Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Last One And I'll Shut Up, I Swear!

Okay, I'm annoying today, I know! But you have to see this.

Honestly, HOW can I be expected to work when I turn around and see this?

Sleepytime on Telework day

They don't cuddle together often. It's hard to resist that level of adorable. But WAIT. It gets WORSE. Pan out a bit.

Oh, the agony

There's cute, there's cushy comfy chair, there's lovely sunlight, and there's spinning! And I'm chained to my desk-not-desk working!

I am SO dedicated. Hurray for my work ethic. Ooooh, it's lunch time!!

Last SAFF-Y Post

I don't know what the difference is between one gargantuan post and three posts in twelve hours. Just bear with me.

Let me talk about my dyeing classes now. If this sort of stuff doesn't interest you, admire the pretty colors, skip the words, and scroll a bit.

Handdyed from class

This is the skein of silk that was dyed up in my One-Pot Multicolored Yarn and Fleece class. (By the way, I did NOT feel slighted from the materials fees cost - I walked away with a ton of really good stuff from each class!) The silk took the color sort of oddly (as silk is wont to do) but the technique is fantastic. Basically, you put the skein(s) in the pot (circle it around the outer rim of the pot as best you can) and then carefully pour each dye mixture in segments. For this one we had four colors, so we poured four equal amounts of dye in four "pie pieces". The dye draws down (not out) and is absorbed in sections. There's some poking and prodding (no stirring, obviously) to get the dye to draw and strike where you want, but it's mostly a pour-and-leave-it-alone thing. (I like that.) We didn't mess with ratios - the pot required four ounces of dye, so we put in an ounce of each. Simple. Obviously, you'd want to mess with your ratios and use more of the lighter colors and less of the bolder if you wanted more of a balance. The light color is really overpowered on this skein.

The mohair, however:

Handdyed from class

Took the dye like gangbusters! I LURVE this skein. Great tech. If you like acid dyes. I could take them or leave them, although I'm not sure if my lack of enthusiasm had more to do with the fact that I just wanted to buy my wheel and nine pounds of wool and head home.

I took the Colors from Nature dyeing class the next day, and I had to tear myself away from the wheel, but I'm glad I did. It's probably the crunchy organic girl in me - I LOVE this dyeing method. First of all, it's cheap. (Yay, more money for cashmere roving!) You can gather up leaves or onion skins, boil them, and dunk the yarn. How is that not fantastic? Second of all:

Handdyed from class

Holy crap! Who knew you could make a vibrant purple or a salmon color out of WOOD??? The colors aren't quite true, and I have roving and yarn in each shade. Left to right, excluding the little bunches of yarn at the top left: Purple - Logwood. Red - Cochineal (bugs!). Salmon (not orange) - Red Sandalwood. Pale peach (not pink) - Brazilwood. Light tan - Henna. Alum is used as a mordant in each example, except the little tiny skeins up above the logwood. Those two were not pretreated, and the brownish-grey bit was done in logwood with cream of tartar added to the dyepot. The lavender bit was done in logwood as the bright purple was, but then doused with ammonia out of the dyepot. It's incredible what the slightest change can do to these skeins - drop a bit of copper tubing into your dyepot, and the color changes dramatically. I bought some mordant and some dyes. (Some of the dyepots, like the brazilwood, were done with bits of wood, and some were done with sawdust purchased from a dye distributor.) And then there's the bugs.

Cochineal buggies!

They kind of look like those candy rocks kids eat. (Kids, don't eat bugs.) They're also expensive as all hell. (An eight ounce bag is about forty bucks. I bought an ounce or two.) But look at that scarlet color yarn - you can't resist!

Some handspun:

Handspun Merino-Tencel

Four ounces of Merino/Tencel spun to 210 yards. We're getting further from bulky, but not close enough to sock. Sigh. This lovely teal-ish evergreen color sure looked like blue to me in the arena (bad lighting and the haze of fiber intoxication makes for bad judgment). Still.....getting better. This is a heavy yarn, very dense. Not sure I'm crazy about it. Seems reeeeally bulky, even at over 200 yards.

Handspun Alpaca

About an ounce of alpaca. (I bought a lot of sampler bags so I could see what I like spinning and what I hate.) Much more even spin on this one - still a bit large, though, at 35 yards. Heavy worsted weight, about.

