Thursday, December 30, 2010

An Ode to Split Peas (and other stuff like a 3 needle cast on)

I had a bunch of ham left over and was trying to think what to do with it.  So I whipped out my trusty Betty Crocker cookbook app and came across a Split Pea and Ham soup recipe that was unbelievably easy - once I found the yellow split peas it called for.  I followed the recipe and dumped all the listed ingredients into the crock pot last night and got up this morning to the most amazing soup I've had in years.  It was all of about 5 ingredients and BAM!  It made me curious, though, to find out the difference between the green and yellow peas (nothing) and I found out some really interesting facts.  Here's what it says on Wikipedia:

They are a great source of protein and are also a very lean and healthy type of cereal, with only 1 gram of fat per 350 calorie serving. Most of the calories come from protein and complex carbohydrates. The split pea is known to be a natural food source that contains some of the highest amounts of fiber, containing 26 grams of fiber (104% DV based on a 2,000 calorie diet). Fiber is known to help the digestive system and to make people feel full and satiated.

I used to make a lentil soup but hadn't even thought about it for years.  I will be making more in the future, I guararntee.  Excuse me a minute, will you?

OK, I'm back and I'll try not to drip on the keyboard.

I decided I had enough of the handspun used for the hat and scarf for mittens.  Now, knitters will know that these decisions are as often made by wanting something to be true as by being able to prove the thing is true.  I was sure.  OK, I was pretty sure.  Who said trust but verify?  I decided to ball the skein into two equal size balls, then I'd be able to handle any surprises.

My second decision was to work the mittens from the tips down, something I've never done before but I decided if I had to substitute another yarn to make up for any shortages, it would be better to do that on the cuff rather than the tips.  But, hey, there's not much to a mitten, right?  But how to start?

I've heard of 3 needle bind-offs but couldn't that work the other way around?  Couldn't you do a 3 needle cast on?  I know there are a number of ways to cast on socks and whatever.  This is just how I figured out how to do it and here's what it looks like:

  1. First I used a US size 7 double pointed needle (the size the mittens would be made with) and a US size 3 double pointed needle held together and did a long tail cast on to get 10 stitches.
  2. Next, I pulled out the 7.  Using the 3 gave me lots more room to work the magic.
  3. Using 2 size 7 needles, I knit 2 stitches from the first stitch on the needle.  I knit 1 stitch into the front of the stitch using 1 needle and I knit 1 stitch into the back of the stitch using the second needle.
  4. Then I repeated the process across, giving me 20 stitches.  This isn't a great photo of the needles but it will give you an idea of what it looked like in the process:
  5. Finally, I added 2 more needles and put 5 stitches of each of 4 double pointed needles and got ready to go.
 Then I just worked backwards, increasing on each side instead of decreasing.  When I got to the thumb, I bound off the number of stitches I would have normally cast on going the other way, knit around and then cast on the number of stitches I would normally have put aside on a stitch holder going the other way.  This does give you a little ridge at the bottom of the thumb when you have to go back and pick up stiches for the thumb but it doesn't show at all on the outside.

If I get a chance this weekend, I'll write out the pattern as I worked it but it was a very interesting new thing to learn.

Oh, yeah.  Did I end up with enough yarn?  Of course I did - with about 4 yards to spare!!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Busy Bee

I've been kind of quiet lately because I've been up to my elbows in projects and/or work (mostly work) but that just means there are reports to be made and even a couple of photos to show.

As I mentioned before, I will be teaching a class on Amigurumi crochet during the Lincoln Land Needle in a Haystack event on January 15th (you can register online here).  I have to say, I'm really getting into this.  I showed you some project I did earlier here.  I thought I might use the little turtle as the class project but in the back of my mind I kept thinking I wanted to do a bee.  I couldn't really find a pattern I liked so today I did this:
He turned out to be a happy little bee and cute to boot!  I'm pretty sure this is going to be our project.

