the Intrepid Fiberwizard

adventures in spinning, knitting, gardening and life

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

knit your hearts together

Hello friends -
if you are reading this then you are living in a dry place, you have power and you have lights and food. Many do not. Here's a link where you can send help to those who are in need Katrina help
I saw it listed on a friend's site and thought it was a good idea to spread the thought.
I shall keep on knitting tonight and send focused prayers for those in need.

Monday, August 29, 2005

placemats... shawl?

Just recently finished my-very-first-all-by-myself weaving project. YEAH!
It started out with a rosepath design (enhanced by my mistakes.. oh dear I mean creativity) and has finally been done.
I had thought I was making placemats for a dear friend, but then realized part way through that I had not yet figured out how to measure the length of each mat while I was weaving.. also couldn't solve how to leave fringe in the middle of each one. Thus, the intrepid fiberwizard persevered! (translate that I just continued bravely weaving, knowing I'd figure it out when I was done!)

Voila! Here's the amazing-never-ending placemat ! Hah! Actually I was so excited that I wrapped it all around my self and giggled! And here's the closeup!

Now the next step comes - weaving in the last loose ends, and trimming the fringe. Truly I must cut this long beauty up, because the drape is not right for a shawl. Although it is hard to imagine my little gem ending up under a dinner plate! Perhaps we'll start a new fad with putting the placemats in the center of the table to admire! Ho-ho.

I was going for color and texture in this first ever weaving - and I had loads of learning opportunities (translation: many of the chenille ends broke in the warp! and had to get creative!) Picture me weaving away, with napkin rings dangling from the back of my loom for instant tension! Hey, napkin rings - placemats - works for me!

Saturday, August 27, 2005

UFO encounters or FO bliss

With all the talk knitters have about UFO's (unfinished objects - for you non-knitting lingo types), I decided to take an honest look at what I had sitting around... one man's sweater from handspun, one lace shawl, one pair of socks, and one bamboo shirt... not too bad thought I !

Then, being a glass-half-full sort of gal, I reviewed what I had accomplished in the last 12 months - I counted 21 FO's (finished objects) !!Woo-hoo- (listen for the sound of clapping wildly). Here's a few of the items I haven't posted before, some I didn't take pictures of, and all the rest can be seen on our website in the photo gallery .

this one is made from Fur Real - a fuzzy-wuzzy yarn from Southwest Trading Company - made for my Mom (after its tour in our booth at Black Sheep Gathering)

This is a quickie poncho I knit from unspun pencil roving - hand dyed by moi.. in the colorway toumelaine
easy fast gratifying..

The next is a poncho (pattern from Knits last fall issue) that I made from 7 differents types of yarn - mostly Blue Moon Fiberarts. Another incredibly fast project - especially given there are so many yarns in it.. I ended up making three of these in different yarns ! A great use of old bits and pieces

And then last but not least, here's a vest I made from Calypso yarn. this is the coolest stuff - like a reverse rail (if that makes sense) It ends up having a look like velvet. I modified this pattern from last August's issue of Knit 'n Style.

So now I am off to finish the little black shrug - photos coming up soon, stay tuned! A few more dye pots are cookin' away with pencil roving and I am pondering to myself... what to knit this year ? It always seems to happen that as I'm coming down the home stretch of a project, my mind begins to wander off, contemplating what's coming next.. does that ever happen to you?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

kittie up

So, I was sleeping deeply last night, and slightly stretched my legs... I heard a soft purring by my pillow... opened my eyes and saw something like this
Now mind you, this is NOT one of my cats.. I didn't think I should climb out of bed at 2 am and get the camera! Hah!.. but it was indeed a kodak moment. The kittens have finally discovered (after only a week) that we are still in the house when the lights are off! Little Emily seems to like my pillow, and spent the night with her head about 2" from mine. Little Diana prefers the foot of the bed, shifting side to side as we move our legs.. sweet.