Handspun Brown Welsh top

About an ounce of Brown Welsh top. (I know what this looks like. I kind of giggled too, because I'm really a six year-old at heart.) 50 yards...better all the time! Spin and ply more consistent yet. Still not sock weight. Must keep trying.

Couple of hats I whipped up on the drive. (Also finished a pair of heavy socks, already dirty.)

Danielle's Beanie

A beanie for Travis' little sister, no real pattern used. Just seed stitch along the bottom for an inch and a half, then stockinette (other than her initials, which I purled in). This is my handspindled merino/tussah (ha! spindle, kiss my grits!) and it's her high school colors. Birthday gift? I'm hoping that little bump in the top will come out in a wash. I don't like nipples on the tops of my hats.

Speaking of which.

Amber's Beanie

Beanie from Ozark Handspun, which I still love for funky hats. Kinda pointy, though, huh? It looks alright on a head though. (You just really don't want to see my head right now. Telecommute day. Head looks kinda funky on telecommute day.) This hat also weighs about nine pounds. But it's so cute dammit.

Am I done? I'm looking around at my piles of crap I now have to find a place for....I think I'm done showing off.....I'll let you know if I step in any more handspun. (Hopefully it won't look like that Brown Welsh.)

Animals Parade (Photo Heavy)

The hay is greener....

Hey, the grass is greener on the other side of the fence for them, too!

I LOVE sheep. We'll definitely have sheep when we have land. I love their little "maaaaa-aaa-aaaaaa" noises, and how sweet some of them were. Travis actually had to literally be tugged away from one he deemed his "favorite".

Travis' favorite

We met some llamas too. I also definitely want llamas.


Llamas, however, do NOT want Travis.

No.  Don't touch me.

(Note that he has his carved stick.) The llama gave it some thought:


And decided against him, again.

Nah.  Thanks anyway.

"You have been judged and found wanting." Ouch! And heh.

The smiling blur approaching, whom I've pointed out using my handy red Photoshop arrow I now love so much, was the owner. He friendlied right up when she got there. (Yeah. "Friendlied." I said it. It's my word, but you can use it.)


Alpacas are cute. Alpacas are pretty. Alpacas make pretty fur. But I do not want alpacas. Why?

Alpacas are ASSHOLES. Seriously. I couldn't get anywhere near them. This one let me get kinda close, but check out the stinkeye:

REALLY grouchy alpaca

Moments later I attempted to pet him and if he'd been able to, I think he would have pooped and thrown it at me in disdain. Jerk.

(No offense to any alpaca people out there - they're probably very sweet once you get to know them. I know they're just aloof animals. I understand - I would be too if strangers kept fondling my hair and shaving me periodically.)

They are, however, REALLY funny.

Greedy alpaca

"Hey guys. What's up over here? No, I'm just hangin' out. No sweat. Hey, what's that over there??"

Greedy, greedy alpaca!


Okay, I do like THIS alpaca. He's after my own heart.

Monday, October 30, 2006

SAFF Recap (Photo Heavy and Long)

In the interest of time-saving measures, I'm typing my blog post on the drive back to Florida. (I'm hoping to someday parlay all of my expertise into a $450/hour efficiency consultant position. I'll let you know how that works out.)

OH MY GOD I think I love fiber festivals! Do some of you really only go for one day?! I spent very nearly every waking hour wandering the halls and arena floors, until I was ejected because everyone wanted to go home. It helped me tremendously that one of the main organizers of the event is a good friend of my parents - my folks live on a former llama farm and the previous owners became close with them. And thankfully so, because they're absolutely wonderful people - and the wife is on the SAFF Board and coordinates the workshops, which means I managed to squeeze into all the workshops that had filled up before I sent in my registration. (More on those later.) She's also a knitter/spinner with too much fiber and she sent me home with a complimentary three pound garbage bag crammed with Border Leicester that she declared she was merely, "happy to have out of the house." When you have nine llamas to shear, and a flock of goats, I guess there's probably no shortage of fiber.


We drove north. We got hungry and reluctantly stopped for donuts and crappy gas station coffee. This made Travis cranky.

Road trip food sucks!

