Saturday, July 28, 2007

Weekly Fiber Report

What have I accomplished this week? Well, I washed some more fleece. I'm just storing the washed product right now until I get my carders. However, I did decide to try crockpot dyeing with Wilton's on some of the uncarded fleece. I used 1/4 t. Wilton's Periwinkle per oz. of fiber, and here is the result! This is definitely not Periwinkle blue although it is interesting. What did I do wrong to make the colors strike in separate places like this?

I also spun some black alpaca/wool pencil roving that I am planning to use for a gift project. I am learning from this. Other spinners have said or written about the fiber having opinions about how it wants to be spun. I attempted to spin this fiber using the short backward draw worsted spinning that I had been using with the other prepared rovings. I was getting a thick and thin yarn that felt like it had lumps in it. I finally looked at a video and some books and switched to a long draw technique. It is spinning wonderfully! With my usual lack of coordination, however, I'm not sure that I am achieving the goal of "bringing my drafting hand back in a graceful arc." I plied two bobbins and finished the skein just to check the twist. It seems to be drying straight even though it was a little twisty when in came off the niddynoddy.

And here is the obligatory amoeba shot of the second Baby Surprise Jacket. This one has gone much more smoothly although I'm still not entirely pleased with the firmness of the band edge. I think I'll try a little single crochet edge for firmness before I add on the sleeve cuffs and the collar.

Oops! The picture shows the wrong side.

OTN--FLAK Aran Sweater
2nd Bamboo Sock
finish BSJ
2nd Tidal Wave Sock

Deadline Knitting--2 pairs of kid-dyed socks for the beginning of preschool
I'll cast on the first this weekend. Fortunately, the feet are small.

Exercise total--2 miles

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Absolutely No Knitting Content in this Post!

I usually spend much of my summer thinking about school. One of the great things about teaching as a job is that you get to stop, evaluate, change things that did not work, and start over. Very few opportunities in life are like that. This summer, however, I could not get my thoughts going. For one thing, I was waiting to hear if the College Board had approved my syllabus for one of the courses I teach. I am not going into all the hassle here about the approval process for the AP English Literature courses, but it was lengthy, time-consuming, and controversial among the teachers that are on the discussion list for the course. Well, my "authorization" came through day before yesterday. Suddenly, the juices are flowing again, and I'm in the mood to put in time planning new things for this year. Finally! After all, I return to teaching on August 20.

I have also started an exercise program that I am going to blog about so that I will have some accountability. I have sort of a tricky knee situation that really acts up if I walk on very uneven surfaces or on concrete for a long period of time. I can either go to the high school track--one of those soft things made from what looks like ground-up tires--VERY early in the mornings or do something at home. Right now, I'm using the Leslie Sansone mile walk DVD. I have gone to the 1/2 mile point two days in a row. Yes, I'm starting slowly, but I haven't been exercising at all. In the past year and two months, I have lost between 90 and 100 lbs. (poor record keeping--scales do not work well when you're that big), and I still have a lot more to go, so I need a real exercise boost. I plan to give myself a treat when I reach the 100 mile mark.

Oops! Knitting Content--What have I been doing instead of eating? Knitting and spinning. It's what is keeping me sane when I am tempted.

Projects OTN--Regia Bamboo second sock
Fleece Artist Tidal Wave second sock
BSJ #2
FLAK Aran Sweater
Spinning-- washing fleece
Black Alpaca/Wool pencil roving for Christmas present
New Spunky Fiber Club selection--"Celebration"
Mileage-- 1 of 99

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Weekend Projects

The first two green peppers from our garden, which is so small that it really doesn't qualify as a garden in farm country.

The yarn is my handspun from some Brown Sheep mill end rovings from the Sheep Shed Studio. It's 200 yards of light worsted weight. I think my spinning is getting a little better, but I also think most of the improvement can be credited to my finally getting a tensioned Lazy Kate. I had just been letting the bobbins flop around in bowls, and my plying was really inconsistent. Then I tried the built-in holders on my Ashford Traveler, and that was even worse! The Lazy Kate makes it so much easier.
I also began washing a Rambouillet fleece over the weekend and finished the first of a pair of Regia Bamboo socks. I hope to finish the second one this week. With a little cooperation from the mail fairies, the Spunky Fiber Club selection ought to be here soon--I can hardly wait to see what it is.

I've Been Sorted!

I don't yet have the book, but I did sort myself.

Want to Get Sorted?

a Gryffindor!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Handspun Project

I wanted to do something from my handspun, so I looked up a pattern that could use some of the thick-and-thin irregular stuff from my first wheel spinning. I found this pattern on line, the "Simple Triangular Shawl" by Janice Farrell Pea. I used larger needles for a more lacy effect, as well as trying to get as much as I could from the amount of yarn I had. The final result is about 60" x 25" after blocking. This will work well for me for school this winter--warm enough for a fast run to the car--about 20 yards--and to stand in the hallway between classes and not too warm to wear pinned on in the classroom. I'm wearing it as I type just because I can and because the Kookaburra that I washed it with smells so good!
OTN-FLAK KAL sweater
2nd Tidal Wave Sock
Regia Bamboo Socks

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Spinning and Blogging

This lovely lilac color is from Abby Franquemont at Abby's Yarns. Her frequent postings on the spinning groups have been of great help to me, as have her videos on YouTube. I bought it from her Ebay store. The wool is Falkland.

