Monday, June 16, 2008

You sure do make it like a sunny day.

A bit of a photo-essay, since clearly it's the writing of the blog that's holding me back, and not my utter laziness when it comes to blogging.

I bought some Lincoln Merino at the LYS (a pound for $13!) so that I'd have something to play with, something not too precious that I'd be worrying about messing up (although I still was).

Round one:

And two:

And then -- then I was ready for something pretty. My wonderful LYS, Fiber Nooks and Crannys (sic) (why is it not Crannies? I clearly have some problems since I cannot get past this), stocks Dicentra Designs fiber on consignment, and I fell in love with the Dune colorway.

5 ounces of blue-faced Leicester top in saturated, rich blues and orangey-gold. Here's my overspun single:

And here it is plied and skeined:

I've named it Helianthus, after the sunflower genus -- it reminds me of driving through Kansas. I think it'll be just the thing for a sunny winter scarf to lighten the northwest winter mood. It ended up being around 375 feet and 3 7/8 ounces.

A new member of the family.

She doesn't have a name yet, but she's definitely a she. She was a super-score on Craigslist a few months ago -- a nearly unused Ashford Traditional single drive. All that was missing were two bobbins, and the instruction manual.

It started, well, this past summer. I'd been smitten with spinning for awhile, and finally felt free enough to take it up once grad school was over. I visited The Yarn Tree in Brooklyn while I was home -- a lovely shop, and I got to meet Linda LaBelle, the owner and author of The Yarn Lover's Guide to Hand Dyeing. She was very sweet and very helpful. Along with some sale Koigu, I picked up 2 oz. of butter-soft, pure white Targhee top, and my Schacht spindle.

Get it? Clouds? Targhee? Do I really need to push this comparison? A few months later (that move got in the way), I had this:

Once I settled in Corvallis, I signed up for a two-day spinning class at the Oregon State Craft Center, one of my favorite things I've discovered in my new town. While the class was... not perfect, I did get to get some time on a wheel, and I learned to prepare a fleece.

Here's my first handspun on a wheel:

This is not cloud-like. It is dense, scratchy stuff. It was difficult to spin, lots of stops and starts as I learned what the wheel and the wool needed. But the last 10 yards just flew, and I was hooked. That 2 ounces (I think) took me hours. This ounce, bought from Steam Valley Fibers at the Tioga County Fair, took me about 15 minutes:

And I was hooked.

More to come, hopefully in less than a month, on how my wheel and I have been getting along...

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Rites of passage.

Why in the world would 400+ knitters, of all shapes, sizes, genders, and ages gather in once place? Was it Earth Day, or The World Forestry Center that brought us all together, desperate as we were to learn about the most effective stand density for Doug fir in year 25 of a 50-year rotation?

And there's a forestry reference on my knitting blog. I am so cool you could keep a side of meat in me for a week. (Now I've added science fiction humor quotes. Time to move along.)

It was, of course, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, better known as The Yarn Harlot.

She was truly wonderful, funny and fresh (as you can read in her post on the day). I will admit to fearing that the talk would be sort of a rehash of her blog, or tired knitting humor. It really wasn't. Her commitment to a bit (drunken yarn company executives, anyone?) was unparalleled. I also enjoyed how she honestly seemed taken aback by the size of the crowd -- since I felt the same way. As a knitter, and one who knits in public and attends my very own weekly knitting circle, I have difficult time describing why it was so odd to see, literally, hundreds of people sitting in one place and knitting. Why should that seems so extraordinary? The topic of the talk spoke to this a bit -- knitters are all different, and few other hobbies/activities/arts are so easily portable. Waiting for a plane, for an appointment, people are usually either reading or watching TV. Knitters stick out, and no one really knows what to make of us. Putting us all in one room sort of turns all that on its head.

One thing that does unite us -- we like to show off our work. I wore a mohair/alpaca/merino blend in an absolute oven of a room until I almost passed out. But my sweater looked good.

It was quite fun. Aside from the Yarn Harlot, my new knitting buddies BlueKnit and MonkeyCat (her excellent pics are here) were along, adding to the sense of knitting community -- and troublemaking. The three of us, in search of food, after claiming our seats, took a shortcut back to the car. We rounded a corner, only to bust into SPM being interviewed. On camera. And she definitely noticed, as we ran away (literally!) giggling like high schoolers. Oops.

Aside from that mild humiliation, I had a grand time checking off another knitting rite of passage (LYS owner recognizes me? Check. Knitting group? Check. Blog? Check.). On to the fiber festivals and the taking of sock pictures in front of public landmarks!

Most recent podcast: Cast On.
What I'm reading: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz.
Currently listening to: Joshua Morrison's Home.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

FO: Baltic Knee Socks

Ravelry project link here.

Pattern: Clementine's Baltic Socks [free PDF], by Diana Jones.

Yarn: Less than one skein of Fearless Fibers (blog here) Superwash Merino Wool Sock Yarn in Brick House.

Needles: Size 1 bamboo DPNs.

Size: To fit a size 6.5 foot.

Mods: To make the socks knee-high, I added shaping in the handy stockinette side panels, and made the ribbing at the top longer.

For: Me!

Time: Casted on July 2007; finished February 2008. They kept me company during two moves and a job hunt. We've bonded.

Thoughts: A great pattern. The pattern repeat was easy to memorize, and those stockinette panels made my first time calf-shaping attempt. They're my best-fitting pair of socks yet, although they'll need some elastic woven in to actually stay up. The Fearless Fibers yarn -- which I was lucky enough to have picked up back when it sold for $14.50/550 yards (still a steal at $19) -- was a wonder. It just going on and on and on -- there's still a good chunk of it left. It was also still my first short-row heel. Overall -- I love them!

Most recent podcast: Cast On.
What I'm reading: Mozart's Women, by Jane Glover.