Update Time

May 11th, 2008

This is the Color Blast fiber I carded made into skeins.  Can’t have a proper post without a picture!

Current Projects:

In January I started the Spirit of the Southwest shawl by Elann for my mom for her birthday at the end of March. It’s now mid may and I’m still working on it. The lace patterns are kicking my butt. It’s just slow going to make sure my tension is even and the patterns are correct. I’ve gotten good at frogging and picking up a lace pattern from mid go when I notice a mistake. The lace edging consists of 24 short rows knit 90° to the main shawl, picking up 12 stitches from the edge for each peak for a total of 35 peaks. I just hit the half way mark!!

When I realized that I wasn’t going to finish in time for her birthday (sorry, mom), I put it down for a while to give myself a rest. I picked up the color blast mohair/alpaca/wool blend I’ve spent so much time blending and spinning and started my next project. On MUCH larger needles. In about 2 weeks of sporadic work, the front and back were done (I’m using the long sleeve pattern of Stitch Diva’s Sahara) I put that down out of guilt and have committed to finishing the shawl before I do anything else. Hopefully, that will be soon.

I have an angora/cotton/tinsel blend currently on the spinning wheel and the drum carder. I carded about 1/2, then spun most of that, now I need to finish the carding. Still looking for a pattern once I have a count of the yardage.

I am playing with the idea of blending the remaining rovings I have all together in striped segments of alternating colors (pale grey heather, olive green, gloss black, and violet) and making it lace weight and doing a really long shawl for myself. The yellow one I made is nice, but I’d like something with a more complex pattern and styling like the Victorian Lace shawl I made for Heather.

I still have the off white wool to spin to play with for dying. I can do anything I want to with that.

My driving force at the moment is to get as much done as I can so that I can stock up on lovely stuff in August when Brian takes me to the Michigan Fiber Festival for my birthday.

And on that note, Happy Mother’s Day! I need to go knit!


Babczi knits for Ella

December 7th, 2007

I wanted to make something pretty for baby Ella who I get to see later this month. She’ll be about 6 months old, and when I saw this pattern, I was so thrilled because it can be worn from approximately 6 months to 4 years. The way it works is that it depends on which way you put it on. Infants wear the length as a hood. Toddlers wear the length down and the shorter edge as a shawl, as pictured here.

Spiral Coat for Ella

I knit this out of Peruvian wool that is unbelievably soft and yet will hold up to 4 years of wear without issue. I honestly can’t believe wool can be so soft and not itchy.

I started this over Thanksgiving weekend and another 2 evenings of making the sleeves. It was wonderfully fun to do. I can’t wait to put up pictures after Christmas of what it looks like on Ella herself!

I’m very pleased with the blend of colors. It seems a lot of folks make these types of things to use up leftover scraps of yarn. I wanted something that was more planned and the denim to plum to claret came out even prettier than I had hoped!

I love the edging. It’s done with an I-cord stitch, which is really a 4 stitch tube and the points where it meets and joins the body are actually knit together with the stitches of the coat, so these loops will hold up to curious infant fingers without coming loose.

The pattern and yarn are from Elann.com, which is fast becoming my favorite place to shop.

Oh!  And the bear?  My mom made me a pair of them about 20 years ago.  Yeah…hand made.  Ever wonder where I get this talent from?

Ta Da!

November 5th, 2007

7 evenings of knitting, one evening of finish work, and I knit myself a nifty sweater.

I didn’t keep track of how long it took to spin the roving for this sweater, so I’m firmly sticking with my One Week Sweater stance here.  In any case, I have new clothes!!

When this gal is sick, she knits.

November 3rd, 2007

I really kind of hate bumping the handsome picture of my husband off with a new post!

Last Friday night I decided to knit a sweater. I had some yarn I had spun up a while ago that needed a project.

This was one of the first things I spun up and I got it because it felt soft and the color was so pretty, being made up from several dozen shades of blues, greens, and greys. The owner of the shop gave it to me at a great price because she didn’t know what it was (cotton and wool of some sort) and it had been there a while.

