Friday, August 18, 2006

Sample skein and a swatch

Call me corny but I just thought it would be so cute to make a baby cardigan that matches my husband's Irish Moss sweater by Alice Starmore. Whenever I saw pictures of whole families wearing the same hand knitted sweaters on the pages of pattern books, I cringed. But I think this is a little different. For starters, the baby garment will be a cardigan, not a closed sweater, and the colors will be completely different (my husband's is brown), never mind that no one looks at the parents when they see the cute plump baby.

Anyway, here's a close up of the sample skein I spun up 3-ply of that clown-wig color combo. See, it's not too bright at all. In fact, it's a very mossy green.

I made a little swatch using US size 4 needles to see how the cabled patterns would look like with this yarn. I like 3-ply yarn better than 2-ply for cable knitting because it really shows off the stitches, especially on patterns that rely heavily on twisted stitches.

I noticed the colors on the two pictures above look a little different from each other. The best match to the actual yarn I'm looking at next to my computer is a mix of those two.

The yarn is SO incredibly soft. I can't stop petting the swatch. I decided that I like this color combination, so now I just have to comb the rest of the dyed locks (some 300 grams) together in the same color ratios.

Hope yall have a great weekend!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Big update - Cormo fleeces!!!

Warning: this post is very dense on pictures.

My apologies for not posting anything here for over two weeks! Today I am going to make up for it in a big way.

A couple of weeks ago I received two beautiful Cormo fleeces from Sue Reuser at Cormo Sheep & Wool Farm in California. They arrived in this box, which looked pretty small for two fleeces weighing a total of ~8lbs.

notice the cute little white paw on the right

Anyway, after I opened the box, the mystery was solved. They were vacuumed packed! Very cool.

I bought these two fleeces because they have great length and crimp and because one of them is named Ho!

I am first going to show you Ho's fleece and then the other, which is a hogget fleece (the first shearing for that sheep).

So here are some pictures of Ho's entire fleece and close ups.

and I learned from Sue that scanned locks come out sharper and with more detail. So here're Ho's locks close up. I tried to take representative samples of the entire fleece. Look at the perty crimp!

the two locks on the right have been washed and the one at the bottom was flicked with a dog comb, notice how white it turned

In the time since I last posted here, I've really gotten into 3-ply yarn. Ho's wool is amazing to comb, so soft! And spinning it is wonderful too!

3-ply super soft Ho yarn

As an aside, last year, during the NY Sheep & Wool Festival, I got this book:

and finally last week, I decided to put it to good use. I happen to have a huge stash of dry porcini mushrooms and I used about 5 grams (that's a tiny amount for those of you who love Boletus edulis and think it's a sin to use it in the dye pot) of it to dye Ho yarn with Alum mordant. And here's how it came out:

It's a lovely nutty beige shade, kind of like the inside of a chestnut. The skinny skein on top is undyed Ho yarn.

Ok, now on to the hogget.

It has a very peculiar look to it at first glance. Sue told me she washes the lambs before putting jackets on them. But the fleece was overall very clean. There were more seed heads and grass bits than in Ho's fleece, but not too bad. Doesn't it look so comfy to sleep on?

And here are the scanned locks:

locks to the right have been washed and the bottom one was flicked with a dog comb

the neat thing about this hogget fleece is that after washing it, it felt so incredibly soft. It was already soft to begin with, but now it's like nothing. What I mean by that is that when you pet the combed top, you really can't tell when your hand actually touches the wool! It's that soft!

and here's 3-ply of hogget yarn:

I thought this hogget wool would be perfect for baby/children's clothes. So I am saving it all for that purpose. I want to make a little green Aran cabled sweater with some of it. I really like the Jamieson's shetland yarns for their depth in color. There are these specks of contrasting colors amidst a more subdued color. The only problem with that yarn is that it is itchy! No good for baby clothes. So I decided to dye my own version.

Now I know these colors look scary, all bold and clashy, like a clown's puffy wig.

But once you comb them together you get a much subdued range of colors.

And for those of you who know how shy Spooky is, here's a picture of him literally resting his head on the combed top and sleeping.

That's it for now! I still have to spin that sample top and once I do, I'll post it here. I am really happy with the fleeces I got at Cormo Sheep & Wool Farm and you should go check out their website some time. Cormo is a beautiful and wonderful breed. It's my favorite breed!

Monday, July 31, 2006

Weekend dye job

Since this weekend weather was so pleasant, I decided to heat up the dye pot with some merino top.

I went all crazy with the colors because I just wanted to spin something not monochromatic for a while (my exploding stash includes things in greys, whites, browns, blacks, blues, pinks, reds, and oranges, but none mixed!). So this was the result. I kind of like it the way it is right now, don't know how I will feel after I spin it tho.

I also over dyed some merino/tencel blended top that I bought a while back and didn't like the color (it was "honey"). This looks better, and I already started spinning it into singles yarn. I will try to make a swatch to post up here soon.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Lots of different things going on

Since last week's post I've been sort of scattered brained, doing a bunch of different little projects. So today, I'm just going to post them up.

First off, there were the dyed blanks for the French Market Bag (FMB).

the colors are very bold but that's what I wanted because when felted, the bag really looks neat with contrasting colors.

I've been knitting this on and off, as it is kind of boring to do. My favorite part is when it's all done and ready to felt. This bag is a modified version of the FMB. I found that I like it much better with a rectangular, rather than a square, bottom. Also, I like it with long handles. When I learn how to post PDF files, I will put up the instructions for this modified FMB.

I also finally found the other half of the merino/silk top that I had begun to spin in June.

