Saturday, August 23, 2008

And Now Back To Regularly Scheduled Knitting...

I didn't join the Ravelympics this month or last month's Tour de Fleece because I felt as if I had a lot going on already, and I didn't want to be pressured. It kind of felt as if imposing a deadline would have sucked all of the fun right out of something I normally love to do. That is for me, right now. I do want to take part in both at some point in the future, but this summer just wasn't right.

Turns out I'd have done just fine if I had joined in. I'm churning stuff off the needles and my wheel like crazy.

Behold...Ariann! Blocking:

I finished Ariann late last night, including weaving in all of the ends. Now all it needs are some nice buttons. I'll model later after it has dried. Here's a close-up of the pattern:

I enjoyed this project a lot. I do have to say though, I'm not going to miss trying to take decent pictures of shiny black yarn. My photography skills are pretty lame and the black shiny just shows off my incompetence in that department.

Remember my quandary? Well I opted for the green/blue/gold 100% Tencel from Tactile (go visit their on-line store - it's up!). Here it is:

Which was spun into this:

And then plied (2-ply) into this:

And then I started knitting this:

It's the Montego Bay Scarf (IK Summer 2007) by Amy Singer. A great scarf for hand-spun. This one is my 3rd, and it's going to be mine, all mine.

The Tencel definitely works better when blended with another fiber. The shiny is pretty and it's not hard to spin but it doesn't seem to have much drape. The colors, however, are fab and I can't wait to see how it knits up!

I've also started the February Lady Sweater - though barely - all I've done is swatch. I'm using some Noro Cash Iroha from my stash - in color #86 which is discontinued. It shows up substantially brighter here than it really is. It's pretty close to a dark denim.

And here's the swatch. Thrilling, huh?! Try and contain your excitement.

Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch, Grandma's Fighting Off The Zucchini...

These are 4 that escaped detection for a while; we've picked 11 more since then.

And harvested some potatoes!

When I first started gardening a million years ago (I am that old) I never considered growing potatoes because they're inexpensive and I thought they'd use up too much garden space. But I eventually decided to give them a try and wow. I had no idea how much better a home-grown potato can be. We grow ours in a potato bin - sort of a cylindrical thingy with holes that lets you grow a whole bunch of them in a smaller space. Ours is different from the one that's linked but it's a similar concept.

We opted for a few different kinds of potato - Yukon Gold, red, blue, and a few more exotic types - such as Stay-Puft Marshmallow

And what my husband refers to as 'Purple Poop' (don't Google that - I did and I'm now scarred for life):

See? Purple inside too. Kathy, that was for you.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Reading It Wrong

Here's what I read this morning:

"I took my son to Ravelry to get his learner's permit. We were in and out in 20 minutes. "

1) You can take someone to Ravelry?
2) I didn't know any licensing was required. Eek! The Knitting Police will be at my door any second!
3) Since when can one get in and out of Ravelry in only 20 minutes?

Then I re-read: "I took my son to the Registry..."


Clearly I need more caffeine before I get on line.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Decisions, Decisions...

A few weeks ago, I dragged myself to the mall (I hate malls) and the Gilroy Premium Outlet Center and bought myself some new clothes. It was a huge success - I bought a lot of things I needed that fit nicely, were flattering, and to top it off were on sale at great prices. Examples: $65 sandals for $19.95. $40 tops for $9.95. Etcetera. I was happy (and still am) except...everything I bought was either brown, beige or black. Neutrals are great for mixing/matching, but seriously - a bit dull, no?

Solution: I'm going to Spinnity's house this afternoon for our monthly spinning get-together. I've decided that to brighten up my earth-color wardrobe I'm going to spin and knit myself some colorful scarves. Decorative scarves, not necessarily built for the cold outdoors. I'm working from stash and I have a number of options. I'm having trouble deciding which I want to make first (double click any picture to get a better view):

This is 2 ounces of naturally dyed Tencel from Tactile A Fiber Arts Studio. You'll see that a lot of my options are from Tactile. I love their fiber and their yarn, and most of all their approach to dyeing their product. And they're going to open their online store soon! Make sure to check them out.

