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Preview: Cashmere Dreams

Cashmere Dreams

on a Kitchen Cotton Budget

Updated: 2014-10-06T20:49:06.682-07:00


Maple Leaf Shawl


(image) Maplewing is finally and officially a finished object!

(image) There were a few modifications to the pattern: the yarn used has a finer gauge that what was recommended, so I used US 2.5s instead of US 5s. Since I had a shorter row gauge, but still had quite a bit of width, there is an additional repeat of chart B, and I used a double-stranded German twisted cast-on.

The edges were intentionally blocked asymmetrically to mimic a Maple Leaf. What do you think - did it work?

(image) Pattern: Maplewing Shawl by Anne Hanson (
Yarn: Wollmeise lace-garn in Terra di Siena-dark
Yardage: About 175 grams from a 300 gram/1740 yd. skein
Knitting time: early April 2009 to June 22, 2009.
Needle size: 2.5 US



Maplewing came off the needles about two weeks ago, and I suddenly realized that I needed blocking wires. A few friends said they would lend theirs, and after trying to remember who they lent them out last to (or trying and failing to locate them); I ordered a set for myself.

The wires arrived yesterday evening. After evening duties were completed, I soaked the shawl for about 60 minutes in wool wash. Seven wires were painstakingly wound through the outer points and central "spine" panel. After shaping and re-pinning the shawl, I checked my watch and realized that it took 140 minutes!!! On top of this, the only space large enough to pin it out was the queen size bed that I sleep in, so sleep was found elsewhere in the house.
(image) The shawl increased 55% in length and 75% in width.
Look for final pictures in the near future!

Fall shawl - Now?


Sometimes you find yourself working on unseasonable items.

Take for instance my shawl project of the last five weeks. That's right, I said five.

(image) Hey now, there's over 47 thousand stitches in this shawl thus far. Is it just me, or does it look like a whole lot less work than this?

I decided to go crazy and knit the "tall" version of Maplewing. (Here's a Ravelry link to the project.) I loved the pattern instantly because of the leaf motif on the edge, the faroese shoulder shaping, and how it easily translates as a Maple Leaf! My version has a few deviations from the original pattern: it was knit with an extra leaf motif to the border on chart B, and has a double-stranded twisted German cast-on.
(image) Ok, the skein on the left is the what I started with - Wollmeise lace-garn in Terra di Sienna (Earth of Sienna) dark.

Next to it is a picture of the shawl taken 3 weeks ago before the hosta below the stone wall exploded. Notice anything? Like how stinkin' hard it is to photograph this color?!? Seriously, none of these shots are accurate. The skein at the left is the closest depiction. It's a really pretty color - certainly not hunter-orange, nor a dull terra cotta.

Honestly, I can't wait for this shawl to grow up and become a huge wispy leaf of a thing. I'll be great to wear it this fall!



Is there anything better in spring than sweet & tart rhubarb and a great pair of socks on the needles? I think not.

By now you all know that I love to knit socks. For a while now I've been thinking about Sue Grandfield's free Wollmeise Poppy sock pattern. (It's a Ravelry download.) Sue has also created a medium weight version. While digging through my stash, I thought "Rhabarber" (rhubarb) and "Frosh" (frog) 100% Wollmeise sock yarns complimented each other well. After knitting the corrugated ribbing, I absolutely loved the combination.

Unfortunately, the sock itself is too small to go over my high insteps. So, I'm deciding whether to change the classic Kaffe Fasset pattern motif, or to make short socks. Whatever decision is made, I will finish these socks-- and the second one will be knit with reverse colors!

(image) Since it's the perfect time, here's a great recipie for spring. Enjoy!
Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

- 2 1/2 cups rhubarb, pieces
- 2 1/2 cup strawberries, sliced
- 1/2 cup sugar (I often use half of this amount)
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons orange juice. Sometimes I use orange zest, or other citrus juice.
Ingredients for Topping:
- 2/3 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
- 5 tablespoons flour
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt (optional)
- dash of vanilla (optional)
- 5 tablespoons butter
- Chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Butter an 8 x 8 inch baking pan.
In a mixing bowl combine and toss the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar, cornstarch and orange juice.

Transfer mixture to the buttered baking dish.
Mix the oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt in a bowl.
Cut in the butter with the mixture becomes coarse crumbs.
Mix in chopped nuts and spread over the fruit mixture.
Bake until the topping is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling (25-35 minutes).

Navajo Ply, certainly not on the Fly.


