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Preview: Tangle Knits

Tangle Knits

Knitting, spinning and dyeing.

Updated: 2017-10-01T03:28:15.309-06:00


Almost There


All I have to do now on my Calligraphy Cardigan is attach buttons. I'm done both bands, and I even wove in every single little yarn end. I don't believe I have another sweater upon which I haven't ignored a little yarn tail under the arm or at the back of the neck.

I also found the perfect buttons at The Loop last week.

Aren't they pretty? I wasn't sure if they'd have quite what I had in mind, but it turned out what they had changed my mind. I'm easy that way.

I have a lot of yarn  left over, so I'm planning out some mittens or a hat- I think most likely a hat, because I have one extra button which I think would look cute on the hat band. I could go back and get another and have a matching button on each mitten but I don't think you'd see them, as the sweater cuffs are quite long.

I did another flower picture round-up:

Monkshood out front:

Purple coneflowers opening among the daisies. There are not nearly enough of them and I think next year I will start some more and double them up, so they add more color.



Volunteer Violets under the deck, that seeded from my pots last year. I could remove them, and keep a well-manicured, yuppie yard but they cheer me up every time I look at them- probably more than all the other flowers combined. Well, maybe not. It's hard not to smile at these:


And all of these:

I am finishing up my new perennial bed along the front walk- once I get it mulched I'll take pics. So far I have a forsythia, two spirea, a rose and my weigela as the shrubs and I planted some vinca and red thyme as the ground covers. I know I will have to eventually move some of those but I don't want it to look sparse right now.

I've got another load of fiber to dye, and now that the boys are back in school, I think Thursday will be my color day. Whee! I'll take lots of pics!

Summer Knitting and Flowers


It's long past time for a blog post. I kept meaning to post all July, and update the blog with my alphabetiKAL progress and new garden pics. You'll have to just visit my flickr photostream if you want to fill in the gap. The delphiniums are worth going over to look at- they were absolutely gorgeous in their glory.Right now, the stars of the garden are the daisies The sweet peasAnd the larkspur out front, which is blooming late and looking gangly- I figure due to the caterpillar assault it suffered in June.The back garden bed is starting to come into its own. The lilies are done (they were gorgeous), but now the nasturtiums are getting going.The night-scented stocks fill the backyard with their heavenly scent every evening. They're taller than I expected, so next year I'll plant them in the middle of the bed, and put the pansies at the edge.The snapdragons I started from seed are just starting to open:And the sunflowers that reseeded themselves are opening up too!I'm excited about these because the varieties I planted last year cross-pollinated so I'm not sure what I'm going to get.Do you remember that gigantic post all about how much of a pain that California Red fleece was? I did finish spinning it, and decided that for my August KAL project, I would knit it all up into a sweater. I found a great  pattern (Calligraphy Cardigan) with lots of stockinette which I figured would showcase the beauty of a hand spun, hand dyed yarn. I decided to dye it my favorite color of calligraphy ink- Shaeffer Blue-Black- but with more variation in the shades. This is what I came up with, and I'm pretty happy with it:It was a challenge to dye- I decided the only way to ensure the colors came out more or less the same was to dye the whole 20 oz all at one time- and my dyepot is not that big- so I dip-dyed it and it worked just how I hoped. The skeins are not all exactly alike, but they are all similar enough that I don't have to worry about obvious, abrupt changes between skeins. In fact even the pooling is very well-behaved.I was worried I wouldn't be able to finish a whole DK sweater in one month, so for the last 10 days I haven't touched any of my other WIP's and I have knitted like a fiend.Um, I think I'll be ok. I might even consider picking up another project to give myself a stockinette break, because it does get boring, and my hand hurts after a while. (You know, like after three or four hours.) I love this sweater, though, and it fits perfectly (yay top-down!) and I am looking forward to wearing it this fall.And I'm so, so glad I persevered with that awful fleece.[...]

A Good Week


This morning, we had a real treat!Some hot air balloons soared over our place. I don't know why, but even cynical old me gets excited about these. Benny, of course, immediately wanted to get into one- although when they lit up the fire it freaked him out a bit. It looked like they landed in one of the fields just past 12 Mile Coulee Road, so they were quite low.This week I managed to get quite a lot done. First, I dug up some lilac suckers which were spreading out underneath the deck. I could just barely reach the one, and discovered a second one which I moved as well. I added them to the row of lilacs I got from my dad last summer.I had hesitated because I wasn't sure if they'd be "exactly" the same- they're probably different varieties- but I won't be going to Winnipeg this summer and won't be getting more from Dad, so I decided to just plant the rest of the row from my own suckers.I also hoed up the back garden bed. I had planted some icelandic poppy seeds, but saw no evidence of them (we were hit with a deluge the next day, so I think the seeds washed away). There were a bunch of weeds, so I hoed up the whole thing and put in some annuals I had started from seed, and covered it with mulch, which I have found to be a decent weed suppressant.There's also some nasturtiums that are getting started, rhubarb, and lilies. Only one raspberry survived the trip from Winnipeg and the winter, but everything else survived.The lamium is blooming at the back:and another columbine is starting to open at the front. I looked for buds, and it looks like in the next few weeks, the garden is really going to get gorgeous. I can't wait!I also got some things going on my wheel. I am getting a little tired of combing all that wool and alpaca together, so I'm taking a break and spinning up some shetland I dyed.I think I'll chain ply it.I finished off one of my Ann Cecilia socks (except for the grafting):And some nice stuff is coming out of the dye pot.Sock Spinner Set in Teal Deer, wool/nylon 75/25, two 2oz braids.Sock Spinner Set in Golden Rule, wool/nylon 75/25, two 2oz braids. Blue Faced Leicester, 4oz.Wensleydale, 4oz.I've got some alpaca going and a few more braids drying. I love making pretty braids![...]