I also got a couple of project finished up.  On the link above, along with the animals, is a scarf I made from some wool I'd spun up.  I started a hat but ran out of yarn.  Fortunately, I had another braid of roving left to spin.  From all that I could see, both braids were the same but when I got into the second braid, I realized that the colors were much mudier than the first and it did not turn out nearly as well as the first batch.  I'm so glad I did them in the order I did.  But I did get the braid finished, and with it, the hat:

I love it more than I could have imagined.  This yarn softened up tremendously when it was washed and I'm ready for tomorrow morning going back to work.  I love the vintage, almost flapper look of the hat, too.  It was totally unintentional, though, I have to say!

And talking about finishing, remember the felted clogs? I finally got around to actually felting them and something happened that I've never had happen before.  First, the felt:

These are shown next to the same shoe as the other.  I never get tired of it!  But the unexpected thing was that one of the clogs felted much more than the other. You can see the one on the left is larger than the one on the right. I've put it though another felting which helped but it's still too large so another felting will be on the horizon.  I just have to be careful to not overdo it and get one that won't fit my feet!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ready for Cold

I got a bright idea last night.  I had come across some single ply black alpaca I'd spun several years ago just waiting for the right project.  A couple of weeks ago at the Three Sisters Folk Art Guild, one of the ladies had a hat she'd knit of black, using a slightly variegated green in a fair isle pattern.  It was so beautiful.

So, I was spinning away on some variegated fiber and had a brainwave that it would look great knit with the black alpaca.  Here's what happened:
It hasn't been blocked but it was a little tight so on the brim, I decided to do an i-cord bind off.  But as I was doing it, I decided it wasn't going to make it quite loose enough so I went with just doing a knitted off edging (instead of slipping the 4 stitches back to the left hand needle and knitting it from the beginning, I knit the edging back and forth).  I really like the little rim it made and it's going to be snuggly and warm.  Who's afraid of the big, bad snow.  Ha!

Monday, December 13, 2010

A time for finishing

I guess it fits in with the time of year but I spent a lot of the weekend trying to finish things that had been on the needle for quite a while and to do a project I've been meaning to do for a long time.

I've had several socks on the needles and have been wanting to get them finished so I can wear them.  The red pair are made with my favorite sock yarn - Berroco Sox.  I love the colors, I love knitting with it and I love how they wear.

The blue pair was started one night sitting at an auction waiting for a spinning wheel to come up.  I don't remember what the sock yarn is but it was an experiment of cables.  I almost didn't cast on enough stitches but I think it will be better after washing.  There is a large main cable running through and then a smaller, more widely spaced cable running between.  Fortunately I had finished the second cuff before the socks got put away because I don't know if I would ever figure out what I was doing again!

Finally, the purse.  I finished the main section of this purse was competed probably 2 years ago (using Noro Silk Garden).  The plan was to felt it and do a beaded section at the top but I finally decided it looked well with these handles.  I like the size and the blend of colors and the handles fit it.

One of the few blogs I follow is The Yarn Harlot - Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.  She showed a picture of Fiber Trends felted clogs she'd knitted and how many giggles she got from looking at them pre-felting.  I made a pair of these about 7 years ago and wore them literally until the bottoms wore out and I'd been meaning to make another pair since those were retired.  Here are mine (with a shoe between to show the scale).
Hehehehehe.  I never get tired of it!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Needle in a Haystack

If you're in the Central Illinois area, mark January 15th in your calendar for the Needle in a Haystack event at Lincoln Land Community College.  There are going to be classes in sewing, embroidery, knitting, spinning, crochet, quilting and more.  There will be 4 class sessions through the day so you can get an introduction into a variety of things. 

Even if you can't manage a class come on over to visit the displays and demonstrations being put on by Springfield-based needleart guilds.  I've got more info and links to register online at  Click on over there.  One word.  There won't be vendors this first year to give them a chance to really focus on the event itself.  But the vision is to take what's learned this year and build on it.

