Thursday, June 30, 2011

June Recap

Well. I knit something...

Handspun Solar Flare by Project Pictures

And I wove something...

Woven Scarf

And I spun something... (but I don't know what it was!!)

Laura AKA TinkerTots by sandiwiseheart

ETA 9/9/11 - Ha! I remembered! It was this BMFA Merino/Yak fiber!

BMFA Merino/Yak in Tanzanite

Last, but not least.. the Haul

Now we finally come to the part everyone usually wants to see. What did we all buy!

I know it looks like a lot, but really I didn't spend all that much. (Okay, it was a little bit of money, but it was all on sale and it was specifically budgeted so it's all good).

The first bit isn't stash expansion but rather conversion. We had a fiber swap. Put 4oz in, take 4oz out. I was able to trade some black alpaca/silk I didn't enjoy spinning (it was lovely, it just wasn't "me") for a Sheep to Shoe kit, and some other various fibers for 4oz of Spunky Eclectic Merino top. I'm really thrilled about both of these trades.

BSG - "The Haul"

BSG - "The Haul"

As for expansion, I did fall down a little bit. My first bump in the road was 1.25 pounds of Cormo/silk blend from The Bellwether Wool Company. It's rather unassuming in the bag, but it's Cormo!! and silk!! blended!! Yum. And they have fantastic fiber. And it didn't hurt that this last lot of the Cormo/silk was marked down 25%. How can I pass up such a lovely sweater? Well, it will be a lovely sweater, eventually!

BSG - "The Haul"

Then I went by Rainbow Farms Pygora. I went there because I had a gift waiting for me from another event, which turned out to be drop-dead gorgeous pygora-blend batts. Wow! But I couldn't leave without hitting up her 50% off bin and I walked away with another 8oz of dyed Targhee.

BSG - "The Haul"

BSG - "The Haul"

And last, I took a class on spinning cashmere. And it came with a 10% off coupon for the teacher's shop. So of course I couldn't walk away without finding some cashmere! I found light tan cashmere that was already marked down and applied the 10% coupon to that as well and bought three ounces for pure-pleasure spinning!

BSG - "The Haul"

Adding everything up (and counting the swap as stash-neutral) I bought one ounce over two pounds of fiber. Which isn't great for the stash. But it does pretty much kill any desire I have to buy anything at Sock Summit so I may be done for the season!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Finally, it's Saturday!

BSG - Fiber Arts by Project Pictures
BSG - Fiber Arts, a photo by Project Pictures on Flickr.
No, not today. But finally after all that other stuff, we get to Saturday at BSG.

Friday, the judging went on all afternoon and as it finished the Fiber Arts show closed! So I was unable to find out how my entries did.

Since this was my first year entering, and because Judith MacKenzie was judging, I was horribly nervous. My husband found it all very amusing (and asked, facetiously, if I really ought to be expecting to win anything at all in my first time entering a fiber-arts show--he loves to get a rise).

But Saturday I was able to return to the Gathering for the afternoon and the first place I stalked to was the Fiber Arts show, all nervous and silly. But guess what?! I did earn two first place ribbons! I'm so thrilled!

One was for a skein of 2-ply yarn I spun from absolutely gorgeous batts created by Laura of Textiles A Mano. These were part of my Christmas gift from my husband and they were just beautiful. They also spun up wonderfully! I'm told (because I couldn't stay to watch the entire judging) that Judith said they were lovely and evenly spun with excellent twist. Or something close to that! Yay!

BSG - Fiber Arts
My other entry was none other than my Solar Flare shawl! I'm really terrifically pleased with this one, because a lot of work went into it. The gorgeous AbbyBatts (in the colorway "Hless") were spindle spun, the singles were plied on my wheel, and I knit the whole thing into my very own pattern. I feel I own this project down to its very last stitch and I'm horribly proud of it all.

So that was a fantastic start to Saturday, and it wasn't even over yet! But I think the rest will have to wait for one last post.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

BSG - Spinning Cashmere

Still blogging day 1 (Friday) of Black Sheep Gathering and next up is my special treat to myself.. a class on how to spin cashmere! YUM. I mean, really, who can pass up the opportunity to play with superior luxury fibers? Not me, that's for sure.