A Message From the Void


It has been ages since I've had time to so much as photograph my garden, or spend much time at my wheel. I started a new job this month, so the last week and a half have been very full, exhausting, and good. My spinning has dropped off, as well as knitting, gardening, and sleep. However, yesterday I was done at five, and today and tomorrow are FREEEEEEEE! so, here is an update.Even though I wasn't around to weed, coddle, or encourage my front flower bed at all, it is doing well. (I admit, I killed some catepillars which like to nom on the delphiniums and prevent them from forming flower spikes.) Those delphiniums will start blooming in a week or two, and there are some campanula behind them which might start this week. (yes, I know, I have to  move them. Next spring.)Before I Got Hired, I started widening the front flower bed. (This remained an embarrassing mess for the better part of two weeks while I waited for the rain to cooperate with my days off.) This is how it looked last spring:And now:The irises are planted where the wild rose bush was, to give you an idea.These columbines just started opening:And there is another one with yellow that is about to open. These pictures don't do justice to the garden- there are grape hyacinths, lilacs, lamium, and vinca blooming; the sunflowers that reseeded themselves are getting taller, the rosebushes, lilies, larkspur, pinks, and salvia are just about to bloom, and all the nasturtium seeds are coming up and growing quickly.On the knitting front, I joined an alphabetical Knit-A-Long (which we are calling the AlphabetiKAL, lol), wherein we begin a pattern with the letter A in this month, B in July, C in August, etc. (The rules are way more relaxed than that. I think if you have an A somewhere in the project or yarn it's enough.) My project for June is the Acanthus Shawlette (in Curious Creek Meru):Way more of it is done, but this gives you an idea. I thought I would be done by now, but I did Get Hired. And this is NOT a traveling project.I also started a pair of Ann Cecilia socks, but I don't have a good picture of them. They are a good traveling project, and when there are no customers at work I can take them out and put on a few rows.I also learned how to comb wool this month. I got a pair of Louet mini-combs and did up some alpaca from a fleece I was going to blog about. (sigh). I'm sure you'll hear about it sooner or later, because it's an awesome fleece.Right now I have taken Fiona's fleece (some of which I dyed pink) and some white alpaca, and started combing them together.I loved the sample so much I am filling my bobbin with singles...The only thing I dislike about combing is that it seems to have a lot more waste than carding. I don't know if it's just me or if that's normal, but it bugs me. It looks like the combs are getting the neps and VM out nicely, but a lot of good fibers get stuck in there with them. I'm keeping the leftovers and I might use them for needle felting or stuffing.I hope to get to finish up my shawl and socks, but I think the next few days will be a whirlwind of laundry and vacuuming. I'll be spinning a bit, and hopefully I'll get in another blog post this week.[...]

Finally Finished That Fleece!


Finally! A new post! And even better, I am finally done spinning enough of the California Red fleece for a sweater.


It's not the greatest picture, but that there is 21 oz, or about 600 grams, and 1955 yards of three ply. I am jumping around for joy, and I hardly know what to do with myself now that this is done! (Besides dyeing it, of course...) I was aiming for six four ounce hanks, which would have brought  me up to about 2100 yards, but I checked the yardage requirements for my size and there's no way it's going to take more than 1800 yards to make myself a sweater.

I weighed my bag of alpaca fleece, and amazingly there's not even 2 ounces of alpaca blended into that. Way less than I thought, and it made a huge difference to the spinning.

My next spinning project? Yikes, I think I'm going to stick with combed top for a while. I have some Spunky Club stuff that I have been longing to get to, and a bump of BFL/silk I dyed myself which I could not let go of. However, I'm looking forward to spinning that new fleece in my closet, so it won't be too long before I'm carding again.

I have also been very busy in the garden, planting and weeding and digging stuff. It is so wonderful to see all the perennials I put in last year come up. The saskatoons and currants are blooming like crazy, the lilac is just about to open, and the sunflowers have re-seeded themselves, which suits a lazy gardener like me. I love comparing how the yard looked last spring to this.

A very unhappy rock and weed garden in May 2011:

A very happy flower garden now:

This picture was taken a week ago now, and things are even bigger, and I've put in a few annuals. I always wish there were more flowers at this time of year, so I might put in some anemones or pushkinia for more early blooms.

Last year, I put a miniature columbine in the rock garden by the back door, and it's doing so well I'm going to gather the seeds and plant more in that area. I think they'll look really nice blooming away in between the tulip time and iris time- and probably longer. I guess I'd also better get some glads in there so I have something to look forward to in August.


Oh, and I did finish the felted bum basket- it's so funny! and cute! The boys both asked for one, and I want to make some moebius baskets for their teachers, so I'd better get on with my knitting...


Mother's Day!


Last night, we celebrated mother's day with big bowls of butter chicken and chocolate mousse. Today, I intend to celebrate by spinning a lot. Shocking, I know. I can feel the waves of disbelief funneling through the internets at me. I also have a moebius bum basket started, and I still need to sew the zipper onto my felted wallet, so I'll probably work on those this afternoon while I'm at the yarn store.

I know how to party.


"Is there, when the winds are singing 
In the happy summer time,-
When the raptured air is ringing
With Earth's music heavenward springing,
Forest chirp, and village chime,-
Is there, of the sounds that float
Unsighingly, a single note
Half so sweet, and clear, and wild
As the laughter of a child?"

from The Mother's Hope, by Laman Blanchard.

