Projects Uncategorized

Squirrel! (When Crafters Get Distracted)

In the movie Up, there’s a lovely sequence about a dog that constantly get distracting whenever he sees a squirrel:

True story: members of one of my congregations knew the actual dog this was based on.

Last week, I had great intention of beginning to spin the lovely hand-dyed merino, and I even did a couple of samples and swatches:

both have a lovely hand. I like how the heavier three-ply feels more, but the weight of the lighter one is more practical. I was ready I thought, to begin, but then I rummaged through my hand-spun shelf, and discovered a lovely hand-painted BFL that had already been spun into 3 singles, only awaiting plying and finishing. Squirrel!

It really only took about 1.5 hours on the spindle to do this, and now I have this lovely yarn. It needed a good thwacking after soaking to get the kinks out.

which will help me complete a cowl/mittens/hat set – the color way is close enough to coordinate well:

In the meantime, I saw someone had linked to a Jillian Moreno post on spinning on <>, and I realized that no way do I have enough of the green merino top for a sweater – I probably have about 1/2 to 3/4 of what I need. So I will be looking to find some more merino top in probably a neutral color way to pair with this for my sweater adventures. I’m hoping to go to Lambtown this year so that will be on my shopping list!

Finally I’m finishing up reading Craeft by Alexander Langlands. It’s so interesting to read someone who has thought a lot about the meaning of crafts. Check it out!


FO: My Linen Tank Top

Over the weekend, and just as our heatwave finished up, I completed the linen top I’ve been working on.

This is a top I’ve made a couple of other times. The most successful was done in the old version of the Shibui linen, so I bought some of their new version (Reed) in the Graphite color way.

I loosened the gauge a bit because of the darker color, and it worked out fine. Project details here.

Like the original, I wanted to do the single line of beads along the neck edge, so I rummaged through my bead stash, and decided going with a complementary color would give the whole thing a bit of a pop.

And really happy with how it came out!



Options for Spinning

To Knit What I’ve Spun

As mentioned here, the Fiber Optics gradient is completely done – spun and finished and everything.

I’ve been pondering what to knit out of it, and found some shawl options – but stay tuned for the problem at the end.

This one is nice, but just ok. Espiral was knit in the same color way by DaisyPhd:

This one is better, and has the benefit of being adjustable in size. Siren Song Again, I lucked out that Elaughn on Ravelry had knit in a similar Fiber Optics color way, although it says she used 2 skeins at 228 grams, so I don’t think I have enough to get the effect I’d like.

This pattern by Romi is my favorite. FuchsiaNouveau-petite (photo by Merrick79)

I think I have just enough yardage to finish, and since it is my precious handspun, I think I need to go for it! Luckily, Romi had a 20 percent off sale on the pattern.

Update: I hadn’t checked gauge and it turns out that the yarn is really a sport-is weight, so I’d be pretty sure to run out of yarn.  Rechecking my options!

To Spin

Then I’m also looking at the options for what to spin next. Here are the three contenders:

Two Rainbow Rolls of Noro wool pencil roving in VERY BRIGHT colors. 100 g each

I have to think what I would spin with it – I’m thinking thick and funky at the moment, like this single from nevermore on Ravelry:

I have these two 2 oz skeins of A Verb for Keeping Warm’s hand-dyed BFL – a good project for a cowl or socks:

and then I bought these 4 oz hand-dyed skeins of merino top at a steal at the Big Sky Fiber Festival years ago – and the colors are calling to me.

I’ve wanted to give myself a bigger project, like a sweater or top, and I have enough of this to do it. I know, it’s merino, but I love the colors and I wanna:

I’m thinking of shooting for a light fingering sweater 2-ply, since I have 12 oz and will need to make enough yarn!



Summer Trip

About a week ago I got the chance to go down to Southern California to see friends and family. It was lovely to have the time to spend with people I love!

One of the serendipitous reasons to go down was to help a family friend, Bonny, through a small procedure on her back. Except when you are 90, no procedure is really minor. Anyway, although Bonny felt really guilty to have me there with her,  I was glad to do so.

