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January 2010
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March 2010

At the SPA

I'm at the New England Textile Arts Spa, Knit & Spin event in Freeport, Maine this weekend. What fun! Hundreds of knitters and spinners gather in this little town and share information, enjoy their craft, and shop :)  I am here as a vendor, and it is a blast!

There are a lot of other vendors here too, and it is fun for me to shop as well. The people who have the booth next to us are Karen and Sharon from Autumn Hollow Farm. They make the most beautiful spindles, knitting needles, crochet hooks, and nostepinde .... I seriously want some of their stuff. I will shop at the end of the show. 

We are also next to Springtide Farm cashmere, and they are such fun :) I got that lovely dark red cashmere last year that I made into a beautiful scarf. I think I will wear that scarf today.

I wore my pink Knitting Olympic socks yesterday, and I love them. I got more comments on my sock monkey slippers, though. 

All week long I have been keeping an eye on the weather for the drive down to Freeport. We were expected to get rain and snow, so I was expecting a slushy wet drive down and a soggy time getting everything into the show. The night before, there was a terrible rain storm that went through, and we lost power. It took down a bunch of trees in the area and there is quite a bit of flooding. Imagine my surprise to find, the next morning, that it was sunny and warm! The clock & temperature sign on the bank in Waldoboro said it was 50 degrees! Huh. I didn't expect that. Joe and I happily unloaded everything in warm, sunny weather, and it was good. I think it is the warmest, most comfortable weather I have ever had at SPA. 

Yes, I have had my martinis (the traditional Spa beverage). I wore my martini scarf all day yesterday and got quite a few compliments on it. I love that scarf. 

I'll try to take a few pictures of the spa activity during the day and post them after vending is done but hopefully before the martinis arrive. :) 

I'm Done!

I finished my Knitting Olympic socks last night at 9:45 p.m.! Yayyyyyy! Here is a picture to prove it:


They look a little funny because they are not blocked. I probably won't bother blocking them, either, because I am going to wear them on Friday when I go to the SPA Knit & Spin in Freeport. So I will just wear them and they'll get blocked when I wash them..... when I HANDWASH them (they are NOT superwash wool... I have learned my lesson!=)

I will be happy to wear them on Friday, too, because I think that is the last day of the Olympics and it's just cool to be wearing the socks at the Closing Ceremonies, that I started spinning the yarn for at the Opening Ceremonies! It is very cool. Thank you so much, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, for having these Knitting Olympics! It was a ton o' fun! And I am so very glad I participated. Now I won't have to go through the next 4 years explaining why I didn't participate in the last Winter Olympics. Instead, I can crow about how fabulously I did in earning my gold medal! And speaking of which, I think the gold medal .jpg will probably be available at the end of the week and I can put it in the badge area of my blog. The badge area  is kinda new because I only just recently figured out how to do it. Right now there is only one badge, for the Knitting Olympics, and it doesn't link to anything, but a lot of my future badges will link to relevant websites.

I can't believe how little time it took to spin the yarn on a spindle and knit the socks. And it's a 2-ply, fingering weight, too. Unbelievable. Now I want to spin all the yarn for my socks.... I urge all of you to participate in the 2014 Knitting Olympics (hopefully it will happen again), because it really is fun to challenge yourself and find that you are, in fact, totally awesome! It was so much fun. Now I wish there was a Winter Olympics every year :) 

And in other news, I was updating pictures on my Ravelry page and I found that I completed 32 projects in 2009. That's good :) A lot of them were small projects, especially a lot of socks, heh heh. But I am pretty happy with my progress last year. I hope to complete more projects in 2010! 

Knitting Olympics Update

Things are going along pretty well on my Knitting Olympic project, although I haven't really had as much time as I thought I would to work on it. I really could have finished the whole thing by Sunday night, but I took Saturday off completely. I guess I just needed a day to sit and stare at the wall for a while. 

I have one sock completed and I am not quite halfway down the foot on the second sock:


I think I have just barely enough yarn in that little ball to finish the sock. It will be close, though. I have a spindle started with about one rolag spun so far, just in case I need to quickly get some yarn for the very end. I shouldn't have any trouble completing this project before the Closing Ceremonies, though, barring any accident or whatever. Actually I need to have them done by the time I go to bed on Thursday night, because Friday I drive to Freeport for the SPA and I will NOT be having any time on Friday or Friday night to work on knitting. So I just better have this done before then!!!! 


You'd Think I Would Learn

Note to self: Do not put your non-superwash, NOT machine-washable fiber socks in the regular laundry. Especially right before you ask nicely for your husband to wash said laundry for you. Especially if the socks in question were made of hand-spindle spun yarn that you worked all summer to spin.

