Tuesday, January 29, 2008

STITCHES WEST Feb. 21st - 24th -- Santa Clara
I am off to Stitches West up in Santa Clara a few weeks from now with Pam and Karen. Hope to see lots of friends up there, too, and looking forward to visiting Melissa Sheppard's Argosy Yarn booth. I need some of her beautiful cashmere. Some of the classes I am taking at Stitches are: "fiendishly difficult stitches", "mitered patchwork" and "Russian-style continental knitting" with guru Galina Khmelva.

I have been busily dyeing the past couple weeks, putting together a shipment of sock yarn for Morgaine Wilder of Carolina Homespun, who will be featuring sock yarn in her booth at Stitches. Besides my Capistrano Fiber Arts sock yarn, she'll also have Nature's Palette and Claudia Handpaints. Morgaine's booth at the fiber shows is always one of the best. She literally brings a store with her and has all things fibery that run the gamut from spinning to knitting. [http://www.carolinahomespun.com/] So make sure to drop by the Carolina Homespun booth.
SUMMER FUN! While at TNNA on Jan. 11th, I Iearned from Morgaine that she and Judith MacKenzie McCuin have put together a slate of summer intensive workshops to be held July 28th through August 3rd at Point Bonita in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, just north of SFO. The workshops will be put on by their organization, the Golden Gate Fiber Institute. Margie and I got so excited just thinking about a summer intensive in a natural setting, we immediately signed up for natural dyeing and spinning ancient fibers. Some of the other classes are lace knitting, felting, crocheting, each with great instructors. All meals will be prepared by a culinary institute chef, so you take your classes, socialize, hike around, and they feed you, too. And it's all within reasonable driving distance. I can hardly wait for July to arrive. For information, visit their website at http://www.goldengatefiberinstitute.org/.

New Year's resolution well in hand I have been spinning almost daily to keep true to my 2008 resolution of spinning ALL of the fibers I have purchased at Rhinebeck and Black Sheep Gathering the past couple of years. I am happy to report that progress is being made. Here are a few skeins I spun last week. The emerald skein is merino/tussah (80/20) and the deep jewel toned skein is merino/bombyx (50/50). Both of these were spun from roving purchased from Clover Leaf Farm at Rhinebeck. The taupe skein was spun from baby alpaca roving I got in the alpaca/llama barn, also Rhinebeck. It's a blend of the fiber from four baby alpacas.

This past weekend, my knitter friend, Jan, was visiting from NYC. She wanted to go to a LYS, so I took her to Strands Studio, a very cute knit shop in Dana Point. When we walked into the shop, we were met by a long row of colorful knit squares hanging from the beam in the middle of the store. I recognized them as squares from the Lizard Ridge afghan (Fall 2006 issue of Knitty.com), a pattern I had wanted to try. The shop's owner, Kelly, has been knitting these colorful squares out of Kureyon and will put them together with a cloth backing. Kelly's artful display motivated me to run home and start knitting. I only had two skeins of Kureyon in my stash, so I then tried the pattern with some of my sock yarn. Here's the result. Once you get the hang of the short rowing in the pattern, this is a very easy knit.

And it's always good news when another spinner comes into the fold. Jerry reports on his blog (http://twistedknitster.blogspot.com) that his new Fricke spinning wheel was waiting for him when he got home yesterday. He was so excited he put the big size 15's to the treadles last night. I predict he'll be spinning easily within a month since he did pretty well as a beginner when he tried out my Rose last year. Just another little obsession, huh? Thankfully, he and Mrs. Twisted are both knitters, so they'll be able to do something with all of the yarn he's going to spin.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Last Friday I got a welcome call from Common Threads in Encinitas that they had a cancellation for the Cat Bordhi sock workshop and would I like to attend. Of course! So yesterday, I trekked (in a pair of handknit socks) down the coast for an all day class with Cat Bordhi. The class centered around the sock knitting techniques in her new book, below:

Was there homework for the class, was my first question. And the answer was yes, so I spent part of the weekend getting myself up to speed by knitting the two learning socks at the beginning of Cat's book. I knit one pair of the "Little Sky Sock" and two pairs of the "Little Coriolis".

These little socks are so cute and easy, and the absolutely best part is that when you bind off, you're done. NO SEAMING!! It always seems that with a lot of the bootie patterns, you spend more time weaving in the ends and seaming than you do knitting the dang little things. There were about 15 in attendance at the class, a really nice group of women, and some familiar faces, including Gaby from the OC Ravelry group. Here's Cat (standing) helping one student with a question.

