Knitting & Spinning

I made two mice this week, to make up for not making any last week. Here are Mouses 17 and 18:

Mouses 17 & 18

I didn't work on my Itchy Scratchy sweater this week at all, because I've been obsessed with my Crosswired Socks:

Xwired    Heel

These are so much fun to knit: it's like eating popcorn. I can't put them down! But I have to be mindful of not knitting too much, or the carpal monster will get me. 

I like how there's a different pattern on the back of the leg than on the front. While I was knitting, I dreamed of making a hat with the new colors of Good Karma Farm yarn -- Hibiscus and New Mowed Lawn (I'm going from memory here). 

And, as promised, I have been spinning a little bit every day:

Spinning

My spinning has improved, but it still needs work. This is superwash merino that Tracy dyed. She gave it to me with the promise that I would spin it and knit with it someday. Little did she know that I would have a stroke! So here is my promise in the keeping, I'm spinning it, Tracy!

I divided the fluff in half before starting, and the first half is just about done. It will take me about a week to spin the other half, and then I'll ply it and set the twist. I never really know what I will make with the yarn until I end up with it. I intended to make socks, and I still may, but ya never know. They yarn may surprise me. I think it's still a little thick for sock yarn, but we will see. 

Lilacs

My lilac bush has sprouted leaves in earnest now. I love that fresh, green color that signifies the beginning of spring!


Spinning

It's been one and a third years since I last spun. It was December of 2010. You can read about it here and here.  I spun 4 ounces of blue fluff that I bought at the last Spa, before my stroke. I spun the whole thing, but I wasn't very happy with it; it was lumpy and bumpy, not at all like the smooth, glorious yarn I had been used to spinning. It made me really sad. When I tried to ply it, one ply broke and that was it -- I abandoned the whole project in a fit of anger and said I wasn't going to spin again.

SpinningWheel

Fourteen months later, I find I can do a lot more, I am wayyyyy less depressed, and the spinning wheel kept attracting my attention. Luckily I kept it right by the bathroom door, where I would look at it every day. Saturday I pulled it out, pushed it up to my chair, and decided to try it again. 

I reattached the end that had broken, and it was no big deal to start spinning again. It felt good. I was still not happy with the yarn, and it is still lumpy and bumpy, but now I see it has potential.

Yarn

With practice, a lot of practice, a really large lot of practicey-practice, I can spin yarn again that is similar to what I used to spin. But, I need to .... practice. No spinner becomes a better spinner without practice. When I saw Sharon up in Nova Scotia, I promised to practice spinning on the wheel that I bought when she was moving, but I never did. 

Now I will. It's set up, all ready to go. I will practice. I promise.

 

 

 

 

 


Visitors

Friday, I had visitors. Susan, Mae and Sally came by to visit and help set up my spinning wheel. It needed a lot of help. When it was moved, somehow the footman got disengaged from the wheel, a not altogether disastrous thing, since it does fold up for traveling, but the problem was, we couldn't get it back in. Susan finally did it! And her mom set out to help me spin. When they left, I felt reasonably sure I could do it. I dug out some hand-dyed Blue Faced Leicester in color "Aegean" (Sereknity Yarn & Fiber, good stuff, check 'em out) and set to work. At first I got the big slubs and teeny bits that I got the first time I learned to spin, but then it settled right down, though I'm not the spinner I used to be, not by a long shot. I have the attitude that I'd rather spin badly than not spin at all, and I'm going to work on it. It takes time to pre-draft the fiber so it will spin properly, a lot more time than it used to take. Imagine if you hand to pre-draft with only one hand ... what would you pull against? I take my paralyzed hand, figuring I may as well make it useful, and place it on my thigh, with one end of fiber in between. Then I lean on it with my upper body, and draft with the other. Probably I should get a vise someday. Until the time comes though, this works out well.

Once the fiber is pre-drafted, it is but the work of a moment to spin it up. And then you have to pre-draft again. Perhaps they should call it "pre-drafting" and not "spinning", because that is mostly what I'm doing! Anyway, here are a couple pictures:

Spinng       Spinning2

The Cat's Eye Scarf s coming right along. I'm about a foot over halfway now. Here's some pictures I took yesterday afternoon:

Scarf        ScarfClose

See the little safety pin I attached to the scarf? That's the halfway point. Now instead of endless measuring, which involves battling the tape measure with my teeth (you know those things are spring-loaded, don't you?), I just fold it in half. When it's long enough measured like this, I start the other end and bind off. Easy peasy.