Felted Things


It's a pretty cold and windy day, so I've been amusing myself with all sorts of indoorsy things- like carding, dyeing, laundry, and my newest obsession: felting and moebius knitting. I'll be teaching a class on May 26 at Make One Yarns on the Moebius cast-on , so I figured I should get Cat Bordhi's A Second Treasury of Magical Knitting and ramp up my moebius skills. Boy, has it been fun- and as a bonus, I've developed a love affair with felting.It began with a simple attempt to unvent a moebius basket- which resulted in this:An item which looks somewhat like a large, floppy shoe, but in reality comfortably holds a cake of yarn and WIP. I made it somewhat differently from the book using short rows, so it is long and rectagular, not round. I have a few other ideas for different shapes banging around in my head, but I can't knit as quickly as I can think them up!One thing I love about Cat Bordhi's book is her clear and thorough instructions for wet felting things. I have felted the occasional thing, but not in the washing machine, because I didn't want to wreck it. (Either the machine or the item!) After following the instructions to felt a little wallet, I made this:Yeah, I picked up a needle felting kit too- and I can't believe how much I love it! Which is great, because I hate intarsia, but I like having motifs and pretty things added here and there.Next, I felted a little disc of knitting, thinking I would make a set of coasters. It turned out a little large for a coaster, but being wool it will be great for a hot pad or just a pretty accent:This was done with Lopi, which produces an unbelievable and unexpected halo!Next, I knitted up a moebius basket, a la Cat Bordhi:(pre-felting)This one was done with Berroco Peruvia Quick, and it took a little more than one ball. I think this yarn is a little thicker than two strands of Cascade, which is what is recommended, but it sure felted up like a dream.I'm going to needle felt a swirl on this. Did you know it's actually kind of hard to blow up a balloon inside a basket? I think I'll let the kids have the pleasure of popping it when it's dry. Wait, no, there's only one balloon... two of them... how could I think that would end well?There are going to be more, many more of these. How can I not give them to the boys' teachers for the end of the year gift? They will love this! However, I think the next moebius adventure upon which I will embark will be The Bum Basket.  My kids have each noisily requested one- well, really, one of those and one of everything else in the book. Time to get knitting![...]

The Perfect Crummy Fleece


Last fall, we had a local shearer bring a huge assortment of beautiful fleeces from all kinds of different sheep and alpacas. My attention was caught by a particular one, from a rarer breed of sheep- a California Red. This breed was developed in California by crossing a Barbados Blackbelly sheep with an American Tunis. The Blackbelly is a hair breed which is red. The California Red lambs are born reddish and lighten to white or oatmeal over time. I looked the fleece over, and although it was very greasy and dirty, I was utterly charmed by the way the sample washed up into a creamy, warm white and felt so very soft against my skin.I also picked up a tan alpaca fleece with both the blanket and second cut. I decided to card and spin the alpaca with the CR fleece, thinking it would only make the yarn softer. However, I had to use the second cut of alpaca, since the blanket cut was too long to card with the CR. This meant that it didn't really make the finished yarn softer. I was happy with it, but I only did about 5 or 6 oz altogether. This was that yarn:It was a nice 2-ply, if a little coarser than I had hoped. I didn't have serious problems with it, besides it being a little neppy and shedding a million little bits.My problems started when I decided to spin the California Red all by itself. Since the alpaca wasn't making it softer, and it was tan, not white, why bother with it? Besides, I wanted to see how this fleece would behave in a pure yarn. So I washed more of the fleece, and started carding with my hand cards.I began to realize what was lurking under the grease and dirt.This is a picture of a typical, nice lock:Lots of crimp, springy, soft, white. But I found there are also a lot of locks like this:Longer, wavy and not crimpy, lots of kemp, quite coarse, and darker. I think these sections are a throwback to the Blackbelly ancestry. Besides these long sections, there are some of these:I would just chalk these up to short cuts, but the odd thing about them is that they are clearly a different color and crimp pattern again.Those parts aren't annoying in themselves. I just have to relax and let myself toss them out. The worst part was discovering that a lot of the fleece- ok, most of it- has sun damaged tips which break and scatter and create neps while carding. Also, there seems to be a lot of, well, gunk, that won't wash out and is hard to get out any way at all. Some of it is sticky and is probably suint, some of it is dry and looks like dandruff, and a lot of it is vegetable matter. And there is a LOT of it, especially the dry stuff. So much that it is messy to card, hard to draft, and frustrating to spin.I thought if I drum carded it, that might help, so I made a batt or two- carefully trimming off the damaged tips (with the help of a friend! Thank heavens for that!) and cleaning out the VM as much as possible. There were fewer neps, but it was still frustrating. I tried spinning it from the lock, opening and flicking them a little, which helped reduce the creation of the neps, but it was not fun. Spinning should be fun, right? And I was ready to wind off the bobbin of singles I'd managed to make and pretend that this experiment never happened. Except I'm so damned stubborn.I picked up my hand cards again, wondering why I was having such a crappy time of it when it wasn't that bad last fall, and decided I would fill my second bobbin, ply it, and wash my hands of the whole affair. I carded another rolag or two and began to spin, when suddenly the wool started drafting like butter! I watched slubs dissolve in the drafting zone and neps popped off on their own. Whaaaa?? And then I remembered that I had been carding some of my new white alpaca fleece and hadn't cleaned out my carders.Alpaca. I was carding with alpaca. The tan alpaca may have not made the fleece softer, but it made it smoother. Much smoother. I couldn't believe the[...]

Knitting Update


Wow, it has been a busy week- I can't believe it's Friday, and I didn't post a single thing all week. Yikes. I engaged in several fiber adventures, and one of them is definitely something I will write about... but not today. I have a short post with some knitting, and I think tomorrow I will discuss The Crummy Fleece and What I Am Going to Do About it. (Not the alpaca fleece, but another one I have.)

When I went out to the alpaca farm, I came home with a hank of sock weight yarn as well as the fleece. I have so many projects on the go, that I assured myself and everyone that it would be ages before I could hope to get to it and knit a pretty wrap... but then I kept thinking about it and thinking about it. Before I knew it, I was mentally flipping through my stitch dictionaries and choosing between a couple of different summery lace patterns... and casting on "just to see" how it would look...

