Down the Fiber Hole and Other Essential Updates.

If you have been keeping up with the adventures of Casa Hannah and the CoalBear you know that I have been feeling just freaking wonderful for the last two week and getting more done than at any time in the last two years. I’ve been planting lots of new plants and getting all the gardens into order (for the first time in years because… next door pit bull who has now left the scene… yay… adios, pit bull…), and dragging out lots of things to get working on that have been languishing for years. The garden is starting to produce some color with the perennials now which is awesome as I’m seeing hot pinks and purples. Lavender, bougainvillea, and sage. Perfect!

Um… and then the party came crashing to a halt a few days ago as I started weaning myself off prednisone (marvelous stuff, prednisone!) and I got a little dizzy, and I… fell off the stairs. I literally realized I was going to be airborne at the last second and managed to push off enough to twist around and land on my feet in the living room where I pretty much crashed landed into the couch. Sad outcome. Did you realize that you can actually bruise your lungs? Okay, my lungs are less than pristine, but still… my ribs aren’t too happy, either. There was some talk about my liver… I had to stay indoors over the weekend and go back onto daytime oxygen.

That, however, did not stop me from going down the fiber rabbit hole!!

I finished the first silk/yak roving from Greenwood Fiberworks and am ready to start on the second.

I’ve been considering how to attack the variegated roving. Should I separate the colors? Do pencil rovings down the length of the larger piece? Just take it off in strips and let the colors end up however? Still thinking about this one, but I am tending towards pencil rovings.

I made some really good progress on my Salty Air Tee.

I love, love, love the yarn that I am using for this sweater. Isn’t that the perfect color for summertime knitting? This pattern is racing right along and I’m racing to get it finished because… some new patterns dropped on Ravelry and I am dying to knit one of them.

This is the Lace & Fade Boxy by Joji Locatelli, and that first picture is swiped off the Ravelry page and has her copyright. I have four skeins of a dark grey fingering yarn with smoky/woody tones that I am dying to use for this sweater. My first idea is to knit the entire sweater in the main color (lace and all… ignore the fade, we don’t need no stinking fade because I have four skeins of this color…) and then go back and knit I-cord trim at the neck, bottom, and wrists in that really cool multi yarn. That will look awesome, right? On the other hand, if there is enough yarn, I can do the lace in a fade with the pink yarns. I only have just over 100 yards of each color, so that may not work, but it might look pretty cool. I really am tending towards doing the whole sweater in the solid fingering. I have knitted two boxy sweaters in the past (the Vneck version) and I know them to be comfy layering workhorses in cold weather.

Then there is the crocheting. I haven’t crocheted in years because of my dodgy wrists, but I loved this bag (Square Scramble Sack) on Ravelry so much I bought the Noro yarn a week ago. Like I need more yarn, right? I had to order the crochet hooks from Amazon and then I was off to YouTube to learn how to make the puff stitch… that first little square has too many puffs in it, but I felt pretty successful and I’m now making a few squares every day that I don’t fall off the stairs.

There are two more sweaters that I want to knit, but I’ve got them on the back burner at the moment because I’m so far down the fiber hole at the moment I am just focusing on working steadily on each project for a few hours each day. Or maybe every other day so I don’t wear out my hip (spinning) or wrists (crochet). So far I’m making progress and I’m recovering from the fall okay at the same time so all is good. Except… the days of prednisone wonder are coming to an end as I feel the energy and the good times fading away. I start the lowest dose tomorrow and after a week it will be over.

Still, if you look at all those pictures that I put into this post, the days of color continue. Yay! My gardens have been returned to some semblance of order, I am making good progress on a number of projects, and I also got some chores done.

Hannah: I was put into the carrier and then put into the car and then taken to the vet and then I got cat-handled and there were some shots and would you believe that the vet said that I was slightly pudgy

Seriously, PUDGY!!!

Hannah: Now I have to eat Indoor Cat food and the Mother of Cats has cut back on my cookies. Ugh.

