Rhinebeck or no?

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I’m trying to decide whether or not I am going, so if you are, pipe up in the comments!

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop, Baby Sweaters Forever.

I know I’ve already mentioned that my aunt just presented me with a new knitwear model. (read:baby) I knitted up that lovely angora set for him, but I couldn’t keep from thinking about how it would only fit for a few months. Babies grow like weeds, and that sweater wouldn’t even fit for the whole winter! Perish the though. Baby Colson needed something else.

The thing is, I knew that I wanted a pullover, and I knew that pullovers and babies mix better once their necks become less wobbly. Despite the fact that my aunt is a champion mom, I thought it would be better to give her a sweater for next winter. I ordered some yarn from KnitPicks, and started cruising Ravelry for possibilities. Now that I knew the gender of the baby, a classic red and cream fair isle sweater seemed like just the ticket. After searching for a while, I decided that Anders was just the one.

I think the results prove my perspicacity.

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I love this little sweater. It is beautiful, warm, and classic. The snowy woods motif is utterly charming, and it will be unbelievably cute on a one year old. I actually made the two year old size, in hopes that it would fit him all next winter. The yarn was Knit Picks Swish DK, 100g undyed, and 100g of Hollyberry, which means that this beauty is also machine washable. I messed with the pattern a bit because I may be a little bit of a perfectionist. I wanted the sleeves to end in cream for symmetry’s sake, so I extended the sleeve chart and finished off with cream instead of red. I like the way it looks better. (I can’t help modifying patterns, even if they’re perfectly nice already.) I finished off the wee sweater with some buttons I snagged at my new favorite yarn store, and I think that they look perfect. (I sewed and knotted them quite securely to avoid choking hazards.)

I am a little superstitious about knitting things for people. I know that there’s no scientific basis for it, but I believe that covering my family in tangible expressions of love protects them somehow. And who needs it more than tiny babies? They’re so fragile and little. But a handknit sweater is like a big warning sign to any trouble that might come their way, that this baby is loved and protected. Even though it may not actually do anything, it makes me feel better. There is a whole world out there that I can’t control, but at the very least..

I can knit, and I can keep my family warm.

One Hat, Three Ways!

Hi Friends!

I have a veritable parade of finished things to show you, but I’m going to drag it out because that’s how I roll. Besides, where’s the fun in showing it all at once?? Then I’d be out of blog material :P

Some of you may remember, if you spend much time on the blog, that I was working on a hat for my grandpa. When last you heard of it, I had spun the yarn out of some absolutely scrumptious merino/yak. I am now happy to tell you that it is all finished! Not only that, there are three different ways to wear it, with increasing levels of hipsterdom :P (I would like to take a moment and say that no matter how slouchy his hat might be, my grandpa couldn’t possibly be a hipster. I may, be, however, since not only am I wearing a slouchy hat in some of these pictures, I couldn’t corral a photographer so they are selfies.) For those of you who don’t know what a hipster is, they’re sortof hard to describe. I would say that hipsters are a group of people who try really hard to be cool while pretending that they don’t care about being cool, and they do a lot of things “ironically.” Also, they seem to be really into music, but less to actually enjoy it and more so they can brag about the obscure bands they like (thus making them seem cool.) I am making fun of them in this blog post. It’s very enjoyable.

Hat Style #1, the typical Watch Cap:

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This style says, “I don’t care about being cool, I just want to be warm.” The double layer of fabric covers the ears and much of the head, keeping the cold out. It’s super snuggly and warm! Perfect for when the wind is blowing and you still have to go outside. It’s also the cutest (on me) of all the styles I think. I will remember this for future reference.

Hat Style #2, Slightly Slouchy:

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With this style, there’s still a concession to extra warmth. The hat is still folded up slightly for ear protection, but it’s just a wee bit slouchy at the top. This style has aspirations to coolness, but there’s still an element of practicality. Of course, I’m a total dork, so even a slightly cool hat style isn’t going to do much for me :P

Hat Style #3, the Full Hipster:

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This style is absolutely hipsterrific. Totally slouchy, it knows how cool it is. This hat might look down on your taste in music and wear lots of flannel shirts. On me, it makes me look like one of the Seven Dwarfs from Snow White, but let’s try to ignore that fact.