In another arena, speaking of fur and feathers, a friend of ours recently asked if we'd like to sell some of the yarns she carries - we agreed. here's a sample:
There are several different eyelash yarns, and also some flag yarns. I had never worked with these little furry friends, and thus was in a dilemma about WHAT to make... hmmmm... settled on a small shawl type gem. I used one skein of eyelash and one skein of flag, carried together on big needles (13) and then used the remaining yarn for fringe. The photo doesn't do it much justice, it looks better on a body than a stand - hopefully I'll convince someone to take a snap of me next time I wear it! These skeins are each about 150 yards, and sell for $7 each. Apparently they are trendsetter and prism yarns, end of the run. Quantites are unpredictable, so we haven't put them on our site.
These feathery yarns aren't truly my style - but my Mom is very Za-Za Gabor.. most likely this will be hers. It was a fast knit, used lots of double wraps so it would be airy.
Wondering what else one could do with this wild stuff?

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

a tweedy treat

Just finished spinning and plying this shetland fiber that I've had for... hmmm, let's see... four years?! ah, confession is good for the soul.
I still have to soak and set the twist on the darker yarn. Interestingly enough, its all the same fiber, just spun differently. All natural shetland, three different animals. The lighter yarn I had seperated the three colors, the dark yarn I just spun spun spun.
Now, the interesting part is what to knit?! I have a couple of pounds here, so lots of yardage. I had begun with a pattern in mind, but lo and behold, now that I've finished, the pattern has vanished into the mist! Must have been in one of the books we sold already. Now it will join my stash for awhile, awaiting inspiration. I hope it comes soon. this yarn is fabulously soft!
The yarn will knit up as a worsted weight, so something on size 8 to 9 needles would be dandy.. ideas anyone?

On the outside front, my garden is responding to the trials of summer. 90 degree heat on our hill finds only a few brave soldiers still standing!
Note to self - plant more dahlias and black-eyed susans next year!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

bubble bubble

It was a grand weekend - wonder what this is?

Bubble bubble toil and trouble?.. nope.. just a pair of my daughter's old jeans and a black skirt, now getting blacker!

I spun alot (and played keep away kittie!) finished the project for a customer.. here's the result
from the roving (Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks dove and forest) on the left to the spun yarn on the right
Aren't they grand! I love spinning this roving - its a 50/50 blend of bombyx merino. Chasing Rainbows colorways are so wonderful - you never end up with mud!

Also began a little black shrug for my daughter (and no, I promise the bamboo shirt will NOT become a UFO.... REALLY!)

Life here at Crown Mountain Farms is heavenly - the kitties are adjusting (read that running wild up and down the stairs) and they finally told us their names.. Emily and Diana.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

An Unusual Class

A couple of weeks ago we had a booth at ANWG (the northwest weaver's conference).
We had a blast - met some wonderful new people - and generally enjoyed ourselves way too much!
A sweet part of being a vendor there was that they gave me a free class as part of our booth fee (YEAH!). I took one called Creating Surface Design by Kathryn Alexander.
What a mind twister !
We used what she calls "energized singles" (never to be referred to as overspun) She gave us some in two colorways:I'm not sure if you can see it from this photo, but one is an "s" twist, the other is a "z" twist.. or in spinner's lingo, one has been spun clockwise, the other counterclockwise. She has them produced for her by Green Mountain Spinnery. They come in a gorgeous variety of colors.
I'm not sure that I can do Kathryn justice by trying to explain it here, but basically, you alter the way you throw your yarn around the needle, with an s twist yarn you now throw it counterclockwise, with a z twist you throw it clockwise. What happens is that the stitches "slant" to one side or the other, resulting in a basic knit stitch becoming a herringbone, and a knit rib pattern becomes slanted squares. It takes AMAZING concentration to do this simple change! All of us in the class were laughing like crazy as we tried to remember how we used to knit!

After the entire 3 hour class was done I was able to accomplish these samples:

I normally consider myself a pretty fast knitter - NOT with this technique! The resulting texture is worth the effort tho'... the little gem on the right is a simple rib pattern, the one on the left is a "sampler" of knit using varied rows of z and s yarns..
Look for her upcoming book - should be a great one! As Kathryn said, Efficency is NOT the point here (no kidding!)