Nora

Nora's still hibernating :)


Mac & Cheese

Note to self: Macaroni and Cheese is much much much tastier if:

1. You use Cabot sundried tomato & basil cheese (thanks Lynne!)

2. You stir a quarter cup of pesto into the cheese sauce.

3. You bake it the whole time with the cover ON, not off. Usually I put buttered crumbs on top and bake it uncovered, and it is good the first time you eat it. The leftovers, however, are kind of dry and .... dry. I made my mac and cheese earlier in the day and I had Joe put it in the oven for me, since he was in the kitchen anyway and I was spinning, but I neglected to tell him to take the cover off first, and it came out so much nicer. Very moist and yummy and not dried out on top. 

I spent the whole day spinning and knitting and reading The Lightning Thief. Not a bad day. I am very happy to have finally finished spinning the last of the 8 ounces of blue fluff I bought at SPA 2008. I have been spinning that stuff for years! And now it is finally all made into yarn. To celebrate, I spun a whole 2 ounces of pure alpaca pencil roving from Blueberry Farm Alpacas, a lovely alpaca farm right in Camden. It was like spinning a dream! I am so hooked on spinning alpaca now....


SPA 2010

This last weekend I was at the 2010 New England Textile Arts Spa Knit & Spin event in Freeport, Maine! It was so much fun!! There were tons of people there and sales were better than last year, but I really want people to remember that the Spa is about sharing and learning fiber stuff, and meeting and making friends, and although it is really great that it is an opportunity to make money for the vendors, it's not all about making money. 

I saw lots of friends, both long-time friends and brand new friends, and talked to all kinds of people about knitting and spinning, and basically I just had a ball. It was great :) 

Last year I came home with lots of yarn and fiber, LOTS, and I had made myself a goal that I would only get the stuff I wanted if I promised to use up all of it by the next year's Spa. Well... I did it! But it took literally a whole year, and actually I am still spinning that last bit of BFL laceweight fiber. As I was oohing and ahhhing over yarn and fibers at last year's spa, I was remembering all the things I had purchased over the previous 6 years' SPA events, that I haven't even pulled out into the light of day since I bought them. That had to end. 

This year, I still bought things, but I focused on tools rather than consumables. I will get pictures as I use the tools and fiber and yarn, but in a nutshell, I got:

-- 3 pairs of knitting needles from Autumn Hollow. I swapped out my rosewood needles on my Therapi Wrap so I am now using the purple heart size 7 needles I got at the Spa. Best wooden needles ever!

-- a gorgeous spindle, also from Autumn Hollow

-- four ounces of superwash BFL top in a blue/green color called "Aegean" from Serenity Yarn & Fiber

-- an ounce of orange cashmere from Springtide Farm (best cashmere ever) and the pattern for some lacey fingerless mittens (yes Kelley, just like yours! but orange). These might become a gift around Christmas. 

-- two wineglasses filled with wool top from Bartlettyarns! the glasses have the very cute Bartlettyarn logo on them. I have always loved that little sheep, knitting away ;) 

So yes, my goal this year is simple: I have to knit the fingerless gloves and spin the 4 ounces of fiber. That will take way less than a year, you betcha. BUT.... I would like to say, I promise also to use up all the yarn and fiber I got at the spa in 2008, year before last, except there is one little problem. I think probably every one of those purchases is probably still in my stash, unseen for the last 2 years, but I can't remember what I got! So I am going to look through my blog posts and try to figure out all the things I said I bought in 2008, and use up all *those* items in 2010, along with the two consumable things I got this year. Wish me luck :) 


More Knitting Olympics Progress

I haven't done much because I have been so tired lately... but I have done some:

Legandheel

This is the first sock so far. The sock and the two little balls of yarn represent 7 of my 16 rolags of wool, so I have spun not quite half of my total fiber available. This 7 rolag's worth will be more than enough to finish my first sock, and I will probably get a few inches down the second sock before I run out. 

If you look close at the yarn between the ball and the knitting you will see that my handspun yarn is NOT perfect, it is a little thick and thin, but that's what makes it homespun. In my knitting, the yarn seems to even out quite a bit. Sure, you can see the slightly lumpy bits that show it is handspun, but it is not annoying to me. 

