Having dyed the most scrumptious yarn ever, I began the hunt for the correct size needles to cast on and knit a cowl to dye for. Little problem, people: I seem to be missing the correct size tips for the project in mind. In fact, there seem to quite a few needles and tips missing… you know what happened next. I went on a UFO hunt.
OK, if you are reading this blog post looking for information on extra-terrestrials, go away. Once I posted an article titled “UFO Hunt” to this blog and generated a lot of activity and even a couple of messages signaling how disappointed people were with the “click-bait” false advertising. Go away right now. I’m not saying that I don’t believe in life out there in the universe, I just want to find the black hole UFO’s that have sucked down those needles!
Oh dear. After about a half hour of tossing the stash and going through baskets, bags, and looking in the car (Hey, you can’t expect me to be caught without something to knit. I always travel with a project!), the following UFO’s were located.
Well, no wonder I seem to be missing needles. Here they are, all hard at work supporting fiber art life forms struggling to get born. I need a new queue just to decide which UFO to knit first. I thought about putting the names of the projects on slips of paper in a jar, and then I would just pull out the name of the next project that would get finished. Maybe I should have two jars; one for large projects (sweaters and shawls) and one for small ones (mitts and cowl). Hey, that actually might be a good idea. I could knit small projects on sunny days and large ones on rainy days. It could be a plan. I could even have a jar with the names of projects waiting to be started. Oops. I suddenly had a visual of slips jar hopping from the “waiting” to the “UFO” jars. Might be a problem.
Forget the jars. Don’t you want to know what did I did? I cast on the new alpaca cowl onto those size 6 needles I was hunting for, of course. I have knit for three days like a demon and I’m now coming down the home stretch. Doesn’t it look nice?
OK, this isn’t a queue, but it is a list of all these poor, neglected UFOs. Here are their project notes on Ravelry:
I was so happy with the yarn and the sample I made from my first crock pot dyeing adventure I was empowered to gather up my courage to dye some more yarn. Two more projects have emerged from the crock pot.
A bit of heaven for the head: A few weeks ago I tied together the leftovers of bulky huacaya alpaca left over from earlier hat and mitts and dyed them a darker indigo using the same infusion and no-stir method I employed the first time around. The yarn was nice, but blotchy, so I overdyed it with a little more indigo to even it out. This week I knitted the yarn into a hat. What do you think?
The yummiest cowl ever: that went so well I plugged in the pot and added two skeins of premium sport weight alpaca from Alta Vida Alpacas. I have to be honest here; this is the yummiest fiber I have ever handled and it was a little stressful to wet it down, pour some vinegar over it and add the dye. Still, what could go wrong? Worst case, I decided I would just call up Cari at Alta Vida Alpacas and offer to pay for the yarn. There. What’s to worry about?
What a baby I am. The yarn came out fine.
I’ve run out of alpaca to dye, but I found some white handspun last night that is temping me. Time to plug in the crock pot again. Wait. I have an old vegetable steamer. Maybe I should paint the yarn this time and put it into the steamer…
Oh, I am having fun now!
Have a good weekend everyone.
Note: I feel that I should mention that I have two crock pots: one is for cooking, and the other is for dyeing. They are in different colors and left in different places so I don’t get them mixed up. If I use the veggie steamer it will be joining the dye crockpot in the garage and won’t be used for cooking any more. Best to always use an abundance of caution.
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…
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.
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.
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!!
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…
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…).
My friends at Alta Vida Alpacas have gotten the first mill run of yarn made from their animals back. Woohoo!! It is Christmas in May! Cari Corley (of AVA) gave me samples to be knit up to help establish some critical characteristics of the yarn: mostly she is concerned with how the knitted fabric will wear, its gauge and the hand of the knitted fabric. They have two types of alpaca on the ranch, Suri and Huacaya, and the sample packages that she passed over the Starbuck’s table to me contained undyed yarn made from both alpaca types. Knit some stuff with this, she said. Like I said, Christmas in May. I quickly stuffed the bags into my knitting tote before she could take them back.
She gave me some unbelievable Huacaya yarn in a light bulky weight. We decided to knit it into a hat, and the pattern that her husband Dan chose is the Man Hat by Haven Ashley. I knitted it up in a jiffy (OK, it took an evening…) and this is what I got.
