Wednesday, January 30, 2008

WIP Wednesday - On Hold

Life as well as WIP Wednesday are on hold at the moment as we remain out of town at my father-in-law's bedside. It's worth remembering that there are moments of humor and hope to be found in even the most trying situations. But, sometimes you have to look harder than others.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

First Blogiversary!

Monday is my First Blogiversary! Since we will be in transit most of the day I wanted to get this up early rather than late. You see, I didn’t really imagine, or think through the long term aspects of knit blogging. Honestly, I just jumped in one day, thinking it would help me get the stash under control, and document my projects better, and make me think and learn and write more about my knitting. It was all about me!

Who knew that, a year later, I would still be here. But why? Knitting blogs have given me lots of inspiration, information and laughs, and even provoked a lot of thought. At the end of my first year of blogging, I hope I am providing some of that for you. If I can inform, motivate and empower through writing about and showing you my knitting and spinning, successes and struggles, then this is worth it.

Because, the most amazing thing about this year is to have made such good blog friends. Now, it’s all about you!

So, Thank You! For visiting the blog, for commenting, for encouraging me, and for being patient through the dry spells.

Happy New Year!

And, I'll leave you with a wintry Chesapeake Bay beach. Wouldn't you love to have some yarn or fiber dyed in this colorway?

Aarons Beach 20080125
Aarons Beach, Mathews County, VA

Saturday, January 26, 2008

FO – Be Glad and Rejoice, for the MadTini Socks are Done!

First a quick Saturday Sky

Saturday Sky 20080126
Clearing sky

Why is it so hard to finish the Second Sock?

MadTini Socks - Done
DONE! Fini! Buh-bye!

What I didn’t tell you before is that I promised and pinky swore to myself that I could not, would not start another sock until I finished this one. Despite my well documented Startitis, I have been good. And I’ve been trying to figure out what it is about this sock that made me avoid it. So, ideally, I can avoid whatever that is in the future.

It’s NOT the pattern. Mad-Tini is now available for download from the designer’s website (or see it on Ravelry). The Oblique Rib to start the cuff and Oblique Spiral for the leg and foot have a nice texture, work well with a variegated yarn (since the slip stitches break up pooling a bit), and the repeat is easy peasy and knits up quickly. I did modify the pattern to knit in sock weight rather than sport weight, by simply adding a multiple of 8 stitches.

MadTini Socks - Off the Needles
Portrait of socks off the needles

Now, we’re getting closer to the problem, um opportunity. No, problem. It’s the yarn. I do not enjoy knitting with Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock. Not in a boat, not with a goat, I do not like it Sam I Am. This is purely my preference. It’s a lovely yarn, many knitters love it, it comes in lots of colors. I just, find it, well, stringy. I remember now I thought the same thing knitting those Jaywalkers last Spring.

Anyway, I’m glad they are done! They will be sent off to my sister in Seattle and I hope she’ll like the colors, I know I do. All in all, I’d knit these again, with the sportweight called for in the pattern.


Pattern: MadTini Socks, Pattern from Sock Madness 2007, by Karin Bole

Yarn: Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock, in Spruce

Needles: US 0 / 2.0mm Addi Turbo circs

Gauge: 8.5spi

Started: 3/27/2007

Completed: 1/25/2008

Finished Size: Womens US 10

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

WIP Wednesday – 2008/01/23

WIP’s in Active Rotation:

MadTini Sock Two: Pattern from Sock Madness, knit in Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock.

Status: Didn’t finish, but I’m more than halfway down the foot, and will get a bunch done at SnB tonight!

MadTiniTwo Half a Foot
I think I can, I think I can, I know I can

Goal: Finish and send to my sister C. Seriously! Get. Them. Done!

Hypoteneuse Stole
: From Knitspot, knit in Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool.

Status: Still at repeat 13.5 of 18. I didn’t knit a single stitch on this while traveling, in favor of The Sock.

Goal: Same as last week. Get back to work on this wrap and make some progress this week.

(However, I did spin a some hand-dyed merino from Madeline Tosh that my friend Krista brought me from Texas. I know we’ve had enough of spinning this week, so I’m just sort of sneaking this in here.

Ring of Fire finished
Click for bigger and more details

It’s 3.5oz, ~140yds of aran to chunky weight, 2-ply, enough for a hat or a small scarf.)

Swap Mittens: No More Humdrum Mittens Swap 2

Status: After a couple or three false starts, I think I have a plan. And I spent a LOT of time charting and figuring for these. My pal wants fingerless mitts, lightweight for in the house, or under big gloves outside. So, I’m going with fingering weight Louet Gems Pearl. The pattern is my own and it’s knit with a corrugated rib cuff, cabled back of the hand, and thumb gusset. If this works out, I’ll put the pattern up later.

Mitten Swap Mitts-4
Really, the floats are looser than they look

Goal: Take these to SnB and have others try on to see if the cuff really is too tight. Finish Mitt One? Start ribbing on Mitt Two.

Learn to Knit Socks Class: Sock Classes are scheduled for Sunday February 24 and March 9 at The Needle Lady.