Sigh. Oh well.... my Bermuda socks are still pretty to look at, even if I can't wear them anymore. And now I know it really doesn't take that long to spin the yarn for socks after all (if you stick to it). I need to use only superwash fiber from now on, I guess! Or I have to be WAY more careful about putting my socks in the laundry basket...

More Knitting Olympics Progress

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


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. 

Close up of the top of the leg. 

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 :) 


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. 

Let the Games Begin!

I now declare my personal Knitting Olympic Games to be OPEN! Yayyyyyyy! (sounds of the cats snoring in the background overwhelm the announcer, who breaks down into tears of joy).

heh heh 

Yes, I have started my spinning. I have spun one whole rolag. It took about an hour. However, I *think* I might have enough yarn to make the socks if I only spin 10 of the 16 rolags. There's a lotta yarn in them thar rolags, which is fantastic. 

I have learned that spinning from my own homemade rolags of fiber is much easier than spinning with roving or top. The rolag holds together better and doesn't get clumped up like the roving did. I like it! 

So now I am taking a little break.... then back to the fiber mines. I hope to spin 4 whole rolags today,which is 25% of my total amount of wool, and then I will ply what I have and set the twist and start knitting the socks. I am going to spin a little, knit a little, so I won't spend time I don't need to spend on spinning yarn that I don't actually need. 

Last night I was thinking that maybe I had bitten off more than I could chew. Actually, I was thinking "What were you THINKING?!?!" .... but things look more achievable in the light of day. 

Back to work :) 

Carding Wool and Getting Good Karma

I've been resting today, trying to fight off a cold (which I think I have succeeded in doing, yay!), but I did manage to card the wool for my Knitting Olympics project. 

Here is the BFL (pink) and nylon (orange) that I started with:

It's 4 ounces of wool and 1 ounce of nylon. I dyed the fibers a couple days ago.

The first thing I did was to divide both fibers into 16 separate but equal pieces:

See the striped toes on the left? Nora had to help.


Then I divided each 1/16th of wool and 1/16th of nylon into quarters:


My pieces are getting itty bitty. 

Each 1/16th got attenuated and layered:


I think the secret to successful carding is to make the wool wispy, very very very wispy, and to turn the drum s-l-o-w-l-y...


You have to build the fiber up, a quarter of a sixteenth at a time.... and then you have to take it off the carder and card it again, a quarter at a time. I could have carded it a couple more times but I wanted to keep the orange nylon a little bit visible, not entirely blended in.

Then I had a lovely teeny batt of fiber:


So pretty. Here's a close-up:


Then I rolled it up like a little sausage, and it is ready to spin: 


Lather, rinse, repeat, and after fifteen more times, here is my wool for my Olympic Knitting event:


It was all I could do not to start spinning them immediately, but I refrained. I really really really want to spin them now. Even though they do look like pink insulation.

 Oh, and at the store? Yesterday I met Jim from Good Karma Farm in Belfast, Maine, who stopped by to show me some of his yarn. I bought all he had on him, about 23 skeins, and he promises to make more soon. I love that Good Karma Farm uses fiber from local animals, spins the yarn on their own farm, and dyes it there too. This yarn is 60% Secret Island Sheep fiber and 40% Good Karma alpaca fiber from their own farm. And yes, the sheep are on one of the Maine islands, and it is a secret where. So just knit, and never mind :) 

Here is what I got:


I wish you could feel how yummy this feels. I would say it is between a worsted and a bulky weight, a chunky weight along the lines of Classic Elite's Montera. I have not yet swatched with it to find out. Each skein has 200 yards and retails for $16.00.

I plucked out two skeins to use for a modular knit scarf I am thinking of designing for my Modular Knitting class later this spring:


I can't wait to start knitting with this stuff :)


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:


Here we are in the light.....


.... in the dark!  



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 :)

New Old Socks, and Cashmere

I am enjoying going on archaeological digs through my knitting/yarn stashes. I am always surprised at what I find, things that I started knitting years ago that got shoved back progressively farther and farther until they virtually disappeared. 

In a recent fit of "tubbing" (in which you take the giant piles and bags of yarn that have built up under a table or desk, and sort it into new plastic tubs that were on sale at Home Depot) I discovered, among other things, some socks I had started who knows how many years ago. Several years ago I went on a yarn shop investigation trip in New Hampshire with my mother in law and my sister in law, and in a sweet little combination yarn shop/bridal shop in some small New Hampshire town, I found in the sale bin some lovely 100% wool, sport weight variegated orange/fuchsia/green/brown yarn from Unger, called "Slalom". Unger yarn hadn't been sold for was a collectible! And it was marked way down, so I bought all 4 balls that they had. Months later I started a pair of socks, and got halfway down the foot on the first sock, and then it started to get pushed back by some other projects, and finally it disappeared altogether. I am thinking I probably started those socks as early as 2004, or as late as 2006. So, they've been hibernating for at least two years. 

