Thursday, December 04, 2008

I'm Focused Man

I've been a busy little bee (or sheep) since my last post. I've been so focused on spinning lately its crazy. My wheels and I have become best friends. I wish I had another but I doubt my tiny apartment can hold them all. Too bad I'm not willing to give up one of lovelies. I have lots of handspun yumminess to show so moving right along.....

Let me briefly get the knitting FO's out of the way first. First off is a hat I finished a while ago for my future hubby. Funny thing is that I casted on originally for the little one in mind but I realized about an inch in that it was going to be way too big. I asked the hubby if he minded the color and he said it was cool. I forced asked him nicely to pick a pattern out of my default Japanese knitting book because he's way too picky and I wanted to make sure that he would actually wear the thing. He loves it and its coming in rather handy right about now.
Yarn: Vanna's Choice
Pattern: #032 from Knitting Pattern 300 ISBN:978-4-529-04172-0

Next FO is a special project I made for my Nana. She's the matriarch of our family and she turned 90 years old on the 22nd so you know I had to make her something extra special. Since I was on a budget, I decided to knit a spectacular pattern with economy yarn. Her favorite color's pink so I went with the Hemlock Ring Blanket in Caron One Pound. The yarn doesn't block well but I already knew that before I started.
We all got together and threw her a surprise birthday party. Of course she cussed us all out for not telling her about it (gotta love those southern women) but you could tell she was eating it all up. Here's a picture of her all decked out. Can you imagine experiencing Jim Crow and a black president all in one lifetime? I thank God every day for having her in my life.
On to my current obsession, yarn. I was a member of the Spunky's Fiber Club last year but I canceled when I started to get a little backlogged. Well she's opening the club back up in January (you guys better leave me a spot, I know how you fiberhaulics are!) and I am so psyched. Only problem is that I still have stuff from 2007. So to make me feel better, I'm trying to spin it all up before I join again. So far I have two finished and I'm working on another.

This is Tulips from her May 2007 offering. Its 100% BFL and was a joy to spin. I tried to spin it a little thicker than I normally would. I ended up with almost 3 ounces and about 137 yards at 12 WPI which is about sport weight.

I then tried something different by spinning up a long wool which I don't have a lot of experience with.
This is Harvest Haze which is 100% Lincoln wool. I spun this from the fold to try and wrangle those long fibers. It is rather scrathy but I picture knitting this into a double knit hat with something soft and luxurious on the underside.

Right now I'm working on the the Aspen fiber from the September 2007 installment. Its a merino tencel mix which is really slippery and shiny. I'm also spinning this from the fold but I'm spinning as thin as I can so I can get a great lace weight in the end. I'm thinking of navajo plying it to gain a little thickness in the end.

Once I'm done with this, I only have the July 2007 fiber which is a colorfully dyed Shetland called Celebration. Then more fiber for me!

This post is getting a bit long so I'll try to wrap it up. Thats what I get for staying away so long. I already dipped into my Rhinebeck haul. I spun up the sock wool that I snagged at Little Barn. I had two ounces of both blue and green which equated to two skeins of tw- ply loveliness.

I wanted to share my sheep to shawl project that I'm working on but I don't think I have time. I'll do it briefly:
Step One: Scoured Romney Fiber from RH Lindsay.

Step Two: Hand carded into rolags. (dog brushes really help with picking the wool)

Step Three: Spun long draw on my hitchiker. (Dave is working on a double treadle hitchhiker yay!)