It looks like this:


Pretty, no? I have done enough beach walks to know that, at least in Canada, they are not necessarily pleasant without a little something to wrap up in. What could be better than to beachcomb in a shell lace wrap?

Once I got going, I couldn't stop. Well, I had to find out if half the ball really was going to be enough for half the wrap, right? And I was a little worried there, because before it's blocked, it doesn't look like it will be.


But it is. 30 inches long for each half will do. Yay!

An Alpaca Adventure


Yesterday I packed the boys in the car and we went to visit Leslie at A to Z Alpacas. (Her website is It was a gorgeous day for a drive- not too sunny and not windy or raining either. (When does this happen? It was perfect!) We saw many old farmhouses and leaning barns along the way, as well as plenty of horses, cows, and even a flock of sheep. Keeping an eye out for them kept the boys busy!We headed into a part of Alberta I have really only seen from the highway, and I was glad to go and explore. I love the way the landscape rolls and opens up at the top of every hill; shelves of cloud reveal every shade of white, gray and blue as they rise above the horizon and then fall behind. I regret that I could not take a picture of it; even if I had stopped, there is no way a simple camera could capture what the prairies are.When we arrived at the farm, we were greeted by the sight of dozens of sheared alpacas grazing on the south pastures.I found out later these were all the females, as they begin shearing them the first in the spring. Leslie had invited us for lunch, and after we ate, we went out into the pasture to look at the alpacas closer. We visited the females first, to check if any of them were in labor. I was kind of hoping, but none of them were, so we went to see the little cria who was born two days ago.He was so cute! And quick. Leslie tried to catch him for us to see, but he was too fast.Curious, but wary.We saw an older cria, who was a surprise birth last winter.We went down towards the yearlings to find Alley and Zaiden, who were bottle-fed and tame. They actually come when you call them!Here come the alpacas!Benny met Zaiden:Nope! Too close!Ian made friends with them quicker (I guess being taller than them does help!)Benny was a little worried, but petted Zaiden a little:And then they became best buddies!The alpacas were all quite curious about us and came to see us when we showed up, although only Alley and Zaiden let us pet them.Zaiden, the one facing the front, has such a funny grin! He looks like an amiable boy- which he is.After we were finished seeing the yearlings, we stopped by the chicken coop. I have an affection for chickens (probably because I have never had to clean up after them) and find them beautiful.We even found some eggs!They were also colourful.Benny! No! Those came straight from the chicken's butt!All the female alpacas had been sheared, and they were beginning on the males. They do the yearlings last. We got to see this male get sheared:He was pretty reluctant.They blow the alpacas first to remove a lot of the dust and any vegetation:Then they are tethered for shearing. This is done so the alpaca and the shearer don't get cut during the process.The fleece is graded as it is taken off. The desireable blanket cut, which has the best fiber and the least guard hairs, is kept in one pile, and the second and third cuts piled separately. Leslie also goes through the fleece and removes any second cuts in it by hand. They are picky about which fleeces they sell to spinners.After the shearing, Leslie brought several bags of fleece inside for me to look at. I really was amazed at how clean they were. They really put a lot of effort into getting the bulk of the dust out of the fleece. I was able to pull out my spindle and test spin some right there. We had a good chat about crimp, staple length, and what spinners are looking for in a fiber. I am no expert in that, but I was impressed by the quality and selection of these fleeces. And they're clean!This is the one I chose:It's a nice, bright white, crimpy, with a shorter staple. I'm planning to blend it with some of the other luxury fibers I have, so I was looking for a shorter fleece. It has some longer parts too, but with the fleece starting out this clean it's going to be no problem se[...]

Lace and Flowers


I am so excited! Tomorrow I will be visiting Leslie at A to Z Alpacas with the boys. I can't wait to see the shearing and there is one cria. I'll be sure to bring my camera and blog about it! In preparation for our day trip, I made a couple of pans of blueberry muffins:Yummy! And yes, we already dove into them while they are still warm and have perfect, crunchy tops. I like to add lemon juice and zest to flavor them, but I'm out of lemons at the moment, so I added cardamom instead, and they are really good.I started knitting the cabled four-ply into a nice lace pattern:It's a sort of modified fishtail lace. I decided to add the garter stitch welts which flow in the opposite direction from the eyelets. I think I'll have to chart this out and write some instructions for a scarf or neckwarmer! I like the 4-ply, but I think I'll stick with the 3-ply. I have dyed up gobs of the fleece (I haven't actually weighed how much, but I think I must have a pound by now) and I am deciding whether to make a blanket or the Petal Cardigan from Knitty, or maybe something else entirely. If I do the cardigan it will mean more swatching, though, because even with all the swatches I've done, I haven't done simple stockinette!I realized I was going to need a lot more spindles for this project, and really light ones too. I wondered if it would be not that hard to actually make my own spindles, so I got some dowels and toy wheels. First I tried out a top whorl with a hook. It ended up terribly unbalanced and I hated it. I decided the problem was poor hook placement, and that I don't have the patience or whatever to deal with trying to find the precise center of a dowel, so I tried a low-whorl with a groove. It worked almost perfectly! So well that I have made 2 more, just adjusting the placement of the groove so the new ones hardly wobble at all.This is great, because I have an awful lot of fleece to spin, and quite a few more dowels and wheels. This way I don't have to try to make plying balls, and I can put off my decision about how many plies I need for a while. Also, my top whorls are free to spin other things, though most of my spindles are dressed up in something...Just a couple of the wobbly ones are empty. They're better for heavier singles, which force them to behave themselves and stop throwing themselves on the floor. I call them spindle tantrums... it can't have anything to do with how I spin...I have more rovings to dye up. This batch will have BFL, Corriedale, BFL/silk, Merino/bamboo, and a little Wensleydale. I also have some soysilk to dye up, and I'm going to try out some milk fiber as well. There should be a lot done by the end of the week!Spring is surely on its way, with all kinds of fresh green things popping up everywhere! It was gloriously warm- I think we topped out at 25C, which encouraged all things green, so I took my camera outside and captured what I could.Our May Day treeA crocus coming up in our north-facing front yardYet more crocuses in our flowerbedA daylily is starting to grow (this is about an inch high)More daffodils on the verge of openingAnd some yellow trumpets blowing.Hurray for spring![...]