The light isn’t great on this shot because it was late at night (Hello…Midnight Knitter here!) but you can see the details of the hat. I added four rows of K1, P1 ribbing at the bottom as I wasn’t too sure about the elasticity of the yarn. As it turns out, it was not a problem at all. The yarn maintains shape really well and shows the stitch definition through a slight halo. On my head it feels like a cloud of soft warmth. Forget Man Hat; I want this hat. How about dyed a nice red? Should I add a pom pom? A crocheted flower?
There was enough yarn left over from the hat make a mitt (one, only one…) using the same stitch pattern and gauge. Here is the finished set:
Once I had made the hat (actually, I made a second hat of another run of the bulky yarn that was processed a little differently so that the two yarns could be compared to each other) and the mitt it was time to take on the other yarn that was given to me, a sport weight silky and shiny yarn made from Suri alpaca.
I steamed the lace to block it a little for the pictures and an amazing thing happened: the yarn bloomed, lost some shine, bulked out a little as it fluffed, and moved way up the softness chart.
Maybe Cari won’t make me give this stuff back.
What color should I dye my new set of alpaca accessories?
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.
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.
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.
I think that Deb is settling into calling it PuppyPaca.
Beautiful Jake. Forever in Deb’s heart, and soon to be a fabulous shawl.
…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!
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.
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!!
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!
I am knitting and crafting like crazy. Actually I’m enjoying the balmy weather of summer’s end and I’m a little nuts because I just can’t seem to get everything done. The flowers on my deck are at their best. The crickets are chirping. The temperature outside is just about perfect and I am spending my time clicking knitting needles and feeling a little less than my normal cheerful self (more about that below). Still I am making progress and the setting is just about perfect. This afternoon I decided to set up the laptop on my backyard deck and let you all know what I’ve been up to. Here it is.
My sister’s birthday was the 5th of September. I bought her a card a couple of weeks ago and I sat down and got these bowls done in plenty of time to send to her. Here the are!
I still haven’t mailed them off to my sister. They are now days overdue but I do have an excuse (OK, it’s pathetic, but still… It’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!). My rheumatologist started me on a new medication for my systemic sclerosis (scleroderma) called CellCept, and it just doesn’t like me. Every part of my digestive system hurts!! Boo! Today I got up and decided that I am done with heartburn (not to mention middle of the night barfing) and e-mailed my doc to ask for something else from the land of pharmacological wonders. This morning I didn’t take my pill and this afternoon I plan to make the trip to the post office. Hang on sis! They really are coming…
Now the knitting makes sense, doesn’t it. No matter how upset my digestive system is I still manage to eat (yogurt is my friend) and knit. Lots of knitting has been going on. I dug in this last week and worked like crazy on the mitts that I am designing for Alta Vida Alpacas for Alpaca Farm Days which happens later on this month. They plan to sell kits of yarn with the pattern to visitors to the farm. I’ve been trying to make simple patterns that show off the yarn. Here’s what I’ve come up with:
Like those colors? This is Colorado (AKA Broncos Country) and the football season starts this coming week. Yeah Broncos!! The thumb on the stripped mitt is a little different from the usual shape that I favor and I’m still thinking of knitting a stripped version with slower increases. The thumb on the solid mitts is more like what I like to knit and wear. It fits your hand with no pull across the hand and the ribbing on the top of the thumb is loose enough to allow you to wear the mitts over gloves. (Reynaud’s makes you think about things like that!) Be honest here: does that stripped thumb look goofy? Should I change it?
So the knitting continues. I want to make the mate for the beaded mitt before the end of the week, and then will do a pair of stripped mitts with a more gradual thumb increase in blue and off-white. Next I have to write the patterns, but I’ve kept lots (and lots!) of notes while I knitted so I am feeling pretty positive about that next step.
Finally, I’m making some steady progress on the only knitting project that is just for me. Check out the Reyna shawl that is finally getting towards the end of it’s knitting journey.