We then discovered we were three miles from Forsyth, Georgia, the home of Uncle Frank's. Uncle Frank (so named because his sister has ELEVEN children...and another on the way, we learned) runs one of those great old home restaurants with collard greens and rutabaga and fried chicken and homemade meatloaf and a hundred other buffet items, all homemade, all you can eat, for six bucks. And homemade apple cobbler. And sweet tea.

Road trip food is awesome!

We left fat and happy - which is the only way Frank lets anyone leave.

I finished plenty of projects on the drive. I'll show those off in the next post...there's plenty of eye candy to go around in this one.

Immediately upon arriving, I thrust Mom's birthday gift into her hand, demanded that she open it, and threatened to club her over the head when she objected that it wasn't her birthday yet. (I remembered to snap a few hasty photos the morning we left.)

Swallowtail Shawl

Swallowtail Shawl

I'm relatively happy with how it worked out, and she thought it was lovely (and threatened to frame it rather than wear it.) We entered it into the Skein and Garment competition at SAFF, but it didn't win anything. I hadn't much expected it to - some of the stuff that was entered was pretty baffling.

I scored swag, bigtime. There was a lot of stuff there - more fiber than I could imagine in one place, man. Mom was volunteering on Friday and Saturday, and I was in classes most of those days too - we went back on Sunday to shop a bit and visit the critters.

I learned spinning first thing:

My Learnin' Wheel

(The first, and not the last, kinda crappy blurry photo. The arena was not really photo-friendly. It cared for neither flash nor no-flash. Jerk.)

The class was great fun, and the instructor was just darling. She had a helper who cracked me up too - and thank God for the helper....no one went unattended.

My beginning spinning class (2)

The red arrow shows Julie, the instructor. The green is her helper. I have to toot a horn here...the helper (I can't remember her name, lousy me) declared almost immediately upon seeing me, "You're gonna be good at this. I can just tell." It must have been that slightly wild-eyed glint of impending hysteria, that sort of rabid hunger that we all get when someone presents us with yet another fiber-related option.

My first handspun on a wheel!

My first single! Okay, I wasn't fantastic right off the bat, but I dug it hard, and I wasn't terrible either. And I had a hard time concentrating in my next class because I wanted to go back to the wheel.

Dyeing Class Instructor

My next class had to do with dyeing a variegated yarn or fleece in one pot (note the instructor). That was actually a really cool trick, and we ended up with some really interesting results. (They had to dry, I didn't get photos yet - that'll be next post too.)

Dyeing Class

It was freakin' COLD out there, too....but we endured. Because there was fiber involved. The arrow you see points at Rahaa (who is just as tall as she seems to be.) She was a cool cat. And I felt that worth pointing out.

At one point in this class, some guy and his wife wandered up and asked a bunch of questions about what we were doing and got all up in our business - to the point that in order to get dye into the pot, I had to ask him to move. He was obnoxious as hell, but curious, and the instructor finally gently pointed out that we had actually PAID for the class, and he'd need to move along.

Speaking of men:

Spinners!  Boy ones!

Look at all the spinning boys!!!! (I've kind of gotten arrow-happy with my Photoshop program...sorry - every once in a while I start playing with a new gadget. You'd never believe I have the thousand-dollar ultra-mega Photoshop version.....I have no idea how to use it. The ex was a software engineer....there's a lot of great stuff on here I can't use.)

This has nothing to do with anything, but it amused me:


I believe he was the husband of the shop owner, and he was modeling a shawl for some purpose. All I know is that this is what he looked like when I turned around, and I asked him if I could get a picture. Very patient soul - wish I'd bought something from them. (It was the Interlacements booth....no shortage of stuff I could have picked out.)

Here's where I blow your mind - I didn't buy a single commercially-spun skein of yarn. NOT ONE. As a matter of fact, I only purchased four skeins of yarn, and three were for an SP. All four handspun....everything else I bought was fiber. And I bought fiber from very nearly every animal there is. (We had to fold down the backseat, okay? It's crazy in here right now.)

Partial fiber haul

This isn't all of it. This is just what I had on Saturday. There's more. I got a little bit of everything. Merino, Merino/Tencel, Corriedale, Brown Welsh, Border Leicester, Cotton, Angora, Cashmere/Silk, Merino/Angora/Silk, Yak, Camel, Llama, Mohair (prizewinner, that one), Alpaca, Cashmere (mmmmm).

But what to do with all that?