This is 2 ounces of 100% bamboo, also from Tactile.

This is 4 ounces of Merino/Tencel from Deep Color Studio (sadly they don't do retail any more). I can't seem to get the color right here - it's not all gray. It's a lovely blend of dark blue, teal and grays. So no, I wouldn't be adding another bland color to my bland wardrobe!

Another not-good picture of very good fiber! This is Corriedale from Grafton Fibers. It's a beautiful blend of purple, blue, olive green and a touch of gray/brown.

Another batt from Grafton Fibers. Bee-yoo-teous stuff bought at Stitches West '07 before I learned how to spin. I knew I'd do it some day.

Two ounces of Cashmere/Tussah Silk blend. Softness to die for! I know. Cream colored. But the plan would be to dye it after I turn it into yarn.


Do I say the heck with scarves for now and start spinning some laceweight out of this?

More from Tactile: this is a total of 8 ounces of Alpaca/Silk. I'm dying to work with this, even though I have no need for the wrap/shawl that it will eventually become.

What do you think I should do?

Friday, August 8, 2008

None Of Us Are Free Unless All Of Us Are Free

Pippi Kneesocks has created a new colorway, 'Free Tibet' reminiscent of Tibetan prayer flags as a reminder that Tibet has seen no improvement in it's need for freedom. Bev has started a contest in support.

Go read their posts as well as the information on these sites. Enter the contest if you want to. But most importantly, on this eve of the Olympics keep Tibet in your hearts and show that we care and we won't forget. None of us are free unless all of us are free.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Priciest Drier Lint Ever!

I'm on a tear - somebody stop me! I started and completed another spinning project. Granted it was only an ounce of fiber but I spun it pretty fine. Not the finest I could have, but I got 200 yards out of one ounce of...

Quiviut! Doesn't it look like drier lint?

I bought it at Stitches 2008. Windy Valley Musk Ox sells absolutely gorgeous Quiviut yarn in one-ounce balls, claiming that you can make a small scarf or neck warmer from one skein. Cheap broad that I am, I decided that I could spin as fine as they did, and therefore make myself the same thing buying their un-spun fiber instead of the yarn. And by doing so, I could save some pretty major $$ (though don't get too excited - it was still super expensive - Cashmere is cheap in comparison). I am not by the way, slamming them for the price; there are valid reasons for the premium one pays for Quiviut; I'm just saying that no matter what the form, it's not inexpensive fiber.

I spun the yarn nearly as fine as they did, but clearly their fiber goes through a bit more processing along the way - there was a fair amount of VM (vegetable matter) and it could have been combed out more smoothly. But rather than stressing about it I decided to spin a more of a rustic yarn. Double-click for a better look. What do you think?

Up close and personal:

Final product:

This is the lightest, fluffiest skein I've ever created. I do wonder if I'd liked it more had it been more thoroughly de-tangled. I also have to admit I like the finished product better than the process on this one. Maybe it was the resemblance to drier lint, or having to stop often to pull out the bits of hay. But no matter; I love this yarn! It's going to become a little, lacy, worn-close-to-the-neck item for yours truly. It'll be nice to have something warm for those brutal, frigid California winters...(?)

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Touch Me!*

Maybe one of these days I'll stop looking at my hand-spun as a finished object and recognize the fact that one can actually take it a step further and knit with it (imagine!). But for now, it's another FO.

Here are the singles (Crown Mountain Farms Superwash Merino in Touch Me color way):

And (taDA!) the finished yarn:

I had a little left over at the end of one bobbin so I Navajo-plied the rest:

And here they are with some of the unspun fiber:

I don't think I'll ever get tired of seeing how the colors change as you put them through the different steps - or techniques. So cool!

I think this is the finest and most consistently spun yarn I've made so far. I spun a touch over 4 ounces and came out with about 540 yards of 3-ply (470 regular ply and the remainder is the Navajo). With my lack of height, heck I could make a pair of thigh-highs with all of that yardage. Hmm...wool thigh-highs. Yeah, that's HOTT...

*I can only imagine what kind of searches that title's going to bring to this blog...