Wednesday, March 29, 2006

My first Wheel-Spun Yarn.

First, the wheel that made it:

Isn't she pretty? A Fricke double treadle with the Woolee Winder setup (which I totally love btw).

Close up of the Mallard Merino yarn. 2-ply, a little thick and thin, averaging on worsted weight.

The whole skein, laying on the windowsill; because damn, my house is clean! Having an open house will do that to you. I haven't measured yardage, I kinda forgot to in the midst of my excitement about the yarn.

Gratuitous kitty pic. Tele on top, Lucy in the middle, and Dory on the bottom. They seem to really like the new comforter we got.

OK. We're not buying the old adobe farmhouse. Nate went out to the property with a structural engineer yesterday, and it needs either a new foundation, or new floors in each room down to the ground. The problem here being not being able to get a loan on a house that needs this type of work, and also, and the engineer said, not even being able to find a contractor to do the work. So. We know what we want, and we're going to keep looking. We realized in all of this that we really want a place with land for sheep and a big organic garden and herb plot. We want a little different lifestyle. So, we'll keep looking. In fact, Nate is going to go look at another place today!

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Changes ahead!

Yep, I haven't blogged in a while.

Too much craziness going on in our lives right now!

But good crazy.

1) We put an offer down on a 80-90 year old adobe Territorial farmhouse. About 15 miles from our current house, but with enough irrigated land to do some sheep (and an alpaca if I have my way!), and a huge garden.

2) We put our current house up on the market. Hosted an open house on Sunday, and spent the four days prior to Sunday cleaning and organizing like a mad-woman.

3) We had our 5 year wedding anniversary on Friday! And...Nate gave me a spinning wheel! A Double Treadle Fricke wheel with the Woolee Winder!

4) Inspections and realtors and all the lot that goes along with both selling and buying houses.

No knitting, if you can believe that! I don't think I've knit for a whole week now. Weird. I have however, assembled the wheel and spun a bit.

I've spun about 4 oz of teal (Mallard they call it) Merino top on the wheel. Two bobbins worth, and started plying it last night.

The wheel is awesome. I can't believe how much faster I can make yarn! 4 0z would have easily taken me a week to spin and ply on the spindle, so in two nights of spinning to get it done is amazing.

I was making consistently even singles on the spindles, so I thought I would be able to do this really eazily with the wheel. Not true. They aren't "bad", but they aren't very even. I think the speed at which the wheel moves is so much faster than the spindles that I need to speed up my drafting! I also noticed that with the Merino top I was working with, I prefered to spin from the fold. When using the spindle, I hated spinning from the fold! Spinning from the fold with the wheel allowed me to spin without any pre-drafting of the fiber. When I tried pre-drafting the same way I did it with the spindle, it just didn't really work out, it was too thin to work with my hands and I never got enough twist.

I definitely have both under and over twisted sections. The plying took me a while to get, and I really had to crank up the tension to ply. I'll finish plying tonight, and set the twist. To show you pics of my very own, first wheel spun yarn!

I think I should buy a fiber sampler pack and practice spinning different fibers, different thicknesses etc. Hmmm, anyone know a good place?

Friday, March 17, 2006

Of cats and yarn

Finished the back, see:

And started the left front, of which, the bottom ribbing is complete.

This is what happens in my house if I leave knitting unattended. This fuzz-butt of a cat here has even been known to run off with yarn that I am currently knitting with. They sneak into the yarn room any chance they get. They long to mangle all the new yarn. For instance. I set my knitting down for approximately 10 seconds to check my snow reports and voila, two cats appear.

Who says you can't train cats. Mine are clearly conditioned to the call of yarn. Hmmm, does that make me like my cats? Or my cats like me?

Here's a ball label from this yarn I'm using for the cream cardi. I really do like the yarn, anyone have any experience with this?

Thursday, March 16, 2006

F is for Ford

My Ford. My ski car, biking car, drive to work car, SCUBA dive in Mexico car, first car I've ever owned car, paid off car, gets 40 miles a gallon car. Yep, it's a Ford Escort.

My parents put down the down payment, and I made the payments. I paid it off. I got this car when I was in college, and I still have it 10 years later. I drove it from California to upstate New York, to Michigan, back through Nevada, and California. Driven it 10 hours south into Mexico. Used it as a field car in archaeology, and a camping car. Drove my kitty Muffin from California to New Mexico in it.

It's a good car. No real problems with it ever, just normal maintenance stuff. 130,000 miles on it. And did I mention, 40 mpg? These days, no one can argue with that; it's a good car. Oh, and it looks much cooler with a 17 ft canoe strapped on top.

Right, on to some knittage:

This is the back of the IK Fall 05 'Drop Stitch Cardigan' that I started the other night. 14 inches so far, and tonight I'll begin the armhole shaping. You can see the waist shaping, and the wide ribbed bottom. I'm knitting it in 'Kasatanje' (or something like that) yarn that came in my recent yarn gift.

The yarn, I really like. Very soft and lofty. Bulky 100% wool. Single ply. Made in Finland. It makes a fabric that I'm really liking for this little cardi-jacket.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

What to do?