I pulled them out on Monday and finished the pair on Wednesday night... now I feel bad that they lay so long, neglected, when I could have finished them in only 3 or 4 days. Oh well :) I am wearing them now and they are among my favorite socks, they are so warm and so pretty:

I guess you can see why the yarn is called "Slalom", the colors go back and forth so nicely :) 

Yesterday I finally blocked my utterly luscious red cashmere scarf! Yayyy! I love this scarf. It was too long to block in one piece on the pressing table in the office at Unique One, so I blocked half at a time: 


Here is the first half. It's kind of interesting to see the unblocked half too, as lace looks so different when it is unblocked:


Here is a close up of one of the ends:


And here is the final scarf all blocked:


I love this very beautiful scarf, and I am sure I will wear it happily for many years. Yes, it is for ME. :) I got the cashmere from Springtide Farm, at the 2009 NETA Spa Knit & Spin. I am really looking forward to the Spa this year, February 26 -28. It will be fun! Hopefully, if everything comes in as planned, I will have some great new yarns to bring to the show. 

Finally, I did spin a little yesterday on my BFL "Galaxy" fiber. I have been spinning it as a lace weight. Back when I was spinning a little every day, I was pretty good at it, and it was easy. However, I haven't been spinning for weeks, and I have gotten quite out of practice! That is a bad thing. I dropped the spindle about 4 times yesterday, and I haven't done that in a long time. So the lesson learned is, keep spinning and don't stop, because you will suck at it if you stop.  Keep in practice!

Up To No Good

Sigh. I haven't really been doing much lately, sorry, but that's one reason why I haven't posted about my knitting on my blog for a while.

 I finished the red cashmere scarf, but I haven't blocked it or taken a picture of it finished yet. Here is a picture of it the last time I snapped a shot:


I knit the Narragansett Cap from A Fine Fleece in black Hempwol, but it was such a quick knit that I didn't even have time to get a picture. I am going to donate the hat to the Ships Project when I go to the SPA coming up February 26-28. 

I also finished a light blue garter stitch boucle scarf that I started either on a knitting weekend or on a knitting cruise a long time ago. I could barely even remember it when I discovered it half done in my stash around Christmas. I knit most of the rest of it on Christmas Day and finished it pretty quickly. 

I started spinning the last of my 2009 SPA purchases, the BFL fiber in the color "Galaxy". I am going to spin it on a spindle as a lace weight, a 2 play lace weight, which will be a challenge for me. Here it is on either my moosie or my mammoth tusk spindle (I forget right now which one it is):


I haven't gotten very far, but it's a start. I have fallen off the 10-minutes-a-day spinning wagon, pretty badly, but I will try to get back on soon. 

I have a Learn to Knit Lace Class (it's a 2-part class) on March 6 and 20. I finished knitting the model scarf that we will be knitting in the class. Pictures of it while it was blocking:

LaceLeavesScarf         Laceleavescarf2
This is a very fun, very easy lace project, perfect for the lace beginner! The pattern also includes a somewhat larger, more time consuming lace scarf that one could knit after mastering the easy lace scarf that we will be doing in the class. The lace class is $65 for 2 days of classes, and each day includes lunch. The pattern is also included! I think it is going to be a lot of fun, so I people sign up. I am looking forward to this class quite a bit. 

In sock news, I have finished the last of my Fiber Frolic purchases... I got some fabulous cashmere blend blue/turquoise/purple fingering weight yarn at Fiber Frolic that I originally planned to knit as a lace scarf, and I started one, but the yarn was a little thicker than I liked for a lace scarf. Plus I had just finished a lace scarf in red cashmere, and besides, I don't wear scarves that much anymore anyway. So I just made the yarn into plain socks, and I will wear them all the time, because cashmere socks feel so yummy! This yarn from String Theory also has nylon in it, so I think they will wear well:


And here are the socks I am knitting now:


This is Frolicking Feet sock yarn from Done Roving Farm, and I think the color is called Cherry Pits. I am using 72 sts on size 1 needles, and it is good, relaxing knitting, and the color just absolutely rocks. 

I have a few other projects kind of going on too, but this post is already too long. 

Here is what Nick and Nora are doing this winter: 

NickyInSnow    SleepyNora

I wish I were a cat. :) 

Happy knitting!