Sunday, August 27, 2006

Quick Gifts

These bookmarks are the result of the fair demo warp from a few posts ago. I like to have a few gifts on hand, and these fit the bill perfectly, hitting two birds with one stone: they were a great demonstration at the Fair, and now I have a stash of gifts:


Busy here at Lamb Central: too much to post right now but I'll fill you in later, trust me!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Sometimes the Answer Falls Out of the Sky

I have been fussing.

I have been spinning this yarn:

blue yarn

from this wool, which Lindsey gave me, dyed blues and sent off to Morro Fleece Works for processing.

I started spinning for *the next* lace shawl: Frost Flowers & Leaves by Eugen Beugler, from A Gathering of Lace. There is a method to my madness, in that this shawl would be another step in the lace knitting repertoire of skills: it is knit from the center out, in a square, like Kerry Blue. But it is charts only (gasp! learning curve), and has a whole section of lace-every-row, rather than the more comforting lace-then-knit-then-lace row construction of the previous shawls I have worked.

So, a cursory glance at the yardage requirements (which meant a bit of sleuthing as the book itself is very unhelpful on this point) and I figured I would need about 3600 yds. of wool yarn. The skeins were coming out at about 300 yds per skein, so I needed twelve of them. I spun and plied ten, and have four more bobbins spun to make up the remaining two, when I decided it was time for a closer look and a little more figuring.

Ahem. This shawl, when made in laceweight on size 6 needles, works up to a 72" square (biggish). My yarn, bigger than laceweight, would make a bigger shawl, bigger than 72" square. Hmmm. I could use smaller needles and make a more dense fabric (but my handspun is already more dense and heavier than commercial yarn, how heavy would this be?). Well, each skein weighs about 3 oz., so twelve of them would be 36 oz, or just over 2 lbs. Hmmmm, indeed.

Perhaps a re-think. Maybe I could do another Shetland-style square shawl, using simple lace patterns for the center, the border and the edging, and try my hand at designing my own, within the rudimentary lace skills I have acquired so far.

Well, so a swatch or two was in order:


These are several eyelet patterns from books by Barbara Walker, Vogue, Susanna Lewis and Sarah Don. Local friends Lindsey and Dee have been very encouraging, loaning me out-of-print books, showing me their own lace projects and generally egging me on (whether or not that was their intent). I looked through their books, picked a few patterns and knit away, happily dreaming of various pattern combinations and how I would choose them. It was great fun, by the way, this contemplative phase of the process. I recommend it.

Then I went to Colorado, spent some time looking through the extensive collection of patterns at Shuttles, and found this:

boundary waters

Too pretty. Swatches aside (they were useful: I liked the size 5 needles fabric better than the size 6, and may even try a size 4, yikes, I've succumbed to swatch fever), I'm starting Boundary Waters next. Any tips, hints, pitfalls-I-should-know?

The Falling Out of the Sky Part? I had to call Shuttles and order the pattern, it came winging its way to me this week. I liked it when I saw it, talked myself out of it (more patterns, who needs more patterns?) when I was in the shop, and thought about it all the way home on the plane (more sky). I called, I ordered, Maggie sent. I recommend the nice people at Shuttles, who send me things I *need*. Funny word, that.

The fate of Frost Flowers and Leaves? It's still on the list, still a very pretty shawl which will teach me a few things in its making. I will spin some more wool for that, a finer, softer twist yarn, more in line with the yarn used by the designer. I may even have to buy (gasp!) a sample skein to use as a guide, me, the inveterate spinner: the no thank you, I use my own yarn person. There's some Polwarth safely stored in a nice box in a yurt somewhere, it just needs a bit of color added to make it properly spinnable.

Friday, August 18, 2006

A Good Day Shopping

Some days, everything just falls into place:


What's this? A big old hard-sided suitcase, which if really full, I probably could not lift. But I was looking for just this, and tra-la, I found it, in red no less. Why? Here's the inside (looks almost brand new, unused):

suitcase inside

And here's the inside:

suitcase lendrum

after I put my Lendrum wheel in it. I occassionally want to travel with the wheel, and I'm not willing to fight with carry on rules or the people who enforce them. So I wanted a big hard-sided suitcase for the wheel. There is room enough to pack fiber, yarn, clothes, whatever, around it. Yay!

And it has wheels:

suitcase wheels

And a handle:

suitcase handle

so I can drag it along, not carry it. The almost best thing:

suitcase tag

The price tag. $7, from the hospice thrift shop. No keys, to be sure, but we can't lock anything anyway. Woot!

To add to my joy, the LYS is just down the street so I also managed a visit to yarn-and-pattern-land. And, the V'tae warehouse, local body products manufacturer, also just down the street, was having a half-off warehouse sale, so I stocked up on hand lotions, lip balm, and body mist. Anyone local? V'tae is moving to a larger place, and the warehouse sale goes on. Go by! (or should I say go buy?)