After watching Cathy navajo ply on her spindle, I was tempted to try the "non fly" method on my spinning wheel. (Navajo plying a yarn allows you to turn a single strand into a 3-ply yarn.)

I started by picking out the roving below -- kettle dyed Jacob Humbug roving by Shunklies Jacob sheep are rugged, beautiful two or three toned animals that often have 4 horns. Their fleece is rough and tumble as well. It's not soft and plushy like merino, but certainly seems to be hard-wearing stuff. (image) This particular roving has been dyed to create a perfect ombre from color A to B to C, then C to B to A. I really didn't want to disturb the way the color was dyed, so I went ahead and spun a single ply, then used the navajo method to create a 3-ply yarn. The final yarn was wound into a ball, and it certainly reminds me of a ball of Noro's Kureyon or Twisted Fiber Art's Dutchess once wound. This was spun around the time that my niddy noddy broke (it was used-- not that nice to begin with, and the wood split where a screw was holding it together), so I have no idea what the yardage is. I'm guessing that it's around 110 yards, and it's a worsted to aran weight yarn.

With it's rugged-ness I'm not sure I'd like to wear a hat from this yarn unless it was lined with something lush. An alpaca, angora, or cashmere/merino blend would be great! (image)
You might remember the roving below from March. It's Bluefaced Leicester superwash (BFL- "the poorman's cashmere") inspired by spring flowers, even though I dyed it the previous fall. I don't know why, but I created seriously long repeats! Whenever you dye superwash roving, it has to be braided first (or set in a crochet chain). If you don't do this, the fiber can (and often will) detach from it's neighbors, and you won't have roving anymore!

(image) Here's another look at the seriously loooooong repeats when the yarn was just a single:
(image) The resulting yarn is fantastically soft, and is a dk weight of unknown yardage. I think this yarn is destined to become a pair of mittens! I think there might be enough for another small project, too. (image) Perhaps I should set a goal to knit with my handspun!

Koigu Mash


One of my favorite things to do at a local yarn store is to dig deep into their koigu mill-end bucket and play with color. Unfortunately, this often leads to a handful of skeinlets and handing over of a piece of plastic before I walk out of the store. Although, I have to admit that I do really love the socks these skeinlets knit up into:
(image) I used 6 kpppm skeinlets & two US 1 circulars for these socks. They were knit toe-up with Judy's Magic cast-on, and the sand stitch gussets were inspired by Marjan Hammink at I did not use a pattern, and I learned quite a bit about how to create a smooth wrap pick-up on the wrong side. (One sock looks great, and the other one - not so much.)

All in all, they're my favorite socks knit to date.

Navajo Ply on the Fly!


Cathy taught Renee and I how to navajo ply on the fly! Here's how it all happened:It all began when Cathy went to Madrona Fiber Arts (a.k.a "Madrona") last February, and apparently caught some sort of 48-hour fiber-enthusiast bug. She was filled with soo many ideas and concepts that she couldn't possibly sleep. How do I know this, I tell you it was all the late emails with crazy talk of ply-as-you-go spindle spinning! (Scroll down, waay down after you click the link on the left to see Cathy's post about this technique.)A short time thereafter, Cathy and I were able to meet-up at the American Swedish Institutes' knit-out to celebrate the final week of the Bohus Stickning exhibit in Minneapolis. After reading about her late-night insanity, I forced her to show me how to do this! Cathy pulled out her spindle with a smile, which looked like this:See that wee loop on top? That's where the crochet chain was set to begin. Although we're really in a chicken-before-the-egg situation here. First, she had to prep fiber to spin a single:Isn't that shawl gorgeous? Go here to learn more about it. Once a section of single was spun turning the spindle to the right, Cathy stopped and picked up the loop from above. Here she pulled the single through the loop creating thirds. This also creates a crochet chain:Here Cathy plys the chain together by spinning the spindle in the opposite direction as the single: Once complete, she attaches the loop and spins another single section. How cool was that? Now, I think that spindle spinning is pretty amazing - perhaps I should give it a try again. Honestly though, I just love the speed and ease of a wheel. Do you know how long it would take for me to spin a four ounce bundle of fiber? Yeah, neither do I-- but I'm going to guess that it'll be just about forever! Cathy is to Twisted Fiber Art as I am to Wollmeise. About a year ago I picked up a 4 oz. bundle of "Sleek", a superwash merino/tencel blend by Twisted Fiber Art roving. The colorway is Scorched. Sometime in March it just looked like spring to me - and a great color for Cathy. So, I split the roving in two equal parts. The first half was spun with long color repeats, and the second half was split lengthwise into ten skinny pieces. These short repeats were spun, then plyed together with the long repeats to create a barber pole that will stripe when knit up:Cathy just received the skein on Saturday, and I can't wait to see what she knits with it![...]