Look who's poking up cheery little faces!


I saw them coming, but didn't realize how close they were to blooming.


It is so lovely to see that sometimes, hard work pays off. I did so much digging and planting last year. I think not everything I planted last fall has survived, thanks to the rabbits...


but these did!

My other surprise this week was not a good one. I got to the heel on these socks:


and discovered that, due to a gauge issue, they are a full inch longer than they're supposed to be. Annie at the Loop suggested that rather than frog them down past the heel, I cut off the toe and an inch of the colorwork. Unfortunately getting the stitches picked up in colorwork is proving to be a huge challenge, so I'm not sure what I'm going to do after the tears dry up.

I decided that the CxSR fleece would be perfect dyed pink and spun in a 3 ply. It sounds like a much better project right now than those darned socks.


Wish me luck.

Dyeing and Spinning


Last week was a whirlwind of dyeing fibers for the launch of Feathered Fish Fibers at Make One on Saturday, which was a great success. To give you an idea of it, I took this picture: A rainbow of wool! And that wasn't all, there was stuff still drying when I took this. I dyed up shetland, argentinian wool, corriedale, alpaca, superwash/nylon, finn, and polwarth. One of my favorite forays into dyeing was this:A deep, dark, and mysterious blend of colors I called "Grindylow" as it reminded me of those magical creatures lurking in the depths. I also dyed one with a rainbow of colors under the black I called "Dark Prism", although I didn't get a picture of it before I ran out the door with it. (I didn't even get it braided before I brought it so I did a little last-minute braiding there!) Those were on the wool/nylon blend for socks, and I'm getting geared up to do more of those.The CSR fleece sampling is going well. I took a picture of my lace swatch of the three ply:I don't like it as much as the 2 ply, but it's growing on me. I decided to carry on and try a cabled 4-ply, so I spun up some more singles and made some 2-plies with lots of twist:I got out my plying spindle*, ready to- woah, wait a minute.not ready to ply. Full of some BFL I dyed up but ended up slightly compacted and felted in spots, so I sacrificed (ha!) and started spinning it myself. So, ok, I wound that off and then started plying.The finished yarn:136 yards, and 45 grams, and 14 WPI. It is somewhere in the region of sport/DK. I am pondering what to knit with it, realizing that I have enough for a pair of fingerless gloves. However, I don't want white ones, so I will probably dye this up before knitting it.I was thinking I might try a 5-ply too, but honestly I don't think I need to. I know I like the 2 and 3 ply yarn; the only drawback is that I was thinking of spinning a worsted weight yarn, so I'd have to adjust my drafting, which isn't easy.Oh, and speaking of fingerless gloves, I have another pattern in the boiler. I realized it has been a while since I published one, so I've been pondering what to publish next. These are some mitts I knit quite some time ago, but I lost my pattern notes. I found them yesterday (yay!) so I'll knit up another pair and type it all out. Here is a picture of them:Click here for my Ravelry project page and more pictures.This was a handspun, so the lattice stitch pattern gets a bit lost, but I'll take a better picture when I've knitted them again. They require about 50 grams of sock yarn. What do you think, are you interested?*This spindle is not really a "plying" spindle, I call it that because it has a nice long shaft and can hold more yarn than my other ones.[...]

Look! Look! Look!



And there isn't even any snow in the forecast! The tulips are coming up, and more daffodils! I found crocus spikes poking out of the mulch in the front garden! And little whorls of leaves in the very tiny middle of my perennials! AND, to top it all off, I actually had to do some WEEDING. I have never been so happy to see a weed in my life. (Granted, they were weeds I had neglected to pull last fall. See how my laziness was rewarded? I would stop being so lazy if there were never any benefits to it, but there are many, I'm afraid.)

Couldn't resist sharing this... now back to the dyeing and spinning.

When A Spinner Disappears...

2012-04-10T12:02:36.145-06:00 means she has met someone. Some sheep, that is. To be more specific, the fleece of a sheep. A lovely, soft, crimpy fleece with little grease or VM and a short staple for carding. The sheep is a Corriedale x Shetland Rambouillet ewe, and I am absolutely in love with her fiber.Here it is raw:And washed:Spindle shot:I'm a fickle spinner. The main reason I'm using my spindles is because my wheel bobbins are full of some california red fleece, which will be a 3 ply, and a white merino/silk blend which I am planning to keep as singles and make into a shawl... either Maplewing or something from Knitted Lace of Estonia by Nancy Bush- if I can face nupps.I am spinning the singles quite thin, with a short draw as there are some neps which I am picking out here and there. I am trying out a variety of plying methods. This is a sample of my 2-ply:It came to about 105 yards and 18 grams. I knit it into a very pretty lace sample:The edges are wonky because I was too lazy to get out my blocking wires for such a little sample. Avi likes it so much and wants it to be used as a doily, so I guess I'll have to get out my steamer to fix the edges!I used 3.5mm needles, which seemed just about the right balance of laciness and stitch definition.Close up:Do you see the owl? So cute! I am pretty sure I will use this stitch pattern for a shawl, if I can settle on an edging.I finished the three ply and I'm knitting it up now, but I don't like it as much. I'm doing some lace and cables, but I think it will be best for colorwork, actually. I'm going to be doing a lot of dyeing this week so I'm going to throw some of this stuff in the pot when I'm done another hank. I'm pretty sure it's going to take dye beautifully. I've started spinning for a cabled 4-ply, which is the yarn I think I'm aiming for, for a sweater. However, the yarn might surprise me... and I love surprises!This particular fleece came from Wooly Wool of the West. She was very helpful and patient with all my questions and I love the fleeces I get from her.[...]

