Thursday, May 28, 2009

Fiber Output

As forecast, here is a photo-heavy post with some recent FO's.
(the yarns are FO's for the now - I haven't yet decided what I might do with them)

Finn, handpainted and semi-solid top dyed by Tactile with weld (the yellow) and other natural dyes, spun worsted and then 2 plied each color to itself and against each other. Just over 28 wpi, 2 oz., 411 yards

Light Gray No. Ronaldsey, given to me on my trip to Yorkshire a couple of months ago. Spun woolen, 16wpi, about 1.3 os., didn't measure it but probably about 230 yards.

Wensleydale, spun worsted from top purchased from Stitchjones. 8oz., 14wpi, 482 yards. Isn't it a great green? The colorway is Sligo.

Wool blend roving that has bee in the stash for a while, and was dyed and carded by a mill in upstate NY that's now out of business. A nice squishy 700ish yards of woolen spun fall colored yarn. (about 8 oz.)

And now for some real finished objects. There's a baby shower for my niece this week, but I can't make it because of the NwRSA conference in Tacoma. I'm sending this sweater and hat, along with a gift certificate that can be used for some tiny summer baby things, because the sweater and hat are sized for 12 months. Since the baby's coming in mid-July, they should fit for all this winter and next spring. The yarn is Encore, because I know this 21 y/o mom-to-be will want to put everything into the washer and dryer.

Now I'm ready to decide tomorrow what I'll need at the NwRSA conference in Tacoma this weekend, then pack and be ready to leave the next day.


It has never happened to me before, honestly. Yesterday I had a marathon plying session, so this morning I was happily washing up 8 skeins of yarn, and when I took them out of the soaking water - one had come pretty much completely untied. Yes, I had shortcut a bit and only tied it in 2 places, with the ends of the yarn, but the square knots seemed to have just melted in the water.

I lifted it out carefully once I realized what had happened, squeezed the water out, and carefully laid it on a shelf in my drying cabinet. I'll try Darlene's Never-Fail-If-You-Don't-Get-Impatient-And-Rush-It untangling method, learned at GGFI last year once it's dry. Luckily it's from some spun-long-ago singles in an autumnal colorway, so if the yarn gets a little "used" looking I won't mourn too much. If it had been one of the Tactile Finn laceweight skeins I would be much less philosophical about it.

Lesson learned - ALWAYS use at least one waste yarn tie when preparing for washing or dyeing!

On a more personal frustrating note - I've developed lactose intolerance, which is really limiting to me as I've been a big dairy foods fan all of my life. Yogurt is my standard breakfast, cottage cheese a frequent lunch, and fresh cheeses like ricotta used in a lot of recipes. I'm trying to see which hard cheeses I can eat, and cream cheese seems okay, but even goat's milk is a no-go. I've not found any lactose-free yogurt, and have tried making my own with lactose-free milk but even though it works beautifully, it still causes a reaction. Hopefully I'll adjust to this before long!

Also on a frustrating food note, my second breakfast staple, Oroweat Health Nut English Muffins, have been discontinued by the manufacturer. In combination with no yogurt, this has seriously impacted my morning routine. I've had better luck dealing with this, though - I've started making my own english muffins in a reasonable facsimile, and they're very good. I can fork-split and freeze them, and pop them in the toaster oven in the morning. So there, Oroweat! (who didn't respond to my email to them expressing my unhappiness in a very polite way)

Hopefully, photos of finished yarn and finished knitting in the next post.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Historical Knitting

When I saw the Civil War-Era Sontag in the latest Piecework Magazine, I knew that it was exactly what I needed to wear at the Antique Spinning Wheel Showcase at the Aurora Colony Museum while spinning on my circa 1835 wheel. This event is one of the major ones both for the museum and for my guild, the Aurora Colony Handspinners Guild. This year there were 0ver 30 antique wheels that were brought and spun on by their owners by their owners or other volunteers. The date of manufacture of the wheels ranged from the late 18th century to the early part of the 20th century, and were made in many European countries as well as in the US. All volunteers for the event wear period clothing.

I started the sontag the day after the magazine arrived, about 2 weeks before the event. The yarn used was handspun that I spun about 3 years ago from "mystery batts" bought from Fantasy Fibers at BSG. These are batts of all of the odds and ends in the mill, many colors and fibers but mine seemed to be mostly gray, with green, red, and blue mixed in from time to time. I knew that I had more than enough of the yarn, so I decided that I would make the body of the sontag, then overdye the remaining yarn in a contrast color for the edging. The yarn was a pretty consistent sportweight.

