Monday, April 28, 2008


I spent all day on Sunday doing chores and recovering from the absolute fiber-love-fest that was Saturday. I got to meet so many wonderful people, play with wonderful fiber, and do it all in a really serene setting. I ended up driving so I could take my ladybug, and we had a very good time meeting new people and spinning outside with this as our view:

Pacific School of Religion

The day was a little hot and a lot sunny, a really nice day for taking fiber into the sunshine and oogling at the colors. :) Here's the view from the front door to the vendor room Go check out WonderMike's flickr page, he has a much better shot of the vendor area than mine. Mine is lame and not panoramic.

So I had three main goals for this festival:

Goal 1. Acquire, through whatever non-violent means necessary, some Pigeonroof fiber in the Millefiore colorway.

Pigeonroof Studios Millefiore SW Merino

Check. A thousand flowers indeed. Here's my favorite spot on this bump:

Millefiore Closeup: My favorite!

This is in superwash merino, but I honestly would have taken any fiber available. In fact, it was difficult to not buy both bundles, but I decided I shouldn't blow my entire budget on the first purchase of the day! I did get another 4-ounce bundle of superwash merino, in the hydrangea colorway. Photos later when it becomes yarn, or you can always go check out flickr. I also bought some more fiber from Verb and Tactile. It wasn't my fault. The color is called Supernova:

AVFKW Supernova

It's a 50% merino, 30% angora, 20% silk blend. *swoon!*

(There's more, but we're doing the nickel tour and need to keep moving before I fall asleep at the keyboard!)

Goal 2. Meet lovely people, check. I reconnected with Jen. After an hour or so I remembered that we'd first met about a year ago at an impromptu Rockin' Sock Club get-together for Bay Area knitters. Good times! Jen showed off her husband's beautiful hand-turned spindles, and she impressed the entire first fiber tasting class with her organizational abilities. I also got to meet WonderMike of Y Knit fame, visit with the folks who sold me my ladybug, and make more Ravelry friends.

Goal 3. Try new fibers. I took three one-hour-long classes on different fiber types. These "fiber tastings" were a much more intense learning experience than I really expected, but that's not to say I didn't have a blast! We started the day off right with Kristine's exotics class.

Exotic Fibers

From left to right: baby alpaca, baby llama, cashmere (!), alpaca/silk, and baby camel/silk. What I learned from this class: give 'em air. Spin over the fold. Still getting used to this, as I realized I've been doing short draw for most of my spinning.

The second class was rare wool breeds with Maia:

Rare Wool Breeds

Top to bottom, left column: Gotland, California Red, Californa Variegated Mutant, Polwarth. Right column: Icelandic, Finn, Black Welsh Mountain, and Navajo Churro (Albert). What I learned: if you want a hard-wearing knitted whatever, get fiber from a sheep that could survive in the elements! You might need to look for something other than standard merino if you want to knit that pass-it-down-to-your-kids fisherman/aran sweater. I was also reminded of the differences between a worsted (combed) prep and woolen (carded) prep in fibers. I checked out a knitted sample of the woolen yarn all knit up, and although I'm not crazy excited about woolen spinning, damn if I don't want to make a sweater out of yarn like that!

I have two bags of chocolate colored Polwarth locks sitting in my stash. Perhaps you remember them from my Stitches haul? They are getting moved up the queue. This was a fun class, and got me thinking outside the sweater-scarf-socks box as far as my knitting and spinning projects go. Actually, ditto that for Brooke's cellulose fibers class, which happened at the end of the day.

Cellulose Fibers

From top, clockwise: hemp (natural color and indigo dyed), cotton/hemp, carbonized bamboo (with a bit of superwash merino), bamboo, Tencel, wool/Tencel, linen, and flax.