All joking aside, I’m actually really proud of this hat. It’s warm, and soft, and totally too big for me, which is great, since my grandpa has a much bigger head than I do. I made it a little extra long because I didn’t want to waste the lovely handspun yarn that I used for it. It will be beautifully warm during colorado winters, and I don’t think that even the most sensitive skin could object to it. It makes a baby’s skin feel like sandpaper. Kittens are jealous of how soft it is. It’s also the first thing that I imagined and created practically from start to finish. I started out with an idea for fiber, and now I have a hat. It’s awesome! I love having that much artistic control over what I make. (It’s also nice when an idea actually comes to fruition the way you imagine.) Anyway, I hope that my grandpa likes the hat. My mom will be bringing it to him when she goes up to see my aunt’s new baby. Fingers crossed!

The story of how I found my Local Yarn Store.

Oh yes, knitty friends, I now have a local yarn store!

I’ve had bad luck with previous stores, with both of my two favorites closing on me in a matter of months. That was a while ago, and I haven’t had a local place to go look at stuff since. It’s probably been good for my pocketbook, but bad for creativity.

However, I should back up to how this all came about. I’m telling the story out of order and that’s bad. But first,

MOM STOP READING NOW OR ELSE.

Okay! I’m going to talk about Christmas, more specifically what I’m making for mom, and I don’t want to ruin her surprise. She actually likes my surprises so she won’t peek. (unlike SOME people.) Well, I’ve started planning Christmas presents, and I decided that mom is going to be this year’s big winner. She is very appreciative of handknits, and goes around telling anyone who will listen how clever I am and listing all the stuff I’ve made her and how it really makes holidays special to get something handmade. Of course this behavior ensures a steady stream of handknits forever, even though she lives in Texas. It’s actually quite funny, my mom is one of those people who can’t sit still. Even if she’s watching TV, she’ll fold laundry or do crunches or something. So when I’m curled up knitting, sometimes she looks at me like I’m some sort of exotic creature, because she doesn’t understand why someone would stay in one place for so long. However, we are more similar than you might think, because knitting is what I do so I can sit still. I hate sitting still and doing nothing! Knitting makes down time feel productive. It’s pretty much a win-win.

Anyway, back to my mom. I knew that I wanted her to have something really lovely for Christmas, and I was thinking a nice, light, drapey cardigan. I did some research, (read, I cruised Ravelry for HOURS) and I finally settled on the Wispy cardigan. It’s a lovely piece, and would look equally good over a top and jeans, or a pretty dress. Also, my mom is quite stylish, and it just has a sort of effortlessly chic vibe. I realized that for this pattern, I could use yarn from one of my favorite companies, MadelineTosh Yarns. Their laceweight single ply yarn Prairie had exactly the right yardage in ONE SKEIN to make this cardigan. How perfect is that? (after the holidays I will make myself five of them.) I started cruising around online looking at colors, and I was wracked with indecision. Yarn colors can look very different in person, and I wanted this to be perfect. I was also leaning towards blue (because I like blue and my mom has blue eyes) but none of them felt right. I decided that I needed to hold the yarn in my hand, and that would help me make a decision.

So I looked online, and I found a place that might have some, Stitch House in Dorchester. I decided to drop by for a look and DID THEY EVER. What a beautiful store. There was yarn, but also sewing stuff and buttons and so many kits and patterns and I loved it. The staff was pretty much perfect too. They asked me if I needed anything when I came in, but they were neither pushy nor aloof. I was told to “come in and fondle anything,” and then left alone until I needed something. (it’s hard for a yarn shop to strike the right balance for me. I can be a trifle touchy when contemplating buying something.) Eventually I did ask for their opinions, and they were perfectly nice! I picked out nine possible color choices, and the owner told me to “Bring them over to the table and don’t worry about the mess,” because the light was terrible in the corner where I was clutching skeins of lovely yarn to my chest. So I did.

