Tuesday, September 21, 2010

World Wide Spin in Public Day

Really, isn't that what we do at least once a week? Well, yes. But not on this scale! Complete with scenery! We had our share of looky-lous, that's for sure. And I'm pretty certain Donald Trump never imagined this scene would be visible from his cookie cutter condos.

WWSIP Day 005

Spin City came out in force Saturday to represent and make yarn. Boy, did we make yarn.

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We're talking drop dead gorgeous Polwarth from THE Nancy Ortmann of Montana fame. Um...I know what I want for Christmas!

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Kids learned how to separate vegetable matter from gleaned wool. Not just any gleaned wool, but wool gathered by Outward Bound kids in the UK from ancient sheep breeds.

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Jayne, our group historian brought this basket of gleaned wool bits. She finds the most amazing things on EBay, I tell you.

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Christina decided to show us her progress on The Huntress. And as you can see, this is the perfect garment for hunting down tourists who carelessly block sidewalks and dawdle in cross walks. Come on, admit it: you want one too.

The Huntress

This event topped the charts on the fun meter. I got lots more pics over on Flickr if you feel like reliving the experience.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hill Country

Hill Country Hats

Matchy matchy! The pattern is Hill Country Hat from Clara Parke's book, The Knitter's Book of Wool. A wonderful pattern, from a wonderful book. Easy, engaging, and it showcases hand spun yarns really well.

So these hats are both made from yarn spun at different stages of my spinning 'career'. Sort of a study of Jacob Sheep's Wool over time. The gray came from Mass Sheep and Wool Festival and got spun into yarn in Summer '09, one of my first attempts at long draw. Not as successful as the Brown hat, spun Spring '10. Visible improvement!

gssw 005

That's a Jacob sheep, and you can see they have two sets of horns. An ancient and rare breed, I think they are coming into their own with hand spinners. There were lots of them on display at the Garden State Sheep & Wool Festival last weekend and I predict there will be many at Rhinebeck this year. I do love Jacob and will spin more. Maybe even a sweater - I bet this stuff would cable nicely, it's so springy!

HIll Country (3)

In both cases I had to double the yarn to approximate the required gauge. And boy, are these hats squishy!! While the Brown fits the Pumpkin Head perfectly, the Gray is a tad big for me. But it will work so I'll leave it be.

That brown yarn was a delightful gift of roving from the Rooster. I made careful note of the shepherd's name because someday I'd like to place an order and then mosey on up to Ithaca to pick it up! I like meeting the sheep in person! Rooster also included some amazing music in that gift package, thank you thank you, for expanding my horizons, Amy!

Hill Country (2)

I love both of the hats, but am really proud of the Brown. It looks great, it fits well, it's from gifted roving and was in turn made into a gift from a decently spun yarn. Pay it forward.

As a set these hats tell the story of a hand spinner learning her craft while using materials sourced from the region, and then knitting very wearable and attractive (and warm) garments for the family. What's not to love?!

PS - photo credit for all but the sheep shot: Fran Janik www.franjanik.com

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Garden State Sheep & Wool Festival

gssw 009

Several of us piled into the car and headed down to Lambertville area to pet some sheep at the Garden State Sheep & Wool Festival. We met a few breeders, learned a few things about fleece judging, and pet sheep and alpacas till our hands were lanolin soft from the grease!

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Mama alpaca was protective of her 3 day old cria. So cute.

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But let's face it, llamas and alpacas are also really funny looking.

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We ran into friends and met a few Ravelers, putting faces to names, always a good thing. I did feel bad for the vendors as it was evident not many attendees opened their wallets. Me included, what with that expensive (and rock-solid) deck in mid construction.

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With Rhinebeck a month away, and piles of unspun fiber in my stash, I didn't have much of a fiber appetite. There was a farm stand on the way home, where I could not resist buying a 'candy lope' (sic).

Triple S

shelburne shaelyn shawl

Shelburne Shaelyn Shawl
. Shelburne commemorates the Vermont trip; Shaelyn being the pattern, written by Leila Raabe and obviously, Shawl because it is. Triple S.

Knitting on this shawl commenced a week before we left and then got tons of attention during the long trip up and back, along with hotel tv knitting time. I bound off somewhere around Waterbury CT on our way home. Very very pleased with this project.

