Thursday, April 23, 2009

Getting the Hang of It

It's getting better every time. Getting better all the time.

Romney - Pink - Fox Hill Farm, Rhinebeck 2008

Romney Pink FoxHillFarm 2

Romney Pink FoxHillFarm 1

100% Romney, 2 oz, purchased at Rhinebeck last year from Fox Hill Farm. Semi-woolen spun yarn, 2 ply, about 106 yards. Looks like either a DK or Worsted weight.

BFL Top Kool Aid Dyed

BFL Top KoolAid Reds1

BFL Top KoolAid Reds6

BFL Top KoolAid Reds2

Blue Faced Leicester, 2 oz., Kool Aid dyed by my friend Sarah and gifted to me for my birthday. Woolen spun, 2 ply, about 118 yards. Looks like either a DK or worsted weight.

My proudest spinning achievements so far.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Iceland in Spring

A couple of months ago the cousins got together for a reunion Pot Luck dinner. It was fun catching up with them and it gave me the chance to get to know some of the spouses I'd never really spoken to in the past. In thinking about why, I realized our usual reasons for getting together are either weddings or funerals. With those events, everyone is distracted, or the crowd is large, or it's just not the time and place to simply relax and let a conversation flow. So it was a real treat to just come together for dinner and catching up. It was also oddly liberating to have none of the Aunts and Uncles around.

During the evening cousin Patti and her husband Neal talked about experiences out West and good friends who own a sheep farm in Oregon. They were all excited about my knitting and described the Icelandic sheep on the farm - cute and really wooly little guys!

Icelandic Mitts 1

That was all I needed to remember I had some wonderful Icelandic yarn in my stash and the next day I pulled out my options and started swatching for some fingerless mitts. In addition to the gorgeous gray and Mustard dyed Icelandic I picked up in Rhinebeck, my friend Rosie G decided to sell some fingering weight yarns from her stash. At the time I was in an Icelandic state of mind and snatched them up immediately!

At first glance one would not think these fingerings to be complimentary. The yellow is a variegated with mint green, apricot and pale blue - overall it leans toward the pastel side. And the purple is a dusky tone, with just enough shading to make it well rounded, interesting, lively.

All winter long I've been hankering for some fingerless mitts and was afraid that using just one color as a stand alone would not stretch far enough. So colorwork it is.

Initially I thought I would use these for some Endpaper mitts and try my hand at colorwork. I made a valiant effort, and every time I sat down to work a few rows of the pattern, I would put the project down and stare at it. Something just didn't work for me. Something about the fuzziness of the yarn bothered me when worked up in this pattern. Looking at the half finished mitt now, maybe it wasn't the yarn so much as my knitting skill. I need to practice the two color fair isle technique. Ahem.

Mitt Fail!

I kept going back to my little striped swatch. Finally I succumbed to the siren call of the stripe. Oh, the stripe, you know I love thee. The project certainly took on a quicker pace once I switched over to the stripe. And maybe that's what I needed: something finished. Something I could use at least once or twice before the Spring finally made them unnecessary till months from now.

Icelandic Hat and Mitts 4

The mitts fit great. And that Icelandic wool - it's really warm. After finishing the mitts I realized there's enough yarn left over to whip out a slouchy hat. Many are the mornings I am racing out of the house to work and my hair is still wet. The 5 blocks to the subway can get mighty cold, but wearing my other hats gives me a serious case of hat head. Why not a slouchy hat to protect the hair from icing up without smashing it like a pancake?

Icelandic Hat and Mitts 1

The hat borders on the frumpy and it's key to wear it with a bit of slouch and some hair hanging out. Otherwise it takes on a look of 'shower cap'. Not a good thing. But I am happy with the way it turned out as it will serve it's wet hair purpose nicely.

Icelandic Hat and Mitts 3

Now if I could just find an easier way to model my work and shoot it at the same time. I need to find out if this little camera has a remote control. My arms are just not long enough!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Piecing It All Together

Remember all those knitted squares I made about a month ago, destined for the Afghans for Afghans project? Well, the squares are steadily arriving at Prospect Perk, the designated drop off point, all donated by so many charitable knitters in the Knit PH group - it's simply amazing! At last count we have enough for four blankets and the squares keep on comin' on.

It's time to piece them together and prep these blankets for shipment to A4A Headquarters. Tony dropped the squares off (two bags full!) at Eliza's house this morning and later on Liz and I joined her for some homemade scones (yum!) and sewing in her bright, sunny living room.

Charity Blanket Construction

This one is more of a hodge podge than the next one, which will be all crochet in more muted colors. I learned that sewing crochet squares is more difficult than sewing knitted squares. There's still lots to do before these blankets are finished: weaving in the ends, possibly adding a simple crochet border...

There's talk about continuing this project for months to come. Everyone has lots of leftover yarn from projects and this is a fantastic way to use it up. Knitting squares is very enjoyable and I am seriously considering a personal project using handspun or maybe working up some sampler blankets like the ones Barbara Walker suggests. It's a fun way to try out different stitches and the squares are portable.

All in all this is a fun project and it's a great excuse to get out of the house on a beautiful day and spend some time with friends.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Diversionary Tactics

There are moments during my day job that can drag and let's face it, become plain dull. Sometimes I need to take little escapes to keep myself from burning out. I've been doing this gig a long time so it's not a huge intellectual challenge. There are other challenges to it, but intellectual is not one of them.

To keep myself from completely passing out in boredom or during long conference calls when I have little to do but "listen", I find myself stalking fiber sources. It all started innocently enough. First I was just posting photos of my newest obsession - yarn making - on Flickr. Then, I started linking to other fiber enthusiasts. Then I figured out some of these Flickr friends had Etsy sites selling their fiber. Oh, man.

It's a slippery slope, I tell you. With a click, click, confirm and send I am amassing a small arsenal of fiber fuel. I swear, the combination of Etsy and Paypal will surely spell economic doom for me! Small consolation that I can completely justify these purchases as my little contribution to prop up the economy. And of course, it is a wonderful diversion from the mind numbing portal based web enabled workflow systems we are forced to use in our daily existence. Process monkey for hire!

Kerplunk, Gaslight Dyeworks

Waffle House, Gaslight Dyeworks (2)

These fiber balls tickled my retinas when I stumbled onto Yarnzombie's Gaslight Dyeworks out of Ohio. They are mixed with nylon sparkle, curly locks, bamboo, tencel, alpaca, wool, you name it. They delighted me so much I went back the day after they arrived to place another order for Cathy's birthday. The gift arrived in time, the service was superb, thanks Jacki!

Last weekend at the spinning party (I mean, what better way to have a birthday, anyway!) Cathy suggested these would be fantastic done as core spun and I really like that idea. Something ropey, to be used as trim for upholstered pillows?

Vines Winter Rose BFL, 3.75 0z.

And this lovely fiber is Bluefaced Leicester combed top dyed by Pumpkinmama on Vines. Erin dyes her fiber up in MA and does some amazing spinning, too. I've been admiring her work for about a month or so, and when this one popped up on Flickr last week, I zoomed over to her site to make sure it would be headed my way. She sells out quickly, so you gotta pounce! This stuff is so pretty, very soft colors. I envision a shawl in fingering weight yarn, or maybe I will use it as a weaving project? Soon, soon.

Weaving? Spinning? Oh yea, I am in deep. Way way deep. And all day long there's a little compartment in my brain churning out ideas, considering options, conjuring ways to make these raw materials into things that please me and keep me amused. Anything as a daytime diversion.