Thursday, June 24, 2010

Twisting to the finish line, Shouting all the way


All of the pieces for Twist and Shout are DONE. They're washed, blocked, and now drying on the blocking boards. Next comes assembly and knitting on the collar.

This has only taken me... what? 14 months? Well, it wasn't much fun working on it in last summers 100+ degree weather, and what with Christmas knitting and Ravelympics and... well... it's getting done now, before this year's heat begins.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Baa, Baa Black Sheep Gathering

Ahh, what a day. I'm still floating from all the wool fumes. Wheee! I've been down in Eugene at Black Sheep Gathering all day. Here... can you tell?

For the uninitiated, Black Sheep Gathering is, I think, the biggest fiber show in the state, rivaled only by Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival. There are sheep and other fiber animals for sale, fleeces for sale, and tons of yarn, spinning fiber, spinning supplies, bags, and all sorts of fibery goodness, as well as classes in spinning, knitting, felting, sheep care, and other fiber-related arts going on all three days.

I was good, though. I didn't get the credit cards out to play at all. Nope, the textbook buyer came through our building near the end of the term and I had some books that he could use. I set the fistful of cash aside as Black Sheep money.

The majority of my time there, about six hours of it, was spent at an all day beginning spinning class taught by Laurie Weinsoft of The Twisted Sisters fame (and I'm not talking about heavy metal rock bands here):

My Ladybug and I got a good workout:

Before class was over I had a mini-skein of several fibers and techniques:

And another that I finished at home:

But all spinning and no play (in the marketplace) makes Jill a, um, spinner out of fiber, that's what it makes her. We had a two-hour lunch break to grab something to eat (and the one place that could be improved at Black Sheep is the food situation) and cruise the marketplace. With my fistful of cash, I took the plunge.

Fiber, fiber...


Since this is very much a spinner's festival, there was a whole lot of roving, top, batts, and spinning fiber in various other forms, with all kinds of fiber content: wool from various sheep breeds, silk, llama, alpaca, cashmere:

And the holy of holies, Qiviut, the softest, most luxurious animal fiber there is, amazingly soft and rather expensive:

Dicentra Designs was there, with their trademark jewel-tone rovings:

So were lots of other lovelies, like these offerings from Wolf Creek Wools:

There were also spinners everywhere. After all, why wait to get home to spin up the wonderful stuff?

The barns were full of sheep and goats to be judged for their wool quality. There were, of course, many black sheep, as well as these spotted Jacob sheep:

And this long-coated Wensleydale:

Adorable Pygora goats are not to be passed up. I'm still trying to figure out how I could slip a few into the back yard and convince the neighbors that they're an exotic breed of dog. "I know they go 'Maaa!' That's just their unusual bark, really!"

This mohair goat thinks he's king of the mountain. Or king of the carrier crate, anyway.

So out of all that loveliness, how can one actually pick something out to take home? I knew that I wanted another bobbin for my Ladybug, so I made a stop at the Woodland Woolworks booth first and found what I was looking for. Then I cruised the entire marketplace, looking for things that appealed. Yeah, that wasn't hard. I didn't buy anything on the first pass through, but waited to go to the vendors that really stuck in my mind.

So I came home with 4 ounces of soft, fluffy lavender Cormo wool that feels like it still has some lanolin in it. This is from Dayspring Farm in Corvallis:

I picked this brilliant Blue-Faced Leicester wool from Dicentra Designs, because what Lord of the Rings geek can resist a colorway called Minas Tirith?

I picked out a 1 ounce bag of cashmere roving from Goat Knoll in Dallas. If you're going to go to all that time and effort to spin your own yarn, might as well use the really good stuff, right?

And as long as we're using really good stuff, why not get some REALLY good stuff? Yes, I couldn't get my mind off of that Qiviut. Now I have ::swoon!:: Qiviut to spin!

That, plus the fiber I have at home, should keep me busy all summer and perhaps a while longer. By the time class was over, I just had time to take one last cruise of the marketplace and barns, and then I was tired enough to take a pass on the Ravelry meet-up and just head home. Now off to bed to dream sheep-scented dreams.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

How Ellie got her drum carder, and other stash enhancement

There's a 7-year-old in England whose mum dyes spinning fiber and sells it on Etsy. Young Ellie is in love with fiber, spinning, and dyeing herself. Young Ellie up and decided she needed a drum carder. A 7-year-old who wants a drum carder? How can you not cave to that?

So mum set up a shop on her site where Ellie could sell her own hand-dyed "Spinning Clouds," BFL top ready to spin.

Guess who snagged the last lot that she needed to sell to get enough money for her drum carder?

The colorway is "Cherry Ripe," and it's just lovely. It's next in line after I go to Black Sheep Gathering, finish spinning some merino top from our own Three Fates Yarns, and spin up some silk and merino blend from Dicentra Designs. Now that Ellie is getting her drum carder, I imagine there will be some hand-dyed batts going up in her shop. Who knows? Twenty years from now, she may be the next Rowan Yarns.

And in other stash-enhancement news, the Selfish Knitters group on Ravelry had a hilarious "scavenger hunt." Contestants had to carry out a series of tasks, including taking a photo of your stash (bonus points if you were rolling in it, extra bonus points if you were rolling unclad), getting a picture of yourself with a WIP in front of your local yarn store, knitting something that looks like food, knitting something from food, and lots of other fun but harmless stunts that were worth certain amounts of points. There were twelve prizes offered up. The first place winner got first pick, second place winner got second pick, and so on. I came in sixth, but still got the prize I wanted most -- two skeins of Rowan Summer Tweed, a silk/cotton blend:

I think that's going to be a triangular scarf using the pattern 198 Yards of Heaven.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Squeee! Awards time!

