch first and felted it. Then I'll kind of create my own pattern as I go, using my felted gauge and the other two patterns as guides. We'll see how it turns out! I'm still not quite ready to return to that project.

Next up is another pair of pants (in BFL this time!) for my daughter since she decided to reject the other pair!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

This was a week of good news and bad news. First good news, I've made a lot of progress on quite a few projects over the last few days. My hubby took a vacation to get some projects done around the house. In addition, he gets to spend a heck of a lot of time w/ my daughter as well, so it leaves me to do things I normally don't get much time to do!

Then, there is the saga of my husband's slippers. I promised him I'd make him a pair before Christmas, and of course, he got bumped down on the priority list (poor guy!) So I finally sat down and started working on them. I had a theory that I'd make a pair for my daughter first... knowing full well she'd never wear them. I thought of them as a trial run. Thank God I did this! I was the dutiful fiber addict, and first looked in my stash to see if there was something I could use. I needed something neutral and VERY soft... my hubby has very sensitive tootsies :-D. I found a beautiful merino (Maggi Knits Merino Aran), but apparently didn't look at the label closely enough... Superwash wools ALWAYS say so in big letters on the label. I didn't see anything obvious on the label, so I proceeded to make the slippers... Well, apparently my assumption was wrong. Unfortunately, I didn't discover this until I went to check on their status in the hot wash and saw that they weren't shrinking... oops! I went back and did see that they had the cute little machine wash logo... couldn't they make that thing a little more intuitive, and, well, BIG? Oh well, back to the drawing board.

So on to my second try... IBK's Lindon Merino. I know, a bit high end for felting, but I had some spare trim yarn left over from a pair of shorts... just enough for a pair of 2 year old slippers. Besides, my husband puts up with a lot... the least I can do is make him the perfect slippers! As you can see, they did actually felt this time :-D

The sad part of all of this? Despite this, they still aren't soft enough! So, on to the be all and end all of soft and feltable... 100 Pure Wool. If this doesn't work, nothing will! We'll see... but for the moment, I'm sick of slippers, so I'm taking a break from them and will try again in a week.

Next up, was a Nantasket Basket. I'm apparently on a felting roll! I let my daughter pick the colors herself... I'm just glad they don't clash!

The good news is this turned out well on the first try. Yay!

Next up, the pants. The good news is that I finally finished them. They are a beautiful Targhee from Mosaic Moon in Seadragon. The only problem is that Cassie won't wear them either! In fairness, this is the first time I've used Targhee. Usually I use BFL. Apparently, she's as picky as her Daddy!

I haven't washed or lanolized them yet, so there may still be hope. Lanolizing usually softens the wool. So maybe she'll tolerate them then... but I'm not optimistic!

Then of course there is this... my biggest high point of the week so far. A yarn sale! AND it was kismet that I was there...
I don't like going to yarn shops with my daughter because she LOVES to explore and pull out all the yarn (she makes mommy proud! :-D) So, since my husband is home, I had an opportunity to try going to a new shop I've wanted to visit for a while. When I get there, I find out they are having a HUGE winter sale... I'll admit, I went a little berzerk! There's Claudia's Handpainted sport weight merino, Lorna's Laces Shepherds Sock (2 colorways!), Mountain Colors Bearfoot, and a new patterning yarn I've never heard of -- Universal Yarn's Ditto. I'm so excited!

And finally, a new project... the Forest Canopy Shoulder Shawl using the handspun finnI finished before Christmas (see previous post). It's hard to see in this picture, but so far, it's turning out REALLY well. It's so cool to be doing this with handspun, too. So far, most of the items I've made with my handspun have been either scarves or small quick items. This is the first big project! As a result of this excitement, I'm a bit obsessed with this project, and everything else has been forgotten for the moment. Ah well, I'll get back to them eventually...

Friday, January 19, 2007

Just because it shows off the beautiful colors of the Clapotis, I wanted to post this photo. The previous pictures really didn't do the colors justice!

Plus, I am so excited -- this is a photo of my FIRST felted item (while drying). Not so thrilled with the stripe pattern, but that's my fault for winging it... Still, it's so cool to see one item go into the washer, and have this come out! The one part I did like was that I did an alternating slip stitch at each color convert so it has almost fuzzy edges between colors.

Next, I'm going to try an easter basket for Cassie. I got the Nantasket Basket pattern for that, so hopefully it will work out as well. The one thing I have to say is that it has a really cool bottom rim on it. I may have to try it out on this pattern as well in the future!

