Yesterday was the first day of spring and we got 9 inches of snow!! Absolutely crazy! Today the snow is beginning to melt, but it’s still slushy and cold out side so I’ve spent the day inside spinning some of the 12 ounces of “Sea Dreams” Blueface Leicester (dyed by Hello Yarn) from my stash . . .
. . . and taking pictures of the dogs. My kind of day.
Last Sunday I loaded up my car with my spinning wheel and fiber and headed out to Harveyville for our January Spinsters gathering. Nikol was the host with the most providing a wonderful setting for spinning, laughing and coffee. I missed the last get together and we didn’t meet in December and I was beginning to have Spinsters withdrawl! I missed seeing everyone so much — I love catching up with everyone and hearing all about their lives.
Since Nikol has umpteen carders, she invited us all to bring 2-4 ounces of fiber so we could make crazy batts!! Yipee!! We did that two years ago during one our meetings at Harveyville and had great fun with it. I almost forgot to bring any fiber and Grasshopper luckily reminded me just as I was stepping out the door. I would have been so sad if I had shown up empty handed!
We put out the empty baskets and divided up our fiber so that everyone got a taste of each others fiber. That orange fiber was such an amazing color and there was also a green that made me smile — it ended up being a nice range of colors.
Grasshopper turning away at the carder. Nikol had four carding stations set up so no one had to wait very long for their turn.
Voila! Here’s my finished batt.
During the swap and shop evening at the Fall 2008 Yarn School, my friend Grasshopper was selling several of her “not so favorite” fibers that she had dyed. One in particular caught my eye — it was BFL (or as another friend calls it: biffle) in shades of blue with greens and magenta — oh, baby, those are my colors!! Grasshopper said she liked it “okay”, but she wasn’t crazy about it and would probably never spin it. Enough said. I snatched it up! It spun like a dream and I made approximately 590 yards of 2-ply worsted weight yarn.
Now the hunt was on for pattern — it would need to be a shrug or short sweater since I had limited yardage. I settled on a pattern from the Drops website, a short jacket with short leaves (pattern 117-43) that is knit side to side in garter stitch with short rows for shaping and absolutely NO seams.
Drops is a Norwegian company that produces lovely yarn and has hundreds of free patterns available on their website. The patterns are originally written in Norwegian and the majority of them have been translated into English. Because the instructions have been translated, they can sometimes be a bit quirky in their phrasing and I had to reread them MANY times to make sure that I understood everything correctly. A few times I know I was cocking my head to the side the way Louis does when he doesn’t understand what I’m asking him to do! All that said, the pattern is very clever in its use of short rows to create its shaping and I’m really pleased with the outcome.
By the time I was ready to cast off, I only had about two feet of my handspun left so I use some Harrisville Highland yarn in a teal/blue colorway to cast off and then used the same yarn to add a single crochet edging. Since the yarn was handspun and the garment was knit side to side, the edges ended up not being consistently even, so the crochet edging totally evened things up, plus it tied together with the cast-off edges.
I’m so glad that Grasshopper didn’t want that fiber because I feel like I scored big time!!
Thanks to Sugaroni for taking the pictures!
Long before I ever dreamed that I would be spinning and dyeing fiber, I had (and still have) a family friend named Donna that raised sheep. Donna (as a little fyi, she was also my 8th grade softball coach and her husband worked with my father for some thirty years) invited me to her yearly sheep shearing party and being the admitted knitting addict, I thought this sounded like great fun. It was so cold out in her barn, but the hired shearer was quick and accurate with the sheep and the barn was filled with fiber enthusiasts. Over in one corner was the skirting table where women were taking the newly shorn fleeces and nimbly pulling off the veggie matter, mud and sheep “stuff”. I was amazed at the color and feel of the fleeces — under the outer, bleached coat was this rich, lanolin filled wool with such a beautiful crimp to it. Oh, and did I say there were two new little lambs in the barn too? I was in heaven!!! From time to time I would slip into the house for either a bowl of chili or a mug of hot chocolate and warm up a bit, but then it was back to the barn. As a fleece would come off a sheep, someone in the group would claim it, it would get skirted, weighted, priced and then bagged. The owner of Ozark Carding Mill was there and most of the fleeces were sent with her to be processed. Being caught up in it all I bought the fleeces of two young sheep of a moorit (brownish/black) coloring. I talked to women in the group and found someone that would spin my fiber, after it came back from processing, into a worsted 3-ply yarn. Not being a spinner at the time, I had no idea what I was asking! If someone asked me to spin a consistent 3-ply worsted yarn now that I do spin, I would absolutely faint!! But, my hired spinner (I’m embarrassed to say that so much time has passed that I can no longer remember her name, but she was a saint!), took on the task and gave me the loveliest yarn.