Benny Does Disco


This morning, Benny put on an Electric Light Orchestra CD and got himself dressed up.The headgear wasn't quite right, though, so he changed quickly into his brother's "vintage" hat.I assured him he was very vintage.He began his dance.You have to admit, he has flair.Some of the moves were more subtle.Take no notice of the couch chaos behind him. Part of the dance involved leaping over the back of the couch and strewing cushions everywhere before landing on the beanbag chair. This was an important element, though my pictures of it ended up nothing but a red, white and brown blur. I'm sorry you missed it. I could bring him out to demonstrate how that part works; I'm sure he'd love a bigger living room to develop the dance further. Any takers?[...]



Plenty of progress, not much completion. The first and most exciting progress to me is the progress of spring. (I can't believe I'm posting this in March, and I feel the Universe will bite back viciously if I'm not careful.) I have been watching the progress of this outside my back door: And look! That's actually a bud! I'm trying very hard not to get too excited about it. There are more daffodils near this one but they haven't come up yet, which I think is a good thing... the other ones will have a better chance of actually blooming properly. But just think! If this blooms, it will be the earliest I have ever seen flowers in Calgary.I finished spinning up the purple soy silk, and decided to n-ply it after all. In the end I got this: 160 yards, and 50 grams. I'm not sure what it'll be exactly but I'm on a moebius neckwarmer kick, so that's a strong contender. But I can't knit it right now.Last month, I finished spinning a rainbow 2 ply, and Ian quickly claimed the yarn for himself. This week I finally finished the thumbs on his mittens:The precise reversal of colors was a fabulous accident. I knit these top-down. Unfortunately these took a little more than half the ball, so I can't make another pair, but I think I will be able to make a smaller pair for Benny.I have also been chipping away at my endless blanket (Started in July 2010!) and now it is time for an update. It's getting a bit big for bringing around everywhere, but I keep it in my car and work on it if I happen to be waiting for someone or forget to bring something else. My last bit of progress is some spinning. The March challenge for the Spindler's group is to spin something "femme fatale", which for me is red corriedale. The March challenge for the 12 in 2012 group is to spin something in a carded preparation, so I am doubling up my challenges and spinning my red corriedale from carded rolags. I also pulled out some of my luxury fiber for supported spindle. I had a need for green, so this is the 40% bison, 40% alpaca, 10% silk and 10% merino blend from Ancient Arts Fibre. As you can see, I have filled one spindle and am filling up the next. I think I could have spun this on my wheel, but not so thin and lofty. It is so smooshy! I am thinking of ordering another bag of it, it's such a lovely blend.[...]

A Few Firsts


This week is just burgeoning with first times, and I'm pretty excited about all of them. But which one to start with? Well, for a first first, I'm blogging two days in a row. Two whole days. That's a significant first, but it may also be a last. I think it would be fun to tell the tale from spinning firsts to knitting firsts, even though the knitting firsts are a little older. So, my second first involves soy silk. I have never spun or knitted this stuff, and when I ordered it from Spunky Eclectic I wasn't entirely sure if it would take an acid dye. I did a little investigation, and indeed it does, though there was some complaint about the dye not taking completely. I understand there are people who like a fully saturated and uniform dye job. I am not one of them. Discovering undyed portions in a top makes me happy. I usually employ some sort of resist technique to make sure they happen. After I opened up the soysilk and tested it a bit, I wasn't particularly happy, though. It was wispy and looked like it would be annoyingly slippery. I threw it into a purple dyepot, hoping my favorite color would make it more appealing, but it came out in such a globby, stinky mass that I was pretty sure I would never bother with the stuff again. In fact it looked and smelled like something I've cleaned out of a fetid fish tank.   When it dried, it was a little better, but still clumpy. But I thought I could draft it out to be a little smoother, and maybe I'd still be able to spin something from it.  Well! That's much better! Soysilk has endeared itself to me. I find it a little easier to spin than tussah silk, because it has a shorter staple, and it doesn't dry out my hands. Other than that, it's very similar spinning and it is also very strong, like silk. And really, it smells bad but not as strongly bad as silk. Now the only question is, do I ply or not? If I do, it will have to be n-ply, because I only have one bobbin free at the moment...My second first is that I made batts! Lovely fluffy things, also quite coincidentally purple from some corriedale fleece I dyed up. I tossed in some yellow here and there. I'm quite happy with them, and am looking forward to that distant day when I have free bobbins.I am dangerously close to throwing caution to the wind and procuring my own drum carder.The third first was that I dyed some really gorgeous alpaca top!I am really pleased about the way this came out. Again, I heard murmurs about alpaca not taking dye as intensely as wool, but either I use excessive amounts of dye or I have the patience to wait for the bath to exhaust. I want to spin this one but I think I'll put it up in the shop. I have two 2-oz braids like this.Now to talk about the knitting: just over a week ago, I took a class from Sivia Harding on how to knit her Harmonia's Rings pattern, which uses Cat Bordhi's moebius cast-on. It was pretty awesome to watch this thing form. So, for my fourth first, I learned the moebius cast-on, and for my fifth first, I knit with beads. I became so enamored with the moebius cast-on that I then made this:And I have also cast on another Harmonia:The special thing about this project is the yarn: it is among my first handspun, and if I remember correctly, my first plied yarn. It was my first foray into luxury fibers- one ply is baby camel, and the other is silk. It's also old enough that I never wrote down my yardage... I "knew" I would remember... so I don't really know if I have enough for a full pattern or if I'll just leave off the yoke. Judging by how quickly it's disappearing, I don't think there will be enough.[...]