Shelburne Shaelyn in Park 5

As I got further into it I couldn't shake the vision of having a large shawl to wrap around my shoulders on those early Sunday mornings when I venture downstairs to make the coffee and the house is still a bit chilly. That vision was so persistent I had to add a full pattern repeat.

Shelburne Shaelyn in Park 4

This yarn percolated up from the stash (!), having been purchased two years ago at Rhinebeck. Swift River Farm Prescott, a blend of natural color Shetland with 5% Bombyx silk. Yummy stuff and very earthy. It felt like hand spun in many ways. And speaking of hand spun, I pulled out some very early pink 2 ply yarn and used it as trim. Very very pleased with this project.

Shelburne Shaelyn in Park

The entire project took about a week. The pattern is well written, versatile and easy to memorize. It lends itself to variation, as you can see here and here. There are also some beautiful ones over on Ravelry using single colors. A perfect pattern to use for hand spun, too. I'd definitely knit this one again.

Shelburne Shaelyn in Park 2

There's something about the combined colors that is reminiscent of earlier times. Being at the Shelburne and seeing the folk art and craft cemented the idea to use the pink for trim. It was a "maybe" when I threw it in the carry along bag. By the end of the weekend I realized it was a prescient move. Very very pleased with this project.

ETA: Wow, I must be tired or something. I meant to make note when I was writing earlier - the initial germ of idea to add a contrast border came from all the beautiful shawls brokeknits has made. Her wild bright color edgings really resonated with me. Thanks, Katie!


Shelburne Museum is home to one of the finest quilt collections in the US. I have tremendous admiration for quilters and quilting. It takes time, patience, precision and skill to execute these complex designs.

crazy quilt

Our visit to the Shelburne coincided with two special exhibits involving quilts. The first was a wonderful display of the Museums crazy quilt collection, the first time they've come out of storage in over 10 years.

crazy quilt (6)

I am by no means an expert on quilting and all the variations thereof. I am fascinated by the seeming randomness of crazy quilt 'squares', the variety of materials used, the wonderful stitch embroidery and embellishments. These elements add up to a much more direct and personal narrative than the traditional quilts. It really appealed to me, and I could imagine trying my hand at something similar.

crazy quilt (9)

There were lots of traditional quilts on display as well. Some incorporated embroidery,

embroidery with quilting

some were made with tiny triangles that radiated out from a center square,

triangle quilt

some had blocks made with duck feet.

ducks foot

The second big exhibit involving quilts was deeply moving as it involved Alzheimer Disease.

alzheimer quilt story

Quilts made by quilters who have experienced Alzheimers', telling stories through quilts. To say I was choked up is putting it mildly. The stories attached to these quilts blew me away. I had to sit down and get a grip after going through this exhibit.

Gaps - Alzheimer Quilt

Alzheimer Quilt (2)

Alzheimer Quilt

We spent a day and a half going through this amazing Museum consisting of nearly 40 buildings, some historic and relocated to the Museum's grounds, others built in situ to house special collections. The variety and breadth of folk art, craft, tools, fine art and all things handmade was astounding. Well worth a visit especially for those involved in any form of craft.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Vermont Family Trip

The Nomads

When I say family, I mean of the four-legged variety. Over Labor Day weekend, we packed the car with our stuff, which included dog beds, food, bowls and lots of treats. Nothing but the sweet comforts of home for our babies. A six hour drive landed us in Burlington where we checked into a dog friendly hotel.

Rudy with Lola

Rudy proceeded to bark at everyone in the lobby, setting Lola into a good howling fit. Ever hear a Coonhound do their thing? Think Harbor Seal. That would be pretty accurate. I almost died. That's when the front desk clerk reminded me there's a $50 fine for dogs barking in the guest rooms. Which pretty much meant we'd be hauling them with us whenever we ventured off the the premises.


Turns out that was the worst moment. The rest of the weekend was pretty good, dog-wise. Lola is a real trooper, and remained calm and happy throughout the trip. I'd venture to say it was the best time she's had in a very long while. She travels well, settling into the car and watching the action from between the front seats. Rudy is a bit more high maintenance. He's insecure and suffers from separation anxiety. As a result he grew clingier than usual and was hyper-alert to sounds outside our hotel room.


We found a wonderful dog park along the waterfront in Burlington, so that became our daily destination before and after Shelburne Museum visits. It's a nice city, with lots of outdoor eating and a dog friendly vibe.

