Sunday, April 30, 2006

I did it

I took the plunge. This is my new Kromski Prelude. Let's hope we have a nice relationship.

Here are some alpacas doing what they do best: Looking cute!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Alpaca Fest

I just got back from The Great Midwest Alpaca Festival. I decided not to go to the Blackberry Ridge open house. The Alpaca Festival was dangerous enough. I bought some wonderful yarn: 3 8 ounce/665 yard hanks and one 1041 yard hank which is about 12 ounces. I was able to talk briefly to Susan about wheels and try out one of the ones she brought. Her attention was pulled in about 8 directions at once, but she still gave me a little instruction while she sold yarn and talked about spinning. I didn't intend to become part of the entertainment, but there I was, treadling away with a small crowd watching. Owen tried, too, and wanted me to come home with a wheel. I told him I need to learn a little more to make an informed decision. Susan said that if I come back tomorrow morning when it's less crowded I can have a little more of her attention. Two visits to the Alpaca Fest, two days in a row: sounds dangerous to me.

I didn't take the camera today, but tomorrow I will. I think they are the cutest animals in the world.

Friday, April 28, 2006

I Made More Yarn!

I think I'm really getting the hang of this drop spindle biz. And I'm leaning more toward a wheel. At least doing a little research. Research doesn't hurt, right?

Here's a closer view. Most of this batch is probably around worsted weight. It's just under 22 yards. Still not enough to use by itself, but I'm still hoping to make enough for a hat from the one ball of roving we bought at Rainbow Fleece Farm.

Tomorrow is a day chock full of knitterly opportunities. Last Saturday Knitting in the morning, open house at Blackberry Ridge Mill all day, and the Alpaca Fest all weekend. The safest thing would be for me to sit home and play with the yarn I already own. Well, knitting group is safe because it meets at a coffee shop and I usually make great progress on socks while I'm there. But Blackberry Ridge and the Alpaca Fest are both extremely dangerous! Any co-conspirators with me? Should we make a break for it?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

More Garden Pics

Things are starting to pop up all over the yard. I took a bunch of pictures today. Let's see what spring looks like in Madison this year...
(All these pictures should get a little bigger if you click 'em.)

Bleeding Hearts


More Grape Hyacinths

Violets in the lawn

New growth on a yew

At Long Last

alisharHat10The Alishar Hat pattern is now available for immediate download at The Garter Belt. Pattern Page here. That only took about 3 months longer than it should have.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

I Made Yarn!

FirstHandSpun3I didn't believe that I could ever have the spinner's mindset, but maybe I do?

I bought this roving a couple weeks ago at Rainbow Fleece Farm. I don't know exactly what breed of sheep it came from. It's very soft. At first I had problems with it sliding apart when I tried to draft it and the spindle fell to the floor a few times. But, I think the whole process is starting to make sense to me. This is the first time I've actually produced a length of something I would call yarn without feeling that I was stretching the definition. handspunCloseupOf course, this isn't enough to be useful for much other than as an accent in something else. I plan to continue spinning up the ball of roving, and maybe I can make a hat. Or part of a hat.

It's mind-boggling to me to think about how many hours it took to make a garment 1000 years ago! Imagine, all spinning done on drop spindles and how long it would take to make enough thread to weave into cloth, or yarn for a sweater? and then the time making it. OnTheSpindleEven a lower-middle class American enjoys such a standard of living compared to what all but the most pampered royalty endured back then.

The bottom photo shows it after I plied, but still on the spindle.

Now, tell me I do not need to think about a spinning wheel. Right? That would be trouble. I do not need a wheel.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The Story of Three Hats

3hatsOnce a woman made a beautiful sweater which she tried to publish in an online knitting magazine. But, alas, it wasn't right for their market. Then she submitted it to a well-regarded print magazine, but they did not want to publish the design either. Undaunted, the woman said, "I'll just publish it myself," and she did.

