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April 13, 2009

Fiber Infusion

It's that time of year again! On Saturday Wendie, my friend Deb and I made the yearly pilgrimage up to the Fiber Event in Greencastle, Indiana. There was fiber. Oh yes.

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also, there were alpaca. did you know they hum?

Saturday the weather cooperated and we had beautiful sunny spring day...a bit chilly but just perfect for poking fingers into bags of fiber and squeezing everything wooly in site.

I resisted buying a raw fleece (I am so Not Allowed to have more than one of those floating around the apartment) but I did buy a variety of yummy lumps for sampling.


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Reading from left to right: black Shetland, aqua Coopworth/silk, light brown superwash Merino lamb, light gray Shetland lamb/silk/cashmere, aqua Shetland/linen, light brown California Variegated Mutant/silk (I was sold as soon as I found out that the "M" in CVM stands for "mutant"), gray Shetland.

Like last year, my goal was to get a variety of breeds but somehow I just ended up with a goodish bit of Shetland and stuff blended with silk. I may have gotten a little careless there at the end. Must have been all the fiber fumes.

Now, to find a place to buy more bobbins so I can spin some of this up!

December 2, 2008

Baa Baa Black Sheep

Back at the end of September Wendie and I (spouses in tow) made a little excursion south of town to the Schacht Farm to watch the little Icelandic sheep get sheared. I managed to leave the camera's memory card at home, which explains why the trip went undocumented. {If you're curious, here is last year's post.}

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hello. I am like buttah

I am...how should I put this...prone to falling under the thrall of the wee woolly ones. Maybe you can relate? Here's a summary of my thought process:

Knitterly Elli: Mmmmmm...sheep. Sheep are cute. Sheep are also woolly, and make cute noises! I should get a sheep.
Practical Elli: Dude, get a grip. I don't think the apartment allows sheep. Though they might consider it...I bet sheep would be much quieter than the lawn crew, and they wouldn't leave cigarette ends on the sidewalk.
KE: Fleece then! If I can't get a whole sheep, I can at least take home the woolly bits.
PE: You totally don't have time to spin up a whole fleece. It'll take you forever to finish. And I hate to mention it, but you kindof suck at spinning.
KE: A whole fleece will be great practice! And if I get a colored one it'll look very tempting and I'll want to work on it all the time! Plus, I've got those hand cards just sitting around gathering dust. If I card it myself I'll save on the processing fee AND get to use my fun tools!
PE: You'll feel bad every time you look at it. It will become the fleece of guilt. It will sit in the closet and suck the joy out of your life like a fluffy little black hole.
KE: I'll just get a small one then!
PE: How little do they make them?
KE: Lambs! They're like wee little sheeplettes, right? Surely a lamb fleece won't be so big.
PE: Your logic is astounding. I concede.

Next thing I knew, I was sidling up to Mandy and requesting a raw lamb fleece, the darker the better.

Sure enough, come November I found myself the proud owner of 3lbs, 12oz of black Icelandic lamb fleece. I know that doesn't sound like much, but can I just say...holy crap, this lamb was not messing around! I have no idea how this much wool came from such a tiny little creature.

Over the last couple of weeks I've washed some of the fleece, and carded what felt like a goodish bit (I am the world's slowest carder). I was feeling fairly proud of my progress until I dumped the remainder out this past weekend and did a little comparison.

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Back row, L to R: washed fleece, carded fleece. Front row: the rest of it

Right. I've got a bit of work to do.

October 20, 2008

Bertram*

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'allo mate!

Saturday I was feeling a bit lurgey, so I figured a little spinning was just what I needed to perk me up. Turns out I was wrong about the perking, but I now have 2 more skeins of yarn and a little more spinning experience under my belt!

The Deets: 100g Wensleydale from Gwenyth Glynn Wensleydales, Navajo plied. A little unbalanced, but aren't we all?

How this is better than the last yarn
- I split the fiber in half before prepping it so I'd have two 50g skeins (so much more satisfying than my normal big skein and little skein).
- I used better-quality fiber. Funny how that makes a difference.

Wensleydale?:
Up until recently, I thought that Wensleydale was a variety of cheese, but it turns out that wherever in Britain it is they must make a few sheep too. My inexpert opinion of the Wensleydale wool is that it's nice and foofy. I'd say it scores about a 8 on a scale from scratch-tastic to soft. Definitely knitable.

Speaking of Spinning...
Does anybody have any recommendations for good websites or books that can instruct me in the ways of plying? I seem to have the basic single down, but plying gives me hives.

