Sunday, April 27, 2008

Colors--A Fiber Festival

Yesterday was Colors in Berkeley. This event was pulled together by Sara, Kristine of A Verb for Keeping Warm, and Brooke and Maia of Tactile Fiber Arts. In addition to fiber and yarn from A Verb for Keeping Warm and Tactile Fiber Arts, there was fiber and other goodies from Pigeonroof Studios and Girl on the Rocks. Plus, there were three sessions of beginning drop spindling and three different fiber tastings. It was great fun.

I took the Exotics fiber tasting with Kristine. We spun baby alpaca, alpaca with silk, baby llama, baby camel with silk and 100% cashmere. It was all yummy and gave me an idea of what to ply with this merino/tencel blend I'm spinning on my Bosworth midi spindle.

This is going to look gorgeous with the baby llama I bought from A Verb for Keeping Warm.
Verb for Keeping Warm Baby Llama

Kristine is a really good teacher. There was the right mix of general chatting, discussion of the fibers we were spinning, and spinners silently concentrating on their spinning. I would highly recommend if you are in the Bay Area and get a chance to take a spinning class from Kristine that you leap. I've not taken spinning classes from Maia or Brooke; the buzz was that they are great teachers as well. I occasionally spin with both of them and can speak to their understanding of spinning and fibers--deep, very deep.

For me, one of the best parts of the day was meeting old friends from Deep Color and new friends from Ravelry. I loved sitting and knitting and spinning with Kathleen, Sara, Adrienne, Krista, Wonder Mike and Hizknits from Yknit. (If you haven't listened to their latest episode which is an interview with Lucy Neatby, what are you waiting for?) I met a lot of people from Ravelry whom I can't mention by name because I'm absolutely terrible about remembering names.

Here is the rest of the stash acquisition from yesterday.
A Verb for Keeping Warm 100 % Finn 100% Finn in Indigo Dip from A Verb for Keeping Warm.
A Verb for Keeping Warm 80 merino 20 silk 80 merino 20 silk in Headlands from A Verb for Keeping Warm.
Pigeonroof Studios superwash merino Superwash merino in Pink Cady from Pigeonroof Studios.
Pigeonroof Studios superwash merino Superwash merino in Harlequin from Pigeonroof Studios.

I also bought the sweetest stitch markers from Girl on the Rocks and forgot to take a picture.

Just in case it looks as if I've done nothing but add to my stash, I present last week's spinning project: 268 yards of 80 merino 20 silk dyed with logwood grey from Tactile Fiber Arts.
Tactile Fiber Arts 80 merino 20 silk

Ada update: less than 20 rows to knit before I'm finished with both sleeves!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Let's make thread

This past Sunday I had the great pleasure of giving my Louet student spindle to a friend's five year old. Every time he has visited my house, he's wanted to "make thread." On Sunday as he spun, he told me he was going to make a pillow with his thread. To help him meet this fantastic goal, I gave him a bunch of small skeins of my hand spun. As he was getting ready to leave, I gave him a bag with some of rovings I had make with my improvised hackle. He is really a ways away from really spinning as his small motor skills don't match his ambition yet. I'm just so thrilled that he wants to learn to spin.

I finished knitting one sleeve of Ada. I didn't knit the full 9 1/2 inches of garter stitch the pattern calls for, stopping at around 8 inches because I didn't want a sleeve that grazes my knuckles (apparently, I've got short arms because I'm always shortening sleeve lengths when I knit or sew). I just have to finish knitting the garter portion of the second sleeve, sew up the shoulder seams, pick up and knit the front and neck band, sew up the sleeve seams, set in the sleeves and find a button. I figure another week and I'll be finished.

Saturday, April 19, 2008


I've been busy experimenting with natural dyes. Last weekend I dyed up the last of my white BFL with cochineal and marigold. Here's what it looked like before I overdyed it.
Cochineal marigold handpainted BLF

I'd been inspired by some lavender growing in my neighborhood. So I overdyed it with logwood grey and got this.
Cochineal, marigold dyed BLF I like the soft colors a lot.

I also experimented with an improvised wool hackle made from a hair pick and a table vise.
Improvised wool hackle
It works and is a lot less expense than buying a hackle. I'm going to keep playing with this set up until I decide whether or not I really like blending on a hackle enough to sink some money into a better set up, which will probably be homemade as well. Here's the first roving I pull off of the hackle.
Roving pulled from improvised hackle

Ada blocking Right now Ada is blocking. I used my Knitter's Blocks and steam blocked the top. I'll have to block the garter portion separately. I'm half through knitting the first sleeve and so far, so good.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Architectural Rib Pullover revisited

Architectural Rib Pullover Remember this? It is going to live with Kristine. I know that Kristine will give it a good home. I loved knitting it. It just isn't flattering on me. I got a really good idea for using the angled ribbing as a kick pleat in a skirt. I used up some of my stash yarn that I couldn't bring myself to give away as yarn and I've still got just under 3 skeins left to make something special for myself. For me, the best part is always in the making rather than the wearing. I thought about unraveling it and making something else. But this sweater is such a beautiful thing that I couldn't bring myself to do it.

I finished the body of Ada and started the sleeves, which I am knitting one at a time in case I encounter any problems. I really love the look of this sweater. Yet, man oh man, interpretation of the pattern has been a bit of a trial for me. Have I learned anything in the process? Yeah, I love knitting with my handspun!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A weekend of natural dyeing

I spent last weekend dyeing BFL with marigold (grown by me last summer), cochineal, and black walnut. These were all kettle dyed.

Marigold BFL Marigold.

Cochineal BFL Cochineal; it's a bit darker in real life.

Black Walnut BFL Black walnut; I was going for a color that reminds me of coffee with lots of cream. This is pretty close.

I also got these in the mail.

Butterfly Girl "Blackbird" Blackbird from Butterfly Girl Designs, a blend of 60% merino, 30% bamboo and 10% nylon firestar; it appeals to my inner magpie!

Dance of the Dervish Dance of the Dervish BFL from Crown Mountain.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

A little progress

Ada-beginning of skirt I've made a bit of progress on Ada, not much really. There are a lot of stitches on the needle--you start with 260 and decrease 2 stitches every three rows plus it's garter stitch, which eats up yarn but doesn't add a lot of inches. I've probably got about 5" more to go before switching to stockinette and shaping the bodice. This really doesn't make for good blog fodder, but it is what it is.

On Sunday, I started spinning up some carbonized bamboo that I bought from Tactile Fiber Arts. It wasn't smooth spinning at all. I predrafted thin strips of fiber and was getting lumpy yarn. I fluffed it even more and tried spinning over the fold--still getting lumpy yarn. On top of all of that I wasn't enjoying the hand of this fiber at all. The last time I spun bamboo I had the same reaction about the hand. On Monday, I inspected my results and hated, hated, hated them. So the spun fiber came off the bobbin. I gathered up the unspun fiber as well and trotted off to the garbage shoot and gleefully dumped it. I just needed it out of my life. This is no reflection on the quality of Tactile's fiber. I've spun other fibers from them and they were quite nice. In fact, I'm spinning up a lovely merino silk blend that was dyed with logwood gray I bought from them at Lambtown last summer. I just think that bamboo and I don't get along!