There were only three of us in the last class, and we'd all decided to take all three fiber tastings. We were all a little brain-fried by that time! I got to try spinning the flax with slightly wet fingertips, which was super-cool. That's one of those things that originally got me into the idea of spinning. I was really glad to broaden my spinning horizons to include fibers that might be a little more climate-appropriate. What I learned from this class: don't let the twist get into your fiber supply. Natural cellulose fibers will get better with more washing and wearing. You can make a little fiber blend sandwich to cut the cellulose content and get something that might be a little easier to spin, or have some of the elasticity of a protein fiber.

What I learned overall: I wish I could spend all my time looking at beautiful fiber, learning more about these crafts, and hanging out with super-cool people. I should not be afraid of trying different fibers and fiber blends. This event was exactly what I need in my life right now, to help me get through the end of the semester and carry me into my summer break. When we return next time (hopefully): auf Deutsch! Not the whole thing, just a little bit.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Saving up

Blech. I get a mid-week update in, then neglect the blog the whole weekend. In my defense, we were pretty busy. I realized that I only have about five weeks before the Germany trip, and my brain started reminding me of all those little things I've been putting off since Christmas break. Things like getting a haircut, giving the car an oil change, getting my teeth cleaned, all that stuff. Stuff that I don't want to have to think about over the two weeks between when I return from Germany and the start of the fall semester. Blech indeed.

So, in the interests of being positive, I've decided to spin the situation this way: I was NOT neglecting the blog, I was just saving up blog fodder so you could have a bajillion pictures! Prepare yourself for the ever-useful numbered list format.

1. I bought new yarn:

Sundara Evergreen over Lime Sock

Sundara Sock, Evergreen over Lime

This yarn is gorgeous. Before the whole Germany thing came along, I was considering joining her Seasons yarn club. But then I decided that I didn't want to have my first two club shipments wait for me at the post office, marinating for weeks until my return. She makes beautiful colors, and I still wanted to try out her sock yarn, so I went with one skein. (I actually tried to get three skeins, but two were out of stock by the time I emailed her. What? They were pretty! How can you resist a color called "Pale Sky over Sugared Violet"?)

2. I got back on the mitered square wagon:

Mitered Square blanket

Square #16

This marks the semi-official halfway point in my knitting of these squares. I have the rest of the squares photographed (sorry they are not neatly blocked yet) and the pictures are in my project page on Ravelry. This is the mitered square blanket pattern from Mason-Dixon Knitting. I think I will wait and do an entire post about the squares, because it's been such a strange project.

3. I spun up singles for those slow-transition rose colored socks. I promised you tutorial-style craziness. That will have to wait until I get to the second bobbin. It's hard to take pictures of your spinning-in-progress when it's mostly happening at night. I will say that I was worried I wouldn't be able to fit all five colors on the bobbin (which has an official capacity of 4 ounces), but I did!

Rose Socks Singles

Check out that stuffed bobbin!

4. I got up to the cables on my Tangled Yoke cardigan:

Tangled Yoke

There was a moment of crisis when I had to rip back a few rows to fix miscrossed cables, but all is better now. I haven' touched it in a few days, but this cardigan was my constant companion last weekend. I luff it (with two f's) so much, this is going to be the perfect San Francisco summer cardigan once it's done. Light color, not too heavy, not too warm, but warm enough to cut the fog.

Lastly, I am attending the new Color fiber festival tomorrow in Berkeley. I am crazy excited, because I get to squish more roving in person from some of my favorite local dyers A Verb For Keeping Warm and Pigeonroof Studios. I signed up for all three of the fiber tastings, because I'm still a little nervous about spinning my merino/tencel batt that I got at Stitches. The only issue is that I'm still deciding whether to take BART over there and just bring drop spindles, or if I should drive so I can take my wheel. At first I wasn't even considering bringing the wheel, but then quite a few people on the Ravelry forums mentioned they would bring theirs so... now I want to be like all the cool kids. I will probably spend more money than I should tomorrow... but I will also be learning a lot more about spinning! Yay! All right, I'm off to get some real work done so I can play tomorrow without any worries.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mid-week update!