Dogs and cameras

I have tons of pics from the Shelburne which I'll post separately. It's an amazing place and we had a fantastic time exploring the vast property and wonderful treasures.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Close up Annis

Whammo!! Here we are, September! It's true what they say about time going faster the older you get. I'm trying to keep up with all of you through your blogs, and just doing that is getting harder and harder to manage.

So, let's see...what's going on?

- We're having a deck built off the kitchen. A Big Deal. Involving large sums of cash. Ouch. and Yay!

New Deck progress

- We finally installed new countertops in the kitchen. Double Yay!

New Kitchen Countertops

- We're going away for Labor Day, to Vermont. A long expressed wish come true coupled with visiting friends. Taking the doggies with us. That should be interesting.

- I took a weaving class this summer. I know, I've been holding out on you guys. There's still two more classes and I'm working on my "final project". This image is part of the learning sampler. There's a three week break before we wrap up and I promise to show and tell as we near completion.

Brooks Bouquet,Danish Medallion

- I am knitting again. There is numbness but not as bad. I actually think the pain originates in my shoulder, the right one which was injured in a yoga class several years ago and hasn't been right since. And interesting, it's the same hand that uses the mouse at work. It's all connected, I'm sure. And it's much more noticeable with bigger needles. Carpal tunnel, repetetive stress.

- To counteract the lack of knitting for nearly two months, I made two dozen of these.

House Coasters

- I had an unnatural obsession with Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream cones this summer. Which means my fall agenda now includes mandatory visits to the park for 2 mile runs. Ooof.

- Very natural obsessive listening to Alejandro Escovedo since seeing him live this summer. He is amaaaazing live. And the new album rocks.

photo by Jose Gaytan

- Who doesn't love a little Steve Earle? We caught two shows at City Winery in July. Great venue, they will come to know us on a first name basis. I never get tired of Steve.

photo by Jose Gaytan

- The month of August saw less spinning, and meanwhile tons more fiber entered the home. Now I feel smothered by the avalanche of 4 oz. bags of wool piled in my office. My version of crack. It gives me a glimpse into the life of an addict: intense joyous highs followed by guilt-ridden lows. I need to spin more, give away more, weave more...I need to stop worrying, and be grateful I can afford it.


Annis on Chair

Okay. So what's that lovely confection at the top of this blog post? Ah! A shawlette named Annis. Brought about through a Knit Along I jumped into on Ravelry (without looking first, so typical). Lace. With NUPPS. um. Using really skinny, poolry made (not by me!) hand spun yarn. Yarn I bought at Rhinebeck 2007. A long marination by anyone's standards.

Annis close up on Chair
Of course I had a few challenges before I saw the other side of this project. Few projects I touch go from start to finish without a hitch! In this case, most of the issues are attributable to the yarn.

I remember buying the little skeins at the end of the first day, in a stall that was nearly cleaned out of yarn. The seller convinced me that despite being under plied, it would work out fine once blocked. What she failed to mention is how challenging it is to knit under plied yarn on big needles! It's splitty! And throw in a few rows of these nupp things and it all goes to hell in a handbasket right quick. You try p7tog with super splitty yarn. Good luck on ya. It took four attempts, ripping and restarting, each time working up 363 stitches at the cast on. Yikes. At one point I seriously considered starting over with different yarn. But the allure of this gorgeous deep dark purple kept pulling me back into the project.

Lynn with Annis (2)

Last Sunday, during a visit to Governor's Island with my friend mknits, (poor thing, had no idea this was part of the grand plan that day...but she's good natured and very sweet to agree to my bossy ways!) I captured the ethereal lightness of this little shawl.

Lynn with Annis

It has an interesting construction, being shaped with short rows and starting at the bottom/widest part. The pattern calls for lace weight yarn and is intentionally knit on large needles to create a very airy, light fabric. This thing is truly weightless. And the shaping means it stays on the shoulders easily. I especially love how the deep purple color adds a Victorian quality to this little piece. It's old fashioned but frothy at the same time.

Annis up Close

The lady who sold me the yarn was right. It did block out nicely. The nupps are just okay. I think I can do better next time I encounter them in a project. However. Let it be known, I am no nupp fan and won't actively seek them out with the possible exception of Swallowtail Shawl, long on my knitting to do list. But with better yarn.