Well, I spent most of Friday trying to choose a pattern to try, but everything I liked needed more yardage than I had. I went to bed feeling rather frustrated. Brian insisted I just sleep on it. And sleep on it I did. I kept looking at this pattern from Knitty:

In the morning, I wound it up into balls and grabbed the extra I had from the sweater I just made for him. The guage was the same and I liked the way the two colors worked together. Then I sat (did I mention it was about 6 am on a Saturday? My head was preoccupied with health issues and I needed to stop thinking for a while) and photoshopped a little color into the patter to decide on some striping.

The concept came out a bit like this:

I liked it, so I grabbed my needles and threw myself into a project.

I just finished blocking all the pieces.

I have never finished a sweater this quickly. After it dries tonight, I’ll sew it together and create the simple neck edging. I’m really rather pleased with it at this stage.

If anyone who reads this journal is on Ravelry, I’m there as well as Jvar. Feel free to look me up there. I have additional notes on most of my recent projects there for anyone wanting more knitting detail.

[Place Holder for Finished Sweater – Check back soon]

For the love of a finished project!

October 25th, 2007

I am pleased as can be to say I am 100% finished with Brian’s shaker sweater with the shawl collar. I’m ever more thrilled that he really likes it. He was amazed at how soft and warm it is. The Babydoll Southdown wool is super springy. It holds it’s shape and has an elastic nature to the yarn. Where cotton would stretch out of shape, this sweater will hold its shape really well. (click pic for larger detail)
Brian's finished Sweater

This project took me a year to complete for a couple of reasons. The first was the dumbest mistake. I knit the second arm on the wrong size needles and had to frog it. Threw me off my game so I threw it to the side for months since the weather was turning to spring. Then I ran out of yarn and had to find the vendor who just -happened- to have more of the roving from the show where I got this batch, which is nothing short of a miracle. While it’s a natural color (not dyed) there was no guarantee that I could color match, but having some from the same show/same batch was exactly a perfect match! These are some thumbnails of the roving turning into the yarn I used taken from previous postings.

I have more of the babydoll southdown wool in white that I want to spin and then dye. I really like this wool a lot. It isn’t scratchy and the springy-ness of the fiber will help keep a garment’s shape like a pro!

Another project that I just finished for a sweet friend who is about to have a baby is a baby blanket that matches the gloves and scarf I made for her last year. I never took pictures of the scarf, but she really loved this silly muppet looking glove.

So, I used the same Lion’s Brand Fun Fur fringe on a blanket with an ultrasoft butter yellow boucle for the rest. I also need to have her get a picture of the cap I made for her baby from the same combination. I made the band from the boucle and the cap from the fun fur. She’s excited about matching when they go out now! (click pic for larger detail)

I have more spinning to do so that I can dive into some more knitting projects. I’m currently knitting up some holiday presents, so everything is in various states of completion.

Blanket adapted from this pattern.
Brian’s Sweater pattern available here.

Happy 1 Year, Craft Blog!!

September 30th, 2007

I started this journal after returning from the Sheep & Wool Festival at Mt. Bruce Station in 2006. I returned for the fourth year in a row yesterday and left with 3.5 lbs of fiber and about $144 less in my bank account.

I imagine when I’m through, I’ll have been able to make 3 sweaters and some extra for striping in other projects.

On to this year’s stash:

Tops on my list was an Alpace 50%/Mohair 30%/Wool 20% with sparkly bits. This is soft and the colors are incredible. The best way to explain it is that it looks like flame. I got 16.3 oz for $46 I ended up spinning one bobbin of it last night and I’m planning on spending the better part of this afternoon with it. If you click this pick, you’ll get the original size so you can see the detail, it’s really gorgeous.

China Town Roving

Wiley Woolies had their angora rabbits which I am always fond of wishing over. This year they had bags of batts for felting or spinning. I picked up 15 oz of a 50/50 angora/merino blend for $45. There are actually 2 batts, one pale grey, one charcoal grey. I seriously want to wrap my body with these batts, they are so soft!!