Yay, I'm managing to do an update in the middle of the week! The photos have been rescued from the digital camera, so now I can share the singles from my second 4-ounce bump of Bitter Orange south african fine wool from Pigeonroof Studios:


I think the singles for this batch are much more even than the first batch, but I'll be sure after I've done the plying. I plan on finishing the singles tonight so I can ply before the weekend, and wash and dry this weekend. This yarn is probably going to be socks, but I saw a clapotis in the wild last week and now I'm not so sure... I do need another dark brown scarf, since I lost my old one a few years back.

The bobbin is on my new lazy kate, which is very nice. It's much better than the wonky contraption I rigged using a cardboard box with holes punched through it and pens holding the bobbins in place. Blech. I love having an attractive way to store the empty/unused bobbins, too.

The significant other was kind enough to play photographer and took some pictures of me while spinning on my ladybug. This first one has a nice view of my hands as I'm drafting the fiber (inchworm drafting for worsted), and I think it's cool to see how the flyer is blurred in the photo as it spins around the bobbin.

Drafting & Spinning

Significant other insisted that we take a picture of the fiber, the ladybug on my wheel, and my feet.

Spinning (feet view)

There isn't a lot of fiber in the picture because I was almost at the end of that strip of roving. It's a cute setup, but the color of the fiber is way off in the photo (I think he was using the flash).

I have to say that I ADORE having a spinning wheel! This morning I had a few minutes free before leaving for work, and I was able to just slip my shoes off and spin for two minutes before walking out the door. I think it really helped center me mentally before starting my day. It's definitely still the honeymoon period, though. I'm still working on all the little tricks that will get the wheel to do what I want. But I have a deep and abiding love for everything in my fiber stash, so the learning is (so far) always enjoyable and I get great yarn at the end!

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Bad blogger: A low-knitting content post

If you're here for the lovely photos, I'm sorry. I have a bunch of pix of me spinning, taken with the help of the significant other (back from the business trip), and they are trapped on the digital camera because I am a bad blogger and forgot my camera cable! As T-Rex would say, Dang! I also have some pictures of the second batch of Bitter Orange (still in singles form), and lots of mitered square blanket pictures to upload to Ravelry. Oh, and FO pictures of the Salish Sea Socks (long overdue).

In other news, now that significant other is back from Germany, he will be going again. They want him there to work on the project from the middle of May to the middle of August. THREE MONTHS, people! My job is in the education sector, and I happen to have my summer relatively free this year. So we're starting to plan that I will meet him in Germany at the beginning of June, after my grades are finished, and stay until the beginning of August. I'll probably come back a week or two before he does, just so I can get all set up and de-jet-lag before the fall term begins. So instead of spring break in Germany, I'm looking at more like 6-8 weeks! It's exciting and scary at the same time. We took a trip to London last year for 10 days, and it was incredible, but we also spoke the language and didn't have to worry about grocery shopping, doing laundry, or any of the normal day-to-day things that we'll have to figure out over the summer.

On the other hand, I will be staying a few hours from Munich by train. Do you know what this means? That's right. The Uncensored Knitters, and textile markets. There might be one in May, and one in July. I have the possibility to meet The Wollmeise herself, in person! Not to mention getting to bask in the beautiful colors she creates, and see them with my own two eyeballs. I'm all a-twitter just thinking about it.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Picture Success

Yesterday it was sunny, so I decided to try again with the camera. Turned out pretty good. Here's photos of two lovely braids of Bluefaced Leicester top, from theytoldmesew on etsy. They are Blueberry Bloom (3.8 ounces):

Yellow/Green/Blue BFL

and Blueberry Pie (5 ounces):

Blue/Purple/Pink BFL

While spinning my corriedale batt I realized that I have yet to knit with any of the yarns I've spun on my ladybug! Scandalous. Part of the problem is that I've been working on the aforementioned clearing of the knitting projects, and part is not having a particular project in mind when I sit down to spin some fiber. But I don't want to have to think through an entire project in order to get spinning, at least not yet (I'm sure that at some point I will see a pattern that begs to be knit with handspun, and then I'll have to do some planning). I figure I can get around this by spinning quantities of yarn that are versatile enough to be used in a variety of projects. I guess that would be a sport-to-DK weight plied yarn. Anyway, spinning a versatile yarn means that I need to have enough yardage to get something bigger than a pair of wristwarmers. So instead of spinning these two braids up separately, I'm thinking they'll go quite well spun up together, continuously:

BFL Rainbow

Isn't that pretty? I just adore this picture soooooo much! Altogether, it's almost 9 ounces of fiber, more than in my newly spun-up Sheep to Shoe kit:

Lucy Handspun

This is what I was spinning last week. It's 8.5 ounces of superwash merino, dyed by the color genius Tina at Blue Moon Fiber Arts in the Lucy colorway. These colors were inspired by Wendy's beautiful ragdoll kitty. Dark brown, tan, and cream for her fur, and beautiful clear blue for her eyes. Awwww! Makes me want to get a kitty. I got about 320 yards of very dense sport-to-DK weight yarn. This was always intended for socks, and they will probably be very thick boot socks or house socks.

I'm sorry I didn't get any action shots of the Lucy yarn as singles or on the wheel, but I was so into the project that when I got home from work every evening, I wanted to spin rather than photograph. I don't really want the blog to go this route, and I've been thinking, trying to figure out how to blog during the week. I do quite a bit of knitting and spinning in the evenings after work, and these past two weeks I feel as though bloggable material has piled up until it reaches critical mass on Saturday morning and I have to blog or start skipping projects altogether. Any pictures I take during the evening tend to come out very bad, due to lighting conditions, so... I don't know. I'm still trying to figure it out. Maybe the answer is to get a good full-spectrum lightbulb I can use with my lightbox. Maybe the answer is to just sleep less (although that solution doesn't work as well as it did when I was in college). I'd like to move to an every-other-day or three-times-a-week regular update schedule. We'll see how it goes, I guess!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Slow Progress + No Pictures = Boring Post

I'm up past the waist in the body of my Tangled Yoke cardigan, past the ribbing. The new picture would look eerily similar to the last one I posted, so I'm not going to bother. Besides, I'm alone for the weekend, and the significant other has absconded with the good digital camera. I tried to take pictures of my new beautiful BFL braids, but the color is completely off. I'm sure it has everything to do with my inability to navigate the camera's settings menu, and nothing to do with the fact that this camera is a good 5 years older than the other one. I also seem to have lost all my ability to hold still for half a second while the shutter is open -- half my shots came out blurry! So no pictures this time, sorry guys.

Since my last post, I've been doing some house-cleaning as far as my knitting and spinning is concerned. We rearranged the furniture so I have a little corner area in the living room. I've got a chair and my spinning wheel, some storage space for my fiber and some of my yarn stash are there, and I also put all my knitting books and magazines on one bookshelf within arm's reach. It's really cute, and as a result I want to spin all the time. So far I've been pretty much forced to limit myself to one wheel project at a time due to the lack of bobbins. That's probably a good thing, otherwise I'd never knit anything.

I also spent a few good hours working through my mitered square blanket. I'm making the blanket pattern from Mason-Dixon Knitting, using Tahki Cotton Classic. I've bought every purple, blue, green, and yellow color I've seen and I'm up to about 40 skeins. Each skein makes about 2.5 squares, and I'm looking at somewhere between 100 and 140 squares before the blanket is as big as I want it. This is the blanket I mentioned in the previous post, and I think the blog will help me git 'er done (to quote the Ladies Themselves, Ann and Kay). I photographed all the squares, but the pictures were stupidly not uploaded by yours truly, and are currently still on the memory card in the camera, hopefully making new friends and keeping the significant other company. I also updated my excel spreadsheet, which I use to keep track of how much each color has been used. I got reacquainted with the project, which has been languishing since Christmas, and planned out the next few squares.

I did spin this week, because I got my new tensioned lazy kate. I feel the handspun has to have a proper photo shoot, though, before I can really talk about it. So stay tuned.