I finished the gray body in a week, enlarging it as suggested in the pattern, which was in one size that was described as a small by the writer/designer. (The enlarging turned out to be almost unnecessary, but I had done it by the time I realized that, and I didn't have enough time to start over) I decided that I would use a scarlet overdye on the remaining yarn, and would also dye some white handspun destined for a future project. I don't have a photo of the gray, but here is the dyed yarn, the gray and the white done in the same pot.

The color is one I mixed, using a combination of warm and cool reds, some slate blue and some black. It is exactly what I was looking for, and I used an immersion dyebath which resultd in a semi-solid application. I didn't use the edging from the Piecework design, I wanted a picot edge so I made up my own edging pattern. It took me a total of 8 days to make the sontag, and used about 675 yards of handspun.

Here is the finished sontag, on a dress form so that it shows the way it is worn.

When flat, the shape looks somewhat like a V with the bottom point squared off, and the vest-like back has cords on the corners which are brought to the front around the waist and tied. Tassels on the ends of the cords are traditional. The "wings" are crossed over the chest, then buttoned to each other in the back, over the back section. Because my sontag is too large, I overlapped the wings and used 2 buttons, as well as turning down the neck edge into a kind of collar.

With a wool skirt and white blouse made from authentic patterns, and a white linen ruffled cap, I was warm and appropriately dressed for the Pioneer period of the museum. The sontag leaves the arms free to spin and doesn't slip as a shawl does while working, walking, and carrying things.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Retreating, UK-style

I just got back a couple of days ago from attending SkipNorth, a retreat that takes place in Haworth, Yorkshire, England. I last went 2 years ago, and missed it last year because of a guild event here at home. This year was therefore my second time, but the fourth for the retreat.

It has grown to just under 50 people, who arrive at a hostel in the north of England on Friday afternoon to spend the next 2 1/2 days spinning, knitting (the Skip stands for Spinning and Knitting in Public), shopping, teaching, learning, eating and drinking. I may have left something out, but those are the main activities. The hostel is a large Victorian mansion that has been renovated to a comfortable location with large lounges and studies for gathering, a dining room that serves very nice meals, and rooms with varying numbers of beds organized dorm-style. Yorkshire is a county with lots of sheep- that live on pretty desolate hills without a lot of pampering. It's also a county that had many, many woolen mills in the past, but not so many now. It does have some, though, and because of that the yarn and fiber shopping are very good. That's the reason that the retreat started coming to Haworth, and no one wants to change the location.

We did shop, taking two motor coaches to favorite locations. I think the other shoppers were a little dismayed to see us, because it meant there would be long queues for the cashiers.(This was a shop with 3 floors of sewing and fiber tools, buttons, trims and embellishments, needles, and just about everything you could think of except the actual yarn, fiber, or fabric. It's called a haberdashery shop by the locals, I inagine we would call it a notions shop here in the US if we had such a thing)

An additional activity was added to the program this year, a swap. Unlike some swaps that I've participated in at other events, this one is pretty much a large mound on a cleared floor, first with a free-for-all for all who brought things to swap, and a second round for all attendees. This was followed by an individual showing of items being offered to support p-hop, a UK-based campaign to benefit Medicins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders to us yanks), which items were all snapped up with donations being pledged in return. Great fun, and I brought home less than I took, a success.

So the shopping was great, but I held myself firmly in check and only brought home these things:in the empty duffel that I had with great foresight put into the bottom of my suitcase. Yes, some of those packages in front contain Addi Lace needles, which were a steal at under $7 as the exchange rate favors the US right now. The little ball of fiber in the top center is all that is remaining of a lovely ball of North Ronaldsay wool brought to me from Scotland by my friend SpinningFishwife, which is so wonderful that I began spinning it the morning after I got home so that the rest was on the bobbin before the photo was taken.

I was excited to learn that WyeSue and TutleyMutley will be on the Baltic cruise that I'll be going on in August - hopefully no one is thinking it's going to be a sedate cruise. And thanks to everyone that attended SkipNorth, as well as to Alex and Nic, the organizers of the event. It gets better every time.

