Last weekend Christine and I went to a Sheepshearing festival just a few miles from home. In the weeks leading up to the event I had conversations with two separate coworkers that were strikingly similar. They went something like:
Coworker: Oh hey, I saw a sign downtown for a sheepshearing festival in Waltham! I thought of you because you’re always knitting and stuff. Haha. So crazy!
Me: I have my tickets for that already.
Them: Hahah. Wait …oh. You’re serious, aren’t you?
I though the festival would be a handful of fiber enthusiasts, but when we turned into the parking lot I was shocked to see several fields full of cars. There were what felt like a thousand people there. And kids. TONS of kids. I think because it was the first warm weekend, there were animals to pet, and lots of fun fair food.
There were vendors for yarn, jewelry, soap, food, art, etc. But the best part by far was the sheepshearing tent. A tall, thin, white-haired man was taking the sheep out of the pen one by one, holding them steady without any restraints, and ridding them of their fleeces with a big pair of shears. I may have elbowed my way past several small children to secure a good spot at the fence. Especially when he sheared the huge horned ram.
And so now I have my eyes on yet another step in the production process. First it was knitting. Then spinning and dyeing. Now I want to learn how to shear a sheep. Preferably my own sheep that I own someday. Are there any steps in front of owning and shearing sheep? I don’t think so….that’s probably the beginning. The first step. So I don’t need to hurry and get to it just yet.
In my last post I introduced my new spinning wheel and asked you all to name her. The suggestions were great – there were references to shape and color as well as just general awesomeness. I did what we did for Edith – called her a few things for a while to see what stuck – and discovered that the wheel’s name is Siohban.
That means Becca – you’re the winner! You know how to get in touch. Let me know what kind of handknit you want and I’ll mail it to Oregon.
Are your pets big photo-bombers too? It seems I can’t photograph yarn or handknits without someone furry walking through the shot (see above) or just plain sitting on the item (see below).
Sam is sitting on Surella, the first sweater I’ve made from my own handspun. My coworker of the same name had a great cotton sweater in a style I wanted to copy. She let me take it home for a few weeks and after a lot of measuring, knitting, drawing, frogging, and re-knitting, I got it right.
It used less than 600 yards of my alpaca/wool handspun. There was enough left over to make a long cowl. I don’t know much of the particulars of spinning, but Christine tells me that I spin in such a way that my yarn is light and fluffy…so even though this yarn required size 11 needles, the sweater itself doesn’t weigh much. But it’s nice and warm.
This is the time of year that I loathe as far as wardrobe goes. I’m sick of my winter clothes and refuse to wear them no matter how chilly it is, but it’s too cold to start in with the dresses. So my solution has been bright pants, black flats, and a sweater. How do you dress for this early spring stuff?
I pulled some mill ends out of a sale bin the last time I was in Eugene, and my puzzle for the past few months has been figuring out what to make with them. I started assembling pictures of patterns on pinterest for inspiration…
…but nothing was translating that well on the needles.
Then R. went to Washington DC for a month-long fellowship at Dumbarton Oaks, which is like an estate+library+garden+archives. I visited for the weekend. My favorite part of the gardens was this big chicken-wire cloud installed over a reflecting pool with thousands of little crystals hanging in the wire. It looked like someone had hand-twisted them in there. I wanted to know more.
There were also a bunch of Latin American art and textiles, which is what R. studies. I must’ve absorbed some because when I got back I had an easier time playing with pattern. I drew up a design for this thick cozy cowl:
I’m calling it Kumbi Cowl, which R. suggested because kumbi (usually spelled with a “c”) refers to precious woven cloth in Quechua (before we got to kumbi I had to veto some really long Quechua words that no one would be able to spell or remember). It’s knit in the round so that all of the stranded stuff is hidden inside the cowl. This also makes it extra squishy and warm. I did a provisional cast-on and grafted the ends together so that the seam is barely noticeable.
There was a snowstorm today and my coworker was so kind as to model Kumbi in action. Here’s the link to the ravelry project page. I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll write up the pattern….
The Teddywidder pattern is for sale now in ravelry!
I learned so much from the test-knitters. They did a phenomenal job. The pattern includes written instructions and a schematic and all measurements are given in both cm and in.
My next pattern is drying over the air vent. More on that soon…
…of alpaca/wool handspun. I’m not sure what to turn it into. Right now it’s saying “rectangular rustic wrap” to me.
