Sunday, April 29, 2012

Plying Results -- Yes!

Just a short post today -- I've got a very busy day ahead of me.  Here are the results of my plying two different Inglenook Fibers batts together.  One batt was called "Ilsa" and the other was "Moss Rose".  I tried very hard to capture the colors of this skein but it is a bit brighter than in the photos.  I ended up with 420 yards (5.3 oz.).  I still have a small amount on one bobbin but I'll ply that with something else and use in a small treasure bag.  [Click on the pictures for a larger view.]

I am off to have brunch with three of my high school classmates -- sort of a mini reunion.  Of all the friends I have had over the years with whom I am still in contact, I have known these women the longest, since sixth grade, junior high and freshman year high school -- over 50 years.  OMG!!  Where does the time go?  It is hilarious, though, because when we get together it's almost as if no time has passed.  I love that we are all very active, busy working, never a dull moment nor a lull in the conversation.  

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Love to Spin

I have been having the best time at my spinning wheel lately. Okay, when do I not have a great time??  I have been spinning some beautiful batts that I purchased from Inglenook Fibers on Etsy ( and deciding how to spin each batt is so much fun.  This batt was called "Redwood Forest" with lovely reds, wines, oranges, gold and greens.  The fibers include:  merino, silk, alpaca, wool, bamboo, silk noil, flax and bits of angelina.
 I opened up the batt and it was even more beautiful.  Such a color sense.  
I decided to peel this batt down into strips and as I began spinning, I decided that instead of plying this beauty, I would spin it into some sportweight singles.
Finished skein:  206 yards, 3.5 oz.  This has some little sparklies from bits of angelina which don't show up, but they are there.  
I have added some new fiber blends to my repetoire of handpainted rovings and, of course, I always like to spin the new fibers I offer for sale.  This skein was spun using two different fiber blends plied together.  
One of the plies was Polwarth/Tussah Silk (85/15) in my colorway "Macaw" (in the background) and the other ply was mixed Blueface Leicester/Tussah Silk (85/15) in my colorway "Joseph's Coat" (like the rose), in the foreground.  This skein is 342 yards, 4.1 oz.  This skein is calling out to be knit into a pair of socks.
My latest spinning project is using two Inglenook Fibers batts.  The first one was called "Ilsa".  Fibers include:  merino, wool, silk, alpaca, silk noil, sari silk, firestar and angelina.  I opened the batt and split it into thirds and attenuated the fiber into a roving.  I spun each one-third beginning with the dark plum end.  
On the bobbin, spun fairly thin.

The second batt that I am spinning is called "Moss Rose".  Fibers include:  merino, wool, bamboo, silk, alpaca, silk noil, firestar, and angelina.  Again, I opened up the batt and split it into thirds.  
I attenuated each third into a long roving as I did the "Ilsa" batt.

This time, though, I did the opposite and spun each third from the light colored end.  My thought is that when I ply the two bobbins together, I want the light colors to cross over the darker colors.  We shall see.  Plying time tonight.  Work now -- continuing to handpaint fibers in preparation for Black Sheep Gathering. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

April Seattle Trip

A week or so ago, I ventured up to the Pacific Northwest to visit my friends, Tim and Melody, in the Seattle area.  Just posting a few pictures of the highlights of my trip.
First stop after landing was downtown Seattle to Pike's Place market to purchase some essentials:  handmade pasta, lemon infused olive oil, beeswax lotion bars from Moon Valley Organics, and handmade soaps from the Olympic Peninsula lavender farms. A beautiful warm, sunny day in the PNW.
 The fish sellers in Pike's Market are a big attraction. 
Final destination of the day -- Elliot's on the bay -- for the best raw oysters ever and the a little kettle of New Zealand mussels.  Absolute heaven.  Oh, yes, Mel and I imbibed on mango mojitos.  One is enough! 
 Kubota Gardens in the south of Seattle.  What?  Another sunny warm day.  What gives?
 The trio posing for a picture.
So many of the trees and flowers were in bloom -- but the Rhodies weren't quite ready.

Mel and I spent a few days in Bellingham, just below the Canadian border.  We took a nice walk at Larrabee state park, right in Bellingham on the Sound.  A view out towards the San Juan Islands.
A view from the trail.  You can barely see them, but there are some secluded houses out on that point.  What a beautiful place to live, although you probably have to enjoy drizzly overcast weather.
And right in the heart of Bellingham is an amazing park at Whatcom Falls.  This is a rain forest in the middle of town.  This is the bridge over the river.
Moss covers everything.  So different than dry deserty Southern California.
A very bad picture of Whatcom Falls -- from the bridge.  The glare off the water was too bright.
And into the forest we go.  
On the trip back to Seattle, we made a detour off the I-5 to enjoy the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.   Many, many fields of tulips.  We went to Tulip Town, one of the farms.
The weather was drizzling, freezing cold, windy.  We donned rainboots to slog around in the slippery mud.  Thank you, Mel, for thinking ahead.  We would have ruined our shoes.
The colors of the fields were spectacular, even in the gloomy weather.
Bye, bye PNW.  And here I am back into my almost daily routine of walking on the San Clemente beach trail.  What a contrast in climate and environs.  No moss growing here.
While in Seattle, I managed to do a good amount of knitting and crocheting.  I also helped Mel finish her first pair of socks (started on my last trip there) and taught her how to do entrelac patterning.   A little treasure bag I started on the airplane.
A scarf using my handspun baby camel/merino/silk in a "Fleuret" pattern from one of the Barbara Walker books.
And a crocheted triangle shawl, using my handspun yarn.  I ran out of yarn so I will have to spin more to complete this project.