Therapy knitting & spinning


My former work mentor is out of the hospital & his pain is medicated appropriately. He's started radiation -- and all we can do is hope that it'll shrink (and hopefully destroy) the tumor in his brain. On top of this, my current work partner has to have emergency surgery. So, my workload is about to double. Fabulous. Time for some therapy knitting and spinning!

(image) Last fall at Yarn School I dyed pounds and pounds of fiber. I've only taken pictures of production from day one. Above is BFL superwash roving that was crocheted into a single chain braid before dying. It was soaked in water, doused in acid dye, sprayed with citric acid, covered in plastic, and heated in a microwave for about 5 minutes. The color turned out great, and I love the chromatography affect as the color spreads into undyed sections. I've started prepping this fiber to be spun. I'm a little stuck on a regular 3-ply, navajo ply, or fractal method. We'll see.

(image) In the fall I like to knit autumn-looking socks. For some reason the colors above forced me to pluck them from the mill-ends bucket at Needlework Unlimited and begged to become a pair of socks. After a little play on figuring out a toe-up heel flap formula that works for different sizes, I found something that worked.

(image) and finally, here's a pair from last spring that have been marinating in my desk at work. Again these are toe-up socks knit from Koigu mill-ends. Many cousins in my family have received a pair of hand-knit socks. These are destined for Mary!



Do you ever find yourself in a strange obsessive-compulsive state when upset? Tonight I found myself standing over the produce section trying to find the perfect blood orange, the perfect bosc pear, and trying to decide what varieties of apples to buy...
Work has been intensely busy, so there's little time to reflect during the day. Today someone whispered something in my ear - a message to be discussed downstairs. It was horrible, horrible news.

Up until ten months ago I had the most wonderful work mentor. We almost always shared the same philosophy and goals to serve. Working side-by-side on multiple projects, we never grew tired of each others' company. I always knew that I was lucky to have him help guide my career. He was certainly more disciplined than myself when it came to exercise and diet -- and I always aspired (I still aspire) to reach his level of devotion to health.

I was upset, yet happy to see him leave the workplace when he decided it was time to retire. He's been on my mind recently because we both just celebrated birthdays - and the candles from the cake I made last week were from his retirement party.

Ten months after that party he is now resting in a hospital just blocks from his former work space to mitigate severe pain. A hospital, I hear, who does not have fruit that lives up to his standards. He has an aggressive form of cancer. The tumor in his brain grew exponentially in the last two weeks and he's started to lose vision in one eye. Today was his first day of radiation therapy-- it's just too dangerous to surgically remove the mass.

We're going to have lunch together tomorrow. So, this evening I found myself looking for the perfect gala apple and perfect asian pear...

Focus on Finishing


Anyone else currently forcing themselves to focus on finishing any languishing UFOs in sight around the house? My "Sock Drawer of Shame" continues to grow, and I have two unfinished sweaters who want to be worn sooner rather than later! (Wild Apple for me-- or perhaps my mom since she won't stop asking for a Turquoise Light Bohus sweater, Patrick for my brother.)
Hopefully by the end of March I'll have a few finished FOs. To get things started, here's the first one:
Last fall I started a pair of super simple socks at the same time. They were knit with koigu purchased from the Yarnery about three years ago. I used 2 US1 (2.25mm) k.p. circs with Cookie A's fabulous and free pattern at Monkey. (Yes, again!) The pattern was modified by knitting the purls, and changing YOs to M1s.
(image) ...and, they were too small. The results above were frogged in December.
I ripped back to the ribbing, and changed the M1s to YOs. This minor change gave me enough stretch to pop these tubes over my high instep. In retrospect, I'm really happy that I had to rip, because I just love the pooling results:

(image) Now, I thought these were pretty short socks. Apparently Wollmeise sock yarn has really spoiled me with 510-575 yards/skein. Koigu only has 175yds/skein - thus a total of 350 for this pair. Right as I was decreasing I ran out of yarn! After a little stash diving I found a skein of dark brown koigu just for the tips of the toes.(image) Perhaps this is a little silly, but I love knitting socks that match your lovely, well-worn shoes:(image)


So, now I'm finishing another pair of koigu socks - this time from last spring!

