Monday, July 31, 2006


And now, P[h]art 2:

Performance Art Yarn:

The yarn was spun,
one thing in mind

To give the cats a treat to find.
To watch the yarn undone, unwind.

May it be art?
A song? A dance?
Or yarn just spun for cats to prance?

And prance they did
and snack and roll
upon the yarn they took their toll.

young cats!
You must make art!

Is it ephemeral
or eternal?
Creation or destruction?

(Is it art?)

Alas the cats have fought and won,
The yarn be damned their day is done.

No answers gained
From this refrain,
But cats did play and yarn was made.
Art or no, no one can say,
But I the 'artist'
At play.

(note: no cats were harmed in this performance. No potentially damaging yarn was allowed to be swallowed by cats).

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Spin Span Spun.

Two doggies at play
Their fur in the way
Was brushed from their manes
So yarn could be made!

The single was plied
In a blink of an eye
With cat food and fluff
And other fun stuff!

The yarn how it twists
Like rainbow-y mists!

It lilts in the breeze
Awaiting the bees
Who will come to inspect
What flowers they've met?

The kitties asleep
No yarn at thier feet...
But tomorrow they'll get a lovely yarn treat!

For this yarn is for them
And the fun of the game
To play with the fiber
No one can complain!

(stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow. A new breed of [ph]art yarn has been born)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Reason #437

That I love the new house. The light.

And a little later...

The nightly thunderstorms we've been having for about a month now create a wonderful soft light. The kind that makes you inhale deeply and sigh. The light on the hills, the fields, the trees. The smell of the air with rain in it. The trees making soft noises with the leaves.

Monday, July 24, 2006

A weekend relaxed.

A nice, long three day weekend. Mom and Dad visited us, and a good time was had by all! A little hiking, a little driving around, and a lot of sitting on the deck in the evenings chatting.

Murray and Clyde (Wally) hiding in a flower pot....

Because this:

Made another appearance and got poor mommy kitty. Tonight she gets the baking soda and peroxide treatment.

A little spinning, started (and almost filled) the bobbin of Corredale cross to ply with the mohair locks. Worked on the mohair locks a little more, with help from mom fluffing and floofing!

And.....spun a little bit of this:

Britty the Bearded Collie!

Britty is Mom and Dad's rescue Beardie. Bearded Collies are a herding dog from Scotland originally, and they have a thick double coat. It mats easily and brushing a few times a week is required. After a quick brush yesterday they had a pile of fluff which everyone convinced me I should spin. Heck, it's free and there is a never ending supply...

Thoughts on spinning Britty. Soft, beautifully colored. Lots of twist required to hold the yarn together, so it is a fairly tight spun single. No crimp or natural lanolin/oil in the fur means the extra twist is needed. No crimp also means the yarn feels "flat" no sproinginess like with wool. No elasticity either. I think it would be lovely carded with some wool to give it a little bounce.

But...I have other plots for this yarn! Oh yes, this Britty fur will eventually become part of a larger plan!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Rib and Cable Mitts

From the Spring IK. Verdict: I love em!

Nate's sister was visiting a few weeks ago and saw a pair of the VooDoo wristwarmers that I had made and said she really wished she had something like that. So, I flipped through the IK, saw these, and cast on.

A winner of a pattern.

Jo Sharp DK wool. Size 3 US DPNs. Total yarn used was a little under 100yds of the purple and about 25 yds of the blue (hhmmm, stash buster).

I think I'd like to knit these with a bigger, bolder cable. I don't know if its all my Aran swatching, but this little rope cable seemed so simple and little to me!

Quick to knit (start to finish, 1 week, including 5 days with no knitting on them and work on 3 other things plus spinning).
Feels like turbo knitting when you put a sock down and start on DK yarn!

Wilco watches the knitting eagerly, hoping that I'm finally knitting something he can chew up with glee:

Yep. I like the Mitts. I think I'll be making a few more pairs of these for gifts this year.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Overdyed Handspun Moorit Shetland!

Remember this?

I decided to overdye the natural moorit brown. I had never done any overdyeing before, and love the really nice depth in overdyed natural yarns I have seen.

So, Sunday night I got out the tubs of Wilton's icing dyes, the white vinegar, some pyrex baking trays, plastic cups, bamboo skewers, and turned on the oven (yes, no microwave yet at the new house, so the oven dyeing is new to me too)!

I had spun 12 oz. of this fiber at about a worsted-light worsted weight yarn. This translated into 4 good sized skeins and one mini-skein. I dyed three of the big skeins, and the mini skein.

After dyeing, baking in the oven for about 30 minutes at around 300, and getting a rinse:

The four skeins, dry now, awash in evening sun:

And now, a series of detail pics:





I dyed two skeins with Mauve and Burgundy (the orangey-reds), and the other two with Purple and Teal.

In my entirely un-scientific way (I don't keep a spinning notebook, a knitting notebook, or a dyeing one either. I'm really a wing it sort. I also hate to rip out my knitting too, but that's another story), I put in approximately 3 parts water, 1 part vinegar into plastic cups, dipped the end of the bamboo skewer into the dye pot a couple of times (two glomps of dye per cup) and mixed the dyes til they looked pretty strong.