Step Four: Plied and felt blocked for a nice fluffy yarn. (this skein is about 2 ounces and 83 yards at worsted weight)
I just found the perfect project for this project yesterday. I picked up this wonderful British magazine at B & N and all I can say is I am in luv! Its called Yarn Forward and it is a great magazine. I would get a subscription if I could. Anyway, I couldn't find any pictures of the pattern I want to make so here's one straight from the mag.
Its a one piece cable yoked sweater that I can't wait to knit. So far, I've processed about 3 and a half skein so I have a bunch more to go. I'll keep you posted. That's about it, I'm off to read my fifty-eleven blogs in my reader. Be breezy.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

PRB - Post Rhinebeck Blues

Is anyone else sad that Rhinebeck 2008 over? Oh well, only 347 days until Rhinebeck '09 woo hoo! I know you guys must have had your fill of Rhinebeck posts but there's always room for more....just like jello! I had fun, like I always do but of course my throat started bothering me the day of the event which turned into a week of feeling icky. I'm much better now but I haven't played with anything I bought yet becasue I was waiting to take pictures so here you go.

This year was all about the family so I only made fiber purchases at two vendors. I hit up Little Barn as soon as I hit the entrance. Last year they were my last stop and my budget was almost gone so I couldn't buy all that I wanted but I learned my lesson. Here's the haul:
8 ounces of CVM combed top in a natural color
8 ounces of Fine Wool in the Alabama Color #42 (navy and orange)
3 ounces of Merino and Soy Silk carded Roving
and 4- 1 ounce bags of a carded wool & acrylic blend for socks (2 blue, 2 green)

After Litte Barn, I did some fun kid activities with the kiddie then I headed next door to building A to pick up a Lucet from the Rouge Lucet. I had planned to buy one since I missed my opportunity last year. It was just hard deciding which one to get. I already lost the paper with the wood information but its still purty to look at just the same. Oh, and if you don't know what a Lucet is, its basically something to make two stitch i-cords with.

After that, I had some fried artichokes, went to the Ravelry meetup, hung out with the family then went to my next vendor of choice, Carolina Homespun. It was really crowded in there but I was on a mission. Here are the goods:
2 - 2 ounce hanks of Tactile Fiber Arts BFL roving in the Dogwood colorway (had to support my girl Maia)
an 8 ounce batt of a wool, mohair, angora, glitz mix from Applegate Country Fibers
and a 4 ounce Crosspatch Creations Batt that I can't wait to start spinning!

That about sums up my experience. I also snagged an ounce of angora during a walk through one of the barns. I have some spinning and knitting wips and fo's to show next time. I leave you with a family pic.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

A Dream Realized

Over a year and a half ago, I joined a knit along that was supposed to help motive me to knit my first sweater. Let me rephrase that, my first adult sized sweater. I've knit many a baby sweater but I had yet to try my hand at something that didn't take more than a couple of skeins of yarn to complete. I consider myself an equal mix of a process & finished product knitter. Although I love the act of knitting I also have a short attention span. I'll fall in love with a project but then quickly lose steam when I've been knitting on it for too long so finishing this sweater was a real challenge for me. You cannot understand how proud I am that I actually finished a wearable garment! If you've been following this blog for a while, then you would remember that I mentioned this sweater maybe once or twice. Lets take a quick trip down memory lane.

I wanted my first sweater project to be something very special. I also wanted it to be a challenge. Although, something very complex might have frustrated me to no end, miles of stockinette would have likely led to a similar fate. So I searched long and hard and found the perfect sweater pattern in the Vogue Knitting Ultimate Book. I liked the wrapped style of the sweater and the cables & slanted rib pattern would keep me very engaged without driving me to drink.
I started with so much enthusiasm but lost steam after completing the back piece.I think it took about 2 or 3 months to finish that piece so I was just imagining what a daunting task I had ahead of me. I took my Necia's advice and decided to knit a sleeve, then knit the left front, then knit the other sleeve and lastly the right front. It took about a year to complete this process because I would lose focus and abandon my poor project for a while. Then I would revisit the pieces in progress while going through the stash and rekindle my joy and try to dedicate myself to accomplishing my goal. This sweater requires 2 belts to be knit which resembles really skinny scarfs to me. Scarfs are not my favorite thign to knit so it took all my crafty powers to finish one.

