Sunday, April 29, 2007

Sunday Outing -The Lavender Fields

Today, my husband and I took our little road trip out to The Lavender Fields in Northern San Diego County. I stocked up on yummy lavender soaps, bath gel, lotions and a lavender infused honey (for my honey). We took a leisurely walk around the gardens and then stopped up on the hill to sit for a while and just enjoy the birds singing and the view down the valley. What peaceful surroundings. On the way into the parking area, we saw a road runner scouting around for lizards. We were so excited. That made our day.
There are tons of prickly pear cacti on the grounds of The Lavender Fields. Many were in bloom and had much new growth. Paul picked a white furry cochenille bug off one of the prickly pears and squished it and got the red dye stuff on his fingers. Cochenille is a natural dye stuff that many dyers, like my friend Margie, like to collect and use.

And, what a pleasant surprise -- we ran into Mr. & Mrs. Twisted Knitster (Jerry and Debbie) at the Lavender Fields. They, of course, had their knitting bags in tow and planned on sitting and knitting while enjoying the ambience. [See,]
After we left The Lavender Fields, we headed down to Escondido to the French Bakery on Grand Avenue for some pastries. They have the best ever brioches and croissants.
Then off we went on side roads through the hills out to the coast, Solana Beach and Encinitas. Unfortunately, there was a street fair in Encinitas. Way too many people, no parking, and the Coast Highway was blocked off. We finally made our way around town and decided to head up the coast for home. What a fun excursion for a Sunday. Made me think, "Gee, we need to get out more often."
On Saturday, I went to La Petite Knitterie for our Saturday spinning group. Again, we had a good turn out, with Pam, Margie, Karen and Nancy. Then, Julie showed up a little bit later and literally had piles of yarn she had just spun and plied. She has been spinning for a few weeks and it appears she's got the bug real bad -- totally obsessed is the word on the street.
And, on the granny square front, I have finished another baby afghan using bright superwash merino that I dyed. These are so easy and so much fun.
And, in case anyone is wondering, yes . . . I've started another baby blanket . . . this time out of some natural silk and merino that I dyed in pastel colors. The funny thing is that my granny square obsession seems to have caught on with a bunch of the other knitter/crocheters at LPK. Granny squares are being crocheted by many, and everyone's work looks totally different and amazingly creative.
I have also been busy every day dyeing up roving and yarn for the booth at the Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene, Oregon (June 22nd - 24th). I've posted some of the fibers at my Capistrano Fiber Arts blog (see link to right). These are just a taste of what I will be taking to BSG.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Here are some pictures of the new sock yarn that I brought in to La Petite Knitterie last week. I had forgotten my camera on Saturday so I went in yesterday to take some pictures. I am so excited because we have had the most positive feedback on these new yarns.

While at LPK, I took a picture of some of the handspun yarns that La Petite carries. These are true artisan yarns from our local handspinners and from Lynne Vogel (author of The Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook). There are some luscious 100% angora yarns, many of which are the subtle natural colors of the angora rabbit and some dyed. There are also skeins of handspun kid mohair (with locks) and other fiber blends from our fellow spinner, Margie "MaBelle", from Laguna Beach, and skeins from Karen, Pam, Miryah, and of course Kat, who owns LPK.

Last night (Tuesday) was the monthly social knit and wine tasting at the Reserve Wine Bar next door. We knit and socialize and then around 8:00 p.m., we move to the Reserve and have a glass of wine or champagne and some good eats. We had a really nice group last evening and Martha brought her friend, Josephine, from South Dakota, who seemed to have a great time hanging out with us.

And, here are pictures of a couple of scarves I finally finished in which I used my hand-dyed yarn. The coral scarf was knit by stranding a silk/kid mohair yarn with a dupioni silk. The pale green scarf used the silk/kid mohair double stranded. The yarns were laceweight and the scarves are very light and airy.

Monday, April 16, 2007

I just had to start out by showing how my beautiful garden is coming along. There is do doubt that Spring is in full bloom. [Sorry, those of you still having winter.] As you can see, I love lavender. My husband and I are going to take a ride down to the N. San Diego County area on April 28th to visit The Lavender Fields, a wonderful lavender farm owned by Ellen Sullivan (a weaver/spinner friend) and her husband, Paul Bernhardy. They will open for the season on April 25th and will have their annual lavender plant sale that weekend. Ellen has a little general store featuring all of her lavender products and also a little wool house with hand-dyed yarn from her home-grown sheep. This is a trip that is well worth the ride. For more information:

NEW SOCK YARN!! My hand-dyed and handpainted superwash merino yarn is now in stock at La Petite Knitterie. We call it "La Petite Handpaints". I've crocheted a baby afghan out of this yarn, and knit up a sample sock. Patterns for both of these projects are in the store. Kat hopes to have this yarn available on her website some time in May. This is a fingering weight yarn with 150 yd. to the skein. So far, we've got 17 semi-solids and 9 variegateds. Last Saturday, we set this rainbow of skeins on the table, and before we could even label it, our knitters started buying.

