Sunday, December 30, 2007

Dyeing for Norwegian Sweater KAL

Almost Done << Main >> The Dyeing's Done

Hi all. I hope everybody had a good holiday.

I have been resting up so I could tackle the dyeing of the contrast color for the Norwegian Sweater KAL. Things take me three times longer to do these days. I thought I could call my friend to see if she wanted to come by and do some dyeing while I had all the stuff out, but the times I felt up to doing it were in the middle of the night. It took me an entire evening just to wind of the one pound of yarn into 4 hanks. That took me out of commission for a couple of days. Then, it took me most of yesterday just to get set up.
I stared playing with the colors around 6 pm and it was 4 am by the time I had painted the skeins and had them wrapped for steaming. I was toast and I slept all day today until 5 pm. I'm not sure if leaving the "uncooked" skeins full of acid will be good for the yarn, but we'll see. I finally was able to get them steamed by 9 pm. I'm letting them sit until tomorrow and will wash and rinse them then. I'm hoping to have gotten the jewel tones I was looking for. The color on the bottom photo look pretty close to the actual colors. I think they will look good no matter what color they turn out to be. I did take notes, so I should be able to recreate it if I want.

When I first started dyeing, I made 64 half-ounce samples of the mix ratios of my three primary colors and their values. It sure has helped me when I have wanted to do dye certain colors. Saves a lot of time and supplies. I still want to take the time to do more samples. The basics are good but not near enough. That might be a good summer project so I can do it outside. Right now, my worktable is the concrete floor, which isn't so bad, but all the cups of dye just wait to be kicked over while I'm working. I lucked out last night.

I'm hoping to hear about the loom I was looking at first thing on Wednesday. I left another e-mail of questions, but they are on holiday until the 2nd. I'm really excited and impatient. I will post pictures and info as soon as it's "mine". I don't want to jinx it. :)

Well, I hope all who celebrate New Year's Eve have a safe and happy time and to all, have the best year ever.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Almost Done

I Have Returned << Main >> Dyeing For Norwegian Sweater KAL

Well, the holidays are almost over for me. Nothing fancy this year. The only holiday cooking I've done is making a few batches of my nut brittle. Everybody I know loves it, so I love giving it away during this time of year. I've just been too sick to do anything more. I'm on my third bout of antibiotics and I am hopeful that this will be the last. Neither my doctor or myself are into taking antibiotics, but I've been sick since the beginning of September and the infections just keep moving around but not leaving. I'm really sick of being sick.

Since my grandkid's mother is doing something on both Xmas Eve and Day, I had my son and grandkid over for the big feast tonight(Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, corn, and cottage cheese with oatmeal cookies for desert). We watched the Simpsons Movie after dinner while my husband slept. It was a nice evening. Tomorrow morning I will bring over some presents for both of them. My step-dad is off with his care-taker, so I will go into town and see him on Thursday and bring him a couple of presents.

I couldn't finish the grandkid's little purple hoodie in time for Xmas, but I'm getting there. I have the fronts and back done. I may get it done by next weekend when I'll see her again.

I'm gearing up for the Norwegian Sweater KAL. I've pretty much figured out the colors that I want to do, so I just need to take a day and dye the yarn. I'm really looking forward to doing this sweater. I hope to get that done this week since I think we are going to knit a headband/swatch the beginning of January and I need the yarn done by then. Plus, I need to go through my two Fair-Isle books and start picking out some patterns to use. I love the design part of any project the best.

I'm seriously looking at getting a different loom. My old one has gotten kind of trashed from being stored way longer than I had anticipated. Also, I'm not sure if I can manhandle it any more. I've gotten so wimpy and I'm not sure if I will ever get all my strength back so I'm looking at a loom that will be easier for me to use. I've been doing research and talking to other weavers about the loom and I think I'll be happy with it. I'll be contacting the company after the holidays. I'm pretty sure I will be telling them to send the loom my way. I'm pretty darned excited about it.