That’s the week. I’ve been reading a lot too, but I think that should wait for another post. And the flowers that I’ve got blooming on my deck are so fabulous they are crying for a post of their own…
Saturday was a huge outing for me and my spinning wheel. The wheel has been sulking for weeks, but when I strapped it into the car Friday night it perked right up. Saturday morning we headed up to Boulder, Colorado for a class in how to prepare, spin and blend camelid fibers. We started out with half an hour of travel time to spare. Right. We got caught in traffic (An accident? Construction? I never figured it out, but we were stuck on the road for more than a half hour…), struggled to find a parking spot with enough space to allow me to safely pull the wheel out of the car, and then when I finally got the wheel safely to the ground it immediately fell apart. Parts rolled away across the asphalt. Sigh. Not the best of beginnings.
Look, any day spent in Boulder (which is right at the foot of the Rocky Mountains) is a good day. I patched the wheel back together and rolled off towards the class with excitement in my heart. The wheel was almost besides itself in anticipation of meeting other members of its species. We were late, but Boulder is one of those places where time is sort of flexible. This was going to be a day in the shadow of the Rockies spent in a yarn store (Shuttles, Spindles & Skeins) spinning exotic fibers with other people who think it is more important to have cool homemade yarn than a new car. In other words, a seriously good time!! OK, I’m a little bit of a fiber geek, but let me tell you, on Saturday I was with my peeps!!
Chris also had bison fiber for us to spin. Very nice. Very soft. A ton of work to prepare as the original fleece is uber hairy. You will never look favorably on hay and vegetable matter again after a few hours struggling to get it out of the undercoat that is the spinnable fiber. Chris’s advice: if someone offers to gift you with a bison fleece, decline. 🙂
I really learned a lot. Suddenly I feel like I could successfully spin that paco-vicuna that I bought two years ago. My spinning wheel is practically hopping up and down to get started (even though it really needs its new part installed before we do that; right now the flyer falls off without warning). I felt so positive about all of this I pulled down the alpaca fleece that I had stored in the garage since 2007 (gasp!) and took a really good look at it.
The fleece is mostly light caramel colored with some cream patches. I may even play with dyeing it. Chris really stressed being gentle in the preparation of these fibers since they are easily broken, and favored hand carders and spindles, but I’m going to made the drum carder work somehow. I’ll be using the spinning wheel, too, as with my scleroderma-hands the less I stress them the better it is. Still, I feel empowered to experiment and super-soft yarn of the paco-vicuna and alpaca variety is right around the corner. Thanks Chris! It was a great class!
My spinning wheel has been sitting around feeling bored. Actually, it has been moping and sulking in a corner of my office for months now. (I only dropped it that one time. Really. Only a few parts popped off. I totally think that it has been over-reacting about the whole thing…) Hoping to score some fabulous fiber that I could use to tease it back into good humor I headed off to THE YEAR’S BIG EVENT: the Estes Park Wool Market which is held every year in the mountains of Colorado in Estes Park, a wonderful mountain town near Rocky Mountain National Park. I have a lot of yarn in my stash. The wool market is where I find those special yarns and fibers that I can’t easily obtain and petting the animals that produce them is a special bonus!
I planned my outing for early Saturday so that I could arrive in the cool of the morning with the plan of racing through all the vendors, visiting the animals and then shopping for fiber. Thunderstorms are a given this time of year so I wanted to get out of the mountains before 3pm. It was a plan, anyway.
This year I was moving fast so I didn’t watch the sheep dogs show or visit the llama events. I did check out lots of alpacas, sheep, bunnies, and goats while I was there. I always have a problem leaving them all there. Surely the neighbors wouldn’t notice one little goat or sheep. Right?
When I was done with the animals and spinning fiber/fleeces for sale I hit the vendor area to see what else I could find.
That was it. I could see the clouds were rolling in fast. I only had enough time to buy a bag of cinnamon roasted almonds, make one more chatty stop with friends to compare notes and show off the finds and then I was back in the car heading down the mountain ahead of the storm.
Half an hour later I received a text from a friend. You guessed it. It was raining too hard for her to drive and she was waiting it out up in Estes Park by grabbing a yummy early dinner of grilled lamb kabobs. Darn! I should have been a little slower on the drive after all…
My spinning wheel perked right up when I showed it that huge batt. I’m hoping for a little spell of cooler weather so the wheel and I can get going on making something wonderful together. What do you know? I think that we are friends again.