Phew! It’s been a busy season and I suspect it will only get zanier later this month. I start putting projects in my “all done!” basket back in July and I’m still working on things every bit of down time that I have. Want to see what I’ve got up my sleeve, on my needles and tucked away for the holiday? Betchya do!
I carved some stamps this past weekend to make wrapping paper. I’m notorious for waiting until the -nth hour to wrap things and then scrambling to fish bits of paper out of the recycling to hastily tie things up in them. In the end, the package doesn’t do justice to what I’m gifting (just take a look at these sew in labels that I think pretty much sum up the sentiment that goes along with hand knit presents). So, this year I’m doing something simple but handmade to wrap those little gems.
Bows! It’s getting cold and I’m wearing more sweaters and heavy jackets. I have a brown wool jacket that I think is lovely, but it covers up anything I’m wearing under it. So, stick a little knit bow to me and I’m a happy camper! Plus it’s knit in a deep purple which makes it look ten times fancier than a fabric bow.
Toasty toasty hat! This one has a folded brim to make the hat fit snugly but not too tightly and gives your ears some extra warmth.
The deer hat! I haven’t blocked it yet, I was just too excited to wait for that extra step. I bought the pattern from Little Owl Knits on etsy and have been waiting until I had enough brown yarn to finish the ears. Gah! It’s too cute.
Some fingerless mittens with a little extra flair.
I knit the Calais Shawl over Thanksgiving and I like the color, but I think I’ll try to nudge it a little closer to blue/grey than green/grey with some kool aid dying this weekend.
Knit sushi! I knit the shrimp and California roll, I think I’ll finish the blob of wasabi and roe roll this weekend and call it good. The shrimp roll looks great and was fun to knit, the California roll… not so much.
And the crown jewel! The Dala Selbu Hybrid mittens. I had to redo a few parts more than a few times but that was just because I insisted on trying to knit these late at night and in the dark. Silly me. But now they’re done and look pretty great!
So that was a smish smash of things in my done-zo basket. I have a few more things on the needles and a handful left to start and then I’m all done with some time to spare.
You can also see my first forays into “bulky” spinning. I’ve been able to spin super thin yarn and ply it together to make something along the lines of “fingering weight” yarn which is great for light weight things (see the grey and greeny-yellow skeins) but if I want to knit something with a little more oomph to it, I need to learn how to spin a heavier yarn. Take a gander at the blue skein to see how I’m doing! There is much progress to be made but I’m pretty satisfied with what I’ve figured out so far…
There was a time when, if asked if I would ever go on a cruise, I would vehemently even passionately said “NO WAY!”
That being said, I just found something that would make me pause a moment and then slowly say “Nooo-o-ooo-o…?” not quite so decisively.Â That thing? They’re called Craft Cruises. They’re pretty much what the title hints so alluringly at; luxury boats that travel about, stopping at various ports where there are things to do and see that would be interesting to a crafter. Not only do they have the very idea of craft cruises… they even have cruises geared toward specific kinds of crafting (crochet, knitting spinning, needle point). For example the hand spinning subcategory of Craft Cruises is described thusly:
Our enriching handspinning cruises allow you to improve your skills while visiting some of the most interesting ports in the world. Each day you will experience something new.
Unlike most handspinning retreats, with our handspinning cruises you are pampered onboard a beautiful cruise ship.Â Â Our handspinning cruises provide a safe and comfortable atmosphere where you can be yourself without having to worry about anything except having a good time.
Handspinning classes will be offered while the ship is cruising and while we are in port there will be numerous opportunities to meet local fiber artists along the way.Â Visiting fiber farms, local handspinners and yarn producers along the way will inspire you and give you a glimpse into other cultures that most tourists rarely enjoy.
Less than a week ago I went to Bonnieview with some folks to shear sheep. Since then I’ve been steadily working my way through two rather large garbage bags of wool. I have three kinds/colors of fleece: a dark, dark brown that spins up black as night, a marbled fleece which spins up either grey or with stripes of color (depending upon how you card it), and a very very white fleece. I’ve processed half of the deep, dark brown and most of the marbled fleece. Now I’m out of soap to wash it with so I thought I’d take a break from the sink and the spinning wheel to show you some pictures.
This is a picture of the same fleece in three different stages. On the left is the fleece as it is straight off of the sheep. It’s chunky, full of lanolin and has bits of hay and other less desirable things in it. In the middle is the same wool from that fleece after it has been washed, dried and carded. It’s much fluffier and almost free of debris. On the far right is wool from the same fleece that has been spun. I wanted a variety of colors to come through in the final yarn, so I purposely separated the various shades in the original fleece for the greatest contrast. This will be a single-ply yarn (which means that I won’t be twisting two pieces of yarn together to make a sturdier, thicker version) and I’m going to try to knit some socks out of it. Try is the operative word here.
