Thursday, May 29, 2008


So, I have meant to add this in to one of my last two blog entries, and have forgotten both times. This is directed to the Janey that left a comment inquiring about the meaning of "No Wire Hangers" associated with Joan Crawford.

Janey, I have tried to email you, but the emails have bounced back.

It has nothing to do with back alley abortions.

In order to understand the joke you have to watch the movie "Mommie Dearest" so, put it to the top of your Nexflix or Bockbuster queue!

I would try to explain it further, but I think you really have to see for yourself.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Catching Up.

I hope everyone had a weekend. I usually don't get a long weekend for memorial day, but I did this year. I stayed at home the whole weekend, and used the time to get caught up on some projects I have gotten behind on.

In the spirit of getting caught up I have some over-due "Thank You"s to make:

About a week ago I got a mysterious package in the mail, it was rather large, and light and I didn't recognize the return address. I opened it up to find this:

This is two half pound balls of hand carded, hand dyes rovings from Jehovah Jireh Farm. It was a gift from Deb for helping out at her booth at the NH Sheep and Wool Festival.

In Addition to saying thanks to Deb, I would like to put in a prayer request here. I won't share any details, but Deb is going through a tough time, and could certainly use some extra prayers right now. Please pray for her well being.

Another Thank you goes out to Terri, my partner in the exchange for the MonthlyBookmarks group. I received this wonderful package from her a few days ago.

She included two hand made bookmarks. The flower bookmark is counted cross stitch, and the red and black bookmark is a beaded lace knit bookmark (it's red thread with black beads). I love them both, especially since I do not do cross stitch or bead work, so these are both items I would not make myself. She also included some Canada souvenirs- including chocolate loonies- and a pewter zipper tag that is a sweater still OTN. Thanks Terri!

Slightly embarrassing since I am the "group owner", but I am actually late sending my package to Terri. I do have a good reason, though. I had been hunting all over for materials for a special project for her. Last week I had given up on ever finding what I wanted, and was about to mail her package out with out it when I finally located what I was looking for. There will be pictures after she receives it.

Now onto the things I have gotten caught up with:

This crazy little animal is a toy I have had in the works-aka in a bag in the back of my closet- for about 2 months. He is based on a cartoon character, with whom I am unfamiliar. My friend's little girl had asked Santa for this toy for Christmas when she saw him at the mall last December. He told her he had lots of these dolls in stock. Well, Santa was confused, and no one makes a doll for this character.

I had a picture about 2x3 inches big to go on, and I've never made a stuffed animal before. Hopefully I will never have to again, but this little girl has spent the last five months wondering why Santa didn't fulfill his promise to her. Hopefully his will look close enough to the real thing to pass.

I have a friend starting Chemotherapy tomorrow, and have been saying for three weeks now that I had to knit up some hats for her. I finally got to that this weekend, too.

The brown hat was a free online pattern, the Lace Edged Women's Hat, made in Classic Elite Premiere. As I was knitting it I realized I had never knitted a hat before. What a wonderful instant gratification project!

The blue hat is made with Knit One, Crochet Too Wick. I'd never tried this yarn before, and I loved it. It makes a thick and spongy, but breathable fabric that wicks moisture away from the skin. I have to get more of this stuff.

There was no pattern for the blue hat. I knew that I didn't particularly care for the shaping at the top of the other hat, so I just did what I thought would work better, and luckily it did!

I actually got caught up on a bunch of other projects, but as this post is getting very long I will give you just one more for today.

I started to work on a shawl for my mother, and got about 8 hours worth of spinning in. Unfortunately I was spinning and being social at the same time, and my plied yarn turned out thicker than I had wanted, so I will have to start over with that. I am very excited about the yarn I am making for this project, and will post about it another time.

The shawl itself will be of my own design. I have been charting and swatching, and I came up with this:

Yes, it looks like something you would find in any stitch dictionary on earth! That part is slightly disappointing, but I do like it, and am going to use it. I will just have to design some fancy edging to make it more unique.

The good part of taking the time to chart, and test knit this is that now I am so acquainted with the pattern flow I will not need to look at the chart at all when knitting the shawl. I didn't even need it for the swatch. If I had taken the pattern from a stitch dictionary I still would have had to convert it to fit into the four wedges of the square as it grows out from the center.