Friday, April 13, 2012


I'm always talking about plying two different colorways together.  This is one of my favorite things to do because it results in some amazingly beautiful yarns.  Here I have a bobbin of merino/tibetan yak/silk (on the left) and a bobbin of baby camel/merino/silk (on the right). I was experimenting by combining two very different colorways.
I always say this is where the magic happens.  So fellow spinners, don't ever be afraid to throw caution to the wind and ply odd combinations of colors. Step outside your comfort zone and experiment. You can start by plying all those small amounts sitting on your bobbins after plying the same color on itself.  
Here is a close up and I have just the perfect project in mind. [You can click on the pictures to enlarge.]
I have had this conversation with many of my handspinning friends and the other day it came up again.  My friend and I were talking about how much we love to spin and create beautiful unique yarns -- yarns you really can't find in most yarn stores.  We spoke of how special these handspun yarns are and how we love to knit and crochet with them, mainly because we have created them with our own hands and every skein is one of a kind.  Every fiber of each of these skeins has touched our fingers as we spin.  Unlike commercially spun yarns, our handspuns have a much different feel -- like they have life -- and are absolutely delightful as they move through our hands. And . . . if we've spun a yarn that has variegated colors, it is magical to watch the colors unfolding as we work on our project.

So when we talk about these special yarns, we also talk about the time involved in spinning your own yarn.  It really is a labor of love.  Even when we sell a skein, we never get compensated for all the time we've spent, but . . . it is a labor of love, this handspinning.  And, occasionally when someone buys a skein of our handspun, we're thrilled and sometimes it motivates them to want to learn to spin.  Bringing a new spinner into the fold, that is what it is all about. Passing these skills on to others. Keeping the work of hands alive.  
My handspinner friends and I take care with our handspun yarns and the scarf, hat, socks, sweater or other garment we create from those yarns.  I always tell people who buy my yarns to treat them delicately -- they're not meant for a washing machine or a dryer.  You put so much of your time into making something beautiful with your hands, don't treat it harshly -- use a delicate wool wash (like Soak or Eucalan) in tepid water.  These are delicate washes with natural scents that can be left in and also deter little critters.  
 [Scarf by my dear friend, Pam Carlson - handspun and handknit]

If you want to preserve something beautiful, treat it gently and you will have it around to enjoy for a very, very long time.  If you treat it without care, you may end up with a felted mess.  And if you use washes with harsh chemicals, they destroy the integrity of the yarns as well as its colorfastness.

I am now off to Seattle and Bellingham, WA, for a relaxing little get-away and lots of knitting.  I'll be back soon, hopefully with at least a couple of project knitted from what else?  my handspun yarn.  

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Beautiful Fibers

I have been at my spinning wheel ever since my batts from Inglenook Fibers arrived.  I am off to Seattle on Saturday for a week and wanted to take some of my handspun yarn along so that I can knit while I'm on my trip.  I'd bring a spinning wheel if I could, but it's just too much of a hassle.  Here's my latest couple of skeins spun up from Macrina's beautiful batts.  Stripped down and ready to spin -- "Connemara Marble".
On the bobbin of my Majacraft Rose.
I then spun a bobbin of "Dancing Lawn 2" -- and forgot to take a picture.
I have one skein of "Connemara Marble" plied on itself (192 yards, 2.5 oz.) and one skein of "Connemara Marble" plied with "Dancing Lawn 2".  (189 yards, 2.6 oz.)  Both of these are really soft.  
Top quality fibers used in these batts and spun so easily.  These skeins will be combined with the 500 yard skein (mustard/chartreuse) in my last post. Haven't decided the project yet but I have some ideas.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Several months ago, I discovered a fiber shop on Etsy and immediately marked it as one of my favorite shops.  I was drawn to the colorful batts for sale -- all my most favorite colors.  Every few days, I would lurk around viewing the various "roly poly" batts on Inglenook Fibers.  I think the problem was, I couldn't make up my mind which ones I like best; because I liked them all!!  Well, last week, after months of lurking, oo'ing and ah'ing, I couldn't stand it any longer and started filling up my Etsy cart.  Yesterday, a box appeared at my front door.  I wasted no time breaking into my newest fiber purchase.  Oh, joy!  Look what arrived:

I was not to be disappointed.  They were every bit as beautiful as I had imagined:  colors like Connemara Marble, Ilsa, Moss Rose, Hedgerow, and Dancing Lawn. Most of the batts include merino, silk, alpaca, wool, bamboo, angora, silk noil, flax, and bits of sparkly from firestar and angelina.  Below is Robin's Nest.

I opened up Robin's Nest last evening and readied the batt for spinning.

I took each 1 oz. ball of Robin's Nest and spun it differently.  The first skein I spun as a bulky singles adding some colorful kid mohair locks into the fiber as I spun.  I then plied the bulky singles with a laceweight silk/mohair yarn that I had dyed in variegated colors. For the second ball, I spun a fingering weight single and then plied it on itself.  I love both of these skeins.  And the batts spun so easily.

Last week I had spun some natural colored baby camel/merino/silk (40-40-20) in a two-ply fingering weight.  I ended up with 500 yards and then kettle dyed my skein in colors of charteuse and mustard gold.  I was going to knit socks from this skein, but this morning, I had a brainstorm.  The "Connemara Marble" batts from Inglenook Fibers will go perfectly with my skein.  I see a sweater or a vest in the future. Guess what I'm spinning tonight.
The creator behind Inglenook Fibers' beautiful batts is Macrina Galarneau of Brookline, MA.  She has a most wonderful color sense.  Here's her Etsy shop:

After posting my completed Adamas shawl the other day, I decided to make a little treasure bag with the left over yarn.  
And I just have to post a picture of my garden that is all abloom and we got our tomato plants in.  Spring has definitely arrived.  So, why did the Channel 7 weatherman announce a winter storm warning, with prediction of snow?  I'm confused.