A little more yarn, a little less fiber

Still plugging away at the bags of spinning fiber. I miss the old couch+movie setup that always complimented spinning so well. Have I complained enough about these apartment futons yet? Or the slow and erratic internet?

Obviously I just need to figure out a new entertainment setup. Podcasts, perhaps. My favorite is Judge John Hodgman, and then a coworker clued me into Serial, which I binged through in just a few days of bus travel to/from Mexico City. Any other winners I should try?

The yarn with a colorway inspired by the Oregon coast photo is all finished. So pretty. If we have a girl it’ll make a great baby sweater, so I’m just setting it aside while we wait out this last month.
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In the meantime I finished a baby kimono sweater in a more unisex colorway.
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Family visiting for Christmas are scheduled to bring me another stockpile of yarn plus 2 lbs. of Haribo sour grapefruit gummies. Hard to say which I’m more excited about.

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Dyeing fiber from a photograph

PicMonkey CollageI’ve been spinning up 8 oz. of merino and am loving the colors. All artistic credits go to Skeinnydipping, who dyed the fiber for me using this photo of the Oregon coast as inspiration. Isn’t it gorgeous?
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What do you think the yarn wants to be? Any favorite handspun patterns that you’d like to share?

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Camera-less blog post #2

I’m learning how un-fun blogging is when there’s no camera around. Sigh. It’s probably time that I gave up my phone-that-only-calls-people and just got a smartphone. The cameras on those things just keep getting better and better.

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At a party this winter someone saw my phone (see above) and¬†asked, “So do you feel jealous of people with smartphones, or just self-righteous?” It was a martini-induced zinger that made me laugh. I mean….who goes this long without a little self-righteousness? Mostly I’m just worried that a smartphone’s GPS will erode my navigation abilities the way cellphones made me forget all phone numbers. I take my spatial memory very seriously because it’s about the only kind I have.

I also fear getting sucked into smartphone-usage like this:

phoneBut since I’m not so principled as to avoid mooching off friends’ smartphones (“can you look up a number/address/knitting pattern for me?”) I may have stumbled into dreaded technology-hypocrite territory:

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No camera means I can’t show you pictures of our big Wednesday snowfall, which is too bad because for some reason it was an especially pretty one. However I do have a few pictures of FO’s thanks to Christine: Scrap Hat #1, Handspun Socks, and Scrap Hat #2. Plus a nice portrait of Samson ūüėČ

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I’m not at Rhinebeck….

…nope, no Rhinebeck this year. But I’m looking forward to reading everyone else’s posts about it. If the weather was anything like what we had in Boston this week then it must have been gorgeous.

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What I did go to a few weekends ago was the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival, which is like a smaller, less crowded version of Rhinebeck. My main take-aways were:
1. I need to save up so I can afford a woven wool rug like those sold by Kind Horn Farm of Vermont.
2. If angora goats are cute,¬†miniature¬†angora goats are ah-DORE-able. I can’t wait until I have enough land to own some.
3. People in Vermont dress a lot like people in Oregon. (Just to clarify, that’s not a dig. The Keens and Danskos, the undyed gray hair – especially for women, the long skirts and sweaters…it’d be nice to return to. I’d much rather dress like I did for work every day in Oregon.)

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I took home two bags of roving. The first was a set of 6 balls of BFL dyed in autumnal shades. The second was an undyed ball of Cormo-blend with just enough grease that it still smelled very sheep-y. I couldn’t stop smelling it. Thanks to some coaching from Christine in how to pre-draft, I’ve been able to spin the BFL into something thinner and more uniform than any previous spinning attempts…I think it’s worthy of a sock pattern.

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The last (first) step in the knitting process

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?¬†

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Siohban’s first bobbin

Kromski Minstrel spinning wheelIn 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).

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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.¬†Untitled

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.

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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?

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The Minstrel

Here she is – the birthday present – a green Kromski Minstrel. I feel like she needs a name. A nice knit hat in the mail to whomever can think of a good one.
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The wheel came in a big box stuffed full of store ads in another language. Google translate said that it was Slovenian.

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This wheel comes finished or, for $50 less, unfinished. I decided that if I was going to splurge and spend all this money on a new wheel I didn’t want ash or walnut. I wanted a color. Something that grabbed your attention. Looking over the options at Home Depot I picked something called “Green Tea” (inspired by the shirt I was wearing?). It’s brighter than I expected, but that’s partly because I put it on too thick at first. Or I didn’t wipe it off soon enough with the rag. Maybe both. I started sanding the color down where it was thick but liked the look of it so much that I ended up sanding a lot of the edges and rounded bits. The color has kind of a well-worn look.

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Today I put on a few more coats of polyurethane. Tomorrow I may test it out.