My last two nights were spent at a farm in Derbyshire, south of Manchester (my favorite UK airport by a huge margin) which was my base for some sightseeing. I spent hours at Chatsworth
a stately home that houses numerous Old Masters, is the seat of the Duke of Devonshire, employs 502 people as staff, and has been used in the filming of a number of major films, including the latest Pride and Prejudice. It also has extensive gardens, and grounds that are occupied by large numbers of sheep. I also visited Bakewell, where it was Market Day for everything you can imagine, from fruits and vegetables to tools, to undies, and livestock. Of course, I had to go to the cattle auction just to see if it was much different from the ones here. Nope, pretty much the same, just some different breeds (now I want to get some Highland Cattle) and somewhat higher prices.

Home again for a bit now, and next time I'll do some catching up on trips, or maybe some FOs.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Shearing Day

Yesterday was my first shearing day for my two wether lambs (even though they're pretty big, both are under a year old, and will keep growing for another year or so). Not their first time, though, they were shorn at the farm they came from at about 3 1/2 months old, when the ewes were shorn. I forgot to take a picture before we loaded up and let, but here are a couple from a couple of months ago - pretty long wool!
(they are very different sizes, Sven the black boy is Wensleydale/Cotswold/Gotland, and Ingemar the brown boy is 3/4 Shetland/1/4 Gotland)

I took the boys over to my friend Loyce's farm, since she has a small flock too and this meant the shearer only had to set up once. Beth the shearer was great, especially since my boys weren't happy about the process and Loyce's sheep hadn't been shorn in about a year and a half, so they were long and felted, but with lovely usable wool under the outside matting.

The boys are still lamb enough that they were pretty scared about new experiences (traveling and a different barn), though they were good on their leads and in the trailer. Ingemar had started to roo so had to be clipped very near his skin to get the slightly matted rooing ends off - that fleece will take a bit more work for me to prepare for spinning. Since it was raining, windy and sleeting here in between sunny periods, both boys got sweatshirts to wear when we got home-

(which make them look pretty silly, and their heads look ENORMOUS)

They are silly, and doing a lot of chasing each other around the pen type sheep games. Ingemar is even doing some of the jumping vertically type things that I haven't seen in months. They're getting extra rations right now, too, so that they can grow some insulation quickly.

Beth the shearer says that because I have a longwool and a primitive, they should really be sheared 2x a year. This is great- she lives nearby so getting her over won't be difficult, and it means I get 4 fleeces a year instead of 2. I'm looking forward to working with the fleeces, which both need skirting more heavily as we were too busy to do it at the shearing.

Yes, Sven is jet black, with no sun-bleached tips. The lock at right is about 7" long, and other parts of the fleece are over 8". Lucky, aren't I?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

New Beginning?

Well, the thing is, there's just so much to do all of the time, especially when I'm online. There's my email, and KR, and Ravelry, and Facebook, and Twitter, and GoodReads. Of course, there's also real fiber, real yarn, real designing, and real farm chores. Once you let the blog go for a while, it's hard to come back to posting on a regular basis.

We'll see - I'm not promising, but check back in and I'll try to talk about what's been going on in the past couple of months, and what will be happening currently.

Like my trip this week to the Bohus exhibit at the Swedish American Institute Museum in Minneapolis

Like the Antique Spinning Wheel Showcase at the Aurora Colony Museum this weekend

Like shearing my little almost-boys this Monday

Like my trip to Yorkshire next week

Stay tuned, and here's a yak photo in the meantime:

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Back, and soon to travel again

I know, I know - but even though I have tried to install satellite internet at the farm, it is not working properly. To be really honest, maybe the Hughes net is working, but the wireless router is not, and the cable directly from the satellite is in the not-yet-completed studio, so unless I want to sit there on a folding chair, and risk the sawdust getting in the laptop, I'm still resigned to visiting Neil's Java Jungle in town to do anything much more than getting email. (By the way, the coffee is great, and the guys are nice, if you're ever in the area)

I've been to Sweden, I've been to South Dakota, I've been to Omak, WA, I've been to SOAR, San Diego and Rhinebeck - I think that covers the travels. Of course, it doesn't REALLY cover them, but for now it does. If I get the satellite wireless working, I'll post more about some of them.