Mohair batts

I fell in love with the rich olive color of this next roving. It’s not my favorite wool to blend, being 100% Border Leicester, but the color really got to me. I have a wonderful sweater I want to make in charcoal with scalloped stripes of this olive wool. I got 8 oz for $18

Olive Leicester Roving

And my final score was 21.8 oz of a heathered grey Jacob that is about as fluffy as summer clouds for $39. I want to make a thick sweater out of this that either I or my husband can wear during the winter. I’m searching out just the right pattern. I have enough of this to do a triple ply if I want! These are the same local folks that provided me with the amazing babydoll southdown that I used to make Brian’s sweater.

Grey Jacob Roving

The show wasn’t as big as years past, but it certainly provided me with some fiber that make me very happy. And speaking of which, my break is over (I also ran out to make a 3′ grapevine wreath with some wild vines Brian found while prepping wood for the winter’s heating), now it’s time to go back to spinning the pretty things I have!

Gearing Up

September 28th, 2007

What have I been doing instead of updating? Well, I’ve been putting together a lot of projects and prepping for winter projects. I am nearly done with Brian’s sweater from last year, after frogging an entire sleeve and putting it away in frustration. *note to self: Check second sleeve against first several times before finishing. I have about 40 rows left then the collar and finishing work. It’s looking good that he’ll have it in time for the weather to be appropriate for wearing it!

I got nearly all my roving stash from last year’s Fiber Festival spun. I have about 2 lbs of babydoll southdown left that I want to try my hand at dying, and about 1/2 lb of the alpaca/mohair blend left. Here’s what I have hanging ready to be made into skeins:

yarn stash

And, of course, some close ups:

Teal mystery roving.

Teal Mystery Roving

Mystery roving

Chocolate Babydoll Southdown: (This is the second batch after I spun 2 lbs for Brian’s sweater.  This is slated for a hat/scarf/gloves project.  I love this because it’s a natural chocolate brown!)

brown babydoll southdown yarn

Babydoll southdown roving

Leicester multi-hued yarn:

leicester yarn multi colored

leicester roving multi colored

And here’some roving, rolags, and finished projects!

projects

This is the Romney & Corriedale that I made the hat from.

mixed berries Romney & Corriedale

The shawl was knit from a purchase of alpaca/wool yarn. The black and multi striped bag on the bottom was made from yarn left by Chris when he moved out and left it here too long. I made a hat out of it as well that he got and promptly gave to his wife. Never leave yarn here, folks. It gets made into things! Brian’s sweater parts are in the bottom bin along with some cotton roving.

Today I am making a huge vat of chicken stock so that I can freeze it and to also make a nice Chicken Potato Leek soup tonight for dinner. Tomorrow is the 17th Annual Mt. Bruce Sheep & Wool Festival and a stop at an orchard so that Sunday will be for making and devouring an apple pie and lots of spinning!!

Protecting the tools

July 22nd, 2007

Inspired by Berrocco’s Kable and Kluster, I set about to design something to store my growing stash of double pointed needles.

I started by finding some gorgeous, bold purple felting wool roving (about a pound of it).

handspun yarn

I spun it up and knit a large rectangle with a ribbed border. Then I felted it in the washing machine until it shrunk up to the size I wanted, which was a little wider than the biggest double points I might keep. The final measurements were 24.5″ x 11.5″ I probably shrunk it down by nearly 2.5 inches to a nice tight felt.

The idea was to have a roll that would store and travel nicely. I want to eventually finish the outside with two attractive buttons with loops, but I am waiting until I get a few more of the larger DP needles to see how tight/loose it should be when rolled up.

I went looking through all my lace patterns and found one that worked with just a little modification. It’s a vine and cable mix that allows two areas to encase the needles with makes the whole thing far more stable and secure than a single cable would. I used an acrylic worsted weight yarn which has a wonderful grip to it. The needles don’t slide out at all when held on edge.

What I love best about this carrier is that it holds any size DP needles comfortably. I didn’t have to make adjustments for my size 11 needles or my size 2’s.

This is the finished DP needle case. It was fun to employ a lot of different techniques and styles to make a fun case to protect my DPs and keep them all in one place.

My next toolcase is going to be a similar style, but instead of the cables, I’m going to make a series of pockets to store all of my circular needles in one place. I’m still working on the dimensions for that.

Clicking on most pictures will display a larger picture for detail.