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This was only a fraction of the colors they had. The staff told me how each one knit up, and I finally settled on one of them I thought would look smashing on mom. (I’ll show you which one later) I then pulled out the Fair Isle baby sweater I’m working on so I could choose buttons, and they helped me settle on a color there as well. When the owner asked me if she could touch the sweater and then flipped it inside out to check my floats (they passed muster, I’m happy to say) I felt right at home. (For the non-knitting, “Fair Isle” is when you use two colors, alternating stitches in each color based on the pattern. “Floats” refer to when you’re carrying the color you’re not using in the back of the work, and it’s bad for them to be either too tight or too loose because things look funky.) Last but not least, I mentioned that I was a spinner, and it turns out that one of the ladies who works there is also! When the owner told us to “go make out in a corner” in a mock-exasperated tone of voice, I started to giggle helplessly. This store has a cool, chill vibe, lovely stuff, and the prices aren’t totally jacked up like the store on Newbury street! (nicer staff too) They do knit night on Fridays with snacks and beer, and you better believe that I’ll be going.

But you guys really want to see what I bought, don’t you?

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Lovely, no? It’s the Wicked colorway, which from far away looks brown, but close up you see that it had purple and green undertones and is basically fabulous. It will look beautiful on my mom. The cream-colored buttons are for my current project, and the others were just irresistible. PINK HEDGEHOGS PEOPLE. I mean come on, how could I resist?

OKAY NOW NANA STOP READING.

Also, that thing you see in the background is an old-fashioned inkwell that my Nana randomly sent me because she knows how I adore such things. There’s a reason why she’s getting a shawl for Christmas.

Finished objects of one kind or another.

Well! Things have just gotten away from me lately! (or I have gotten away from things) I went home this weekend to visit my delightful family for my little brother’s birthday. He is only 14, so I get to tease him a lot. “I was on the Internet before you were BORN.” and suchlike. He’s extremely good natured about it, and treats the goofiness of his dorky sister with amusement. The inimitable Greg came with me to Dallas, and (unlike me) he is very cool, especially to a 14 year old. They spent the entire weekend flying drones and filming aerial views of stuff, editing their footage, and talking about stuff that no one else understood.

Flying was a bit of a theme for the weekend, as we were taking Luke to the Red Bull Air Races for his birthday. (I got some cool points for that) Where we were going and even the fact that Greg was coming (Luke loves him) were both a secret until the day before we arrived, when mom let the cat out of the bag :P The stunt planes were amazing, and the tricks they did were unreal. The craziest thing I saw all weekend though was Red Bull’s stunt HELICOPTER. It did barrel rolls and flew upside down! My little brother does remote control helicopter stuff, and his tiny helicopters can do those kinds of tricks, but he was mega pumped to see a full sized helicopter doing them. He is only improving with age, and was remarkably good company all weekend. He’s not a finished thing yet by any means, but you can easily see the awesome adult he’s going to be, even at 14. Happy birthday Luke!

I finished something while I was home for the weekend. (Aunt Chantal, if you are reading this, STOP. You need to be surprised or I will be VERY SAD. Mom is bringing you a present when she comes to visit, and she will KNOW if you are faking surprise.)

Now that that’s out of the way, I can show you. Look!
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It’s the best baby set ever. You may or may not be able to tell, but it’s soft merino with a touch of angora to make it fuzzy. The buttons are made of coconut shell. The pom poms are so cute it’s giving me uterus cramps. I’m imagining the little bonnet with its tiny point on a little baby head, with those perfect i-cord ties in a bow. I wanted to knit something heirloom quality in a newborn size, even though they grow out of it faster than a blink. My Aunt Chantal had given away all of her baby stuff after her last (their sixth!) and I wanted the baby of mystery (I called it that because she wanted the gender to be a surprise.) to have something special just for her/him. This weekend I found buttons for each possible gender so I was prepared for any eventuality. I told my aunt that I had a preference for a girl baby, but I had a feeling that she was making me a boy. C’est la vie. I don’t actually think that people make babies just to please me and give me a tiny person to knit for :P The patterns are the Garter Yoke Baby Cardi, Chaussons Mignons,  and My Sweetest Friend, all modified for sock weight yarn. (It wasn’t hard. You could do it too.) I used Knit Picks Bare Hare, which is a perfect merino/angora blend, and not terribly expensive for the quality. It took three skeins at $5 each, and so with buttons this whole set cost me less than $20. The thrifty knitter in me is tickled pink that I can get something of such excellent quality for so little. The major expenditure here was time, and it was extremely good fun. I had to learn how to do applied i-cord edging for the button bands on that precious little sweater, and even though it was a massive pain in the butt it was totally worth it. The button bands are perfect. See? 