The sample was knit in a 50/50 linen cotton blend from my stash. It's sport weight yarn on size 4 needles. The actual shawl will be much lighter yarn, on much larger needles. This was just to get an idea of how the pattern would look.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Spiral Shawl Finished

Last night I finally finished the sewn bind off for the Spiral Shawl. I washed it, and finished pinning it into position around 1 am. It turned out a bit smaller than I expected, but you never can tell when a piece is all rumpled up like a sack on a circular needle. The fabric is airy and translucent, as I had hoped. In this photo it is draped over the railing of the front porch. When I backed up enough to get a shot of the whole thing you could barely see the haze of knitted fabric. This is a close up, with two layers of the shawl in the top portion.
This is the shawl immediatly after having the blocking pins removed. The lighting is very poor, but the tan rug does allow the pattern to show up well.
This shot is on the winter ravaged lawn. I wanted a full sun shot to give a sense of the colour. It does appear much darker than this in most light, but this shows the blue and lavender that really is in there.
I called my sister this morning, and she just happened to be on her way to the mall 2 miles away from my house. She lives an hour's drive from here, so I told her to stop by while she was in the area, and I gave her the shawl when she got here. Even though I had intended the shawl to be bigger she was very happy with the size.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Quick Update: Spiral Shawl

Sorry for the flourescent light-photo, but since it is now a bit easier to see the spiral pattern I thought I'd give you all a quick update on the shawl. I stuck a white plate inside the shawl to keep it stretched out enough for the pattern to show. It is now way too big for me to stretch out on one hand.

The shawl is currently at 336 stitches. At it's current rate of growth I think my original estimate of starting the edging at 440 stitches will be perfect. So, there are just 26 rounds to go before I start the edging. I'm enjoying this so much [something I can't say about any of my other WIPs] that I will be sorry to see it end.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Fiber Prep, Day 1

I did manage to get started with my raw mohair today. I spread it all out on a sheet on the front porch and picked out all of the fecal matter, big bits of vegetation, and clotted/felted clumps. There was actually much less waste than I expected. This is what I threw away.

After picking out all of the totally gross stuff I started going through the fiber more carefully to remove smaller bits of vegetable matter, second cuts that would be too short to spin, and to just get rid of some of the dirt. Doing this I did find more fiber that went into the trash pile, but not much.
On first glance, most of the locks would look like a tangled clotted mess, but a bit of finger teasing, or a couple flicks with the dog comb would smooth it all out, get rid of some of the excess dirt, and bring some of the fiber's natural lustre out.
It was a cool windy day, which was probably not the best day for this sort of activity, but I did get about half of the fiber sorted.
Besides my trash pile I had two piles of good fiber. One that had been thoroughly picked through, with all second cuts, VM, excess dirt, and other undesirable stuff picked out. The second still needs to be gone through more closely.

After bagging up the fibers I was left with this pretty mess on my sheet.
The photos below show the cleaned up fiber. The one on the top is a close up of the more carefully cleaned bag of fiber, and the one on the bottom is the batch that I will go through again.
Originally I was planning to wash the fiber in small batches, but I am now leaning towards doing it all at once in the bath tub.
I'll continue to post as I go through the process.

A Woolly Good Weekend

This past weekend was the NH Sheep and Wool Festival. It was my first sheep and wool festival, and I'm glad I started with one of the smaller ones. Even though New Hampshire is not as big as Rhineback, or the Maryland sheep and wool festival there was so much to see for a newbie like me that it was almost overwhelming.
I arrived just before 10 am on Saturday morning. The festival had opened it's gates at 9. It was not yet crowded when I first arrived. First on my agenda was to locate the booth for The Irish Ewe, my friend Deb's Shop. For those of you who don't know, I met Deb at the Fryeburg Fair in Maine last fall, and she gave me my first taste of spinning wool. In November, when I had my own wheel, I trekked up to her shop for lessons.
This weekend Deb was a very proud teacher. When I showed her the shawl I was knitting out of my hand-spun lace weight she couldn't believe it. She kept telling people to go look at my yarn, and shawl. It was my 15 minutes of fame. I guess I have progressed more quickly than I had realized.

Just a few minutes after I found Deb her booth started to fill up. I took a picture for her, since her camera wasn't handy. Little did we know that this was merely the calm before the storm. For a good portion of the day Deb, and her daughter Dagny couldn't keep up with all of the people coming through to buy their rovings, and yarns. [If you are unfamiliar with their shop you have to check out their custom spun, organic Irish Aran Yarn] I spent a good part of the afternoon cashing out people's purchases just so they had time to answer questions, and help people find the products they were looking for.

My first purchase of the day was from the Irish Ewe. It was some roving from Deb's Jacob sheep. Deb doesn't actually know this, but this fleece is the real reason we met. I saw it in her booth at the Fryeburg fair, and loved it so much that I thought I absolutely HAD to have some. I knew nothing about spinning at that point, but there was supposed to be a drop spindle demonstration in the fiber house shortly. So, I thought maybe I would stay for the demonstration, and bring home some of this wool to spin up. Well my constant glances over in Deb's direction finally got her to come over and start up a conversation. I never did buy the roving that day, but I have some now!

Luckily I did get to get out and walk around the festival a bit before it got too busy, and make some other purchases. I had a mental list of things I wanted to find, but I also wanted to see as much as possible before I started making purchases, so that I could prioritize where my $$ was spent. The first booth that tempted me away from that plan was West Elm Farm. As soon as I saw the fibers there I knew I had to have some.
Because they were my first purchases of the day I tried not to go overboard. You never can tell how many "must have" things you will find. I settled on some white mohair roving, and some grey Icelandic roving. I got 10 ounces each, and later really wished I had gotten more.