Top
Close up of the top of the leg. 

Heel
The heel and gusset. Too bad the red needles clash with the pink, eh?  

I like this pattern stitch; it is fun to knit. And I am actually following the pattern exactly as it is written in A Fine Fleece, except I am not using any markers as Lisa Lloyd's pattern states.  I guess I have knit enough socks that I didn't really need to mark spots for decreases and stuff.

I have learned a couple things.... one is that I am able to spin enough yarn for socks, using a drop spindle, in far less time than I thought it would take. Unless something causes me to be unable to spin or knit for some reason, I should be able to complete both the spinning and the knitting well before the torch is extinguished. That makes me feel pretty accomplished. And also, it makes me really want to hand spin the yarn to make one of the sweaters in A Fine Fleece..... on a wheel though, not on a spindle, because there would be too many ends to weave in due to the short skein lengths I could make using a spindle!

The other thing that I learned is that if I am going to card another color of nylon into my wool, and am aiming for a heathery effect, the color that I am carding into the wool needs to be significantly lighter than the wool. I was hoping the orange would show up a little more than it does in this project, but the colors are too close in shade. You can see it in bright sunlight if you are looking for it, but it isn't obvious. I love the yarn I am making, and the fact that the orange color is hiding more than I thought it would doesn't bother me, but I think the next time I card nylon or silk into wool for socks, I am going to use white, or some really light color, and see what it will look like. 

 I have what, nine or ten days to go? It'll be a piece of cake :) 


Knitting Olympics Update

I have managed to get 7 of the total 16 rolags of fiber spun. Yay! It is going a lot faster than I anticipated.... so far anyway. I have started knitting with the first ball of yarn, and I have another ball of yarn drying on a rack by the stove at home today. I think between those two balls of yarn, that's all I will need for the first sock. Actually I think it will be more than I need for the first sock. We shall see :) 

KOstarted
 

I am still spinning away... I won't stop spinning until I have plenty to knit both socks with. I can spin any leftover fiber after the Knitting Olympics is done, but the spinning is going so fast... I might just spin it all anyway, if I finish the socks well before the end of the Olympics. I only planned about 5 days for knitting the socks, figuring it would be a struggle to get all the spinning done in 10 days, but hmm. I only started spinning on Saturday, today is Monday, and I am more than half done what I need for the socks. I figure that by Friday (one week of the Olympics) I will have all the yarn spun and maybe one sock knitted already. Woohoo! 

If anyone had told me back in February last year that I could spin enough yarn for socks on a drop spindle, and knit the socks as well in only two weeks I would have just laughed at them. But now I have found that I can actually spin enough yarn for socks pretty fast on a spindle. It kinda blows my mind. I think I could spin the yarn faster on a wheel, but not much faster. Like 16 hours vs. 20 hours or something. 

I'm actually having more trouble with the sock pattern than I am with getting the spinning done in time, which I totally didn't expect. The pattern has markers which I am not sure why I need them, so I am going to just work without them, because slipping markers will actually slow me down, and when I smash up horribly later on because I didn't put the markers in, you can all say "Told ya so!" But until then, I am going to kind of make this up as I go along. So I guess I am loosely following the Ancient Oak sock pattern in A Fine Fleece.... my own special way. 


Olympic Training, and Things That Glow

I am working toward my Olympic spinning/knitting event! Last night I dyed 1 ounce of nylon orange, and 4 ounces of BFL fiber hot pink. I used Gaywool dyes, in the color "Madder Orange" and "Orchid". They came out the exact perfect colors, both of them! 

I am going to card the nylon in with the BFL. My hope is that the 20% orange will give a little depth and interesting orange sheen to the 80% hot pink, and it will end up a nice bright mostly hot pink color which will be fun to spin and then knit. 

I think the Ancient Oak sock pattern will be a good choice because the stitch pattern can be memorized pretty easily, so I won't have to read a chart (which would slow me down), yet the stitch pattern will not only be more interesting to knit, but it will help keep track of progress. And after all, its the Olympics, so I had to challenge myself to do something more than just a stockinette plain old sock. 

I'll card my wool and nylon together, maybe tomorrow, and I will get pictures then. Right now they are both drying on a rack by the woodstove. 

