Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Again, a long hiatus, but I've been busy knitting!

Two sweaters completed (with the exception of buttons on one).

The first one is from A Fine Fleece, with a couple of modifications.  The original picture had very poorly set-in sleeves, which I don't particularly care for anyway.  So instead, I turned it into a raglan style sweater with the decreases hidden on the wrong side next to some c2f cables.  No button band either, I'm planning on just wearing it open or using a shawl pin to close it. 

This one is made from the Knitpicks Capra yarn, which is a lovely cashmere blend yarn.  It cabled beautifully and was wonderful to knit with.  I can't wait for fall to wear this one. I just need to find the perfect buttons for it!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Tour de Fleece, Fin

Today ends the Tour de France, and therefore the Tour de Fleece.  My goal was to spin the first bit of merino and tencel, which I did.  I then decide I wanted to also spin up the Island of Misfit Toys roving as well.  I am nearly done, but still plying since it decided it wanted to be a fine fingering weight 2- ply.  I couldn't be happier with the way this yarn is coming out though!  Nice and even, and it comes across as a striped tweed.

  So would I consider this TDF a success?  Absolutely.  My goals were to improve my spindling and to spindle every day.  I worked on a new technique (pseudorolagging) and then simply enjoyed the process of spindling.  I got a lot of interesting looks and had the chance to educate people on the process of making yarn by hand.  So yes, absolutely a success and I look forward to next year!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Tour de Fleece, Days 18 and 19

I didn't get a whole lot of spinning done yesterday (day 18), but I did get my full cop wound off onto a storage bobbin.  I've only just started spinning today on the last of the "Island of Misfit Toys" roving, and since we're in Ohio for my cousin's wedding, I should have time tonight for more spinning.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Tour de Fleece, Days 16 and 17

The actual spinning content of Days 16 and 17 are more of the same.  The cop gets bigger, but I haven't wound off onto a bobbin yet.  So instead of more similar pictures, here's the other project I've been working on!

This is the egg bird.

Kinda angry looking, isn't she.

 But the best part about her? 

Give her sides a little squeeze:

 And out pops an egg!
I swear, this never gets old!

I'm working through the entire set for Ben, Ally and Nick, my niece and nephews.  I hope they like them (and can share, since I"m only making one of each!)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Tour de Fleece, Days 14 and 15

Since I spent most of yesterday at the Doctor's office (first patient visit and a physical - I check out fine!) I didn't get a ton of spindling done, but I did get my cop wound off onto a storage bobbin.  I decided to use some old Ashford bobbins for storage since they'll allow me to actually tension my lazy kate while I'm plying.  Here's the bobbin plus what I've spun so far this morning!

I also was greatly enjoying the hummingbirds this morning on the back porch.  Their wings buzzing and their cute little "deek deek" chirp.  I was able to catch this one at the feeder.  There's also a gorgeous ruby throated fellow who comes by every so often, but I wasn't  able to nab him on the camera.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tour de Fleece, Day 13

Spindling laceweight merino is taking a bit, but I am spindling every day.  I'm greatly enjoying the yarn this is making though!  It will be well worth all of the work when I am finished!
I also made up a few spindles for the Yarn Tree Studio

Including some rather unique designs!

Day 12

Tour De Fleece day 12 was more spindling, and the second class with my spindling students.  They did wonderfully.  They were so proud (and rightly so) of their yarn.  I also made good progress on my spinning, despite a busy day at Yarn Tree Studio. 

I love that store, and have a great time working there.  The customers are friendly and it's a great chance to continue to spread the love of kniting and spinning.  We're getting in some new spinning stuff, including new drop spindles made by yours truly!  Pictures of those will be coming shortly.

Three Sweaters -or- Why I Spin and Knit

A short story about three sweaters and how they came to be.
By me :-)

The First Sweater

I went to my favorite department store today, and folded neatly on the table was the most beautiful sweater! The colors were exactly to my liking, the fit was perfect, the design was gorgeous and the fabric was so soft. I immediately purchased it, took it home and wore it the next day. Family, friends and coworkers were impressed by how nice the sweater looked.

The end.

The Second Sweater.