Somehow it got put away with some tool boxes and it was not until we were unpacking some more boxes (slowly but surely, we will unpack all of our stuff, even if it means a whole year after our move) that my husband found it. Anyway, there's a lonely bobbin-full of merino/silk singles waiting to be joined with another singles to make super soft and shiny 2-ply lace-weight yarn.

And lastly, I found the perfect fun little project to use up my leftover sock yarn. It's the Nautie! It's just so cute and fun. AND, you can finish it in one sitting! So I got excited about taking pictures of it:

I have a bunch more of leftover sock yarn that will probably become other Nautie strains.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Knitted blanks and some combed top

I decided to go with the knitting machine option for prepping the yarn for dyeing stripes. It just seemed so much faster than using the warping board. I knit all four skeins of Cascade in less than an hour! They are 35 stitches wide, which gave me plenty of room for dying and did not take up the whole length of my table. The yarn is now skeined and hanging to dry, will try to take some photos of it tomorrow.

In the mean time, here are some other things I did:

I combed about 75 grams (> 2.5 ounces) of the Merino x Corriedale fleece I bought a while back. I still need to comb another 40-50 grams more for the project I want to start, but this was fun. I haven't combed any wool in about a month and had almost forgotten how much fun it is! This wool will be used for my husband's Zigzag scarf, knit the long way. I made a swatch of it months ago and my husband liked it. It all started when I got the Spring issue of Spin Off magazine. I really wanted to try out the energized singles scarf idea mentioned in the magazine. My husband hates cables, or worse, lace, for himself, so the Zigzag pattern was pretty innocuous.

Oh, I also finished spinning singles of that Merino/Tencel blend from Bonkers. I think this one will be for Mrs. B. I like the color changes in it. It would also make a nice Zigzag scarf... hmm, I think I got zigzags on my mind.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Dyed silk singles

At the beginning of this year I dyed some Tussah silk top and some Polypay fleece together in the same pot. I wanted a blend of silk and wool (20:80), which I accomplished by combing. I made 2-ply fingering weight yarn (~200 grams) for my friend's birthday. It came out nice with a touch of shimmer, but alas, no recorded picture of it to post here.

But anyway, I had dyed WAY more silk than I actually used for that project. So last week I spun the rest by itself. There's ~50 grams of it here and about 350 yds.

shiny variegated pink silk

I've been noticing that I dye a lot of my fibers pink... I think I should force myself to look the other way and choose a different shade. I really like pink, though I don't think it goes particularly well on me. Anyway, don't know what I want to do with this yet. I would love to weave something in silk, but that will have to wait until I get a little table loom... which means a really long wait.

On a different note, I bought some plain worsted weight wool to make another (I already made 4!) French Market Bag. My favorite bag was one I made with some Noro yarn. So I am psyching myself up for "warping" it on my board. I want to make a sort of stripey pattern with it and for that I need a very long skein. I saw in Monica's blog, Two Left Needles, that she used a knitting machine to create a fabric on which she painted the stripes. I like this idea too, and maybe I will dig out my old childhood knitting machine for this purpose. Do any of you have a preferred method?

Will post pictures of whatever happens soon.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Lots of New Fibers!

My first try at spinning was at a friend's house last year in late summer. It was there that I met her mother, Mrs. B., who is a spinning and weaving instructor. Mrs. B. kindly asked if I'd like to try out her Schacht Matchless wheel. I immediately accepted the offer as I've always wanted to learn how those neat wheely-machines worked. In retrospect, my first yarn was weird looking: lumpy and uneven, with skinny and thick pieces all over. But I still loved it and boy, was I excited about it. It had a very authentic, homegrown feeling to it. I made a tiny baby hat with this yarn, which, when I find out where it is, I will post it here. Later, she lent me one of her wheels indefinitely until I either got sick of spinning or fell in love with it. Of course the outcome was the latter one and never has there been a dull moment in spinning for me. Mrs. B. has not only been my spinning teacher but also a dear friend. She's one of the kindest people I know. And here's one example (of many, many, many) of her kindness and generosity. When I got sick with shingles, Mrs. B. was at the Convergence conference in Grand Rapids, MI. There, she got me a ton of beautiful fibers to play with.

50:50 Merino:Tussah Silk fleece and 70:30 Lambswool:Alpaca fleece from Ursula's Alcove, 50:50 Tussah Silk:baby Camel Down top and 80:20 black Alpaca:Bombyx mori Silk top from Shadeyside Farm, 50:50 Merino:Tencel top in Emerald Forest and Obscure Rainbow by Bonkers, black Alpaca:Silk top, and Alpaca top in grey, brown and beige from Alpaca with a Twist.

The only condition upon receiving this wonderful gift was that I spin half of it for her--which is a most welcomed pleasure. As I said before, I love to spin, and spinning for Mrs. B. is like a learning experience and honor all at once. I am very excited! All these fibers are incredibly soft, especially the alpaca tops. I am now trying to decide what weight yarn and whether to spin singles or 2-ply for the Merino:Tencel blended top. I love those colors!

Also, believe it or not, the only drop spindle I've ever used was a CD-spindle. So Mrs. B let me try out her new Golding Ring Spindle. It was amazing! It keeps on spinning and nice! She lent me a Jonathan Bosworth spindle to play with for now. It's also very nice but I still prefer the Golding spindle, which has now been added to my wishlist.

With all these new and wonderful goodies around me I almost forgot to mention something I had forgotten to write up in last week's entry: the material I used for the placemats were linen for the warp and cotton for the weft. Here's a picture of the cut out mats with the edges tucked in and pressed, but not yet sewn (needed to go buy new heavy-duty sewing needles for my machine!).