Status: We’ll knit a basic, worsted weight, top-down, flap-heel, grafted toe sock, using Ann Budd’s Getting Started Knitting Socks as a reference, and I’ll be writing up a simple store pattern (once I knit my sample sock!) Based on a conversation at the shop on Sunday, I’m going to ask Mimi about scheduling a beyond-the-basics sock class, for knitters who want to try toe-up, short-row heels, or just want a little support working some patterning into their socks.

Goal: Start knitting a worsted weight sock and drafting a basic sock pattern.

Lace Knitting Class: Lace Classes are scheduled for Tuesday February 26 and March 11 at The Needle Lady.

Status: A second session of Beginner Lace, this time using Evelyn Clark’s Leaf Lace Shawl as the class project. So, I need to actually knit a small sample of the shawl

Goal: Start a mini-Leaf Lace Shawl as a sample for the shop, and write up a few notes.

Bird in Hand
: Kate Gilbert’s pretty stranded mittens pattern, knit in Berroco Ultra Alpaca.

Status: First mitten started and halfway up the thumb gusset. I’m going to have to move these to the On Hold section until I get class prep knitting and my swap mittens done.

WIP’s On Hold (but not In Time Out):

Sea Fever Cardi: Simple gansey pattern cardigan, knit with Berroco Ultra Alpaca in the heathery lilac color

Status: On Hold until things quiet down.

Felted Tote:

Status: From the long-term UFO pile, and begging to be finished. All the outside pockets are knit, the base is done, and sides (in-the-round) are at about 4.5 of about 18”.

Goal: Knit a bit when I can.

Startitis Alert:

Amazingly, I have not cast on for any lace shawls or stoles despite the ongoing mystery group for the Spring Surprise and Secret of the Stole 2.

Goldilocks and the Four Mitts

Once upon a time, Goldilocks was matched up with her mitten swap partner, and the partner said they might like to have some *fingerless* mitts. So, one day while the three bears were out gathering nuts and berries in the woods (because, you know how distracting it is when you are trying to knit a charted pattern and bears keep asking you what’s for dinner), Goldilocks sat down to plan out what sort of non-humdrum mitts she would knit for her pal.

She thought that maybe she should include some wristwarmers too, since her pal wasn’t getting a full mitten. And she wondered for a long time what color the mitts should be, since her pal hates the colors she likes, and loves the colors she has, um, issues with. Goldilocks looked through many many patterns for mitts and for the legs of socks, and the Harmony Guides, and the Walker Treasuries. Her pal liked cables you see, and colorwork too.

Goldilocks saw a cute twisted cable on a sock pattern, and went to Excel to chart it all out with the right stitch count for a wristie.

Mitten Swap Wristies - Old Chart

Then she pulled some chocolatey brown Regia Silk sock yarn out of the stash. And she began to knit, and add beads, and knit. “Oh My!” she cried, “These wristies are already beginning to fuzz and pill! And you can’t see the gansey pattern, and oh crap, where’s the Gems Pearl.”

Mitten Swap Wristies - Fuzz
Nice and soft, but already fuzzing

So, Goldilocks went back to the stash for some Louet Gems fingering weight in a nice dark chocolate color, and started to knit, again. And she realized she still couldn’t see the little gansey diamond in the dark yarn, and the beads were awfully futzy, and it was late, and she was tired. So, the chart was reworked to have just the nice traveling stitch cables, and she knit on. “Oh My!” she cried, “These wristies are too small!” And then she said “Unless her wrists are very thin, and well, I would wear them, and oh crap, I think I’ll start the mitts instead.”

Mitten Swap Wristies - with nose
Even though she was getting a lot of good help, they were Too Small

Goldilocks went to visit her friends at the yarn shop (Hi Elizabeth and Kathleen) and just couldn’t decide. The solids were too solid, and the variegated yarns wouldn’t show the cables on the mitts, and she didn’t know what to do. Some variegated Diakieto would make perfect simple wristies, but was that too much of one of the forbidden colors in the mix? Here’s some pretty Ultra Alpaca Light in Redwood Mix, an approved color, and a few more skeins of Gems Pearl are always good to have in the stash. And she went home to start the mittens.

Using the pretty deep redwood Ultra Alpaca, but on US1.5’s to get a smaller gauge, Goldilocks cast on and knit some ribbing, then looked at her knitting and was exasperated. “Oh My!” she cried, “These wristies are going to be too big!” And then she said “crap, crap, crap

Mitten Swap Mitts-1 Too Big
They would fit Mr Goldilocks

And then Goldilocks looked at the too tight wristie in dark brown Caribou Pearl, and the new skein of Citrus Orange Pearl, and the pretty light green Willow Pearl, and she re-worked the chart, again, and she cast on for a corrugated ribbing. And she stayed up way too late knitting since her husband was out of town and she lost track of time.

And she wondered if the cuff was going to be too tight again because what they say about corrugated ribbing is really true and it doesn’t stretch nearly as much as regular ribbing because the strands aren’t as long as the loop of a stitch.

