Wednesday, 30 September 2009

September Spunky Club

It was a good week as far as stash enhancement being delivered via USPS. I got my box of fiber from Spunky Eclectic this week.

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I apologize for the picture quality. It was raining and I was impatient.

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as much as I hate to use a flash, this shows the true colors best:
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It's 8 oz of Blue Face Leicester wool in the colorway "Rolling Hills". Earthy colors, my favorite! Straw yellows, a purpley brown and olive green. The colors play really nice off each other- it all looks very natural and the color changes subtle. Of course, the fact that it's BFL doesn't hurt.

Fiber clubs are a great way to try different kinds of wool. Every month, there is a new breed of sheep magically appearing at my door. Well, um, not quite so magic as there is a credit card transaction involved. For the most part, I like the colors that Amy uses to hand-paint roving. If there is a month where the colors or the fiber doesn't speak to me, I can always find someone to trade with. I opted for the "double fiber" club- 4 oz is a good amount, but 8oz is better! I can generally get a pretty good-sized project out of 8oz. If I ply it with something neutral or complimentary, i can usually get a sweater's worth of yarn.

It's also good for matching accessories- 8 oz will be more then enough for a hat and mittens set, or a hat and scarf. 'cause you know, knitters really don't match their accessories very well. I am guilty of this fashion crime. My goal this year is to have more matching winter knitwear sets. I tend to get bored with my yarn after just one FO and ready to move on to a totally new project as soon as I can.

My new mantra: Matching Sets.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

The Dyepot finally gets some love

Sunday morning I awoke to the pitterpat of a torrential downpour gently lulling me out of my slumber. Cool, rainy weather means only one thing: time to stew up some dyes.

I pulled out my long-neglected dyepot and the acid dyes and begun to mix colors. Whatever my mood is tends to be reflected in the final product...and for whatever reason my mood was purple that day. I feel bruised, perhaps? Naw, more like hungry for plums and eggplants and grapes. Oh, and squash as well.

Here are my victims:

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I went stash-diving and pulled out some boring white wool I had tucked away. 4 oz of BFL, 2 oz of a nice Falkland and 2 oz of kid mohair.

Mohair sucks up dye brilliantly. It has high luster and it absolutely begs to be something flashy.

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I had a squash on the the countertop and a huge sugar pumkin from the food share that made do this. Now if I can only figure out what the pumpkin wants to be. Please, don't say pie. We don't need pie.

Another victim of the dyepot was a bag of white Icicle.

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I had an 8oz bag that came along with my carder. It's a little sparkly but not too glitzy. It's made up out of nylon, but I was cautious with it- i was afraid that I might melt it into something toxic, or worse, uncardable, so I really kept the heat down. I applied dye and really had to press it to convince it to soak up the dye. Even after soaking it in the dye jar, i was still seeing a lot of white in the center. Nylon does not wick like wool does, and it is far from absorbent. Since this was going to be thrown on the carder eventually, I didn't take too much time worrying about it.

Here are the end results:

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OH my MOHAIR. That is bright! And I'm very happy with the falkland and the bfl.

And here is the Icicle:
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The purple I used on the Icicle was the same that I used on the BFL! Crazy, right? It's completely different on the nylon.

I still have a bunch of silk and some faux cashmere (don't ask. or go ahead and ask. I'll tell you about it later) and some more white wool that needs its turn in the dyepot, and also some lovely cashmere and angora and cashmere silk blends that need an extra special day in the dyepot when I'm feeling especially brave.

It's almost enough for me to wish for another rainy weekend.

Monday, 28 September 2009

September STR

I had joined the Blue Moon Fiber Arts Rockin Sock Club last itchy mouse-clicking finger did anyway. This is the first time I tried a sock club- I'm usually a bit picky about my yarn colors and patterns that I choose. I must say, so far I've been impressed with what I've been getting in the mail. The colors especially have made me swoon this month.