I'll be doing several things during the day including:
  • Intro to spinning yarn with a drop spindle.  You'll make your own drop spindle and then learn the basics of spinning using this ancient tool. 
  • Lunchtime presentation on Crafting in Times of Crises.  You can sign up for an onsite lunch and while you're munching down, I'll share some thoughts on how crafters have always met crises with creativity both to meet the needs of those hit by the crises and in the meantime, provide solace to their own hearts.
  • Amigurumi Crochet.  Have you ever seen this stuff?  So cute.  Here are some things I've done for the class:

The fish and Mr. Beaver came from a kit/book I got at Barnes and Noble called "Creature Crochet."  The kit came with everything to make these 2 little guys and the book has 10 more to make, including alley cats complete with trash cans and fish bones with jiggly eyes!

The turtle is my little creation and may be our project for the class.  I made it as a little box with a removable shell.
I have to give all the credit to Judy Wagenblast over at Lincoln Land for coming up with this project.  It's been a ton of work and they've gotten it done in record time.  We want everyone to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity so we can convince them to do this every year!!

I've been getting questions so I'll let you know that I will be doing another shuttle tatting class during the semester.  We're going to do it as a 2-part class with a limit of 6 students (in February) then there will be a 1-session "next steps" class (in March) for those who have the basics and want to learn a few new things.  If we get the same reception this semester that we got last semester, we'll try to fit in another beginning class later on in the spring.

Hey, while we're on the class thing, I'll be teaching a knitted lace class at the Three Sisters Folk Art School in April.  Click here for more info as it gets posted.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Better than expected

Sometimes when you get a bump of roving, you have a very clear picture of what it will look like spun up and sometimes, not so much.  I bought some roving at the Bishophill Spin-in a couple of months ago and really loved the colors.  I spun a little sample and andean plied it to get an idea of what it would look like.  To be honest, it looked like vomit.  The mixture of colors was horrendous up against each other and I was so disappointed because I'd bought 2 bunches of it.  Nevertheless, I spun the first bunch and decided to Navajo ply it to keep the colors together.  Much more better.

I love this pattern for a scarf and I thought it would show up the colors well.  I'm so pleased with how it came out, especially after the first experiment.  Just goes to show, first impressions are necessarily the truth.

By the way, this scarf is easy, peasy and makes a great long scarf.  This yarn is worsted weight, 3 ply, and I'm using size 8 needles.  Cast on 15 stitches and knit a couple of rows in garter stitch to get started.  On the next row, knit 1 and wrap the yarn over the needle 2 times (3 times if you want the inbetween section to be longer - with worsted weight I think 2 is plenty but you can wrap more if you use a smaller yarn).  Repeat these 2 stitches to the last stitch, then knit 1.  On the next row, knit the knit stitch and drop the wraps.  Repeat to the end.  Knit 2 more rows.

Just keep going like this until the scarf is long enough.  I like to add a fringe to finish off the scarf.

Something else I worked on during the long weekend was more of this Blue-faced Leicester.  A while back, I spun 4 oz of this roving on the wheel but I also wanted to spun part of it with the spindle to see how it would compare.  I've been spinning it with an Ashford top-whorl drop spindle and am getting it superfine.  I've done enough for one skein but I've got a ton more on the bobbin ready to ply and I've got a fair bit to spin yet.

I also added 2 more skeins to my white on white project.  Lesson in silliness, really.  I'd spun a bobbin of cashmere (or angora - I'm not sure which but it's one or the other) and had a second bobbin to spin before plying.  It was only 1/2 an ounce (although in this fiber, it's really quite a lot).  Feeling quite pleased with myself, I started plying.  You can't imagine how soft unless you've felt it before.  Anyway, there I was all proud of myself and plying.  Until I realized something was wrong.  Very wrong.  It took me a little while to figure it out but there I was proudly plying a z ply and an s ply.  Wrong. 

That's definitely a lesson in how the proud have fallen.  There was no rectifying that mistake and there was no getting more of the fiber.  Drats.  Drats.  Drats. 

I walked around the apartment kicking myself and while I was walking, I spied with my little eye a bobbin of merino/silk that I'd spun up.  It was some of the KnitPicks fiber that I'd gotten to test out and there it was just waiting.  I wasn't sure which direction it had been spun but I was sure to be able to use it with one of the bobbins!  Ha!!  Sure enough, it worked and I navajo plied the other bobbin, giving me 2 more skeins!