And in Non-Knitting-Olympic news, I got some new needles at the store the other day. You know me and my attraction to things that glow in the dark, right? 

heh heh heh 

Yes, I got SmartGlow needles! They glow in the dark! They are pretty much useless as far as light generation goes, as they don't create enough light to knit by, but hey! THEY GLOW IN THE DARK. They are awesome and also not too expensive, about $6 a set. So if you want inexpensive plastic needles that glow in the dark, I got what you need right here....

My batteries were low and therefore my pictures came out kinda blurry, but here is the packaging:

Smartglopackage

Here we are in the light.....

Inthelight

.... in the dark!  

Inthedark 

oooooooooh!
 


You Have to Be a Little Crazy to Be in the Olympics

And that's me, all over. I missed the last Knitting Olympics that Stephanie Pearl-McPhee initiated in 2006, and I kicked myself for the last four years for not participating. I didn't participate because I "didn't have time".... so what did I think, that I would have more time later? Not so. Therefore, this year I am participating, darn it. Damn the torpedoes! I'll go down with the ship! At least I will know I tried!

If you're not familiar with the Knitting Olympics, you can read Stephanie's original post from 2006 HERE -- I think this year's Knitting Olympics will be pretty much the same thing. 

I have already picked out my project. At first I thought I would make the Flying Dales cardigan from A Fine Fleece, but I am 60% done the Corduroy pullover from A Fine Fleece and I am not sure I want to finish that and dive immediately into another sweater project. I was thinking of taking a break from sweaters and doing a baby blanket or shawl next. 

What I decided to do, after looking through my bins for the right yarn to make the Flying Dales and discovering I have some wool fiber and nylon fiber I bought from Deb at the Purple Fleece a few years ago, is make some socks. I took a Learn to Spin Yarn for Socks class from Deb a couple years ago and came home filled with enthusiasm and a few bags of fiber and little bags of nylon and silk to card in with the fiber, and boy was I ever going to spin yarn for socks. But then I farked up the sock yarn I was going to make my socks with and my enthusiasm died. When I re-discovered the bags of fiber and nylon/silk, I thought, geez I really should card this up and make those socks. It was a eureka moment.... I envisioned an Olympic spinning and knitting session. Therefore, my Olympic Knitting will be to spin the BFL fiber that I will card together with some nylon, spinning on my spindle, of course, and I will also knit the Ancient Oaks socks from A Fine Fleece, thereby completing yet another of my list of Fine Fleece projects as well. Am I crazy to think I can spindle spin the yarn for the socks AND knit the socks in 16 days? Probably. And yet I am going to do it anyway! That's crazy for ya. Wish me luck :)


Back to Work (and Day 2 & 3 of vacation)

Sorry, I forgot to post Day 2 of vacation. Pretty much, it was just spinning and knitting. Oh, and there was a fire drill in the hotel. They warned me about it, so I left for a walk and missed the whole thing.

My Hanne Falkenberg jacket is done except for 1/2 the collar band and the two narrow sleeve cuffs. I got some lovely yellow Peace Fleece at Halcyon not too long ago, and I knit a mitten from it. I spun the 4 ounces of 50/50 merino & tencel fiber I got from Spunky Eclectic at the SPA in February, it is a pretty blue-green/yellow/brown color called "Aspen". It's shiny! It's really pretty, and I think the skein will become a Christmas present. I also went to Grace Robinson and got some sport weight 100% silk from Colinette in the pretty blue color "Lapis", which I have now half done a "Sea-Wool Scarf" from Yarn Forward magazine, issue #11 I think. It's a small version of a Faroe-type shawl, meant to be worn as a scarf, with long tassels that hang down from the 3 points. Its pretty. It might become a Christmas present too. I love it but I don't think I would wear it. I also don't know what to do with my Martini scarf; I love it a lot, but I don't think I will wear it. 

Even though I had to work yesterday at the store, I am still counting it as Day 3 of my vacation, because last night I went to a fabulous concert in Rockland at the Strand Theater. I heard Coco Montoya and Tommy Castro play some excellent blues! It was a rockin' event, and I loved it. Before the show, I went to dinner at Rustica, about 50 steps from the Strand, and had veggie lasagne followed by........

