Friday, February 29, 2008

Just kind of a short post today -- to let you sock knitters out there know that, as of today, Strands and Stitches knit shop in Laguna Beach is carrying my handpainted sock yarn. This is a superwash merino fingering weight. I delivered an array of colors to Cindy this morning, so there is now a LYS in Orange County that is carrying my sock yarn.

Strands and Stitches is located at 1516 South Coast Highway (in Laguna) and their phone number is (949) 497-5648. The owners are Cindy and Lisa.

I've been dyeing most of the day -- more sock yarn, but I am also experimenting with a fiber blend I haven't dyed before: 60% merino wool/40% bamboo. The rovings are due to come out of the dyepot in a few minutes and I'll be anxious to see how this blend turns out. If it's a success, I'll add this to my repetoire of rovings. I am so hoping that it will dry overnight so I can spin some of it tomorrow. I may have to get out the hairdryer just to help it along. All right, the timer went off -- dyepot calls.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Arrived back home from Stitches West on Monday,exhausted from sensory overload, but very happy with all my classes and, of course, my purchases. First the classes. Thursday, Pam and I took "Fiendishly Difficult Stitches" with Merike Saarnit and we did indeed learn some new stitches and stitch manipulations. Much fun and challenging.

Thusday night was market preview for Stitches attendees. My very first stop was Toots LeBlanc, Michelle Camacho's fiber business from Oregon. I purchased her lace shawl pattern and two different angora/merino (60/40) laceweight yarns. I love to knit with these yarns; they bloom beautifully as you work with them.

Then, on to Redfish Dyeworks where I bought three big rovings, merino/tussah and some baby camel/silk. Even though I dye these fibers myself, I just have to support Sandy Gunther and Elff because they have such a wonderful color sense. Can't wait to spin these.
Friday, I took an all-day class with Barbara Kerr from NYC on "Mitered Patchwork Knitting." We worked on a pillow. Here's what I completed so far. This was absolutely my favorite class -- you just keep building this piece by piece. There's a map so that you eventually end up with a square or rectangle. Much fun!
Saturday, no classes, lots of time for shopping. [Sorry no pictures from the vendor hall -- photos forbidden] Margie (who was in Stanford for the weekend) joined me in the afternoon and we made our way up and down aisles. Here are most of my purchases:

From Beehive Wool Shop, Victoria, BC -- lots of Handmaiden and Fleece Artist yarns. From the left, Somoko sock yarn (merino/mohair/nylon/silk); Handmaiden Mini Maiden (50-50 silk/merino) and Sea Silk (70% silk/30% seacell). Glorious colors! Here's a sock I'm working on with Somoko and Fiber Trends pattern "Fidalgo Feet", size US1 needles.

From Tactile Fiber Arts (Richmond, CA), spinning fibers dyed with natural dye extracts.

From Sweet Grass Wool, Montana -- four skeins of white Targhee wool. Then I had to buy some laceweight alpaca (charcoal and white) from Pajolo Alpacas, Minnesota; and three skeins of Zen 4-ply cashmere from Melissa at Argosy Luxury Yarns in "Nautilus" (plum,wines). Yum!

Margie and I also tried out some of the wheels at Carolina Homespun. We were in a zen moment when we each spun on the big, big Lendrum Saxony. I was ready to take it home on the spot, but it wouldn't fit in my suitcase. Then Margie reminded me that she was in her SUV. Boy was I glad to see a "Sold -- Do not touch!" sign on it a little later in the day.

Sunday was "Russian Continental Knitting" in the morning with Galina Khmelva and then in the afternoon a bead knitting class with Betsy Hershberg. After messing around with tiny beads for three hours -- last class of the last day, Oi vey!! -- I was literally cross-eyed and the brain was mush.

Well, it was Sunday early evening and the academy awards were starting, so Pam and Karen and I went down to the hotel lobby bar, plunked ourselves down at the bar in front of a big screen TV, ordered wine, salads and soup. We were completely exhausted but reveling in our fun four days at Stitches.

I also had great news at the end fo the show from HABU. Takako sold half of the 90+ skeins of handpainted silk boucle and silk/kid mohair I had brought for her booth. The other half is going "across the pond" with her to a knitting show in Paris the first week of March. Wow! I am stoked.

So, on to my ETSY shop. I cannot believe how great this ETSY thing is. When I got back from Stitches, I posted more rovings, some sock yarn and handspun yarn. My handspun sold within 10 minutes. I had five sales yesterday and had to make a run for the post office before they closed at 4:00 p.m. YeeHaa!

So for now, I'm going to relax, lunch with friends, knit, spin, and oh yes, hopefully run off to the post office some more.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

I finally decided to see what all the hubbub was about ETSY so I signed up and posted some of my rovings. Whoa! ETSY is very cool. There are so many great handcrafted items on the site and now, my handpainted rovings are for sale in my ETSY shop. Soon, I'll post some of my handpainted yarns and handspuns, too. It's so darn easy and the site keeps track of sales and let's you know when you have an order and you get an automatic payment through Paypal. It's fantastic. I had two nice sales within the first day, one from Jan of Ontario, Canada and one from Laura of Albuquerque. Thanks Jan and Laura for being my first customers. Here's the web address: WhooHoo!

My inventory of rovings had been suffering after a big shipment went out to Linda LaBelle at The Yarn Tree in Brooklyn in January, so I have been dyeing up a storm this past week. This is some Blueface Leicester roving that just came out of the dyepot this evening. Oh, so pretty and colorful. These two colorways would be incredible plied on each other.