“Oh My!” she cried, (well she might have said something else since she worked in construction for fifteen years and has heard a thing or two) “The cuff of this mitt is going to be too small!” And the colors of the ribbing should be reversed so the knit ribs flow into the cables, and they could be a little longer. And she went to bed.

Mitten Swap Mitts-2 Too Small
Too Small, Again

In the morning, I Goldilocks got out her US2’s (Addis, so they are 3.0mm not 2.75) and her three colors of Pearl, and she cast on, again, and she knit, again, and she tinked, and she fiddled with the chart, and she knit, and started the thumb gusset, and the chart, knit, etc.

Mitten Swap Mitts-3
This one is Just Right, or as close as I'm going to get

Even going up a needle size, and about as far as Goldilocks would go with the fingering weight yarn since she is a very loose knitter, the cuff is still snug. A little hard to get over the hand, but OK once it’s on, but her pal’s hand is a little smaller. But the cables look pretty and Goldilocks wanted to show you the stranding on the inside.

Mitten Swap Mitts-4
Keep your floats LOOSE!

And Goldilocks knit happily ever after.



1. I have only good things to say about the Louet Gems Fingering Weight! Note, old labels may still say Gems Pearl. The range of colors is great and it’s not too expensive. The yarn has a nice firm but not too tight twist, it’s not splitty, and it has endured quite a bit (OK, a lot) of tinking and re-working as I sort out the details in creating this pattern. The label says machine wash cold and 15 minutes in the dryer then lay flat to finish.

2. Remember corrugated ribbing isn’t stretchy when you plan your needle size and stitch count!

3. Ditto for cables and twisted stitches.

Monday, January 21, 2008

More on Spinning Luxury Fibers, but tomorrow, Mitts!

More spinning today! Sorry Knitters. Come back tomorrow to find out how many tries it took to get going on these swap mitts I’m designing.

Swap Mitts - corrugated ribbing

But, knowing that there ARE spinners among my readers, it occurred to me that in my post on the experience of the Folk School, I didn’t say much that was specific about the fibers, preps, and spinning we did. Rather than try to be exhaustive (and perhaps exhaust your patience), let me share a few things now. Other details of what we learned will probably surface as I spin various projects in the future. It’s photo and link heavy today, I apologize sincerely if you are on dial-up. Remember to click any of the photos for larger images and a few notes. Also, since I didn't put any dimes in the photos, I'll tell you all the samples are lace to fingering weight, except the slubby blue mohair and faux boucle.

Suri alpacas get much dirtier than Huacayas. Both have fine, soft, smooth fiber – the Huacaya with a little more crimp, while the Suri has longer very slightly curled locks with a more slippery feel. The Suri locks seem to lock in whatever they rolled in, and a wash is really desirable before spinning. In contrast, we happily span Huacaya unwashed with just a quick hand-card to open the fibers. Because both are so smooth compared to many sheep wools, more twist is needed to form a cohesive single, but much of the extra twist can be balanced in the plying. Blended with a crimpy wool, as in the purple sample, the Huacaya can be spun with much less twist.

jcc2008 fibers-01
Loved spinning the Huacaya, lightly carded

The Huacaya span easily to a smooth, high twist-per-inch yet still supple, laceweight, as did the Suri, though it wanted a little more twist. The higher twist needed by the Suri made it an ideal partner to ply with tightly spun tussah silk singles.

jcc2008 fibers-02
The silk has a great sheen with the matte hand-dyed suri alpaca

Later, we started with silk hankies, spun somewhat loosely “S” (spin it in the typical plying direction), Suri combed top spun moderately tightly “Z” (the usual spinning direction), and plied them “S” with more tension on the silk than the Suri. The silk twist tightens up nicely while the Suri loops and bumps out a bit, forming a mini-boucle.

jcc2008 fibers-03

Now’s probably the time for me to backtrack and say that my default spinning is a short draw, sort of a hybrid forward/backward, and I tend to spin thin. So, that’s my starting point. For the first day or so, Patsy pretty much just sat us down and told us to spin, suggesting more or less twist. But she didn’t mandate forward, backward, short or long draw, leaving each of us in our comfort zone. At the beginning! I did ask Patsy to give me some pointers, and worked on my long draw during evening free spinning time. What I’ve realized is that, though I still want to practice my long-draw, the yarns I prefer to use, and the desired yarn for most of the things I prefer and am likely to knit with my handspun (lace, socks, someday a sweater), are smooth, worsted or semi-worsted, plied yarns. That’s just me. In the course of the workshop, I’ve learned techniques that I hope to use to make smaller quantities of textured, different, and out-of-the-comfort-zone yarns for accents, or small projects.