"Happy Time"


Today we celebrated a co-workers birthday, and I ran into a slight problem with the cake that I prepped for her. The plan involved a great fat-free rainbow cake recipe from Aleta at the Omnomicon Food Blog. (It's a funny post, and a great theme cake.) I played around with the shape for a bit of a Seussian look. The candles, I thought, spelled out "Happy Birthday". When I assembled everything this morning, well... a slight improvisation was necessary:
(image) "Time" was the best I could come up with out of "Retirement"!
February 26th is now official "Happy Time" day at work. :)
(image) Here's a sample of what the tie-dyed cake looked like inside.

The cupcakes were all different colors.

Another co-worker wrote a "Green Cake with Icing" poem for her as well. Happy Birthday, C!

As a quick aside, thanks to friends, family and co-workers who have treated me like a queen in the past week for my birthday. (+ random Ravelry well-wishers as well!) From the fiber folks I loved the STR, spinning & natural dyeing books, crystal & pearl earrings, and great dinners out! To my family - what a treat to spend all day on Sunday with you!

Looking for a Knitting Break?


Clara is 93 years young and is just a gem. Her recipes from the Depression era are not only thrifty, but they look mighty tasty as well. My family may not have ever been this inventive when cooking with potatoes, onions, and oil over and over again. I've embedded episode #3 instead of #1 because her reason for quitting school is quite surprising, and it's fun to see her grandson and friends dig into her just-off-the-stove meal. Enjoy!

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Handspun on a Tuesday Evening


+ gratuitous dog pictureAnyone a little tired of winter? I'm certainly getting there. Today the St. Paul mercury raised to a balmy 38 degrees (F). My lunch time walk was pure bliss.My dogs have been living in their puppy parkas in my relatively cool house, and they're ready to take them off! (Sorry, I need to snap a pic of them. It's too adorable to miss!) Above is a rare moment for Toby-- sans puppy parka.***Honestly, I haven't quite figured out how to move pictures around in blogger on a mac. One of my favorite professors in college was a modernist who always stated that the only way to truly convey Dadaism in a lecture was to have an assistant project random Dada images for the entire conversation. So, here we go-- a post in Dada form!***For the past two weeks I've been spinning yarn to knit Deep in the Forest Mittens by Tuulia Salmela. As soon as I saw a pic of these mittens pop up on Flickr, I quickly added it to my "must knit" list. The plan was to spin squooshy fingering two-ply yarn. The trick was that I had different fibers for each of them.For the background (white) I selected 4 oz of "Kansas Snow" roving from Art Club at, a glorious alpaca/llama/merino blend. This is Nikol Lohr's store, and yes - I did but this gorgeous stuff when I attended Yarn School last fall. The singles were unbelievably soft and squooshy. November kept on pushing them down on the bobbins and saying "wow. just wow." They were soo very different from the superwash sock singles I've been spinning. When I plied it against itself, and the yarn became the absolute opposite of the single. They were plied looser than I ply sock yarns, and I'm still mystified at the final resulting yarn-- a soft, dense two-ply that almost looks like a single. It did fluff up a bit after a soak, whack and dry-- but the plied yarn is a good deal thinner than the single ply. Clearly I have more to learn about this fiber combination. I was aiming for 200 yards per 4 ounces. The Kansas Snow came out to 208 yards in length.The foreground (brown) is 4 oz. Crown Mountain Farms' superwash merino in "Wild Horses". Oh, is this a pretty colorway! The singles were just as puffy as the Kansas Snow blend, but no where near as squooshy. Once plied, it became a thick, poofy fabulous yarn that I expected the alpaca/llama/merino to end up. Wild Horses measured in at 210 yards once plied.The really weird thing is that right after I took the picture below I wound both skeins into balls. They both became huge balls of the same size. Huh. After swatching, it looks like they will work perfectly for the pattern. The brown will pop out a bit from the natural white - but I think this will be a nice addition to the forest motif. It calls for 400 yards, so I should be fine-- but I also have enough fiber to spin another 400+ yards if necessary.Over the weekend another five inches of snow fell. It certainly cleaned things up, but certainly doesn't help you at least pretend that spring is around the corner.Last fall I spun CMF superwash sock singles in the "Born to Be Wild" colorway. They sat on my bobbins for at least 3 months. Last weekend I thought enough was enough, and I plied them while watching a so-so episode of "Meet the Press". (Oh, how I still miss Tim Russert!) It's about 650 yds of tightly plied fingering sock yarn.When I posted this yarn to Ravelry in my stash, I couldn't help but call it "Soo Girly". It's not quite my taste, but will make for a great future gift![...]