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Mess O' Color

Last weekend, 16 dyers in Colorado managed to dye over 600 color samples in one day:

mees o'color2

We are talking 16, hardworking, conscientious dyers. They made a mess of color samples, which I imagine they are now mounting into a dye sample book.

Here's a close up:

Mess o'color

21 two color blends, 10 three color runs, and value gradations of the 8 colors we used. That is one impressive pile of color, the full spectrum and then some. In one day, did I mention that?

Then, they painted skeins, fiber and warps. They did all of this while keeping up a cheerful countenance. Phew! I'm even tired thinking about it.

And me? Yes, I knit on the plane, there and back. I just couldn't have a bottle of water, or handlotion, and yes, (dripping sarcasm here) I feel so much safer.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Fair Enough

The past several days have been spent at the County Fair, helping with setup and display, then demonstrating. There were lots of weaving and knitting entries, handspun skeins, and fleeces. We had two judges: Nancy Grundy from Carson Valley, and Stephenie Gaustad, from Jackson. Both were delightful, and I hope, enjoyed the day as much as we did.

There was weaving:

fair6 2006
Dee's woven and embellished vest

fair4 2006
Dianna's shawl

fair 2006
A collaborative handspun tweed fabric from Beryl, Igor and Sue

There was knitting:

fair7 2006
Sue's vest

fair5 2006
Dee's felted bag

fair3 2006
Lisa's hat

fair2 2006
A collaborative handspun, indigo dyed, cotton knitted face cloth from Sue and Beryl (yikes)

And there was demonstrating:

fair8 2006

oops. Maybe there was chatting and waving of hands.

I borrowed these photos from our guild site, there are many more photos here. The Fair goes on, for three more days. Come out if you can!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Kerry Not Blue

We are done:

Kerry blue done

Yes, perhaps we are color challenged, but Kerry Blue in Red is done. Here are the before, during and after blocking photos:

kerry blue before blocking2
before blocking: soft and cuddly

kerry blue blocking
stretched out on towels, on the bed, with TIG rods through all the points

kerry blue done2

The yarn is handspun Blue Faced Leicester, from top, purchased from Paradise Fibers, dyed (see here), before spinning, with a variety of Lanaset reds. Spinning was done during the rainy season last Spring, which seemed never ending (the rain, not the spinning). You can see the color gradations in the yarn, and if you could feel it, you'd know the yarn is bouncy and soft. We've come full circle to the end product, in under a year's time.

Time moves at a different rate, where spinning, dyeing, and knitting or weaving a project is concerned. It does not seem like a year between the purchase of the fiber, the dyeing and planning, spinning and knitting. It is all a pleasure, so the whole task takes on the time-frame of any fun activity: it is over too soon.

Planning for the next shawl is under way. In fact, spinning started several weeks ago, seeing the end of this shawl was near. Pattern research and actual swatching (gasp!) has begun. It's the only way I know to recover from the end-of-project doldrums: jump right back on that (proverbial) horse, and away again, for another fun ride.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Fair Weather

Well, it's time again for the county fair. Receiving, judging and set up are this week, and the fair begins next Wednesday.

I've agreed to demonstrate inkle weaving, and have been working to clear off my inkle loom of the band I set up several months ago for the CNCH demonstration.

Very little weaving had been accomplished since May, so I had to get this off the loom:

CNCH demo band

To start this:

fair demo band

This is an easier pickup system to weave while distracted, and the fair is anything but a calm environment! There are children, dogs, cotton candy, popsicles, ice creams and other sticky substances in abundance. So, I wanted a simpler band, easier to weave and keep track of my place, and easier for fair goers to try. This pickup system is complementary: if one thread is picked up, another corresponding thread is dropped (unlike the supplementary of the black/red band, where pattern threads are picked up and dropped off at will, according to the draft).

I've done this S pattern often. I learned it from Ed Franquemont, one of my favorite-of-all-time teachers. Sadly, Ed died a few years ago, he was a spell-binding tale-weaver, as well as a fabulous spinner and weaver himself.

Ed called this pattern Kutij, translated to That Which Returns, for obvious reasons:

that which returns

Threading for this pattern is also easier than the Eastern European threading for the black/red band above: there is a border of any number of threads, then the pattern section is threaded with alternating colors, dark/light. This area would be horizontal bands of alternating colors, if no pickup patterning occurred.

I like to weave That Which Returns with the direction of the S alternating, and on a good day, alternate the colors of the motif and background. The fair not being designated a good day, as far as weaving concentration goes, I'll just weave a band of plain S's.

I'll be at the Fair Wednesday and Thursday, other guild members will be there too, and also on the weekend. Come by and say hello, if you are in the area, and try your hand at pickup inkle band patterning!