My middle name should be procrastination because I swear I have it down to a science. Once I had all the pieces done, the hardest obstacle for me was getting them all seamed together. I knew I could do it but I would get so discouraged just thinking about how much seaming had to be done, and how much I disliked doing it. I also had this nagging feeling that I would do a horrible job seaming the thing and it would come out looking like some mishapen mass of wool. I feared that allmy hard work would be for nothing. SoI kept putting it of for later until one evening I just had to push myself to do it. I seamed the shoulders in one night using slip stitch crochet. In fact, I used that method throughout the whole sweater because its quick and easy. I think the sweater sat for another couple of months until the weather started to get a bit nippy and certain people finished like two sweaters in a week. So I pushed myself to finish this sweater and what an accomplishment it is! There's something to be said about feeling warm and cozy and knowing that you evoked that feeling with just some sticks and string. Now when people ask "Hey, did you make that?" I can say "Why yes, in fact I did!".
Started: January 23, 2007
Finished: October 7, 2008
Pattern: Oscar De La Renta Wrap Cardigan from Vogue Knitting, Ultimate Knitting Book
Yarn: Patons Decor in Sage Green, roughly 6 skeins
My Ravelry Link

This may start a trend. Maybe I'll finish that other sweater I started back in January (2008). I finished all the pieces in about a month but its been sitting in my WIP basket waiting to be seamed up (notice a pattern?). Hey, you never know.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

T minus 14 days and counting.....

Can you tell how excited I am about Rhinebeck? I thought the thrill might be gone being that this is my third year in a row attending but I've still got those first time jitters. My budget is really low this year, mainly because I'm going more to socialize than to burn a hole in my pocket. I should be wearing a green sweater (if I can ever finish seaming it up, but that's another story) so if you see me, please say hi.

This should be a short post. I just have a small knitting & spinning FO for your viewing pleasure. Oh, speaking of Rhinebeck (I know, I'm all over the place) I got these cute shoes at DSW the other day. My SO said that they look "old lady"ish but I don't care, I love them anyway. They remind me of the indestructable Buster Brown shoes that my Mom used to make me wear back in the day. I got them a half size larger than I normally would to accomodate for my hand knit socks. If they only had them in green....

OK, where was I...thats right, FO's. Remember when I posted about the fugly scarf I was working on? Its a basic sheep to shawl item. I scoured the wool, dyed the wool, carded the wool, spun the wool and now knit the wool. It was intended to be a drop stitch scarf but I ran out of yarn so it magically morphed into a cowl. I think I may like it better this way. It's still a bit scratchy but I plan on giving it a nice long soak in conditioner or wool wash or something to soften it up a bit.

I also just finished the fiber I was spinning in my previous post. The colors are still a bit muddled but not as badly as I originally thought. I'm still very pleased with the results.
Fiber Source: Ashland Bay purchased at the Yarn Tree
Weight: 3.75 ounces
WPI: 14, Sport Weight yarn
Length: 217 yards

I don't have any projects planned for this yarn, maybe I'll do something different and knit a baby item instead of some socks. I'll just wait for the yarn to tell me what it wants to be when it grows up.

I guess thats about it. I told you it was gonna be a short post. I just finished knitting a cowl for a swap but I'll wait until my swapper receives it before I post a pic. Oh yeah, I almost forgot.......

I'm getting married! Yeah, my fiance (I love saying that) proposed to me on our anniversary and I was totally surprised. It was very romantic and I couldn't have pictured anything more special than the way he planned it. And the ring is freaking GREEN! What more could I ask for? See you guys in Rhinebeck!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Fiber Fever

Yup, I've been self diagnosed with an acute case of woolleria addictivosa. Can you tell that I've been watching the House marathon? But really, I've been spinning like a mad woman. I don't know whats gotten into me but it seems like I've got non stop wool on the brain. By the end of this post, you guys will let me know if I need to go into a 12 step program or something like that.