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(It’s more obvious without the buttons.) You get a perfectly rounded edge that is both stretchy and sturdy, and learning new techniques like that makes me feel like this wee sweater could last a hundred years and wrap many generations of new babies. 

 

I have to say, it’s a good thing that I finished the sweater this weekend. In fact, my timing could not have been better! While I was celebrating Luke’s birthday, someone else was celebrating his very first birthday, and we are delighted to welcome Matthew Colson McGee into the family. Yay! 

 

(P.S. I do have to add that even though I love all babies equally, I still wish that I could have used the flower buttons that I bought in case of baby girl.) 

(P.P.S. I might have had a pretty serious “accident” in the button section of Joann’s. There were airplane buttons.)

(P.P.P.S. I know that Christmas knitting is looming, but this baby lives in Colorado. I might have fallen down and started another sweater.) 

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(P.P.P.P.S. I am weak.)

(P.P.P.P.P.S. I’m not sorry though.)

Knitting Stories.

Today, my lovely knitty friends, I have been contemplating why it is that my projects all take so dang LONG. 

Now, I’m not trying to toot my own horn here, but I knit reasonably fast, and I devote a reasonable amount of time to doing it. (My boyfriend might argue about the “reasonableness” of my knitting obsession, but we hearken not to the muggles on such a subject. They know not of our ways.) I was thinking and thinking, when I finally realized why it is. I am a knitter, but I am also a writer, and a perfectionist. Now, my mom (who has seen my house) just fell off of her chair, snorting with laughter, because I am a messy, messy person. This is true. I am OBVIOUSLY not a perfectionist when it comes to keeping things neat and tidy, but I definitely am when it comes to things I create. I want things to be exactly right, even if it takes three times as long. (Like how I now use a sewn bindoff on everything. It takes forever, but is impeccably beautiful.) 

Then let’s add to that that I am a writer. Everything I make and do has a story, and I don’t feel right about a project until the story has completely unfolded in my head. It may not be a story that I share with people, but it at least exists in my mind. Every knitted item has a backstory (Some incredibly silly) and it’s one way that I personally give depth and meaning to the craft of knitting. I can’t really finish an item or write up a piece about it until that inspiration strikes, and that is entirely separate from the “work” of the knitting. It needs to find a place in my creative world before I am ready to share it. Sometimes it is as simple as imagining a tiny, perfect baby wrapped in snowy white angora, just before the snow falls. Sometimes it’s considerably more detailed than that, and that brings me to my current project. 

Not too long ago, I got this:

(Superwash Blue-Faced Leicester from Iknitiatives on Etsy.)

 

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And when I finally held it in my hands, I realized that it was the ocean, trapped in fiber. Before long, I realized that it needed to be a beautiful sweater, something traditional and special, but most of all, something that would allow the nature of this fiber to shine. This would be the yoke of a sweater, shading from the soft, light blues of the surface of the ocean, through the fluttering greens of seaweed, down to the deep, murky depths. The rest of the sweater, perforce, needed to be something that wouldn’t detract from this vision. I settled on a light grey, to be a beautiful setting to this exquisite fiber. I also realized that to make this extra special, the yoke pattern could be mirrored on the cuffs. 

Once the vision was complete, I started spinning. I tore off a smallish strip lengthwise, and then split that in half evenly. I spun those two little rovings end to end, chain plied them, and finally I had these:

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Two little pieces of the ocean. I was entranced. I had to immediately start the larger chunk of roving for the yoke, and in record time I had three full bobbins! 

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Now, I was spinning for a 3-ply worsted weight, but it still went crazy fast. CRAZY. I plied it up in record time, and then finally I had what I wanted.

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It is absolutely perfect. I see the shifting shadows of the ocean reflected exactly in this yarn. I can’t wait to get it on my needles, because I’m hoping that I can design something that lives up to this. I have a lot of ideas, and a few sketches, and we’ll just have to see how it goes. There will probably be lots of ripping back and angry noises before it’s done, but I have faith that with enough perseverance, what currently exists only in my mind will be made manifest. 

