Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Twisty tales

Oh hai, I've been spinning again.

I can tell you're not surprised.

On Saturday, my mom and I ventured to a small fiber arts/craft fair and sale in Clifton Park. The main thing I had my eye out for was a drop spindle, and sure enough

that's what I walked away with. The spindle is from Millpoint Emporium, and the fiber I'm spinning was from the table Eastside Weavers had set up. I also got this

from their table, and can't wait to spin it. I'm not usually one for purple, but I thought the overall effect of the colorway was very earthy and pretty. As you can see, I've already isolated the color repeats and am storing the fiber like that so it'll be ready when I am.

I really enjoyed the Millpoint Emporium table. I wish I'd been able to afford more! Among their other beautiful products, they had hand-turned nostpindes, as well as some lovely niddy-noddies. I could easily have bought half the contents of the table!

As it is, I'm loving the drop spindle. It's done its share of dropping, due to my being rather clumsy with the process, but I'm getting better! I've spun a fair amount of the black/red/blue fiber these past few days, mostly while watching the 50th Anniversary Collection of Perry Mason. (Incidentally, I thought I'd take a look yesterday and see if anyone writes Perry Mason fanfiction. Apparently so! Most of it is Perry/Della. How cute is that?)'s starting. I barely have room for my yarn stash, and yet I've begun to amass a fiber stash.

Meet Ex-Parrot (100% Corriedale), and Rufus Lupus (100% Bluefaced Leicester), both from SakinaNeedles. I ordered these for two reasons. One, I like the colors, especially in Ex-Parrot. Two, both of them have, either in the name of the colorway or in the product description, references to British humor.

"For some reason, all the "weird" kids in my grade at school took Latin instead of Spanish or French. While we were all sitting around one day before class, we realized that with everyone having memorized their favorite scene, and everyone having different favorite scenes, our Latin class could collectively quote our way through the entire script of Monty Python and the Holy Grail."

Rufus Lupus (this is from the merino version of the colorway, which I looked at first):
"My mom claims that I'm turning away customers with names like this because not everyone reads Latin. But I have faith in you. Most of you might not read Latin, and most of you may not have even read Thomas Hobbes, but I have noticed a distinct tendency among spinners to like Terry Pratchett."

If Rufus Lupus is still available in 2009, I'm totally bringing some to the North American Discworld Convention and spinning it while walking around. Stop looking at me like that; the idea wasn't the only reason I had for buying a drop spindle.

Seriously, it wasn't. Stop staring.

In addition to all this fiber acquisition, I've been reading up on hand-dyeing, both yarn and roving, in books like Deb Menz's Color In Spinning. Plus, I'm still working on the Phoebe Pullover, and have cast on a new sock to knit while watching things like Lost and House. How one pair of socks is going to last me until the end of the season for both shows is beyond me. I may have to cast on another before finale time rolls around!

No wonder I want to spend all my time doing fiber-arts-y things rather than working. I need to put some more thought into how badly I want to pursue the possibility of making fiber arts a paying gig.

Is that nuts? >.>

Mood: full o' ennui
Music: CCR - Who'll Stop the Rain

Friday, April 25, 2008

Patience has her perfect work

Yep, more spinning talk!

These are singles spun from just shy of 5 oz. of merino that I picked up on a recent road trip to Pennsylvania. My mom and I were driving along 202 on our way to Blue Bell, and came upon Twist Knitting & Spinning. Seeing as we haven't ventured into PA since I was extremely young, and I'm a sucker for any LYS wherever we happen to be, we stopped and took a look around.

It's a really cute shop. They have a lot of well-known names in yarn, including hand-dyed/handpainted, as well as a diverse selection of fiber. I had the pleasure of sticking my hand in a bag of 100% cashmere, which was, unfortunately, far beyond my budget. There was also merino, angora, camel, and all manner of blends! I settled on the merino, it being both reasonably priced and amazingly soft.

It took me nine days of diligent spinning to get it all done. I spun the singles very thin, with sock yarn in mind, and Navajo plied them.

Then, with the help of a postal scale, I split the yarn into two skeins, roughly 2.5 oz/each.

I haven't swatched yet, but I think I managed to get sock yarn, or very close! I don't know how much it amounts to, yardage-wise. I really need to invest in a yardage counter, or something of the like.

Though it's very pretty as is, I'd like to dye both skeins at some point. Problem is, I've put so much work into them, that the blue and yellow Kool-Aid I bought yesterday somehow doesn't seem like it will do them justice. I'm pondering making concentrated dyes and hand-painting the yarn blue, yellow, and green, but I'm not sure. Having spent 30+ hours spinning and plying this, I don't want to ruin it with a bad or substandard dye job.

I have, however, been practicing dyeing techniques!

I had some KnitPicks' Bare Peruvian wool left over from making Inishmore, so I skeined it up yesterday and goofed off a bit with Kool-Aid and food coloring.

My original intention was to make a colorway with blue, black, red, yellow, and orange. A shortage of red food coloring and a miscalculation in color mixing had me end up with the blue, rose-pink, yellow, and brown in the picture. Despite the difference from what I was picturing, I like it! It's kind of psychedelic. I don't know what I'll do with it, but I'm thinking it'll become a hat for a baby and/or small child.

In case you're wondering, I hand-painted using concentrated Kool-Aid/food coloring dyes mixed up with water and a teeny bit of food coloring. Being unable to locate the sponge brushes I know I have, I ended up cutting a bit off an old sponge, cutting the end at an angle, and using that to dab the dye on. It worked quite well! Then I wrapped the whole thing up and steamed it for about 45 minutes in a strainer suspended over a stainless-steel pot. One thing I learned during the whole process is that I definitely need to hit the discount and thrift stores and get myself a full set of dyeing equipment.