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STR Mediumweight in "River Rocked"

The photographs do not do the yarn justice. The colors are brilliant, and the linen-stitch sock pattern by Cat Bordhi plays on these colors well. They just scream "perfect autumn day" to me.

It was all I could do to keep myself from casting on. I have two projects on the needles that I'm actually making progress on and I need to keep it that way. I stashed the new sock yarn in the bin and went back to the Aeolian. Only 3 rows left! I can knock this thing out in a couple hours barring any great knitterly blunder or yarn shortage. And the Espresso- I'm on target to be able to wear this as a FO to Rhinebeck. I don't need a sock distraction right now.

But still.

If yarn could have puppy dog eyes, this is what it looks like:

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Friday, 25 September 2009

And Now For Something Completely Different ....

More shop updates! I fooled you!

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Ching Hai Jade

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Blue Aventurine

That's it for spindles for now. I might get some dying and carding done this weekend- we were supposed to go camping in Montauk but someone has fallen ill with a cold and sniffles a lot. Hint- it's not me. Look for more fiberlicious updates next week, and perhaps a tutorial on carding or something. Depends how inspired I feel.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Update Complete! (for today anyway)

It took me a while, but the Etsy store has been updated with loads of new spindles. I still have more made that need to be listed. I'm just waiting for the opportunity to get home early enough for there to be enough daylight to give them a fair photo-op.

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I've been playing around with different gemstones and materials. The Tigereye was really hard to photograph- it had such a lustrous and reflective surface, I couldn't really capture the depth and color of the stone.

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These seem to be a favorite. I love lampwork glass.

Ah, and the burning. It has ceased. I soaked my hands in milk this morning after they were still feeling fiery and I couldn't get my contact lenses in. It seemed to have worked- I haven't worked up the bravery to touch my eyes yet, but they feel a lot better.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

I Burn

My official photographer is on a business trip this week (already?!) so I decided to make a huge pot of nice healthy vegetarian chili (which I also spell chilie, chileaux, chilly, chinchilli etc.) It's always better after a few days anyway, right? It's getting cooler at night and it's one of those things I enjoy making in fall. Added bonus that it is awesome leftovers and I'll mangia on it all week long, leaving me with more time for fiber-related hobbies during the whirlwind.

We are part of a Community Supported Agriculture share. If you are into your veggies, I would highly recommend it...we get a huge box of produce every week of whatever is fresh and in season. No picking and choosing, just having to deal with what you get. I love to cook, so it's a great opportunity for me to expand my repertoire and try new things.

We had a few types of peppers this week, and a variety from last week. I recognized one as jalapenos, but the others I weren't so sure what they were and they didn't taste too hot but I scooped out the ribs and seeds, chopped them up and threw them in.

The chili came out great. It will be even better tomorrow. But christ on a cracker, my hands are BURNING. I washed my hands at least 4 times before attempting my contact lens removal, and I still got all teary eyed. It's mostly my hands though.

Lesson learned. Wear gloves if you don't want to be burned with pepper love.

Aeolian- still chugging along

I just need to say that I love this pattern. Much less intimidating than I thought it would be, mostly because it is so well-written. It flows along nicely, but it keeps me interested because each row is different.

I've got about 5 rows left. Lace looks like ramen noodles until it's blocked, so this doesn't do it justice. Still. It's all I've got:

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Hooray, my official knitwear photographer is back in town!

This weekend we went to Governor's Island for a faux country getaway. You can totally fool yourself that you are someplace far away from NYC, but you are actually in the middle of New York harbor.

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The views are really amazing- it takes a second to take in what you are actually seeing. It's such an interesting vantage point of the city.

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Most of the island is closed off to the public- it was a former Coast Guard base that was abandoned and a lot of it will be demolished. Some of the old houses are being utilized as art galleries.

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That's downtown Manhattan in the background. Crazy, right? It's so close, but you have a big green lawn to nap out on. Nary a siren or car alarm to be heard.