It's adding up but I still have to figure out how I'm going to put them together.  Hmmm....

Sunday, November 21, 2010

More lace

I've finished the next lesson in my bobbin lace book.  They call it a gimp worked on a Torchon background.  Next I'm going to try a lace edging witht he same thread as this. 

I haven't been doing much else, or else I've been just doing bits and pieces but nothing very interesting. 

I'm hoping to get stuff done over the long weekend coming up but we'll see how productive I actually get.  I had to come to grips with pushing myself way too hard.  It's just that there are so many things I want to do that I have to get projects finished (or feel that I do).  Anyway, I had a little discussion with myself and told myself to knock it off.  I don't know if I took it very well but I'm going to try to do better!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Bob,bob, bobbin along

I think I mentioned that I bought a beginning bobbin lace kit a few weeks ago.  I've been practicing using a book from the library called, "The Torchon Lace Workbook."  I've just finished lesson 6 and here are the last 3 samples (the ones that actually look like something):

I know the middle one doesn't look like much but trust me, I figured something out with it.  I just made a mistake at the beginning that put the colors out of whack.  It really is something and the others look alright.  Right?

I'm going to try my first lace edging next.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Llama Update

When last we spoke, I almost had my handspun Llama bolero finished.  I was afraid I would run out of yarn and I was out of fiber.  Last night I finished the knitting with the yarn I had left and ended up with a mere 8 inches of yarn left over.  Talk about a nail biter.  The problem is that the last bit of yarn I had to knit with was the first bit of yarn that I spun and it wasn't so good.  Fortunately I'd since gotten more fiber from the lovely folks at K&T Llamas and last nightI got another batch spun up and washed.

This morning I un-knit (de-knit?) the cuff portion, added a few rounds and reknit the cuff.  There is a particular joy when you get an inspiration for something that doesn't exist and you're able to pull off making it exist.  I'm inordinately thrilled with this project.

I've still got more Llama fiber left over so maybe a hat is in my future.  And a scarf?  Maybe even a pair of mitts.  Cool.

Sunday, November 7, 2010


I've been working on a spinning project over the last months.  Well, since I got my Country Craftsman.  I was reading in one of the CC groups where they made the comment that this spinning wheel loves to spin lace weight.  Lace weight?  I LOVE lace weight.  I had some gray Corriedale fiber I'd bought at Yarn Barn on one of my trips to my Mom's.  I had gotten it for a specific purpose but the shade of gray wasn't quite right so it was waiting in the bull pen.  But I knew it would be perfect for a lace experiment with my new wheel.  I've only worked on it intermittently, a strand of fiber now and again.  But I finally got it finished this weekend.  I'd thought the variations in color would be interesting but once I got it spun up I discovered, not so much.  I also had a skein of Clun Forest hanging around that I'd sort of thought of dying up so now I had 2 skeins.

A word about the Corriedale.  Both the yarn and the wheel proved to be overachievers and I was very happy about the final product.  I'd spun it with a z twist for the singles and then plied it, of course, s twist.  But I did the plying on my Fricke wheel because the bobbins are much larger than the CC.  The CC bobbins only hold about 2 ounces.  Even so, I barely got everything plied to fit my Fricke bobbin.  But with my Fricke I knew, not only that the bobbin would be big enough, but that I could get a sufficiently high ratio to do the plying.  I'm a notorious under-plyer.  Really.  If there were a rogue's gallery at the post office for under-pliers, my photo would be there.  But the higher ratio of the Fricke (I used the highest ratio on the wheel) did the trick. I ended up with just under 4 ounces and about 630 yards.  I think I figured that it works up at about 2,000 yards to the pound.

Back to the dying.  I pulled out my dye pot this morning, chose emerald green and saphire blue Jacquard dyes, got my water cooking and my dyes mixed.  I was going for a ocean-y blue green.  What I got was, I think, the results of my not getting the dyes mixed well enough in the pot.

First batch:
It's a much darker green (a green that I'm so in love with) than just the emerald green dye so it picked up a little of the blue.  The Corriedale is on the left and the Clun Forest on the right.  The Corriedale is just a little bit deeper, just because the yarn I started out with was a light gray.  The CF was a natural cream color.

