Monday, May 31, 2010

I hope June starts better than May ended

I haven't been posting much. Life issues. Not good. What can I say?

I have been spinning every day on either wheel or spindle and have finished spinning 3 bobbins of singles of the Targhee fiber I bought to participate in the Woolalong on Ravelry. I loved spinning it and hope to get it plied in the next day or so. While I let those singles sit and the twist set, I started spinning my newest fiber, Rambouillet. That was the fiber chosen for the Spinners Study group that I also joined (another Ravelry group) . I am behind - Rambouillet was the May fiber - but I really wanted to try it out. I purchased a braid in the Wild Violets color way

and it is so pretty.

This fiber is being spun all on one bobbin so that I can practice my chain plying technique (improved upon in Maggie Casey's plying class that I took at MD Sheep and Wool but still needing practice.) I have divided the braid into color sections and am trying to spin across the fiber. I plan to try some long draw spinning at some point, now that I've had some instruction, but this is not the fiber preparation that is best for that.

The Targhee seemed to have more crimp - at least that's what I assume when the fibers seem more "grabby" but both are a pleasure to spin with. They feel, at least as singles, very soft to the skin.

My spindle spinning is still the same llama fiber that I plied at sheep and wool. I should be able to fit the rest of the fiber on the two spindles and ply that for use. I am not sure what use yet because I have no idea of yardage. It is much softer than I had thought, though, so it might make a small lace neck warmer. I believe that I will spin my Icelandic fiber on spindles once the llama is finished. I felt like I had better control of it on the spindle than the wheel. It will take a lot longer to spindle spin it, but there's no rush.

I started 2 new sweaters yesterday. I had some Shelridge Farms wool cotton (pine color) that I picked up at MD sheep and wool a few years ago. I was browsing the patterns newly received at my LYS on Thursday and found a pattern for a V neck Cardigan (#241) from Knitting Pure and Simple. It seemed perfect. I swatched, blocked, measured and cast on yesterday while heading out on the Chesapeake Bay for a day of relaxation. I am liking it so far (about 2 inches down - it's a top down sweater, which I like a lot).

I also cast on the Slinky Ribs sweater from Custom Knits by Wendy Bernard. I've been wanting to knit with Silky Wool for quite a while, liked this pattern at first, second and third glance, and decided to be "boring" and knit with the recommended yarn. I chose teal and bought it at my LYS specifically for this project. I plan to have sleeves, though not the belled version in the book. I think 3/4 sleeves work well for me. Blocking and measuring commenced, and it's a good thing - the blocked swatch is very different from the non-blocked swatch. That, too, was cast on yesterday, in the car on the way to the marina. ; )

I reached the halfway point on the Spiral Stole - started on square # 11 of 20 on Friday night!

DH's white cotton sweater is washed and drying on the rack! It only took more than 2 years .....

I ripped back a huge section of knitting on the purple shawl from Victorian Lace Today. I found a mistake many rows down and I would not even think about dropping this down for a repair. It is much less heartbreak to just rip and re-knit the while thing.

We picked strawberries from our plants the other day. Only a few but they are very sweet. Nothing else from the garden yet, but the plants are growing and soon I will have to tie the green bean plants to the trellis.

Memorial Day thanks

I offer a heartfelt thank you to all who have, are or will serve to defend this country and it's people. The risks are great, the pay is low and there's not much glory. Without the armed forces, where and what would we be?

Monday, May 17, 2010

How soon can I retire?

It was a wonderful weekend. There were good, useful thing accomplished, wonderful relaxation on the boat enjoyed and knitting and spinning were accomplished! All in one weekend! It is amazing what can be accomplished when one is energetic and sticks to the plan. LOL.

Saturday was the chore day. Clothes were washed and dried on the line. Weeding was done - the entire back yard gardens and some of the front. The rest of the front is up for attention next weekend. I also plan to fill my railing boxes with annuals to brighten up the deck. The bike ride (a little over 2 miles) was done on Saturday but not Sunday (we were on the boat on Sunday). More veggie seeds were planted and the baby grasses and baby plants were watered. I sat on the deck and enjoyed the breezes while spinning my Targhee fiber on my wheel. Spinning outdoors, on the upper deck, with breezes, birds singing and a view of the surrounding trees and bushes feels like an extra special treat to me. Dinner was yummy and cooked on the grill. I ran out of energy about 8 PM and relaxed and knitted.