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There is a lot of art on this island. I found a dragon, made entirely out of chairs and scrap wood:
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They have a free ferry leaving from downtown Manhattan and from Brooklyn on Friday, Saturday and Sunday until mid-October. There are food and drink vendors (we found quality homemade ice cream) but it's an ideal place to pack a picnic and chill.

I got a new postal scale (whoohoo!) so I'll be weighing the new spindles tonight and posting them on the Etsy store tomorrow.

Monday, 21 September 2009

More Spindles

I was very busy this weekend making spindles. I'll have these updated on the Etsy site as soon as I get a new scale- mine broke and I'm lost without it.

Meanwhile, here are some previews:

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gray picturestone

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red jasper

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lampwork glass

I'm hoping to have everything listed by Wednesday.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Sexy Stockings!

These deserve a better photo op then this:

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Yet the official sock photographer of the house is still away on vacation.

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They are Bettie's Lace Stockings from the Spring 2009 Interweave Knits. Sexy, Lacy knee-high stockings. I used Knit Pick's Risata, which was an excellent choice for this kind of stocking. The pattern recommends making a lace garter and sewing a bit of elastic in at the cuff, but that's not necessary when the entire sock is made with a wee bit of elastic. The fiber content of the yarn is 42% Cotton, 39% Superwash Merino Wool, 13% Polyamide, 6% Elite Elastic. I have no idea what kind of snobbery constitutes elitist elastic, but it works. It's a strong cabled yarn, so I'm not worried about it falling apart after a few wears. It's got a chewy textured feel to it. Really fun to knit with. I originally bought this to make a pair of fishnet stockings, but when I saw this pattern, I cast on right away.

The pattern was straightforward and easy to memorize. I did get tired of it after the zillionth repeat, but it does move along quite quickly. These would even look cute as socks- I almost stopped once I got just past the ankle.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Plain Jane Socks

I almost always have at least one pair of socks on the needles. There is always room for them in my bag and they aren't a huge cumbersome mess to deal with on the commute. Here's a pair a finished last week:

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1. It's hard to take pictures of your own feet.
2. My official footwear photographer is still on vacation.

These blue socks started out as a different beast. The Eesti Trail Hiking Socks from Nancy Bush- a really simple, but ill-placed fair isle pattern. I had to frog these back a few times. Fair isle isn't exactly stretchy, and try as I might to keep my floats super-loose, I could not squeeze my feet into socks on past the pattern. Kind of defeats the purpose of a sock, right? Eventually, I just forgot about the fair isle part and these became my standard toe-up two-at-a-time socks.

Originally, these were going to be for my Grandfather. He lives in Northern Maine and he's diabetic, so I thought warm woolies would be appreciated. Once I got going on them I started questioning the fit. I have a good idea about what size he is, but diabetics can't be messing with their feet. Would the short-row toe be too bulky for him? Would the heel bunch up and fold at the bottom of his foot? He loves wool socks, but without him there to try them on and give me feedback, I gave up.

They are now being gifted to my mom's boyfriend, who picks me up at the airport when I'm in town and is a pretty good guy. He spends a lot of time outdoors in winter- snowshoeing, XC skiing, walking the dog, chasing after bad guys down dark alleyways.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Seven bucks later...

Sunday a carload of Brooklynites piled into a car and drove out to the Garden State Sheep & Fiber festival. It was a pretty sweet little event. It was very small but it had some quality vendors- lots of small farms from Jersey and PA that don't make it to the big festivals. Attendance wasn't really high so it was nice to be able to stop and chat and not feel rushed.

There were lots of sheep:

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Icelandic and Shetlands made up the majority of the breeds, but there were also some BFL, Cheviot, Romneys and CVMs. This moorit CVM caught my eye:

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And there were alpacas:

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That's a Huacaya on the left and a Suri on the right.

And there were bunnies. Fabulously soft angora buns:

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These are like human babies, but softer and cuter. Added bonus that you can spin from them. I'd like to see you try and do that with a human baby.