Stonehenge Cowl


(image) Was it last fall when I bought this beautiful BFL "Stonehenge" roving from Crown Mountain Farms? I remember Angela loved this roving after seeing it, and bought a bump of it, too. We both starting spinning at about the same time-- Interestingly enough, I think we both preferred each other's received version of the colorway. Mine (above) was pretty, yet muted. Hers had a bit more of a punch, and turned into this truly gorgeous laceweight!

I split the 8 ounces of roving in half and spun them into singles on my Reeves Frame. I did not use the fractal method. The color was spun just as it came.

(image) The singles were tightly plied together, and I was really happy with the resulting sport weight yarn. All in all, there was 475 yards.
(image) After letting the yarn marinate in the stash for a few months, I decided to knit the spiral cowl by Keri McKiernan with it. What a joy to be able to knit with yarn you have made!

(image) After a wet block, it's just perfect.

Roy G Biv


Over the weekend a friend mentioned to me that she thought my blog was in competition with another to see who could go the longest without posting. Heh. Without going into too much detail, the post below was started sometime in December of 2008~ I guess I've been spending waay too much time at work, or something. :) When I'm home and not working on a project I tend to spend too much time on Ravelry, too
Do you view your yarn-in-waiting as stash or a collection?

I've always had a project or idea in mind when buying yarn. It was always stash- Sock yarn took me in to the "Duh, it'll be socks" mode.

Well, ahh... here's a few socks' worth:
(image) (image) (image)
This is Wollmeise sock yarn, and it has clearly brought me right to collection mode like no yarn before! It's an addicting yarn, indeed. The colors are great, and my often-worn Wollmeise socks show NO WEAR. That's right, no wear at all!

For the most part I have greatly reined in purchases of other yarn in the past six months. (Although I could certainly use a full year break!) This was a greatly needed activity because of the Wollmeise purchases *and* new yarn coming off the spinning wheel.

(image) Can you see the tree reflected on the screen? I wasn't kidding about December~ :)

Is it Time?


Last summer I bought a few skeins of Casbah sock yarn at The Yarnery. (Ok, more than a few. There were six skeins in total.) It feels great, makes a great fabric, and washes well. Did I mention that it's cashmere? Ok, just 10%, but it feels like a much higher amount! I've just finished my 2nd and 3rd pairs of socks with the stuff.The middle skein (pumpkin) was used to knit Slalom, a lovely sock pattern by Elizabeth Warner. (Ravelry link for pattern download) The heel was inspired by Cat Bordhi's 'sockitecture' concept. The purls between traveling stitches increase around the ankle, and the semi-traditional heel turn is a touch higher than a regular sock. You can see the heel flap above-- it's on the bottom of the foot. I modified the pattern by knitting with 1.5 US needles instead of 1s (tight gauge), and I added an extra pattern repeat.The fit is great, and I love the way they feel!Over Thanksgiving I spent a few days at the family cabin just like last year. During the first few days I read the second book in the Twilight series (yes, it's teenage literature!), and knit socks. My aunt Sandy looooves pink, so I chose the skein on the right (above). Since our family is from Germany (Alsace Lorraine region--- the other side is from Bavaria), I thought Suzanna by Stephanie van der Linden on the Germain Creative Sock List (Yahoo group) might be a good choice.Aunt Sandy seemed to agree. Here she is is in all her morning splendor. (I don't think she would appreciate this pre- hair & makeup pic on the internet, but I think it's great. :)The socks were knit to pattern except for the instep. I added an extra ten stitches (half a repeat) to create two full motifs instead of 1.5. She really likes them, and I know I'll see them over and over again during future trips to the cabin. I really love when handknits are appreciated! ***For the past year I've knit with cashmere (blends) a good deal more than kitchen cotton. Is it time to finally change the name of the blog?[...]

para el Diablo del Norte


Apparently I'm about a month behind with blogging.... behold, a Halloween post! (I thought I should sneak this in before I start chattering about Thanksgiving vacation...)

Over lunch in mid-October, I spent a number of days working on this weird piece of yellow knitting. It was sculptural, thus lended to lots of questions by co-workers and friends.(image) This item was knit with knit picks worsted-weight "swish" in the yellowish tone, originally purchased for August's blanket.

Once it was finished, I overdyed the balaclava with Jaquard Acid Dyes in reds with a touch of black. This was a gift for a c0-worker of mine. When you have a serious fan of Dr. Who coupled with a history of being called "el diablo del norte" (which will not be explained here), how could I not resist this project? Also, it was his birthday.

