Monday, December 22, 2008
STARRY NITE SCARF II
I finished the second of my Starry Nite scarves using Lynne Vogel's newest pattern. I had a group of skeins that I had spun from merino/cashmere rovings that Lynne had handpainted a couple years ago in Southwestern colors. I had taken these rovings, along with my spinning wheel, on vacation to the Sierra Nevada - June Lake in September 2007 and I spent my evenings spinning. I loved these handspuns and never found the perfect project for them until this wonderful scarf came along. Unfortunately, my photos never seem to do justice to the colors in the handspun, but I am sure many of you will at some time see this scarf in person.
A couple close ups of those cute little swirl squares.
So much more colorful in person!!
And here's a full length picture. I used a cool shawl pin in this picture -- one that I bought at Strands and Stitches in Laguna over the weekend, by Perl Grey in Nova Scotia.
And I so love my new model but she hasn't a name yet. My son, Dana, thinks I need to name her. This lovely pattern is available in Lynne Vogel's Etsy shop: www.LynneVogel.Etsy.com
Saturday, December 20, 2008
TIME FOR PROJECTS
I was so excited yesterday after finding a dress form for sale on the local Craig's List. Yahoo! I did not have to order online and wait 4 to 6 weeks. I drove 20 min. to Lake Forest and picked it up. So, I've been photographing some of my scarves on the form since I don't have a live model. When I last posted, I totally forgot that the week before, I had knit another Morning Surf Scarf. Yes, my fourth one. I'm addicted to the way the colors of my handspun shake out in the knitting. An excellent project for handspun -- do you hear me, Jerry of the size 15's?
Here are the rovings from which the yarn was spun. One ply was my "Wine Country" colorway and the other ply was "Wine Country Marl". The fibers are oh, so, yummy -- merino wool, cashmere and angora. It doesn't get much better than that.
And here is another scarf pattern that I highly recommend. It just knits up beautifully -- the Buttonhole Scarf that was featured in the Fall 2008 issue of Vogue Knitting, project #37. Being a weaver, I was drawn to this pattern, because it almost looks handwoven, like a basket weave. I used some handpainted merino wool yarn that I purchased from Plain & Fancy Sheep & Wool Co. of Henderson, TX, when I attended the Taos Wool Festival. Unfortunately, they don't have a website. Their booth was packed, though. Great color sense.
And, finally, yesterday, I started a second Starry Nite Scarf, one of Lynne Vogel's Etsy patterns. (www.LynneVogel.Etsy.com) The yarns I am using are, of course, my handspun yarns and mostly merino wool and cashmere. I spun these yarns from a grouping of 5 rovings handpainted by Lynne herself, in colors of the Southwest, including Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Abiquiu, Faux Autumn Leaves and Taos. I plied the colorways in different ways and ended up with some lovely skeins. I'm also including some other yarns from my handspun stash.
Close up. These little four corned stars, with the swirl in the middle, just make your handspun colors come alive.
Here are my beautiful skeins.
This year, I have not gotten into the Christmas shopping frenzy -- guess that is why I have been in a knitting and spinning frenzy -- avoidance of mall situations. Come to think of it, I never get into a frenzy over it, but I have been very lax this year. I think it's the economy, among other things. When your wants and needs are primarily fulfilled, it's hard to just go out and buy stuff for the sake of buying, especially when there are so many people who are losing their jobs. And our family decided to go low key this year, but . . . alas, my husband and I decided we needed to do a small bit of shopping today. The bad part is that this is going to cut into my fibery endeavors. Drat!
Thursday, December 18, 2008
LOTS OF SPINNING AND KNITTING
We've been having a lot of rainy weather, lots of cold and wind. It snowed in the hills above Malibu - can you believe it! And piles of snow in the high desert and our local mountains. This is just the time to be inside knitting and spinning cozied up to a fire in the fireplace. I've been getting lots of yarn spun and much knitting. I just finished knitting the most beautiful scarf from one of Lynne Vogel's patterns. This is the "Starry Night Scarf" and it is way cool not to mention that it is a wonderful project for using up all of those very precious little balls of handspun yarn that we all have left over from other projects. I sat down with a basket of my handspuns and just drew from the basket as I finished one ball after another. And miracle of miracles -- they just all seem to flow together -- one of the amazing things about handspun yarn. Here are some photos. As usual, the pictures just don't do justice to the beauty of this scarf. It is AWESOME! (www.LynneVogel.Etsy.com)
And I have been spinning many of my handpainted fibers. Here's a skein of merino/bombyx silk (50-50) in my "Tiger Lily Marl" colorway. This skein has 670 yards and is a light fingering weight. This pretty skein has already found a home and should make a beautiful project.
