The last day of January

And I finish my first Christmas ball right on time.

Maybe I should explain that better. Mid January I noticed that one of the blogs I follow, KnittingSarah, had a year long knit along going on that really tripped my trigger. One Christmas ornament a month, knit, from 55 Christmas Balls book. Now, I stumbled across this late, my book came in last weekend, but my yarn did not arrive until yesterday. Thank goodness it was a snow day, since I was able to rattle off my January Christmas ball in just one day. There were two first associated with this knit. The first being the use of a stranded colorwork thimble. I’ve always done stranded colorwork with two hands, one hand working english and the other continental. But, I figured I’d give this a try and it did work beautifully. The second new thing was steam blocking. You see, stranded colorwork really needs to be blocked to look its best. I didn’t want to immerse the unstuffed ball and then block it, and the book doesn’t even suggest that. It suggests steam blocking. So, I fired up my iron and gave it a try, with the ornament still on the needles actually. That worked great too! It quickly loosened up the fibers and evened everything out, so that when I stuffed it I ended up with a beautiful end product. And thus, my snow crystal ball is complete!

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Snow Day!

I didn’t think I was going to get a blog post up today. Yesterday I got distracted by grocery shopping and company and failed to take a picture in the light of day. You see, on Monday evening I worked very hard to finish my loop bump. I mean, I stayed up quite late to do it, and even later to wash and thwack it. I had expected the plying to take me 3 days, but when I talked to Sarah, who is actually the one who will knit the yarn, she said fingering weight single was her preference. So, I left it that way, shocked it a bit, thwacked it really hard for stability, and hung it to dry. That took two days. But, in the end I have 723 yards of this gorgeousness!

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And because of a snow day, you get to see it a day early.

The other thing that the snow day offered me? The opportunity to do some blocking.

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Those 3 goals I had for this week? They should be complete today. But, no more goofing off until the shoveling is done!

Color Progression

Yeah, still not done with Color Affection shawl, don’t get your hopes up! May I just add that while I am technically on the last row, I just looked at my yarn and said “Surely I can do another repeat!” I truly must be a sucker for punishment.

No, the color progression I want to talk about has more to do with lovely little batts from a jacob fleece that are coming off my drum carder. Now that the drum carder is running very nicely, and because I made myself a lovely little work space for it, I sure have a hard time walking away from the thing. I started with the darkest of the jacob fleece and worked my way to the lightest sections. I am now on the all white sections and I’ve got about a grocery bag left of wool left to card. It always amazes me that wool that looks rather less than desirable in washed lock formation can produce such a beautiful batt. The whole realization that I don’t really need to flick card the lock before sending it through the drum carder has really cut down on the amount of time spent processing the wool too. Yeah, the resulting yarn will be less smooth. Yes, there is still a bit of dust and VM left in the batt, but I know from experience that yarn smooths out with finishing and VM falls out of a batt during spinning. As long as the wool is free of lanolin, it will be fine.

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I showed all my batt progress to my knitting friends yesterday, and I immediately heard “Oh, colorwork!” However, what I have in mind is a bit different. I’d like to make a color progression. Probably a 3 ply yarn once spun. Of course, there’s little need to do all the fleece in a color progression, but I’d like to have enough for some sort of a shawl perhaps. I suppose I’d technically have enough for an entire sweater if I wanted to do that.

Point being I suppose…that seeing all these different colored batts from one fleece all lined up and tidy just looks like possibility to me and then my mind won’t rest!

I guess I do have a bit of a finished object though, I did finish Bug’s cardigan. I reknit the sleeves and finished over the weekend. She was THRILLED when she saw it and couldn’t wait to wear it this morning. I didn’t even get to block the sleeves. So they’ll just have to do. (Please excuse the lopsided look of the sweater, I tried to capture it as soon as she got out of school, that may have been ill advised. )

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I’ve got a few goals this week. My goals are to finish the loop batt I am currently spinning, finish carding the jacob fleece, and finish the color affection shawl. So this week is to be a week of finishing in various ways. Hopefully that also means it is to be a decent blogging week too!

Like new but better

So, I bought that drum carder a couple years ago. And I used it to process my first fleece. It was effective. But, after a number of issues with the carder, I stopped using it. I just didn’t bother to pull it out at all, which felt like a bit waste. I had renewed hope in it when I learned that I could process my Jacob fleece without flick carding first, but because I was still having issues with the drum carder, I ended up ignoring that project too. And I got in the habit of deciding that hand carding was just as fast as drum carding, failing to pull out the drum carder at all.