I read a tutorial on dying yarn with a crockpot and kool-aid and thought “Well, why not?” So I skipped down to the village store, bought a packet of each flavor and spun up two spindles worth of yarn. I soaked the yarn as soon as I was done spinning it and then followed the directions in the tutorial. About an hour later I had a ton of yarn pretty bright orange and salmon yarn that smelled like hot juice. I wanted to make a yarn that went from yellow, to orange, to red then to blue and back through the colors again. Turns out the kool-aid in the blue pouch is NOT blue. No, it’s also red. The same red as the stuff in the red pouch. SNAP. I was hoping to work some purples and greens in with that blue pouch and instead I have something crossed between sherbert and construction site.
But, now it’s been two days and I’m getting over the initial peevishness. The colors are starting to grow on me, to the point where I’m even starting to think of some projects I can work it in to. Next time, it’s blue all the way baby. If I can find a wrapper that doesn’t lie, lie, LIE.
Oh, and it was a great tutorial, so if you’re interested in spending the minimum amount of time and money dying something, this is definitely the way to go.
I was so busy with work this summer that I forgot to introduce you to my new favorite contraption: the Wendy spinning wheel! My parents picked her up at an estate sale along with a medieval looking drum carder, several big jars of buttons, some sock forms, metal embroidery hoops and a giant knitting book from the 70’s. I wish I’d known the lady before she passed because, judging from the amazing loot they found, I think we would have gotten on famously.
It took my Dad and I a few weeks to figure out how to put the drive belt on and get her working smoothly again but I’ve spent a couple hours spinning now and I think I’ve found a hobby I could do for a very long time (and maybe feed my knitting habit).
Hey, remember all of that wool I had at the beginning of summer? I got one pound of it back after I sent it to From Barn to Yarn over in Boring and I’ve spun a ball of yarn on my drop spindle while camp was going and then I’ve spun maybe 1/4 pound on the spinning wheel (that’s all that pretty white stuff at the top there). I’m really happy with how it’s coming out. It’s not beautiful wool (it’s from a breed meant to be eaten (Polypay) so the focus isn’t on the wool) and it was pretty dirty so she did a really great job cleaning most of the stuff out for a pretty reasonable price. If you happen to have a ton of fleece that is just too dirty to manhandle on your own I would definitely recommend looking them (or someone who does similar work) up.
I think that’s a pretty good job for a few hours spinning and watching Fight Club and the Mighty Boosh in the basement.
My neighbor Andy had a friend with sheep, but no reason to keep the wool. The lady he usually gives his fleece to didn’t want it this time. This all came up in casual conversation and I almost passed out when I realized that maybe, just maybe I could get my hands on this fleece. A month went by before I saw Andy again to ask him about it and when I finally did he said he’d look into it and bring them to me if his friend still had it. There were a lot of ifs and maybes so I didn’t get my hopes up. A whole fleece could fetch $30 or more raw and much more if it’s been processed into something you could spin right away so you can probably understand why I got a little excited.
I went on a camping trip this weekend on the coast, had fun and came home dirty and tired. My first stop was Monty’s cage (which has been relegated to the back deck now that the weather is nice). I had to step around this big blue tarp squatting on the deck to get to his cage and I thought “Well now, that’s a lot of disgusting insulation… I wonder how long THAT’S going to be here. Hurumph…” and didn’t think about it again until Mom and Dad came home. “Oh, so did you see your fleece out there?” Dad asked when they walked in the door. What I thought was a pile of nasty insulation was, in fact, a pile of skanky wool. Six fleeces, to be exact.
Now, I’ve never carded or washed a fleece before… and all I have is a little hand spindle for spinning it. I walked up to the tumorous mound very very carefully… I didn’t want to startle it in case it was really some sort of dead mountain beast hanging out on the porch. I opened the tarp and started picking through the pile, trying to determine where one fleece started and where the next ended. I couldn’t really, so I just pulled a large hank out onto the table. Underneath the… stuff… is some really really nice wool! I did a little research to figure out how exactly to go about making that huge pile into a nice, clean pile, and I found a nice little description on Fuzzy Galore. I went around the edges, pulling off the especially nasty bits and stuff about four pounds of fleece into a mesh laundry bag. Now I’ve got it soaking in the upstairs bathtub and hopefully, it’ll turn out well enough to card, spin, knit and then wear! How COOL would that be!? For free!
I don’t know what kind of sheep they are, or how much is here, but it’s probably just under 50 pounds.
I swear, it’s not a tumor.
This is where you can see the part of the wool that was closest to the sheep’s skin (the whiter half) and the part that was exposed to the elements and… other things less pleasant (the darker portion).
Look how crimpy the fibers are! So cool. Everything is covered in lanolin and a little bit damp but after I’m done washing it all (which will take all darn summer if I do it in the tub like I am now) it will be a big fluffy cloud of wonderful. Oh I’m so happy!