It's snowing again today. According to NOAA, as of today, we've had 30 inches of snow this December and 3 feet for the season so far. It's definitely a white Christmas here. I love watch it blow. It's so bright outside, even at night. Lots of reflection from even the smallest light source. Helps to keep my spirits up even though the actual daylight hours are so short.

Hope all are having a safe and warm holiday season. Take care.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

I Have Returned

Rambling Again << Main >> Almost Done

It feels good to be back. I have been buried here. I haven't even caught up on reading the blogs I usually read. My aggregator says I have 2258 unread blog messages. Well, I'll get around to them.

When last I wrote, I was in the middle of moving out to my pole barn. Well, that has happened, but after a 5 week hiatus of being really sick. I'm still sick, but I seem to be able to do a few more things. Also, hubby came home from his 5 week hiatus, so there was a lot more progress. I won't go through the gory details, but things are looking up a bit.

The move from the house is 90% complete. All I have left to move out here is my yarn stash (at least 200 pounds, no lie) and my books (too many to even think about counting). We're still trying to organized stuff, but it's slow going. That's okay because I have new appliances to play with. I have a new smooth-top convection range. It only cost about $150 more than the non-convection, so I went with it. One thing nice about the oven part is that the bottom heating element in under the oven floor, so I can clean up spills without fighting with the element. Also, there are no buttons or dials to clean around. That's one of the things I look at when buying stuff. How easy it is to clean is right up at the top of my requirements. I have a new front-loading washer and dryer, too. My old ones are over 32 years old and need fixing. I LOVE these things. I can have it spin only for when I wash fleeces and I can stop and check stuff when using it to felt. I am very pleased.

I've built us a new king-sized mattress from 2 king-sized 4-inch Memory Foam toppers and a good mattress pad. It is the best mattress I have ever slept on. My husband had built a platform for a Sleep Number bed, but I needed some relief before I had the money for it. I think we won't be needing it now. I got 2 toppers and 4 pillows for $300. I just hope it lasts for a while. We'll see. I can still get the "Sleep Number" bed if it doesn't. For now, it's bliss.

On the knitting front, I got 1/2 way through the Secret of the Stole KAL, but I just hated the fabric. I have since pulled it all out and next time will use smaller needles with that yarn. There is another "Secret of the Stole-ii" KAL coming out in January. I may use the yarn for that. BUT, I may not participate in it because there is another KAL I really want to do and I can only work on one at a time. The one I will most likely do is from the Ethnic Knits yahoo group. The owner, Donna Druchunas, who wrote "Arctic Lace" and "Ethnic Knitting: Discovery", is doing a design to finish KAL of the Norwegian Sweater from the "Ethnic" book. I have the yarn and will be dyeing the contrast colors for it. I'm pretty sure that this KAL is where I'll be spending my time this January.

I have knit a 6+ foot scarf for the man who has been taking care of my step-dad. He's a tall guy and it looks great on him. He's happy with it.

The pattern is called the Cabin Cove Journey Scarf by David Taylor Daniels. I loved knitting it. Easy, yet elegant.I've started knitting a cute little hoodie for my grad-daughter from a pattern in the November 2007 Creative Knitting magazine. It will go fast, so I think it will be done long before I start my Norwegian sweater.

Speaking of my step-dad, I finally got an apartment for him at this great assisted living place. He'll be able to move into it the middle of January. He's been packing to go "home" for the last few months. I don't know where home is to him, so maybe it will be easier for him to move to this place. I hope so. The last thing I want to do is upset him. He and his care-giver have been going to this place for social activities every week and he really has a good time. Things are looking good on that front.

I haven't done much spinning in the last 2 months. I spun some Black Diamond fiber at my September spinning group. I think I liked it, but I didn't spin much and messed it up trying to Navajo-ply it. So I tossed it. I was too sick to go to the October group but I did manage to make it in November. I have actually spun for a day here at home, too. Amazing.

