Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Spinning, Frogging, and UFOs.

In my last post I said I was going to post some photos of my favorite yarns from my month long spinning frenzy. Somehow I have lost/deleted several of my favorites, but I do have a couple to share.

This one is probably my absolute favorite hank from the lot. This is a fingering to sport weight yarn. It's 2 ply, with one ply being natural silver alpaca, and the other lavender dyed angora. I had never spun angora before. It is a lot more work than spinning wool, but is so soft and squishy it was well worth it. I will definitely be buying more angora. Actually, I wish I could get a few bunnies, but that's not going to happen right now. I used to have rabbits, and always thought all that fur they shed was a nuisance. Ironic, isn't it?

This is another I was very fond of. It's a blend of bamboo and micro fiber. I bought the microfiber at the New Hampshire sheep and wool festival thinking it would be fun for blending. The bamboo has been in my stash for quite some time. I blended the two together on a drum carder, but made sure that the two fibers were still discernible from each other, I wanted the texture differences to be apparent in the finished yarn. It makes me think of a glacier. It's incredibly soft, and shiny, but I don't think it will be the hardest wearing yarn I've ever spun.

I wish I had the rest of the yarn photos I wanted to post, but perhaps they will show up some day.

Since I don't have as many hand spun photos as I wanted I'll share a project disaster story.
A few months ago a co-worker of mine announced that she would be leaving. It was a second job for her, and was becoming too much. This is someone who has always loved my knitting, and has wanted me to teach her to knit herself a shawl. I decided to make her a shawl as a going away present.
I am very fortunate to have some beautiful yarn shops very close by The Elegant Ewe and Patternworks are both about a 20 minute drive. However, when it comes to lace weight yarns I am usually not thrilled with what is available, and often just spin my own.
This time I didn't have the time for it, and I decided I would have to make due with what was in the stores. I went over to the Elegant Ewe, and told them I needed a lace weight in brown ( my co-workers favorite colour for clothing). I ended up with Habu Textiles Super-fine Merino. Super-fine is no exaggeration, but I decided a double strand would work nicely.
This yarn has an incredible 747 yards per ounce! Even double stranded it didn't feel very substantial, but I was on a timeline, and I had purchased 4 one ounce cones of the yarn, and was determined that it was going to work.
I started a pi shawl on size 3 needles, and searched through all my stitch dictionaries for the perfect lace patterns to put into each ring of the shawl.
It wasn't growing as fast as I had hoped, but I had three weeks, and I had knit shawls in less time.
After about 24 hours (actual time spent knitting, not 1 day) I had a shawl the size of a bread plate, and realized that, at the very least I would have to knit the shawl half way through an increase round that Elizabeth Zimmerman had never thought necessary in her writings about the pi shawl.
Finally, I decided I had to admit defeat, and buy a heavier yarn. It would be quicker to buy a light fingering weight and start a shawl from scratch than it would be to finish this one.
(BTW- there was quite a bit of knitting worked after this photo was taken).
I went into work the day I decided to scrap the habu shawl, and was immediately approached by the intended giftee. "I've decided to stay!" she said, probably expecting me to be excited. Instead the exhausted/relieved exclamation of "Good, you don't need my damned shawl!" actually flew from my lips. I think I have to make her one now, anyway.
After this experience I thought back to the last shawl I started, which is now officially a UFO as it hasn't been touched recently enough to qualify as a WIP. I realized that I have quite a few project bags taking up valuable space. So, I decided this summer I am going to clear a few of those bags out.

I started with this hemp market bag. I began work on this many months ago when I needed a mindless project to take along to some event. I loved the idea of it, and couldn't wait to use it. After about a week of attention it sat by my bed in a tote.
Well, it became my first UFO turned FO! Not a major accomplishment, but it's one less UFO.

I have also been trying to get some work done on the sand afghan on a regular basis. It's now almost 50% complete. However, this is one project that I don't mind having sit around for a while. I really love working on it in bursts. It gets boring, and I put it away. After a while I really do get excited to work on it again. Not many projects are able to renew my interests after sitting around for a while.

So, even with out constant attention I know it will be finished some day. Now if I could just get back to those shawls....

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Another month has passed.....

with out a post. I really wanted to be better about posting, but I really have been busy.

I mentioned in one of my last posts how I was going to be a vendor at the Squam Art Workshops. Well, I mostly blame that event for my not posting. I was spinning and dyeing my but off for an entire month. It really was a wonderful experience, though (both the event itself, and all the preparation), and I would do it again, but I'm glad I will have some down time before I have to.

Since I was spending so much time spinning, I finally decided to try many different things I had been meaning to try. I really feel like I am a much better spinner now than I was six weeks ago. At some point I will sort through pictures of different yarns and share them here. Right now I will show you a photo of the booth Lynne and I had there.

The table we ended up using was not the original one assigned to us. We were originally given a round table two spots away. Annie Modessit was originally supposed to be in this spot, but when she saw Lynne & me bringing in all of our stuff she suggested we switch so that our fiber could be spread out more for people to touch & feel. What a sweet woman she is!

Make sure to check out the view of Squam Lake from the windows behind the table. The setting was georgeous, and I definitely recommend checking out the workshops if you ever have the opportunity.
Now on to some of the projects I have been working on since my last post. I won't get to them all today.
Here is one of my favorite recent FO's. It's the Filigree Bowl by Linda Permann. I made it with Pisgah article 960 (size 5 crochet cotton) in faded denim. This was a super quick project I made in one afternoon. It needs a fabric stiffener to help it hold it's shape. Once dry it's a beautiful piece to display. I use it as a catch all for my keys & phone, and other items by my front door.

The Meredith Tote is the most recent of my yarn & pattern kits through Pisgah. I took this picture on a dock in Meredith Bay, and decided to name the bag after the location.
I think this will be a great bag for a day at the beach. It's lacy enough to allow air to get in to wet swim suits or towels, but solid enough to keep everything in it's place.
This sample was made by Debbie Carey in Ohio. Thanks Deb!

I had mentioned before that I was in the process of making several baby blankets. This one is my favorite so far. I'm calling it Madison, after it's recipient. The pattern is still with it's tester right now, but it should be ready for a kit soon.
I have one more project to share today, and it's not knitting, or crochet, it's sewn. For the longest time I have been wanting to update my bedspread. I've been using the same beige down comforter for years now, and I've really been longing for a change.

Here it is. There is nothing wrong with it. It's just old and blah. The problem is that I really love sleeping under it. It's light weight, but really warm, and I hate to get rid of a perfectly good down comforter just because I am bored with it.
Last night I decided to give it a make-over. I had stopped into the Fabric store to price a few different fabrics I had in mind. My original thought was dupioni silk. Unfortunately they didn't carry it in the colours I wanted. To get the colours I wanted I would have had to mix silk and polyester. That just feels wrong.
However, all 54" decorator fabrics were 50% off, and it was the last day of the sale. So, I decided to go with a sueded fabric that came in the perfect colours. The problem was I didn't have time to go home and take measurements. So, I had to guess on the yardage I would need.
I took a guess that I thought would give me plenty of fabric for the cover, and I hoped enough to make a couple of pillow shams.
Here is my bed right now. The front worked out exactly as I hoped. As for my guess on the yardage...
Well, I had to use every single bit of the fabric to make up the back of the back of the cover. Literally, I threw away only the tiny trimmings that resulted in squaring the edges of the pieces.

You can see the back just came together. There is even a tiny bit of the woven selvage of the fabric peeking through one of the blocks. However, I do love it, and may even have to go back and pay full price for a couple of pillow shams worth of fabric!