The fact that I was able to be there was a great bit of timing – Bonny had thought of asking me, and right after I sent her an email telling her when I’d like to come. We were so happy that this worked out, and I was grateful to be of use.

I think I’ve figured out that my job between jobs is to see how I can serve the world right now. I’m not sure completely how this will pan out, but it is a positive frame and it makes me look for things around me. Just yesterday, a clerk in the pet store was looking a bit down, and we got into conversation and talked about the beautiful weather, and by the time he put my massive bags of litter in my car, he had a smile on his face. My mom used to do this, and in my childishness I rolled my eyes and got embarrassed, but now I am wiser. It is worth helping each other even in the smallest ways.

Anyway, I got to visit one of the places my family used to go all the time – the Los Angeles Country Arboretum. The land used to be owned by the Lucky Baldwin family, who were train barons, and I was a bit worried when I visited that I would be disappointed. Instead, I realized that it was bigger and better than in my childhood.

Among my favorite memories were the Queen Anne Cottage. I used to imagine the people who lived there – but in fact, no one lived there, it was built for parties!

The Arboretum is known for its peacocks, and I was really lucky to see a lot of them.

And as children, we used to run through the palm trees and what we thought of as “the jungle’ – I thought it might seem smaller, but it actually it seems like everything is way bigger (It’s only been 40 years or so!).

There are also plenty of new things, small gardens and corners that are delightful, and small touches even in the sidewalk.

The trip also included plenty of meals with friends, and even going to a friend’s gig at a restaurant. It was really great to connect again.

My friend Nhien and I always try for time for knitting together – and this time I got to see her finished Find Your Fade cardigan in some amazing colors – she was able select disparate colors and totally make them work. Nhien’s work is in textile design, so it’s not a surprise that she was able to do this well. Next time I want to do this kind of project, I think I’ll ask for her help!


Summer Knitting

I’ve been working on a few projects this summer, consistent with potentially hot weather and small enough to not have them heat my lap up.

I’ve got a jump on Christmas presents with a pair of men’s socks (this is my project page on Ravelry):

I adapted a cowl pattern for a birthday gift – it’s not really a secret, since I showed the intended recipient. The pattern is called Into the Wind, and it consists of garter stitches and a simple lace.  The original pattern has a broad triangle at the front, and I wanted it to shape more, so I began increasing the increases at the edge. This gave it a more oval shape and the center triangle becomes almost a cowl shape.

The other changes included using two colors (I’m using stash yarn and thought it would be fun), and eliminated bobbles but kept the fringe:

And now I’m working toward finishing the linen top I began as my in-between time started. The front is complete:

and I’m halfway through the back. I knit this flat because I want the stability of the side seams to keep the top from twisting.

What has kept you knitting this season?


Natural Dyeing – A New Adventure

When I knew that I was going to have “in between time” from my last interim job to whatever is in my future, I decided to take a natural dyeing class in my area – this one was with Brook Sinnes and Kira K. Brook is the owner and chief dyer for Sincere Sheep, and Kira Dulaney is a local knitting teacher and designer.

I knew both of them going into the class, so I knew it would be top-notch. Brook taught me to spin on a spindle, and I’ve got on a yarn hop in the East Bay with Kira. Initially, there were two days of dyeing – I signed up for the “cool colors” one, but as you’ll see, there are plenty of warm tones in what we ended up with.

Natural dyeing refers to using plant or animal materials for dyestuff, as opposed to synthetic dyes, which were created beginning in the 19th century.

For our class, we dyed onto Brook’s own Cormo yarn – which she has created for her own company. The sheep are raised in Wyoming, then it is spun (oops, I forget), and then comes to her house/dyeing studio in Napa, CA. She had already mordanted the yarn we used (the mordant makes the dye stick to the fiber and not wash out).

Her operation is done out of her backyard patio, given that it is California and the weather will mostly work.

We had different yarns prepared so we could see the effects of overdyeing – which is one of the ways to get a variety of colors with just a few dyes. Our yarns were dyed with saxon blue (a pretty caribbean blue), and two different intensities of indigo (blue jeans).