In other news
We're doing a little maintenance around the blog these days. Seems things need a little spiffing up. Rae, you'll be pleased to hear that I've updated and straightened out my categories. Hopefully you can find stuff now.

*Continuing in the tradition of naming my handspun, beginning at the beginning of the alphabet. I haven't gotten too far yet, have I?

April 15, 2008

Algernon*

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greetings, knitters. we are single and on the prowl.

So I made some yarn, and frankly I'm a little underwhelmed. Granted it's been a couple of years since I've spun anything and I did pick the crappiest of the recently-purchased roving to practice on (some hairy el cheapo Romney with a goodish bit of v.m., short ends, etc.), so I'm not giving up yet.

The deets: 4oz Romney, 2ply. A tad underspun, but surprisingly balanced. Not worth measuring WPI yet, I think.

What I learned:
-Making a little reference card with a sample to refer to does in fact help me spin a more consistent thickness.
-I should probably split the roving by the number of bobbins I plan to fill so that I can minimize the leftover singles.
-Buy nicer fiber!

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Abe Lincoln agrees that this is quite possibly the most unremarkable yarn ever.

The plan: plain old mittens look like about the only option here. I'm going to definitely knit with this so that I can see what I need to do differently.

Question for all you spinners out there: do I need to wash it and set the twist before I knit with it, or can I just knit and block?


*I figure if I name my yarn, I'll be more likely to keep track of it. So I'm starting with the beginning of the alphabet and moving on from there. We'll see how soon I make it to Xavier, Yul and Zebadiah.

April 13, 2008

In which there is much fiber

Did you know I have a spinning wheel? Probably not. It's been a while since I hauled her out. The truth is that I've never practiced enough to become consistent and I have a bad habit of buying quantities of white fiber (with the intent to dye and spin up enough to make a garment) and then never quite having the confidence to get started. So you could say that things have languished in the spinning department.

Fast forward to yesterday when Wendie and I made our annual sojourn up to the Fiber Event, in Greencastle, Indiana*. Wanna see what I got?

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Romney, Alpaca, Cormo x Border

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Blue Faced Leicester & silk (indigo/osage), Corriedale & silk (osage/cochineal/madder), Corriedale (indigo)

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more Romney, Shetland lambswool (from Theodora the sheeplette)

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Clun Forest, Wensleydale, Border Leicester

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Icelandic handspun from Schacht Fleece Farm (spun by Mandy from Chloe the sheep)

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the coolest cotton towel ever, handwoven by a fellow named Ivan, purchased from his granddaughter and great-granddaughter

That's mostly fiber, isn't it? All natural and local and (best of all) in small enough quantities that I can just mess around and see if I like it...kindof like a fiber buffet. Looks like my inner spinner may have woken up (or alternately, my inner misguided fiber-buyer may have just gone on a wild rampage).

*proof that I was actually there can be found on Nicole's blog. I did not take pictures. In my defense, it was horribly cold and rainy and I didn't want to take off my mittens. Had I taken pictures they would have been of the gals (Wendie, Orata, Nicole, Kalani, Leigh, and Bloggless Norma), the poor frightened sheep that was bolting around the grounds with people running after it (strangely enough, the ONLY live sheep I saw there yesterday), and my blue lips. Thankfully we had boys and a nice lasagna to go home to. There was also a Wendie-made blueberry pie for dessert which was FANTASTIC. A good day.

December 6, 2006

waiting for the light

Beau is all put together! All I need to do is sew on the buttons and steam those sleeve cap seams a bit. I've been putting that off in favor of some spinning since we won't actually be able to get any photos with natural light until this weekend. Beau deserves more than a bed shot. Ick. For now you get a teaser:

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sunlight courtesy of me sleeping in yesterday morning...

The brown lambswool there will (hopefully) become another Christmas gift. Depending on how the yarn turns out, it could be any of a number of things. I'm in as much suspense as you.

And, in case you doubt me about the light thing (which I'm sure you don't, because it's probably just as dark where you live), here's what the sky looked like at 5:30 last night:

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Dark. Pretty, but dark.

July 17, 2006

I like my cantaloupe radioactive, don't you?

Friday and Saturday were devoted to dying, spinning and plying.

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roving, singles, 2-ply (plus pink merino I Navajo-plied to free up a bobbin)

Score - the vision in my head 0, willful wool 1.

The colorway was supposed to be more of a fiery reddish orange with a little yellow thrown in for interest. The colors I ended up with aren't terrible...I just can't for my life think of anything I'd want knitted out of them. Also, It appears I should have spun my singles more tightly since the two-ply is pretty relaxed and doesn't look very durable.

