Monday, October 29, 2007

More felting

About to become a felt scarf This became this.

Felted Scarf

Another view of a felted scarf Another view. This shot is closer to the true colors of the finished felt.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Felting Sunday

I've had this need to finish something other than socks this week. So I decided a little felting was in order. I had to set up a felting area where a bit of water spilled on the floor wouldn't matter. I have the perfect space in my dining area. I covered the floor, which is wood laminate, with a plastic drop cloth. An inexpensive solution that can just be rolled and thrown away when I am finished. I set up my handy dandy multi-purpose folding table. Cut a length of ridged shelf covering a bit longer than the table. Heated a stock pot of water. Found the bucket of homemade soap gel I use for felting; donned my denim apron and set to work.

Rovings used for felt scarf I started with this--about 4 oz. of roving. One hank was merino and the other was merino/tencel. The colorways were similar and had been stewing in my fiber stash for a long time. I know that both of these came from Deep Color and had been dyed by Jen.

First layer for felt scarf I proceeded to lay out lengths of roving shingle style for the first layer. This took all of about 15 minutes. Each bit of fiber is about a staple length. Next I laid out a second layer of shingles running cross-wise to the first layer. For the third layer, I laid out fiber more or less going in the same direction of the first layer. More or less, meaning I was much more random in placing the fiber so that there would be some "movement" in the finished felt.

Felt scarf in process The first stage of felting looks like this. I wetted the fiber sandwich I just created, lay a net bag over it, drizzled a bit of soap gel over it, and patted it. I kept on patting until I couldn't see any air pockets. I moved my net bag over to the next section and patted. Once I was sure that the fiber was wet all the way through, I started moving my hand in a circular motion to start the agitation process. I kept the net bag over the felt while doing this. I turned the piece over after I was pretty sure it was holding together. If you look closely at the photo, you can see the ridge marks from the plastic I used underneath. I continued rubbing the felt, making sure to work the edges so that they weren't all feathery. I kept doing this until I thought it looked done and could stand up to a bit of rough treatment like being rolled up and rolled around with pressure. I did this until the felt was "hard" enough. I rinsed it out under running hot water until all of the soap was out. Then give it the cold water shock treatment. I wrung it out, twisting hard.

Finished Felt scarf About an hour and a half later, I had this. I'll be able to wear it tomorrow if it is dry. I then cleared up my work table and started another scarf. The second scarf was made out of a merino/tencel roving hand painted by Jen at Deep Color--again, fiber from the stash. Pictures to come.

Flame Wave socks for Emily Since last week, I finished the Flame Wave Socks. These are for my daughter's friend Emily. I thought I wouldn't have enough yarn to finish the toes so I used a multi-colored I bought especially for these.

Madder & alkanet handpainted sock yarn After seeing Kristine's Pomatomus socks, I dyed this Henry's Attic Kona superwash sock yarn with alkanet and madder. While waiting for this to dry, I started Cookie A's Thelonious socks using the Fleece Artist Basic Merino Sock I bought at Knitty City in New York.

Oh, oh I spun some the Lorna's Laces superwash roving in Red Rover. No wonder I feel I can't get anything finished. I don't have the attention span to focus on just one thing.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Overheard in Beverly Hills

Yesterday my daughter had a casting in Beverly Hills. While having lunch, I overheard a man tell his companion that they really ought to get a panini grill. When asked why, he responded that that way they could make ham sandwiches at home. For some reason, this struck me as really funny. I'm easily entertained.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Tart

Finished Top Down Sweater The top down sweater is really, honestly finished. I've wet blocked it and it is drying as I write. Once I stopped over thinking the math to get the shape, it fairly flew along. I started this version Sept. 21 and finished knitting and blocking it October 14. And one of the best things is that the rainy season has arrived a month early. It is cooler, damp and sweater wearing weather.

Apple tart ready for the oven This is the Sunday Spinning potluck tart before baking.