Brooke had us dye with Weld (yellow), Madder (an orange red), Marigolds (golden yellow) and Logwood (purple), and except for the marigolds:


we used purchased extracts that were weighed and measured into the pots (weld below):


By the time we finished, we had 14 mini-skeins in a variety of shades, with a color chart to match. To finish the yarn, I hung it up to dry at my cousin’s house,


and today I am rinsing the yarn again to get out any remaining dye, and drying on my balcony (it’s only a bit of sun, so I think I’ll be fine).


I would recommend this class as Brooke is really good at demystifying how the dye process works for natural dyes, and helps you figure out if you’d like to try it at home. I think I will try my hand at some yarn and fiber dyeing.


Tour de Fleece – a Spin Update

All in all, it’s been a good thing to participate in Tour de Fleece. I started with a couple of goals – to spin daily, and to work through the Fiber Optics gradient fiber in my stash as far as it seemed workable.

I really only took 1 day off after having spun the singles to let them rest, and then this past weekend I decided not to bring my spinning (which by then was plying) on my weekend away.

If I had brought my spinning, I would have finished plying all the fiber by the time that Tour de France. But I didn’t finish plying and so achieved my goal of “workable” too! Last night, well after all those cyclers had passed through the Arch deTRiumph in Paris, my plying was done, and today I took some photos:

The wee bit of dark yarn was my “swatching.” This little bit:

is a three ply that I spun out of the leftovers just for fun!

As you spinners can tell, no, I haven’t finished the yarn yet – I am headed out of town on Tuesday, so I’ll get to this when I return! Yum!


Spindle Spinning with Interchangeable Shafts

PDXKnitterati (aka Michele) asked in the comments how I ply my yarn on my spindles. She does chain-plying, which is a great method to get a 3-ply yarn without any equipment. BTW, check out her website, she is teaching some fabulous classes at Vogue Knitting Live in Columbus, OH in November. I got to take some of her classes at a knitting guild retreat, and she is lovely and skilled, and a great listener too! But, back to her great question.

Now, I do have a “bouquet” of spindles that I have acquired over the years, from fine lace weight versions to larger wagon wheel ones:

But the ones I use the most are my KCL Woods interchangeable spindles. Ken Ledbetter creates beautiful spindles where you can screw on and off the shafts at your pleasure. I have three spindle tops and 7 shafts at the moment. I just ordered more shafts separately because you can do that now!

Why is this an advantage? Well, using these kinds of spindles means that you never have to wind off your single’s cop to another place before spinning more. You can keep going and spin all the the fiber at once! A lot of time is saved.

In this case, I used two different spindle shafts that are very close in weight, so there was no big difference in how they spun on the same spindle top. That was lucky!

I tried some makeshift lazy kate versions for the spindle shafts that did not work:

Looks are deceiving, this was a mess!

The best thing to speed every thing up was what I bought from Ken a few years ago: the portable spindle lazy kate. As you can see, it can hold as many as six spindle shafts. I’ve only done three at a time when I spun some fine sock yarn as a 3-ply. Here’s the 2-ply that I am current spinning, which is more typical for me.

Please note that the spindle I am plying on is a very very basic Schact spindle that I got when I took my very first spindle class with Brooke Sines long ago at a knitting store now closed. Definitely gotten my money’s worth out of it!

This is a way better set-up than trying to use shoe-boxes and other homemade devices. The yarn guide unscrews and the whole thing fits into a shoebox for easy packing and transport.

I don’t see any of these lazy kates listed on Ken’s website, so if you’re interested I’d email him to see if he’d do a custom order.



Yesterday and today I began the plying of the singles- and I’ve gone slow because has been a while since I’ve plied. I think it came out ok – this is about 22 grams – so about 20 percent of the total.


Tour de Fleece – Day 17

It’s Day 17 of Tour de Fleece, and it’s time to update on s my progress. The fiber is Fiber Optic Yarns  merino and silk blend in the Smoke on the Water gradient colorway. I’m spinning with a KCL Woods interchangeable spindle.

I’ve spent every day of the Tour de Fleece spinning a bit until yesterday. Here are some photos of the progress.

All the singles were spun by Saturday, so I decided to take a rest day yesterday, for me and the singles.

Now onto the plying – and I hope to go slow and do it well!