But my dye had not even begun to be exhausted.  So I had some generic white wool roving.  In it went.

Second batch:

The roving picked up the rest of the green in the pot and turned into a nice pale green.  I was very happy to find that the roving didn't felt at all so this should be fun to spin.

But the dye pot still wasn't exhausted.  So I got 3 skeins of KnitPicks superwash fingering/sock weight wool and stuck them in the pot, hoping they would come out kind of an icy green color.  Ha!  Oddly, this batch turned out a completely different color:

Third batch:

Turquoise.  Pure turquoise.  Two of the skeins didn't get mixed well so they are speckled turquoise and white and the bottom skein came up with the pure color.  Hard to believe that all 3 of these shades came from the very same pot of water and dye.

Be honest, do you think I went a little overboard in the amount of dye I put in the water for my 2 little skeins...?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Somebody Stop Me, Please....

I think I've gone just the smallest bit mad with this whole tatting thing.  Honestly, ya'll, I can't stop.  You want to know how bad it is? (How bad is it??????)

I was going through my pre-1930 craft magazines looking out tatting patterns for a challenge in the latest Piecework Magazine and I came across a 1925 issue of Needlecraft magazine that featured a tatted bedspread using size 8 cotton.  That's thread.  Not teeny tiny but small enough.

The instructions say that "When finished, the spread contains one hundred and twenty squares, each about nine inches."  Did you get that.  120 squares.

I realized how crazy I'd become when I looked up from the pattern with the realization that I had actually been considering making it.

Monday, October 25, 2010


I found a book at the library called, The Torchon Lace Workbook, by Bridget M Cook, which has a really helpful format with 10 lessons at the beginning and 25 patterns in the second part of the book.  So, here are my first samples.  The first one is something I did from another book and is just a series of stitches.  The second one is practicing the half stitch and a linen stitch and the last one is practicing the half stitch.  The half stitch and whole stitch are ways of making the background of the lace and the linen stitch is one of the stitches used for creating the "picture," such as the diamonds in the middle sample.

Cool, right?  I don't know where this will lead but it's fascinating!

Friday, October 22, 2010

True Confessions

I have a confession to make.  A couple of weeks ago I posted about some (many) (a few) of the projects I've got going.  I've added to that with:

*  2 pairs of kids gloves.  I don't usually make things for people but this really sweet lady who adores her grandkids and showed me all the pictures of them she had in her wallet asked me to make a pair of camo gloves for her 9 year old grandson and purple gloves for her 7 year old granddaughter.  How can you not say yes to that request?

* fiber from Bishophill Spin-in (8 oz)

* Cormo wool (for white on white project) (4 oz) I've never spun Cormo but it's super soft and I've been told it loves to be lace yarn.  Good enough.  No pic because it's just so much white fluff.  Use your imagination.

* Mohair roving (1 oz) not from Bishophill but added to the list nevertheless - also for the white on white project (same as above - white stuff, imagination)

* New tatting project - doily that is much harder than it looked and I'm having lots of trouble with it.  No pics yet until I can stop throwing it across the room thinking sweary things about it.

So, don't you think that sounds like enough projects for any reasonable person who, by the way has a full time office job?  That's enough, right?

If you said, yes, then you're obviously well mistaken.  Obviously mistaken.  Because if you're not mistaken, then that says things about me that I'd rather not contemplate.  I obviously haven't enough to keep me busy (oh, yeah, add to that 4 public classes and working with Jane and Old State Capital folks to develop a new program).  I know you're mistaken because of this...

Bobbin lace.  Never done it before, never seen it done (before I visited You Tube).  I got a beginner's kit at Bishophill and this is my first effort.  A simple background stitch.

Look, Ma, I'm bobbin lace making!  Top of the world.
And oddly enough, where do you think I got instructions for bobbin lace?  With the kit?  That would be a "no" because the instructions that come with the kit leave quite a lot to be desired.  With one of the many books floating around on bobbin lace?  Yeah, right!