(image) Now I see creepy (yet fabulous) screen saver in neighboring cubicles.

Bokaclava is a fantastic design inspired by a classic Dr. Who episode called The Daemons. Apparently a demon sculpture named "Bok" comes to life and creates havoc.

(image) Ok, so it was a little tight on him. It's one thing to try and gauge the size of someone's head in meetings - and completely another when faced with the actual size of said head (large-ish) with finished garment. Oh well. It is what it is.

This mask certainly created havoc at work. We all fought to see oncoming co-worker's responses to this Halloween outfit. It was hilarious.

(image) Part of me hoped he would take the mask home and wear it this winter. You know, frighten the neighbors to bits when snowblowing the front yard and the like. Instead, it's been hanging out in his office. His future plans: hang it on the wall some sort of display for all to see.

If I were going to knit one again, I'd go for a heavier weight yarn. Aran would be a good choice.

A Post for Pam


Pam is my "knitting over lunch" buddy on Tuesdays. She has heard me talk about some purple and blue handspun recently, but wants to see the evidence.

Pam, hon, this post is for you.

The roving is from Crown (crack) Mountain Farms. (Click the link to view their fall sale going on right now!)

It's 100% superwash merino in colorways "In the Skies" and "Layla". When you buy this roving it comes in 8.5 ounce bumps per colorway.

To the right is a photo of pre-spun "In The Skies" with Toby. Here he's showing his best, "Can we just go for a walk?" face.

Finally, a photo of the finished yarn. It's all approximately heavy fingering weight. The blue skein has 618 yards. I haven't checked to see how much purple there is.


The Harveyville Project: Yarn School Fall 08


A few weeks ago I went on a little road trip.As I drove through Iowa, the car had to navigate around hundreds of massive wind-harnessing energy-making thingies and Iowan airplane radar rays for hours. (..and, I, umm, narrowly escaped an Iowan speeding ticket!)Ms. Sassy lent her gps for the trek, and it made the 8.5 hour drive long - but effortless.***I went to Harveyville, Kansas to attend Yarn School - Fall 2008.Fellow fibernista Nikol Lohr (of Naughty Needles and Art Club fame) purchased four rural schools in the middle of rural Kansas. She maintains the property with Ron, a tattoo artist and music enthusiast. The space is full of fun and interesting details - a perfect storm of creativity and space. (It's worth the drive just to see the school!)Yoda is a six month old pygora goat from Laura's Pygoras. He's super cute, and he feels like heaven. Yoda and his pack joined us for lunch one day, alongside angora rabbits from Little Angora House on the Prairie.Waking up on the second morning at Yarn School was an absolute joy. The corridor separating the two Harveyville school buildings was lined with gorgeous columns of dyed fiber.We all spent hours in the dye studio (a former chemistry room) the day before with Adriane Bizla from Hello Yarn dyeing pounds of wool. ***We all received pounds of fiber to dye upon Yarn School check-in: superwash wool, Mashum, Corredale X, Blue Faced Liester, & a few ounces of sea silk, nylon, and sparkle for dye play. Some people brought yarn and even more fiber to dye, too.Doesn't Felicia (pictured above ) look adorable in her new roving outerwear? :) She's never without a smile, and sells her dye work online at Sweet Pea Fibers. Over the weekend I had a lot of fun with Molly, who here is upset over a little color loss that morning. She kept on saying, "My carrots and corn ate the peas!".Nikol set up an awesome batt-making station with six drum carders and buckets of different fiber to play with. I cannot tell a lie. I love the drum carder. Some day I'd like a Strauch!Nikol taught us how to make roving from the drum carder. You need a "diz" (a thingie with a hole in it) to pull the fiber through to create a uniform, consistent length.Behind Nikol is one of my roommates from the weekend - Christine. I have to say both she and Lisa (unpictured) were great roommates!Here's a set of batts that I made on the first day of drum carding. I started with a base of bamboo in a topaz color that I brought from home. 100% bamboo can be a pain to spin, so I combined it with random fabulous fibers in autumn shades. I'm really excited to spin these up!Laid out on my bed was my fiber production from one day at Yarn School. That's right-- one day's worth.We drove out to Alpacas at Wildcat Hollows Farm to visit the beautiful animals, buy some of their fiber (I purchased raw alpaca), and to eat a fantastic meal. It was a perfect aesthetic experience. The owners of the farm plan on starting two week-long stays. One will be around the time of shearing, and the other during the alpaca birthing period. I have to say, I'm a little tempted to go!Adriane (below) showed us how to comb fibers. I have to say, the tools are wickedly sharp and a little scary. (Envision miniature pitchforks latched onto your table!) Although, she looks more than happy to comb all day long!I stayed for an extra day with a dye lab extension. My car was busting with fiber on the way home. The roving below was still drying when I left in the morning.All in all, I can't recommend Yarn School enough. My fellow attendees were dive[...]