Limoncello

...... limoncello for dessert. I was introduced to limoncello on one of the September knitting cruises this year by Mrs. Krueger (of the Alaskan Mrs. Kruegers), and it is yummy. It will knock you flat on your ass in about 10 miliseconds, so you have to be careful, you have to really really really sip it. And when I say, sip it, I mean SIP IT. Slowly. Take a small sip, savor it, swallow it. Do not sip again until the burning in your throat goes away!!! It took me 20 minutes to drink that little glass of limoncello, but I could still walk afterwards, so I count that as a win. And I knew I had about 4 more hours before I would be driving, so all was well, don't worry. 

Things are pretty slow at the store, but I am trying to be positive. As in, "I am positive I am not making any money!!!" Heh. Hopefully things will pick up. The yarn store part of Unique One is actually coming along pretty well, but the sweaters are woefully under-inventoried. Susan and Tracy and Stephanie and I are knitting as fast as we can, but it takes a while to make the sweaters in amounts that really show. I have to get through a backlog of sweater orders from this summer, but as soon as those are caught up, I will start making stock for the shelves and then you will see an improvement. I wish I had more inventory for Christmas, but whatchagonna do. All I can do is keep on as best I can. 

Happy knitting, and I promise not to write such long blog posts again for a while.


Another FO and Some Thoughts on Spindle Capacity

Yayyy! I finished my Bird in Hand mittens! Well, mostly. I still have to weave in the ends and embroider all the pertinent bird features, but I *promise* I will do  that right after I post this. Here are pics: 


BIHmitts  << back of hand 
  BIHpalms << palms

Now some thoughts on spindle capacity. 

As you know, I am a little geeky when it comes to my knitting. I like the facts and figures. I count and keep track of how many rows I knit in the legs and the feet of my socks. So you can imagine how it has always made me ever so slightly squeamish when I ask someone, "How do you know when the spindle is full?" and the answer is, "You just know it's full when the spindle doesn't spin right anymore." 

Yah. That's like saying "add flour and keep stirring until it looks right." When I run across this in a recipe, it means that my cheese sauce can be anything from soup to wallpaper paste .... with about the same difference in taste. 

I don't do well with "until it looks/smells/feels/sounds right". I need specific measurements. Not that I necessarily FOLLOW the specific measurements, but I like to know what they are so when I screw around with something, I know what my paramaters are.

And when it comes to spinning, well.... let's just say that there are some areas of spinning that I am a little more handicapped in than others. Particularly, regarding the state of fullness of any kind of bobbin. There are some of you out there (Hi Sharon!) who have actually witnessed one of several times when I have spun a bobbin so full on my wheel that the bobbin literally burst because it was too full. 

As I was spinning my glass spindle full of Walking in the Sun merino/bamboo/nylon fiber, I was wondering how full I really could spin my lovely glass spindle. The thing is, if I knew beforehand, I could prepare ahead of time. See, if I were spinning for socks, as I usually am, I could split the roving in half and put it in  ziploc bags labeled "Sock #1" and "Sock #2" (which I have done). But then I could take the fiber for each sock and split it into one-spindle-full sections and then happily spin along til I ran out, and know it was time to ply, without having to keep stopping and looking and watching and worrying if it was to the point where it "doesn't spin right', whatever that is. 

So what I did this last spindleful was, I spun until it was really heavy, although as far as I could see it spun right. Then I plied the single back on itself and got a lovely spindle full of yarn. Then I weighed it, spindle and yarn and all: 

Fullspindle The scale says 2.5 ounces. 


Then I took the yarn off and weighed the empty spindle:

Emptyspindle The scale says 1.3 ounces. 

My scale is not that accurate, it only has one place after the decimal point. I happen to know that my spindle was labeled 1.25 ounces when I got it, so the scale rounded it off to 1.3. That means my yarn + spindle could be either 2.5 or 2.45 ounces. I'm going with 2.5 :) 

Simple subtraction shows that I have spun an amount of fiber equal to the weight of the spindle, 1.25 ounces. Therefore, I know now that with this particular fiber, the spindle is full when the amount of fiber equals the weight of the spindle. That way I can weigh out 1.25 ounces of fiber at a time, spin it without having to think about if it is still "spinning right", and be happy. 

It will be interesting, after I finish spinning this project, and start spinning the lovely BFL fiber I got from Spunky Eclectic at the SPA, if 1.25 ounces of fiber will always be what makes a full spindle, or if it will be less because of the fiber being less dense. 