That was my week. ūüôā

You all watch out for those stairs!!!

Six Months Update and Days of Color

Okay, this is an update on my progress on my goals for the year, but it is also a celebration of how well I feel at the moment and my launch into several projects that are rocking the color right now. Seriously, I am so drawn to colors at the moment that I’m pretty much doing some silly impulse shopping. Who cares. I’m having a good time!!

You want to see the silly impulse shopping and/or pink things first?

I could not leave the local garden center without that pink flamingo for my garden! Hello, it glows in the dark with an LED body. ūüôā What do you think about my Knitting Goddess fabric? Yep. That was a late-night Etsy impulse purchase. I’m thinking that it will make a fabulous project bag. What do you think about that Noro yarn? That will become a crocheted tote bag… I also needed to buy some brightly colored hooks to make the bag, and there may have been another big ball of beautiful yarn that fell into the shopping crate before I checked out, but I’ll never talk about it. My feet are hurting because of the spinning I’m doing, so I had to get those wicked compression socks!!! Yep, I am a total sucker for pink. Well, raspberry pink to be specific, but I will settle for hot pink. Finally, Hannah kept trying to drag off my knitted finger protectors, so I made her and Mateo some little tube-like cat thingies to play with. They like them!

Speaking of color, look at my progress on the spinning for Tour de Fleece.

Can you see that I am making progress? The bobbin on the right is where I am today. I’m almost through the crocus-colored roving (50/50 yak/silk from Greenwood Fiberworks), then I get to start on the variegated roving. I’ve been watching episodes of Vera on BritBox while I spin so I’m actually coming to think of this Tour de Fleece as the Tour de Northumbia… I am happy with the spinning as I think that my drafting is getting easier and the thread that I’m spinning is getting smoother. It may also be slightly larger, but I can live with that!

I started reading this book this week because… look at that cover!!!

I don’t want to talk about this book yet because it really is remarkable, and I am changing my opinion about it as I go. It’s like entering a dream world and just experiencing the adventure without worrying too much about what’s going on. In time, I’m sure, I’ll understand what is happening. Maybe. I don’t care. I’m so entranced at the moment I’m reading a couple of hours a day during the heat of the day.

There is color in the garden, too. Look at this:

There is more color in the garden to replace the fading roses. My veronica is finally blooming, and I went back to the garden center to buy more lavender plants. I now have 11 lavenders in the garden… don’t you think that I should get another, so it is an even dozen? The pink yarrow is hard at work. Oh, yeah, there was also a garter snake in the garden today. Not a lot of color, but a ton of fun to see.

So, how much progress has occurred over the last 6 months?

  • I finished 30 hats and 28 PICC line covers in the first 6 months. I was hoping to get 50 of each done this year, so I am on track.
  • I have removed 76 skeins of yarn (100g of yarn = a skein) from the stash through knitting and donations. I hope to get 100 skeins out before the end of the year, so I am on track. I did just have a 6-skein slip, but I’m not worried.
  • The other knitting accomplishments are two sweaters and two pairs of socks.
  • I finished a quilt and got it hung up on the wall!
  • I learned how to double knit. Actually, I’m really stoked about how fun it was and I am looking forward to doing some cute projects. (I found that chart online and watched videos to figure out how to do this. Piece of cake, as it turns out!)
  • I have finished 32 books.

Well, that’s the progress report. My son helped me get my table loom set up for me to use and I’m dreaming of warping the floor loom before the end of the year. (Mateo: that sounds like fun!!) I’m wondering if I can weave something with the yarn that I am spinning now, and I’ve pulled out another quilt kit that has been languishing forever in a cupboard so that I can work on that in my sewing room. I’m entering the last few days on the full dose of prednisone; the dose will be tapered off and stopped over the next two weeks. While I was on prednisone my rheumatologist gradually stepped up my immunosuppressant to a final dose that is double what I was on previously. I feel really good right now and I have huge plans for the rest of the year.