For now I'll concentrate on more current events. I've been busily working on the Swedish Bohus-style colorwork that I'll be teaching at the Knitters Review Retreat in about 10 days. Here is a photo of the completed project in the cool colors, for the Friday class-
which is a headband that could be expanded to a hat. The Saturday class will do some swatching, on a smaller circumference, of generally the same pattern, which has been charted in warm brown/orange colors as well as these blues/greens.
I interrupted my prep on Saturday to attend the Aurora Colony Handspinners Guild Workshops Day, and had a very good time. I took a wheel and lunch, worked, ate, and chatted, and then took a needle felting class in the afternoon. Needle felting, you ask? (I haven't ever been too excited about doing needle felting) Well, yes, but look what I made in the class-
It's Tanya, the felted tea cozy! She's a Border Leicester (bet you could tell that, right?) who is named after one of the Philly zoo sheep whose fleece I dealt with a couple of years ago. She's posing on the teapot in the bottom shot, but her normal perch is as above, sitting on top of the fridge watching everything. It was worth the despised needle felting.
I don't have any current photos of the new studio-in-progress, but my only comment is that it may be ready for me to move into by the new year - seriously. I know that contracting is not an exact science, and our guy is good, but why do they always tell you it's going to take about 1/4 of the time it really takes? At least it's now in the stage where all of the remaining work is inside, so rain can't slow it down even more.
Oh, and I also have acquired 3 additional wheels in the past 3 1/2 weeks, which I think is a record even for me. Two are on their way here, one came home in the car from northern WA. Photos and info on them will be making a future appearance.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Interesting Encounter

Last evening we went to the movies, at the local small-town theater that was built in the 40's, where movies still cost $5, and they pop their own popcorn. (Our town even has a drive-in, people drive over an hour in summertime to bring their kids to a real drive-in) I took along a sock, I pretty much always have a sock in my purse or tote, for those little down-times and waiting times.

This theater has been in the same family for it's whole life, and last night they were showing a 30-minute short of movie recordings that the current owner's grandfather had made of various summer parades and festivals. The lights were up, people were arriving and chatting, and I was knitting. Most people know that I am not a sentimental knitter or spinner, knitting is kind of like breathing to me. I can't imagine not doing it, but I don't give it more meaning than as my constant companion, so I don't really get care about getting attention for doing it. Last night was a little different, though.

I was working on a sock bespoke by Jennifer of Spirit Trail Fiberworks. Toe-up, as many of my sock patterns are, and only begun in the morning, before I went to a spin-in.
(notice that I'm not revealing any real design here, I don't know exactly how Jen is going to use the pattern)
I heard a kid-voice say "that's so cool". Right behind me was a 8-9 year old boy, who had moved down about 6 seats from his family to watch me knit.
"I knit, too, my grandma taught me".
That's great, I said, do you like it?
"I really like it, I know how to purl, too. Are you making a sock?"
Yes, I am. I make lots of socks.
"I know how to make a blanket, it's really wide, like this". (he held his hands about 2 feet apart) "I worked on my grandma's blanket, but I know how to do one myself. But socks are so great, you just knit around and around, kind of like a spiral, and it makes a tube, any size you want to make".
Yes, I say, that's how you make a sock. At this point in the conversation I am thinking that here is a knitter for life, a kid who will combine knitting with little league and science projects. His mom tries to get his attention, but he tells her he's busy and will come back in a minute.
"Wow, you knit really fast, and so little. I've never knit with needles that small. (size 1) No purls, huh? The stitches are so small and tight. Can I see the inside?"
I showed him the inside of the sock toe, and told him that he certainly can knit with needles that small, it just takes a little practice.
We chatted, discussing the type of yarn, and the cool colors dyed by my friend. The lights started to dim. His mom told him he'd miss out on popcorn if he didn't come back, and I folded up my knitting to watch Transformers. Adam was still staring at the boy.
Knitting is cool.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Spectrum Socks

I was asked on KR to post a picture and comment about these socks. I did think that I posted a photo last fall when I finished them, but I can't find anything, so I'll talk about them again.

To start off, I do know that the colors aren't a full spectrum, but I really didn't want to call them Rainbow Socks, just too Pollyanna-ish. They started when I stopped in a yarn shop and saw a display of Noro Silk Garden Lite. I have a weakness for Noro yarns, because of the great colorways and fiber blends, so there is a goodly amount of regular Silk Garden in my stash. Enough for 2-3 sweaters, at least. I've never been tempted by the light weight before, because it is in the same colorways, just a sport/DK version of the yarn. Looking at the LYS display, I realized that I was immediately seeing 2 skeins that looked exactly alike, which in my Noro experience is rare unless one is looking at their solid colors. The colors in the variegated colors have such long repeats that generally the skeins look very different, and it would be hard to have matching socks with going through a lot of yarn.