And the yarn I got to go with it? 

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It actually matches a grey that exists in the handspun, and I think that it will serve as a lovely setting in which the jewel-like blues can shine. 

So there you have it. A little glimpse into my creative process. I think that what draws us to knitting (and blogging about it) is that it can be so personally expressive. It lets you take the images out of your head, and turn them into something tangible, something that will always evoke those daydreams for you. I’m imagining a girl on the Shetland Islands, wearing the sweater that I’m designing, looking out over the cliffs to the ocean, wind blowing through her hair as the sun tints everything gold. That’s only one imagining that goes into this. There’s also the idea of a mermaid, swimming deeper and deeper into the dark of the ocean. Inspiration comes from everywhere, and then when we turn it into something, it always exists as part of that thing, and that’s why I love knitting. (and designing, though I’m crap at it.) Personally it’s always been hard for me to share my thoughts with others, though I’m much better at it in a written medium than a spoken one. I don’t always know how to articulate things, but when I create something, instead of stumbling over the words I clumsily fail to say, I can just say “Look, this is a window into my mind. This is me, shown through what I have created.” And there’s something very special about that.

 

Anyway, I didn’t intend to get so contemplative, but I don’t think it’s necessarily bad. I think that we occasionally need to delve into what inspires us, and why. Where does your inspiration come from? 

Shawl Fever.

It’s all shawls all the time here at chez Lolly. I want to knit all the shawls. My love for them has finally reached a critical mass, and I keep going through my yarn stash (it’s smaller than you might think) and picking out yarns that I think would be perfect for shawls. I cruise Ravelry and look at all the lovely patterns (I’ve even downloaded a few and saved them in a folder on my computer.) I think that they are both practical and clever, particularly if your lifestyle is such that you spend time in a freezing office where the extra warmth is extremely pleasant. They can also be exceptionally chic, draped elegantly around your shoulders. Plus, they are fairly lightweight, and make good summer knitting.

All these reasons, though logical, are not the true reason that I am currently hankering after shawls. My first foray into the world of shawls was so wildly successful that I am delirious with the joy of creation. I’ve been wearing it as often as I can possibly manage in the hot and humid weather we’ve been having in Boston lately. So here it is, the story of how I fell in love with shawls.

It started with this:
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A braid of fiber from Violet Linx on Etsy. She does amazing things with luxury blends, and this was no exception, merino, cashmere, and silk. (The fiber blend, though amazingly luxurious, is part of why I haven’t been able to wear this much. This baby is seriously warm.) I decided on a single ply, and I ended up with about 270 yards of scrumptious goodness.
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After searching and searching for just the right pattern to set off the lovely yarn, I decided on the Holden Shawlette, despite the fact that I had nothing like enough yarn. So I made modifications.

-The original pattern has you increase four stitches every two rows, but I changed it to six stitches every two rows, increasing every row on each edge until I had 91 stitches.
-I did yarn over increases in the center of the shawl, but make 1 increases on the edges.
-I then switched to increasing four stitches every two rows like normal.
-However, I started worrying about having enough yarn, so once I got to 165 stitches I started increasing two stitches on the wrong side rows again.
-When I reached 189 stitches, I followed the pattern as written for the smallest size, and switched to yarn over increases at the edges (for a little tiny bit of extra ruffle)
-I added an additional plain knitted increase row and a wrong side purl row before starting the edging instructions.
-The pattern has you knit two rows in order to give a purl ridge before the edging. I knit four rows before the edging, and increased on the right side rows with make 1 increases.
-I then did the picot bind off as written.

These modifications will give you a decent sized shawlette out of only 270 yards, which is great for those of us who spin and frequently end up with awkward amounts of yarn :P

Once I was finished, I had this.
Blocking:
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And beautifully finished:
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I love the gradient, it works perfectly with the pattern, and I think that this is the most beautiful thing I have ever knit. Creating a finished thing that started with a pile of fluff makes me feel quite clever, and it makes me excited for fall (so I can actually wear it.) I do, however, still wear it now, just only for a few brief minutes at a time :P

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It makes me feel like the prettiest princess. I adore it with every fiber of my being, and I’m still kindof shocked that I knit that. Also, I’ve gotten some really good validation of my efforts because a couple of my friends have tried to steal it right off of my neck! (Fortunately I have excellent reflexes!) I did let my friend Liz wear it when she was cold in a restaurant, but I kept a VERY close eye on her. She tried to make with the grabby hands, but I took it back safely. 