Meet SanDeE*. Julie the Spinning Instructor also happens to be Julie the Lendrum Dealer. So behold my Lendrum double-treadle. It's what I learned on....I've never sat at any other wheel, but I LOVE this one. (And there was a discount.)

(By the way, I'll give a skein of probably small and rather inconsistent handspun to the first person who can - WITHOUT the aid of Google, thank you - tell me why I named my wheel SanDeE*. No cheating - you just gotta know. Knitters aren't cheaters.)

When I wasn't at SAFF:

My spare time in photo

Welcome to my weekend. Each skein got a little better. I got a lot better quickly....I picked up drafting and spinning at the same time right away (because all that predrafting was a pain in the arse.)

First handspun
Second handspun
Third Handspun

The first skein (Border Leicester spun during class), the second skein (about 7 ozs of merino, 140 yards...heh), the third skein (the last ounce of merino, much less bulky).

I have more of that too. Later.

Travis wasn't bored out of his skull, though.

Travis carving

I signed him up for the Wood Spirit Carving class, and he loved it! He brought home a few more sticks with us. He also met another Travis in his class - what is it with knitters gathering up Travises? I don't know many men named Travis, but I do know of four Fiber Women with a Travis. Weird. But yeah, he had fun with his little carved guy:

The mountain man

And he spent plenty of QT with my dad, too. We also went out for a few dinners and saw Flags of Our Fathers, in case you think I just totally ignored my parents all weekend.

Okay, there are critters too, and my Natural Dyeing class (I learned that I definitely prefer natural dyes over acid dyes), but I've been going on longer than I'd intended...so I'll post those later also. We'll push back those FO knits and FO skeins until another day.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

In Case You Thought I Was Kidding...

I finished plying up those singles. You know how there's bulky yarn, then there's super-bulky? I think I need a third category. I'm calling this "hella bulky", 100 yards per metric ton. It was fun to spin, and good stuff, but MAN did I make the singles too big.

Presenting my completed hot mess of a plied yarn:

Handspun Hot Mess

To give you an idea of how huge this skein is, that's a REAL FULL-GROWN SHEEP! (Yeah, of course it's not....but still, it's a big skein.)

Okay, this next one is vaguely less embarassing:

Handspun Spindled Single

About 100 yards spindled from Spritely Goods batt, maybe fingering weight? Laceweight in places? Purdy stuff to spin. Love it.

What's that? You want to see my handdyed yarn again? Skeined? Okay...if you insist:

2 Skeins of Koigu (Handpainted:

Oh, and like I said, I did swatch it:

Yep. I love it.

Gratuitous lamb-n-handspun shot?

Handspun Spindled Single

(Not a crazy beanie-baby lady....I just love lambs.)

A friend is having her birthday dinner tonight at Cheesecake Factory. I doubt she'll stumble on here between now and then....wanna see somethin'? She's a belly dancer, and they get all those awesome accessories, like armbands and jingly hip scarves.....and crazy hair falls with dreads:

Marcie's Dreads

There's all KINDS of crap in there....some leftover bits of silk, cashmere, Ozark Handspun, sari silk, Noro Blossom, Hanah silk ribbons, some roving I natted up and dyed with Kool-Aid....i-cords, twisted cords, braids, felted i-cords....I dig the way it all turned out. And it was a fun project - kind of like knitting, but with a punk twist.

'Kay, I'm done.

Monday, October 23, 2006

That Other Festival

Oh yeah? Oh yeah??? Well, I'm going to SAFF this weekend, Rhinebeckers, so NYAHHH!

(What? You've never even heard of SAFF? Well, that's just because you're not knitty enough! Okay?! It's a hundred times cooler than Rhinebeck, that's what it is! Yeah!! They have 47 square miles of fiber vendors, okay?? And they guarantee 800 HERDS of alpaca. That's right. 800 herds. Don't question it.)

Okay, so I lied - SAFF is comparatively small. But it's growing leaps and bounds every year. And there are classes there on spinning and dyeing, and I'll be taking a few of those. There are even some "entertain your husband" classes - Travis is taking a wood carving class (say goodbye to my banisters). And there will be fiber - although I think it's still primarily an animal-fiber festival and judging, so there's probably going to be a pretty heavy not-yet-yarn slant to it. Heaven for a newbie spinner with no boundaries. (Yes, I have every intention of picking up a wheel.)

