Monday, December 8, 2008

Roy G Biv

Over the weekend a friend mentioned to me that she thought my blog was in competition with another to see who could go the longest without posting. Heh. Without going into too much detail, the post below was started sometime in December of 2008~ I guess I've been spending waay too much time at work, or something. :) When I'm home and not working on a project I tend to spend too much time on Ravelry, too
Do you view your yarn-in-waiting as stash or a collection?

I've always had a project or idea in mind when buying yarn. It was always stash- Sock yarn took me in to the "Duh, it'll be socks" mode.

Well, ahh... here's a few socks' worth:

This is Wollmeise sock yarn, and it has clearly brought me right to collection mode like no yarn before! It's an addicting yarn, indeed. The colors are great, and my often-worn Wollmeise socks show NO WEAR. That's right, no wear at all!

For the most part I have greatly reined in purchases of other yarn in the past six months. (Although I could certainly use a full year break!) This was a greatly needed activity because of the Wollmeise purchases *and* new yarn coming off the spinning wheel.

Can you see the tree reflected on the screen? I wasn't kidding about December~ :)

Is it Time?

Last summer I bought a few skeins of Casbah sock yarn at The Yarnery. (Ok, more than a few. There were six skeins in total.) It feels great, makes a great fabric, and washes well. Did I mention that it's cashmere? Ok, just 10%, but it feels like a much higher amount! I've just finished my 2nd and 3rd pairs of socks with the stuff.

The middle skein (pumpkin) was used to knit Slalom, a lovely sock pattern by Elizabeth Warner. (Ravelry link for pattern download) The heel was inspired by Cat Bordhi's 'sockitecture' concept. The purls between traveling stitches increase around the ankle, and the semi-traditional heel turn is a touch higher than a regular sock. You can see the heel flap above-- it's on the bottom of the foot. I modified the pattern by knitting with 1.5 US needles instead of 1s (tight gauge), and I added an extra pattern repeat.

The fit is great, and I love the way they feel!

Over Thanksgiving I spent a few days at the family cabin just like last year. During the first few days I read the second book in the Twilight series (yes, it's teenage literature!), and knit socks.

My aunt Sandy looooves pink, so I chose the skein on the right (above). Since our family is from Germany (Alsace Lorraine region--- the other side is from Bavaria), I thought Suzanna by Stephanie van der Linden on the Germain Creative Sock List (Yahoo group) might be a good choice.

Aunt Sandy seemed to agree. Here she is is in all her morning splendor. (I don't think she would appreciate this pre- hair & makeup pic on the internet, but I think it's great. :)

The socks were knit to pattern except for the instep. I added an extra ten stitches (half a repeat) to create two full motifs instead of 1.5. She really likes them, and I know I'll see them over and over again during future trips to the cabin.

I really love when handknits are appreciated!


For the past year I've knit with cashmere (blends) a good deal more than kitchen cotton. Is it time to finally change the name of the blog?

Monday, November 10, 2008

para el Diablo del Norte

Apparently I'm about a month behind with blogging.... behold, a Halloween post! (I thought I should sneak this in before I start chattering about Thanksgiving vacation...)

Over lunch in mid-October, I spent a number of days working on this weird piece of yellow knitting. It was sculptural, thus lended to lots of questions by co-workers and friends. This item was knit with knit picks worsted-weight "swish" in the yellowish tone, originally purchased for August's blanket.

Once it was finished, I overdyed the balaclava with Jaquard Acid Dyes in reds with a touch of black. This was a gift for a c0-worker of mine. When you have a serious fan of Dr. Who coupled with a history of being called "el diablo del norte" (which will not be explained here), how could I not resist this project? Also, it was his birthday.

Now I see creepy (yet fabulous) screen saver in neighboring cubicles.

Bokaclava is a fantastic design inspired by a classic Dr. Who episode called The Daemons. Apparently a demon sculpture named "Bok" comes to life and creates havoc.

Ok, so it was a little tight on him. It's one thing to try and gauge the size of someone's head in meetings - and completely another when faced with the actual size of said head (large-ish) with finished garment. Oh well. It is what it is.

This mask certainly created havoc at work. We all fought to see oncoming co-worker's responses to this Halloween outfit. It was hilarious.

Part of me hoped he would take the mask home and wear it this winter. You know, frighten the neighbors to bits when snowblowing the front yard and the like. Instead, it's been hanging out in his office. His future plans: hang it on the wall some sort of display for all to see.

If I were going to knit one again, I'd go for a heavier weight yarn. Aran would be a good choice.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Post for Pam

In The Skies
Originally uploaded by cashmere dreams
Pam is my "knitting over lunch" buddy on Tuesdays. She has heard me talk about some purple and blue handspun recently, but wants to see the evidence.

Pam, hon, this post is for you.

The roving is from Crown (crack) Mountain Farms. (Click the link to view their fall sale going on right now!)

It's 100% superwash merino in colorways "In the Skies" and "Layla". When you buy this roving it comes in 8.5 ounce bumps per colorway.

To the right is a photo of pre-spun "In The Skies" with Toby. Here he's showing his best, "Can we just go for a walk?" face.