After a few weeks she decided that it would pretty easy to make a hat using the same design elements and yarn. And in fact, it ought to have been a very easy project. But it was not. She set to work right away and made a hat. It looked nice, but it was too small. In fact, it would have fit a toddler. No problem, she thought. I'll make a bigger one. And she did! But it was too big! And when she gave it a light wash to block, it grew even bigger! alisharHat2sThe hat fell down over her eyes and did not look stylish at all! This hat would fit someone with a giant head and big hair. Despairing of ever getting it right, the knitter made some other things for a while. She made two other hats in a completely different style. She worked on a new sweater design. But the hat project needed to be done. "This time," she said to herself, "it will be just right. And it was!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

H is For Hyacinth! (or is it hiacynth?)

HisForHyacinthGo ahead and click on it to make it bigger. I'll wait.

While I was out in the garden, crawling around pointing my camera at the ground, muttering to myself, and occasionally yelling at the kids to get out of the light, I heard my name being called from my backyard neighbor. The designer of that pattern (you did click the link, didn't you?) is a friend of my neighbor. That designer offered a knitting machine she doesn't want to move to members of our local knitting group and I was the first one to answer yes. So, tonight while I was crawling around with my possessed camera, she came to deliver it! How exciting. It's much much heavier than either of the knitting machines I already own. I'm hoping it will be a more friendly than my oldest one, which is probably from the late '70s. I'm not sure of the vintage of this one, but I think certainly no older.grapehyacinth1

While I was at it, I took a few other photos in the garden. The lilac leaf buds are opening. There's a grape hyacinth and a little teeny blue flower I don't know the name of. It grows among the ferns. I was looking for fiddleheads when I found it.


Edited to add
For the Record, my camera is an Olympus Camedia C-5060 Widezoom, 5.1 megapixels. I'm quite happy and would recommend it to anyone wanting to step up from point and shoot, but not ready to spend the money for a true digital SLR and 8 megapixels.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

You know it's really spring when...

You know it's really spring when the crocuses finally bloom and the noise of birds in the yard wakes you up at dawn. In this case it was one of the many Misters Cardinal who live in or near our yard. The kids have been wearing shorts and t shirts. We can boot them out to romp with almost no preparation. We've been enjoying our porch, eating dinner out there every night. I need to get a good knitting lamp in place out there: the overhead doesn't really cast enough light for my favorite porch chair.

In knitting news, I've been getting serious about a big Fair Isle kind of project. I was writing a post for The Garter Belt blog and tried to take pics, but the battery needed charging. (At least we now know where the charger is! Every time!) So, perhaps I can finish my preliminary swatch tonight and take pics to finish the post for tomorrow.

As much as I miss wearing wool sweaters in the warmer months, I'm happy spring is here.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

An Auspicious Fortune!

This is the kind of fortune cookie message I like. None of this wishy-washy pearls of wisdom crap, but an actual prediction and a good one at that. Here's to it!

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Mystery Project Revealed

But, you have to work for it.

Here's a little clue for you all.

Put on your detective hats and follow the trail to the solve the mystery. You'll find The Garter Belt Knitty Readers surprise.

Stash Enhancement eXpedition to New Glarus

yarnFromtheBarnHere's the yarn I bought at Rainbow Fleece Farm. There's also a skein of natural white, but it was reflecting too much so I cropped it out.

Here's the closer view.

Owen also insisted that we get some roving. He seems truly powerless over roving. He chose a nice natural brown and this light blue with darker blue streaks.rovingRainbowFarm

Here's a closer view of the blue.blueroving

Sunday, April 09, 2006

NOW do you like my hat?

Alisharhat1OK, it's not a very good picture of me, but I'm quite happy with the Alishar Hat. It took a few false starts, but now I just need to do the writing.

newyarn1In Other News...
S.E.X. in New Glarus at the Rainbow Fleece Farm Openhouse and Shearing Here I am holding two new acquisitions. There's more than that I'll try to show you tomorrow.

The Little Emperor met some sheep! Click on that one to really see the fabulous expression.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Do You Like My Hat?

DoyoulikemyhatHere's a hat I made from Knit Picks Panache. I'm undecided about the result. The Panache is very soft.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Here are the progress photos of Scott's slip stitch pullover. This is the kind of project that would be good to take on a long drive from, say, Maine to Arizona. If you get to be the passenger. And you don't have to provide the on-board amusement for young children. Just put in your favorite music and watch the landscape go by while you knit slip knit slip knit slip, purl back, etc. sockyarnToo bad I don't have any big trips planned. What's worse, when we take a family trip, I always have to do the driving.