French angora bunnies are very fuzzy. And soft. And the only thing that sticks to your clothing more is cut silk when you are hand carding it together with your bunny. After sanding dowels to be used as puni sticks, we hand carded the plucked angora, then rolled it into punis. The fine fibers were spun quite easily to a thin laceweight. The bottom sample is plied on itself, the top sample is plied with ordinary sewing thread then cable-plied.

jcc2008 fibers-05
Yes, the taupe ply is sewing thread, and that IS 4-ply

Remember that Llama-Llama-Duck song? No, for the sake of our sanity I won't link to it. Well, imagine the logistics of a mating between a Llama and an Angora bunny. Llamora. Me neither. Hand-carding can accomplish what Nature cannot. A higher percentage of llama made a smoother yarn, but more angora gave a nice tweedy effect.

jcc2008 fibers-04
Llama, Llama, Bunny

Take some kid mohair locks and card them. Spin ‘em up slubby (spread out the drafting zone and pull some extra fiber forward into the twist). Ply on itself, or with some smooth thin wool singles, or get some thread. I don’t even like thick/thin yarns, but this was just so much fun to make!

jcc2008 fibers-06
Goats just want to have fuh-un

Next, spin some mohair top, not too thin, and with a moderate twist, so it won’t drift apart in the plying. Get a spool of Woolly Nylon serger thread (it’s fuzzy stretchy nylon sewing thread, knitters can use it to reinforce sock heels). Ply keeping the thread very taut and the mohair very lightly tensioned. Give it a soak, and after it dries, when the stretchy thread draws in it pulls loops in the mohair, for a more textured faux boucle.

jcc2008 fibers-07
Good golly, where's my Dippity-Do

Next we experimented with commercially prepared camel down combed top to see if we each liked it better spinning the fiber as is, or after a light hand carding. Since, as you know, I like my worsted-spun yarn, I preferred the combed top, but others found the fiber much easier to spin after loosening it up by carding. The top sample is a hand-carded blend of camel top with cut silk, less silk than camel. I don’t know if you can see the sheen in the photo, but it gave the camel a lighter look and smooth hand.

jcc2008 fibers-08
Bactrian Camel, the one with two humps

What could be better than Cashmere? Maybe cashmere blended with silk? We sampled two types of commercially prepared cashmere. First the light gray is cashmere cloud, a loose, soft, downy fluff of fiber. Given the short staple length, the cloud can be spun with a high twist, just as it is, or lightly carded and rolled into punis for a little more control. The center sample is cashmere top, hand carded with some more of the cut silk. The silk smooths and gives an almost dry crisp hand to the very soft cashmere. Again, both the cut silk and cashmere are very short and need a good bit of twist, which balances out in the plying.

jcc2008 fibers-09
Soft, Softer, Softest

An exotic fiber that we’re starting to hear more about is NZ possum, a fur-bearing distant cousin to our scraggly Virginia oppossums. The fiber is quite short in some cases, though I have some commercially prepared possum that is half-again as long as the fiber Patsy obtained from her hosts on a visit to NZ. In any event, after hand carding the shorn fur, it took a high twist on it’s own, but was easier to spin and ply when blended with either cashmere or silk. The sample has one ply of each blend. Commercially available possum may also be blended with fine wool, which would certainly be easier to manage. Our samples were lightly hand-felted to stabilize the finished yarn and bring out the distinctive halo.

Lastly, alphabetically and otherwise, Yak. The yak down we tried was very very short. It spun easily enough, both on its own and blended with silk. But I failed to put in enough twist, which I only found out when I tried to ply and it kept drifting apart with the slightest tension from the lazy kate. The blend with silk was better than the straight down. So, give yak down a LOT of twist.

jcc2008 fibers-10
Needs twist

And there you have it. We didn’t get to sample qiviut in class, though I’m “this” close to ordering some roving from the University of Alaska’s musk ox farm. Want to see a baby musk ox? Patsy also hadn’t gotten her samples of bison for class. But I’ve just received the latest Wooly Wonka exotic fiber installment, with a lovely 2oz of bison, and I’ll let you know how that spins up.

After all that exotic, luxurious-ness, what’s on my wheel? Wool. Madeline Tosh hand-dyed merino in the Ring of Fire colorway, and I’m spinning for a funky chunky weight 2-ply.

Ring of Fire-1
And the flames went higher

Yarn Shops as Diversion

Or, I’d really rather be anywhere other than the Atlanta Airport

jcc2008 - Stash Enhancement on the way home
Stash Enhancement, click for bigger and notes on my haul

At the close of a week of spinning at the Folk School, I had to leave campus at 10AM, but my plane from Atlanta wasn’t until 9PM. What to do? Sit around the airport? Well, I decided to visit yarn shops instead. A shock, I know!

Armed with directions, maps, and instructions from Atlanta spinner/knitters Lydia and Gale, I made my way down from the mountains and into town. By now my camera battery was down for the count, so please visit the shops’ websites for photos to go along with my words.

Yarn Circle, Murphy, NC

Small, in size but big on interesting yarns, along with spinning and weaving fibers, equipment, and supplies. The shop is just a few miles from the JCC, though owner Martha Owens (resident artist at JCC in dyeing, spinning, and knitting) says the shop will be moving to a location closer to the school soon. The shop is arranged generally by color, which gives it a pretty look, and carries an interesting selection of mostly natural fibers, including some locally produced hand-dyed and/or hand-spun yarns. The shop has a friendly Monday Knit Night, and several of the spinning class visited for shopping and knitting.