I'll just mention as an aside that I don't usually care about my socks matching each other, fraternal twins are fine with me. It's just that when I saw those two skeins, I realized that I could have matching socks, in wool/silk, in a great Noro colorway. So I brought them home, and cast on that night. Here they are, with very long cuffs because I like them long and with toe-up socks you can just keep going-

The perspective is a little off, I have size 9 feet and these feet look smaller than that. I used size 2.5 Brittany wood DPNs, and the sock fabric seemed looser than I had expected, probably because of the high silk content. Silk is a great substitute for nylon in a sock blend, though, it wears like iron, and takes dye beautifully.
I've worn these socks a lot since they were completed 7 months ago, and they still look just like new. This yarn isn't machine washable, of course, but I have lots of handspun socks that have to be washed by hand, so this isn't a problem at all.
Fast-forwarding to the current time, I've been working on a few pieces spoken for as pattern sales or for other uses, so I don't want to post pictures here unless/until it's been okay'd. I haven't even photographed the finished pieces, though I'll try to remember to take pictures of the next couple.
I did do some spinning lately, though, and have a pair of socks underway. While its nice doing things that I'll get paid for, I'll be looking forward to being able to just knit anything I want, with no deadlines. What I really need to do is begin to build a portfolio of designs that can be offered up as needed. I'll get the camera out for the spinning and socks soon.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Back, and making it up with cute kid & sheep picture!

Sorry for the gap - I got home from NHSW and Virginia, and then had computer problems. I went off to Fiber in the Forest before I had a chance to figure out the cure. Fiber in the Forest is a long weekend of weaving, spinning, knitting, dyeing, and basketry that takes place in southwestern OR each spring. Anyone in the OR/No. Cal. area should consider coming, it's a fun retreat with a batch of three-day classes, a select few nice vendors, and great food. No cell or wireless service, though, as the camp is tucked in the mountains between I5 and the Oregon coast. I'll blog about it soon.

I got home, figured out how to do a system restore without losing all of my files (and am very proud of myself for getting to this resolution) but then went off to NWRSA conference in Coeur d'Alene, leaving my husband at home with friends from TX. Two days after I got home, I headed to a graduation in southern OR. Now I'm home, back at my local coffe shop with wifi, uploading photos.

A major reason for my near-panic in dealing with my laptop was that the problems were focused in a couple of areas - the wireless connection and the audio/iTunes. These are both pretty important to me, blogging, and my listening pleasure while traveling, knitting or spinning, so I have a little excuse for the lack of blog posts, as well as my crazy schedule. Now I'm home for a little while, except for a couple of days and nights at Black Sheep Gathering, so I'll hope to make up for it.

So for now, here is a shot of cute kids and sheep at the NH Sheep and Wool Show. As soon as I pulled out my camera, they went immediately into "show mode", as if I was a 4-H judge. Heck, I was never even in 4-H!

In closing for now, the view from the back porch last night. We're seeing sunset at about 9pm these days, and they've been nice lately. (I'm up for sunrise, too, but the hills on the other side block the good views)

More spinning, knitting and weaving (!) posts to come soon.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Short Notes on MDSW

Just a quick post as we (Jen of Spirit Trail Fiberworks and me, her booth help) are getting ready to hit the road for the next show, New Hampshire Sheep & Wool.

Maryland was bigger and better than ever - better because there seemed to be more people that were having a great time and were in a good mood (maybe because the weather was a little cooler than the last couple of years?), the food lines were shorter, and there were more "facilities" scattered around.

We set up the booth-
Martha and Bess were also booth babes at MDSW, and here you see them in their elements, Martha handling the checkout table, and Bess attracting newbies with her spindle and Jen's rovings.

We're at the far end of the Main Building,
but the shoppers and browsers came in droves, and we pretty much sold out of sock yarn and mohair (is this a knitting trend we hadn't heard about?). The photo is before opening on Saturday, and Jen is still think about what we might have forgotten (nothing important).