I went to my favorite yarn shop today. Amongst the walls and shelves of beautiful yarns I saw it. My color. My fiber content. The exact weight of yarn I like to knit with. The yarn was luxurious. I spoke to the store owner and together we pored over books and patterns to find one to my liking. Pattern, yarn and needles in hand I made a small gauge swatch to see that the fabric was going to be as nice as I'd imagined, and that the measurements of the sweater were going to come out right. I cast on for the sweater and the rest of my knitting friends admired the color choice, the pattern, and how even my stitches were. I so enjoyed the feeling of the yarn through my hands, petting the unwound skeins, smoothing out the growing sweater and imagining what it would look like finished. Finished, the sweater blocked exactly to my measurements and I pieced it together with care. I decided to name my sweater the same as the designer had called the pattern.

I paraded around in my beautiful new sweater; my knitting friends admired my stitches, how well the sweater fit, what care I'd taken in finishing it. To my family and coworkers I proudly told the tale of how I knit the sweater myself. Some of them were impressed; some asked why I didn't just buy it from the store.

The End

The Third Sweater

My friends and I went to the local fiber festival this weekend. We ate the delicious junk food at the vendor stands, talked to the sheep, goats, llamas and alpacas in the barn, and watched the sheep to shawl competition. Between all of that we shopped (and shopped and shopped) for yarn, needles, notions and fiber for upcoming and newly inspired projects. While I was shopping the fleeces from that years' fleece competition I came across this beautiful brown fleece. The sheep's name was Evangeline and she was a Romeldale. That breed of sheep is known for producing a very soft fleece which spins well, and her fleece had won first place in the competition. The fleece had been well cared for, and it smelled heavenly; like a clean barn. I purchased the fleece and added it to the growing collection of stash which I had been amassing.

Once home, I opened the bag of Evangeline's wool and the barnyard smell reminded me of that day at the fiber festival. I petted and sorted the fleece, removing the few bits that the farmer hadn't removed. My hands were soft from the lanolin. I carefully washed the lanolin and dirt out of her fleece and laid it to dry. Then I started carding. I blended in all of the different shades of brown in Evangeline's fleece so that my final yarn would be a tweedy heathered brown. The fleece was soft and airy and pulling the carded fiber off of the drum carder yielded fluffy batts that I often couldn't help but bury my hands in. When done, I had plenty of carded fiber to make a full sweater with some left over to sample. So sample I did. With my favorite spinning wheel I spun and plied 5 mini skeins of Evangeline's wool to see what kind of yarn I wanted to knit with. I kept the notes of the favorite sample and spent the next couple of months spinning the rest of the fiber. I handled every inch of Evangeline's wool, and then her yarn. I made skein after skein of soft beautiful brown wool. My friends at my spinning nights enjoyed petting and smelling the carded wool and the finished yarn. The friends who had come with me asked if that was Evangeline, and commented on what a good job I'd done preparing her wool and spinning it.

With the yarn completed, washed and in fluffy brown hanks I petted the yarn and pondered what pattern to make. I took a skein to my favorite yarn shop and with the owner we picked out the perfect pattern. I decided that instead of naming the sweater after the pattern's name, I would call it Evangeline. I swatched and knitted a sweater exactly to my liking, in that perfect shade of tweedy brown. I blocked and finished it with care and paraded around in my beautiful new sweater; my knitting friends admired my knitting. When I told them I'd made the yarn myself, some were impressed; some asked why I'd gone through the trouble, why I hadn't just bought the yarn at the yarn shop. To my family and coworkers I proudly told the tale of how I knit the sweater myself and had made the yarn from a beautiful fleece. Some of them were impressed; some asked why I didn't just buy it from the store.

The End

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Amphibians and mammals

A slight break from the wool and spinning:

A week or so ago it was raining pretty good on and off all day.  At one point, we heard this odd whirring chirp right outside our door.  Thinking it was a bird that had taken shelter we peeked out the window, but no bird.  Jeff opened the door and the chirping stopped.  We assumed he had scared away the bird.

The whirring chirp resumed an hour or so later, and this time I went to look.  There on the porch rail was a bright green tree frog.  Man, those things are loud when they're up close.