Awwww... The Student Knitter nominated me for the Beautiful Blogger Award! ::bluuush:: I'd like to thank everyone who made this award possible... all my knitting buddies... my grandmas who both knit... my mother who knit only a little but showed me how to do garter stitch and didn't mind my filching her knitting books when I wanted to get serious about knitting... my dad for taking me to my first real yarn store and buying me some real wool yarn for my first sweater... my DH for never making one peep about the size of my yarn stash (or he gets the stink-eye about the size of his collection of magician stuff) and for getting me a spinning wheel for Christmas... the cats for -- hey, let GO of that aran alpaca, cat! Nooo... hold on...

Okay, back again.

So, here's how the award works. I tell you 10 things that you may not know about me, and I nominate ten more blogs that I like. Naturally my nominee blogs are all going to be knitting related, and while I read Wendy Knits and The Yarn Harlot and Crazy Aunt Purl, my ten nominees are blogs that I read that aren't nearly so famous. So here goes:

10 things you probably don't know about me:
  1. Between Dad changing jobs several times, then the family buying property, renting while we built, getting the rental sold out from under us, moving in with grandma, then moving into our house, we moved so much during my childhood that I went to eight different grade schools. But in all that time, we never left the Pacific Northwest.
  2. Until my DH and I took the boys on a road trip to Indiana to see his family, I'd never been east of the Oregon-Idaho border.
  3. I have a Bachelor's degree in Biology, a Master's in Botany, a second Master's in Teaching, and a Ph.D. in Science Education. It's my collection. Everyone needs a collection.
  4. I rode an elephant once. It was at the circus. Poor elephant, going around and around in circles with noisy kids on its back.
  5. My first job was working at a cannery that processed beets, beans, and corn. To this day I can't stand beets. The cannery was so old that parts of it weren't safe and the city threatened to condemn it while I was working there. I would have happily shown up with a sledge hammer if they had. It's gone now.
  6. A little over 10 years ago, DH and I and some friends got in on a fabulous deal for airfare to Paris and five nights in a hotel in the Latin Quarter. I want to go back. I waaaaant to go baaaaack! J'adore Paris!
  7. My first ancestor on this continent was a Welsh doctor named Thomas Wynne who came over with William Penn. I've heard the Wynne house still stands in Philadelphia, but I'm not sure where it is or if it's in a safe place to visit.
  8. Je parle un peu de français, mais pas très bien.
  9. The coolest summer job I ever had was working as a field technician for the U.S. Forest Service, doing vegetative survey. My team was collecting data on forest types to create a forest management manual. The summer before I worked, they were surveying clear cuts, and the summer after, they were to work on riparian areas full of spiny Devil's club, but the summer I worked there we were surveying sub-alpine areas. Camping out above treeline in the Goat Rocks, on Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Jefferson all summer and getting paid for it? Yeah, that rocked.
  10. I've got a brown belt in Shin-Shin Toitsu Aikido from the Oregon Ki Society. But I haven't trained in a bunch of years.
And now for the nominees:
  1. Puff the Magic Rabbit
  2. Lunaticraft
  3. Moirae Knitting
  4. Lazy Kate
  5. Bright Havens
  6. Carrieoke's Knitting blog
  7. Queer Joe's Knitting Blog
  8. Knitguy
  9. Unwind, A Yarn Shop (formerly If You Knit You Can't Eat)
  10. Chic knits
  11. Green Apples
I gave y'all an extra because I couldn't decide between a couple of 'em so I didn't.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Putting a spin on things...

Crazy, crazy, that's how it's been around here with the end of the school year fast approaching. Grading projects, writing finals, grading finals... it's all over at the end of this week, hoorah... and then I get to teach a summer class and have some contract work to do. The fun never stops. Not that I'm complaining too much. It'll be nice to get to the end of the summer before we get to the end of our money.

I spent the whole day today writing an exam and grading papers. My brain is full. I need a drink. I don't even drink and I need a drink. But yay for the meditative effects of knitting and spinning, because when I'm brain dead I can spin instead of drink, which is much healthier and productive and I get something nice at the end instead of a hangover the next day. Between the time I got my Ladybug after Christmas and now, I've finished spinning up the pound of Falkland wool that came with the bug:

That's about 700 yards of approximately aran weight -- on average, that is. It's not exactly what you would call even throughout, but that's okay. It was a learning experience. It seems to take a pound or so of wool just to get the hang of this. I think I'll dye it, maybe a midnight blue, before I knit it into something.

And I took a few ounces of unnamed wool from a Louet spindle kit and played with a) trying to spin it as thin as I could:

and b) chain plying it to make a 3 ply:

It made about 220 yards of approximately sport weight, this time a lot more even. Some overspun spots, but it all came out pretty nice. I weighed it at school and it was 125 grams. Interesting. The kit said it came with "8 ounces of fiber," which came in three balls of roving. Three into eight should give us 2.66 ounces per ball of roving, but one ball spun up to 125 grams of yarn, which is 4.4 ounces. I don't think I'll write to Louet and complain about getting too much fiber in my spindle kit. I just wonder if the person writing the text to the box was talking to the person weighing out the fiber for the kit, that's all.

Then I was torn. It's two weeks before I go off to Black Sheep Gathering and take an all-day spinning class. I don't want to have all my bobbins full. But could I leave the Ladybug alone, untouched for two weeks?

Could I?

When I have this delicious plum-and-blue merino top from Three Fates Yarns that's been waiting for me since before I even got my wheel?

Hahahahah. Of course I couldn't.

It's a good thing that I've got a break coming up, because I've got two weeks to finish spinning and plying this before Black Sheep, and of course I had to decide to try to spin this as fine as I could and see if I could get a fingering-weight 3-ply out of it. Of course.

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