Yarn Circle also carries spinning wheels, carding equipment, spinning fibers, a few drop spindles, and both natural and chemical dyes. For the weavers, there are coned yarns in various fibers as well as looms, and small pieces and parts. I came away with about half pound of superwash merino mill-ends in two colors from Jaggerspun that will go in the mitten queue, as well as a nice little bit of merino-cashmere top, two balls of Jamieson & Smith jumper-weight that I'm collecting until I have enough for a project, and a small book of charts of Finnish stranded knitting motifs.

The Whole Nine Yarns, Woodstock, GA

Set in the center of a charming small town in the northwest outskirts of Atlanta, The Whole Nine Yarns is a lovely, bright, welcoming shop. First though, after a drive out of the foggy mountains, I had a delicious lunch across Main Street at the Old Towne CafĂ© (Robin and Mary, I had a mixed greens salad with grilled salmon, almonds, and citrus vinaigrette). There was an entrelac sock class in progress when I arrived which looked like fun, and a couple of knitters relaxing and knitting in the large seating area. There’s a wonderful selection of both basic and luxury yarns, lots of alpaca, and silks, some Rowan, Debbie Bliss, ArtYarns, Malabrigo, some sock yarn and baby yarn, and lots more. There was a teeny bit of spinning fiber, though I suspect more of it gets felted than spun. The damage, Noro Kureyon Sock Yarn (yeah, I know, sock yarn stash the size of a Volkswagon, but wouldn’t you?), which is as rough and thick-thin as you’ve heard, and some Alpaca with a Twist baby alpaca top in a silvery off-white.

Knitch, Atlanta, GA

Continuing down I-75, into Atlanta, winding over to Virginia Highland, down a side street, and up the alley, one finally finds the shop Knitch. Wow, it’s worth the effort! This is luxury yarn Mecca. Cashmere, silk, merino, mohair, cotton. Lots of Rowan, ArtYarns, indie spinners and dyers, Sublime, Be Sweet, Manos, Noro. The upstairs has a nice large space for classes including a great wet area for dyeing workshops. There’s lots more yarn, many many colors of Cascade 220, a selection of luxury rovings and tops, along with a number of colors of Louet Northern Lights and Ashland Bay rovings. I’d spent the week spinning with classmate Gale Evans of Gale’s Art fibers, who dyes the most lovely bright merino and BFL rovings (I think the Black BFL is especially nice with its more smoky subtle look). Even though I’d already succumbed to her roving charms at JCC, I confess to bringing home one more hank of BFL roving dyed a gorgeous semi-solid Leaf Green, some matching Firestar to add a little bit of sparkle, a few ounces of lustrous undyed Wensleydale top, and how in the world did that other skein of Noro sock yarn get in there?

There’s a great big table downstairs for sitting and knitting, coffee and ice water on hand, and with a few more hours before flight time, I made myself at home for a little while.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Spinning Lavish Luxury Yarns at the Campbell Folk School

In honor of NaSpiMoMo, though I won’t exactly be showing you much spinning today, I’ll be talking about it. Because, last week I had enough spinning to qualify for a month’s worth. Knitters, I used to think spinning posts were boring too. It won’t hurt my feelings if you want to come back later.

jcc2008 Spinning Wheels
That's a mess o' spinnin' wheels

I’ve been struggling with how to write about my week at the John C. Campbell Folk School, which is why it’s taken so long. So, I started jotting down random notes and thoughts, and that’s how this was written – as impressions, fragments, and bits. And it's gotten long.

The School

The week was amazing, wonderful, inspiring, useful, informative, rewarding, and more, but in an experiential more than quantifiable sort of way. The experience was almost overwhelming, but that’s a good thing. The last couple of days, it’s not that we didn’t want to go home, but no one wanted it to end. And I would love to go back for another workshop. It’s worth mentioning that I attended an Advanced Week, so all classes were intermediate to advanced level. The level of interest and commitment among all students and instructors was very high, and it was so energizing to hear what everyone else was working on and excited about.

jcc2008 Sunset
Sunset on the mountains

Located in Brasstown, in very western North Carolina, the School is about a two hour drive from Asheville, or Atlanta, or Chatanooga. (The Hub was going to drive me down then visit clients and friends for the week, but there’s so much going on with family and work that instead I flew to Atlanta and drove up). It is a beautiful rural setting, with Blue Ridge mountains in the distance, and the campus sits in an open valley that rolls through woods and fields, down to a creek. The numerous buildings that house the School’s operations range from simple and rustic to new and well-designed for their function. For early January, we couldn’t have asked for better weather. Yes, there were chilly frosty nights and some rain, but mostly we had clear warm sunny days and mild evenings. Which made walking from my room to the main lodge to the dining hall to the classroom quite pleasant.

The food was wonderful, fresh, and mostly homemade. The bread, Oh! the bread was fabulous. Served family-style in the dining room with its high ceilings and windows all around, meal times were some of the highlights of each day. You never know who you’ll be sitting with, or what they might do in “real life”. If you want hilarity, sit with the Blacksmiths, those guys are nuts. Be ready for bad jokes and flirting!