I LOVE spinning this stuff. It is from a neighbor's first batch of commercially processed rovings from one of her alpacas. Her place is called StoneCroft Alpacas. I've only spun raw alpaca that I had cleaned myself. Nice to spin, but not as nice as this. It's gorgeous. I'm spinning some pretty thin singles to get a 3-ply DK weight. Navajo plying has it's place, but when I'm not trying to match colors I prefer plying with 3 bobbins of singles. It just works out better for me. I have around 2 pounds of this color. I think I will probably work up one pound for this batch of yarn.

Well, that's all I can remember at this point. I've been sitting here since 3 am and am finally getting tired. Take care, All.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Rambling Again

How I Got Here<< Main >>I Have Returned

WOW!!! What a week I've had. Got a LOT of stuff accomplished.

First off, let me just tell you I was a dumbass last night. I have probably injured myself (mostly my right wrist) by moving a 74 lb box full of engine parts that was delivered and left on the sidewalk while I was in Duluth yesterday. Lightning was all around again and I didn't know if it could get wet (husband is still on the West coast and probably will be for another week), so I tossed it on a big piece of cardboard and dragged it into the pole barn. By yanking it properly for my back but NOT for my arms, I think I popped the tendon out of place on my right wrist and my left elbow, and I can feel a chip of something floating around so I think I damaged the end of the radius. I've got the wrist splinted now and since I'm seeing my Doc on Monday, I'll have him check it out. So, this weekend I'll be laying low and doing paperwork and bills and getting the place safe for the grandkid's visit on Sunday.

I managed to get the whole floor scrubbed down and move all my husband's crap to the sidelines. Then I moved out most all of the furniture except for the bed and couch (too heavy to move alone) and the computer stuff since I need the Mr. to do the wires for the routers and modem. I could do it, but I don't know where the wire is. I have plenty of other stuff to move yet. I managed an all nighter (11:30 pm Saturday until 12:30 pm on Sunday) putting together an improvised Melamine Island out of 2 laundry Base cabinets for the kitchen area. I also managed to drop one of the boxes that held a base cabinet onto my foot. Broke a ton of blood vessels and it hurt like hell, but it's healing up quite nicely. No broken bones that I can tell, but some numbness that won't go away. I've also moved a bazzillion boxes of crap out there. I'm going to need to spend a few days just emptying them and sorting the stuff and putting it away in the proper place before I can haul out any more.

In the down time I managed to take my step-dad into the doctor and bring him to visit an assisted living facility. He said it was nice, but he didn't think he was ready yet. He IS, but doesn't know it. The doctor is sending him for a driver's license evaluation. If he looses his license (which he most likely will), he may change his mind. I feel so sorry for him, but he's a danger to himself and other's. His dementia is getting worse and he's drinking heavily on top of that. He has a room-mate that I pay to look after him and keep him from driving, but the room-mate will be leaving by the middle of November at the latest, so I have to get my step-dad out of that house. On a fun note, I get to get a stool sample from him on Monday. Sheesh! I guess that's TMI, but it causes me a LOT of stress and that makes my disease flare up worse. But, since I'm all he has in this world, I have to take care of things for him. We'll get by somehow, him and me.

I ordered books today. I got all five of Treasury of Knitting Patterns , A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns, Charted Knitting Designs: A Third Treasury of Knitting Patterns , Fourth Treasury of Knitting Patterns, and Mosaic Knitting by Barbara G. Walker. I've always wanted the, so.....I also ordered 3 Certificate of Excellence workbooks from The Handweaver's Guild of America . I got the ones for Dyeing, Spinning and Weaving. I am not going to try and send in the stuff and get any certificates. I just want to improve myself.

I managed to get some more knitting done on my Wing-of-the-Moth Shawl. I'm one row away from the starting the border. I have to say that this is an easy and fun knit.

Oh, Crap...Phone call.....Mother of grandkid is sick and I have grandkid in 1/2 and hour which means I have to kid proof.....Take care all.....