Here's the beginnings of another skein of merino/bombyx silk (50-50). This one is "fandango" and I am spinning it into an almost laceweight. This yarn may end up as a pair of fingerless lace gauntlets.
And finally, I'm still messing around with this handspun conglomeration. I am having such fun! I must knit something with this and soon. I will probably use these as embellishment and combine it with some other yarns, because there's not enough yardage to make a whole scarf.
In case I don't have time to blog before the holidays, I hope that everyone has a wonderful holiday and New Years. Drive careful, don't overeat and definitely don't drink and drive.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
In my last post, I mentioned that I had been doing a lot of spinning lately because it does make me feel so relaxed and good. So I have been logging some time on the wheel and, as you will see from the pictures below, I seem to have developed a split personality. On the one hand, we have the totally anal control-freak spinner and then we have the fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants free for all. I actually enjoy doing both and am having such fun with the artsy skeins.
Here's a skein that I spun from one of my "marled" rovings -- "Violets Marl". This is a fingering weight yarn and it is so soft, having been spun from a merino/silk/angora blend -- one of my very favorite fiber blends to spin and knit with. 440 yards in this little lovely.
I think this next skein probably takes the prize for the largest (yardage wise) skein I have ever done -- one continuous strand -- no knots. And believe it or not, I got all of this plied onto one of my regular size Majacraft bobbins on my Rose wheel. (I forgot to change to the plying bobbin before I started plying.) Towards the end of plying, I was sure it was going to start slipping off the sides but it didn't. Ta! Da! 882 yards and 7.4 ounces. Yessiree, on one bobbin. Needless to say, this is fingering to lace weight. And the colors -- well, now that's another story. I'm thinking holidays, Christmas. Margie just rolled her eyes. She sees pink. Well, it's festive. This skein is a 50-50 extrafine merino/bombyx silk blend. One of the plies was from a roving I purchased from Red Fish Dyeworks at the Torrance show in November and the other ply was from one of my randomly dyed rovings.
And then I've tried another artsy skein, this time using some natural colored fibers as well as dyed ones. I'm loving this fooling around, just feeding fiber into the wheel without giving a lot of thought to what I am doing.
And I ended up with a whopping 30 yards. Of course this is a chunky yarn and would probably be used as embellisment and on 13 to 15 needles.
So we've got some very gloomy weather here today in Orange County, just the perfect day for a fire in the fireplace, some knitting and some spinning.
Saturday, December 06, 2008
It has indeed been a while since I blogged what with my husband having been in the hospital, then recuperating at home and other things taking priority. Even with other things going on, I have been doing fibery things, like lots and lots of spinning and dyeing. Anyone who spins regularly knows that it really gets you centered and relaxed in stressful times. So, it's not surprising that I found myself drawn to my wheel every time I walked by it.
I have had a couple of "play dates" with my friend Michelle, who has motivated me to step outside the box. My usual spinning is very controlled and my handspun is more often than not, a very beautiful fingering weight. Michelle and I have been playing around with odds and ends of fiber and other funky (but really nice) stuff. She has perfected the art of spinning chunky novelty yarns, which can be seen and purchased in her Etsy shop. Here's the site for her store. www.lovecraft.Etsy.com
Inspired by Michelle's young, hip, quirky and artsy ways, I tried my hand at spinning some of these novelty yarns and here's what came of it. My first try was with lots of rainbow colors.
Second try was with lots of greens, teals, dark greens, rusts, oranges and purples.
I actually spun some thick and thin chunkier yarns after spending time with Judith MacKenzie McCuin at Golden Gate Fiber Institute last July. I have to admit, I am having loads of fun with this. It's like, okay, we're going to throw in everything but the kitchen sink (almost) and see where this goes.
And speaking of Golden Gate Fiber Institute, I was so very disappointed to get an email from Morgaine the other day saying that the Winter Intensives were being cancelled -- not enough enrollment to warrant going forward. I had signed up for a week of Kathryn Alexander. That would have been so over the top fun. Talk about energetic and inspirational!! Well, maybe she'll agree to teach in the summer.