Finally, a photo of the finished yarn. It's all approximately heavy fingering weight. The blue skein has 618 yards. I haven't checked to see how much purple there is.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Harveyville Project: Yarn School Fall 08

A few weeks ago I went on a little road trip.As I drove through Iowa, the car had to navigate around hundreds of massive wind-harnessing energy-making thingies and Iowan airplane radar rays for hours. (..and, I, umm, narrowly escaped an Iowan speeding ticket!)Ms. Sassy lent her gps for the trek, and it made the 8.5 hour drive long - but effortless.


I went to Harveyville, Kansas to attend Yarn School - Fall 2008.
Fellow fibernista Nikol Lohr (of Naughty Needles and Art Club fame) purchased four rural schools in the middle of rural Kansas. She maintains the property with Ron, a tattoo artist and music enthusiast. The space is full of fun and interesting details - a perfect storm of creativity and space. (It's worth the drive just to see the school!)

Yoda is a six month old pygora goat from Laura's Pygoras. He's super cute, and he feels like heaven. Yoda and his pack joined us for lunch one day, alongside angora rabbits from Little Angora House on the Prairie.

Waking up on the second morning at Yarn School was an absolute joy. The corridor separating the two Harveyville school buildings was lined with gorgeous columns of dyed fiber.

We all spent hours in the dye studio (a former chemistry room) the day before with Adriane Bizla from Hello Yarn dyeing pounds of wool. ***We all received pounds of fiber to dye upon Yarn School check-in: superwash wool, Mashum, Corredale X, Blue Faced Liester, & a few ounces of sea silk, nylon, and sparkle for dye play. Some people brought yarn and even more fiber to dye, too.

Doesn't Felicia (pictured above ) look adorable in her new roving outerwear? :) She's never without a smile, and sells her dye work online at Sweet Pea Fibers. Over the weekend I had a lot of fun with Molly, who here is upset over a little color loss that morning. She kept on saying, "My carrots and corn ate the peas!".
Nikol set up an awesome batt-making station with six drum carders and buckets of different fiber to play with. I cannot tell a lie. I love the drum carder. Some day I'd like a Strauch!Nikol taught us how to make roving from the drum carder. You need a "diz" (a thingie with a hole in it) to pull the fiber through to create a uniform, consistent length.

Behind Nikol is one of my roommates from the weekend - Christine. I have to say both she and Lisa (unpictured) were great roommates!
Here's a set of batts that I made on the first day of drum carding. I started with a base of bamboo in a topaz color that I brought from home. 100% bamboo can be a pain to spin, so I combined it with random fabulous fibers in autumn shades. I'm really excited to spin these up!
Laid out on my bed was my fiber production from one day at Yarn School. That's right-- one day's worth.

We drove out to Alpacas at Wildcat Hollows Farm to visit the beautiful animals, buy some of their fiber (I purchased raw alpaca), and to eat a fantastic meal. It was a perfect aesthetic experience. The owners of the farm plan on starting two week-long stays. One will be around the time of shearing, and the other during the alpaca birthing period. I have to say, I'm a little tempted to go!

Adriane (below) showed us how to comb fibers. I have to say, the tools are wickedly sharp and a little scary. (Envision miniature pitchforks latched onto your table!) Although, she looks more than happy to comb all day long!

I stayed for an extra day with a dye lab extension. My car was busting with fiber on the way home. The roving below was still drying when I left in the morning.

All in all, I can't recommend Yarn School enough. My fellow attendees were diverse and wonderful people from around the US. We were surrounded by a community of people who more than understand our affliction for fiber. If you are interested in spinning, this would be a great first experience. (There are yarn school wheels to use.) If you are an expert spinner, there's a wonderful experience waiting for you.

I can't wait to go again!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hurried Rush

Do you ever feel like you're in a constant hurried rush? Over lunch the other day I quickly snapped a photo of the socks I've just about finished: The pattern is "Fluke" by Alarming Feminist. (Download is free on her blog.) I've just started the toes, and plan to finish them by Friday.

Unable to resist bright orange Wollmeise, I cast on for Julia Mueller's fabulous pattern "Entangled Stitches" last week. (Available as a Ravelry download.) Oh, do I love this knit! Perfect for fall - love the texture - and they're orange. Happiness.
Tomorrow morning I'm leaving for Yarn School with the Harveyville Project in yes, Harveyville, Kansas. It'll be a long drive, but I'm looking forward to spending time with unknown fibernistas and learning new spinning & dyeing tricks.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Color Phase

Why does something as simple and basic as color hold our fascination every single day? As a child, nothing was more exciting than selecting your favorite crayon from the box. At work I love seeing how coral looks great on every skin tone, and I continue to detest the mushroom color of my cubical walls. Now, nothing is more exciting than picking out the perfect wall color-- or perusing your Wollmeise stash for the best saturated colors...
Are you someone who has a constant favorite color, a favorite set of colors (warm vs cool?), or are you like me-- you find yourself going through color phases? I'm certainly stuck in one right now: bright-sunshine-orange.
Last January I started a pair of socks that I originally classified as "losers". After a little leg shaping, the chevron pattern sucked in too many stitches for me to get the sock over my large instep. Talk about knitting too small of a gauge swatch... Over the summer I ripped it out and started again - and I just loved how they turned out.