Friday, September 21, 2007

How I Got Here

Hi from extremely soggy Minnesota...The power has been getting knocked out all over the place. There's too much lightning to be on-line much so I'm posting in between storms. We've had many modems, phones, and one computer fried by big-ass surges coming through the phone line. This old house has a bunch of leaks and there are buckets and towels all over the place. I feel like the wife in the movie "The Egg and I". Which brings me to finally answer the many questions I've gotten on why and how I ended up here.

I fell in love with the country and farming while watching the "Egg and I" and "met" Ma and Pa Kettle when I was a child. Actually, that movie and Ma Kettle somewhat shaped my life. After I saw it, I really wanted to move out to a farm. Well, being about 8 years old at the time, I couldn't manage that, but I did do everything else I could, like teaching myself to sew, knit, crochet, weave, bake bread, make soap, garden, etc. Life took way too many turns on my way to the farm, but I am finally here.

I was living in a very beautiful place in a house I had built with my late husband. It was located on a sand bar called Park Point (officially Minnesota Point) that was connected to Duluth by a lift-bridge. When I first moved there in 1982, it was NOT the place to be. It was all old, ratty houses that the banks very seldom gave loans out for. Anyway, my husband had lived there his entire life so I moved there. The people that live there are great, but if you hadn't spent your whole life there, you never belonged. We spent 2 years tearing down and building a new house while living in it. Not fun, but it got done. I swore that I would never do that again. Argh! Our back yard was the beach and Lake Superior. I LOVED the wild storms and unpredictably of living there. Six years later, my husband died. I went to college for the next five years, during which I met my current husband. During the 16 years I had been on the Point, people from the big cities and the "richer" areas of the country began buying up property, tearing down the ratty houses and building McMansions, driving up property values and real estate taxes. Traffic and taxes became unbearable for me. The serenity of walking out my back door to the lake was ruined by scores of strangers walking through my property to enjoy the lake themselves. I didn't begrudge anyone for wanting to be by the lake, but I hated the trespassing, garbage and vandalism to my property and the continuous traffic on the only road that went down the middle of the Point. My taxes went so high that I couldn't afford to live there any more and I had to leave. My dreams of being Ma Kettle were still alive and I began looking for land. One foggy, rainy Sunday, my guy and I were out looking at land and houses that I had found in a real estate mag and I saw a for-sale sign pointing down a dead-end road. We drove down the road. We found 3 driveways and some vacant land. It was too foggy to see anything else. There was no sign indicating which house was for sale, so I wrote down the number of the realtor from the sign at the end of the road and went on to find the house that I found in the mag. Well, nothing I looked at that day tripped my trigger, so I called the number of the realtor that I written down. I met her two days later and she showed me several places and then finally the place that I originally called about. We drove up the loooong driveway to this place and we were surrounded by goats. As soon as we got out of my car, the goats jumped up on it and begged for treats. We walked through a useless fence, shooed the goats away from the door and walked in. The place was built of logs in 1893. It was one of 7 houses that survived the 1918 fire that wiped out thousands of homes and killed over 450 people. There was no plumbing or electricity. No one who had lived there ever wanted any. The owner hadn't lived in the house for over 2 years and whoever was taking care of the goats had let them live in the house on occasion. Very little updating had been done through the years. There are places where the hand-hewn logs and boards are still visible. The only insulation is the moss that they crammed into the chinks. I fell in love. I talked to my guy and within 2 weeks, we were married and a month later, we had the house, a barn, and 80 acres, 45 miles from the city where I had spent my entire 39 years of life. 8 months later, after fixing up my house to sell, digging a well, bringing in electricity, and putting in a mound septic system, we moved onto the farm. 1-1/2 years after that, we had running hot and cold water, a flush toilet, and gas heat and a stove. Then there was the building of the 64 X 30 foot pole barn, which my husband built 95% by himself. I am currently in the process of making the pole barn livable so we can move in there, temporarily. Unfortunately, the old house is way too far gone. The foundation is falling in and it would cost way too much money to fix it up enough to be safe. Plus, I have developed some major health issues and will eventually have problems with stairs. So, we have decided to tear down the old place and put a new one on the same site. It breaks my heart but I have no choice. We have tried to give the structure to many historical societies, even one in Finland since this is was built by Finnish immigrants, but even a free house costs too much to move. We have some friends who would like to tear it down and rebuild it on another site, so that's what we will do. I am glad it will have a new life.