He let me get in pretty close with the camera before hopping away.
Ribbit, Ribbit
Then last night we got photographic proof of how tolerant greyhounds can be:

"You don't mind if I prop my feet here, do you?"

Tour de Fleece, Day 11

This time, with pictures!

Here is today's spinning, superwash Merino

I love this roving

It makes for a fantastic yarn with long repeats
Mama, take a picture of me instead!
 Cute greyhound aside, my spindling is coming along well.  This top wants to be spun super fine, so I may ply it into a light fingering weight yarn.

I also made a bunch of drop spindles, and once they're all dry I'll post another picture.

For those reading on a RSS feed, I added pictures to yesterday's post as well.

Tour de Fleece Days 6-10

Pictures will be coming, but since we were at a friend's house this weekend, it was hard to post updates.

I finished spinning and plying that multi colored roving, and then on the day of rest (day 10) I made a new set of drop spindles.  I have 16 new wheel spindles and four new designs!  I had fun playing around with geometric shapes and came up with some pretty darn clever spindles, if I do say so myself!

Since I finished my first set of roving I"ve decided to simply continue to spindle spin throughout the remainder of TDF.  Every day, except for the rest days.  So today I start on  some superwash merino in a colorway called "Island of Misfit Toys"  It's really pretty, and I plan to spin this in a more traditional worsted prep, though I'll leave it as singles and knit a cowl, I think.  I'll see how it spins up!

As promised, a picture!

This yarn is not completely finished, as I will be using it as a demonstration of why you need to wet-finish yarn.

The skein on the left has been wet finished and hung to dry.  The skein on the right has not.  YOu can see how the plies even out and the yarn becomes much more round and happy.  I'll finish Righty after my class tomorrow evening.

Speaking of teaching spinning, I had the fun of plying yarn in front of my friends' 2-year-old, who of coursed asked what I was doing.  She then repeated "drop spindling, drop spindling" in a singsong 2-year-old voice.  Adorable.

Then when we left I got a call from her Daddy telling us that she'd taken a lacing card, and was spinning it by the yarn.  When asked what she was doing the reply was, "Playing Drop Spindle!"

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tour de Fleece, Day 5

Today, I did spin on my spindle and I'm almost done with the fiber.  Then plying!

But the bigger thing I did was pass it on.  I taught two new students how to make yarn on drop spindles.  They did fantastically well!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Tour de Fleece, Day 4

Day 4 looks much like day 1-3, but more.

I have a third bobbin full and a partially full cop.  My coworkers were extremely bemused by my spinning.  I caught one watching intently while I wasn't looking, but looking away any time I looked up at him!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Tour de Fleece, Day 3

Day three and I'm still trucking.  Amazing what having days off does for productivity!  We'll see if I can keep this up while traveling.

I'm starting to think that I may run out of roving though, so I may add something to the challenge!

Here I have two full cones and a full cop.  Tonight I'm going to make a bunch more pseudorolags and take my spindle with me to work to spin at lunch.  That'll get an interesting reaction out of my coworkers for sure!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Tour de Fleece, Day 2

Day 2 and I've made a ton of progress on my spindling.  The pseudorolags are a dream to spin and I've filled one cone so far.  Since this is a tweedy blend, my plan is a DK to worsted 2-ply.  What I'm currently debating is if I will do my plying on the spindle or on the wheel.  Tensioning the cones will be a challenge, but if I go slower with a spindle, I may be able to get more control out of it.

Now, a picture of my pseudorolags and the yarn I've made so far!

Tour de Fleece, Day 1

I've decided this Tour de Fleece to work on my spindling.  I want to be better to be able to help out students!

So all of this roving will be pulled into pseudorolags and spun on a drop spindlie!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Not only am I good at passing along the spinning bug for friends, I'm also excellent at finding yarn for my Mom's Project Linus group.  They (very, VERY unlike me) like to knit with acrylic.  Even ::shudder:: Lion Brand Homespun.  Friends have learned this and will often pass along their unwanted acrylic, whether it is leftovers from their stash or inherited stash yarn.

One such friend sent me an entire Tupperware full of it!

I do believe there's enough for two entire blankets made out of homespun, and at least two or three more of mixed Super Saver or Caron Simply Soft.

I can't wait to pass this along to Mom!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Auto Wheel Zone!

