Sunday, February 24, 2013

Back from Travels

I have returned from my trip up to the Seattle area, where I had a great time visiting my friend, knitting, long walks, exploring and going to my favorite restaurant in the city, Elliott's -- one of the best oyster bars I've ever seen.  My friend, Mel, and I drove over to Tacoma one day to enjoy the Madrona Winter Fiber Retreat -- the marketplace to be exact.  Lots of wonderful booths:  Habu, Carolina Homespun, Opulent Fibers, Toots Le Blanc, Chameleon Colorworks, Dicentra, and Woolgatherings, among the many great vendors. It's not a huge marketplace, but all of the vendors are the ones I love.  I bought quite a few merino/silk balls of roving from Opulent Fibers for felting projects -- she's got such beautiful colors.   

I also bought a cowl pattern from The Fiber Gallery booth, a local yarn store.  The pattern is the "Arctic Circle" from The Fibre Company.  It called for a chunkier yarn and was knit of size US 10.5 needles, but I altered the pattern for my handspun fingering weight yarn and used US 5 needles and cast on more stitches.  I knit most of it up in Seattle and then finished it on the plane ride home.  The yarn was spun using an Inglenook Fibers batt called "Wild Turkey" that I plied with my merino/bombyx silk roving called "Bedazzled".  
I also worked on a pair of "Waving Lace Socks" while up in Seattle.  I started them at the airport in Orange County and almost finished the pair on my trip, but finished the second sock last night.  I used my merino/cashmere handspun yarn spun from "Magic Carpet" and "Indian Paintbrush", a skein I showed in my last post.  I've knit this sock pattern many times from the "25 Favorite Socks" book by Interweave Press.  

Yesterday, I drove up to Marina del Rey to have lunch with my son and his girlfriend and used that opportunity to stop by the Twist Yarn Store in Manhattan Beach.  This is such a lovely shop and has so many beautiful, colorful yarns -- one of my favorite shops in Southern California.  I had a gift certificate from my birthday last summer and splurged a bit to buy some Madeline Tosh laceweight silk.  This is very similar to the 20/2 spun silk I use for weaving projects, so I am planning on weaving something with this yarn.  If you haven't been to Twist, it is well worth a trip 
And since it's Sunday, I'm off to take a nice long walk at the San Clemente beach trails and then I plan on meeting up with a few of my friends for an afternoon knit group. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Little Adventure

My latest handspun skein.  It hasn't been washed yet, so it's a little twisty, but I love the colors.  I plied together two of my merino/cashmere rovings:  "Magic Carpet" and "Indian Paintbrush".  I just see these colors as socks.  422 yards, 3.8 oz.

I am off on a little trip up to Washington State to visit my friend, Mel, who lives a bit southeast of Seattle.  We have planned some outings, one of which is a trip to the Madrona Fiber Retreat, held every year in Tacoma.  Should be fun.  

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Melange Cowl

I have had bunches of questions about my very colorful (and very simple) cowl, which I called the Melange Cowl, just because I used a "melange" of my left over handspun yarns. Here are the directions.
The yarns I used were a fingering weight.  I used US 5 needles and cast on 60 stitches, which resulted in the cowl being about 9 inches in width.  The stitch pattern is so simple, every row:  Knit 15 st, purl 15 st, knit 15 st, purl 15 st.  To begin, I picked up a small ball of yarn from my handspun yarn stash basket and knit until the ball was gone or until I thought I had knit enough of that colorway.  Every once in a while, I added 3 to 5 rows of a dark brown natural colored handspun yarn. When I reached about 38 to 40 inches, I cast off and then grafted the two edges with the mattress stitch.  

Can't get more simple than that.  Of course, most of the yarns I used were handspuns where I plied two different colorways together.  That's where a lot of the striping happens.  Making the long piece about 40 inches in length allows the cowl to be doubled around the neck for those days when the wind is really cold and you need that warmth up close around the neck.

This is the skein of yarn that I spun over the past couple of days using the "Wild Turkey" batt from Inglenook Fibers plied with one of my rovings, a merino/bombyx silk blend in my "Bedazzled" colorway.  

I am just loving these two plied together.
I've one more "Wild Turkey" batt and this time I think I'm going to ply it with my "Magic Carpet" colorway in a merino/cashmere blend.

Now, I'm off to spin this morning with my peeps down in Encinitas (Northern San Diego County).  

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

On the Binge

There's all sorts of bingeing -- food, alcohol, and on and on. I'm not much of a binger but I did hear a new term the other day:  "binge watching".   OMG!  I am guilty of binge watching.  When I heard that "Downton Abbey" was going to begin its third season, I had a spate of binge watching of the first two seasons to get up to speed.  Then I binge watched "Foyle's War", another Masterpiece Theater series.  I'm now binge watching "The West Wing" which I never saw when it originally aired.  Well, during all this tv watching, I have to keep myself busy, so I have been binge spinning and binge knitting -- quite a satisfying binge if I don't say so myself. 

