Sunday, December 30, 2012

My First Sock Yarn

 Using natural colored Shetland top I spun my first sock yarn.  I plied three strands together with plenty of twist.  I've been reading about spinning sock yarn for years but hadn't tackled it until now.
The pattern, called Canal Du Midi, came from Nancy Bush's book: Knitting on the Road.  I used size 0 needles.

Now I understand the sock knitting craze---it's so fun!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

What I Love

For the coming new year I've decided to change my blog header and give some new attention to Fleece Love and Happiness.  I have been drifting away from blogging even though I still spend all of my free time working with wool. I was, however, lazy about logging on and writing about my craft.  At the same time I became unenchanted by facebook---all of that editing of one's life to make it  seem so cute, funny, witty, thoughtful, bla bla bla.  I was feeling like my blog existed in that way--- "look how awesome my yarn is, look at what I dyed, bla bla bla..."   So I stepped back from the internet for a moment and took stock of what all of this means to me.  I read other people's blogs and really enjoy hearing about what they are up to.  I like to see their photos and their finished projects.  I like to take photos of my projects and write a little bit about them.  All of this is fine as long as it doesn't feel like a chore.  Fiber crafts never seem like a chore to me and blogging shouldn't either.  I'm still fired-up by spinning, dyeing, knitting, and all things wool! I want my blog to continue to be a place where I log my experiences with the crafts that I adore. I plan to keep snapping a few shots and writing a few words about what I love.

It's been a busy holiday season at work and I've only had a few hours here and there to knit.  Usually when I'm having a coffee I can pull out my knitting and work a few rounds.  I took a few photos of what I love: coffee and knitting!                              
    I still like iced lattes in the winter.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Death of a Knitting Project

A little horror story for Halloween:

It started with a skein of black sock yarn and a lace pattern from Knitting on the Road.  I had two vacations planned back to back---lucky me.  I envisioned knitting one sock in California and the other sock in New York.  It would be a pair to remember my travels.  Now all I have left of this dream is the photo above that I took on the California coast.

The nightmare occurred when I had to get off a plane during a lay over while they refueled and loaded new passenger.  While I was getting a coffee in the terminal I realized that I left my knitting in the pouch of the chair in front of my seat. I reasoned that it shouldn't be a problem because I was going to sit in the same seat when I boarded again.  When I got back on the plane the cabin was clean---workers had thrown away all of the trash from the previous flight.  My knitting was gone.  It had been mistaken for trash.  It was in a plastic bag. I guess some unknowing person could have just grabbed it and tossed it into to garbage.  I asked the flight attendant for help but there was nothing she could do.  It was too late.  My knitting project was gone forever.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Blending From the Stash

 A little blending experiment: tan merino top, grey rabbit, dark brown alpaca. Results: blended into an ugly muddy color but the rabbit made it SOFT.  I didn't like it enough to make more than this little skein.

 Deep in the bottom of my wool storage, I found this matted mohair that I've been carrying around for years. I do believe that it has lived in three houses. Someone washed this in a washing machine and ruined it. I adopted it thinking that I'd salvage it. Today I took the time to pick though it.  I started with 1 1/2 lbs  and ended with about 5oz.  This is seriously SOFT too.
 Speaking of wool storage, it is a miracle that I haven't had any problem with moths all these years.  Today I decided to inspect everything closely and organize my storage.
 I found so much that I had forgotten about.  There's enough wool here to last me a long long time.  No evidence of infestation was found.  I organized dyed wool, roving, silk, etc in gallon-size zip lock bags. After going through it I found lots of fibers that I'd like to try to blend.  I started a few blending experiments...more about that later.

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Summer Fling

I finished up some of the projects I was knitting with store bought yarn.  This brown tunic is a Norah Gaughan design. The pattern is for a sweater, but I liked the shape and thought it would make a good tunic.  It's a very interesting idea: it's made of only knit stitches--no purling.  You go back and forth on the bottom, sleeves, and collar and the rest is made on a circular. The pattern is call Truro. I used a cotton/linen yarn.