I ended up with enough yarn to make two afghans, one for myself and one for my parents 50th wedding anniversary present. The pattern is called “Endearing” (#15) from an old Leisure Arts book titled “Big Book of Quick Knit Afghans“. It was knit using US#15/10mm 36″ circular needles holding two strands of yarn together. The finished measurements are 58″x80″.
Because it was knit holding two strands of yarn on such big needles, it was a fast project and the pattern work stands out against the natural brown color of the yarn.
Everytime I use this afghan it brings back fond memories and a smile to my face because this was my first exposure to the world of sheep and fiber. Hmmm, I had no idea what the future held for me!!
This is my version of the “Sweet Little Nothing Shrug” pattern by Kay Meador, a free Ravelry pattern. I decided to make this little sweater using my own handspun that I had spun from fiber I had bought from The Arts at Eagles Find in the “Under the Sea” colorway. I spun it in a worsted weight and knit with US#8 needles. The sweater is knit top down with raglan sleeves and I love that there were no seams to sew up. I modified it by adding length and decreases for shaping to both the sleeves and body and changed it from a single snap closing at the neck to nine button and button holes. Whew, I was a bit worried about having enough yarn during the final stages of knitting, but, I had JUST enough yarn, with maybe six inches left when all was said and done! It’s just right for the crisp weather of fall, yet not too warm to wear in my office.
This past weekend I attended a two day spinning workshop held at The Studio Yarn Shop that was taught by Jacey Boggs of Insubordiknit Yarns. I started the day on Saturday very excited and equally nervous — Jacey spins wonderful art yarns that are full of beehives, coils, faux boucle, super coils, halos, thick & thin, core spinning, auto-plying and felted objects, and I’ve spent my time spinning trying to perfect a dk weight yarn that’s consistent. I’ve always wanted to learn how to spin thick & thin, beehives and coils, and have seen several demos on how to do them, but I’ve just haven’t been able to grasp the techniques. I realize now, that was because I hadn’t met Jacey yet.
Jacey is an amazing instructor — her yarns are stunning, but her technique and her ability to convey how to accomplish those techniques is what makes her such a good teacher (well, that and the fact that she’s SO much fun and nice). She would bring us up in groups of four and demo what she was going to spin, going over the technique and explaining it as many times as needed. Then we would go back to our wheels and trying it for ourselves. When Jacey had demo-ed for everyone, she would then go around to each of us individually at our wheels and see how we were doing, give us pointers, and showing us hands on if needed. Then she would go back up front and do group demos again as needed. So thorough! By the end of the two days I may not have perfected each technique, but left with a firm understanding of each ones structure (plus I bought one of her dvd‘s so I’d have a reference at home!).
The Studio did a great job hosting and sent out orders for lunch for the group each day. All the participants were so nice, with Steph coming all the way from Germany to attend! I left exhausted and thrilled and anxious to go home and attempt my new skills at home.
For more pictures go HERE.
Marilyn hosted our May get together at her house in Topeka on Sunday. What can say that I haven’t said before — it’s a wonderful and inspiring group of women with a variety of interests that are brought together by their love of fibers and spinning. No matter how stressed I’ve been, I can sit and spin with this group for three hours and leave relaxed and happy (and full, as we’re all foodies). If someone doesn’t know a technique, there will always be someone else in the group that has an answer and the knowledge, there’s always encouragement and excitement as skills improve and always envy and admiration as plied yarn comes off a wheel.
I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves . . .
Our lovely hostest with the mostest, Marilyn, on Ravelry aka Marilynpickle.
Drop spindle, knitting and spinning — can life get much better?!
Whew! Spring Yarn School has come and gone!
I went as a helper again, along with Ana and Jen M, and we were the dish washing, fiber rinsing, towel gathering, table busing, chicken rangling, airport shuttling, laundry doing, Yarn Zombies — all in all, we made a good team. There were two teachers, Adrian and Jen S and then, the grand Poo-Baa, Nikol, who made the whole thing roll. This spring, there were twenty students, many of whom were attendees for a second and even third time. Everyone was great — we all had our wheels in a giant circle and we would laugh and spin when we weren’t in the dye lab, carding or eating. Jan absolutely kept everyone in stitches and Rachel laughed till she fell out of her chair. There was amazing food (thank you Nikol — when are you going to put out a cookbook?!), wonderfully dyed fiber, lots of spinning and just plain fun.
If you’ve never been to Yarn School, I would HIGHLY recommend it — you’ll leave exhausted & revived!
More pictures can be found here & here!
Nikol hosted Spinsters’ this month out in Harveyville and we it seems that we gain a couple of new spinners every meeting. We gathered upstairs in the entry way hall which made for a cozy room with lots of light, plus, it made it easy for the conversations for flow back and forth.
There are as many different types of wheels as there are people.
Jen M’s singles and then her finished three ply yarn.
Nikol’s amazing yarn that she spun at Plucky Fluff.
I just loved these pink cowboy boots (and the great Schacht wheel)!
Obviously, no one went hungry