Oh well, this one lands in the learning experience camp. An overdye might be in order. Unless someone can think of something nice to do with 170g of crappy neon wool...anybody?

April 9, 2006

Fleece Fair Report

I had a v. excellent time with Wendie at the Fleece Fair yesterday. There’s really nothing better than spending hours meandering through booths of knitting and spinning stuffus. I pretty much just took pictures of animals. (So did Wendie…she's your gal if you like the cute baby bunny and lamb shots).

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We cruised all the booths a couple of times and then fortified ourselves with fair food before making final purchases. I managed to be fairly restrained, and only bought things that I can't normally find around here. Aside from some needles and a pound of white merino roving, I got some Romney lamb's wool in a lovely chocolaty color:

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The owners of the booth had wound all of their rovings into beautifully spherical eight ounce balls. I'm such a sucker for presentation.

The least expensive thing I bought:

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A copy of Wool Gathering #63, the Saddle-Shoulder Aran Cardigan. This fetching design has the much-coveted spousal approval necessary to become the next Thunk Sweater. Besides, I've wanted to knit an Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern for ages, and this fits the bill almost perfectly (almost, because the pattern is by Meg Swanson, not EZ). Close enough, I say. I'm going to finish a few other projects that are hanging around before starting this one though.

I'm off to go work on the Apricot Jacket, but I'll leave you with a shot of Cold Sheep:

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February 15, 2006

Catch Up

I feel like I'm running behind on everything knittish lately. For example:

The Knitting Olympics: Where am I? Still swatching.

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I've been v. inspired by Adrian’s squirrels lately (these, and these) so I went ahead and decided to chart some of my own to include in the mittens. I accidentally used the knitting graph paper sideways and the squirrels came out a bit on the tall side, but I like them anyway. I just need to chart out the rest of the mitten and, you know, actually knit two mittens in the next 10 days. La, la, la...

Thunky's ex Christmas ex Birthday Sweater
: This is the reason I haven't gotten going on the mittens. I am almost finished--just a little knitting on the collar, sewing in ends, and then sewing in the zipper. I will be so happy to finish this one. You have no idea how it has tormented me.

Dog Yarn Questions: Better late than never, eh?

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-Both Chris and Carola were wondering about doggy odors. Thunk and I conducted a smell test a few nights ago (I got the yarn wet and we both sniffed it) and it didn’t smell much. Mostly it smelled like the woolite I used to wash it. I would compare it to smelling wet wool…you can tell it came from an animal, but it’s not repellent. I think once any oils get washed out of the fiber it pretty much stops smelling like anything.

-Yuki was wondering if the dog hair was slippery or tricky to spin with. I don't think so. I spun with the fluffy underneath hairs, not the glossy top coat, so once things were carded it was actually a lot like spinning wool. However, you should know that I did the actual spinning almost a year ago…I might have suppressed any memories of difficulties.

-*Karen asked if it would be possible to get variegated yarn from my multicolored dog. I think so...if I had wanted to I could have separated the colors out instead of carding them together and then alternated colors as I spun. That would just require a bit more forethought.

For more info on dog yarn (or chiengora, as some like to call it) check out this site or this one.

February 8, 2006

Shetland Yarn

Guess what? I spin! It may be a detail I've neglected to mention on the blog. I've got my own wheel and everything--Thunk and my Mum got together a couple birthdays back and got me a lovely Ashford Traditional. I still have miles to go before I'm a pro, (ratios? I can't even name the basic parts of the wheel yet!) but hopefully all I need is a bit more practice, and to spend some time with other spinners so that I can pick up some tricks.

In an effort to empty some bobbins for the Curry and Spinning Night that Wendie and I have planned for this weekend, I plied this yarn:

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Recognize the fiber? It's Shetland...Sheepdog. The fiber is from my pooch Sam, who lives with the parents out in Washington State. My Mum (who I suspect encourages eccentricities in her daughters so that she has more exciting gossip for the Aunties) considerately saved up a whole bag of Sam fiber for me when I asked last year.

Sam (pic courtesy of my fiber enabling Mum):

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The resulting yarn is a nice light heathery brown and pretty soft and fuzzy. There are some coarser guard hairs spun into the mix as well. I only have 37 grams, so I might have to spin up some more before I have enough to make anything. But then again, what would I make out of dog hair? A hat? Maybe something for my Mum...

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In other news, it's Thunky's birthday today! Happy 27th to my favorite boy!