The other project I finished was thd knitty design called Gemini by Jane Richmond.  I doubt if I'll ever wear it.  I'm not sure who I should give it to. It's too boxy for me.  And I was running out of yarn so I scrimped on the sleeves.  I think this was my first ever knitted project made of cotton.  So that was my little break from hand-spun yarn and wool.  I'll call it a summer fling.  I'm going back to my true love...wool.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Cochineal, Logwood, and Tin

 The craze of natural dyeing continues.  I started with a skein made out of flick-carded Romney locks that I spun into a lace weight 2-ply.  I dyed it with cochineal but there was a problem.  The dye didn't take up where I had the ties in the skein.  Also, there was a few dark gray spots on the yarn from me not cleaning the pot well.  To fix the situation I dipped half of the skein in a tin mordant and heated it.  (I had to tie up half the skein so it didn't fall in the dye bath.) Then I added some left over logwood dye liquid to the tin water.  After a little time in the heat, the yarn turned bright purple magenta.
Now I have to decide what to make with it.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dyeing with Logwood

Last weekend I ventured into a dyeing project. Here's a photo of my adventure. The first dye was with Logwood which I soaked and heated for a half hour and then poured the liquid off.  The darkest purple yarn was achieved with a tin mordant and the first pass through the Logwood dye bath.   Next I took some locks and poured some of the dye bath over them and added a little heat for a short while.  Then I added the roving to the rest of Logwood dye bath.  I didn't mordant the roving, but I assume a little tin residue was probably in the dye bath by that time.  (Or does the mordant always stay on the wool that was previously in the dye bath?) The roving was heating and then it sat over night before I rinsed it out.  The fourth dyeing project was with cochineal.  I used only a heaping tablespoon of the dried bugs, ground them in a coffee grinder (the one that's for dying only), and didn't use a mordant.  The skein was submerged, heated, and left overnight. The result was a nice rosy-pink color.  As you can tell my my description of my dyeing project, I am not a precise dyer.  I don't keep records, I don't measure much, and I don't expect to impress other natural dyers by my techniques.  However, I do enjoy throwing wool in a pot and seeing what happens. If I don't like it, there's always over-dyeing.  ;)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Au Naturale

 When I was down at the Black Sheep Gathering I pick up a few items from the vendors. One item was a pound of mixed natural colored fiber roving from Fantasy Fibers.
 It just caught my eye because I loved the blend of colors. I think it's a blend of wool and alpaca, but I'm not really sure--it seems to be "left overs" from the mill. At $1/oz it was a steal.
This was the first time I spun pencil roving. It spun up fast because there was no fiber prep involved. I spun it up in to a 2-ply. Here's 8 ounces of finished yarn.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Gem on the Oregon Coast

 We took a little trip to Oregon that included a stop at the Black Sheep Gathering.  I brought my husband along and he hung out in Eugene while I took a lace knitting class. It rained so hard that our tent filled with water and our sleeping bags got soaked so we left a day early and headed to the coast for my 25th year High School get-together (not an official reunion).  We had lots of fun in Florence and then headed up the coast. Just past Depot Bay I saw the truck in this photo.  Roving? Did that just say "Roving"?
Yes! I found this lovely little shop.
 After purchasing several pounds of roving in their down stairs shop I went up and took a look at the weaving studio. These folks give weaving lessons and the students leave with a nice rag rug at the end of the class.  They get selvage from the Pendelton Mill and use that for the weft.The plastic bags in the photo above were filled with colorful wool selvage.  Even my husband who does not weave or spin enjoyed visiting with the couple who owns Elsie's Discount Rovings.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Back in the Yarn Barn

 Yesterday I rearranged the yarn barn so I can open the front door. I had the front door covered with a quilt for the winter because there's no heat in the shed and it had an unbearable draft.  Now that the weather is nicer, I like to leave the door open while I'm in there and let more natural light in.
 I'm spinning lace weight these days, so I thought I'd take a break and spin some woolen.  I actually made a sample! I think it's the first time ever I sampled for a spinning project.  I liked the results so now I'm going to sit down and card a bunch of clouds.
 I'm using some merino roving that I dyed with some black alpaca.  Both are in roving form so I'm carding to blend the colors and fiber types, and to mess up the fibers so they are not aligned.
Now I have fluffy little clouds to be spun woolen style.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Store Bought Yarn