Then I decided to ask Jeremy to look at it. You see, I hadn’t done enough research (Oh I cannot stress enough the need for massive amounts of research when taking on any new element of fiber processing!) and didn’t realize the proper amount of space between the drums. That was totally my bad, and for someone such a proponent of the proper research, I felt really stupid, realizing that I should be able to fit a credit card between the two drums. So, Jeremy looked at the carder, made a few adjustments, and we tried it out with my jacob fleece. Lo and behold, it worked like a charm. Rather than fighting the carding cloth, it rolled right along beautifully and I got results I wanted. So, on Saturday I sat down with it and started processing the jacob fleece in ernest. I have worked my way entirely through the darkest of the fleece, processed all that was slightly lighter than dark, and have managed one bat of lighter yet still grey fleece all from the jacob. It would be SUCH a load off my mind to have that fleece done! And I am excited that it has been started and is moving along so fast. I am also quite impressed with how fast and fluffy and beautiful the batts are!

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Thank you Jeremy for all that you do to cut down on my frustration level when it comes to my fiber processing tools!

And now we are back

To our regularly scheduled programming. Spinning. Of course.

I’ve been working on this BFL called lavender fields for months. I decided to spin a very fine thread but it is going so slow I thought perhaps a little plying might help kick my butt in gear and get it finished. I decided on a 3 ply and it is still very much a laceweight. 133 yards so far. I think in the end it will be a very nice serviceable laceweight but right now I am so not interested in finishing it!

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WIP attack!

I know I’ve not shown much in my knitting world at all lately. The problem is, I haven’t been very inspired to knit. With all my fleece and fiber experimentation, finding time to knit has been tough. Additionally, I am slogging through the last of my color affection shawl, and for me it truly is a slog. So it rather feels like I don’t have much to talk about in the knitting world. However, I have actually been knitting and I realized recently that there are projects which I hadn’t photographed at all going on.

The big one being my January sweater. Since it is the year of knitting with bulky yarn, I started the Kathy sweater out of lambs pride bulky. I had been putting off photographing this until I got the the armhole decreases, but I am still about 5 inches away from that and it hasn’t seen any action in weeks. So, I am photographing it now and hoping I will pick it up again soonish.

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Then there is this:

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You may think you’ve seen it before, and you have! It was a finished object for December last year. However, despite knitting the 10 yr old size, my 8 yr old child must have exceedingly long arms because it was about 3 inches short in arm length. And of course with a 3 inch difference, the decreases aren’t right either, so I had to rip about half the sleeve out and revamp the entire thing to get it looking good and to Bug’s very particular specifications. One side is done, and the other is getting there.

On that note, I did have some inspiration recently and I began a new two color shawl. The pink is hand dyed yarn which my friend Sandy destashed to me awhile back. This is her hand dye. And the brown is a 2 ply bfl I spun years ago. Probably early 2008 and probably on the kiwi. I never thought I’d use it but it is a surprisingly pleasant yarn to knit with. I did ply much tighter back then than I do now, and that actually is a good thing. I need to figure out how to get back to that.

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And that’s about it in my knitting world. Besides the color affection which doesn’t deserve a picture when it is this close to being done and I am so full of animosity toward it.

What might be next? Well, I’ve vowed to pull out my old Lizard Ridge blanket and work on that actually. Since the yarn is pretty bulky, I actually think it wouldn’t take all that much time to complete it. And I do love the colors so much. I really need to give that a try. I think the panels will head in to work with me and I’ll take it from there.

Color Affection

Oh, did you think I was done with a shawl? Gotcha! No, no I am not.

I believe that one of the reasons I love fiber arts is that I love color. Bright colors, muted colors, natural colors, colors which blend well together, jewel tones, colors that don’t work together…I just love color. I think it is so interesting, the combining of colors, and the way spinning often looks so different from the way the wool looks before it is spun. To say I am a bit obsessed with color would be an understatement. It is one of the reasons I started dyeing some of my own wool, it is what draws me the most to different yarns and finished objects, and it is one of the reasons I want to weave. The way colors play in weaving is so different than how they do so in knitting.

I came across a really good deal on some border leicester lambs wool. I knew going into this project that it would be quite dirty, quite full of VM, and there might be bits I didn’t want to save at all, and that has been the case. But, the cheapness of it gave me courage to start playing with colors. Because, in my mind, I can’t wreck cheap wool. So, after a 2 day soak and then a good hot water wash, I had a bunch of white border leicester to dye. Rather than experimenting with cram pot dyeing, I decided to dye handfulls of fiber in different solid colors to use with blending on my drum carder. At the moment I technically have 10 different colors to play with and more wool to dye. The richness of the colors just makes me so very happy, and I am enjoying this experiment immensely.

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