Scleroderma, behave yourself!!

I’m on the Tour

The Tour de Fleece, that is. I’ve never joined the tour before, but this year I am feeling pretty good due to my current 6-week course of steroids (prednisone… if you’ve ever been on this drug, you know what I’m talking about… I feel great and have tons of energy) and my hip is feeling so much better I’m walking without my crutch and almost no limp.

If I was ever going to try to do some meaningful spinning, this is the time to do it!! The Tour de Fleece this year is from July 1st until July 24th. The idea is to watch the Tour de France while spinning along… kind of a fusion of spinning wheels, you know. I’ve joined Team Rookie since this is my first year on the Tour and it has been quite a while since I’ve done any serious spinning. This will be fun!

Here are my goals:

Goal One: spin the yak! I have two 4-ounce rovings from Greenwood Fiberworks that are 50/50 silk/yak. I started on the crocus colored roving about a year ago, and it has just been in limbo since then. The poor wheel has become dusty while it was sitting around with the little bit of spinning that I had accomplished last year parked on a spindle. I’ve decided to try to get both of these rovings spun up and then plied together… maybe. I can also go for 3 ply with some Navajo plying. I’m going to spin fine with an eye on a fingering weight final yarn.

I have been seriously intimidated by this fiber!

Goal Two: spin the paco-vicuna! The silk/yak is the warm-up for the main event. I have had this paco-vicuna (from an animal named Gulliver) for over 10 years, and because of the cost and the fine fiber I have been afraid to commit to spinning it. Well, I’m over it. If this will ever be spun, now is the time. My goal is for a two-ply fingering yarn for a lacy cowl or shawlette. I’m also thinking that a hat and mitts would be really nice.

Rose gold alpaca. Do you see how clean this fleece is?!

Goal Three: spin the alpaca! The fleece from an alpaca named Antonia, to be exact. I bought this rose grey alpaca fleece at the Estes Park Wool Market a few years ago. It’s a nice fleece. It didn’t win a ribbon, but when I found it in a vendor’s booth, I liked the color and texture so much I impulse bought it. It doesn’t have very much veggie matter in it, but the stable is a tiny bit on the short side so… no ribbon. Still, it should make a really nice yarn. I’m thinking that this should be a 2-ply sport to DK weight yarn. I’m not completely committed to working on this fleece, but if the spinning on the other two projects goes fairly quickly then I should have time to do some carding and spinning with this yummy alpaca.

I spun for 2 hours tonight, and my hip is still behaving itself. That’s a good sign. I also signed up with the team out of my local yarn store and I hope to go spin with them every Sunday morning while the tour is going on. This will be fun.

2022: New Year, New Goals

I’ve been working out ideas for goals for this new year. I have ended up with a lot of ideas, some of which will probably be abandoned, but still I thought I would share them to see what people think.

Knitting

  1. Oh, my yarn stash is totally out of control. I am going to do everything I can to get it willowed down this year, and the main strategy is to produce as many hats and PICC line covers for the Kaiser infusion centers. I am also thinking about asking my rheumatologist if she would like to have some arm warmers and fingerless mitts to gift to patients struggling with Raynaud’s. Anyway, I’m thinking that I should try to knit out at least 50 skeins of yarn this year.
  2. I have several sweaters all lined up to knit. This will be the year of sweaters!
  3. I have this Coco Knits book that I have been wanting to knit from. A few weeks ago I scored some great yarn from someone destashing – I know I was bad, but I couldn’t help myself. I got 6 skeins of worsted and 7 skeins of chunky yarn in greys and they are perfect for a couple of these sweaters.
This yarn was too nice to walk away from. The light grey is The Uncommon Thread and the dark grey is MadTosh yarn. Perfect for a Coco Knits exploration.

Weaving

Look! Another book to work my way through!