Hurried Rush


Do you ever feel like you're in a constant hurried rush? Over lunch the other day I quickly snapped a photo of the socks I've just about finished:(image) The pattern is "Fluke" by Alarming Feminist. (Download is free on her blog.) I've just started the toes, and plan to finish them by Friday.

Unable to resist bright orange Wollmeise, I cast on for Julia Mueller's fabulous pattern "Entangled Stitches" last week. (Available as a Ravelry download.) Oh, do I love this knit! Perfect for fall - love the texture - and they're orange. Happiness.
(image) Tomorrow morning I'm leaving for Yarn School with the Harveyville Project in yes, Harveyville, Kansas. It'll be a long drive, but I'm looking forward to spending time with unknown fibernistas and learning new spinning & dyeing tricks.

Color Phase


Why does something as simple and basic as color hold our fascination every single day? As a child, nothing was more exciting than selecting your favorite crayon from the box. At work I love seeing how coral looks great on every skin tone, and I continue to detest the mushroom color of my cubical walls. Now, nothing is more exciting than picking out the perfect wall color-- or perusing your Wollmeise stash for the best saturated colors...
Are you someone who has a constant favorite color, a favorite set of colors (warm vs cool?), or are you like me-- you find yourself going through color phases? I'm certainly stuck in one right now: bright-sunshine-orange.
Last January I started a pair of socks that I originally classified as "losers". After a little leg shaping, the chevron pattern sucked in too many stitches for me to get the sock over my large instep. Talk about knitting too small of a gauge swatch... Over the summer I ripped it out and started again - and I just loved how they turned out.

I still love the shaping, though. I love it enough to pay with gauge and re-knit this pattern again! I've had a number of requests for this pattern from people who saw them at the Minnesota State Fair Creative Activities building (they won a blue ribbon in the Textured Socks category) and from folks on Ravelry.

(image) So.... yes, I'm writing up the pattern. I'm going to change the ribbing to flow into the chevron pattern, and chart out the leg shaping as an element to add if you wish.
The first copies will go to people who will be taking a sock workshop class at Bella Lana in Minneapolis this October from me. I'm really excited to be teach a knitting class again! (image) Project details:
Start/end: January-July 2008
yarn - Wollmeise Sockenwolle in Sonne M
needles - knit picks circulars in 2.25 and 2.5mm
pattern - coming soon!
Coming up: A spinning update & most recent knits: a pair of Poison no. 5 socks and Entangled Stitches gloves (Gorgeous pattern!) in the Wollmeise SOS- Save Our Souls crazy-bright-orange colorway. Wow, are they bright!

Night Swimming


Ok, all right. It's been a long while.I haven't stopped knitting or spinning like a mad fiend, just stopped blogging and uploading Flickr/Ravelry photos... A big reason why is a recent trip to the North woods of Minnesota. Extended family and friends joined us, although this was the first trip since 2003 with my brother. He loooves to fish. So, we fished We had a lot of success on the Little Big Fork River. For the first time in my life I caught something other than a lake Perch. I couldn't believe this tiny river had Walleye, Northern, Large and Small-Mouthed Bass, and an armada of massive Suckers. He's a Rosie-Grier style needlepoint guy, but I did teach him to knit:2008 is a wet, buggy year. The boys had tons of fun in the mudd- My brother did not. hee. I bought these shoes for him during the last holiday. Looks like it's time for another pair! At the lake I knit in and out of the water. These are Wollmeise socks that have recently been finished, and I love them. Also, I worked on a pair of Cashbah socks for my aunt in lace from the far-right skein. Mid-vacation there was a slight canoeing mis-hap, and my once-lovely Canon took a final picture of the weeds -----and now produces images like this!It's an impression of my cousin, and yes- this is as good as it gets!~ Once again, time to re-learn that water and electronics don't mix. So, I'm shopping for a camera. Any recommendations? [...]

Just Two Years!


Spinning update:

There hasn't been much going on in this category. I'm still upset with my stupid drive band that keeps on growing in size. (Note to self, must try sewing a cotton drive band.) A week ago I did force myself to give navajo plying a go, though. I've watched others do it, and after a few minutes of frustration I found a rhythm.(image) This is four ounces of targee/bfl, merino, and angelica from Traveling Rhinos in "Chasing Rainbows". The photo below gives you a sense of how the yarn gradates from color to color.
(image) After Two Years, Who's Counting?