Housing ranges from dormitory style rooms to double rooms with a private bath. When space permits one may pay an upcharge for a single room, though it may still have a shared bath. I was in the Hubbell house, which is newer, and it was quite comfortable. Rooms have no telephone or TV, but if you really need a fix, and bring a laptop, there is wireless broadband in the library of the Keith House.


It was a true escape from the rest of the world, and to tell the truth, other than going to knit night at Yarn Circle, I didn’t even leave the campus. It was full immersion spinning, and in addition to the 30+ hours of class time, I spent almost every waking moment in the spinning studio, even skipping the other crafts demos and contra dance. On my next trip, I’ll get out more.

jcc2008 Samples
Click for big, and check the notes for all the fiber types

I don’t have much product to show for my week, just a collection of lots of sample skeins and control fiber and yarn in my notebook, although many things were tried and learned. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have had a workshop like this so early in my spinning career. It wasn’t so much about drafting, or woolen vs worsted, or which hand is where. It was more about the process of trying new fibers and techniques, and where they can take you.

jcc2008 Notebook page 1
Fiber mustaches and control yarns

We were so busy spinning, and watching, and asking, and doing that I barely had time to take notes much less remember to get the camera out. And that’s my excuse for not having many photos, but honestly did you really want to see photos of us sitting and spinning? Or dirty goat hair? Or wondering as we waved around our hand combs what TSA would say if they were in our carry-on bag? OK, Well, click HERE for a small set of photos on Flickr that you can view as a slideshow.

Patsy Zawistoski, our instructor, has more than earned her nickname Most-Excellent Hand-Spinning Guru.Calm! In addition to knowing a whole lot about spinning, she is funny, easy-going, engaging, and can set an exceptionally fast pace for a week-long workshop. We worked with luxury fibers from alpaca to yak. Seriously, angora, huacaya and suri alpaca, camel, cashmere, llama, mohair, possum (no not our opossum, NZ brushtail possum), silk, and yak. We used some commercially prepared roving and top. But we also picked, washed, dyed, carded, blended, and combed. We plied with thread, woolly nylon, wool, and beads. We made faux boucle, slubby yarn, cabled yarn, thick yarn, and thin yarn.

jcc2008 Capelet 3
There IS a story that goes with why her shrug is on her head

Our class had so much fun together, and really got along well. What a great group we had, all women, ranging in age from 20’s to 60’s, professional, non-traditional careers, retired, and just starting out. New spinners, veterans, skilled and unskilled, even several with goals of producing handspun to sell.

jcc2008 Davidson Hall
Davidson Hall

Spinning and Dyeing classes are held in the “Wet Room” on the ground floor of Davidson Hall. Cooking classes are held next door, and too bad nothing was scheduled during our week! The large room has wonderful natural light, long expanses of countertop, cabinets full of tools and equipment, three stoves, four sinks, washer/dryer, many tables, a full complement of stainless steel pots for dyeing and soaking, clotheslines, and ample room for a baker’s dozen spinners and all their gear.

jcc2008 Mohair in the dyepot 1
Mohair in a "scouring dyepot" - wash it and dye it in one lazy step!

The School has a broad range of equipment available for student use – many and varied spinning wheels, hand cards and combs, drum carders, swifts, etc. About the only negative comment I have is that much of the equipment (our instructor called them orphans) was in need of more TLC than it has been getting – cleaning, oiling, minor repairs. In addition to bringing my Lendrum Folding Wheel, I spent time spinning on the School’s Majacraft Suzie and Kromski Polonaise, as well as a classmate’s Ashford Traditional. I like Saxony wheels more than I thought. For those that are curious, class participants’ wheels included four Traditionals, five Lendrums, one Schacht Matchless, one Polonaise, one Joy, two Louets (not Victoria).

jcc2008 Carded Blends
Our efforts with the drum carders

At the end of our week, all the School’s students gathered for a closing ceremony and Show and Tell in the big meeting room of Keith House. Ours was one of the largest classes that week, and though I said we didn’t make much product, it sure looked like we’d been busy when we set everyone’s samples out.

jcc2008 Display
Show and Tell

*Fiber Enabling Alert* For some beautifully hand-dyed BFL, merino, and Firestar rovings, go check out classmate Gale Evans’ new Etsy shop Gale’s Art, though, really, the photos don’t do her pretty rovings justice. Gale brought some samples with her to class, and she didn’t take any home as we snapped them up, and sent her back to her studio with orders for more! All the colorways can be dyed in merino or BFL. Though my favorite, if she still has the fiber, is Black BFL which gives each of the colorways a darker and deep smoky subtle look. PM her on Etsy to ask about semi-solids too, since I bought a gorgeous Leaf Green of hers at Knitch before I got to the airport. But, that’s another post.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

WIP Wednesday – 2008/01/16

WIP’s in Active Rotation:

Dancing Crayons Poncho:
Status: It’s Done!
But, here’s my confession of Boneheaded Knitting Maneuver #1.

This project was on hold for a Loooooong time. All the various yarns and the pattern and the needles in their package were in a large tote bag. Taunting me from under the work table that I couldn’t just Waiting patiently for me to decide to add another square or just sew the buttons on and be done.

