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Archive for the ‘knitting’ Category

It’s been a busy summer. So busy that I haven’t even thought about updating this blog until my friend Pixie mentioned that I should a few days ago. And she’s right, so here I am typing nonsense because the problem is, so much has been going on and happening in my world that I don’t know where to start. Hmm, what is blogworthy…

blueyarn_inpotWell, let me begin by showing you this sock yarn I was kettle-dyeing yesterday in a few different shades of beautiful blue. Right now, I’m dyeing about one or two skeins each dyeing session, maybe three times per week, so roughly three to six skeins are done per week. I honestly don’t think I could do any more than that and still keep the same quality in each dye job because sometimes a single skein will take me four hours to finish. Each skein of yarn that I dye is uniquely and meticulously handpainted or kettle-dyed to my own personal satisfaction. I’ve seen some people on some blogs that output a large amount of handpainted yarn at one time (over ten skeins) and I just don’t understand how they do it, unless they have a small army helping them.

skein_wndr1The reason I’m dyeing all this yarn is because I’m going to be a vendor at the 2009 Fiber Festival in Snow Hill, Maryland, coming up on October 10. I have to build my inventory so I have quite a bit to sell there. Of course, teen had a small fit when I told him I needed him to wind up all this yarn on the niddy noddy (right now I’m looking at 24 skeins that need winding and the niddy noddy makes my arms ache), so I invested in a new knitting tool. This is my new maple Will Taylor Clamp-On Skeinwinder/Swift, which I ordered from Carolina Homespun, and it’s wonderful! The teen is off the hook, at least for now.

1stsock2Thanks to Pixie, I’ve also gotten back into my knitting. I finally finished those Nightmare Socks with her encouragement, and they fit although I loathe them now because they took two years to complete! I think I got tired of looking at them, the pattern wasn’t the easiest to follow, and the yarn wasn’t as soft as I would have liked, but Plymouth Sockotta was the first sock yarn I ever bought for myself. That was before I learned how to dye yarn and now I’ll never buy any commercial brands again. Unless I absolutely have to. Not to mention the fact that I have approximately two bins full of my own handpainted yarn already.

toeup2On to the next project: Two-at-a-Time Toe-Up Socks on Two Circulars, from the book, “Knitting More Circles Around Socks” by Antje Gillingham. I have her first book too, and both include very nice patterns that are easy to understand. These are only my second pair of socks, and I’m knitting them with my own kettle-dyed yarn, Sand in my Stitches Pure Merino SW. I’m a little further than the image shows and so far, so good. These will be a demo project for my yarn at the festival, and I’ve given a skein of my Kona Sock yarn to Pixie to knit up in some kind of amazing lacy project. Many, many thanks to Pixie for the motivation and help. 🙂

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mdsw2009_ram2As promised (or threatened), I hauled the family to the 2009 Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival last Saturday, close to three hours away from where we live. And as predicted, the crowds were incredible. I think this festival attracts more and more people every year! Nonetheless, we all enjoyed it to some degree and were entertained by some very amusing livestock, and a working sheepdog demonstration which was rather fascinating.

mdsw2009_crowdsAbove is the obligatory crowd shot. It was intermittently rainy on the way to the festival, but stopped before we arrived and was decent for the rest of the day. Threatening weather doesn’t phase fiber and yarn fantatics, that’s for sure. At right is my DH with our youngest son (in yellow) who kept nagging us, “Can we leave now?” He has a short attention span.

mdsw2009_sheepdg1mdsw2009_sheepdg2Those Border Collies are very well-trained! I believe the Border Collie is herding Blue-Faced Leicester sheep; the high-quality wool of which is coveted by many fiber artists and knitters around the globe. I have yet to get my hands on some. Maybe at next year’s festival…

mdsw2009_sheep2Walking through the livestock buildings, we saw many different sheep in the pens, most with a full coat of fleece that were waiting to be perfectly groomed and taken to the show ring.

mdsw2009_sheep1I must admit that sometimes the thought of life on a sheep farm (or alpaca) is enticing to the point that I want to try to make it happen. Maybe someday it will, but I think that we’d have to start small. Maybe one Angora rabbit at first, then maybe two, and if that works for us, perhaps an Angora rabbitry. And I must also admit… I really want a bunny! Too bad we can’t have one now, but it’s always something we can work toward.

mdsw2009_kidshpMany of the sheep were resting when we walked through, but our boys found one of the few attentive sheep in the barn and gave it some affection.

mdsw2009_llama1mdsw2009_llama2We were all highly-amused by this freshly-shorn llama who was sitting in his pen chewing his cud with a piece of straw hanging out of his mouth. What a funny-looking animal!

mdsw2009_alpaca1mdsw2009_alpaca2Next, we saw a really cute alpaca that loved having the back of his neck scratched, so we obliged him.

In the middle of photographing all the livestock, I was on the lookout for the only three things I had on my “must have” list from this festival, and believe it or not, I had enough willpower to bypass the rest of the vendors with a glance if I didn’t see what I was looking for. So we headed to the main exhibition hall to see if we could find my items where much, much more pushing and shoving ensued. And I thought the crowd outside was incredible… HA! That crowd couldn’t even compare to the one which was inside this building!

