Thursday, 29 October 2009

Gothic Blackrose Socks

I feel naked without a pair of socks to knit. Really. No matter what else I have going on, there will always be a pair of socks on my circs. I don't usually work on them any time except for my commute, which can be heinous some days. As soon as one pair is complete, I go right to the next with barely a pause. Despite having two sweaters going right now and a dire need for a stylish hat, I cast on for the Blackrose socks.

I dug through my sock yarn stash and pulled out a hank of Dream in Color Smooshy sock yarn. SMOOOOOSHY! It's in the "Gothic Rose" colorway, so I thought it was appropriate.

2009 205

It has very subtle color changes, meaning you can actually see the lace pattern.

oct2009 244

Well, you can't really see the lace pattern if I continue to take crap pictures of my work.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Simply Marilyn

After the Espresso Sweater, I needed to cast on for a bit of instant gratification. I had been eying the Simply Marilyn sweater for a while- it uses a chunky weight yarn and has a simple cable.

I'm doing some modifications- more waist shaping (naturally) and I'll do something with the funky neckline. That pink is a little too girly-girl for me, so I stash dove and came up with something a bit less pretty.

stash 119

It's some RYC Soft Tweed by Rowan. It actually started out looking like this:


The "Oatmeal" colorway was reminding me of something that might be found in a cat litter box. The price was right, so I decided to try and overdye it with henna and alkanet. Much better now.

Here's the lack of progress so far:

oct2009 229

See the stitch holder I skewered it with? That's the point where I stopped doing the six row cable and somehow managed to start doing a 4 row cable and managed not to notice. Whoopsie. I frogged back to about 6 inches of knitting, but since it's chunky yarn, that's not as traumatic as I thought it would be.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Mothball Mohair

I had been looking for a baby mohair fleece for a while now. I'm not a huge mohair fan, but the superfine baby stuff is amazing. Really amazing. It blends really nicely and adds strength and luster to anything you mix it in with.

MDSW 2009

MDSW 2009

MDSW 2009

Kid angora goats are absolutely adorable as well.

At Rhinebeck, they have a separate sale for mohair and alpaca fleeces. I got there kind of late since I was petting the Leicester Longwool sheep and watching the nice people from Colonial Williamsburg do a combing demo. They still had lots fleeces left at noon, but it seemed like the really primo ones were gone already. Nothing was striking me until I saw this:

oct2009 232

That's my golden fleece right there. It is the first shearing of a six month old angora goat. It had long, silky ringlets of the most gorgeous golden brown color. 6-7 inch staple length throughout, clean as can be. Did I mention how soft and silky it was? Anyway, I was in love.

I took it to the checkout table and the refreshingly honest gentleman there gave me a warning: this fleece had already been returned once because it smelled of mothballs. MOTHBALLS! I shrank back in horror. Slowly, I crept back to the trash bag of fleece and with shaky hands, opened it back up. I inched closer and let my nose hover a couple feet above and took a whiff.


There's no mistaking it.


I whipped out my phone and started calling fleeceophiles and goat breeders I knew. Has anyone ever dealt with a fleece stored in mothballs? I was assured by one goat breeder that the smell would wash out with a little ammonia added to the bath. Other people said that there was no way it would wash out. Finally, we had a very nice goat shepherd stop by, kvetch about how terrible it was for someone to store their fleece in mothballs, but assured me that it would wash out.

A ten dollar discount made me feel better about the situation in general. Baby mohair isn't exactly cheap.

Once home, I set about to washing this right away. The smell was strong- what I didn't originally pick up on right away at the fairgrounds was now filling my apartment with that awful chemical smell. I think the reason why I failed to originally detect the smell when I chose the fleece was a combination of all the sheepy and goaty smells that might have overpowered it, and the fact that it was cold enough out to make my nose run a bit making anything but the most odoriferous smells hard to detect. Once it was home, it was definitely the only thing I could smell.

I did my standard fleece-washing treatment- hot water and a whole lot of Dawn.

oct2009 219

Mohair has a wee bit of lanolin in it. No where near as much as a sheep, but enough to leech a little brown into the bathwater. I would usually only give it one wash, and then a rinse or two.

After the third wash (with lots of soap) I finally felt as though maybe the smell was dissipating. I did two rinses with a whole lot of vinegar. Most of a bottle, and a little bit more for good luck.

I then dried the fleece on a window screen with about a dozen of cedar blocks tossed in and a fan in front of it. Once or twice a day, I would come by and give the whole think a flip.

oct2009 222
That's my fleece drying condo, built right next to my alcoholic beverage condo.

I'm happy to report that the mothball smell is completely gone. I bagged some of the fresh clean fleece up and passed it around to some knitters and spinners at my local meetup, and it passed the test. Not a hint of mothball remains.

oct2009 231

On a side note- I found out it was Steph from Loop who originally bought the fleece and then returned it. Thanks, Steph.

Monday, 26 October 2009

New Spinning Fibers Posted!

I posted some spinning fibers on my Etsy store over the weekend.

A couple of weeks ago, I dyed a few pounds of Tussah silk:

sept2009 757

Silk takes dyes wonderfully, and granted that you don't expose it to high heat, the silk has a beautiful sheen. I especially love tussah- it has a light gold color that gives the overdye colors depth that you don't get with white silk.