I tried to go back at the end to get more of these rovings, but I couldn't remember where he was located. Luckily I mentioned that I was holding back because I hadn't seen everything yet, and he told me that I could contact him any time for more. Because I foolishly lost the contact information from the woman who sold me that wonderful mohair/merino roving at Spa, I was very careful to keep his information safe.

I made one non-woolly purchase. This is 7oz of organic green cotton. I had been wanting some colour grown cotton for my stash. Who knows if it will ever be spun up, because spinning cotton is seriously tedious work, but I am glad to have it for when the urge strikes.

My final, and perhaps most exciting purchase of the day, was this grey mohair raw fleece.

I had wanted to buy a completely unprocessed fleece just to have the experience of working a project entirely "sheep to shawl" as they say. Of course, in this case it will be goat to shawl. This was marked as two pounds, and I paid $12 for the whole thing. Deb tells me that coloured angora goats are very hard to come by, and it was a great price. However, I really think it is much more than 2 pounds. The total of the other fibers I bought was 31 ounces, and I had all of that (and a few odds and ends) in one bag, and the fleece in another, and the fleece felt much heavier. We'll have to see what it yields once I pick the grass and poop and other yucky stuff out.
I plan to blog the whole process. I think it will be fun to have a photo record of the whole project as it progresses.

My one disappointment of the day on Saturday was that I did not get to meet one of my ravelry friends that was there. I had sent Sophia a message in the morning to say what I was wearing, and that the best place to find me would be at the Irish Ewe's booth. I got a message from her that night saying that she made several trips to the booth to look for me. My guess is that we were probably with in a few feet of each other at least once, but either didn't recognize each other, or simply missed each other through the crowd. I was sitting in the back corner taking $$ most of the time.

Saturday ended with a nice dinner at Margarita's in Concord. I had actually never eaten there before, and was very pleasantly surprised to find a vegetarian section on the menu. I had cheese enchiladas, and they were yummy!

Sunday morning I had a voice mail message left by Deb the night before. She had left her cell phone charger plugged in in my car. She wanted me to mail it to her. Since I really didn't like the idea of her being so far from home, and have that long commute back with no phone, I decided she had given me an excuse to run back to the festival in the tiny window of free time I had on Sunday. Since it was Mother's day I had Mom in tow. I told her I wanted to get a picture of her with an alpaca, but she's too frightened of large animals. I told her the worst that would happen was that the alpaca would spit at her, and she found no comfort there.

As we were leaving I make a mad dash to try and find the West Elm Farm booth again, with no luck. However in that few minutes I did run into a ravelry friend Thadsoule. he had sent me a message to let me know he was going to be there Sunday, and what he would be wearing. As I took a corner I noticed the "cool boys knit" T-shirt he described. I did stop to introduce myself, but unfortunately really couldn't chat, as I had left Mom in line for snacks, and we were cutting it close to make it to family Mother's day festivities. It was fun to see him face to face, though. perhaps we will cross paths at another fiber event.

Well, I'm off to pick poop out of mohair. I know you are all jealous!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


I am finally working on something that I can share as I progress. This rumpled little ball of knitting is the beginning of Meg Swansen's Super Spiral Shawl from A Gathering of Lace.
I am using this handspun yarn, and size 9 needles.
If you are familiar with this pattern you know that it gives directions for a solid version, and an alternate eyelet version for every other spiral. I am making the solid version, so the eyelets will only be between the spiral sections. I am hoping the whole thing will be translucent in the end, and I think it will be, once it is blocked.
This shawl will be a present for my sister Sherryl. I'm nearly certain she does not read this blog, and if she does she will just be surprised now, as opposed to later.
My sister, like most people in my family, is rather short. This is a wonderful thing for circular shawl making, as the shawl will be plenty big before I the rounds get so long they seem unbearable.
The last shawl I made was for my Sister-in-law, who is quite tall relative to my family, and I was quite concerned the shawl would be too small. At one point I actually ripped out the edging and knit out a few more inches. I was glad I did!
This shawl start with 8 sts, and increases by 8 sts every other row. Right now it's at 208 sts, and I think I will bring it to 440 before I start the bind off.
You can already get a good sense of the spiral forming.
In other knitting news, work on the secretive presents continues...slowly! I actually started the shawl to buffer my irritation with 2 of those projects.
One had to be frogged completely, as I noticed a glaring mistake about 50 rows down, and I couldn't go on.
The other is actually very close to completion, but I needed a break. I'm now working on it for about 20 minutes at a time. After today's 20 minutes it will be mainly finish work left. Perhaps you will get to see pictures soon.
This weekend is the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool festival. I plan to spend the day there on Saturday, and will get to spend time with Deb from The Irish Ewe. I can't wait!