So, when I went back to work on this project a couple of weeks ago, I pulled out the needles from their package labeled US9 and picked up/cast on the last square and knit away (you know where this is going, right?) for thirty rows or so. Then I thought, Man, I sure seem to be knitting a lot tighter than I used to, and Gee this square seems to be pulling in a little more than the others. Because the needles in the package were US7. Argh.

Dancing Crayons Wrap - gauge issues
My shame, here on the blog for all to see

I’m ordinarily a Do It Right sort of knitter. But ripping and re-knitting those 2500 stitches was not on my agenda. So, I wet the offending stitches and blocked them hard overnight to see if I could get away with my laziness. Score: Laziness 1 – Offending Stitches 0. No one will ever know. You won’t tell will you?

Dancing Crayons Wrap
Yes, in fact, the Xmas lites ARE still up on the deck

What have I learned? Check the needle size when you pull out an old UFO. Better yet, check the stupid needle size before you put it away in “its” package!

I’ve got some ends to weave in at SnB tonight to really and truly be Done. But, I’m wearing it now, it’s very warm and cozy, and perfect for our chilly house.

Dancing Crayons Wrap - Done
Unwoven ends, flapping in the breeze

Goal: Weave in ends, maybe steam block it.

Hypoteneuse Stole:
Still at repeat 13.5 of 18. I didn’t knit a single stitch on this while traveling, in favor of The Sock.

Goal: Get back to work on Hypoteneuse and try to finish it this week.

MadTini Sock Two: Pattern from Sock Madness, knit in Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock.
Status: Well, this turned out to be my travel knitting. I knit down the leg on the plane and during odd moments of free time, knit the heel flap (Eye of Partridge, pretty), turned the heel, decreased the gusset, and was several rounds into the foot (you know where this is going again, right?) when I pulled out Sock #1 and thought Man, I sure seem to be knitting a lot tighter, and Gee I can’t even get this sock on my foot! Yes, it’s Boneheaded Knitting Maneuver #2. I knit the heel of the second sock at a completely different gauge than the first.

MadTiniTwo gusset
MadTini Two, Gusset Take Two

This time I Did The Right Thing. So, sitting and knitting at Knitch, wiling away the hours before I really had to go to the Atlanta airport, I pulled the sock back to the heel turn, re-picked up the gusset and am most of the way back to where I was, but knitting at a civilized gauge this time.

Goal: Finish the foot and send to my sister C.

Bird in Hand: Kate Gilbert’s pretty stranded mittens, knit in Berroco Ultra Alpaca. MMMmmm.

Status: First mitten started and halfway up the thumb gusset.

Goal: This might have to wait a while longer since these are for me and I need to get class prep knitting done, and my swap mittens.

Rambouillet: Spinning the second 2oz of fiber from Wooly Wonka to match the first 2oz spun in June.

Status: Done, plied, and twist set.

Rambouillet Skein Two - Washed
With Skein One, enough for some mittens

Swap Mittens: NEW!

Status: I’ve got my swap pal’s info and some special requests. A search will begin through the pattern archives, and my new copies of Lizbeth Upitis’ Latvian Mittens and Nancy Bush’s Folk Knitting in Estonia for inspiration.

Goal: Select a pattern, find the yarn (hopefully in stash), and get started.

Class Knitting: NEW!

Status: I’ve been asked to teach another round of Beginner Lace and Beginner Socks at The Needle Lady. Depending on the schedule for my Dad’s surgery (currently mid-Feb unless he postpones for a few months), and my trip to FL to assist him, I have a few weeks to pull this together. This time for Lace, we’ll use Evelyn Clark’s Leaf Lace Shawl as the class project. So, I need to actually knit a small sample of the shawl, and write up a few notes.

For the Sock class, Mimi wants me to knit up and write up a store pattern for a basic worsted weight sock. Again, I’ve got a few weeks, but just need to get started on this. Speaking of which, I’ll probably use Ann Budd’s Getting Started Knitting Socks as a reference, unless someone has a better suggestion for absolute beginners.

Goals: Start a mini-Leaf Lace Shawl as a sample for the shop. Start knitting a worsted weight sock and drafting a basic sock pattern.

WIP’s on Time Out:

Sea Fever Cardi: Simple gansey pattern cardigan, knit with Berroco Ultra Alpaca in the heathery lilac color

Status: On Hold until things quiet down.

Felted Tote:
Status: Another resurrection from the long-term UFO pile. I started this several years ago, found the heavy worsted weight yarn is hard on my wrists, and set it aside. But, I want to get it done and off the list, so, I’ll try to pick away at it. Currently I have all the outside pockets knit, the base done, and sides (in-the-round) at about 4.5 of about 18”.

Goal: Knit a bit when I can.


Nothing new RIP’d this week.

Startitis Alert:

I’ve wound some Alpaca Fino, but am still resisting casting on for the Spring Surprice Shawl [sic]. I feel my resolve weakening however.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Hi All, I’m back! Well, I got back late Saturday night, have been under the weather since, and just haven’t had the brain power to post. I had a great time at the Campbell Folk School and will tell you about all our spinning adventures in a bit.