There wasn't a lot of time to shop for me, but I did get a couple of things that were on my "must buy" list, a couple of bobbins for my new Victoria from Carolina Homespun,

And a shed stick from Woody of Woodchuck Products , which is made of purpleheart and feels really good. It was joined by a pair of Brittany walnut size 5 needles, to replace the set at home that has a broken one. Woody somehow had a large container of these long-discontinued needles, and was selling them for the original price ($8.50!).

Last but certainly not least, I filled a bag with "end pieces" from Spinner's Hill, which are wool/mohair/silk and carded into the most beautiful clouds imaginable. I can't resist getting some every Maryland, my fix until next year.
That's pretty much it - no wheels, no fleeces, no splurges. I'm happy with the weekend, Jen was happy with the weekend for Spirit Trail, and now we're loading up the rig for the next show.

Speaking of Spirit Trail, check out the new yarn and sock clubs that Jen is taking sign-ups for. These are starting to fill up, and if you love knitting either socks, or luxury fibers, you will be interested.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Weaving at Asilomar

I went to the CNCH conference last weekend at Asilomar Conference Center, near Monterey, California. This is a wonderful conference center that is part of the CA Parks system, and has many buildings (including the one I stayed in) that were designed by Julia Morgan and built in the late 19th century. Don't worry that I was roughing it, though, they have been thoroughly updated. Here's the main lodge-
All of the buildings were designed to fit into the dunes, so that the view from the beach is still wonderful. Here's the beach
which turned out to be a great place to sit and knit (a Monday morning activity).
I took a 2 1/2 day class on Knotted Cut Pile, and my last post showed the yarn that I had spun and dyed for the class. I also did a design, though none of this was a prerequisite. The instructor was Sara Lamb, a very talented weaver and great teacher. Everyone in the class enjoyed it, from experienced weavers to absolute newbies (we had a brave man in the class who was not a spinner, weaver, or knitter - his only textile experiences had been as a quilter - more on him later).
First, we built our looms
from copper pipe and other hardware store materials. We put feet on them so that they could stand up for warping.
Now, I'n not a real weaver because I hate warping, but even I did not mind the warping process on this loom. I was almost the slowest warper, though, because I found at the end that I had done a cross incorrectly and had to take 3/4 off and do it again. This didn't bother me as much as I thought it would, though, because I was having a good time in general. A warp this size is just so much less tedious than on a larger loom. We used string heddles, and I learned to do continous heddles, which worked well for me and enabled me to get back on track, time-wise. I didn't mess these up, thankfully.
By the end of the day we were all, even me, tying our first knots. In the photo above you can see some of the yarn (Paternayan needlepoint yarn) that Sara had brought for people to use. Everyone found colors that they liked, and though I was the only person who had specifically spun for this class, I was not the only person who had done their own design. Here is Jim's abstract design (he is the quilter).
( We have taken the feet off the looms for ease in weaving)
Pretty much the rest of the work we did in class was knotting and cutting the pile. While we did this, Sara showed us some of her work,
which is amazing, huh? She also showed slides of traditional weavings and talked about other books and resources.
Of course, there was time for other activities as well. Sara is on the left, and our friend Sue on the right. It was cool and breezy, but perfect weather for beach walks.
Here is my loom and the amount of knotting that I completed. When the whole piece is finished, there will be front and back pile sections to be joined with sides and strap to make a small bag.
If you want to see our speediest knotter, check out the photo of my tablemate Deanna on Sara's blog. She has other pictures of the class as well.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Maybe a Weaver?

I'm off at the CNCH (Norther California Handweavers) conference this weekend to see if it is possible that there can be a type of weaving that I enjoy. I suspect that even though I don't like weaving on regular looms, mostly because I truly despise the warping process, I will like both tapestry and knotted rug weaving, because they are done on frame looms and the warping process is not nearly as tedious (tastes differ here, I conceed).

Here are the yarns I spun and dyed for my knotted pile sample:

And here is the motif from one of our carpets that I will be basing my design on for one of my 5" x 6" samples:
Sara Lamb, my teacher for the weekend, tells me that I will have to do only part of the motif, as I have an area of 30 knots x 40 knots in my sample. Not so big, but I will still only get about 1" done, she says.

The conference is at Asilomar, a lovely park conference center on the Monteray Peninsula. Beach photos in a future post.