The poor loom has been languishing for some time now. In my defense I would like to plead kittens, but I have a plan where I will warp the loom in a closed room and then I should be able to weave. Time to learn some new stuff! Hey, maybe I can use up some yarn this way too.

Spinning

I think that I should spin this, right?!

I have been avoiding this impulse buy for some time now because the fiber is pretty expensive and I don’t want to ruin it. Whatever. This year I am going to spin this up and make something wonderful from the fiber like maybe a cowl and mitts.

Books

I keep buying books that are interesting that then get parked on my bookshelf.

I am going to read some of the non-fiction books that I bought with thoughts of self-improvement that weren’t read right away because I moved on to some space opera type book instead. Hey, I’ve had a tough couple of years and I needed lots of distractions. This year I will read at least 6 of these books. For sure. I promise. I read 66 books last year, so if I read 50 this year I should be able to manage 6 of these more non-fiction guys.

Quilts

I have made a lot of progress working my way through all of the quilting kits that I bought over the years, but there are still these two hanging out in the sewing room.

Aren’t these cool?!

I have put off working on these because they are pretty complicated with a couple of stacks of different colored fabric in each pack. Still, what is the worst thing that can happen? If I mess up in cutting the fabric I will just go buy some more… The Fiesta quilt is a wall hanging so I will probably start with that one as it will be easier for me to quilt.

Blogging

  1. WordPress is offering classes. I have been thinking that maybe I should take a class or two and become a little more competent.
  2. I have been thinking about starting a couple of other blogs, but finally decided to just add additional topics to this one. I’m going to start blogging about all the things in the natural world that I love and that are wrapped up in memories. I’m thinking about calling it … The Biogeek Memoirs. How geeky is that? Anyway, don’t be astonished if I start blogging about potato bugs, geese, and owls.

Rockin’ the Wool Market

What a great day I had Saturday at the Estes Park Wool Market with my BKB Deb. I have gone almost every year to this event for at least 20 years. I sat at my first spinning wheel here, bought my first fleece here, met friends, networked, and enjoyed close encounters with a lot of the critters that produce the wool/fiber that I play with as I spin, knit, dye and weave.

Girl kissing goat.
I don’t recommend kissing the animals, but sometimes it is so darn hard to not want to hug them and scratch behind their ears. Look at what happened while I was lining up this shot of a pigmy angora goat. A little girl leaned in and I had the shot.

Okay, to be honest, it is hard to ever have a bad day up in the Colorado Mountains, especially when the temperature down on the plains is a scorching mid 90’s¬†¬įF. Estes Park is located in the Colorado Mountains right at the door of Rocky Mountain National Park, and is a great 90 minute drive for me from my home in Aurora.

Rocky Mountain National Park
Deb and I drove into Rocky Mountain National Park after finishing up at the Wool Market where I got this shot. It was a prefect, perfect, blue sky day.

Deb and I arrived early in the morning at the Wool Market with a definite agenda… buy yarn from Western Sky Knits! Seriously, we made a beeline for that booth as soon as we arrived. The call of fabulous yarn is pretty hard to ignore.

WSK yarn.
See this? A seriously ambitious yarn haul.

I had gone online the night before and made myself a shopping list. I wanted the black, grey, and raspberry yarns as stables for the stash. I had my heart set on more sock kits (cute yarn with the perfect little coordinating skein for the heel and toe) and some brightly colored yarn that would be stripy when knitted for arm warmers and socks. I wanted another speckled yarn to finish putting together a Speckle and Pop shawl. I desperately needed some more painted yarn for another Close to You shawl; one is not enough of these babies. July is right around the corner and I have the Christmas knitting list already fleshed out. I’ve been off the sock knitting pace, but with the right yarn I’m pretty sure that the afterburners will fire and I’ll be mass producing a stack of them before the first snow flake flies. Then there was the yarn kit to make a Faraway, So Close shawl in colors that I know several members of my family will love.