Granny Square Madness! About a year ago, I learned how to crochet a granny square and went on a total crocheting binge using a colorful skein of my hand-dyed handspun yarn. Once I started, it was hard to stop, because each square was coming out different, yet it went together with all of the others. Of course, that's the beauty of handspun yarn. I have a pile of these granny squares sitting in my knitting basket begging to be put together, but here are a few. They are so pretty.

I hope this picture answers the questions we spinners always get: "Why do you do you that? Why don't you just go to the store and buy some yarn?" Duh!

So, then lately I have been goofing around with crocheted granny squares using the LPK Handpaints that I recently dyed. These little squares are so much fun and easy, too. I did some smaller squares this time, using a size "C" (2.75 mm) crochet hook. They are so cute. Oh, but do I have to put them together? Can't I just look at them?

Once I did these little solid squares, I had to see what the granny square would look like in the variegated yarn. Then I thought I needed to see what a solid colored edge would look like; and then maybe, I should try more of the variegated, etc. etc. and after a couple of days, I ended up with the baby afghan pictured below. It's about 22.5" x 22.5" but it can be made bigger if you just keep adding rounds of color.

And now -- my current granny square project -- another baby afghan. [Did I mention that these granny squares are addicting?] This time, I am using some odd balls of Blueface Leicester sportweight yarn that I have handpainted in variegated colors. This is turning out so colorful and is going a bit faster as it is on a size "E" crochet hook. This is all such fun. I hope that my projects will motivate my knitter and spinner friends to get out their crochet hooks and get granny square fever, too.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Exciting News!

This has been an exciting week for me. Sometimes I think life just can't get any better and then all of a sudden it's Spring and my fiber dreams start coming true. First, with the onset of warmer weather, my garden started to take off. My lavenders and roses are all abloom, and my tomato plants and herb garden are thriving. The buzzy bees abound.

Then, I got the long-awaited news that I will be sharing space in the "Woolgatherings" booth at Black Sheep Gathering with Sandy Sitzman and Lynne Vogel. We will all be there with our handpainted spinning fibers and hopefully a supply of much sought-after handspun yarn. Lynne and I will also have beautiful handpainted sock yarns. And Lynne plans to have one-of-a-kind drop spindles handcrafted by a local artist. BSG is an annual fiber festival at the fairgrounds in Eugene, Oregon. It's three days long -- June 22nd thru 24th -- and is loads of fun. There are demonstrations, great classes, fiber and animal competitions, and a huge variety of beautiful fleeces for sale. But, the top reason to go is the marketplace which fills three big rooms and has some of the best vendors, including many local fiber artists. This is one of the best fiber shows on the West Coast and shouldn't be missed. To find out more, visit:

If that wasn't enough excitement, the other fantastic news is that I was invited to be one of six guest artists/dyers to participate in The Yarn Tree's "A Sock for All Seasons" sock club. The Yarn Tree, a wonderful knitting and fiber shop in the Williamsburg part of Brooklyn, is owned by Linda LaBelle. Linda is also a fiber artist and has written "The Yarn Lover's Guide to Hand Dyeing" which is coming out this Fall 2007. The other guest artists participating in Linda's sock club include Cheryl Schaefer of Schaefer Yarns, Darlene Hayes of Hand Jive/Nature's Palette, Nancy Finn of Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks, and Katey Plymesser of Thirteen Mile Lamb & Wool Co. This is sure to be a great sock club, and I feel privileged to have been included in this group of outstanding women and fiber artists. Registration for "A Sock for All Seasons" sock club will be open until June 1, 2007, so don't waste any time since there is a limit on memberships. For information on joining, visit Linda's website:

For quite some time, I have been itching to knit another handspun sweater. So . . . with Black Sheep Gathering approaching, I thought it would be fun to knit a sweater and enter it in the fiber arts show. For the past couple of weeks, I have been spinning the yarns above from some of my colorful handpainted merino to use with a natural oatmeal-colored yarn I spun. The oatmeal yarn is a blend of mohair, merino and angora rabbit from Hillside Cottage in Norco. As many of you may know. one of my favorite ways to knit a sweater is to just start at the bottom with a very sketchy plan and see where the colors take me. It's called flying by the seat of your pants, but what a fun and creative ride. And, the end result has yet to be a bust. I will post the sweater's progress so stayed tuned.

And here's a yarn I just HAD TO HAVE. It's hand-dyed and handspun mohair from my friend Margie Bell -- MaBelle Fiber Arts -- which made its way into my knitting basket the last time I was at La Petite Knitterie. This is so lovely, I WILL find a way to work it into my handspun sweater.

And I saw on Sandy's blog the other day [] that she is in the process of knitting Lynne Vogel's entrelac hat pattern and is darn proud of having conquered entrelac. I loved the pattern so much, I completed one using my handspun yarn and I now have another in progress. This was such a fun little project! Here's the first one I knit up.

And, you wonder, what else have I been up to? Well, here's a pile of gorgeous sock yarns that I have been dyeing up for Kat at La Petite Knitterie. These will soon be for sale at her shop and online at the LPK website.