Or maybe everyone out there who spindle spins just KNOWS that the amount of fiber that fills a spindle is equal to the weight of the spindle. I never learned that :) This way I get to think I am a genius. 

Spinning at Peggy's Today!

I'm going spinning at Peggy's today! I haven't gone to a gathering of the Midcoast Spinners for what, at least a year or year and a half. Geez. And they meet twice a month or more!! I am taking my little wheel that my dear father in law made for me, and the striping sock yarn fiber that I got from Dye Dreams at the Spa.... hopefully i can get some pictures.

When we go to these spinning meetings usually everyone takes something to eat (apparently we secretly only go for the food). I am bringing a sweet, fruity spread and gingersnaps to spread it on. I made it this morning (well, I bought the gingersnaps) and it is very tasty. Here is the recipe if you want it:


Ambrosiaspreadrecipe


Update: My Knitting, Spa, Spinning, and My Knitting Weekends

I need to get caught up on my blog postings! I *think* about writing on my blog a lot.... I don't get to it as much as I should, though. But here goes:

My knitting: I am starting down the backside of the Hanne Falkenberg Ballerina's first sleeve. I love working on this project, but I got distracted by other things. I have not worked on my white shawl at all because I have mentally "put it away" until I finish something else. Neither have I worked on my Hedgerow Socks because they are kind of boring and I am beginning to realize if I am going to put the effort into putting even the simplest texture stitch into socks, I would like it to show at least a little, and it really doesn't. So I have it circling in a hold pattern because I am pretty sure I am going to rip them out and do a different sock; I just don't know what yet. I love this Classic Elite Alpaca Socks yarn, though! It is wonderful to feel and to work with. Lastly, I *ahem* started a new project. It is the Portuguese Fisherwoman's shawl, designed by Shelagh Smith. I am almost half done it and I will soon post more information and pictures... but I am kinda waiting until I get my next shipment of patterns from Shelagh because as soon as you see this shawl you are going to want to make one. I had 29 copies of it for sale at the spa, and Shelagh lent me a model to wear, which I wore Friday night and Saturday. I kept one copy of the pattern for myself, and sold all the other 28 copies at the Spa. I am using a strand of laceweight Douceur et Soie held together with a strand of French Hill Farm's fabulous "French Twist" hand dyed fingering weight merino (the two together make a worsted weight). I am using utterly wonderful glass circular needles... this is my ultimate happy project! I love working on it so much!

The SPAAAAAAAAAAAA (New England Textile Arts group's annual get together in Freeport, Maine) was fabulous and I love Freeport as a venue for this event. It was relaxed, comfortable, and I hope they keep it there. True, I didn't make as much money at it as I usually do, but only a part of that was due to the fact that people are spread out over 3 hotels. For one thing, because it was new, people spent this year exploring and enjoying their hotel; next year or the year after, their hotel will be more familiar and they will venture out more readily. Also, there was bad weather on Friday, and the economy in general held people back. There is also more shopping competition within walking distance in Freeport than there was in Portland. There is more to see and do, so people didn't tend to hang out in the vending area. So as a vendor, I guess I should be unhappy that I made about half of what I usually make at this show, but since I went into it expecting that, and was correct in my assessment, I am pretty happy. And as a participant, I would be crazy not to love having it in Freeport. It is more open, more comfortable, the service was great, there is a ton of stuff to see and do, and it is closer for me to get to.

Spinning. Ahh yes. I haven't spun much since the Fiber Frolic in the summer, and then only for about a week. At the Spa I bought a lovely new Bosworth Spindle, some soft and fluffy blue fiber (can't remember what is in it -- silk? merino? angora? it is yummy, anyway), some great sock yarns from Dye Dreams, a fabulous NEW enterprise who had their debut at the Spa, at the booth next to us. I also got from them some fiber for making striped socks, and some gorgeous cashmere/silk fiber. So once again, I came home with fiber and a new spindle. Pretty good for someone who doesn't spin. I have decided to do "meditation" spinning every morning for 20 minutes..... for twenty minutes, I spin (currently the cashmere/silk blend on my new Bosworth spindle) and do nothing but focus on the spinning itself. I don't think about my worries or make plans and mental lists for the day ahead or think about anything at all. The point is, to think of nothing... and just spin. Focus on the fiber, on the moment, how the fiber feels in my hand, how the spindle looks. I have always heard that meditation is good for you, and I never was much of a person for simple "just-sitting" meditation. I need something to focus on. Spinning is my answer. With only a couple exceptions, I have successfully kept up my meditation spinning every morning. I have a nice kop of fiber on my spindle and something to look forward to every morning. It is a good thing.