 I've set aside my spinning projects for some knitting.  It all started when I discovered Little Knits yarn store. At first I ordered some yarn on-line, but found it easier to drive to their shop in West Seattle to pick it out myself.  This is a first for me--using store bought yarn. It has allowed me to knit with fibers I do not spin (yet).  I bought some 100% organic cotton, naturally dyed yarn from Samp'a and started the new Knitty pattern "Gemini".
 Then I bought some cotton/linen blend from Nashua Handknits and began a project called Truro.
Also made with store bought yarn: felted slippers.  Even though I'm totally into wool, I've never really taken to felting projects.  I used some Lamb's Pride Bulky for these.  It's 85% wool/ 15% mohair.  After I felted these I took a pair of scissors and trimmed all the mohair that stuck out.  My dog Foxy wouldn't stay out of my photography session.

Little Knits sell close-outs that's why the prices are awesome.  Now that I've gotten my kick with store bought yarn, I'm planning on getting back into spinning.  Later next month I'm take a class on spinning flax, so there's one more fiber I can cross off my list.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Arctic Diamond Stole

 This pattern is from a 2006 issue of Interweave Knits.  It's called Arctic Diamond Stole by Donna Druchunas. The yarn, as I had mentioned before, is alpaca from Peru--something from my stash. I just recently started knitting lace and I'm learning as I go. This time I learned that I should invest in some blocking wires. Using pins did not give me a straight edge.
 This project had a mistake right in the middle.  I guess I dropped a stitch.
 I did a little creative repair, making one stitch and weaving in both ends.
It actually worked! You can't even tell it was there.

Friday, March 16, 2012

"make it work" basket


 I use to love the knitting baskets my grandmother had when I was growing up. They were the kind that have a folding frame. She took one everywhere and was always knitting.  I found this old thing at a thrift store for 41 cents. I had already acquired some fabric that looked retro but actually has sayings on it from Project Runway the TV show.  I do love Project Runway, but what do you do with fabric that says "carry on"?
Under Construction

Either you're in or you're out.
 I used the old fabric to make a pattern for the new one.  It was a bit like origami and in the long run I had to do a bit of hand stitching to make it work. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Recycled Cashmere

The newest Spin-Off magazine had two articles about recycling yarn.  I have tried to get yarn from old sweaters before but it always seems like so much work to get the seams out.  One of the articles encouraged people to use not only sweaters, but skirts and scarfs, too.  For some reason I thought you couldn't deconstruct something with very small knit---but the article encouraged us to try cashmere and other fine yarns.  So I went hunting at the thrift store...
I bought this GAP scarf for 25 cents.  It's 50% wool/ 50% cashmere.  It did unravel easily! It's so soft.  After I soaked it for a half hour, I dried the yarn in a hank and it's own weight straightened out the kinks.  After it was dry, I wound the yarn into balls and began a new knitting project.  It's still going to be a scarf---this time around it's going to be "Seascape", a Knitty pattern.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Stash Busting Cowl

 I got this idea to make a cowl out of scrap yarns. Someone that I work with made a cowl with a K4P4 rib pattern and hers turned out pretty good, so I used that idea for the pattern. I took some white alpaca, peach mohair, and three hand spun wool yarns and held them together while I knitted with the biggest needles that I own--size 10.5.  Although I liked the colors, the knit was too dense and there was no drape to the garment.  I just tossed it out and started a new one...
For my second attempt I used the white alpaca, with a hand spun wool/silk hand dyed single, and some gray baby alpaca, and some white/gray sea silk.
 These colors blended nicely and with only four thin strands used, this cowl had the right amount of drape.
Here's the quickly pattern: Holding all the strands together, cast on 88 stitches. Join in the round and then
K4 P4 until the desired length. Cast off in the K4 P4 pattern. Weave in ends. Voila!