With all my new yarn? I've come up with a few ideas. I checked out the Aran Knitting book by Alice Starmore from the library, and lo and behold, I have enough yarn, exactly the specified yarn too, for these:

St. Ciaran wrap. I'd like to knit this with the purple Scottish Heather and the brass Scottish Heather. Knit in three different vertical stripes of color, perhaps a bit bigger, more like a blanket.

(Photo copyright Virtual Yarns, borrowed from their website: )

Irish Moss. Also from Aran Knitting. I would love to knit this one for Nate. In the gray Scottish Heather.

(Photo borrowed from )

Aranmor. This one would be for me! From the AK book, I'd knit it in the slate blue Bainin yarn.

(Photo borrowed from )

And finally, I cast on and started the back of this Drop Stitch Cardigan from the Fall 2005 IK mag. I'm using a bulky cream colored Finnish wool, that is sooooo soft. I had to go up to size 10.5 needles (US) to get gauge, so this one should be pretty quick to knit. And, I'll learn how to put in a zipper, thus adding another skill to repertoire. Plus, a cream sweater jacket seems like something that I would wear quite often.

(Photo from interweave knits, )

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

A gift of yarn.

My friend's neighbor gave me her entire yarn stash. Oh my. I won the yarn lottery! Hit the fibre jackpot! It was four big bags of yarn. They filled my entire trunk! I was sitting at work yesterday, knowing I had four bags of mystery yarn in the car. It was torture. I had glimpsed only a few skeins, and seen labels of Rowan and Alice Starmore and was dizzy with anticipation of what might lie within these bags.

So I went home. And dumped them out in my guest room (now to be referred to as "my own personal yarn shop"). I was amazed, not only had I been given an entire stash, but I had been given a yarn snob's stash.

As I sorted skeins out it started to really look good:

The white skeins up on top are about 30 skeins of Peer Gynt natural worsted wool (perfect for dying methinks).

To the left of these is a bag of blue Bainin Aran Alice Starmore wool. 18 skeins. Enough to make Aranmor from Aran Knitting.

The purple and amber colored yarn are skeins of Starmore Scottish Heather.

The blue up front is a bulky weight wool tweed. 7 four oz skeins. This is unlabeled, but it feels a lot like some of the Starmore yarns.

The two bags on the far left, one holds 17 skeins of Scottish Heather in a gray, the other a bulky cream colored Finnish wool, enough for a sweater.

The bag of red yarn is 5 skeins of Alice Starmore Scottish Fleet Gansey yarn.

There is so much, I'll so you a few closeups:

The pile of Jo Sharp worsted wool. At first I thought it was DK, but it is worsted. 25 or so balls, in various shades. Perfect for Fair Isle!

The Scottish Heather in that gorgeous purple I love.

And in the gray that is destined to become one of the Starmore Aran sweaters for Nate.

And, the bag of Rowan wool and cotton. 15 balls of this, DK/sport weight, I'll have to come up with a plan for it! So soft.

Nate said last night, "It's like Christmas when you're a kid!" He was excited too, and amazed. Thank-you yarn benefactor wherever you are. You have no idea how wonderful this is! (Or maybe you was after all, your stash).

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Vogue Lace Shawl

Finally complete and ready to wear!
Draped over the shower curtain rod to view in it's entirety:

Draped on me to show some detail (I wore a black dress to try and get the model effect in the mag, but I am no model, and the lack of a nice sandy beach to prance on doesn't help either):

Close-up of a little stitch detail:

First off, I love this shawl. I'm wearing it right now.

Pattern: Vogue Knitting Fall 2005 pattern 18
Yarn: Koigu KPPPM for the body, color 319, I used three and a half skeins. Edging, Koigu KPM, color 2392, I used two whole skeins, and had three rows left to complete when I ran out (so I used a little more of the body color to finish).
Needles: Size 6 Denise circs.

Modifications: None, completed the pattern as directed, but used a little body color to finish the last 3 rows on one of the edgings (couldn't see ording a new skein for three rows!).

Notes: The body pattern was easy for lace, memorized it quickly and knit the body pretty fast. The edging was definitly more of a challenge, and there are a few small mistakes, but do-able. I had only really done 3 other lace projects before this one, and it went well. Note too, that you need to go the VK website and look up the pattern errata, the main one is in the yardage required to complete the shawl.

I really am happy with the way this turned out. I think the variegated body yarn works out well with this because the lace isn't too complex in the body. Koigu is really good for showing stitch definintion too, and blocks wonderfully. And, it sure is nice and soft around the neck. No itching whatsoever!

mmmmm. lace. koigu.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Entombed for Blocking

A preview of what's to come tomorrow, as she is currently blocking! Yep, finally!

And, forgive the fuzzy pic, because I didn't realize it was fuzzy til I did this to her:

Entombed her in a sheet casket sealed up with heavy books! Aka protection from the kitty monsters. Yep, I had to put them in kitty isolation (the bathroom) to even block this baby. Something about knitted wool screams out to them "Come to me, you know you want to sit on me, even though I'm wet, you will sit. on. me.".

