Sunday, November 22, 2009

My latest indulgences

Ron and I just spent five days in Halifax and I've got all kinds of new goodies I'm anxious to show off!

This beautiful stuff I got at The Loop on Barrington:

The fleece is a romney/lincoln cross and comes from the happy flock of my friend Pia Skaarer-Nielsen, who dyes the wool herself. I bought 100g of my favourite colour in the morning and went back to buy the rest that afternoon but someone had beat me to it. I just discovered this afternoon at our Unspun Heroes gathering that "someone" just happened to be my friend Kimberly who had also traveled to Halifax last week. So I guess if I'm desperate for another 100gs of this lovely fleece I can go camp on her doorstep and refuse to leave until she sells it to me.

That's actually all the fibre I got while in Halifax. I was trying to be good, you see. I did get a 47" Addi Turbo circular needle and, following these most excellent instructions, manage to cast on a pair of socks 2-at-a-time using the magic loop method, but for those I used yarn I already had. (Yes, I packed a ridiculous amount of knitting yarn, all my knitting needles and my warped Knitter's Loom. No, I didn't use any of it, except for those two balls of sock yarn.)

On the way home, though, we took a detour and went to Sun Mercantile in Tatamagouche where I succumbed to the wiles of these two skeins of yarn:

At $30/skein, that top one was a total indulgence. I saw it as soon as I walked up to the yarn display and fondled it lovingly but then put it down 'cause it was so pricey. And I looked at a couple other things, then fondled that one again. Then looked at some other stuff, when I spied some other gorgeous stuff... and discovered it was the same skein of yarn that I'd put down in the wrong place. This happened at least half a dozen times, me falling in love at first sight over and over again with the same skein of yarn, until I finally just put the thing in my basket. A 60% superwash wool, 25% mohair, 15% nylon blend, it is absolutely gorgeous. It came with a Mountain Colours sock pattern of my choice included in the price, so I've convinced myself that it was money well spent.

The second one is a fingering weight 50% alpaca, 30% merino, 10% silk, 10% nylon sock yarn by Misti Alpaca. I've been eyeballing the Misti Alpaca lace weight for ages and ordered a couple skeins of the chunky weight that my yarn supplier sells, but I hadn't seen the fingering weight for socks before. This particular colourway really spoke to me, so into the basket it went as well.

Either one of these may wind up as socks, but I've also been really anxious to knit myself some fingerless gloves. I'm really hoping to win this contest on JL Yarnworks' blog and get the pattern for these babies...

...'cause I'm hankering to knit some cables and I really like fingerless glove patterns with a proper thumb hole rather than just a slit in the side. I did buy myself a really cute pair of handknit fingerless gloves done in Fleece Artist yarn at the craft market weekend before last but they're quite bulky and I like the more delicate look of these. Am thinking I might try to 2-at-a-time ML them as well to make sure they're the same size.1

In spite of the fact that I was expecting 8 lbs of combed top in the mail and had just bought 100g of Pia's lovely fleece, I was also seduced by this beautiful roving that was hand dyed by Janine, who works at Sun Mercantile:

My justification for this is that it's a merino/silk blend and none of the top I'd ordered had any silk in it. Merino, yes - I'd ordered 2 lbs of that. Merino/bamboo and merino/tencel, yes - had ordered a pound of each of those, too. But merino/silk? None whatsoever. It only seemed right that I get some to compare to the others. *cough*

I got a couple other goodies from Sun Merc, including a hand knit hat that is SO CUTE I've barely taken it off since I bought it.2 I also got a bunch of books at various bookstores that I'm excited about, including Sock Innovation by Cookie A, The Handweaver's Pattern Directory by Anne Dixon, and Spin Control by Amy King.

Of course, I got home on Friday night and discovered the parcel pick-up slip for the 8 lbs of combed top I'd ordered from Fat Cat Knits waiting for me on the table. I picked that up the next morning so now I'm drowning in amazingly beautiful fibre for spinning, but that's a story for a whole separate post.

1. True Confessions: It drives me nuts when a pair of socks or gloves don't fit exactly the same way - I find it really distracting and uncomfortable. Can you say OCD?

2. Srsly, I've hardly taken it off. I have, however, put it carefully on the bedside table at night rather than sleeping in it. There are limits.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Long time no see!

Just popped over here to find some pics of an old project and, as I skimmed several pages, I realized how much I really miss posting to HFD! I've gotten so sucked up into Scarfaday (even though it's only sometimes scarves and it's certainly not every day right now) that I've been neglecting my first baby. What kind of blog mother am I, anyway? At least I left things on a nice note with those super keen little videos! So anyway, as I sit here listening to "Art" again, I think I'll upload some shots of some totally non-scarf related projects from the summer, including some of the aforementioned old one.