In the meantime, I’ve received some very pretty stitch markers in the Stitch Marker Exchange. First a set with a small soft loop, perfect for sock needles, from Betty

Stitch marker Winter Swap - Received from Betty
Malaysian jade

And from Taryn, with a larger loop (for all those sweaters in my queue)

Stitch marker Winter Swap - Received from Taryn
Big and bright

Moving on to mittens, partner info has gone out for the No-More-Humdrum Mittens Swap 2! My partner has some preferences that could make this a very interesting pair of mitts! I don’t want to reveal too much until I select a pattern, but this should be fun, and I’m still considering whether I can use some handspun. Hmmm, diving into the pattern archives ….

Tomorrow, WIP Wednesday, and a confession.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Spinning: Last FO of 2007, First FO of 2008

In honor of my imminent departure for a week of spinning at the Campbell Folk School, I bring you Romney and Rambo. You may not hear much from me until I return, blogging, commenting or email, depending on whether there’s internet access on the school campus.

Goblin Eyes:

Goblin Eyes - 1
Spunky Eclectic Fiber Club, October 2007, Romney, colorway - Goblin Eyes

Given that the Romney fiber is smooth and long-stapled but perhaps not quite soft enough for delicate next-to-skin projects, I decided to spin with medium-high tension for moderate twist in the singles and plied yarn. Something suitable for warm mittens or socks, but probably not a scarf or neck warmer. I was aiming for a sport to DK weight.

Goblin Eyes - 2

This fiber drafted easily, was very easy to spin, and didn’t require a high twist even spun somewhat thin. The roving came in two balls and I used one for each bobbin. I wanted to blend the colors, rather than have color blocks, so working in sections, I split each ball of roving in half lengthwise, and pre-drafted before spinning with a sort of combined forward/backward short draw.

Goblin Eyes - 3

The fiber spun up to a little over 350 yds, and has a nice drapey look, and a soft bouncy feel – in fact, softer than I was expecting. Hmmm, what to make with it? The colors did blend nicely, and might be husband-y enough for a nice scarf for him. Or maybe stick with my original thought of mittens. Something like Knitty’s Broad Street mitten/gloves, for my chilly fingers.

Goblin Eyes - 4


Fiber/Starting Weight: Romney / 3.8oz
Purchased from: Spunky Eclectic Fiber Club October 2007
Spun with: Lendrum DT
Whorl / Tension: 1st bobbin – regular flyer smallest whorl 10:1 / medium-high , 2nd bobbin – fast flyer largest whorl 12:1 / medium-high
Plies/Method: 2-ply / standard, tensioned lazy kate
WPI/Gauge/TPI: ~16 / Sport / 6-7
Yardage/Finished Wt: 354yds / 3.8oz-110g
Started: 12/25/2007
Completed: 12/30/2007


My next project on the wheel was the second 2oz of Rambouillet from Wooly Wonka Fibers. Spun with a goal of matching the first 2oz, spun some months ago, dyeing half, and knitting some more stranded mittens. Maybe for my No More Humdrum Mittens pal?

It’s plied, off the bobbin, washed and almost dry.

I promised Mary I’d get photos before and after wet finishing. I don’t really abuse the fiber, but do give it some vigorous dunks in warm-to-hot water, a soak, and about a dozen good thwacks on the bathroom tile wall before hanging to dry unweighted. Even though spun with quite a bit of twist, this is a fiber that really plumps up a lot with a soak anyway, but it really evened out more than the first skein which was just soaked and dried. Of course, maybe my spinning is more even than it was six months ago too. ;)

Rambouillet Skein Two - Unwashed

Washed, and for full disclosure, only about halfway dry. Otherwise, y’all wouldn’t see this for another week. This might not be the best fiber for this comparison either, since it was going to fluff up a lot anyway.

Rambouillet Skein Two - Washed
Washed and Fluffy


Fiber/Starting Weight: Rambouillet / 2.0oz
Purchased from: Wooly Wonka Fibers, Exotic Fibers Club
Spun with: Lendrum DT
Whorl / Tension: Fast Flyer largest whorl 12:1 / medium-high
Plies/Method: 2-ply / standard, tensioned lazy kate
WPI/Gauge/TPI: ~12 / DK / ~7
Yardage/Finished Wt: ~135yds / 1.8oz
Started: 1/1/2008
Completed: 1/5/2008

Friday, January 4, 2008

Stitch Marker Winter Swap

I am usually a world-class procrastinator. But, since I'll be gone all next week, and the deadline to mail to our swap partners is January 15, I'm just so proud of myself for getting these in the mail today! Each pal got an extra, long marker with a clasp to clip on the knitting or use as a beginning of round marker. I also sent along enough leftover beads to make another half dozen markers for a larger set.

Stitch Marker Winter Swap - Set 1
Green cat's-eye glass, pressed glass, amethyst, and seed beads on silver head pins

Stitch Marker Winter Swap - Set 2
Czech pressed glass flowers, cubes, lampwork, and seed beads on silver head pins

Stitch Marker Winter Swap - Set 3
Czech pressed glass, rose quartz, amethyst, and seed beads on silver wire