Arranged the yarn in the Pyrex, poured the dye on, noted how the yarn looked like poo, worried that the experiment would be a wash, and popped it in the oven! Took it out, noted it still looked like poo, let it cool, then rinsed.

Whoa! No more bad looking yarn! I see color! Yay! Still wet though. Hmmm, will have to see if the color fades when it dries. Wait til morning. Forget to look before work, wonder all day at work if the yarn is still pretty. Go home. Yarn is still pretty!

Ah, Sucess!

I have to say. I LOVE this yarn now. I love the way the dyeing turned out. The natural brown really gives so much depth to the colors. I love the variation. I even love the way that the Wiltons separated and gave me little bands of other colors.

I am going to have to order some fancy real dyes at some point.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Starmore Swatch 8

First off, the swatch is the same color as swatches 6 and 7, not the toxic waste spill green here. This is a prime example of light affecting the quality of your photos. Luckily, color isn't what I'm trying to depict here. I find that with the heavily cabled/textured designs I'd rather illustrate the texture than the color so the 6:30 am light is good. Enough shadow to see depth, just enough light not to have to use the flash.

Anyways. Step 5: Braided cables; "A logical expansion of the plaiting concept." Below: the whole swatch.

From right to left:

A) A basic four strand (2 stitch strands) braid.

B) A basic five strand (2 stitch strands) braid. Now, one thing I noticed right away as this braid developed was the similarity that the center part of the braid has to entrelac. Entrelac look alike with no picking up stitches (or turning) required...hmmm, might need to further investigate.

C) This braid is exactly the same as braid B, but it has a single purl stitch worked between the strands. You cross the strands over the purls. This really makes the braid 'pop'.

The two cables on the left:

D) Braid is similar to C, but this time the strands move across the purl background one stitch before meeting and crossing. In this braid you can see how we're starting to open braids up and move them across the background.

E) (far left). A four strand simple braid which not only has the background stitches in the cable such as C, but is worked across the purl background as in cable E.

I started swatch 9 as well. Whoo. Celtic interlacement effects. Lots of cabling!

The weekend was otherwise good, finally weeded the garden plot! Did my first overdyeing (more on that tomorrow!), actually finished something (more on that this week too), and got a little spinning in.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Some Unpacking is Fun

This unpacking was! Way more fun than unpacking your underwear and the cleaning supplies.

Most of the yarn is now unpacked! I need to get more of the shelves to hold the stuff in all the bags....or just the bags.

The desk with fiber to spin, knit books and misc. Most of a cardi is sitting there on the left. Bulky wool cardi. Not really inspiring to knit in the summer, I have a feeling it won't be finished for a while yet. That pile of turquoise stuff in the middle there is the quasi-felted pain-in-the-butt-to-draft churro I'm working through.

And....the unpacked section. Boxes of miscellaneous supplies, photos, holiday things. Things that went in the closet of the yarn room in the old house. But the closet in this room holds my clothes now since the master bedroom doesn't have the jumbo walk-in closet that the old house has.

I need to find a creative solution for all this other stuff. Photos shouldn't be stored in the basement I'm thinking.

But this weekend is for organizing the guest room since my parents are visiting next weekend!

Oh, and yard work. Since we had two weeks of rain the weeds are really trying to outgrow the veggies.

FYI, one cup of baking soda mixed with one quart of hydrogen peroxide makes short work of a skunkified cat.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Spinning the Goat

This weekend I started spinning some of the lovely first clip kid mohair locks that Carolyn sent me in April. I was waiting to spin them (because they're so nice!) until I could get some other spinners opinions on how to do it.

I tried cat-brush carding at home and it didn't really do it for me. But, at the spinning guild meeting in June I showed the lovely locks to some other spinners and they said, just fluff and spin!

So I did, a little skeptical, but, it worked! And it's fun!

If you want to see the locks pre-washing and after washing, check this out (scroll down to the April 25th post).

Here is a handful of the locks pulled out of the bag. The only prep to these so far has been the washing:

Step 1: Fluff and Floof: Simply take a lock and pull it apart to get air between the fibers. After my F&F, the locks now look like this, a bona fide floof pile!

Step 2: Gather into a pile in your lap (or wherever you like to draft from), mix the fibers up a little so they stick together in a big floof pile, and spin!

To my amazement, this works! I thought it would be hard (and yes, it is harder than roving strips) but not that hard! I started by joining some to the leader, put some spin into it, and voila! Yarn!

Now, I wouldn't recommend spinning these if you're not comfortable with joining yet. You will have to join a lot during the process of spinning the locks. But the fibers (which I had heard were slippy) really do like to stick together despite their lack of scales (like the sheep has).

One of the cool things about spinning from the lock like this, is you get little curly lock ends that will poke out from the yarn like so:

It really makes this a cool yarn I think.

On the bobbin (hard to take a pic of white yarn at night..I know), but you can see the little curly whirly bits popping out here and there:

The actual strand of the yarn is about a fingering weight single. With the curly bits it makes it a bit 'novelty', but a novelty I'm not opposed too! A nice, natural, organic novelty single! The curly bits are random, averaging about 3 a yard.