Current picture of old house. I screened in the porch a few years ago.

Old Finnish style barn. The bend in the middle of the roof is intensional. It funnels the rain and snow melt away from the ends.

Husband in front of the polebarn a few years ago. It now has a floor with in-floor heat and is insulated and finished with metal inside and out.

The current situation is work, work, work. My disease makes that very hard, but I'm pushing ahead with the help of my pain meds. I dropped my husband off at the airport on Tuesday for Seattle, I have made arrangements for my step-dad, and have spent the last 2 days working like a madwoman. I'm waiting for the meds to kick in so I can get to the hardware store and get back at it. I WILL be moved into the pole barn by the time my husband gets home on the 30th.

So, here I am...My dreams have become reality. Plus, my mailing address is Kettle River and the city has a festival call "Ma and Pa Kettle Days" every August. Can you say "Destiny"?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Secret of the Stole Swatch

Hi, All.

It has been a bad couple of weeks for me. The step-dad problems are escalating exponentially and I have pneumonia. Long story. All I have been able to accomplish on the fiber front is my swatch for the Secret of the Shawl KAL.

I'm using Alpaca Cloud in the Tide Pool Heather colorway. I like the weight, color, and the way it knits up, BUT it is kind of scratchy. Amazing to me since it is made from baby alpaca. Anyway, it's very inexpensive and it won't be worn next to my skin,so I'm okay with it. The photo doesn't show the correct color. It is more blue.

Well, I've got more step-dad fires to put out, so I best be off. Take care, All.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Shawl Update

Hi, All. I brought my car in for a fix and a tune up so I got a lot of knitting done on my Wing-of-the-Moth shawl. I had gotten almost this far when I realized I just wasn't happy with it and ripped it out. Now I'm much happier with it and it's zooming along nicely.

Sorry about the bad pics, but it's the best I could manage today. I'm about 1/3 of the way to the start of the border. With every other row getting longer, it's going to take a while. It's pretty easy to knit. A good beginner shawl, in my opinion.

The green pin is on the center line of the shawl. The reason I ripped out the shawl was that I just didn't like the YO's on either side of the center stitch. I changed it to a make-one on either side instead and I am much happier with the way it looks.

I just joined another KAL. Just what I need, but I so enjoyed reading about the Mystery Shawl 3 that I couldn't resist. The one I joined is Secret of the Stole put on by Nautical Knitter . It really looks like a lot of fun. The first clue will come out October 5th which will give everyone time to get supplies and knit their swatches. I've ordered Alpaca Cloud from Knit Picks in the Tide Pool Heather color. I've never knit with machine-made alpaca before, but I like using my own hand spun alpaca so this will be nice. I am getting tired of natural colors, too, so I am looking forward to working with this.

Knit Picks has great marketing with their free shipping. Since the 4 skeins of Alpaca Cloud was less than $45 I just HAD to buy 6 skeins of Bare-Merino Lace Weight to get the free shipping. Can't resist free shipping. Ha! Not sure what I'll be doing with it, but I'm sure I'll think of something.

I've got a busy weekend ahead. It's my granddaughter's 3rd birthday tomorrow and she is coming to stay with us until Tuesday afternoon. My husband went to a great garage sale and picked up a bunch of cool stuff for her. I made her a cake today and we'll be having pancakes and sausages for supper. Her favorites. Lots of sugar so she'll be zooming around here all weekend, I'm sure. I LOVE being a grandma.