I went to my trusty Weldons books which contained a section on Torchon lace (more about the various types of lace another time - Honiton lace is also a bobbin lace), which is one of the names for this type of lace.  The instructions are clear, the woodcuts are fabulous and there are patterns that you can use (as shown in the first 2 pics).  I know this doesn't look like much but I managed to use 12 pairs of bobbins (that's 24 bobbins for anyone keeping score)!

Maybe I need help.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Checking in

I'm afraid I don't have any photos of anything tonight.  I've managed to catch this whatever's going around and it's laid me out. 

The Knitting With Jewelry Wire and Beads class went great on Friday night.  In fact, I felt just a little bit like a fraud because all the ladies had experience with knitting and beading.  So once I got them started and used to how the wire reacts to the knitting, they were off and running.  For once I ended up sitting around because they were doing so great, there was nothing left for me to do!

My final LLCC class is this Friday - Intro to Shuttle Tatting.  I'm really looking foward to this class because I am loving the tatting so much.  Just can't get enough of it.  But it will be the first time I'm teaching it so I hope it all goes well.

I haven't said too much yet about the event that the folks at Lincoln Land are planning for January 15th but it's being called "Needle in a Haystack."  It's going to be a whole day dedicated to all things needlework - knitting, crochet, spinning, weaving, sewing, embroider, quilting, tatting.  You name it and there will either be a class or a demonstration.  If you're in the Central Illinois area, I think you're going to be very sorry if you don't plan to spend that day with us.  There will be 4 class sessions during the day with a wide variety of class offerings, there will be demonstrations and presentations from a variety of needleart guilds.  So if you've always been curious about what the Embroiderer's Guild does (like I have been), you will be able to see their stuff and talk to them.  Very exciting.

When I get a little caught up, I'm going to show you what I got at the Bishophill Spin-in.

Friday, October 15, 2010

White on White Start

I mentioned before that I'd started the spinning for my white on white project.  I've finally got the first step accomplished:
 Here's a little closer look at the yarn:
I have been trying to remember what the fibers were that I bought in Santa Fe.  This was one and it's definitely got silk in it and I think it's angora and silk.  The other one, I think, was cashmere and silk.  I just got 1 ounce of each but got 250 yards of lace weight out of this ounce.  To put the lace weight label in perspective, this fiber spun in this way would give 4,000 yards of yarn from 1 pound of fiber.  Of course, a pound of this fiber would cost in the neighborhood of about $100 so I'll just settle for my ounce!

This was spun on my Fricke wheel using the highest ratio.  It was spun z twist for the singles and s for the plying.  I was reminded again how you really need more twist than you think you're going to need when you're spinning this finely.  I was fine with the singles, got sufficient twist with no problem.  But I had to adjust my treadling when I was plying because I was definitely not getting enough twist into it.  I was a little concerned, in fact, that I would have to feed it through again to get a little more twist in.  I think it worked out fine in the end but a little more twist wouldn't have hurt anything.

The fiber came in a pretty thick strand of roving.  I found that it went much more smoothly to predraft a little bit at a time as I went.  On a softness scale of 1-10, I would say this is about a 9 and on the elegance scale, it's a 10, no doubt.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Ladies and Gentleman, I give you the 1925 Tatted Baby Bonnet.

Thanking you very much.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Counting on my fingers.

I've been feeling a little torn lately but only realized this morning what might be the problem.  I started counting...

1.  Baby bonnet - It's getting along and I'm on the last round.  I changed the last round a little to match the photo.  It was the only instructions in the whole pattern that wasn't completely clear but the photo was really good so I think this is a good representation and I think it will finish it off nicely once I get the ribbons in it.

2.  Baby sweater.  A friend just had a baby so I'm back in baby-land.  Know how hard it is to pick just one thing?  I always decide I'm going to dress the baby until they're 18! It's so hard.  But as soon as I saw this little vintage matinee jacket, I knew it was the very thing.  The new parents are Canadian and this is a vintage Canadian pattern.  Seemed just the thing. The top section is smocked with a contrasting color and their nursery is yellow and lavendar so I decided just to go with those colors.  Besides, I already had the yellow and I think it's such a great color to brighten up the winter.