Apple tart This is after baking and before being putting in a fancy-dancy banker's box lid for transport to Maia's on Sunday. Kristine was there with her beautiful hand dyed yarn. As was Linda and Kathleen. Maia's husband Roger was there for a short while entertaining us with a story about Independence, MO. Even though we were a small group, we had a grand time. I got to model Maia's shetland sock. It is the most amazing shetland I've ever felt--soft, squishy, yummy. I wanted to take this sock home with me. Alas, only one has been finished. I started spinning up some Chasing Rainbows merino tencel I bought from Carolina Homespun in Boonville last month. It is so lovely to be with a group of like-minded people and spin, eat and drink coffee. I can hardly wait for next month.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Close to finished

Top down sweater I'm almost finished with the top down sweater. I've got about 5 more rounds of stockinette before I start the bottom ribbing. I hope to finish it in the next few days.

Flame Wave cuff This is the progress on the Flame Wave sock so far. After one full repeat of the pattern, I decided to substitute a yarn over for the make one the pattern specifies. It makes the knitting go just a bit faster and I prefer the openness of the yarn over. I'll see how I feel about it when I've worked a bit more of the leg.

Off to make apple tart for tomorrow's spinning potluck and listen to Springsteen's new cd, which I'm liking a whole lot right now.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

From that to this

13+ bobbins of wine colored merino top singles 2000 Yds of handspun merino From 13 plus bobbins of singles to approximately 2000 yards of 2-ply. I started spinning this on August 5 and finished plying at about 11:40 p.m. last night. Two months to spin and ply the two pounds of top I started with. Before wet finishing, it comes in at 12 wpi, putting it in DK weight range, which was what I was aiming for. I'm going to finish it using Judith MacKenzie McCuin's method for finishing woolen spun yarns. In fact, I just bought a cute mini sink plunger just for this job. Of course, my daughter thinks I'm nuts to believe that a plunger is going to help me in finishing the yarn.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

From this to this

Last of the wine colored merino top This started as 2 lbs. of merino top.

13+ bobbins of wine colored merino top singles It's now 13 plus a little more bobbins of singles.

Next step, plying.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Thoughts on knitting books

The number of new knitting books released each season is a good indication of the popularity of knitting. A few years ago, I felt that I was missing out on something if I didn't own all the new books as they came out. While browsing at Borders on Friday, I realized that I no longer feel that way. I was browsing through The Best of Interweave Knits, tempted to buy a copy when "Why?" popped into my mind. After all, the likelihood that I would knit anything in the book was zip. Did I really need to add a book to my knitting book collection just for the sake of saying I own it? After all, who am I trying to impress? And, don't I complain enough about having to dust as it is? I will buy some knitting books if I especially like the styling or photography. I'll also buy a book that uses a clever technique that I want to understand better. The sad truth is that many of the knitting books just set in the bookcase often overlooked as I search for an old favorite.

Last year, I gave away a lot of stash yarn and knitting books because the shear amount of stuff I owned overwhelmed me. Rather than feel motivated by the quantity around me, I was depressed and at loose-ends. Nothing appealed to me. The books included the likes of Stitch 'n Bitch Nation, Sally Melville's Knit Book and Color Book plus odds and ends of knitting essay collections. I wasn't the least bit sad to see these books go. They were serving no real purpose while in my possession. Most of the folks who claimed the books were relatively new to knitting and glad to have some reference material. The stash yarn went to a stay at home mom with two young kids, a few new knitters, and to a senior center. It was liberating to let go of belongings that I had held onto far too long. There was nothing in the books that will go down in history as classics or comfort knits that are timeless. (Well, maybe Sally Melville's Einstein jacket will become a timeless classic.)

I need to bear these thoughts in mind when I look at Kaffe Fassett's Kaffe Knits Again. Now, don't get me wrong, I love his color work. However, I don't like to knit intarsia. And, I can borrow Glorious Color from my mum whenever I want if I need color inspiration. Plus, I have Deb Menz's ColorWorks. Just because a new book is the buzz of the blogosphere or podcasting world doesn't mean that I need to own it. Just like when an indie dyer or particular yarn is the favorite of the moment, I don't need to add any of it to my stash. I never want to feel overwhelmed by my knitting books again. Leaving The Best of Interweave Knits on the shelf was one of the best decisions I've made lately.