Feathered Fish Fibers


Well, my latest news is that I have added a lot of new stuff and to my Etsy shop and renamed it Feathered Fish Fibers. I have had tons of fun dyeing fibers and spinning yarns, and I'm becoming... well, quite passionate about it.

There you'll find some gorgeous handspun yarns:

(image) Merino Yak luxury yarn, 3.5 oz, 160 yards 2-ply

(image) Merino 3-ply, 5 oz, 456 yards

(image) BFL singles, 4 oz, 450 yards

As well as some beautiful rovings:

(Finn, Corriedale, BFL & Cheviot)
(image) (image) (image)

I have more fiber in the dyepot as we speak, and I update the shop regularly.
Every fiber lover will find something there to enjoy!

Mostly About Spinning


This January I joined another spinning challenge, 12 pounds in 2012. Last year I joined the eleven pound challenge, but only made it up to nine pounds. It was fun, although I did find at one point I was rushing through my yarns and not enjoying the process as much. This year, I joined the challenge, but I am totally enamored with Russian spinning that I doubt very much I will make it.I took a class from Caroline of Ancient Arts Fibre Crafts and ended up coming home with this cherry wood Russian spindle:All wrapped up in yak, cashmere, and alpaca.I spun up some camel, merino, bamboo and a hank of yak, silk, wool and bison. I can't wait to get started on the other rovings, and knit up my new, beautiful yarns.This year I want to explore the different bare fibers, to compare breeds and spinning styles. January is all about merino. I have some olive and brown top I am spinning.I also took some dyed merino top and spun it into singles, and carded and spun some corriedale. The difference between the fibers is amazing! Corridale is so long, lustrous, and lofty compared to the merino. I like merino but I have fallen in love with corriedale.The picture shows the worsted merino singles in blue, about 4 ounces and 350 yards. The woolen corriedale is green, 2 ply, 525 yards and also 4 ounces. Amazing difference, but I wonder how much of it is due to the woolen vs. worsted method? I want to get some combed corriedale top to see how it compares to the carded rolags.And for my final spinning poison, somehow 100 grams of brown cotton fell in my lap a Make One's trunk show of Ancient Arts Fibres on Saturday. The staple is super short but I love, love, love spinning it. I also love the finished yarn so much better than a mercerized cotton that I am more than willing to spin enough of it to make... this? I'll keep you posted.[...]

Almeda Fingerless Gloves


This pattern is for a pair of reversible gloves. The pattern uses slipped stitches to produce a diamond quilted look on one side, and a waffle stitch on the other. The stitch pattern is particularly nice for variegated and handspun yarns which may have a tendency to pool.This pink and yellow pair was made using some of my handspun yarn. The fiber was from Sweet Sheep, colorway Indian Spice, a merino/bamboo blend, spun to a 2-ply DK. The pair used 50 grams, or 122 yards.I then tested the pattern with Mirasol Hacho, (color 314) which knitted up beautifully, using a little more than one 50 gram hank.This pattern has not been tested by anyone but me. If there are errors, please let me know. The pattern for these cute and warm mitts is here, but you can also download now in PDF format.Due to the nature of the stitch pattern, please note that:1. Your beginning of round will shift before you get to the thumb gusset on each rnd 4.2.It knits up to a much tighter gauge than one might expect from a DK. I also used Kollage square needles to knit these, so be sure to check your gauge before knitting. Reversible Fingerless Gloves DK weight yarn, approximately 60 grams 4mm needles Gauge: 28 sts/ 4 inches over pattern stitch.7 (7.5, 8) inch circumference, to fit hand 8 (8.5, 9) inches around.cast on 48 (52, 56) stsRnd 1: k1,p1Rnd 2: sl1 knitwise, kfb, k1, psso 3 sts, p1rnd 3: k1,p1rnd 4: sl1 purlwise, p1. slip these sts onto last needle. *sl1 knitwise, kfb, k1, psso 3 sts, p1*Repeat rounds 3 & 4 until you have worked 2.5 (2.75, 3) inches.Thumb Gusset:Rnd 1: *k1, p1* repeat until you have 2 sts left, then k1, pm, m1,k1,m1, pmRnd 2: k1, p1 *sl1 knitwise, kfb, k1, psso 3 sts, p1* repeat to last st before marker, k1, slip marker, k3, slip marker.Rnd 3: k1, *p1,k1*, slip marker, k3, slip marker.Rnd 4: *sl1 knitwise, kfb, k1, psso 3 sts, p1* repeat to last 3 sts before marker, sl1 knitwise, kfb, k1, psso 3 sts, slip marker, k3, slip marker.Rnd 5: k1, *p1,k1*, slip marker, k1,m1,k1,m1,k1, slip markerRnd 6: k1, p1 *sl1 knitwise, kfb, k1, psso 3 sts, p1* repeat to last st before marker, k1, slip marker, k5, slip marker.Rnd 7: k1, *p1,k1*, slip marker, k5, slip marker.Rnd 8: *sl1 knitwise, kfb, k1, psso 3 sts, p1* repeat to last 3 sts before marker, sl1 knitwise, kfb, k1, psso 3 sts, slip marker, 5, slip marker.Rnd 9: k1, *p1,k1*, slip marker, k2,m1,k1,m1,k2, slip markerContinue in this manner, increasing two stitches every fourth row until you have 11, (13, 13) sts in between the markers, ending with:*sl1 knitwise, kfb, k1, psso 3 sts, p1* repeat to last 3 sts before marker, sl1 knitwise, kfb, k1, psso 3 sts, slip marker, k11 (13,13), slip marker.Next rnd: k1, *p1,k1* slip next 11 (13, 13) sts onto a holder. These will be thumb sts. Cast on one stitch for inner thumb.Upper Hand:rnd 1: sl1 purlwise, p1. slip these sts onto last needle. *sl1 knitwise, kfb, k1, psso 3 sts, p1*rnd 2: k1,p1Repeat these two rounds for 1.5 (1.75, 2) inches, ending with round 1.Cast off in k1,p1.Thumb:Slip thumb gusset stitches onto dpn’s. Pick up two stitches from inner thumb, and work 6 rounds in garter stitch. Cast off.Copyright 2011, Rachel Abrams. Please do not copy, publish, or distribute this pattern in any way.[...]