Given the amount of cash I dropped on my last NC trip...well, I'm concerned. There wasn't even a fiber festival that time. We usually fly up there, but we're driving this time so that "how do we get all this crap home?" won't be a problem. I've no doubt Travis would barely blink if I came home Saturday afternoon with two sheep, a goat, an alpaca, and six Angora rabbits stuffed in the backseat.

The festival also has the distinction of being 15 minutes from my parents' house near Asheville, NC. I cannot WAIT to spend some time with them - I love them, I love their property, and I love the area they live in.

I did a bit of spindling this weekend, *finally* plying up some singles Vicki gave me during SP8. (Psst: I'm making the ugliest damned two-ply out of the prettiest damned roving...I would assume I'll get better at this. But it's sort of lovably ugly - even Travis said, "I kinda like the way it turned out." Or he just loves me a lot. Either way.) I also wrapped up half of a laceweight-ish single from Spritely Goods batt. (Which I had planned to spin two singles of and ply, but with only 100 yards off my first half of the fiber, I think I'll go with the singles...seems like I always end up with 100 yards or less, and I want a bigger project!)

I also knitted up a gauge swatch out of that yarn I dyed for my dad....I can't stop staring at it. Damn, it looks good. I know you want to see it, but don't worry - you'll be forced to endure many pictures. I'm playing with an idea for a pattern designed just for him, and I'm going to try making it work. If I fail, I'll just make the Boyfriend Socks or something equally manly.

(Um...I also might have hit Chez Cas and picked up a few things, like some Ozark Handspun yarn and silk top, some soy silk laceweight, etc....)

Alright, I gotta go sell a kidney so I'll have enough money for all the stuff I'll want to buy this weekend.

Friday, October 20, 2006

One Down....

The first of the Bells & Whistles Socks has been completed! I was home ill yesterday, so that gave me plenty of time to nap, catch up on the TiVo, and knit the foot.

I LOVE the pattern. It's clear, concise, and easy to knit. (If you can count to five.)

Bells & Whistles Sock #1

(Photos are just a little bit blurry - it was still early and I didn't have full light.)

Even with it being and almost knee-high sock with lace and cables, this thing flew off the needles. (The plain ol' stockinette foot helped.)

Bells & Whistles Sock #1

I'll have project details when they're both finished...but to sum up, Mondial Extrafine Merino, US size 2 needles for the ribbing and first pattern repeat, US size 1.5 for the rest of the leg and foot. Started Saturday night (the 14th) and finished last night (the 19th).

I absolutely LOVE how the pattern extends down onto the heel flap. I think it's a great detail.

Bells & Whistles Sock #1, Heel Flap

(Don't mind the bathrobe - it's rather difficult to get a decent photo of one's own heel.)

And this pattern also features my new favorite toe decrease. Even if this sock is a little small for me (Mom has smaller, narrow feet - I have boats), the toe is perfect....I love how it fits the shape of my toes. (Socks that decrease straight up both sides to a point mush my toesies together...no fun.)

Bells & Whistles Sock #1, Toe

Very highly recommended pattern and yarn. (If only I had Squish-o-Vision - this yarn is so cushy!!) I'm still baffled at how QUICK this knit was. (Maybe it's just because I've been working on one Eleanora sock since May.) Oh, and the Mondial is 175m, and I had maybe 10m left over at the end - so any standard sock yarn should work just fine.

I also spent a bit of time yesterday in the kitchen with Kool-Aid:

Camo Yarn

I had intended to dye up some nice deep navy blue sock yarn for Dad's Christmas socks. Then I realized that there would really be no way to dye navy blue from Kool-Aid without it having a strongly purple slant. I could get close....but not what I wanted. So I just started playing, once again falling back on the ol' reliable colors befitting a military man. I started with two skeins of Koigu in a sort of oatmeal color, and layered and splashed and soaked and just kind of generally slap-dashed it with Tamarind, Changin' Cherry, Watermelon Kiwi, Switchin' Secret, and Grape. Eventually (after an over-dye when the first attempt came out a bit too purple), this is what I came up with. I love it.

Camo Yarn

I'm sort of surprised and pleased with myself that I managed to make a nice neutral Army-Guy skein out of Kool-Aid. Just think of what I could be capable of with real acid dyes!

Okay, that's all - now go! Knit!