Lathe Love

July 16th, 2007

Oh wow…I have fallen in love with a piece of workworking equipment in the worst way. Now begins the process of convincing my husband he wants me to have one to make all sorts of wonderful gifties for our loved ones.

One of said loved ones is our friend Craig who just got a brand spankin’ new midi lathe. And he was kind enough to teach me how to turn a pen and even let me break in his new tools!

On Saturday, he handed me a piece of oak and set me up, showed me some basics and let me have at it for a while to get the feel for it. I started with a little trepidation, which vanished before I got it from a square to a round shape. I started playing with the tools and doing some beading. This was just way too much fun!

first piece turned on the lathe

We started to refer to this as “The Beater” but I think what I’ll do is finish it up some and give it a nice wax coat then turn it into a paintbrush. It’s just a play piece, but it has such a nice feel to it and quite honestly, it has become a sentimental piece.

We also ran to Woodcrafters where I may have embarrassed myself a bit deeply inhaling the exotic woods and making noises about all the phenomenal tools and cool bits and…and…wow. Just like a kid in a candy store, I was. Unbeknownst to me, Craig picked up a pen kit for me and let me pick out some wood that I liked from his stock pile. Then he spent a couple of hours on Sunday teaching me how to turn the pen myself.

hand turned pen

This is the finished product. It’s a zebra type wood with dark black stripes in a honey color wood. The style of the pen is European. It twists open and close.

This shows the blocks of wood that the pen was carved from and the wonderful dark striations.

I really am addicted already to this fascinating process. If I’m a very good girl, perhaps the birthday fairy will be good to me next month. I have no idea what I’m going to do in the meantime!!!

Paying homage to the muse of color and soft yarn

December 26th, 2006

I posted this picture of the yarn I was spinning back in September.

With all the glove, sweater, and snake making for the holidays, I didn’t have time to get back to spinning and being the addict I am about it, I’ve really been jonesing to get back to working with raw fiber.  After going to the fiber festival in September, I had this grand idea of using my hand carders to blend my own mix and spin something quite unique.

I had 1 lb of gorgeous smoky grey mohair roving, 8 oz of jet black alpaca roving, and 3 oz of various source dyed wool locks in a rainbow of colors.  I wanted to blend the mohair 2-1 with the alpaca, and then add a shock of color.  The idea was to roll up a bunch of rolags with varying colors and spin them randomly together.

This picture shows a close up of the spun single with at least 3 colors.  You can see the color fibers shot through, with the occasion deliberate small nub of color.

The last little bit of the rolag is on the left and you can see how the color blends in.

I did a small photo montage of the process I used to make the rolags.

  1. shows the 2-1 blend of mohair to alpaca.
  2. gently holding on to the rovings and dragging them across the carder to cover it.
  3. some of the color locks on the coated carder.
  4. the locks combed out and positioned near one end
  5. picking up the fiber from the teeth on the carder.
  6. rolling the fiber into a rolag

Here’s what that rolag looks like finished:

You can see a little bit of the color fiber peaking out on the near end.  When I spin this, I get a nice mix of the mohair and alpaca.   I put a concentration of color at one end, which ends up being most of the first part that gets spun.  The color doesn’t span the entire length of fiber, but gets slowly more concentrated and then blends back to the mohair/alpaca.  This gives more distinct color to parts of the single and the blackish grey to the rest so that the color ebbs and flows.

And this would be the entire 1.5 lbs of fiber rolled up.   I sorted them by colors and then hands mixed the colors and bagged them up for spinning.  There are 139 rolags in this picture, plus 10 already spun.

The current plan is to ply these together to a 2 ply.  If I decide to attempt a 3 ply, I might try to use Navajo plying to maintain the single color.  I haven’t decided yet if multiple colors in a strand of yarn would be more fun than keeping the colors more distinct.  If I try Navajo plying, it will be my first attempt to learn, so that has an appeal as well.

This project has really helped me feel like an artist, and not just a hobbyist.  It’s really satisfying to take the raw fiber and make it into something that existed only in my head.   Once I spin up the entire lot and see what my yardage is, then I will decide on a project for this.  I’m currently leaning towards a tunic type sweater to show off the color in a simple knit.