I had a great time at the class and have to thank Nancy and Carolyn of Common Threads for hosting the workshop. I learned toe-up sock knitting and different kinds of toes. I also mastered the provisional cast-on that Cat explains in her book -- I just needed a little visual push and I got it. I also got my feet wet knitting socks on two circular needles, although I did my sample sock in class on my double points. I didn't want to get bogged down in too many new things at once. But, I am now ready to tackle Cat's book on knitting socks on two circulars. (I know my converted friends are cheering.) Hey, I still love my dpn's. And I started "Bartholomew's Tantalizing Socks" from the new book. The socks in Cat's book for the most part do not use the traditional heel flap. It's a really neat way to knit socks. She also had all of the socks from the book with her and told us the story behind each one. She was a delightful, patient teacher and I was so glad that I had the opportunity to take the class.

Over the weekend, I also finished the pair of ribbed socks I had been working on.

I am now going to turn my attention to finishing a cabled shawl I have been working on that is knit with some very dark brown buttery handspun alpaca from "Shadow", fiber I bought at Black Sheep Gathering two years in a row. Happy knitting and spinning!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

We all talk about new year's resolutions, so I've got a few. First on my list was to destash and only keep yarn that I would actually want to cast on and knit with. I already accomplished this task two days before 2008. Since becoming a handspinner in 2000, I have only wanted to knit or weave with natural fibers. I managed to go through my entire stash and pull out all of the acrylic, rayon, novelties, and other yarns I bought eons ago. The good news is that almost all of these orphaned yarns have found a good home. My friend, Marion, took many balls and skeins to share with her Wednesday knitting group at the San Juan Senior Center where some of the knitters are of limited means. I am so happy to know that they will enjoy using these yarns. And my other friend, Dale, came by and departed with three big bags. Yee!Haa!

My other resolution is to scale down and get organized. Just before Christmas I got into a whirlwind of purging and cleaning, wanting to start the new year afresh. I spent days shredding up old files, checks, receipts and actually destroyed my shredder in the process and had to go and buy a new one. Sheesh!! But . . . I have only made a dent in the pounds of paper that we have accumulated over the past 20 years. Why oh why do we need this stuff anymore? So this will be an ongoing process during 2008, but now that I have started, I am on a mission.

My final resolution for 2008 is to spin all of the fiber I have purchased at Rhinebeck and Black Sheep over the past couple of years BEFORE I go to Black Sheep again this June. I've actually made a dent in this one as I have been spinning every day. This, of course, is the best of resolutions. Spinning is so relaxing and therapeutic and I love it . Here's some of what I have been up to -- This is about 1,100 yards of white cormo wool/tussah silk that I spun and plied with 100% angora rabbit. The cormo blend is from Barbara Parry of Foxfire Fibers of Massachusetts. She has lovely cormo wool rovings and blended rovings from her own cormo sheep. The fiber on the mini niddy noddy is some merino/cashmere dyed by Lynne Vogel and spun by me.

Here are the other skeins I spun from Lynne's handpainted merino/cashmere rovings. I started spinning these on my trip to the Sierras in late September and just finished the final skeins yesterday. There were about five different colorways which I plied on each other. I plan to use all of these in one project -- maybe a vest.

The skeins below, I started about a month or so ago and have been working on them ever since. I wanted to spin an array of colors that would go together in one project. These are all spun from my handpainted rovings. The two gray/light yellow/lilac are superfine merino in "Etoile". Then, to the right is a skein I spun plying "Etoile" and "Johnny JumpUps". On the bottom is a skein of purple baby camel/silk plied with merino/silk in "Gentian" colorway. In the middle is a skein of merino/silk/angora in "Violets Marl" and then the gold skein is merino/cashmere in my "Goldenrod" colorway.
Below are some random skeins I have been working on for the past few months. The blues on the left are baby camel/silk and kid mohair/merino in "Sargasso Sea". The ones in the middle are merino/bombyx silk and plied with baby camel/silk. The skein on the right is merino/cashmere.
On the knitting front, I started another (my third) Lady Eleanor entrelac stole. I just love knitting these. I am trying to work my way through my large stash of Silk Garden and some natural silk/merino yarn that I hand-dyed. These two yarns are the perfect combination for the Lady Eleanor. I'm loving these colors.

And during all of this cleaning of the nest, I managed to experiment with dyeing a new superwash merino sock yarn. And I am now knitting a test pair of socks to see if I like the yarn. So far, I like what I'm seeing and I like knitting with this yarn, too. These socks are on US2 needles and it's just my basic ribbed sock pattern.

Oh, yeah, there's that resolution about trying to blog regularly. Yeah, okay. . . so I hope everyone is having a great new year. Happy spinning and knitting 2008 and let's resolve to keep our little spinning and knitting groups going throughout the year -- let's not lose touch with our fiber friends.