I took a long nap this afternoon, so I guess I'll be up all night. I better get cracking on getting the house ready for the 3 year-old. A local kid died a few months ago when she ate some of her mom's perscription meds that were in a child-proof bottle. Really tragic. My husband and I both take several so I always double check and make sure they are locked up. We keep them in a locked tool box. No taking any chances even though the bottles have child-proof caps. These kids can get into anything.

Have a great holiday weekend, Everyone.

Monday, August 27, 2007

New Tools

Woo Hoo! New stuff! First off is my stuff from The Woolery. I have ordered from them several times and I'm always pleased.

This is some Tussah silk noils. The plan is to dye them several colors and mix them with wool for a tweed type yarn.
This is the Support Spindle by Royale Hare . It is GREAT. I actually mastered the one-handed long draw within a few minutes of using it. I can't wait until my grandkid goes home so I can actually use it.
These are the Viking combs by Indigo Hound. I have their 5-pitch English combs and love them. I wanted these to use on shorter fibers.

Then, Knitpicks had a 40% off book sale at KnitPicks . Sooooo:

I now have all of Elizabeth Zimmermann's books. I got my first one, "Knitting Without Tears" for 5 cents at a garage sale. I fell in love with her style.
I heard so many good things about this book that I thought I would get it. I all ready do socks on 2 circulars on occasion, but there is always something new to learn.
I really like the sock book by these ladies, so I had to get this one. I like the idea of "Knit-to-Fit", too. Knitting a sweater that actually fits my body is a rare thing. I'm hoping this book will help.

I really haven't had a chance to read these yet. I'll let you know what I think when I've gone through them. At a glace, they look pretty good.

Gotta run. The lightening is hitting hard outside and I have to unplug the modem. We've lost one computer and one answering machine to lightening already.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Spinning at the Fair

Hi, All. Man, I've had an extremely busy time since I last posted. Taking care of step-dad, sleep studies at hospital, out of town guest, traveling to get a much needed new (to us) truck and spinning at the Carlton County fair. This was in one of the county newspapers, The Pine Journal . I guess I'm famous now. I had been spinning on my wheel and this kid was sent over to me by another spinner because she knew I had brought my spindle. This kid comes by every year and is just a joy to spin for. I hope he keeps coming and maybe we can reel him in as a new spinner some day. I spent 4 days (around 28+ hours) spinning at the fair this year. I love it. The costume gets a little cumbersome, and the weather didn't cooperate, but I had a blast anyway.

This is the yarn I spun last year which is the same as the stuff I spun this year. It's a mix of all my left-overs from combing. It works really well. I can show people all the different animal fibers in my bag before I hand card it and spin it up. I usually card up a rollag and then spin it so they can see the process. This skein is a mix of several wools, alpaca, silk, mohair, and llama plus a little chunk of blue tencel that I tried. As exhausted as this makes me, I still can't wait until next year to do it all over again.

Soon, I hope to get some pictures taken of my shawl. I have only worked on it for an hour or so, but it looks like it will turn out nice. Take care, Everyone.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Plying is done

Well, the plying for the Wing-of-the-Moth shawl is finished.

I ended up with 1210 yards of 2-ply out of 10 ounces of the alpaca, wool, silk, and mohair. The yarn is very soft, shinny, slippery, and a bit fuzzy. The colors got pretty much muddied up. More blended than I wanted, but I guess that's the way it is. We'll see how it knits up. It really feels nice.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Book Review

I'm a little behind but here is my review of Wrapped in Comfort by Alison Jeppson Hyde.

First off, it's an all around great book. Lots of good photos of the items both off and on models so you can really see what the garments look like. All patterns have both charted and written instructions.

The patterns include 12 shawls in which there are 1 beginner level, 4 easy level, 5 intermediate level and 2 experienced level. Also, there are 4 scarf patterns of which there are 1 beginner and 3 intermediate level.