Sunday was such a gorgeous day on the water. It started out a bit breezy but the winds died down in the afternoon as promised and the sun was out a lot more than predicted. It was a beautiful, calm, comfortably warm day on the Chesapeake bay. I enjoyed just being on the water for the first time this year. DH was extremely frustrated, though. He has had no luck with fishing for striped bass so far this spring. He'll pretty much have to wait now until the fall run. He really wanted to catch a spring bass and I feel bad for him. This is likely the last year he will be able to get out by himself on the bay (due to his vision problems)

Knitting consisted of work on Rob's afghan (I have about 5 rows to go to have completed half of the blanket), about 1.5 pattern repeats on the falling leaves shawlette for Mom in the fall colors yarn and a swatch for my new sweater. I am going to knit the Slinky Ribs (that's a Ravelry link because I can't find another that shows the sweater well enough) sweater from Custom Knits in Silky Wool. On the way to the marina and at the diner (where we ate supper at 9 PM) I knitted on the travel socks and got them past the more complicated heel section so that they are now a good travel project again. I also did some spindle spinning and finished loading the spindle. I have to wind off on to a temporary storage bobbin so that I can spin the last third of that fiber before plying.

My peonies and iris are blooming beautifully in the front of the house. I smile every time I walk up to the front door and see them. They are majestic blooms. I smile, too, when I see the pansies with their little "faces" on them in the pots right at the front door. Different flowers, different effects but they all bring a smile to my face.

I am still spinning Targhee on the wheel, but I tried a little Icelandic fiber on the wheel last night. I think I can spin a finer yarn on the wheel than on a spindle but I'll have to ply and knit with it before I can tell whether I like it or not. I hope to finish up my mini skein tonight and get back to the next batch of Targhee. I can't wait to see how that plies and knits up.

Have a great day.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Spinning away

I have been so into spinning since the MD Sheep and Wool festival! At this point, I prefer spinning to knitting. That may change in the middle of the summer but for now I am *spin crazy*. It's a good thing that drop spindles make spinning portable.

I've been working on the Targhee (shades of blue fiber in the previous post) that I purchased from yarnchef on Etsy. The fiber is so easy to draft and spin and the colors are wonderful. I split the roving into thirds and will make a 3 ply.

I have also been experimenting with Icelandic fiber. I had purchased some at the NY Sheep and Wool festival and then didn't get around to spinning it. One of the Ravelry groups I joined recently is studying Icelandic wool. I decided that since I already had some fiber, that I would spin this month instead of knit. I tried spindle spinning it last night and that went pretty well. Icelandic fiber should be spun with very little twist, but I want to make a 2 ply yarn, so I had to put a bit more than "just enough to hold it together" so that it would hold together through the plying process. I want to try spinning some on the wheel to see which will make a better yarn. I'd like to make a shawl with it, or a shawlette if there's not much yardage. I have about 6-7 oz. so if I spin it thin enough, I should be able to get a small shawl from it. I have 4 oz. of a deep grey that I think is mostly tog (the outer coat) and 2-3 oz. of a lighter grey that seems to be mixed tog and thel (the downy inner coat). The mixed fiber is softer to touch and easier to draft and spin. Maybe the other one is slightly felted.

Knitting this week consisted of most of one spiral stole square at knit night at the LYS and a couple of rows on the shawl from Victorian Lace Today. Not much progress, I am afraid.

I was later coming home from work yesterday than I had planned, and when I got home, DH was very stressed. It seems that half of our electricity was off. He tested, and checked the circuit breakers and could not find a problem. He was worried that we would have to (try) find an electrician to come on the weekend to replace the circuit box and wiring. Big bucks, apparently. We called the utility company and requested a check. They told us that it would be about 10 PM before someone could come, but less than 30 minutes later the truck pulled up. The problem, very fortunately for us, is on their end. It will cost us nothing for the repair, and until they repair it, we have some sort of device hooked up to bypass the problem, so everything in the house works again. DH is muchly relieved and much easier to live with. ; )

Today I was able to catch up on the gardening chores, wash the clothes and dry them on the line and go for a nice bike ride. By nice I mean that I did not come back with legs trembling so hard that I had to stand still rather than walk the bike up the driveway (which is how I returned the first few times I rode). giggle. I've increased the distance again, by a little, so that's even better.

We are planning to head out on the boat for the day tomorrow. I hope the weather cooperates. I'm looking forward to my first day on the boat this season and a day relaxing with DH.

I'll close with some photos of some flowers in my garden. Iris


Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2010

I lived at the Howard County Fairgrounds for 4 days, it seemed. I took 2 classes and loved them, then spent all day Saturday and most of Sunday there as well. I had a great time and learned a lot. Spent more than planned, too, but that always happens, and it didn't get out of control.

Thursday's class was plying with Maggie Casey. She is so easy going and yet gets the message across. I probably didn't endear my self with her by saying that I hated plying ..... I still dislike plying a 2 ply yarn but learned the correct way to ply a 3 ply yarn and find that much more interesting and also much more to my liking as a yarn style to knit with for things other than lace. I also learned (and liked) to ply cabled yarn. I'll be giving that a try, too.

I spent all day Friday with Judith McKenzie in a spinning class. She knows more about so many things than I will ever know! A person could learn just from sitting in her class with their eyes closed and listening. I didn't just listen, though. I spun 2 ply, 3 ply and a few novelty yarns, had my spinning technique tweaked a little and improved, and learned some things about wheels in general.