If nothing else happened in this class but we got to play with the fibers, I would have been happy enough. Our instructor, Cynthia Hereen, came with enough samples to make the most demanding personality happy. We spun...

Merino/cashmere
Merino/cashmere/silk
White cashmere
Tan cashmere
Brown cashmere
15-micron white cashmere
Brown cashmere/silk
Yak
White camel

They were amazing!

BSG - Spinning Cashmere
And on top of that, I had a great "spinning buddy" in Rebecca G. I'm so glad we got to sit next to each other and enjoy all this luscious stuff!

I would have liked some more intense instruction. We were able to play with the fiber and spin it, but a lot of the deeper "whys" were missing in the how-to. I don't know if I'm looking for too much in that or not. It was still a wonderfully enjoyable class and worth every penny.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Me!

Laura AKA TinkerTots by sandiwiseheart
Laura AKA TinkerTots, a photo by sandiwiseheart on Flickr.
Here I am spinning at the Black Sheep Gathering on Saturday.

I ganked this picture from Sandi Wiseheart's photostream. Thanks, Sandi! It's not often I get pictures of myself at events!

Sheep to Shawl

Do you know who this is? I'll bet you do, but if you don't, I'll let you know that this is Judith MacKenzie (she wrote The Intentional Spinner and is generally known to be one of The Major Authorities on spinning). We were privileged to have her judge our Fiber Arts show this year.

Here she is judging the Sheep to Shawl entry. There was only one this year, but they really put their hearts into it anyway and once again received a perfect score on their work.

Judith talked for quite some time about this shawl. She was particularly impressed that the yarn was not uniform, but had a consistent-inconsistency. That is, it was lumpy, bumpy and noily, but it was that same way throughout the entire shawl even though four different women worked on spinning it. That's pretty impressive and harder than spinning a machine-like uniform yarn.

JM - Judging Sheep to Shawl
She also pointed out the lovely weaving, and here she is holding the shawl up to the light. You can see her body right through it. That's very nice weaving!

The other thing I found really interesting was that she spent quite a bit of time discussing the fact that weaving isn't done until the cloth is washed. Washing completely changes the cloth. So what she's holding up is really only half-way-done. She was also able to display the group's swatch, which had been washed, so that you could see the difference in between the two.

It was really amazing and wonderful to get to see her speak.

And then I had to run to class!

But I'll have more about that, next time!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Wow, what a weekend!

This was the weekend of the Black Sheep Gathering (it's winding up even as I type this afternoon). It was amazing!

It was so amazing, it's going to take several posts to wrap the whole thing up, but I'll start with the sheep-show.

I love walking through the sheep-and-goat rooms at BSG. They smell (a little) but mostly it's a clean-barny smell with lots of lanolin that I love (unless it's a particularly warm weekend, and then it turns towards other things, but this week we had amazingly lovely weather!). I always take the time to snap a bunch of pictures (no flash, tho!)

So here we are with a mostly-picture post. I'll leave the photos themselves to do most of the talking.

Wee adorable Pygora goats:
BSG - colored pygora

BSG - colored pygora

The Big Billy Goat Gruff (my daughter and I seek him out every year!):
BSG - Billy Goat Gruff

Jacob, my favorite breed:
BSG - Jacob sheep

Oh, I forgot what this dude was.. but what awesome colored horns!
BSG - Sheep

A small Shetland:
BSG - Shetland

And Navajo-Churro:
BSG - Navajo-Churro

BSG - Navajo-Churro colors

There's lots more to come! I'd better get writing.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sometimes I surprise myself

Handspun Solar Flare by Project Pictures
Handspun Solar Flare, a photo by Project Pictures on Flickr.
That's not meant to be a boasting statement (although I suppose you could read it that way). I really was surprised!

I was surprised I could manage to churn out an entire shawl in four days, even if it was my own pattern. But that's what happened.

On June 8th, I suddenly conceived a burning desire to enter Solar Flare in the Black Sheep Gathering. I realized there was one major problem with this. The version I had already knit was done in millspun yarn (but for a few rows at the end). BSG requires that all entries be made of handspun yarn. And they needed to be in by June 12th. Oh, no!