Oh, and there on the right? That's a little more stash. I'll just keep dribbling it out, bit by bit, which is how it all got here in the first place.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Well, thank goodness that's over...

BabyUlloddsnendsI'm thinking that what I really need to do is start now and make quality photos of every category of yarn I own. And take 'em all out of the boxes, so it's not just the top layer you're looking at. It really would be a handy semi-permanent archive. I was almost inspired to start this evening, with some of the stuff I didn't expose to the harsh glare of public scrutiny.

leftoverDonegalThank you all for being kind. I feel sheepish about the whole thing. Not guilty. But a little out-of-control. But then I realize that by flashing, I seem to make life easier for other yarn-lovers the world over, because they can show their spouses (and equivalents) my Flash, and theirs doesn't seem that bad.

Can you believe that on Saturday afternoon I actually went to a yarn shop and bought yarn? Well, I needed something specific right away. Which I found. And already made the project I needed it for. Which I can't show you, because it's for a submission. Alas Alack. So, it didn't really add to the stash because it got used. Except for the extra that didn't get used. OK, a wee bit o' stash enhancement.chunkies

So, what else is going on around here? I finished Dad's birthday socks. Need to put them in the mail tomorrow. I will also off-load a bunch of Lopi onto my Mom at the same time, thereby reducing the stash by about 1 cubic foot. I made and wrote the submission project in record time. I'm waiting on Zib and a Mysterious Third Party to reveal more about the Mystery Project. Of course, you already saw the picture, but you want to know how to recreate one for yourself, right? Sorry. The unveiling is out of my hands. I'm just waiting, too.

Last night I resumed work on the long dormant tweedy sweater for Scott. I'm afraid this pattern will have no commercial appeal when it's finally done. Men will love it because it's so plain. But the knitting partners of the world will scream, "NUMBER THREE NEEDLES?!? WTF! for a 6'2" 225 pound guy? Is she nuts?" Well, we already know the answer to that. But yeah. Last night I asked Scott, "Are you sure you aren't really a sweater-vest kind of guy?" Because I'm already hating the sleeves and I'm not anywhere near making the sleeves. Just most of the way up the back. And still have to do the front. I'm not doing a good job selling this project, am I? He's going to love it. I'll really love it when it's done.brownandRedRitDye But I wish I had some elves sneaking in at night to do my knitting for me when I leave it around too long. Wouldn't that be nice?

For those of you who've been waiting to hear, I promise to get the Alishar Hat project moving again, too. Just in time for summer.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Flash Your Stash 2006 Many many photos

We'll start with the overview
This is my basement lair, where I putter with yarn and fabric

The Wall O Yarn is 8 feet wide, 2 feet deep and about 6 feet high. Many of the boxes and bins are packed tight

What Does 106 Quarts of Yarn Look Like? Like this...


Big Box of Cones
It's all because of WEBS and their great bag price on Jo Sharp

Every stash needs a little Koigu

Blackberry Ridge wool/silk blend

recent ReKAL yarn: from a thrift shop sweater, hand-dyed by me and Owen, with Wilton's coloring

Knit One Crochet Too Parfait: lots of a dusky lilac color, six skeins of brown

More Knit One Crochet Too Parfait, a nice blue and a basic grey

Miscellaneous yarns:

nov5 yarn crawl

Additionally, here are links to last year's photos that are still part of the stash this year
A whole lot of mohair
Lovely yarn from Harrisville (where is that hiding right now?)
More mohair
Still more mohair
Classic Elite Tapestry
Schaeffer Yarns merino
Pastel mohairs
Jewel tone mohairs
Manos and other miscellany
Patons Classic I have more of this now, too.

There's more than this. I just can't dedicate the time and energy to documenting all of it. In my own defense, I'll point out that the vast majority of yarn found its way to me for free or very inexpensively. My grandmother gave me all her mohair, which she bought from a yarn store going out of business sale, circa 1970. My mom and dad found several very large boxes of yarn being thrown out in the aftermath of an estate sale. The thrift shops here have been incredible sources of cheap yarn. So, as bad as this looks, my cash outlay for yarn has not devastated my family finances. Maybe by next year I can prune it back to about 60% of the current quantity. Probably not, but that's a worthy goal.