Anyway, some serious yarn shopping occurred. We actually went to the booth twice as I thought it might be a good idea to make one last call there just in case I was missing something… I’m not being defensive, really I’m not. I need all of this yarn desperately, and I’m not apologizing for my addiction one little, tiny, bit. I don’t have a problem, there is no problem here, move along…

Picture
Then there was this picture. You know that this came home with me too. The title is “High Strung”

After touring all of the other vendors it was out for yummy food (lamb kibbe salad and funnel cake!!) that was eaten up on the bleachers in one of the animal barns. As soon as lunch was over we stashed stuff in Deb’s car and then toured the animal pens.

Paco-Vicunas
Not only were there sheep and goats, but also more exotic animals like these paco-vicunas…

Bunny
…and this English angora bunny. Doesn’t he look like he wants all that fur off right away so I can spin it?¬†

After looking at all the animals we were drawn to some pens of alpacas with fleeces and yarn for sale. Oh, my goodness. There was a perfect, perfect rose grey alpaca fleece that was really nice (but not perfect: it was a second year fleece and grade 2, but really clean) that I just couldn’t resist. My spinning wheel has really been whining lately for some attention. I should just give it some of what it needs. MacKenzie loves fleeces…

Alpaca fleece.
The yarn from this fleece will be just amazing. I can’t wait to get going on it.

I wonder how well this fleece will take dye? I’m thinking sport/DK weight yarn that will be natural, pink, gold, and purple that can be used for colorwork mitts, hats, cowls…

and a little blanket for MacKenzie too, maybe… I know that he will be helping me do all of this.

Have a great week everyone. You can probably guess what I’ll be doing. ūüôā

Shawls Update: Good Dog and Bad Cats

Two shawls got finished last week. Check this out:

Shawl #1: Putting on the Dog

My friend Deb had a dog named Jake who was really special. She saved his fur for years when she brushed him, and earlier this year I spun some of the dog down into yarn. I blogged about Jake and the spinning here and this post showed the final yarn.

Oh. It's pretty comfy. Maybe dogs aren't that bad after all...
MacKenzie really liked the finished yarn (which Deb named PuppyPaca)

Shawl in Tree
Look! Here is the finished shawl made with the PuppyPaca. Didn’t it turn out great?

Deb Modeling her Shawl
Here is Deb modeling the finished product. I think that the green really complements the homespun.

Deb has begun her own blog recently where she writes about greyhounds, gardening, and, what else, knitting!! You can visit her site, The Greyt Knitting Frenzy, and see her post about the shawl here.

Shawl #2: Bad Cats

I finished knitting my Random Act of Color shawl late last week and wet blocked it Saturday morning. I really liked how it turn out. Here’s some pics of the final product.

Shawl
Look at how great the colors turned out together. I love the lace, the texture, the colors; a great addition to my cool weather wardrobe.

Edging and Beads
The beads and the edging are nice details, don’t you think?

What I’m not showing in the pictures is the fact that one of my bad, bad, cats got a claw stuck in the shawl (it was safe on the table at the time…), dragged it through the house and managed to pull a TEN FOOT snag of yarn out. Really. I’m not exaggerating. I found it in a crumpled heap at the bottom of the stairs. The cats were hiding.

Damaged Shawl
Proof of cat badness. This is the yarn that I haven’t been able to work back into the shawl.

The pull goes across almost the entire width of the shawl in the final purple lace section. The yarn didn’t get cut, but I’m not too sure how to repair this. I dreamed last night about cutting off the lower section of the shawl, picking up the stitches at the start of the purple section and then re-knitting the last sections. This morning I work up and thought, “Kitchener stitch!” I’m not quite sure how I’m going to deal with this. There may be a way to gradually work the yarn back into the shawl, but I have to balance time vs. frustration. For now I’ve packed it away (to keep it safe¬†from cats and scissors) and moved on to other knitting projects.