One of my knit projects involved an attempt to make a dent in all of the little balls of handspun that I have left over from projects.  I decided to just knit a long piece, which I then grafted together to make a cowl.  This project is about 40 inches long and 9 inches wide.
I started by just grabbing a small ball and knitting until it was gone.  Then I picked up another ball and finished that one and kept going.  I made a little bit of a dent in my stash and everything seems to go so well together. As you might have guessed, this is actually only one of many bins of small balls of left over handspun.

I just finished handpainting all of the undyed merino/cashmere that I had in my cubbies. I am going to make my way through all of the undyed fibers I have and see if I can exhaust what I have before I order more.  (Oh, yeah, really . . . . ? ) I haven't decided what is next.  But anyways, I wanted to spin some of the merino/cashmere I had just dyed because I always like to spin fiber that I put up for sale to make sure it's up to snuff.  I spun two different colorways and plied them together:  "Wild Sweet Peas" and "Antique Rose".  I couldn't be more happy. 
 444 yards, 4.6 oz., in a light fingering weight.

And tonight, I'm bingeing on "The West Wing" and two of Inglenook Fibers' batts in the "Wild Turkey" colorway.  I was looking at these batts in the sun this afternoon and the colors are absolutely magical -- the camera can't do them justice.  Macrina of Inglenook has such a way with colors -- her batts are my favorites on Etsy.  

I'm thinking I'm on a good binge and don't think I'll need an intervention.  

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Chunky Monkey Redux

This week I broke down my big "Chunky Monkey" skein of handspun pygora into six smaller skeins.  I thought I had 872 yards total and when I broke the big skein down, I ended up with six skeins of 150 each.  Yay!  I then dyed these smaller skeins in some colors I thought would go well together in a project.  I am so loving these colors.  Now to find the perfect project.  I also have some light gray, medium gray and white handspun pygora that would go well with these skeins.

This week I also managed to dye all of the merino/cashmere roving that I had left. This is 80% superfine merino and 20% cashmere. Really lovely stuff. I cannot wait to spin some of the colorways below and, of course, ply them together. I'll put some on Etsy, but I need to have some for myself.  As ALL of my friends know, jewel tones and greens and bronzes are my favorite color combinations.  Fun ahead this next week at the spinning wheel.
Since I had finished my socks, I decided to start a super easy project -- another Simple Pleasures Hat.  I'm knitting this with some yarn I handspun using fiber I purchased at the Taos Wool Festival two years ago.  The fibers are kid mohair, merino and angora and there's a tiny subtle bit of sparkly that was in one of rovings.  

Friday, February 01, 2013

Just Stuff

I finished knitting my Embossed Leaves socks last night.  Just love this pattern.  It goes so quickly and is so easy.  Now I'm pawing around in my stash to see what handspun yarn I have that would look good knitted into another pair of socks.  Anyone who knits socks knows that it can be addicting. 

I was very excited yesterday when I saw a box from Amazon in the mail.  This meant my new book had arrived:  "The Spinner's Book of Yarn Designs" by the amazing spinner, Sarah Anderson. I had the pleasure of taking a week-long workshop with Sarah at Golden Gate Fiber Institute a few summers ago. One of the best workshop instructors I have had. 

I haven't had a chance to read it yet, but I did look through it.  It looks like a fabulous book.  I had a delightful surprise when I got to page 84.  There is pictured a knitted scarf using the ruffled Helix scarf from the Spring 2011 issue of SpinOff magazine, which featured about 10 different versions of Helix submitted by readers.   The particular scarf in Sarah's book was knit using my version accepted by SpinOff that included a picot edge.  

Have to share a yummy recipe.  A couple weekends ago, I went to the monthly spinning group that I belong to -- down in San Diego County --  and we meet at a different spinner's home every month.  At each meeting, we have a potluck lunch and we usually do vegetarian fare since a couple of the women are vegetarians.  Shelly, our hostess, made a wonderful soup.  It was so delicious, I got the receipe and made in the next week.  

And a happy winter scene from the beach in San Clemente.  While ice storms rage in other parts of the country, we always get a few days of summer-like weather in January and February.  Just a teaser, though.  It doesn't last, but when it's here, we do take advantage of enjoying our good fortunes.  

Busy planning summer activities.  My friend, Margie, and I will travel to Sewanee, TN, in June to take a weeklong workshop with Rebecca Burgess on natural dyeing at the Shakerag workshops.  Really get excited when plane and rental car reservations are in place.  WooHoo!!