Thursday, March 20, 2008

Spinning out of Control?

Indian Corn
Renee gave me some beautiful Blue Faced Leister (BFL) roving last month for my birthday. She purchased it at The Fiber Studio in Minneapolis, and it was labeled as the "Masquerade" colorway. I thought it was absolutely gorgeous! Apparently she asked for an autumn-like colorway. The fiber stayed in a bowl on the coffee table for about two weeks-- then quickly found its way onto the bobbins!
Once plied together, the yarn looked just like Indian corn! We used to grow a row of it on the hobby farm I grew up on, so it was around every decorative surface in the house for months out of the year. Ahh, it still needs to be washed and dried. It should fluff up and soften a bit. The fiber is a nice sport weight, and is approximately 225 yards. I'm planning on tucking it away until next fall for a special undetermined project.
Baby Blues
All right-- so I'm a little late here. This skein was plied about two weeks ago. I purchased a few scrap bags from Funky Carolina and gathered all of the merino/soysilk fiber together. I split each color in half, then spun the fiber from blue to purple, purple/pink to cream, then cream to yellow-y green. It created a lovely transition of color. Combined with the fact that I finally got just the right amount of spin per ply, I'm really proud of this yarn!!

Of course, I used the Traditional Ashford to make it. This wheel has returned to it's owner and after a few updates (new treadle, drive band, etc.) will soon be for sale in the Twin Cities. Send an email if you're interested, and I'll relay you to the owner.

File under Spinning Experiments:
I've been working on a different wheel for the past two weeks. A friend in the fiber community has a 19" Rick Reeves Frame Wheel that needed a little TLC. It hadn't been used for over 2 years. Thanks to Kerry (ravelry and blog), she's up and running-- and spinning beautifully. I'm 98% sure that I'm going to buy this wheel from her.

I was back to an earlier problem on it, though-- too much enthusiasm in my plies. I've been playing around with tension and different whorls, and I think I'm getting there... Time, practice, time-- it'll happen!
See? The enthusiastic singles have returned.
This yarn is heavier than I've been spinning lately. I've been playing with random color lengths to create self-striping barber pole yarn. From what I saw last night while plying, I'm REALLY pleased. I can't wait to take it off the bobbin to see how it looks!
Again, I'm hoping some of the twist will relax with a nice wash. If not, it'll be an elastic yarn, and a fun experiment. :)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Alpaca Clouds

The lovely dusting of snow yesterday turned into a full-on sticky onslaught of late winter snow. This morning I shoveled some of this heavy stuff and wished I was eight again. It's perfect play snow-- snowballs, snow angels, and snow sculptures. Tomorrow's temp is predicted to be 40 degrees Fahrenheit, so we'll be back to the mud and urban grunge in no time!During the last 11 days I have been knitting and spinning, even though I've been short on proof lately-- so here goes.
The pattern is Madli's Shawl (ravelry link, sorry if you're not a member yet) from Interweave knits. I've eliminated the annoying 'nupp' stitches. These are the bumps you see on other versions when the shawl is held up to the light.
This is one of those projects that I really can't highlight a 'start date' on it. Back when KnitPicks introduced their yarn line, I ordered 4 skeins of Alpaca Cloud. I believe they were $3 each, and now they're about $5. The shawl was started sometime later-- 2 strands held together on a US 6. Toby was a puppy and attacked one yarn cake. (He used to taste yarn that had interesting smells-- especially alpaca and angora! If he wasn't soo darn cute, he might have been tossed out of the house) I've used a wee ball of the slightly marred cake for the bottom edging-- but the rest is from 2 skeins held together. When I originally began it, I only completed about 4 or 5 repeats until six months ago. Then I knit another 6 rounds up until the knitting retreat.
I have to say, those early skeins must have held more than 440 yards! I've completed about 24 repeats so far, and the unblocked shawl stretches across about 3/4 of the width of a queen sized bed. I think there's going to be plenty for another lace project!
So far, I've been project monogamous-- and I'm planning to finish the shawl in a week.

Monday, March 17, 2008


on urban grunge and season change

Last week a near miracle occurred. We finally were above freezing for extended periods of time. The news was announced last Tuesday by a co-worker: "Guys. Hey guys-- it's 50 degrees outside!" A woman next to him replied, "Yeah, but it feels like 45."
People started whistling at work in the cubicles due to the heat wave in Minnesota.

Of course, there's an ugly downside to these blissful temperatures:
Urban grunge revealed.
It's even worse up close and in person. This, ladies and gents, is my usual bus stop. My one-way commute by car is about 5 minutes. I elect for public transport during the week-- an extra 10 minutes is added each way, but I save $100 a month, and I can hang onto my older car for at least a few more years.

After the snow started to melt I couldn't take it anymore. This week I switched up and now am back to taking the bus closer to home, although this results in a further walk in downtown.

This morning we had a dusting of snow. Like all March snows, it'll be gone in a flash.

I hate to admit it, but I'm not a fan of spring until the crazy-bright 3-day chartreuse burst from the trees begin. The warmer temps are fantastic, and I love the return of long evening walks. It's certainly a love/hate relationship. The muddy, grungy in-between phase is not my favorite.

On knitting: for the past 1o days I've been working on an long neglected project. (2nd 1/2 of post) Within a week it should be done!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Jammin' Pajama Weekend

Last weekend was one of those glorious three day-ers with friends. Of course, I had to pay my dues with a fervored work week before...

Friday morning Deepa and wee one came over for a traditional Turkish breakfast before Cathy and I drove up to The Nunnery for a knitting retreat. My mom also joined us and watched her grand puppies while I was gone.

It's fun when people come over sporting previous gifts. Wee one was in a silly hat I knit for her when she was still a thought in her parent's minds, and my mom was wearing last year's holiday gift-- a kureyon cardi.

After breakfast November joined us, and we drove North to Little Falls, MN. After a fabulous dinner At the Black and White, we crawled into our pajamas.

Once in our comfy clothes, we stayed in them the entire weekend.

Want proof?

Yes, lots of pajama wearing. Cathy 'air thrums' for Louise and Joyce.

After a few hours, a thrummed mitten monster was born.

Marge knit a pair of STORM WARNING socks.

Doesn't it look like a nasty front is on it's way to your house?

(They're Jitterbug- Lolipop colorway yarn)
Michelle and Amy are not forcing smiles here-- they genuinely had a good time.

Marge didn't want her face shown... so hopefully this pajama profile is o.k. Too bad Jeanne wasn't in the photo-- the two of them looked like an LL Bean advert together.

We're all looking forward to Louise's next retreat in the fall.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

busy, busy week

Oh, what a busy week.
I've been swamped at work, and have tackled organizational projects at home.
Fiber activities are almost at a dead stop. A touch of knitting, zero spinning. Tonight Cathy-Cate is coming up for a visit, and will be staying in my guest room. She might be running late due to occupational responsibilites, and I found myself writing in an email, "Oh, don't worry about us. We'll just play with squeeky toys and fiber until you get here."
I wonder, will she avoid the advances of uber-cuddler Paco or not? (Paco is the furry guy on the left). He does love to jump into bed with strangers...

Over the weekend, knitting will resume.
Look for a report early next week!

Oh, if you're a spinner-- I'm in the process of wheel shoping, and if you have any opinions I'd love to hear them. Any thoughts on a Reeves 'Wheel Frame' or Majacraft's 'the Rose'? I'm loving each of them, but there's no way in hades that I can swing a purchase of both.