My friend, Margie, has been stopping by each week to warp my big loom with her handspun yarn. She is making another handwoven blanket. We finished rolling the warp on the loom the other day and it looks magnificent, so organized. The next step will be tying onto the front of the loom and then she'll begin weaving. The wonderful thing about this blanket is that she bought the raw sheep's fleece, washed it, carded it, dyed some of it, and then handspun all the yarn. This is taking it all the way from sheep to finished blanket. Here's a picture of progress so far.
And, I have been so happy that my Etsy shop has been keeping me busy, busy. So many new customers and lots of great repeat customers. If you have not visited my shop, here's the address: www.CapistranoFiberArts.Etsy.com
Among other great Etsy shops is Lynne Vogel's. She's got some great patterns, including two that I just purchased, "Starry Night Scarf" and "Superruffly". Lynne's shop can be found at: www.LynneVogel.Etsy.com
So, now it's Saturday afternoon and a good time to get my wheel and do some spinning.
Monday, November 03, 2008
TORRANCE FIBER FEST
Yesterday -- Margie and I had a fabulous day at the Torrance Fiber Fest. This is an annual fiber frolic sponsored by the Southern California Handweaver's Guild. We had many, many fiber fanatics in our booth and so many of our friends stopped by to say hi. Here are some pictures of our booth. My tower of handpainted sock yarn.
Handpainted merino/bombyx silk rovings.
Baby camel and silk rovings and silk and alpaca yarns -- all hand-dyed by moi.
Here is my rack of handpainted Blueface Leicester rovings which was very bare at the end of the day.
More handpainted Blueface Leicester rovings.
We also had loads of handspun yarn, spun from fibers we dyed first. These first two pictures are spun by me.
Very special yarns.
Here are some of Margie's handspun yarns.
And what a pleasant surprise --one of our past customers stopped by to show off a handspun/handknit sweater made from some Cormo wool fiber that she had purchased from Margie at the Torrance fest last year. She carded and spun the wool and knit this beautiful little sweater. How cool!
And here are some of my favorite hand-dyed fibers. I had to go raid the Redfish Dyeworks booth before the show opened to get some of their gorgeous fibers beautifully dyed by Elf. These are merino/bombyx silk (50-50). (http://www.redfishdyeworks.com)
Are you drooling yet???
This is baby camel and silk (50-50), a most delicious blend and so easy to spin.
For anyone who missed the Torrance Fiber Fest this year -- don't despair. The Association of Southern California Handweavers will host a weaving and spinning conference this coming March, 2009. Margie and I will have a booth and Redfish Dyeworks is sure to be there, too, along with many other great vendors. For information: www.aschsite.org There will also be classes available so check the roster of teachers and classes on the ASCH website.
And finally, if you haven't heard about Golden Gate Fiber Institute, you must go to their website: www.goldengatefiberinstitute.org GGFI is putting on their Winter Intensive Workshops from January 5th through 11th at Camp Bonita, just north of San Francisco. I attended the Summer Intensives and had the best time so I'm going back again. This time, I am taking knitting with Kathryn Alexander (http://www.kathrynalexander.net) and garment design with Jeane De Coster (http://www. elementalaffects.com).
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
LIFE IS TENUOUS
Well, I haven't posted for a while as we've had a very rough few weeks at my house. My husband and I had just returned from a great vacation to Northern New Mexico and the Taos Wool Festival. Then, in the blink of an eye, he was being rushed into emergency surgery and almost lost his life. After spending five days in ICU and another five in the hospital, he is now at home recuperating. I won't go into the details, but suffice it to say that life is tenuous and should never be taken for granted. This experience really puts a lot of things into perspective -- like -- don't sweat the small stuff and look around and appreciate your life. So now I am going to finish the post I began just hours before rushing my husband to the ER.
One of our favorite times of the year is when summer is over, the crowds have dwindled and we can sit on the beach and only see a handful of beachgoers. This is a picture down at Capistrano Beach on the last day of summer. Oh, yeah!
Then, the next weekend, we boarded Amtrak's Southwest Super Chief for a 16 hour train ride to Albuquerque, New Mexico, after a short train ride from the San Juan Capistrano train station.
We left L.A. at 6:45 p.m. and arrived in N.Mexico at noon the next day. Sleeping on the train was not the greatest experience, but I know what to do next time -- bring a pillow and a small blanket. Once the sun came up, the scenery from the train was beautiful. Knitting in my seat and looking out the window of the train was really great fun.
The first stop on our trip was the Aliento B&B just south of Santa Fe. I wouldn't hesitate to stay there again. Ruth and Chrissy were wonderful. Ruth is a glass artist and has a glass school on the grounds. We felt so at home and the setting was beautiful. Here's a couple shots from the chairs outside our room where we were enjoying a glass of wine in the early evening. Earlier in the day, we drove the 9 miles into Santa Fe and walked around.