You know, knit through all crisis…

MacKenzie Speaks: Abandoned in the Yard

The Mother of Cats has been so boring lately… all she does is spin yarn! The spinning wheel doesn’t like me to mess with it, so my brother and I have been left outside to entertain ourselves. ¬†Alone. In the gardens. It is so hot even the bugs are hiding…

Cat
It could be worse I guess. While she’s inside I have unlimited access to the swinging garden chair. ūüôā

My brother Yellow Boy has been sleeping in Darwin’s Garden under the butterfly bush. He’s counting the days until it blooms and the butterflies arrive.

Yellow cat
Was that a butterfly?

The Mother of Cats did take some breaks to work in the gardens. Lots and lots of weeds have been pulled. Some new flowers got planted. She accidentally sprayed Yellow Boy with water. I think it was an accident.

Purple blooms
The purple spiky plant in Darwin’s Garden finally bloomed this week. ¬†Someone, please, tell her the name of this plant!! I don’t think “Darwin’s Bane” is a good name.¬†

Angelica
She ripped out more of the purple plants and moved over some of this pink angelica. Good luck angelica. Only the strong survive in Darwin’s Garden.

Finally she got the spinning done. Hey, she has been spinning that dog! We have been shoved outside so she could spend time with dog hair? Abandoned for a DOG!! What is up with that!!

I have to admit that this yarn smells pretty interesting.
I do have to admit that this yarn smells pretty interesting…

Yarn
…and the final product¬†(she calls it PuppyPaca) looks pretty good.

Oh. It's pretty comfy. Maybe dogs aren't that bad after all...
Oh. It’s actually pretty¬†comfy. Maybe dogs aren’t that bad after all…

The finished yarn was taken to her friend Deb today and we were left alone¬†again. What is up with all this feline neglect? When will I get the doggy yarn back to sleep on? There was a hailstorm while she was gone¬†and¬†Yellow Boy wailed (not a brave one, that boy) and hid under the bed. The purple plants in Darwin’s Garden all got knocked down…

That's right!
…but she doesn’t call it Darwin’s Garden for nothing. My money is still on the purple spiky plant. Tough luck angelica.¬†

Notes from the Mother of Cats:

  • The PuppyPaca is a 50/50 blend of dog down and alpaca. You can learn more about the yarn in this earlier post about Jake and the project to make some yarn from his fur. The final yarn (460 yards) is approximately sport weight. Deb plans to knit a small shawl.
  • If you know the name of Darwin’s Bane, please let me know!!
  • No cats whatsoever were harmed during this week (well, Yellow Boy did get a bath…).

 

Putting On The Dog

This is Jake.

Dog
Isn’t this the sweetest face you ever saw?

Jake was the much loved pet of my knitting friend Deb, and he passed over the rainbow bridge some time back, but due to the foresight of Deb a fairly large bag of his leavings remain. Deb saved the handfuls of fur that she brushed out when he was shedding, and a few weeks ago she passed the bag of doggie down to me to see if I could spin it.

Here’s the problem with dog fur. There are actually two types of hair in that coat: the guard hairs are the beautiful shiny coat that we see, and underneath there is a layer of fluffy undercoat; short, not so shiny, and very warm. While the soft and glossy¬†guard hairs seem like they would spin up into yarn, they are actually too slick and stiff to behave themselves in yarn. They spring right out of the plies and poke like crazy. Bad dog!!

The saved fur that Deb gave me contained a lot of the undercoat layer, but the strands were really kind of short.¬†I decided that the best thing to do would be to pull out as much of the locks of guard hair as I could (sorry Jake!) and then blend the remaining hair/down mixture with another longer fiber like wool or alpaca. Deb liked the look of Jake mixed with alpaca, so that’s what we did.

Alpaca
I had a buff colored alpaca fleece in my stash, so I opened up the locks and ran it through my drum carder to make batts. I split each batt, weighed the amount of fiber and put it into a labeled storage container.