We'll start from the earliest to the latest. First up is my spinning project from last post. The singles were super thin so I decided to navajo ply. That means that I ended up with a 3 ply but I lost major yardage doing it that way which doesn't bother me much. I have no knitting patterns planned for this yarn so for now, it will be my little piece of fiber eye candy.Here are the approximate specs:
Yards: 113
Weight: 2 ounces
WPI: 20/fingering weight

I only have one project sitting on the wheel right now. This is about 3 ounces of Ashland Bay Fiber that I purchased from the Yarn Tree a while ago. My buddie Ann ( side note: Hi Nancy, Hi Maribel, Hi Kathleen, Hi Cara) was spinning something similar last weekend and it reminded me that I had some sitting in the stash. I'm stripping the roving as I spin so the yarn doesn't get too muddy. I'm trying really hard not to spin this too thin being that I have plans for this yarn. It's roughly 24 wraps per inch which should be worsted weight once I ply it. I'm imagining a hat for the little one.

Extreme close up. Aint it purty?

I've also been practicing my spinning skills a lot. My comfort zone is spinning high twist, very thin singles in a short forward draw. I wanted to practing spinging low twist singles in case I decide to offer some in my shop. I grabbed some merino roving that I've had for a very long time and got crackin. Here's my attempt at spinning singles and its not too shabby if I do say so myself.
It's about sport weight and I think it could be knit into a lovely light little lacy scarflette (try saying that 3 times fast). This skein weighs around 1.25 ounces and is 106 yards.
Yup, there's more. In preperation for Rhinebeck, I'm still trying to clear some room for this years haul. I decided to card up a Felters Fiber pack of wool that I got from Misty Mountain farm. It had a whole bunch of differnt wool in there. I can't wait to see how the yarn will come out.

Lastly, here's my newest sheep to FO project. Looking at the previews of the upcoming spin off magazine got me really excited about spinning woolen and worsted yarns. As I said before, I already practiced spinning low twist yarns, now I wanted to practice spinning long draw or woolen yarns. I did a search on videos and came up with this wonderful one. I tried her technique and guess what, it worked! It finally worked. I had tried so many times before to spin long draw and it just never worked out but this time it finally did. Here's my sample that I made out of my first woolen yarn (yay)
I used some domestic wool that I purchased from RH Lindsay. The wool is not all that great but hey, you get what you pay for so I'm not complaning. I'm carding up a bunch of this stuff into light fluffy rolags. I'll most likely dye the yarn and then knit it into a vest.

I couldn't leave you guys with absolutely no knitting so here's my current commuter project.
I'm knitting the Drop Stitch scarf even though I think there's another pattern out there that's very similar. I'm naming this the Fugly scarf. Yes I think this is coming out rather ugly and I'm refusing to give up on it. I promised myself that I would try to knit with my handspun more often and I'm going to try and stick by my word. Just try not to make fun of me when you see me rockin it this winter.

See what I mean about the fiber addiction thing? Do I need professional help. I think this years trip to Rhinebeck should cure me. What do you think?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Lazy Spinner

So I promised a spinning post so here it is. It may be a lazy one but I promise some nice fibery eye candy. I'll work with the present and work my way back. Right now I'm spinning some fiber that I purchased at Rhinebeck last year. I lost the ball band but according to my Rhinebeck post, this fiber is from A Touch of Twist and its about 2 ounces. Its pin drafted wool and basically spins itself. The singles are coming out to be roughly 23wpi and I have no plans for the finished yarn so who knows what it'll look like (see? lazy!). I may navajo ply it, I may ply it with something else, who knows. This fiber seems to be my "serenity now" comfort spinning.
My other fiber offering is one that I mentioned in a previous post. This was spun from a dilectable Grafton Fiber Batt that I received in a swap a while ago. I tried to spin it a little thicker than I normally do. I haven't had a chance to block it and measure the yardage (see? lazy!) but it weighs 2.6 ounces and is roughly 16wpi (about dk weight). The fibers may bloom a bit once its had a bath and whipped a bit. I'm thinking of making a winter hat for my little one, I just need to stalk ravelry for the perfect pattern.