Winter, Winter, Winter


Here I am, editing the baby bootie pattern, and I looked out the window to see... more snow. Really. The last of the snow has just melted off the back yard (though it's admittedly still clinging to spots in the north-facing front yard) and here we are, back to square one.We are not amused. If it snows again next week, I can make t-shirts which will read: "I SURVIVED THE NINE MONTH WINTER." Yes, we often get a dump of snow in May, but we don't usually have snow cover from October through April. I'm going to end the weather rant now, and simply note that I noticed some tulips and daffodils beginning to sprout by the back door. It's exciting, because this is a new house for us, and since there was already snow cover when we moved in (see above) I don't know what surprises may sprout.So, as one might imagine, I am still knitting and designing wintery sorts of things. I noticed the local supply of hats was getting low, so I dove into the stash and came out with some Berroco "Blackstone Tweed" and Mirasol "Tika". Then I flipped through my stitch dictionaries until I found a nice wave pattern. I had to tweak it slightly to make it work how I wanted.(Berroco Ultra Alpaca.)I think the greatest thing about this stitch pattern is that the beginning and end of round are virtually invisible. That means there is no jog or fancy slip stitches needed to avoid a jog.This hat was done bottom-up, with a doubled hem for extra warmth. Oddly enough, The Mirasol Tika is labeled DK weight, but as I knit it, I would not peg it at anything less than a worsted.This one was done top down, and the hem turned out to be a problem. The yarn is much softer than it looks, and pulls apart if you so much as look at it funny. Making a sewn bind off was out of the question. I ended up doing a blend of the k2tog and regular cast off.I settled on the bottom up design, with the doubled brim. I had a hat making blitz, hoping that I could write a pattern that would work. It is available for download on Ravelry. This one is a $3, although I'll still offer some free patterns in the future. This pattern has detailed instructions for making the doubled brim, along with clear photos. It has instructions for an alternate rolled brim. The pattern is also perfect for someone new to stranded knitting, as there is only one color needed for the crown of the hat.This one was made out of Garnstudio DROPS Nepal. It is a little bulkier yarn than the other three, but knit to the correct tension, it keeps out the wind even better.You can use the link below, or go to the pattern page on Ravelry to get more details.[...]

Only Begotten Knitter


It started with Ian pestering me: "When can I learn to spin on the wheel? When? Can we do it now?"


I pulled out some pencil roving from Custom Woolen Mills, and after he had spun up some singles, we set the twist and wound it into a ball. Ian started knitting.


He knit until bedtime, and I said, "Time to put it away," and he replied,
"Just one more row? Please?"


At which point I broke out in an evil cackle (which freaked everyone out, even the dog), knowing above all that he has now become... my only begotten knitter.

That's Too Small


We have a big book from the library about science on our table, and Benny was flipping through it this morning. He came to the section on human biology, flipping past the detailed diagram of a neuron and axon (which he thought was a squid and expressed relief that it was only a picture)and on to the human reproductive page. There was a lifelike, detailed picture of a mature fetus in the womb.

He was interested in the umbilical cord. "Is that the baby's toy?" he asked. I explained that it brings food and oxygen to help the baby grow. (And I was thinking, no, sweetheart, the baby's toy is Mommy's bladder.) Then I pointed out the cervix and birth canal, explaining that they expand to fit around the baby's head when he is ready to be born.

"What?" he said. "The baby can't come out of there. It's too small."

Tell me about it, kid.



Well, since classes began on Sept. 7, I haven't had much time for anything but reading, a little (and I mean a really tiny little bit) of knitting, and some spinning. I was very motivated to finish this:I did most of the plying at last Saturday's "Spin In" at Make one. When all was said and done I had 118 grams and 740 yards of silk. No wonder it took me nearly all summer to finish.Next I got started on this, which seemed to take no time at all. I began on Sunday and finished plying today.190 grams, 260 yards, spun woolen. I worked on my long draw, which I found soothing but it's pretty uneven. Oh darn, I'll have to practice some more.You see that pretty shiny rainbow stuff combed into the black top? This is proof that my inner child is alive and well, and pretty pleased overall with my fiber love. I know several children who would love to have this but I intend to adorn my own head with it. I'll probably knit it first. My inner child isn't THAT loud. The weather has been miserable and rainy for what feels like forever but I think actually started around the long weekend, which is now a couple of weeks of cold, wet weariness. They days are starting to blur together now, so I can't remember exactly which day it happened, but I got home amid a chilly drizzle and found a fat, long-awaited and squishy package waiting for me from Spunky Eclectic. Guess what was inside?Sunshine! In 4 oz batts! The picture really doesn't do it justice. I was not really certain about getting orange at first, since it's not my favorite colour, but I'm so glad I went for something outside my usual purple zone. There were also four ounces of some soft, sleek, Merino/Yak:This is definitely better than ice cream:and I think it will come in handy around exam time... so soothing, soft and therapeutic to touch. They sell it by the ounce, so if this spins up as beautifully as I think it will, I can get some more... and more... I finished up the Octesian shawl.Sometime in the near future, I'll chart out the pattern and get it test knit. However, all non-college projects are on the back burner, so no promises about getting it done before Christmas.However, this gives me time to figure out whether I want to tweak the patten a little, maybe add more arrow lace and make the border deeper? What do you think?[...]