Right now I'm still trying to figure out which colors to go with for the basket, using leftovers from this project.

This, is the Blueberry Merino Tencel washed and skeined. It is about 10 WPI, and it looks beautiful. I think it is destined to be a cable scarf pattern I found.

Of course, I only need so many scarves, so I now have to figure out who to give it to.

In addition, this is showing off my BEAUTIFUL christmas gift from my hubby! A Golding Spindle... yay! It is so well balanced and spins like a dream. I still love my Rose best, but, of course, it isn't very portable, so this will be nice for going out and about!

As I mentioned yesterday, I figured I'd also post a picture of the other calorimetry hat I did (I actually did two of them, but have already gifted the other). It's made of some of my first handspun I did with some Ashland Bay Colonial in Wildberry.

And, finally, back to current projects. I'm still working on the pants for my dd. I was so excited about the felting project that it kind of got pushed to the side for a few days. But now I'm back to it. Hopefully, I should be finishing it in a day or so. I only have one leg left.

For spinning, I'm starting a new project. This is 11oz of beautiful handyed Targhee I got from Blue Ridge Silk Works (www.dyepot.com) It reminds me of a fruity tropical drink you'd get in the Carribean! This is the thinnest I've spun to date, so it's probably going to take me a while to finish! I still haven't decided whether I'm going to do a two ply (which will make it a fingering weight) or a 3-ply (which, I'm guessing, will bring it closer to a heavy dk or light worsted... not sure yet). I figured I'd get a little further through the first bobbin, then try out both and see. I've been breaking up the roving cord into MANY thin strips to preserve the colors. So far, it seems to be working.

My biggest excitement was that the co-op I'm involved in for Zen String closed. It filled last week in less than 5 minutes -- 200 skeins worth! This past week has been the fun "color negotiation" phase. Now we're just one step closer to the ultimate in "yarn fluffy day":-D . Of course we now have the long wait while Angelina dyes all that yarn. I can't imagine how overwhelming that must be for her. We probably won't get the stuff until mid-March at the earliest. But it's worth the wait... her yarn is beautiful!

Monday, January 15, 2007

My First Post (how original of a title is that!)

Well, I'm not really expecting anyone to visit, but if you are here, welcome! This will be a blog dedicated to my knitting and spinning "habit". Really it's just to keep track of what I've done so I can keep track.

Just to test it out, I'm posting pictures of my most recent spinning and knitting projects:
Here's the most recent. I just finished it this afternoon. It's a Blueberry Merino-Tencel blend. I honestly didn't think I'd like this stuff, but figured I'd give it a try anyways... it is so beautiful. It was a wonder to spin.

Lately, I've been alternating thick and thin spinning projects. I'll spin one thin, then the next one I'll spin thick. This is in the hopes that I won't get to the point where I can only spin thin stuff! So far, my plan seems to be working, but we'll see in a few months! This was a thick. The end result is about 7 oz becoming 300 yards. It is dense, though, so it's not quite as thick as it sounds. I've washed it to set the twist, but I'm waiting for it to dry before determining WPI.

The previous spinning project was Finn. I LOVE Finn. This was a dyed colorway from Misty Mountain Farms -- "Golden Harvest". It wasn't quite what I pictured from the website (it never is, regardless of who you order from!) but it turned out really lovely none the less.
I completely forget the yardage on this one, but it's about 14 WPI after washing. It was originally thinner, but it did bloom nicely.

As for my knitting, my most recent completed object was actually done right before xmas. My clapotis. I know -- EVERYONE has already done one. I'm way behind on this trend... but I didn't start knitting until earlier this year, so you'll have to give me a break on this one! It really is a cool pattern. I splurged and actually got Lorna's Laces Lion & Lamb for this one, their Mother Lode colorway.
Unfortunately, the table does nothing for this colorway... At some point I'll have to try taking a picture on that shows it off better.
Also in the picture is my newest favorite quick pattern. The "Calorimetry" hat from the Winter 2006 Knitty. This is the coolest pattern for those of us who are always sporting a ponytail. And since I'm a mom to a toddler, that is the only way I usually do my hair -- it's self preservation! This is the 3rd one I've done. I did two others out of some handspun as christmas gifts. I still haven't given the one, so I may still try and take a picture.
Right now, I'm working on a pair of longies for my daughter (Mosaic Moon's Seadragon colorway); a pair of socks for myself (Lorna's Laces Shephard's sock in Gold Hill) and a really cool felted basket/knitting bag that someone pointed me to (just some cheep felting wool).