But I couldn't let a little thing like that stop me, could I? Of course not. I set to knitting. And knitting. And knitting. Every spare moment. Fifteen minutes here, fifteen minutes there. Knitting at naptime. Knitting while waiting to stop sweating at the gym. I'd figure two rows at every opportunity and I'd be golden (maybe). I gave up my evening TV (because it was too distracting to knit as fast as I needed). I got up early and worked before the kids were up. I knit at the park, in the driveway, in the bedroom, on the couch, in the kitchen, but did stop just short of taking the shawl with me quite everywhere. I became more stressed as I slowly ran out of yarn, remeasured my backup skeinlet and realized that I'd been off in calculating yardage and only had 430 yards to work with instead of my estimated 500. I knit even faster to try and not-run-out-of-yarn-too-soon. (Do you ever do that? I swear I can't stop myself even though I know it doesn't really work.) I nixed the last row of increases and reworked the final charts to compensate (which sounds much more complicated than it really is).

And I got it done! I cast off, soaked and blocked on the 11th and then sat down to carefully read how to get all the entry information properly placed and figure out where it needed to go.

And then I saw it. Mail-in entries were required by the 12th. Entries could be personally delivered up until the morning of the 24th.

THUD.

At least it's done!

P.S. Cris (from Into the Whirled) and I are running a KAL for this shawl starting on June 21st, to celebrate the longest day of the year! If you'd like to join in, check out the Ravelry thread here.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Weaving. It still rocks.

Woven Scarf by Project Pictures
Woven Scarf, a photo by Project Pictures on Flickr.
Yes, here we have another scarf. This scarf took all of two days to make. In fact, if you counted hours with any 24-hour period, it took one day to make. I love weaving!

On top of that, it's gorgeous and squishy! I used two skeins of handspun which I had no idea how to knit. They just weren't enough to use on their own. But together they make a lovely scarf just when I needed a very personal gift for a friend.

I hope she loves it!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Annis

Annis by Project Pictures
Annis, a photo by Project Pictures on Flickr.
Here's another last-minute finish for May. As the month drew to a close and I put the final touches on the Solar Flare pattern, I found I had enough time to do a little more knitting.

Since I still owed Cris (of Into the Whirled) a shop-sample of her yarn, I settled on Annis from Knitty.com.

Annis has an interesting construction. You must cast on from the bottom of the lace edge and knit upwards towards the top edge of the shawl. I'm far more accustomed to working in the other direction. So the first thing I ran into was a cast-on of 360+ stitches. Yes, over 360 stitches! Yikes! I'm not going to do that twice, so I pulled out a little trick. You can take the end of your yarn from the outside of a center-pull ball, and from the inside, and join them. Then you have the entire ball to use for casting on! No chance of running out. I take it one step further. Many people tie a knot and then work in the two ends later. I untwisted the plies and then twisted them all back together in an invisible join I like to call a "Spinner's Join". If you do it for 6 inches or so, it's almost impossible to find again later. Plus it has the added benefit of no ends to work in.

Annis
Cast-on done, I began to knit. It's easy enough to follow the pattern, but not particularly enjoyable to work with that long of a floppy-twisy cast-on until you have enough rows in place that the knitting behaves.

It also has nupps. I love the way nupps look, but I wasn't enamored with the thought of working them again (I'd had quite enough with the Echo Flower Shawl, thank you!). I opted for beads, instead. Lovely brass-colored glass beads that look fantastic against the deep wine-red of the yarn. Yum! Only.. I ran out just a couple of beads short and had to go back for another whole vial to finish. Harrumph.

Still it was worth it. I added those beads in again at the upper edge and they draw the whole shawl together. I really hope Cris enjoys hanging this in her booth!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Squeeking in under the wire..

Alpaca/Silk by Project Pictures
Alpaca/Silk, a photo by Project Pictures on Flickr.
I spent a couple of hours on the 31st plying.. so we have an official finish of a full 4oz of fiber for the month of May!

I completed 500 yards of 2-ply yarn which measures out at a light fingering or heavy laceweight. The fiber content is alpaca/silk and it is gorgeous. I have to say I'm not really thrilled with spinning alpaca/silk. It's all slip and drape and it's danged gorgeous and will knit into something positively fabulous. But I really miss the sproing! of wool.

But my oldest bit of fiber-stash is now spun up! Huzzah!