In another spinning note, I am finally spinning on my marvelous Merlin Tree creation, the reproduction antique Quebec production wheel that David Paul made for me. It is fabulous and it makes me want to spin forever! I love it! I am spinning the blue fiber I got from the Spinning Bunny at the Spa. My life is now filled with wonderful spinning. :)

Lastly, I have two fabulous knitting weekends coming up: March 14, 15, & 16 and March 28, 29, & 30. This will be my third year! Hard to believe. There is still plenty of room available at both weekends and I hope you can come! We are going to relax, laugh, knit, spin, eat good food, learn a little, and HAVE FUN! If you have signed up for one of the weekends, please note that I am sending a letter to participants this week, as I did the last two years, explaining any items you might need to bring with you for classes and giving directions to the Lord Camden Inn and Unique One. I am really looking forward to these knitting weekends! It will be great to see you there! Many of the participants have now become my friends and I am always happy to see my circle of knitting friends growing :) (Oh by the way, they got a new waffle machine in the breakfast room at the LCI and it is even more fabulous than before! Yummy!)

I guess that is enough for now.... have a great day, and happy knitting! :)


No Spa Soles; Baby Sweater Instead

Eh, well. I started knitting with the yarn I spun after the Spa, but it proved to be thicker than it looked. So I unraveled it and started playing with it. I found I got a very nice-feeling 4 sts/inch on a size 8, which just happens to be a good gauge for one of my favorite designs, the Penobscot Bay Pullover:

Penobscotbaypull_1

I hand out this pattern for free on the Isaac H. Evans knitting cruises. Also if you happen to be in Unique One and want to buy the yarn to make it, you get a copy of the pattern thrown in free. I have a sample knit up in Christopher Sheep Farm yarn, but you really could use any heavy worsted weight.

Problem is, I only have about 6 1/2 ounces of the yarn, so I am going to make the smallest size, about a size 1. We will see how far I get with the handspun. I expect I will have to do the sleeves in something else, maybe Classic Elite's Lush or some other nice, soft yarn which comes in colors to compliment the yarn I spun. Running out of yarn just forces me to be creative and figure out some wonderful new design element to throw in to cover for the fact I've run out of yarn! Usually it ends up looking better than the original design.

I'll post pictures as soon as I get some.

Today I had fun spinning with the Midcoast Spinners in Union. Sharon showed me how to fold my S90 up, and then unfold it to spin on it. It's great! So all my spinning problems are solved now. (Except that time thing, as in not having any.)


Results of Wednesday's Spinning

I finished spinning the rest of that luscious Indigo Moon Farm fiber and plied it. I even figured out how to use the skein winder all by myself! Amazing! I couldn't wait to wash it before taking pictures:
Wednesdayspinning Wednesdayspinning2
These skeins are hot off the skein winder, unwashed and tired looking. And how did I do on my spinning goals, to create a textured, slightly thick and thin heavy worsted weight yarn? Well. The yarn is still skinnier than I had hoped. Maybe it will fluff up some when it's washed. As for texture, I did okay, there's some thick&thinness there. Unfortunately I think it will pretty much disappear when it gets knit up -- that's the next test.

I need to work on getting more twist in my yarn. When I ply it, in order to get a balanced skein (and actually, these two skeins are quite well-balanced), I get a very loosely-plied product. I would like my yarn to be rounder, more tightly plied. I presume that means it needs more twist to start with. I did a modified long draw with these skeins, figuring spinning quickly might result in "sloppier" thick and thin yarn, which it did, but then of course there wasn't much twist in the plied yarn. Hmmmmm. How to get a tighter ply and still keep the texture. I'll have to work on that.

I have ended up with about 6 1/2 ounces of a worsted weight yarn. Don't know what I'll do with it, socks maybe. I have to remember to reinforce the heels and toes. I could call them "Spa Socks". Ooooh, I could put those suede sole thingies on the bottom and wear them to next year's Spa! "Spa Soles"! Sounds like a plan. I like it.