The yarn is what became of all the gray roving in this picture…
In searching pinterest for rustic-wrap inspiration I stumbled upon this. I can’t drop the photo here because of the knitter’s copyright settings on flickr, but you SHOuLD click on the link. Is it not the most beautiful blanket? I’m blown away. She hand-carded all of that wool.
I spun most of this on Christine’s wheel because mine is kind of on the fritz. It’s a Kromski Minstrel and I just can’t say enough good things about it. It’s got me saving my money.
Opening ravelry and seeing new photos of their WIPs is soooo exciting!! I am very very thankful for this group of test-knitters. They’ve been oh so patient in reviewing my first pattern with graded sizes. They’re also a worldly bunch…Germany, Argentina, UK, France, Finland, and California. We seem to be assembling an impressive array of teddywidders in naturals and neutrals.
It’s nerve-wracking to put your pattern out there for test-knitting. You have these what-if-they-all-hate-it worries, and of course pattern mistakes are found that when you look at them, you can’t believe you made. But it’s also exciting. I’m trying to develop a new pattern now; something stranded and colorful.
We ventured out this morning at about 8am and ours were the only footprints in any direction. Except for a couple of snowplows and a lady walking her greyhound it was very quiet. The roads were empty, every business was closed, and the sidewalks and front steps were covered in pristine drifts.
Already as I type this I can see a few more people out walking and the neighbor kids are busily tunneling away at a fort. It’s supposed to snow a few hours longer, and once it quits I expect a lot more shoveling, plowing, and driving. But I think we’ll enjoy one more day lounging around in pajamas…hopefully the landlord comes tomorrow to plow our driveway since there are some waist high drifts between my car and the road.
Yesterday we watched a bootleg copy of Django Unchained, the remainder of season 1 of The Hour (so good), and I spun up a couple hundred yards of the alpaca/wool that I’ve had sitting around for a while.
…this shit is hard! Writing up a pattern for a hat is one thing, but now I’m wading into sweater-size-grading waters. I’m really interested in teaching myself to do this but I can tell that it’s going to take time. Nevermind that it took months just to get a finished sweater, since I made two complete garments with this yarn and frogged both before coming up with a pattern I liked.
I’m calling the pattern Teddywidder after this breed of rabbit. Because that’s how you feel wearing it. Mmmm. All cozy and warm. The yarn is Misti Alpaca Tonos Chunky, which is a wool/alpaca blend.
Assuming I figure out what the heck I’m doing with this pattern-grading stuff (this excel tutorial from Marnie seems promising) I’ll need some test-knitters. I have some volunteers from ravelry already but I haven’t finalized the team yet. It might be a month or so until I’m ready. If you’re interested, especially in knitting a L or XL size, send me a note at foxflat (at) gmail.com
I’m a few days late in putting together my salute to 2012, a year not terribly different from 2011. It was our coasting-comfortable year – same job for me, same apartment, same program for R – a welcome respite after so much change the two years before and what I’m sure is more change to come in 2013.
Compared to 2011, there was not quite as much experimentation in the kitchen this year. There was more sewing though, inspired by my trip to the fashion district of L.A. in early spring. Some mittens, a couple of dresses, a maxi skirt, two shirts, and my biggest accomplishment with the sewing machine: the chevron baby quilt.
Still a lot of knitting. I think Holl was my favorite FO of 2012. I published two hat patterns – Joyride and Ryegrass - and my goal is to do more of that in 2013.
We did a little more traveling in 2012 – Ohio to the park where I found Sam, Oregon, South Carolina, Cape Cod, Los Angeles. Everyone splurges on something, and R. and I have talked about how we’d rather have a tinier house in the future if it meant we could afford more travel (tinier house, but still yard enough for some sheep
Much love to you and yours in the coming year! I’ll sign out with one more photo collage, this one of the person (and pets) that make this space a home.
I had to set aside the apple green yarn for a while because the pieces I’d knit weren’t right, but I wasn’t ready to frog them all. A month or so of not looking at them should do the trick – I’ll be able to rip them right out. The yarn is part silk and no matter how small I go with the needles it wants to be something drapey. I was trying to make something structured. I feel humbled – yarn demands to be listened to!
This other project is working out better so far. On my way to a wedding in Western Mass this fall we stopped at WEBS and in the short time I had to shop I found 7 skeins of Misti Chunky Alpaca on clearance. It’s incredibly soft, which I’ve enhanced with a 2×2 Shaker Rib. My idea is to make a loose shrug, and there should be enough yarn to add sleeves. If it works out I’ll write up the pattern!
The house is getting chillier. Everyone’s committed to finding a warm spot…