Which now reminds me of a story told by Rita Buccanan (Of Spin Off fame, was a former editor).
Rita entertained us at the Northwest Regional Spinner's Conference with the following story:
Once there was a businessman driving through the country. As he drove along he spied a very curious event... in the field there was a farmer holding a small pig up to an apple tree. The pig would open its mouth and grab ahold of an apple. The farmer would then set the pig down as the pig ate. Then the farmer would again pick up the pig, help it to get ahold of an apple, then set it down again while it ate... The business man finally could not stand it any longer... he walked over to the farmer and said "farmer.. my my.. what you are doing is SOOOO inefficient... why don't you simply shake the tree and allow the pig to eat off the ground while you do other things? What you are doing takes soooo much time...." the farmer thought for a moment, then smiled and replied.. "what's time to a pig?"
Rita shared this story as she spoke of our spinning and knitting items by hand.. and that to many people it would be considered "inefficient" ... but what we know is that it is the enjoyment of our day and our craft that makes things worthwhile.. what is time to a pig?.. and she suggested that we regularly take time to pamper our inner pig!

Off to do my own pampering now, while I dwell in kitty bliss. The kitties have truly bonded - I had both of them on my lap "helping" with my knitting until they finally collapsed asleep. I was able to knit along for an hour or so undisturbed (until they awoke for round two!) We are very blessed to have these marvelous mischiefs in our lives. So far they still haven't told us their names.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

our family grows

every once in awhile there comes a time when you add to your family in a special way. Last night was one of those times.
We lost two cats a year ago to old age and illness, after being graced by their presence for 15 years... and it took awhile to be ready to welcome new ones. Last night, through a variety of strange and fortuitous events, we invited two new beings to join us on this journey.
We have not yet learned their names, but they have already brightened the day. They are black as night and wild as two untamed horses... gentle and cuddly, curious and bright.. here they are

they are actually quite difficult to photograph, not just because they rarely stand still, but because they are black as forever.
I was once told that black is the summation of all color, the void, the totality.. for this moment, these two are only delicious insanity! In this photo, the morning after they arrived home, one is playing with a cat sparkle toy, and the other is pouncing on her sister's shadow! Delight all around!
we hope they will tell us their names soon.

on another front, while the orafice hook on my wheel was being attacked today by two little wild kittens, I managed to shoot a couple of photos of my other hobbies.
Here's the beginning of my love shirt for my husband. It's a bamboo golf shirt, 153 stitches on the back on size 5 needles ( translate that : it takes 15 minutes to knit an inch!!) and the back alone is 31" long! Isn't it a GREAT color?!
I'll let you know if it becomes a UFO, but hopefully not, since its a great color, and I already know the pattern.

Last but not least, I photo'd the colorway I just created with pencil roving called Mountain Sunrise, after the photo in the earlier blog..(see I do keep my promises to send photos later!)

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

a perfect day

The dying went well yesterday. I did a bit more this morning (another eight pots) totalling 40 since Saturday morning - that's enough for this week. I even added yet another colorway (Pueblo) that is a mix of turquoise blue, peach and rust. Pics will follow within the next few days.

I spent some of the day in the garden, some at work and then was able to play. Spinning was this day's play. I had spun some of Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks Bombyx Merino top in Morning Glory - it turned out like this:then a sweet lady called and asked if I'd spin a couple of other colors for her. I said yes. Pics to follow -
it was a good day.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

august sunrise on the farm

sunrise over Mt Rainier - there's nothing like it. This is the view from our deck around 6 am - not a bad sight! It actually inspired me to create a new colorway in the pencil roving, called Mountain Sunrise. images of the new colorway to follow in the near future (after I've taken photos)

It's been too hot to touch wool recently, so I've been knitting bamboo. I made this shirt for my Dad, out of Southwest Trading Co bamboo azul color with a jade collar. After many attempts at picking up the shoulder stitches (without having ladder-like holes) I finally succeeded ! Here's the finished product!! He loved it. It has quite a bit of weight to it, but will wear well over time.

Now my husband is wanting one for himself! So I decided to make it out of the red bamboo. Color of the collar, sleeve trim and pocket are still up for grabs. Will keep you posted. It'll take awhile (a definate labor of love as it is knit on size 5 needles, and just the back is 31" long!)

Here's the color - yummy isn't it.

Monday, August 15, 2005

dying fever

Just finished a weekend of mad scientist dying! (read that how many crock pots can you run at once without blowing your house circut breakers)! I successfully had eight going all weekend long -
whew! good thing they don't put out alot of heat, since it was almost 90 outside...
anyway, the result was this (and this is only a portion!)
corriedale pencil roving! Viola !
There is more that I couldn't photo, but thought this was fun! Good thing no one else in the house minds the smell of wet wool - Teyani