Four-ish? years ago Knit Picks came on the scene. I was fascinated by how cheap their alpaca prices were, and quickly ordered four skeins of their laceweight in Tidepool to compare to Misti Alpaca Laceweight, which sold for $4.40ish at the same time. If memory serves me right, I paid $3.49 per skein, approx. $1 difference. The KP yarn was the same quality as far as I could tell, exept the yarn had a fabulous heather in each color - and Misti only had the same in their dark mossy grey/green. (The same holds true today.) The skeins I received appear to have much, much longer yardage than 440 each. I used 2.2 balls only double stranded for a 78 x15.5"

After swatching with the yarn, I decided to knit a shawl with two strands held together on a US 6. Madli's Shawl from IK was calling my name.

I started the shawl and loved it. After two weeks I was bored. Over the next TWO YEARS I worked on it here and there. Finally last weekend I wove in the final ends. (image) As lovely as she looks, she's much better on your neck. (image) What a joy to wear!

On the Road Again


just can't wait to get back on the road again...

In the last week we were forced to leave our beautiful workspace where previous sock kong citings occurred. The new space is just too depressing to show, although I did get a promotion. (Woo for sustainable, & livable wage!) On top of this, I'm back to traveling 'round the state- and the next few weeks are full of travel days.


Last weekend I finished knitting the short version of Laminaria. Aside from the first row of the last chart not printing (prompting an emergency rush-hour phone call to Deepa to save the day), it's a stellar pattern. Someday I'll probably knit the longer version. During all of last week I asked friends and co-workers what they thought of the army camo-ish variegation. There were 12 likes and only4 dislikes. Here's a reminder of what it looked like:


Minutes after finishing the shawl I knew I hated it and started drawing up a dye bath. Bright, light lime-y green didn't cover the tan/brown, so I blued-up the solution and darkened just until it covered the variegation just enough for a monochrome green. I tried to maintain as much color intensity as possible, and am really pleased with the results.


The tips were dyed lighter than the center, thus a slight ombre to the finished piece.


Go on, knit one or two Laminaria shawls yourself!


Back to Blogging


Hello dear readers,Sorry for the recent 2-week blogging hiatus. No, I wasn't on n a fabulous vacation --haven't had one of those for years. We're in the midst of transitioning work spaces, so it's been busy-ish, but I shouldn't have neglected you or the blog for this long! Before talking about recent knitting projects (I'll save spinning for another post), there was one really exciting event that I was lucky enough to attend last week in my hometown on 6/3/08. Any guesses? We waited in this massive line for a few hours. Eventually we walked in serpentine fashion, deposited beverages & umbrellas outside and found seats. Via cell phone texting & mini web page browsing during the wait we learned that Barack Obama was the Democratic party nominee. Wahoo! Shortly thereafter the headliners arrived on stage.Here's a view of what it's like to see Obama speak from the nosebleeds. The crowd was fired up and ready to.... make lots of noise. At times it was soo noisy that I 'heard' the speech by reading the prompts on screen.serious yay!***A co-worker of mine recently gave me a lovely gift - basenji sock blockers. They were patterned after a Fiber Trends blue blocker size medium, although these are thicker and taller than the pattern. He used oak for the foot/leg, and used walnut to join them together. Apparently he also made the brass hanger, too. (He is not taking orders for future blockers. Sorry.)Here's how it looks in action - (and yeah, I finished the Monkeyfish socks too. :)***Since it's summer, I'm back to lace and sock knitting full-time. Laminaria projects kept popping up all over Ravelry, and I just couldn't resist anymore. Laminaria is a form of kelp, and it seemed to want to be green-- you know? Last week I pulled a skein of yarn from the stash purchased from an (unknown) etsy seller for a short shawl to match a green wool tulip skirt that I wear in the fall. The yarn itself is a lovely 2-ply. One ply is silk, the other is wool. It does have the dry, papery feeling of some wool/silk/cotton blends. (Think Jaeger Trinity) Once received, the color was much too bright for the skirt. The more I knit with it, the more this variegated shawl started to look like nasty military camo gear. Uggh.So, once I finish knitting Laminaria, I'm planning to over dye the shawl via immersion- perhaps ombre green, darkest at the tips?At lunch-time, I've gone back to a one-time loser project to start anew. So far, so good.[...]