I don’t think that I would ever have made this if I hadn’t started to blog. (For one thing, I would never have learned how to spin!)I have to say that blogging has been the best thing I ever did for my knitting skills. Reading about what other people are making helps me learn so many new things, and gain the courage to just try stuff! Sometimes, it works out even better than you could possibly have dreamed. 

Halloooo?

Yes, I’m still here :P and still knitting, what’s more! It seems like all I want to do lately when I’m not at work is take naps. However, I thought I would at least drop by to show you my latest knitting obsession. Self-striping shawl yarn from Caterpillargreen Yarns. It’s not released yet, but soon, and I was lucky enough to be one of her test knitters. I have it in the lovely G Biv colorway, and I “just one more row”-ed myself until shockingly late on Saturday night. I am working on a version of the Boneyard shawl by Stephen West but I’m doing the purl ridges more often to delineate the color shifts. It is way too fun!

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Tour de Fleece update!

Well, my goals for TdF are going pretty well! (if by pretty well you mean that there’s no way I’ll ever finish before the end) I, however, am not in the least cast down by that. I have gotten two lovely yarns so far, which I’m just itching to show you!

First off, this is some merino from Three Waters Farm (I have all the love for their stuff.) Isn’t it perfection? I did a fractal spin, which basically just means that I split half of it up into little bits to get a subtle stripe. It looks like that worked, though it’s hard to tell from the photos. It came out to about 290 yards of a sport/DK weight, and it is just smooshy and bouncy and cushy like you wouldn’t believe.

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Secondly, I got this lovely bit of business. This is a merino/silk blend from Pigeonroof Studios, and it was simply a dream to spin. The colorway was Honeybee, and I think it is perfectly apt. I love how the colors in the fiber look almost glazed. It’s too lovely! I wanted the colors to be in little pops, so I split it into many thin strips on the advice of my Internet friends, and it worked like a charm! The benefits of having smart people at your virtual fingertips :P This will almost certainly be a shawl, if I can make the design in my head a reality. I spun it as a low twist fingering weight single, and got 460 yards out of 4 ounces. That’s some of my best yardage yet!! It’s a little thick and thin, but I find that that’s part of its charm.

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Finally, I will show you the definition of “biting off more than I can chew.” I had this lovely white mulberry silk that I originally bought to ply with something else and then later decided against it. So it was just sitting around, waiting for its destiny to be made manifest.

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However, when I was at the Massachusetts sheep and wool fair (yeah, I went to that) I found something that would elevate it to pure art. There were these amazing prime angora carded batts, perfectly white and soft and airy like little clouds. They were heartbreakingly lovely, the way things are when they’re almost too perfect. (I have a serious love of angora, and I’ve never felt nicer angora. That’s saying something.) I only made two purchases at the festival, and this was the only one for me. I got two wee batts of this, and I imagined it plied with the mulberry silk. I thought of the softness and fuzziness paired with the smooth sheen of the silk, and I was inspired. Then I started spinning the silk singles, and let me tell you, it was NOT fun. This wasn’t the first time I had spun silk, but it was my first experience with mulberry silk sliver. I wanted it to be thin and even and smooth. It wanted to be lumpy and to fall apart at the least hint of too much tension. I kept trying different spinning methods, different drafting methods, any way possible to get it to spin nicely. I tried everything to beat this stupid fiber into submission, and it fought me every step of the way. I thought I would spin it up in an evening, whip up the angora the next day, ply them, and be on my merry little way in two, maybe three days. That was so far off it’s laughable. Three ounces of silk took me three days of near constant spinning, one of which was a Saturday. Not only that, when I would get up from spinning, I would look like silk worms had attacked me. There was silk EVERYWHERE. There would be silk in my hair, in my nose, stuck to my shirt, it was maddening. Add to that that I felt like I was spinning like someone had hit me with a stupid stick, and it was just entirely too much. When I finally got to the end of the silk, I favoured it with my opinion of its character and morals (of which I did not think highly) and did an obnoxious little victory dance because it was finally finished. Want to see?