Speaking of little one, he attended his first day of school yesterday and I'm so proud of him (and myself for not crying). My baby's growing up, OK let me stop before I get all emotional. By the way, that is not his school in the background, I wouldn't want you guys to think that.

Lastly I just want to mention a great site that Rosa put me on to. All I have to say is....Picnik...WOW. It's a great site for editing your photos, especially for us non photoshopers. I absolutely love it (can you tell?). I haven't really had a chance to play around with everything on there but I edeited all the photos in this post on Picnik. I also edited the photos in my shop too so go check em out. This is a short post because I'm headed to my knitting group at Barnes & Nobles so I'll catch you on the flip side.

Party over here!

Poor, poor neglected blog. I blame ravelry, only because I want to deflect the blame off of myself. Yes, bad, bad ravelry indeed. I haven't been on Ravelry much lately either....well then I'll blame laziness, yup, thats who dunnit!

I kid, I kid but I have been keeping my crafty self busy but first lets start with the big shindig Sahara and I hosted this past weekend. I'm speaking of our 3rd annual Sistah Friends Knitta-que. We got booted out of our regular spot on St Nicholas Ave so we scooted the party down a block or so. We still had a grand ole time and I think everybody left there a couple of pound heavier ( I know I did).
Sahara & Kim scoping out the location.....
Kimmie & her Frickie gearing up for some impromtu lessons
Veronica maxin' & relaxin'Grill shotMy little one playing with his Transformer waiting for the other kids to arrive
The two kewlest dudes I know!Sherrin showing off her remixed Juliet (fabulous!)
Shameka icing up some sinfully delicious red velvet cupcakes (yum) Tawana, her mini me & SherrinThe littlest (and cutest by far) barbequerXenobia catching a bite

Last but not least, Sahara, the brainchild behind this entire event. If she hadn't of dreamt this idea up 3 years ago, then we wouldn't have had a chance to connect and celebrate with our knitting cyber 'friends in our heads'. I thank you for that and all the energy and resources you put into making this event happen. Big ups!

I thought I had a picture of Veronica but I guess I was too busy talking her ear off to pull out my camera. I appreciate all the sistahfriends that came out to represent, thank you for trekking all the way to Harlem in the name of Sistahhood. I must say that I am disappointed in all the no shows. I'm not gonna rant but the lack of consideration did get to me a bit. Anyhoo, thats about it as far as the event went. We're already brainstorming for next years event!

Now on the the WIP's & FO's, Knitting & Crocheting, Spinning & Sewing. Actually there hasn't been any sewing, I was just trying to go with the flow. I'm working on two project right now, a stay at home project and a travel project. I've been working on my home project for a while now [goes to check ravelry], since June! Its a shrug I'm planning on rocking this fall called Primavera. The pattern is by the very talented (and friend in my head) Rosi G. When I first saw this pattern, I knew I had to have it. I casted on immediately and knit on it with a passion until it got to big to travel with. Hopefully I'll have it done by September. Here's my progress so far.

My travel project is of course a pair of socks. I've gotten comfortable with doing them one at time. The trick to beating second sock syndrome is to cast on for the second sock immediately after finishing the first. I mean you can't even delay for a minute, believe me it works. The pattern is the Riverbed master pattern from Cat Bordhi's sock book. The leaf stitch pattern is #169 from the Japanese book Knitting Pattern Book 300. I'm love the pattern, love the yarn, love this sock. I should be done soon and on to the next thing.

In between working on the shrug and starting these socks, I got a little obsessed with making .....washcloths. When I say obsessed, I mean, I made 4 in 4 days. Here's they all are but they may look a little beat up because my family and I have already started using them. I'm planning on making some more soon.

This post is pretty long already so I'll save the spinning & crocheting for the next time I post. Hopefully that will be sooner rather than later. Till then, be breezy!