There were also mini-donks, which made me think they could flap their ears and fly away:

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I can not resist the power of cute.

They did have fleeces for sale. The one that spoke to me was an 11 lb white cormo. Long staple, super crimpy, free of VM. I kept going back to it trying to justify it, but I still have a whole lot of my MDSW cormo fleece at home needing a good spinning, so I walked away. They had a few nice Shetland fleeces, and I do have a weakness for Shetland. It's the opposite of cormo- straight and silky, and the colors in each fleece are pretty amazing.

What was surprising was the amount of crap fleeces I saw. The majority of fleeces up for sale there were dirty, full of second cuts, matted and felted, not skirted (!), sunburt or worse. Granted, most of these fleeces were priced accordingly, I found the fleece auction to be underwhelming.

My sole purchase for the day was some angora fiber, which set me back $7. I have never been able to get to a fiber festival and come home just seven dollars poorer. Also, instead of spending my Sunday night washing fleece in the bathtub, I went for a walk, knitted in the park for a bit, made dinner, spun, caught up with a friend.

Maybe I'm just atoning for future purchases.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Progress, Updates, etc.

I've been a busy knitter lately, but a lousy photographer, so I have no pictures to share yet. I've recently finished a couple pairs of socks. I cast on for the Espresso sweater. Ooh, wait, I did take a picture of that:

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This is my big fleece-to-sweater project. It started out as a big, stinky CVM fleece. I spun it up and ended up with a 3-ply dk weight yarn.

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I'm almost done the back (thanks to my rather awful commute this morning, so I feel like I win the traffic war) and I'm loving the variegations in the yarn.

I'm knitting it up on size 4 needles, so it is taking quite a while. Because I carded it and spun it up woolen, the yarn is very rustic and fuzzy. It also means that the cable will not be as well defined. Details, details.

I made real progress while on vacation on the Aeolian. I'm on the final edge chart, and I predictably ran out of yarn. I'm back to the wheel this weekend to spin up some more and finish it off.

The boy is still on his motorcycle, zooming around Nova Scotia. This makes for an insane amount of productivity time I normally don't have. I'm hoping to have a huge number of new spindles done and ready to list on my Etsy store by the end of the month.

This weekend is the Garden State Fiber Festival. If I make it out there, I will have much to report on Monday. It supposed to be beautiful and sunny on Sunday.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Back from alpaca la-la land

I'm back from vacation, swamped with catch-up work and other nonsense, and desperately trying to cling to my vacation aura.

Two weeks is a long time to be gone (not long enough?) and I did have quite a few adventures while I away. The weather was gorgeous pretty much the entire time- sunny warm days and coll fall-ish nights. Perfect for getting back into warm knitting projects and fondle fiber animals.

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Have you ever seen anything more awesome in your life? I have a weird urge to try to bite it. It's that cute.

These are cria Huacaya alpacas at Winters Gone Farm in Wiscasset, Maine. I do love the mid-coast area, and bonus points that this wonderful little farm is there. I would highly recommend stopping by if you are anywhere near them.

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Judi, the owner, has a delightful little store on the premise. Most of it was Peruvian made alpaca coats, sweaters, socks, hats, and gloves. All very nice, but that wasn't what I was after. She also had yarn spun from her herd of alpacas, which seemed nice. And yes, she had roving.

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That's four ounces of light fawn roving, amazingly soft and fluffy and just waiting to be spun up. Sadly, we arrived on motorcycle and it had to be packed down to nothing in order to make the journey off the farm. It's fluffed back up nicely and seems to have fully recovered.

The farm was beautiful- they encourage you to walk around and pack a picnic. They have a trail that goes around the pastures in the woods, a pond, a little bird sanctuary and lots of places to sit and relax and watch the exciting alpaca action.

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The farm is actually very close to Halcyon Yarns in Bath. We passed it right by- there's no way I could go there and not try to squeeze something else on the bike. Trying to bungee cord a loom onto the back would have been a tad awkward.