The next day we headed east to Las Vegas and Mora, N.M., a couple of small towns with weaving stores/galleries. Also, Mora is home to Victory Ranch Alpacas. We stopped to see the ranch which is featured in the book Sheared Spirit. They have about 200 alpacas grazing out in their pastures.
Here are a couple pictures of baby alpacas. They are so cute. The buff colored was probably a couple of months old. The little dark brown baby had just been born that morning. Here he is with his protective mamma.
We then set off over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to our next destination -- Chimayo and the Espanola Valley, the very heart of weaving in Northern N.M. We spent two nights at Casa Escondidas, a charming B&B. Our room was on the second floor (to the left in the picture) and we had this wonderful deck right off our room. From the deck we could see the surrounding area and it was a magnificent view, especially in the evening.
Here's a picture of our lovely room. It was idyllic and filled with antiques.
Here's a view from the deck looking to the mountains.
We spent a couple of days exploring the area and made a visit to the Espanola Valley Fiber Arts Center. This is a nonprofit organization and was well worth the visit. They have a classroom area with many, many looms as well as a gallery of members' work and a store. I bought several bags of dried plant materials for natural dyeing: madder, cosmos, and tansy.
Around the Chimayo area, we explored Ghost Ranch and Abiquiu -- areas where famous artist, Georgia O'Keefe, hung out.
Our final destination was Taos and the Old Taos Guesthouse B&B for four nights. I so love to stay here. Tim and Leslie were the best hosts. Each morning, they fed us so well - a hot breakfast of homemade muffins and frittata just out of the oven, homemade granola, yogurt, a big bowl of fresh fruit. Great coffee. We spent many afternoons sitting out in the back on the big swing looking out to the valley or in the dining room with a cup of tea and knitting. We couldn't have felt more welcome and comfortable.
We walked into town a couple of times (about a mile) and just down the road from the Old Taos Guesthouse, we encountered a small farm.
What first caught our eye when we drove by were a couple of Churro sheep rams so we decided to take a walk down to the farm one morning. We were invited onto the property by Patricia and her mother, Anna, who are working hard to bring the farm back to life, the way it was when Patricia's grandparents farmed the land. She is also working to preserve the endangered Churro sheep breed.
Among her other animals are some cashmere goats. Of course, being a spinner, I was delighted to see these beautiful little animals, especially how they had to climb right into their feeding trough.
The Taos Wool Festival was so much fun. I don't really have any decent pictures, but it was held at Kit Carson Park in the heart of town. I managed to buy three fleeces: a chocolate brown, a gray and a white from a wool co-op in Casper, WY -- Dawn and Mike DeFreece -- who were also staying at the Taos Guesthouse. I saw many vendors at this show that I had never seen before. Elsa Wool Company had amazing Cormo wool yarn from sheep raised in Montana. I bought some handpainted kid mohair roving from Kai Ranch from Texas -- also featured in Sheared Spirit. And bought yarn from Plain and Fancy Yarns, also from Texas. I visited LaLana Wools as well as Rio Grande Weavers, and had lamb shish-kabob at the festival. We visited a delightful yarn store nearby called Taos Sunflower, only to learn they were closing and going to the internet two days later, a real loss for the area. I bought roving from a local artist, Robin Pascal -- handpainted local Corriedale/silk. I think this is a trip I may want to make again next year.
And finally, here is a farewell to New Mexico -- a beautiful sunset -- and many memories until our next trip. We had fabulous weather (high 70's and low 80's) only to wake up to snow on the local mountains the morning we were leaving. Oh, boy -- we were not prepared for that kind of weather.
Upon arriving home -- and after the calamitous health issue with my husband -- I had to get my act together in a big hurry for the Artistic License Show. I have no pictures, but Carrie Sommer, one of the other artists, took pictures which can be seen at her blog: http://www. sommerdesigns.typepad.com Check out her blog posts of Oct. 27th and 28th.
And now, I am working on getting my act together again for the Torrance Fiber Fest this weekend on Sunday, Nov. 2nd -- 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. This festival is sponsored by the S.Calif. Handweavers Guild. My booth will feature lots of handpainted spinning fibers, handspun and handpainted yarns. Also, Margie will have lots of her popular handspun mohair yarns. Hope to see lots of friends there. For more information, go to: www.schg.org
That's it for now. Whew!