The plan is to spin a bobbin of it, and spin a bobbin of similar thickness white Corriedale then ply the two together for a 50% kid mohair, 50% Corriedale yarn. Dye it, then knit it into a nice shawl or scarf. A lacy motif I'm thinking.

Another thought I had while spinning this was that I was definitely happy to be doing this on my wheel instead of a spindle. With the wheel I can use both hands to play with the floof and control the spin with my feet at the same time. It seemed to me that it might be a little trickier on a spindle.

Also, I don't think goats have lanolin per se, but the yarn feels a little oily or sticky so there must be some natural oils in the mohair which help it stick together. I'll have to wash the finished yarn a few times to get it out (and help to 'fuzz out' the mohair).

Thanks Carolyn! I love it! And I might have to get some more from your prize winning goats at some point.

I also worked on the gray Correidale last night, did another strip of the "pennance spinning" teal semi-felted Churro, finished Nate's first sock (which he tried on and loved!), and finished the first rib and cable mitt! Wooo! It was a good fibery night.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The trail used to start here...

OK Monkee. I said I'd take pics of the mountain bike trail for you eh?

Well, Pinon Mesa Trail used to start here, to the left of the big wash:

And wind up into the distance of the pic below.

But. We had some flash flooding on Saturday, and as far as I can tell, the trail is likely washed out! It followed the wash up for quite a ways before ending up on top of a mesa. No more singletrack following this wash for a while!

See all the debris in the foreground here:

This used to be a wire cattle fence. And there used to be a dirt road that went through here.

Still....I can't wait to go back. Explore where the trail once was, and find a new trail through. See changes in the landscape from one storm. Why do I love this trail, this area? It was one of the first places we took Wilco to romp. The first time I rode the trail with some friends I felt on top of the world. This isn't an easy trail. But I did it. I rode it. (I only fell once). I love the hoo doos you turn left at, and the sandstone in the sunset. I love that when you get to the top of the mesa you can see to Arizona, Utah and Colorado. And now I love that it has been changed with one storm. Makes me feel small and human and alive.


As you can see...they're just starting to eat real food now!

Monday, July 10, 2006

M is for Morning

Morning light. The promise of a day beginning. Quiet, new, tall shadows and dew.

Green is morning to me in the summer.

Apples still green in a sea of leaves washed with new light.

Well. ABC along out of the way, you might be asking how my weekend went.

It went like so. Saturday. Promise of dyeing yarn (that Shetland) and some roving lures me into cleaning the house all day and doing laundry. For one must have a clean slate to dye.

House clean. Go to yarn room. Rummage in boxes. Realize no dye is to be had. Can't find it. It has either been lost in the move, misplaced, or tossed.

OK. No dyeing. Unpack the stash! Yes! I'll unpack the stash! I spent the rest of the evening unpacking and organizing the yarn room. Ah. I can see my yarn again! Touch it again!

Then, the flash floods. We had the hardest rain I can remember Saturday night. And hail, thunder, lightning, wind, the works.

Inspired by my new stash play-ability, I cast on for a new project, spun a bit on three fibers, and then went to bed.

Sunday...driving to my volunteer work, I am amazed at the extent of the flash flooding. And. The highway is closed. Washed out. I have to drive an hour around to get into town. Sigh. So began a long boring day of hectic volunteering and extraneous driving.


Knit, watch Munich, knit. Vino. Ah. Much better.

(But, but, now it's Monday again....)

Friday, July 07, 2006

Shetland and the Bluffs

Well, I've been spinning a fair bit, knitting a little, and exploring a lot around the new house with Nate and the woofie.

I finally finished up the natural moorit colored Shetland! I had 12 oz of this fiber:

The roving was nice and fluffy, I simply split this roving in half, then pre-drafted a little to get the fibers slipping before spinning. Compared to the Merino, this hardly takes any pre-spinning work. I'd say on a scale of 1-10, the merino was an 8 in terms of pre-prep work, and this is about a 2.

I could really spin this stuff fast! I mean I could acutally draft it about as fast as I wanted to treadle and still get a fairly consistent yarn.

A full bobbin's (4 oz) worth of singles wound into a center pull ball:

Now, that, is the correct color. Warm Cadburys melted in the sun.

The yarn ends up like so...(2 plied, heavy DK-light worsted)

I have four good sized skeins and one mini skein. All bathed and hung to dry.
I bought this wool intending some overdying experiments. Hence the mini skein to start with. Mini skein to be test-dyed this weekend! And depending on the results, possibly the rest too. I want deep reds, purples, burgundies.

We've been exploring the area around the new house too. Just across the street is a big area of BLM land great for hiking and mountain biking. On the 4th we hiked up to the Cinder Bluffs:

Cinder Bluffs

Ironically, no cinders on the cinder bluffs. Igneous rock not to be found. Coal seams that had burned in the past producing cinder-like rock, definitely.

Lovely to have hiking right out your door. I love the contrasts of the land here. River and trees and green at the house. Mesas and bluffs and high desert across the road.