I’m happy again

I think Spring has finally arrived in Michigan. We actually slept with the window open last night and woke up to the birds singing this morning (okay, we actually woke up because the cat came running through the house and bounced on our bed on the way to the window to try and get the birds – but it’s close right?).

We spent last week mucking out the basement. The kids were on Spring Break anyway, so it was a good time. Every couple of years we try and get a dumpster delivered to our house to take the junk away. We’ve lived in this house for 12 years and have used the basement as a cache for everything we couldn’t bear to get rid of. My advice to myself now is – GET RID OF IT!! It doesn’t get any better just because it’s been sitting in the basement for a couple of years. Hub replaced the windows and I ripped out the carpet in the living room. My plan was to make it look terrible, thereby forcing Hub to do something about it. It worked. We went to Lowe’s last night and checked out all the different brands of laminated flooring. It’s truly staggering what they can do with wood and plastic these days. Anyone have horror stories about laminate floors?

My only fiber time last week was crunch knitting. Hub and Little Big Man go to a fishing tournament every year at this time. Last year, Hub came home with a request for some hand knit socks for the raffle table. “Cool,” I figured, “I have a whole year to finish 1 pair of socks.” Um, yeah, I didn’t start the damn things until April 8 – they left for the tourny on April 15. They turned out nicely and the guy who won them was very pleased. I didn’t take a picture because I was sick of looking at them every waking moment. Hub and LBM didn’t catch one fish – not one. He always tells me, “Catching a fish isn’t the point, just being outside in the water is the point.” Riiiight.

Here’s what I’m happy for today:

seeing the sun

being back at work

not having to knit with 2 strands of Kid ‘n Ewe

that Hub didn’t win the weekend trip this year (it was a stay in Nepal – oh sure, I’ll bet there’s fiber there, but who wants to be on a plane for 24 hours!)

Study Group Outlines – Woolen

Here’s what I meant to post yesterday:

Spinner’s Flock Woolen Yarn Study Group

Purpose: to spin a “woolen” style yarn with different twists, plies, diameters and to discover correct uses for this type of yarn

Preparation of Fiber

. Beginning with raw fleece � your choice of fleece � you will need 1 pound

. Save a lock of the raw fleece for documentation, if you wish (protect it from future moth damage)

Wash the fleece

. Document how this was done, what soap was used

. Save a lock of the washed fleece for documentation

. Weigh the washed fleece to determine loss from washing

Prepare the fleece for spinning

. Document use of equipment used � cards, pickers and/or drum carder (what kind), pickers (what kind)

Spin up woolen yarns

. as singles and plied yarns

. of varied angles of twist

. of varied diameters (wraps per inch)

. document for each spun sample

o Wheel / spindle used

o Wheel � whorl ratio

o # of twists per inch

o angle of twist

o # of wraps per inch

o # of yards per pound

o # of plies

. each spun yarn sample (singles and plied) should be 5 yards each, but allow for another yard or more to document each samples for twists/inch, angle of twist, wraps per inch.

Make sample swatches from the handspun

. Document for each detailed method of making swatch (knit, crochet, felt, weave, etc)

. Size of equipment used (loom, needles, etc)

Discuss appropriateness for each sample spun as related to type of wool used.

Discuss appropriate end products that can be created from each sample of yarn.

So, where am I in the process? My wool is washed and weighed. By the way Emma, you were right – my merino went from being 1 pound to .58 pound – I lost almost half of the weight in grease. There was some vegetal matter (vm), but not a lot and most of it was big enough that I could just pull it right out. I brought my drum carder into the house from my studio last night and fed the Mr. Clean wool through, just to see what would happen. I think I should probably use a different drum cloth with finer teeth, but this will do nicely. The wool fed through and I got a pretty decent bat out of the practice run. I’m being very anal about keeping notes on everything. It doesn’t feel like homework, it’s been really fun. I’m anxious to get started spinning though. Sassy will be helping me with the carding – that ought to be interesting!

Weekend Project

So last weekend, I got together with some spinning friends to start a study group about (what else) spinning. I have the outline and am planning on posting it just in case anyone wants to play along at home. We haven’t had an official meeting yet, but we did decide on some of the guidelines. We are all starting with a pound of unwashed wool (any type). We’ll be spinning woolen and we are to keep a record of whatever we do to the wool (washing/carding/type of wheel, etc). I dug around in my stash and came up with some unwashed Merino. Here is what a pound looks like:

I must admit, it’s pretty disgusting. I was worried about using merino because I’ve heard so many horror stories about not getting it clean the first go round and having it seize up after the wax and grease re-harden on it. I decided to give it a go anyway. Here’s my pile of clean wool:

I figured I should start with boiling (or near boiling) water to make sure to get the most grease and wax out on the first wash. So, I boiled water on the stove in my biggest pot and poured it into the stopped up sink**, dribbled in a bunch of dish soap (Ivory), wisked the soap around and gently lowered a colander full of dirty wool into the sink. I let that sit for about 40 minutes – the water was still so hot it hurt my hand to reach in and unstop the sink. Poured in another pot of boiling water and lowered the colander again. Then I rinsed 2 more times (for 15 minutes each) in the hottest water I could get from my tap.