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Pretty right? It looks innocent, but I assure you that it quite shook my confidence in my ability as a spinner. I wanted to challenge myself to spin finer than I had ever done before, because it could just be such brilliant lace, but the fiber compounded the challenge dramatically. After that, I moved on to this.

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Isn’t it just like a lovely little cloud? Don’t you want to bury your face in it? I eyed it with some misgiving, since the silk had me quite cast down, but once I started spinning it was like all of that had never been. The angora was a dream to spin. It just flowed through my fingers, effortlessly turning into beautiful, soft, fine singles. It was pure pleasure, and much needed after my horrible experience with the silk. The only thing they had in common was that the angora was inclined to cover me in a thin layer of fuzz as well, but I found even that to be charming. After a very short while spinning, I finished the angora. Here are the singles side by side:

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Now I’m going to ply them, and I really hope that the reality lives up to my idea of it. (it would really be a shame to be disappointed after all the work I put into it.) I think it will though. I have never spun finer singles, so I expect to get really good yardage from these! I’ll let you know what happens when it’s all plied up. And after that I’ve got this:

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And this:

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I can’t wait! I need more color in my life.

Tour de Fleece

It may shock you, due to my relative blog silence on the topic, but I am actually doing the Tour de Fleece this year.

(For those uninitiated into the ways of spinning yarn, it’s a bunch of spinners who try to spin every day during the Tour de France. It’s a chance to challenge yourself and feel like part of a community of makers. It’s awesome.)

My first challenge was to try a new way of spinning color, a fractal spin with some seriously soft Three Waters Farm merino. I’m absolutely head over heels for the yarn I got, but it currently needs a bath to set the twist, so no pictures of that yet!

Here are the three braids I’ve got planned for the remainder of the Tour de Fleece:

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I started with the amazing Pigeonroof Studios merino/silk. This is the Honeybee colorway, and it is so out of my normal comfort zone. However, I am absolutely enchanted with this fiber.

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I wanted yarn that was basically exactly like the fiber, just thinner. For that reason, I decided to do a singles yarn. (I know a couple of the more experienced spinners just lost their minds. I promise I have done this before, with excellent results. I spin with very low twist naturally, so my singles yarns tend to behave themselves and not get too twisty.) I also wanted little pops and flecks of color all through the yarn, so I split it up into a lot of lengthwise strips so that the color changes would be quick.

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It’s turning out great so far, and I wish you could reach through the computer screen and feel this, because it is AMAZING. It’s destined to be a shawl because I can’t imagine not wanting to snuggle into this in the winter. The fiber is also beautifully well prepared, so the spinning is very stress free and smooth. This is my first Pigeonroof Studios braid, but I’m sure it’s not my last. Lovely stuff.

After that, I think I’m going to do
MORE Three Waters Farm fluff. I have this little bit of perfection:

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It is a mixture of polwarth and silk. There’s a subtle sheen if you look closely, but the biggest contribution of the silk is the wonderful depth of color you get. This is the Red Cake colorway, and it is destined for a fair isle mitten/hat set. I’ve ordered some snowy white polwarth to go with it, and I’m going to do the Beaumont tam and Freja mittens (which are by different designers, but look to me like they go together.) I think that this will be a perfect dressy set for winter, and will go beautifully with my red coat. I love my red coat.

Last, but definitely not least, is this great braid from Iknitiatives.

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It really looks like the ocean to me. I snagged it when she was having a sale, and I’m in love. It’s over six ounces of superwash Blue-faced Leicester, and it’s going to be the yoke for a ridiculously cool sweater. (well, I hope it’s cool. Right now it only exists in my mind, but I’ve got what I think is a very good idea.) Im thinking that since there’s so much of it, I may tear off a tiny strip and then split it lengthwise so I can do cuffs that mirror the yoke. Is that too anal retentive? I like things to match. I am not going to start spinning this one until the yarn for the body of the sweater arrives. I couldn’t find the perfect grey yarn, so instead I found some undyed yarn (so cheap it would make you weep for joy) and I’m going to dye it. Wish me luck!

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