Dog fur
I then cleaned up and made matching containers of dog down (with some guard hairs) that would allow me to create 50/50 blended batts on my drum carder with the alpaca and the dog. Good plan, right?

Loading dog down onto drum carder
To do the blending I took a matched set of alpaca and dog containers to the drug carder to make a new 50/50 batt. The alpaca loaded right onto the drum of the carder with few problems. Jake, however, was too short to feed in so I manually loaded him onto the large drum just like I would if I was working with a blending board. I alternated the alpaca and dog to create layers of each in the batt.

Cat meets dog
MacKenzie was pretty interested in the dog down!

Finished batt
Here’s the final carded product of alpaca/dog blend. The sprig on the batt is cat mint because, well, doesn’t it seem appropriate?

The carding has been going slowly because it has been raining off and on for several days, and if it isn’t warm enough¬†my hands get all cranky. I wanted to work outside as there was waste dropping out of the fibers as I worked; best to keep all that out of the house! I finally got several batts finished late last week and the spinning began.

Drafting
Because the alpaca has longer fiber than the dog down it is really helping me with the spinning. There’s dog down in that drafting triangle but it’s behaving itself very nicely. I am spinning the singles pretty fine (for me); the finished two ply yarn will be between fingering and sport weight.

Singles
Here’s the first yarn on the bobbin. You can just seen the cinnamon colored dog escaping the twisted ply. This yarn will have a halo for sure, but I’m hoping that it won’t shed too badly.

I took the bobbin of yarn to knitting this week to show to Deb, and we pulled off enough to make her a sample of two ply yarn that is about 10 meters long so she can see how it knits. She’s looking at shawl patterns while I continue to spin Jake’s fur into yarn. It’s kind of exciting. We are debating what to call the yarn.

Alpaca-Arf? DoggiePac?

I think that Deb is settling into calling it PuppyPaca.

Beautiful Jake. Forever in Deb’s heart, and soon to be a fabulous shawl.

 

Snowfling Mitts are done!!

…and for the first time in quite a while it isn’t going to snow this weekend. Figures, but who am I to complain. Check these babies out!

Snowfling Mitts
These mitts fit perfectly, are very cushy and warm, and I am so happy with how they came out!

Lining of mitts
and they are lined!! I used superwash merino sock yarn for the lining. 

These mitts are the Snowfling Mitts by Tanis Lavallee. The MJ Yarns American Worsted (the purple painted yarn) was just a little bit smaller in diameter then the Malabrigo Rios (black), so I carried the black yarn in my right hand and the purple in my left while I was knitting the pattern. Since the stitches knit with the left hand are a little larger it all worked out to make a balanced fabric. The American Worsted yarn had a little more twist to it and seemed to be denser, which helped make these mitts really nice and cushy inside where the stands are located. So happy with how it came out. There is just enough room for me to slip a hand warmer into the mitt if I need it.

Here are my project details and notes on Ravelry.

In the middle of the week I mowed my lawn for the very first time this year and took out the lawn furniture. This is a major event; spring has arrived!!

Back yard
Doesn’t this look promising? You wouldn’t know it to look at it but two days before this there was snow all over the grass… ¬†Tomorrow I may go to the nursery to buy some hanging plants for the deck. I’m hopeful that we are done with the snow, but it could still happen. I’m keeping those mittens out for a few weeks before I pack them away to wait the the fall’s first snow.

Drum Carder
Since it was so nice outside I set my drum carder up on the patio table and began working on an alpaca fleece that I’ve been wanting to spin. This fleece is just wonderful. It is sooo soft and¬†the locks opened like a dream. It was a joy to feed it into the carder.¬†

Cat asleep in alpaca fleece
MacKenzie likes it too!

I’m so happy carding this alpaca¬†I was motivated today to go digging in the fleece stash and found¬†two different wool fleeces that are just amazing grey colors. Wow, my spinning wheel is going to be really, really happy. There is some serious spinning coming his way. I hope that the nice weather holds so I can do most of this carding outside.