3.  Clun Forest wool being spun for socks.  I've got 2 bobbins and need just 1 more to finish it off.  This is the first time I've ever spun Clun Forest and everything I've read talked about it being difficult and not so fun to spin.  Once I kind of got used to it, it hasn't actually been so bad. The difference between this and other wools is that it's a very short staple.  It's got a lot of bounce but it's short.  I'm spinning it using a pretty high ratio.  It's not really soft but it's supposed to be great for outer wear and supposed to be really great for socks.  I'll let you know.

4.  White on white project 1.  One of my spinning buddies, Mary, made a comment about a white on white project.  It really caught my interest so I decided to do something with white on white on white.  This is the first white - it's 1oz of merino/tussah silk mix and 1oz of cashmere/tussah silk mix.  It's going to be a 2-ply of the the two.  You can't imagine how rich this fiber is.  I'm spinning it on my Fricke wheel.

5.  White on white project 2.  The second white of the project is silk being spun from these silk hankies on my Kromski Minstrel.

6.  Gray Lace. This is not a part of the white on white project.  This is some gray wool roving that I'm spinning on my new Country Craftsman.  When I first got the wheel, I read that it's supposed to be particularly good spinning lace and this was on top of the pile.  Spins like buttah.

7.  Sock and shawl.  I was running out of time to take photos so I put some of these together.  Socks with Berroco Sox (my favorite sock yarn) and a "Half Square Shawl" from an 1850's knitting book.  Wait until you see this.  It's made with fingering weight and lace yarns using a lozenge pattern.  When I decided to try it out, I went straight to the stash.  I'd forgotten about the fingering weight yarn but it's a silk yarn that I've already used to make 1 shawl which I wear all the time.  I decided to pair it with a matching alpaca lace yarn from KnitPicks. 

8.  Lace and Lace.  Since I'm still able to sleep a couple of hours each night, I guess I've decided I've got too much time on my hands.  I started this orange shawl from "Victorian Lace Knitting" about a month ago.  As you can see, I haven't gotten too far but it's beautiful and I love this yarn.  It's got a light variagation and is merino soft.  Next to it is some blue-faced leicester from Frabjous Fibers that I recently finished spinning.  It's the one that I loved in roving but wasn't so crazy about once it was plied and finished.  Well, I just got looking at it this morning and decided I did like it so not it's ready to be cast on and I know exactly what I want it to be.  I won't say it out loud yet, you'll just have to wait and see.

On top of these projects, I've got 3 classes at Lincoln Land, starting the new Heritage Knitting program with the Old State Capital folks and having a full-time job.

It's all beginning to make sense now.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Real Thing

When you talk about historic knitting, it's usually about knitting old patterns.  This puts a whole new slant on it:
Can I tell you how cool it was to sit in this room and knit?  Talking about the spirit of place.  The next session will be a knitted mittlet class which will be held in the Senate Chamber of the Old State Capital.  There are still places so be sure to contact Tinsley Store at (217) 525-1825 or go by 209 South Sixth Street to sign up.

The 1925 baby bonnet is moving right along.  I had hoped to have it finished this weekend but I got distracted with a few other things!  It's been one of those magical projects that didn't look like anything until the medallions got attached to the main section.  Then, all of a sudden it becomes this little baby bonnet.  Enchanting.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Designing on a pound

I've been working on a project for a while that I haven't yet shared.  It started as a couple of bags of Llama fiber from K&T Llamas which I fell in love with at Knit in Public Day.  I'd never spun Llama before, one of the few fibers I hadn't at least had my hands on.  I did de-hair a llama fleece once and have it in my stash but I haven't spun any of it. 

I have to say that spinning this llama has been one of the most enjoyable projects I've had to date.  Every free moment, I just couldn't wait to sit down to spin and got it done fairly quickly.  I ended up with just under a pound of worsted weight 2-ply yarn.