Here's the rest of what I did today hanging on the drying rack, all BFL.

Pam and I, along with Karen, will be flying up to San Jose this Thursday to go to Stitches West, an annual knitting conference at the Santa Clara Convention Center. There are so many vendors, your head starts to swim after a while. Overstimulation.

I am so happy to have some of my yarns in a couple of the booths at Stitches. Morgaine Wilder of Carolina Homespun will have my handpainted fingering weight merino sock yarn in her booth, along with Nature's Palette and Claudia Handpaints. So, sock knitters, you must make a trip to the Carolina Homespun booth.

And, I'll also have some handpainted yarns in HABU's booth. The yarns I have dyed for HABU include a tassar silk boucle and a laceweight silk/kid mohair. I will also have a lace scarf pattern that uses those two yarns stranded together. As always, the HABU booth is a must since Takako always has some of the most unusual yarns as well as beautiful kits. Here are a couple of the colors that will be available and a knitted swatch.

I am hoping to run into lots of friends at Stitches. Pam and I had a great time last year and I'm sure it will be the same this year. Another must will be Melissa Sheppard's Argosy Luxury Yarns. I hear her cashmere calling to me. Toots LeBlanc is another stop.

I motored down to Encinitas last Friday with Pam and Karen for a little spin-in at Commons Threads. They were launching spinning in their shop. There were lots of spinners, including our friend, Nancy, who we hadn't seen for a spell. So good to see her. There were many people who came just to see what spinning was all about and many were very interested in learning. We set a spinning meet-up for the third Friday of the next three months, March 21st, April 18th, and May 16th, so anyone who wants to join us or who wants to learn more about spinning, we'll be there from about 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. I'll also teach a drop spindle class on March 26th from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Common Threads.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I told my husband no bling, no perfume, (maybe some flowers), but just come home and we'll have a nice quiet evening together.

New fiber arts studio -- Last week I sent off a shipment of my fingering weight sock yarn to Stone Light Studios, a new quilt and fiber arts shop in Soddy Daisy, TN, just outside Chattanooga. Veronica and Dee will be hosting a Lynne Vogel workshop on March 8th and 22nd. Lynne will teach lace knitting, using a spiraling leaves glove pattern she designed using my handpainted yarn. The pattern colorway will be available, as well as an array of other colorways. Lynne is always a great teacher. For more information on the workshop and the shop, visit their website:

I got out my Bosworth Journey Wheel last week because I hadn't played around on it for a while. I had been wanting to spin some of the Blueface Leicester I got from Sandy Sitzman at Black Sheep last June. She and I shared a booth and had a mutual admiration fest -- she took some of my roving and I took some of hers. I love Sandy's beautiful bright sense of color. She has the touch. Here's some in the process of spinning.
I decided not to divide the roving in long strips. I wanted to achieve long sections of color, so I took the whole roving and loosened it and predrafted it. You can see on this bobbin, how I got very long color bands with this technique of drafting.

Here are the yarns after plying. The violet and chartreuse skeins were hand dyed by me after spinning. They were spun using roving I bought from a group of women out in Riverside County. The fiber was an oatmeal colored blend of mohair/merino/angora from their own animals. It spun up nicely but I decided it would look great if it was dyed in some colors to go with the yarns I spun from Sandy's roving. I am thinking these might be perfect for a handknit child's sweater.

Lizard Ridge Blanket
I have been steadily making progress on the Lizard Ridge blanket (from Fall '06 issue). I am now working on my 17th square, so I've got 8 to go. This will really be fun when I have all 24 done, figuring out the placement of the squares. And then, of course, I'll have to seam all of those squares, one of my very, very favorite things to do. (Not!) This has been a great project, because no two squares are alike, even with the same colorway, so it's definitely not boring.

Tomorrow, Friday the 15th, I am trekking down to Common Threads in Encinitas with Pam and Karen to spin. Nancy and Carolyn are launching spinning in their shop with a little spin in, and we're always looking for an opportunity to spin in public and promote spinning. CT will have a couple of extra wheels in the shop for anyone interested in trying out a wheel. This can only be a fun day with lunch at the little French bakery down the road.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Last Friday morning, it was still dark and I was already working upstairs in my weaving/knitting room when I looked up and saw the sunrise. I just had to run and grab my camera to snap a picture of the morning sunrise on the palm trees. Within minutes, it was clouded over and the morning turned to gray overcast as the stormy weather blew in.

Today is a rainy day Sunday, a good day for sitting around knitting and spinning, cozied up in front of a fire. My backyard is full of birds (lesser gold finches and sparrows) running around in the rain. It's hard to see all of the birds, but there must be at least 40 little birds out there skittering around on the ground and on the bird feeders.

Later in the day, I'm expecting two spinning students (Jerry and Megann) for a pre-Super Bowl spinning lesson. And, then I will continue knitting squares for my Lizard Ridge afghan. I went on Ravelry and was amazed to see that this particular project has been posted 489 times. Wow is the only thing I can say!

And in between my obsessive square knitting, I have been dyeing more sock yarn. This is one of my most popular colorways. (#731)

And I am working on hand-dyeing silk/kid mohair and silk boucle which will be sold in Habu's booth at Stitches West with one of my patterns. I am more than excited about this. Takako has an array of amazing yarns in her booth and it's always packed, so it will be a great venue.

So back to my knitting and getting ready for my spinners.