Monday, April 16, 2007

A Spinning Day

Saturday was the quarterly meeting/Spin-in for my area (6010) of the Northwest Regional Spinners Association. The Spring meeting is always at Woodland Woolworks in Carlton, OR, which has the added advantage of being about 12 minutes from my farm. (that can be it's own evil temptation, of course, but I try to resist stopping every time I'm driving that direction)

Diane of WW is a great hostess, providing coffee, tea, water, hot cocoa, and a table of new items to drool over, designed to appeal to spinners of every level and inclination. Folks bring sack lunches, and snacks/treats to share, and we spend the whole day. Sometimes people have to just stop by (as
Trish did to drop off a bunch of GORGEOUS merino/tencel door prize and snap a photo) because of other commitments, but most of us try to schedule so that we can be there the whole day.

I always take way too much than I could ever spin in 6-7 hours, especially when I am chatting, eating, and (possibly) shopping. This is what I took to spin-

See the little gap just under the handle? That was home to the small batts that I spun up, though admittedly they were spun at about 40 wpi. What you see are the 31 small bats that I overestimated, took, and carried home. This reminds me of going through a buffet line as a kid - my eyes would be bigger than my stomach. Now my eyes are just bigger than my hands/wheel.

This was the first official outing for my new little Louet Victoria (also pictured), and I really like the portability of this wheel. An added advantage that I hadn't considered is that the footprint is small enough to fit nicely into a crowded Spinning Circle, about the same width as my chair. It doesn't walk or wobble; surprisingly, for the size and weight of under 6.5 pounds, it's very stable. I am looking forward to the lace flyer becoming available, though, the max ratio of 13:1 on the standard flyer is just a tad slow for comfortable spinning, and way too slow for cotton or laceweight. I'm going to call
Morgaine to see if she has any inside info on when it will be in. Maybe by MDSW?

A couple of weeks ago I couldn't find the Victoria, and searched all over the house, feeling very puzzled. Finally I asked Adam if he had seen it, and he sheepishly brought it in to the family room about 20 minutes later. Turns out he saw the wheel packed in its case sitting in the corner a few days earlier, and without reading the side of the case, assumed that it was an empty carry-on. These go in a stack on shelves in the basement, so that's where the wheel had been put. Really, that's how small and lightweight this wheel is - he never noticed there was anything in the case.

Here are a couple of shots of the happy spinners
Notice the empty chair fourth from the left? That's the invisible me.
See our shortest spinner? And the 5 vacuum bags of angora that was donated to us? Amazing, huh?

Today I've been doing some pruning on the apple trees, because I can now see where there are no blooms opening up. It's a little late in the season, but I'd rather have the trees' energies go into producing apples than supporting un-needed branches and leaves.

(Oh, and for the record - no shopping for me at the Saturday meeting, this time anyway)

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Roses in Texas

I am in Ft. Worth while Adam is attending a conference here. This morning I had some choices of activities:

1. Go out to the western wear store and buy myself a new pair of boots (which I do kind of need and want, but I don't want to carry them home in my small suitcase),

2. Work on my knitting project in the hotel room, or

3. Visit the Botanical Garden with a group of other non-attendees.

I chose the Botanical Garden, as it's a beautiful day, sunny, 75-80 degrees, breezy, no humidity. I definately made the right choice, as it's early summer-ish here in southern parts, and it's a nice Botanical Garden, with an extensive rose garden that is just about at peak bloom. I am a fanatic rose gardener, as some folks know, and in the recent past battled the humidity and insects in NY to have roses blooming for the summer. After a few years of fighting the inevitable, I settled on some varieties of heirloom roses that were survivors, enjoying a couple of good weeks before the summer settled in.

I've read that many experts believe that the perfect rose climates, though, are New Zealand and Oregon, so now I'm looking forward to growing lots more varieties, and enjoying them for a longer season. The previous owners had a few, including a notable Lady Banks climber that has grown about 25' up into a pine tree. It was just budding up when I looked at it last weekend, so I will be seeing it's glories soon. Just on the other side of our little town is Heirloom Old Garden Roses, and that's where I will be this weekend. Armed with my notebook and some photos from today's rose garden, I'll be shopping for some beauties for my yard. Some of them may eventually look like this:
And this:

But not like this:
(these are bluebonnets, it's the end of the season here in bluebonnet-crazed Texas).

I'm flying home tomorrow, then I'll start to pack up for the NCHWA conference at Asilomar next week. Sara is going to try to convert me to the dark side (weaving). There will undoubtedly be more on this later.

( and knitting to come, maybe this weekend)