There is good discussion of instructions: Skill levels, needles, yarn, gauge, yarn-overs, decreases, increases, knit, purl, joining new yarn, life lines, charts and written directions, blocking, shaping and construction of top-down circular shawls, neck edges, sizes, and designing your own.

There is a story for each pattern. Very well written and enjoyable to read.

The instructions are extremely well thought out and easy to understand.

All in all, I would highly recomend this book to all levels of knitters. It is a perfect knitting book.

Monday, July 30, 2007

New Take-along Project

Since the Wimple is finally off my back, I have started a new take-along project. It is one of the most challenging (not really difficult, just keeps your attention) pattern. It's the Bayerische sock by Eunny Jang. The yarn is KnitPicks Bare Superwash Merino/Nylon Fingering Weight that I dyed purple last year. I'm using 2 KnitPicks size 0 circular needles instead of five DPN's. I've never tried this, but when I got the call to take care of my step dad, I just grabbed the yarn, pattern, and my folder of KnitPicks circular needles. I think I like the technique, especially for travelling. Anyway, here's a picture of the ribbing plus 3 repeats of the pattern.

I've made several mistakes, but the pattern seems to be able to hide a multitude of sins, so that works good for me. I think one more repeat and I will be starting the heel.

Wimple is Completed

The wimple is totally done. The pattern is from Knitting in America. There is a reprint called America Knits. I finished knitting it about a month ago but didn't have time to block it until now. All the while I was knitting this, it smelled like vinegar. It's 3 skeins of hand-dyed, superwash wool sock yarn called Wildfoote from Brown Sheep Co in the Ragtime colorway. So, before blocking it, I decided to wash it good with synthropal. It looked like had been cooking beets. Here's what I got.

I was still getting quite a bit of red. I was beginning to wonder if I would end up with a light pink wimple. So, I threw a glug of vinegar into the water, soaked it for an hour, wrapped it in plastic wrap, and nuked it in the microwave for 6 minutes. I figured if the dye wasn't set before, it was now. Well, here's the wash afterwards.

Hmmm. I finally threw it into the machine through 2 full cycles and the water finally ran clear. There must have been a lot of excess dye, because the color didn't change. I'm really surprised that my hands didn't turn red while I was knitting it. Anyway, I blocked it outside on some construction materials (rigid poly insulation)

Here's the finished product

(Note the lovely model in her nightgown at 3 am. who HATES getting her picture taken) I had to do a little steaming to flatten out the sides where it was folded in half. It worked pretty slick.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Back from the Ether

Hi All. Whoever thinks that Minnesota is to cold a place to live, they should visit in the summer. It has been in the 90's every day for over a week and it looks like it will stay that way for a least another. When I was younger, nobody had air conditioners. Didn't need them. Well, we sure need them now.

It's amazing how much I missed my computer. I've been without computer access for a little over 2 weeks and I felt a little out of touch. I found that I could easily live without it, but I didn't WANT to. Kind of like electricity. When the power goes out, it's kind of fun for the first day or so. After that, you really begin to miss it. Anyway, I'm back for a while.

The reason I was gone is that I was taking care of my step dad. I'm all he has since my mother died last year. He's had dementia for a few years and it's getting worse. My mother had many physical ailments but her mind was still sharp. Both of them together made a working couple. Now that his "brain" is gone, it's pretty tough on the old guy. Anyway, he pulled a stunt and I decided I had to see what was going on. For the first week or so, I organized his house. They have lived there for 17 years and, although the place is neat and tidy with all their crap stored away, every cupboard, shelf, and closet was filled. So, without moving things around too much, I reorganized stuff so he could easily find and get at things. While I was grabbing rags to clean out the freezer after I defrosted it, I found this in the rag bag.

It's the first ever embroidery that I did. I used to visit an elderly lady went I was young. She lived by herself in a trailer a few blocks away. She was a rabid craft person: embroidery, crocheting, etc. I showed an interest and she taught me how to embroider on a printed dish/tea towel. It did this in 1969. I was amazed how good it looks after being a cleaning cloth for who knows how long. I brought it home with me.