I still love the shaping, though. I love it enough to pay with gauge and re-knit this pattern again! I've had a number of requests for this pattern from people who saw them at the Minnesota State Fair Creative Activities building (they won a blue ribbon in the Textured Socks category) and from folks on Ravelry.

So.... yes, I'm writing up the pattern. I'm going to change the ribbing to flow into the chevron pattern, and chart out the leg shaping as an element to add if you wish.
The first copies will go to people who will be taking a sock workshop class at Bella Lana in Minneapolis this October from me. I'm really excited to be teach a knitting class again! Project details:
Start/end: January-July 2008
yarn - Wollmeise Sockenwolle in Sonne M
needles - knit picks circulars in 2.25 and 2.5mm
pattern - coming soon!
Coming up: A spinning update & most recent knits: a pair of Poison no. 5 socks and Entangled Stitches gloves (Gorgeous pattern!) in the Wollmeise SOS- Save Our Souls crazy-bright-orange colorway. Wow, are they bright!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Night Swimming

Ok, all right. It's been a long while.

I haven't stopped knitting or spinning like a mad fiend, just stopped blogging and uploading Flickr/Ravelry photos... A big reason why is a recent trip to the North woods of Minnesota.
Extended family and friends joined us, although this was the first trip since 2003 with my brother. He loooves to fish. So, we fished We had a lot of success on the Little Big Fork River. For the first time in my life I caught something other than a lake Perch. I couldn't believe this tiny river had Walleye, Northern, Large and Small-Mouthed Bass, and an armada of massive Suckers.
He's a Rosie-Grier style needlepoint guy, but I did teach him to knit:2008 is a wet, buggy year. The boys had tons of fun in the mudd-
My brother did not.

I bought these shoes for him during the last holiday. Looks like it's time for another pair!
At the lake I knit in and out of the water. These are Wollmeise socks that have recently been finished, and I love them. Also, I worked on a pair of Cashbah socks for my aunt in lace from the far-right skein.
Mid-vacation there was a slight canoeing mis-hap, and my once-lovely Canon took a final picture of the weeds ---

--and now produces images like this!

It's an impression of my cousin, and yes- this is as good as it gets!~ Once again, time to re-learn that water and electronics don't mix.

So, I'm shopping for a camera. Any recommendations?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Just Two Years!

Spinning update:

There hasn't been much going on in this category. I'm still upset with my stupid drive band that keeps on growing in size. (Note to self, must try sewing a cotton drive band.) A week ago I did force myself to give navajo plying a go, though. I've watched others do it, and after a few minutes of frustration I found a rhythm. This is four ounces of targee/bfl, merino, and angelica from Traveling Rhinos in "Chasing Rainbows". The photo below gives you a sense of how the yarn gradates from color to color.
After Two Years, Who's Counting?

Four-ish? years ago Knit Picks came on the scene. I was fascinated by how cheap their alpaca prices were, and quickly ordered four skeins of their laceweight in Tidepool to compare to Misti Alpaca Laceweight, which sold for $4.40ish at the same time. If memory serves me right, I paid $3.49 per skein, approx. $1 difference. The KP yarn was the same quality as far as I could tell, exept the yarn had a fabulous heather in each color - and Misti only had the same in their dark mossy grey/green. (The same holds true today.) The skeins I received appear to have much, much longer yardage than 440 each. I used 2.2 balls only double stranded for a 78 x15.5"

After swatching with the yarn, I decided to knit a shawl with two strands held together on a US 6. Madli's Shawl from IK was calling my name.

I started the shawl and loved it. After two weeks I was bored. Over the next TWO YEARS I worked on it here and there. Finally last weekend I wove in the final ends. As lovely as she looks, she's much better on your neck. What a joy to wear!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

On the Road Again

just can't wait to get back on the road again...

In the last week we were forced to leave our beautiful workspace where previous sock kong citings occurred. The new space is just too depressing to show, although I did get a promotion. (Woo for sustainable, & livable wage!) On top of this, I'm back to traveling 'round the state- and the next few weeks are full of travel days.


Last weekend I finished knitting the short version of Laminaria. Aside from the first row of the last chart not printing (prompting an emergency rush-hour phone call to Deepa to save the day), it's a stellar pattern. Someday I'll probably knit the longer version. During all of last week I asked friends and co-workers what they thought of the army camo-ish variegation. There were 12 likes and only4 dislikes. Here's a reminder of what it looked like:

Minutes after finishing the shawl I knew I hated it and started drawing up a dye bath. Bright, light lime-y green didn't cover the tan/brown, so I blued-up the solution and darkened just until it covered the variegation just enough for a monochrome green. I tried to maintain as much color intensity as possible, and am really pleased with the results.

The tips were dyed lighter than the center, thus a slight ombre to the finished piece.

Go on, knit one or two Laminaria shawls yourself!