Now, one of the challenges one faces when planning to knit with handspun is that, generally, you have what you have.  What you do with it has to fit with what you have.  Getting more fiber isn't always an option.  I read a quote the other day that basically said that new ways of doing things aren't usually created by smart people but by lazy people trying to find an easier way to do something.  Maybe the old bromide about necessity being the mother of invention is closer.

Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that it's about 1/2 pound of 2 different natural colors - blond and med. dark brown.  That's fine but it creates another design challenge.  Don't want it to be too easy, do we?  Where would the fun be in that?

I knew I didn't have enough for a full sweater but I've been wanting a shrug for quite a while so I reckoned I had enough for that.  Here's what I've done:

It does fit me better than it does the dress form and I think it's a grand effort.  Can't wait to get the sleeves finished and have it ready for the upcoming cooler weather.  Why isn't it finished?  I'm afraid it's because I've gotten distracted with this:

I'm at the point of working the 11 flowers.  I can't tell you what pleasure this project has given me.  I've wanted to learn to tat for the longest time and didn't think I would ever be able to do it.  Now I can't get enough of it.  In fact, I'm going to make some new tatters at the upcoming tatting class at Lincoln Land.  The class is full but we're hoping to offer the class again in the spring and I think we'll probably do a class through the Old State Capital Heritage Knitting project.  Fun.

Monday, September 20, 2010

One, Two, Three

I was going to share some projects with you yesterday, until the electricity went out for 2 hours. Of course, that may have just been a good excuse!  I'm good at that, excuses.

So, here we go.

First of all, like many other knitters, I almost always have a pair of socks in tow.  When we went to Santa Fe, I pulled out a bright, cheery sock yarn - a self-striping ball of sunshine to work on during the trip.  The first sock went very quickly, indeed, as I wandered through the Georgia O'Keefe Museum and knitting.  The second sock came more slowly but I've finally got them finished.  (edited for yarn brand) It's Red Heart Heart and Sole  sock yarn.  It's one of those that's imbued with aloe.  I can't tell a difference but I'm sure it's there.  It didn't necessasrily feel all that soft when I was knitting it but now that it's been washed it, really softened up and makes a very comfortable sock indeed.  See if this doesn't look Santa Fe to you.

While on our trip, we had a side trip up north.  We were headed through Espanola with Gladys, the Navigation lady telling us, 300 feet, turn right (I heard a lot of recalculating, recalculating while I was driving).  We were quietly driving through town when I looked to my right and saw a door marked with "Espanola Valley Fiber Arts Center."  I think I surprised my mother when I yelled out, "Fiber!" and whipped into a parking lot next door.  She took it in her stride, though, knowing me as she does.  What a wonderful place!   Along with a beautiful Navajo spindle and a drop spindle, I found some Frabjous Fiber blue-faced leicester in the most intense greens and blues.  If you've followed this blog at all, you'll know how much I love this fiber and how much I love the colorways of this company.  Truly Frabjous.

Blue-faced leicester is one of those yarns that is soft, long-stapled, has a sheen and takes dyes amazingly.  It really almost spins itself and, I think it's the very best yarn to learn to spin finer yarns with.  It's definitely the first thing I would recommend using. This 4 ounces of scrumptiousness was spun "s" singles and "z" plied with 2 plies and it came out to probably fingering weight.  I split the roving into 2 sections, spinning one of each of two bobbins so that it could be easily plied.  The colors were so intense that I had just couldn't get enough of spinning it.  However, as often happens, the color characteristics were somewhat lost in the plying.  Instead of these nice strong colors, I felt it was muddied a little bit.  Now, if previous experience has taught me anything, it's taught me that when it's knitted up, all of those colors are likely to come to the fore again.

The final project to show you for you now is a tatted baby bonnet from a 1925 Needleworks magazine:

I can't tell you what a kick I'm getting out of this.  The pattern has been very easy to follow - so far, so good.  In fact, I keep thinking that I'm going to be breezing along, thinking there's nothing to this tatting lark, when the universe is going to knock me down a peg.  Careful does it.

While I'm thoroughly enjoying this, it also makes me really miss my Grannie.  She thought tatting was so pretty but never learned to do it.  She would be thrilled with this.  So, here's to Gran...