It took me 2 days to get those 8 batches done (the batch in the upper left corner was one I did with Mr. Clean to see if that would work – it did, but left a nasty smell on the wool, so I decided against that). I’m waiting for them to dry completely so I can weigh them again to see how much I lost in grease. I’ll post the group’s outline tomorrow. Come on Amy, you know you wanna…

**Just an aside, if you’re going to use boiling water for a project, it’s not a good idea to pour it into a stopped up sink and let it sit for 40 minutes at a time. The plumber’s putty that seals the drain basket melts in boiling water, leaving you with sheepy smelling, dirty water in the cupboard under your sink. Hub suggests you use a bucket to hold the boiling water.

And the wheel, goes round…

This is the first spring that I’ve officially had Start-itis. Seriously, it really hasn’t hit me with this magnitude before. I have 3 different spinning projects going. Here’s what’s on the Journey Wheel:

That roving is called Sapphire and it’s from my friend Liz. She has an amazing color combination sense. Her rovings all sell out when she brings them to our guild sales. I was very lucky and she still had some of this available. Go check out her other colors.

This is some silk I bought at SOAR last fall at the Treenway Silks booth. Can you read the tag? It’s the Spice Market colorway

And here’s what it looks like on my Schacht:

I think I’ll be spinning this up and trying some of Lynne Vogel’s techniques to get the colors to stay separate. They all look gorgeous together, but I would like to see them individually.

I also have something going on my hand spindle, but I think I’ve shown that before. In any case, I didn’t snap a picture of that this morning.

It’s a short entry today, because I got my eyes dilated at the eye clinic this morning. I’m still wearing my sunglasses indoors and I still look stoned. I went to the clinic because I’m really tired of wearing glasses and would like to just have those funky reading glasses. However, I hate having my eyes messed with. I told the tech walking me through all the diagnostic machines that I was leery about this procedure because I couldn’t close my eyes and not watch (I have to avert my eyes when they take blood or give one of my kids a shot!). She laughed. So anyway, has anyone had this done? Is it worth it? How much does it hurt (because I’m such a baby – despite two natural childbirths)? Someone reassure me, dammit!

I may not have been blogging…

but I have been busy.

Here’s my first offering from the yarn I got from the Great Stash Redistribution project. This is Tivoli Santos, 100% cotton yarn:

Doesn’t Kit look warm and cozy? She’s been sleeping with the blanket for the last couple of weeks. Sassy is very happy. It’s a simple stockinette stitch body with a garter stitch border. Thank goodness it’s so small – having all those ends hanging off the back of the piece while knitting is definitely not my favorite part of intarsia.

I started a pair of gloves from the orange and purple alpaca yarn I bought when Jillian and I took our yarn trip last spring. Discovered that 7″ double pointed needles cannot be used for fingers and took a trip to the yarn shop to buy short ones. As it turned out, they didn’t have short US 1s, but they did have this lovely yarn

It’s Interlacements Toasty Toes. This stuff isn’t cheap ($32/skein), but Knitter’s Review says there’s enough for 2 adult-sized pairs of socks. As you can see, I’m making gloves – my first. The colors are so gorgeous, I didn’t want to hide them in socks – I wanted to show them off on my hands. Have I mentioned that I love the Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns? That’s where I got the pattern for the glove and it’s so easy to follow. The orange and purple gloves have been abandoned temporarily. I couldn’t deal with 2 intarsia projects at the same time! They’ll be done before winter starts again.

So, I mentioned that I worked up an alternate ending to Karen Baumer’s diagonal scarf. Here are the ends of my scarf:

The way the pattern is written, the last triangle continues being knit in the same direction as the previous triangle – I’m anal, it bugged me. (Please note, the left side is the last triangle.) Here’s what I did: start the last triangle the same way every other triangle was started. Continue in pattern to the middle of the triangle (I had 80 stitches, so I did the pattern until I had 40 stitches on my working needle).

Remember, you’re making a stitch and then doing a decrease right afterward for the pattern. Once you get to the mid-point (on the triangle, the mid-point is the right side), you don’t want to continue making a big triangle, you want a right angle. So what you need is a double decrease. I made the stitch, did a k2tog and then did a psso (slip a stitch, knit a stich, pass the slipped stitch over the knit stitch). I think it worked out pretty well. There was some confusion when there were about 5 stitches left – I don’t know if you can see it, but there’s a sort of bulb on the left side of that last triangle. I was so pleased with myself that I got this far, I fudged it and I’m extremely happy with it.

Let me know if this doesn’t make any sense. It’s a lot easier to do it than to try and write it down.