A few months ago, my DH came across a wool site from the Falkland Islands while surfing the web. I was interested in what they said about their sheep, and I tried to find a site to buy yarn from there, but I did not have any luck. They also seem to have a unique sweater style that is interesting and appealing. I am not sure if this fiber is actually from the Falklands or is just made from the same breed of sheep but grown elsewhere. I did find it very easy to spin, and I like the subtle color changes.

I have also been busy blogging this week. I teach three different courses at our local high school--actually four, because one class is a combined high school course and freshman course from a nearby junior college. This year there will be a blog for each class--used to post copies of handouts, reminders of due dates and assignments, and links to helpful web sites. Because I teach seniors, time management and scheduling skills are life skills that they need to practice before college and jobs, so I'm hoping this will be another method of helping develop those skills. (Of course, the first thing I put on both senior blogs is a ticker that is counting down days to graduation.) I have isolated my school blogs from my "life" as much as possible, so I am not going to post links to those blogs here. I have also not enabled comments; in today's world I cannot afford that kind of interaction with students: I have seen what some of them do on MySpace.
OTN--FLAK KAL sweater
2nd Tidal Wave Fleece Artist Sock
simple shawl from b&w handspun

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

This Post has a Title!

Thanks to a Blogger group, I found out that the problem is not my settings or my computer. Blogger did something last Friday. To get a title on your post, creep the cursor up slowly from the bottom. It will have to get almost to the top of the box before it appears. THEN click. Irritating, but at least it works, and I can temporarily quit looking for a solution.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Baby Surprise Jacket

For some reason, I have been unable to put titles on the last two posts. I don't know what's going on with Blogger. . . .

The Baby Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmermann is a classic pattern, but I don't think I did a very good job of the one I just made. For one thing, I chose to use Cotton Ease as the yarn. I have used this for a previous baby sweater, and it was great, but it lacks the body and the ability to be blocked that a wool product would have. Garter stitch is sooooo stretchy, and it really needs the springiness of a wool fiber. Furthermore, in worsted, which I needed to use to make the jacket big enough, this jacket is very heavy. For those of you with New England winters, it would be just great, but it is probably too heavy for Texas. We do have very cold weather in the Panhandle in the winter, but it is likely to be followed by mild weather in the '50s or '60s in the next day or two. In fact, we sometimes have that kind of weather change in the same day. I did enjoy making this clever pattern though. The video was very helpful, and I learned about shaping a collar so that it rolls nicely.

Here's a picture:

I have more Cotton Ease and a Knitting Pure and Simple pattern for a hoodie that I think I'll make for the babies. It will be much more practical, I think.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Another Baby Bubble Model!

Here's another baby bubble model. This DGD is not quite old enough to sit up--or to reach some of those toys hanging tantalizingly out of reach!

Friday, July 06, 2007


On July 3, I took an all-day spinning lesson at Three Stitchers, a country yarn store near a nearby New Mexico town. It was truly a wonderful experience: sorting a Rambouillet fleece, scouring it, and spinning--both in the grease and with washed, carded fleece. I also got a quick lesson in hand carding. It was accompanied by lunch with the family--sandwiches with homemade bread. I learned a lot. I managed to come away with a little yarn and turned down buying a fleece. However, I came home and dreamed about fleece all night, so I'm going to call and tell her that I want a fleece when my carder order comes in!

Above is some of the handspun that I bought from Three Stitchers--the colorway is Mountain Blue Jay. This yarn was spun in the grease and then washed and dyed. The colors appear to be almost painted on, giving it a very rustic appearance. I love the yarn because I enjoy watching the blue jays in our backyard right now.

And here is the spinning I've been doing. First, this is the second of two black and white skeins from roving from the Sheep Shed Studio. I had begun these before the lesson. I found this fiber a little difficult to spin--actually, everything is a little difficult to spin right now--mainly because the black was a little coarser and seemed to have a different staple length from the white. This skein has 142 yards of two-ply and is a worsted weight. The first skein is the same weight, but is only about 70 yards.
Finally, a post-lesson product--the June selection from the Spunky Eclectic Fiber Club, a color called Tulip. It is also two-ply worsted weight--208 yards. Now I just want to drop my other knitting projects and make something from this yarn!
Still OTN--
Fiber Artist Tidal Wave Socks
Baby Surprise Jacket
FLAK KAL Sweater

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

It Always Looks Better on the Model!

Here's one of the bubbles from the last post being "modeled." Notice the high-fashion-model pose!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Vintage Baby Bubbles

I have been knitting, but everything is still in the UFO stage.
These, however, are made from one of my favorite patterns "Vintage Baby Bubbles," by Wendy Schoen. The real design features embroidery and lace, but I enjoy making bright-colored bubbles from quilting cotton. The lining fabric and rickrack were purchased at Malouf's Fabrics, a local store; the print is from stash.

As you can see, the design is an American traditional, usually known as Sunbonnet Sue. The bubbles are for my two infant granddaughters; the quilt was appliqued by their great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother during the Great Depression (a lot of "greats" in one sentence). They referred to the pattern as Dutch Doll.

OTN--Baby Surprise Jacket of Cotton Ease
Socks--Fiber Artist Forest in Tidal Wave Pattern
FLAK KAL Sweater