Somewhat shockingly, the silk looks like this when it is dried:
oct2009 009

but a little bit of fluffing and drafting turns it once again into pure dreamy awesomeness.

oct2009 084

oct2009 087

oct2009 027

I also dyed up some faux cashmere. This is really soft and should spin up lofty. It's easier to spin than real cashmere since it has a longer staple. It's also much, much cheaper. This comes from some sort of elusive nylon goat apparently.

oct2009 031

It takes dye beautifully. Above is a 2 oz braid in "Persimmon". Below is "Flamingo in the Mud", which should spin up lovely and muted.

oct2009 052

I also listed some kettle dyed sock yarn in "Bitter Sweet Biddy":
oct2009 068

Really subtle variegation of pinks and reds with purple tones. This is my Silk/Merino sock yarn blend and it will make a very pretty pair of socks.

Depending on my schedule this week, I am going to try and get some more dyeing in. I have some silk caps soaking and a mountain of merino and romney ready to go.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Fiberware Party in Jersey City Tomorrow!

Just a reminder: October 24th, The Stockinette Knitting Cafe in Jersey City is hosting a Fiberware Party. We will be making our own drop spindles, learning to spin wool and then learning how to dye what we've spun. I will also have my spinning wheel with me, along with some hand carders for some demos.

Find the flyer and RSVP information here!

There will be fiber and spindles for sale as well.

oct2009 074

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Rhinebeck, part trios: Sunday recap

A bunch of us crazies got up early Sunday morning to take the Down Fibers Spinning class.

oct2009 163

Cashmere and other tricky [read: expensive] fibers were something I had been wanting to learn, but I was too afraid to waste good fiber on learning. The class booted my ass into getting that cashmere and qiviut and buffalo and angora bunny fiber that has been in my stash out of my stash and onto a bobbin.

Here's KnitHoundBrooklyn and her fabulous yellow socks with a bobbin full of baby camel and cashmere and cashmere silk blend:
oct2009 162

Stellina took the whole "high fiber diet" thing literally:
oct2009 164

I'm sure Shansays has a picture of me taking a picture of her
oct2009 165

After class, I decided to make myself feel like a total slouch and I went to watch the Sheep to Shawl excitement:
Sheep to Shawl

Sheep to Shawl

Then I had a pretty good internal argument with the philosophy behind my vegetarianism:
oct2009 155

Of course, there were more sheep and goats to pet. This Romney from Anchorage Farm in Saugerties was just begging to be shorn. I had to bargain with him: I would take his fleece, but he would have to stay on the farm. No deal.
oct2009 149

This blue-eyed cashmere kid wanted a home as well:
oct2009 144
He was unhappy living at Black Locust Farm in Maine (!) and wanted to try city life. Adventurous, isn't he?

I had no idea how big in size Rambouillets were. They all seemed really docile, but that's a lot of wool! The rams looked so regal with their curly-q horns.
oct2009 141

oct2009 138

I encountered a rather friendly Romedale/CVM:
oct2009 136

oct2009 134

He kept nosing my camera and fogging up my lens!
oct2009 133

oct2009 132

More pretty Leicester Longwools:
oct2009 120

Have I failed to mention that there was shopping to be done? All I have to say is THANK YOU to KnitHound for having the foresight to buy a Volvo!
oct2009 172

We were all pretty pleased with ourselves, but I feel as though I missed enough of the vendors so that I'll have to go back next year in order to feel like I've had the full-on Rhinebeck experience.

oct2009 171

Back to the big bad city to wash a mountain of wool.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Rhinebeck, part deux

The third Saturday in October is the start of the two-day non-denominational holy days for knitters and spinners all over the East Coast. Truly a shopping holiday.

This year's featured breed was the Leicester Longwool. This English breed dates back to the 18th century, and was later imported to the US. Thomas Jefferson had a herd of Leicester Longwools. So did George Washington. Sadly, this is now considered a rare breed. Their is currently a preservation effort at Colonial Williamsburg, and there were plenty of tri-corner hats to be seen in the Leicester Longwool barn.

Their fleeces have big, open corkscrew-curly locks with enormous staple length- more than 8 inches. Their wool is highly lustrous and dyes beautifully. It's softer than most longwool breeds. And the sheep are adorable:

oct2009 104

oct2009 106

oct2009 113

oct2009 115

oct2009 128

And there were lots of good fleeces to be had...the madness of the fleece sale ruled my day.

oct2009 152
That's Dawn and Tanu, justifying a Romney fleece. If you find someone to split a fleece with, you are usually in good shape.

oct2009 153
And here is Shansays, after getting her gateway Leicester Longwool fleece! I love her beautiful handspun BFL hat.

The sale cleans out fast, and people do get quite grabby. As soon as you find a fleece you like, it's best to grab it and decided on it later.

oct2009 150

I was amazed at the sheer (har) number of quality Romney fleeces this year. I picked up a lovely gray one that was amazingly soft and fine, but there were so many that were just as awesome. Tough decisions had to be made. I always considered commercial Romney top to be kind of coarse, but a good long-stapled beginners wool. My outlook has changed completely.

I walked away with 4.5 fleeces that I hemmed and hawed over. More about them later.

After the much anticipated Rhinebeck ritual of The Spending of The Paycheck, it was time for the Saturday Night Possible Drunkenness: The Ravelry Party!

I'm not sure if they had better heaters this year, or maybe I had wisened up and dressed warmer. Or maybe it just wasn't quite so cold this year. Whatever it was, it made for a much more pleasant experience. And I love myself a good bonfire to warm up next to.

There were Bob cupcakes, which I was too impatient to take a picture of:
oct2009 157

and nice goody bags too. We didn't stay that long, but long enough to meet some really kick-ass ladies from Montreal:

oct2009 158
That's Amelah and her awesome needle-gauge earrings and her sock yarn scrap blanket.

oct2009 159
And that's KnitPurlMama, looking cozy.

oct2009 160

Good friends, good times.