You may recall that I wove some yardage back in January; it was soooo pretty and I was sooo worried that I'd screw it up in the wet finishing that it's been gathering dust ever since. I've shuffled it from one place to another over the past 10 months and have patted it lovingly a time or two but didn't dare take the plunge. Well, now it HAS taken the plunge, as of a few minutes ago when I finally shuffled it into the washer. I took one last shot before it went into the drink, just in case I muck it up completely and it never looks the same again:

Hopefully it'll come out of the wash okay. I have no idea how much agitation it'll require; I keep checking it but it's like waiting for a watched pot to boils so now I'm over here writing again... I just hope I don't turn around and find it's boiled over!

I also got a fair bit of spinning done over the summer - first what seemed like miles of Falklands for the Unspun Heroes' milling blanket project (actually only 300g) and then, since I was tired of undyed white and brown and starved for colour, some scrumptious hand dyed Merino from the Fleece Artist that I picked up at Baadeck Yarns last spring:

I couldn't decide which pic I liked best, so you get all three! :D Sadly, the pics of my other spinning projects aren't so hot and don't do the yarns much justice - I took them outside on a bright day so they're stark and contrasty. Oh well, you'll still get the idea.

First, the above yarn once it was plied:

This is just a tiny little skein made of what was left on one bobbin after the bobbin I plied it to ran out. (The full skein was in a Teacher/Student show at the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design at the time I took these pics.)

Next, another skein of gorgeous Fleece Artist stuff, wot my friend Chris gave me as a thank you for weaving her a set of placemats at the last minute for a wedding gift:

When I first saw the roving, I thought, "Oh, that's pretty but, you know, not my colours." As soon as I started spinning, though, I fell head over heels in love. Chris (the spinner from our co-operative) knows her stuff, she does, and picked me the very prettiest stuff I could have asked for. I love this yarn, and plan to use it on my Ashford Knitter's Loom some time soon.

Next, more nummy gift rovings that I simply :

Mom gave me this scrumptious stuff for Christmas a couple years ago, before I was spinning as much as I do now. It's a merino/bamboo blend and soooo soft and silky! I LOVED spinning this stuff, so am really excited that I'm going to be ordering more merino/bamboo from Fat Cat Knits soon.

And finally, a couple more mouldering projects, finally dusted off this summer. This was some top I bought in Victoria, BC and spun a few years back but then never plied. I was still pretty new to the whole spinning thing and had never worked with a sliver before so didn't really know what to do with it. As a result, the yarn was really thick and thin and I was frustrated with it at the time, tho' I think it's pretty wonderful now. I couldn't decide what to ply it with for a long time but finally this summer I chose a fine 2/32 wool that I had kicking around and plied it with that:

I gave the finished skein1 to my friend Marie who, time after time this summer, drove an hour and a half and brought her rigid heddle loom to my place or the shop and kept me company while we both wove. Was GRATE to spend that time with her, so I wanted to give her something special as a thank you. :)

Last but not least, some Shetland roving that I bought at the Maritime Spinner's Retreat FIVE (5!!) years ago:

I started spinning it at the time but I had a pretty hard time with it. I figured it was because I was a newbie spinner, so I stuck it in the closet and left it there for many years. This year, feeling much more sure of my MAD SPINNING SKILLZ, I got it back out and tried it again. First I plied the stuff I'd already spun before and then I started spinning new singles. Turns out that it's just not very well prepared - lots of second cuts and the roving separates into light and dark. Or maybe I'm just spoiled by the gorgeous Fleece Artist stuff and the roving that Mom gave me and have unreasonable expectations. Either way, I'm not loving it, though there is a certain satisfaction of finally getting it done. I bought an entire fleece worth of the stuff, so there's lots to do.

So that's spinning... there was also some dyeing - with Kool-aid, of course! First at my friend Kimberly's house, where we had a lot of help from her daughter Min (and wound up with very stained hands):

Kimberly was dying roving but I was dying some frogged yarns, which turned out like this:

I did some more koolaid dyeing just a couple weeks ago when the Unspun Heroes met at CBU for a spinning & dyeing day. This time I did roving, too:

It looks pretty garish and Halloweeny before it went into the microwave 'cause the black cherry looks very black rather than red, but once the dye had set it was a really pretty mottled red. I'm spinning this stuff now - it's mystery fleece and not very soft but it'll make a nice hat or pair of mits or something.

Phew! That'll do for an update. I'd better go check on my fabric! I'm not sure if it's fulled quite enough yet but I figured I could always full more but could never full less, so I let it spin out a little while ago. Will keep you posted!

1. Oops. I just realized I never washed the yarn once it was plied, so not entirely finished I guess. I should maybe warn Marie? *cough*