I seem to have a penchant for getting friends addicted to spinning.  It probably happens because of how much I like it, and that kind of enjoyment can be very contagious.

Lynn of Yarn Tree Studio is one such person to whom I have passed along the addiction.  Today, Jeff and I met a gentleman out in Hillsborough to exchange cash for wheel.  Unfortunately he'd not oiled the wood since he'd gotten it, and probably not oiled the moving parts in 14 of the 15 years since he'd bought the wheel.

Needless to say, it needed a bit of TLC.  It had rust on some of its metal parts, and some of the wood was a bit oil-stained due to him trying to remedy a squeak in the treadle.

So, off to Auto Wheel Zone!  (conveniently located at my house)

The rust was taken care of with some fine steel wool and elbow grease, followed by sewing machine oil.  That took care of the squeak and got the wheel back up to good working condition   The rest is better told in pictures.

The wheel, before

The wood is rough and dry, but some work with a cotton cloth, some soft steel wool and some lemon oil. . .

See the difference between the horizontal post and the wheel?  Dry, dry wood!

Aaaaahhhhhh, that's soooo much better.

A short test run indicates it is spinning beautifully.

A little copper wire and some round nose pliers. . .
It's all set and ready to spin!

 I know Lynn is going to love it!

Thursday, April 7, 2011


The North Carolina Renaissance Festival is a very very sad faire this year.  It's funny how one bad year plus a few bad decisions can snowball into something truly terrible. 

It used to boast hundreds of vendors.  I think we counted 8.

It used to be at a faire grounds where, while it sometimes had the feel of a flea market, there were paved roads, and an entire rodeo rink for the Joust.

Now. . .

Here's the joust

And the location of one of the more popular shows

And the pub

And pretty much the whole muddy fairegrounds, covered in a coat of straw.

Still.  Beer Fairy is still serving, and serving beer with a smile!

With a handsome mead ogre at her side.

The worst part is the catch-22 of no fun.  Rumors have gotten out about how un-fun the faire is, so nobody wants to go, so it sucks because nobody is there.  There are also a number of people boycotting the faire because of how past performers were not paid for their work.  This I completely understand, and I wrestled with working there again this year.  But we have some very good friends who invested money in having this beer tent, and I'm going to work my cute little tush off selling beer and mead for them!

It could be a lot more fun if certain people hadn't been screwed over last year, or if people just went ahead and came this year, despite the muddy conditions.  If the faire fails utterly then there is no chance of past and present acts being able to be paid for their hard work.  If nobody comes, then it will fail utterly. 

I'm in no way condoning the misdeeds of the management of the faire, but I do wish more people would come to support those of us who are at the faire.  So, for those who can, for those whose only reason for not coming is because they think it will suck, please do come to the faire.  I have comp tickets!  I have beer!  The people are what make the faire, and if you oppose supporting it directly, well, that's what the comp tickets are for!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Knitting Content!

Those of you who know me may recognize the shape of this shawl.  It's my second Danish Tie Shawl.  The blue one is still beautiful, but I had some fantastic brown marled handspun that was calling to be a bulky shawl.

Believe it or not, this shawl took me 16 days to complete, including weaving in ends and blocking.  I think if I'd done the weaving in and blocking as soon as the knitting and border were done, it would have been more like 12 days. 

With one project off the needles, of course I have to put a few more on.

Here are a couple of 8" squares made for a friend's baby blanket that my knitting group is doing together. 

And I came across a skein of brown Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool that called to be a nice warm scarf for Jeff.  

And that's what's on  and off the needles right now!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Power Tool Friday

After getting a very nice ArtFire sale, I decided to go ahead and invest some cash in supplies to make plenty more drop spindles.  I found a good woodworking store online and discovered that to buy the dowels pre-cut to 12" would be about $1.10 each.  However, buying 36" dowels, a pack of 100 was $22.00.  That's right.  $0.22 each, then cut into three pieces means these dowels are now about 7 cents.


It costs a dollar to make a single cut?

Well. . . .

Here's what I think of that!

Plus Power Tool

Plus sexy eye protection

$300 worth of dowels for $22.

Hooray for power tools!  Now to assemble a hundred or so drop spindles!