In the near future, I would like to embark on adventures in dyeing with something like Jacquard acid dyes. Perhaps I'll get some practice in with that before I try to dye the merino. I know I want to do some more reading on the subject, especially on making self-striping yarn!

Tomorrow, I'm off to a local fiber arts and crafts fair. I think the world of fiber arts has truly eaten my brain, and I'm not upset about that in the least.

Mood: tired
Music: Michael Nesmith - Rio

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

I can has handspun?

Yes, I can has handspun!

The picture's a little blurry, but the color is fairly true to life.

This psychedelic yarn started out as hand-dyed wool top from Uniquely Yours Design, in a colorway called Flav-Or-Flav.

The bits of red really caught my eye, and I was pleasantly surprised by the vibrancy of the colors when it came in the mail. I split it up into color repeats:

and split those further in order to spin stripes in succession.

The singles I made from this are the best singles I've spun to date, which makes sense, I guess, seeing as practice has a tendency to beget better results!

Speaking of, I thought about Navajo plying the singles, but decided to go for two-ply this time. I've only practiced Navajo plying once, and didn't want to risk screwing up the process and ruining this great colored wool. I went for two-ply, which resulted in the groovy, Froot-Loop-like effect in the final skein. Thusly, I'm calling it Fruit Loop! I'm not sure exactly what I'll be making out of it yet. I might just let it sit for a while and admire the colors.

I continued my adventures in color yesterday by taking the time to do some dyeing in the kitchen. A little while back, I spun the rest of the natural-colored wool into some two-ply:

Still kind of slubby, but a lot more even than the first batch! I took that, along with a recipe for food coloring dye from Linda Labelle's The Yarn Lover's Guide to Hand Dyeing, and went to work.

I was going for a teal, which turned out as a somewhat muddy green at first, so I tossed the yarn in a second dyebath that was just plain blue, and ended up with a neat ocean color.

If I had to give it a name, I'd call it Under The Sea. (That was always one of my favorite songs from The Little Mermaid. I mean, really, how can you resist a singing crab with a Jamaican accent?) It's destined to become a thick-and-thin garter stitch scarf. Boring as that sounds, I think it'll really show off the color, and the simple stitch won't suffer from the unevenness of the yarn.

The Phoebe Pullover is still underway. But I've really been in a spinning mood lately, so I think I'll wind up posting more about that than knitting over the next couple of weeks!

Mood: distracted
Music: Kate Blain - The Good Life

Monday, April 7, 2008

Felting and Fitzcarraldo

I've really got to stop with these huge gaps between knitblogging. This has become my primary hobby blog, since my interest in Lost blogging has been replaced by extensive post-episode chats, and yet here I am, finding myself in catch-up mode after another month-long gap!

It's been a good month for knitting. I finished Inishmore, but have yet to procure a good photo of the recipient modeling it. I'm quite proud of the way it came out, and she loved like crazy. There's nothing quite like enthusiastic appreciation of a FO!

In the "knitted for friends" department, I present this adorable machine-felted market bag. (Pre-felting on the left, post-felting on the right). I love making felted things, but so rarely have any use for them that I don't bother to do many felting projects.

I especially don't need bags, which is a shame, because bag projects are quick, easy, fun knits. This particular bag only took six days from swatching to felting. A friend of mine knew exactly what sort of bag she wanted, and pointed me toward a pattern that replicated what she had in mind. The handles and bottom are stockinette, and the bag body is garter stitch in the round. The bottom is technically supposed to be all one color, but for some reason I didn't have enough black, and so had to improvise. I think it looks cute, personally!

The primary-colored socks are done, too, as predicted. They're fun socks, although one seems to be a bit too small. I'm trying to decide if it's worth it to pop the kitchener stitch, unravel the toe, and knit a few more rounds before the decreases. I've done that before with other socks, but it's always a bit of a daunting prospect.

Once the socks were done, I cast on for the Phoebe Pullover. I'm--gasp!--using the yarn recommended in the pattern: Andean Silk, except I went for navy blue instead of chocolate brown. Given my small budget, it was a splurge even at the very reasonable KnitPicks price. Totally worth it. Holy crap, is this yarn yummy.

The sweater interests me in several respects. The sizing is very flexible, meaning that, for once, I'll have a finished products that fits without having to make a bazillion little adjustments along the way. Also, everything is knit in the round. The body is done in the round, the sleeves are done in the round and joined to the body...everything. That means practically no seaming, which makes me a happy Sammie. Seams continue to be the bane of my knitting existence.

In between (and sometimes during) all this knitting over the past month, I consumed far too much Monster, co-wrote a massive Lost/Discworld crossover fanfic with a close friend of mine (more on that in future posts), and devoured several albums by the Frames.

My latest love? Fitzcarraldo. It is an amazing album. I can't stop listening to the title track; it's six minutes of pure awesome. If you love the Frames (or Glen Hansard), try and get your hands on a copy. If you've never heard them...start here. Seriously. I'm not plugging this for any other reason than the fact that I love it to bits. There is real beauty here, and not nearly as much of the anger that crops up on later albums like Burn the Maps.

I'm off to knit more on the pullover and probably make myself cry re-watching "Goodbye Radar", parts 1 & 2. I love M*A*S*H.

Mood: headachey
Music: The Frames - Monument