The shawl was so long that my normal blocking spots (bedrooms with doors that close) were not possible, hence the shawl is entombed. With art history and archaeology books. Yes, you will be an elegant, cultured shawl!

And. Last night, I finally frogged the Entrelac scarf I was making (back in November). I decided to frog it around the new year, but hadn't gotten to it. The beautiful deep red Karabella Boise (50% superfine merino, 50% cashmere) just wasn't working with the Entrelac.

This super gorgeous yarn (my birthday present to myself, along with my first set of Lantern Moon needles) is screaming "Lace!" to me. A big thick lace scarf, and maybe writstwarmers to match.

It was a B***h to frog though. It had gotten sufficiently fuzzy to make the frogging of a mere 6 inches of scarf take over an hour! But, the fuzz was one of the things that was making the Entrelac not work out. Eh.

Awright. Back to the grind. Oh, election day here too. I hope that Pamela and Mary win. We SO need more women in the local government. Good vibes to them!

A little Toque-n

I made this little toque for someone. I'll be sending her the link to the photo today and see if I can send it off soon. Hope she likes it!

Yarn: 1/2 ball of Gedifra Fashion Trend stripe and almost one complete ball of a purple/muliticolor wool bulky yarn that I was gifted.
Pattern: Self-designed, 3 x 3 rib, knit flat then decreases in pattern til there is no more pattern left!
Needles: Size 8 US Addi's. (Both yarns were bulky weight, but I wanted a thick fabric for extra warmth).

I needed something to knit yesterday while at the Rabies Shot clinic, so cast on for a quick toque in the morning, and it was done by bedtime. I wanted something easy and quick, and this fit the bill! I also recently remembered that I had promised to knit 2 people hats waaaaay back when.

(I also cast on for a fun and quick drop stitch scarf yesterday, with some clearance yarn I happened to pick up last week...also to be a gift!)

Other than that, I really want to start gardening, Spring is coming. I have bulbs beginning to poke through the ground, and tendrils of green are starting to re-appear. Can't wait.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Under the Hoodie

Voila! Finished her yesterday. As I wasn't quite up to a big day after my hard week, I sat at home, seamed her up, and watched a bazillion episodes of America's Next Top Model on VH1.

In all her sweater-y goodness:

And the back:

This was my Knitting Olympics project, and I did actually finish all of the knitting during the Olympics. I didn't complete the finishing though until yesterday.

Under the Hoodie from SnB
Size Medium
Yarn: The blue-purple is KnitPicks Wool of the Andes in Hyacinth, the light lavendar stripe is Lambs Pride Worsted, and the Mauve is Cascade 220 in Eggplant.
Needles: Size 8 24" Addi's for most, size 7 Denises for the ribbing.

I used 6.5 out of the 7 balls of the Wool of the Andes, 2.33 out of 3 balls of the Cascade, and a small portion of the single ball of the LP (12 rows total of it).

Pattern is easy to follow, nothing tricky, and I really love the finished result, this is one sweater I'll be wearing a lot! I already wore it last night, and will probably wear it today too.

I like all 3 of these worsted weight wools too. The WooA knit up to gauge on my first swatch, the Cascade is slightly thicker, but not enough to throw off my gauge, and the LP is definitely thicker. If I was knitting more than three rows at a time with it I would have swatched it and changed needle sizes I think.

I did a steam block, and it worked nicely!

And, with cat:

Went to a pig roast last night. Good eats. If you ever get the chance, go to one!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Thank you.

Thank you everyone who left me a note. Posted on one of the forums I frequent. It means a lot to me that others understand the love we have for our pets. I have read and re-read the comments, the notes. And cried. And today, my heart doesn't feel as heavy.


I'm feeling a little more like myself today. I miss her in the morning when I feed the kitties, and she isn't there. I miss just knowing I'll never see her again. Never be out in the garden and find her sleeping under an eggplant bush, or chasing a bee. But, life is still good, and her little kitty-spirit is free.

I haven't felt like doing much the last few days, no knitting, no skiiing, no biking. But, I will ski tomorrow. And I think I'll knit tonight. I have a sweater that only needs the sleeves sewing up, then I can wear it! I think I'll call it the Muffin sweater.

I checked out both of the Barbara Walker stich books from the library, and I'm working out a lacey pattern for a shawl. Two yarns, both worsted. One 8oz skein of natural purple Churro from Tierra Wools, and one co-ordinating skein of Mountain Colors mtn goat. I'm imagining strips knit of lace, a leafy pattern. Then joined lengthwise. Each strip in one of the yarns. Worsted though, so a warm, big shawl, but lacey too. Think this would work? No way to know but try.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

English Muffin.

For the love of a cat.

Muffin died yesterday. We buried her under her favorite tree in the yard. And last night it rained for the first time in 5 months. Soft, heavy, cleansing rain.

I miss her, and probably always will. I loved her from the first minute I saw her. She was our kitty from England, our English Muffin.

I never felt more like a grown-up than I did yesterday at the vet. I've never had to make such a choice, cried so much. I know she had a wonderful kitty life, and I'm so glad we shared it with her.

Bye bye my sweet Muffin.