After that first week, I managed to get my wheel to his house and was able to spin on the down time. I managed to finish spinning the singles for my shawl.

I think it turned out pretty good. It was a tough blend to spin, though. The color did turn out the way I wanted it. Hope it looks as good when plied.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Spinning for Shawl

Hi, All. It has been a madhouse around here lately. I have finally gotten started on the spinning. It has been a real experience trying to get these fibers to work together. I have spun all of these types separately before, but never such a wildly blended mess. So here's the saga and what I've learned:
Here's the layered batts, more slippery than you can imagine.
I rolled the layered batts around a dowel for (supposedly) easier handling.
Here's an attempt at dizing using a very large hole (CD)
Here's some very poor top created by the above dizing.
Here's the whole mess (10.5 ounces) mixed up in a giant tub.
Here's the final mix.
I separated the whole mess into 2 plastic zip-locks.
I grab a handful, pull it into a foot or so long piece of roving. High-tech tweaking of my brake band for lace weight spinning.

About 1/3 ounce spun up. It goes real quick.


What I have learned:

A batch of fibers consisting of 33% wool, 33% alpaca, 17% mohair, and 17% silk is SLIPPERY!!!!!! It will not "behave". It will fly in your eyes, up your nose, and in your mouth. It will attach itself to your clothes permanently unless it sees a food dish and then it will then happily release from your clothes into said dish. Basically, it will get into and onto everything in the room you are preparing it in. No matter how much water I used to "mist" it into submission, it still remains wild.

The "grab, draft, and spin" methods works very well. It forces you to take breaks which lets helps defeat any repetitive stress problems. That's good because when I spin big hunks of good roving, I tend to spin until I can't feel my hands.

Anyway, this stuff is turning out very "organic" and wild, just like the moth. I think I am pleased. I hope it blooms some when I finish it. I'm not spinning it very tightly, so maybe I'll get lucky.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Sin-Off Survey

Just reading the SOAR blog and they are asking spinners to fill out a survey to see how we like their mag, etc. Here's a link to the survey: Spin-Off Mag Survey ...Now, back to hauling boxes....
Oh, yeah...I got some new knitting and weaving books today...I will probably start doing some "no BS" reviews in the coming weeks. As soon a things settle down here.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Fiber for Shawl

Here are the batts that I carded up for the shawl. I'm going to lay each the three colors on top of each other and pull into roving. I hope to maintain some seperation of the colors. We'll see how it turns out. Wish me luck!

Black and silver/brown alpaca
Tussah silk and grey Coopworth

Brown Cotswold and red Kid-Mohair

Drum Cards and Maintenance

It's been my experience to beware of any product that claims "maintenance free". There is no such thing. It's kind of like a self-cleaning oven...There's always something that you need to clean by yourself. The problem with my Louet Drum card is that it's one of those maintenance free jobs. As I was carding my fibers for my shawl, I noticed some "drag" as I cranked it. It was weird because I tried it with no fiber on it and it still got kind of hung up at a certain point....Well, I decided it needed a closer inspection.
The problem with maintenance free stuff is that it's not meant to be maintained and therefore not really meant to be taken apart. This one came apart pretty easy. What I found was a ton of fiber and fiber dust and grit embedded in the lubricating grease on the gears and it had dried rock-solid. I was kind of surprised at the amount of dirt as I always use clean fibers and keep the card in a box when not in use. Then again, it is 12 years old. All the parts are plastic and wood except for the metal crank and pin. I was afraid to use any solvents to break up the grease, so I tried using a tooth brush and tooth picks. I finally resorted to soaking the 2 small gears in some Dawn dish soap. That loosened up the gunk enough to remove it. Then I re-lubed the thing and put it back together.

So, a word to the wise...If it says it needs cleaning, then it is built to be taken apart and cleaned. If still needs to be done and it's a pain in the butt.