Have a great weekend everyone. Happy Mother’s Day!

 

 

Running with my Peeps

If there is a downside to being consumed by a love of all things fiber it is this: it is way too easy to stay at home for days on end knitting, weaving, spinning and just playing in the stash. If it wasn’t for social obligations (my knitting group!) and a need to go grocery shopping from time to time I could stay home happily for endless blocks of time.

Really, that probably isn’t all that healthy. How nice I also get to toddle off to Kaiser on a regular basis to give blood, pick up prescriptions, and to breathe into machines that measure my lung function. ūüôā

Okay, enough of that. This is about knitting and all things fiber after all. I’m talking about the major outing that I took last Friday to go to the Interweave Yarn Fest in Loveland, Colorado. I didn’t sign up for any of the workshops this year (but maybe next year!), but I felt that I absolutely had to go up to hit the Marketplace and to meet up with my friends from Alta Vida Alpacas.

You know, a huge marketplace filled with vendors carrying everything your fiber-loving heart can desire is a dangerous place. I handled it by cruising through the whole place and picking up cards from the vendors that stole my heart. I took a little coffee break with the cards, gave myself a little talking to while checking patterns on Ravelry, and then waded back into the marketplace to spend money. This is what happened:

Beads
Hand blown glass beads to make more stitch markers. Guess what people are getting for Christmas this year? These beads are made by a local artist, Bernadette Fuentes. Here is her shop on Etsy.

Project Bag
I’m also giving some of these small project bags suitable for sock and mitt knitting. The strap allows the bag to hang on your wrist while the yarn is safely contained in the bag by the cinched cord. There are also little pockets in the bag for stitch markers and other small essentials. Perfect for knitting while on the go (and waiting to see your doctor…). If you can’t read the card in the picture these bags are by Slipped Stitch Studios.

Roving
Yak and silk handpainted roving. OMG!! I think that they had me at yak!

Roving
Yep. They had me. I had to bring home 4 ounces of the crocus and twilight colorways. These 50/50 yak/silk rovings are by Greenwood Fiberworks.

Button
Then I had to face the great existential question of the fiber day: should I spend $50 dollars for a very special button? These unbelievable objects of beauty are made by Jodie McDougall. Here is her Etsy shop.

Yarn
I was starting to lose a little steam but pulled it together to get these three skeins of baby alpaca and silk from Lisa Souza. The depth of color and feel of these skeins is just amazing. I plan to make an Exploration Station and am still on the hunt for a cream colored silk/alpaca yarn to go with them.

Shawl Pin
I closed out my shopping with this wonderful saggar shawl pin from LickinFlames. The colors are perfect for that shawl that will eventually be made from the Lisa Souza yarns.

Cards
Here are all the cards. I’m saving them with my shopping scores.

Having shopped to my heart’s content I moved out into the atrium to find a comfy chair to knit in while I waited for my friends from Alta Vida Alpacas to get out of their workshops. It was wonderful. Fellow knitters stopped to ask about my Joker and the Thief shawl, and I talked to many people about the hand knits that they wore. I made new friends. I could feel myself recharging with inspiration¬†and enthusiasm as each new person stopped to knit and/or talk with me. Sometimes it is easy to forget that each one of us solitary crafters are members of a huge community, but Friday afternoon as the community flowed around me I was at home with my peeps. What a wonderful, wonderful experience.

Eventually I caught up with my friends: we ate more hummus than is wise and swapped stories, observations, and revelations from the Yarn Fest.  They had just submitted their first batch of fiber to the mill and we made plans for the yarn that will arrive in a few weeks. The online store launch is right around the corner. It is only a few months to the next summer camp; this year we will focus on weaving.

Finally, long after dark I headed home full of energy and plans. I hugged my new fiber finds as I went into the house. What a great outing. What a wonderful time I had. What a wonderful experience with other people who share my interests.

It is good to be with your peeps.