A Finn sheep joined us in class for a while, while Judith showed us a Finn fleece and different things to look for when buying a fleece.

One additional benefit from having attended those classes was that I was forced to finish plying (I had to clear the bobbins for class) the purple wool/silk yarn I've been working on for "a while". It's done. Plied. I have to skein and wash it, but it's plied. Finally! Now I can start to swatch!

I wanted to find stitch markers at S & W, and at first I thought I was not going home with any. There weren't a lot of choices other than what you can buy at any yarn store. Eventually I found beautiful markers made by Rajkovich Designs.

I've already put one package into use. You can see them on the photo of the shawlette that I started for Mom's BD gift. ; )

I found a spindle I liked and it came home with me. It's different - I usually go for the beautiful wood spindles and this one is not wood. It spins very nicely, though. I bought one a little heavier than I have been buying over the last few years on Saturday. I wanted a plying spindle this time. I went to the Golding booth on Sunday after watching others spin with and rave about their Golding spindles on Saturday night at the spinning gathering, but I didn't see any difference in my spinning with a Golding. I guess I am just a 'wine in the box' kinda spinner rather than a 'reserve vintage' spinner. LOL.
Isn't it cute?!

I bought some wool/tencel fiber in shades of blue and a lot of a denim-y color,

a braid of naturally dyed generic wool fiber and one skein of yarn.

The yarn was dyed in what I would consider fall colors and it has a little Angelina for some added sparkle. That didn't show up very well in these photos - you'll have to take my word for it. I think it will make a great fall scarf/shawlette for Mom. They are her colors for sure. I've already started to swatch/knit. (See the little blue bead on the stitch marker? I have a card of those, too)

Nancy gifted me with some beautifully dyed silk fiber for my birthday present while we were there. The colors are great, deep and soft, they remind me of moving water.
I hope I can do them justice with my spinning.

I made my usual festival gear purchases, also. I came home with another hoodie (I love hoodies) and a long sleeved T shirt, which should be great for boating. In the evenings, it gets cool and/or I need to protect myself from sun. Often a sweatshirt or jacket is too much. This will be just right. I bought a visor (the sun was already high and hot that day) and two sale T-shirts for $5 each. You can't beat that kind of deal!

I found a beautiful wood cutting board that I could not resist. I am not sure whether it will live here or become a gift for someone else, but I love the colors and grains in the different kinds of wood. It glows.

I ate lamb and ice cream (several times), finally got around to trying the ribbon fries (good but too much for one person) and drank lots of water. On Saturday, actually, several vendors were out of water by about 3:30 or so. It was so very hot and humid.

Since my bobbins were clear, I decided to do some spinning yesterday. I always take off the day after Sheep and Wool - I am tired and sore and just need a day to relax and rest. I settled on the Targhee fiber that I had purchased from yarnchef. It drafts and spins beautifully.
I separated the braid into 3 section (hopefully they are similar in weight) and started to spin for a 3 ply sport weight yarn. I'd like to knit a hat or some mittens with it, depending on yardage. The color changes are great. I hope I can preserve them with plying. I hope to spin for about 20 minutes each day.

I plied from my drop spindles on Sunday while at the fair. I had some camel fiber that I was spinning fairly fine and had both spindles pretty full. It's been a while since I plied from 2 spindles to another one, and since I had no Kate with me, there were a few snags, but it went well, all things considered. I attracted way more attention than I expected, plying at the Sheep and Wool Festival. Lots of people watched and commented. I thought that spinning would be a fairly common thing and no one would really notice, but that wasn't true. It was fun. I have only 2 ounces of this stuff and I hope I get enough yardage to make a small lace scarf with it.

I hope to get most of my garden in the ground this week. We are heading up to NY this coming weekend to visit Mom and I'd like the seeds and plants to be in the ground before we go. I also want to ride the bike, do my back exercises, spin for 20 minutes and knit for 30 minutes each day. That means that I have to get my b**t in gear when I get home from work, not sit on it and relax. Tough job.


I started this post on Tuesday but added the photos on Wednesday. Due to a headache, I got nothing accomplished yesterday but rode the bike and planted lots of things in the garden today! I am heading out to spin now and will probably skip the knitting for tonight since I am running out of time.

I have been knitting up the sock blank that I dyed two summers ago. Since the sock blank is knitted double stranded and I didn't want to wind one strand while knitting the other, I am knitting tow socks simultaneously, on DPNs. I cast on the weekend of our anniversary and this is my progress so far:

DH was out on the boat today. He had a great time but did not catch any fish. I hope to finish up the gardening tomorrow and ride again. We'll head up to NY on Sat. morning, early and come back on Monday afternoon. I'm looking forward to seeing Mom and my brothers as well as the renovations that have been going on in Mom's house. I'd better start planning out my knitting project for the trip. I can't bring Mom's shawlette to knit on. She'd remember it and I want to surprise her.