Every few steps, I had to stop and look around to see what I could see around the hundreds of other people that were milling about, who were no doubt searching for their particular items too. If it was fiber-related, I knew it could be found inside this building, and it was. But not before I found this fabulous great wheel demonstration at an antique vendor’s booth.

mdsw2009_grtwhlmdsw2009_grtwhl3mdsw2009_grtwhl2Even DH and the boys seemed curious and she was gathering a little crowd to watch her spin. It was interesting how she drafted the wool into such a fine thread by wrapping it around her finger.

mdsw2009_ant1These beautiful antique spinning wheels and other spinning tools were located in this booth as well.

mdsw2009_espinnerThis is the Butterfly Electronic Yarn Spinner, handcrafted by Wild Meadow. We didn’t get to see one in action, but this just might become one of my Christmas wish list items in the near future! After all, DH did stealthily pick up a brochure about it unbeknownst while I was checking it out and taking pictures.

A very good day indeed, and I found the three items that I wanted. Well, two really, but I substituted one for another. I bought a set of Ashford 72-point hand carders, an Ashford student drop spindle and a pound of white medium wool top roving, the latter two came from Ohio Valley Natural Fibers. I originally wanted to get more angora fluff to add to the 2 oz. of angora fluff that I got from Thistledown Alpacas during last year’s festival, but by the time I finally found their tent, all my guys wanted to go because it was getting late (and all their bunnies had been sold already, darn it). I already can’t wait for next year’s festival, and will probably visit Thistledown Alpacas as one of my first stops instead of my last.

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Last year, I started the Diagonal Mesh Shawl with Brooks Farm Four Play that I got at last year’s Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival.

It’s a very nice pattern, yet I’m not happy with it for some reason, so I’m considering sending it to the frog pond and making something else with these four skeins of wool/silk yarn (that’s 1,080 yards), such as this beautiful chevron shawl that Vickyd made. What do you think? You can see more images of this project on my ravelry or flickr.

Speaking of the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, guess who’s going? Right on! Me.

Well, not just me. This year I’m dragging my DH and two boys (age 8 and 15) with me to enjoy the unbelievable crowds that gather once a year at the Howard County Fairgrounds in West Friendship, Maryland. There we plan to partake in some yarn ogling and fondling, along with some pushing and shoving to get into the booths we want to explore more. Ok, ok! Not them… me. They’ll probably go watch the sheep shows or maybe sit in the car and watch a movie on the DVD player until I’m tired of walking or standing in lines and make my way back to the car in the middle of the field. Somewhere.

diag_mesh6

When I went last year by myself, I was done in two hours because I went with a plan in mind to hit every vendor in the shortest amount of time possible and shop till I couldn’t carry anymore. This year, since I’m taking everyone, I have no doubt that it will likely take all day since I want to find something interesting for the boys while we’re there. Like a working sheepdog demonstration. I’m sure they’d like that. Hopefully it won’t get rained out and I’ll bring back some good loot (like a set of hand carders, a drop spindle and bare roving), as well as some nice pictures to share with everyone.

You can see images of my first trip to the festival here: 2007 Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. How are you spending your weekend?

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(Un)tagged!

Browsing around, I found this on Anita’s blog… so I had to join in just for her. 🙂

Rules: You must answer the questions using only one word & tag four others.

1. Where is your cell phone? charger
2. Your significant other? working
3. Your hair? wet
4. Your mother? crocheter
5. Your father? fisherman
6. Your favorite thing? sons
7. Your dream last night? hmmm
8. Your favorite drink? tea
9. Your dream/goal? FOs
10. The room you’re in? craft
11. Your hobby? yarn
12. Your fear? heights
13. Where do you want to be in 6 years NOW? tropics
14. What you’re not? man
15. Muffins? yummy
16. One of your wish list items? boat
17. Where you grew up? coast
18. The last thing you did? shower
19. What are you wearing? jeans
20. Favorite gadget? Nikon
21. Your pets? furry
22. Your computer? laptop
23. Your mood? hungry
24. Missing someone? sometimes
25. Your car? black
26. Something you’re not wearing? socks
27. Favorite store? yarn
28. Like someone? sometimes
29. Your favorite color? green
30. When is the last time you laughed? yesterday
31. Last time you cried? dunno

Okay, if anyone sees this and wants to do it, go for it! 🙂

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A return to blogging?

I’m not really sure, but maybe! While I think about it, I found an online speed typing test. It says I type 82 WPM, and that’s a bit slower than I used to type 10 years ago. Oh well!

How fast do you type? Find out! Speed test

Yes, I know I’ve been silent this past winter, but I’ve been doing some serious hibernating! Along with the increasingly lovely weather we’ve been having, my motivation and ambition has been increasing, too. Hmmm… perhaps it’s time for me to move to the tropics! 😉

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Since Thanksgiving, we haven’t really had any adventures to speak of, and since I finished my Clapotis, I don’t have any really good knitting news, either. There is the second scarf I made for my Ravelry Scarf Exchange pal, Rae, which was mailed to her over a week ago. I know that she probably received it by now, although she hasn’t emailed to say so.Diagonal Knot Stitch Scarf

Completed and blocked, this is the Diagonal Knot Stitch scarf which I knit out of Malabrigo Merino, colorway Violetas. The pattern really opened up once I blocked it, but I do need to find my iron because I could have done a much better job with it. Once I find it, I will be able to block my Clapotis, and finally be able to wear it, hopefully in time for Christmas. (I don’t know what it is about that project, but I’m itching to make another!)

The second nightmare sock of the pair I started eons ago is getting additional rows added to it here and there when I have time at night, which is the only time I get to knit anything anymore. There is just too much to do during a day with homeschooling and housecleaning and cooking and now decorating and Christmas shopping. Phooey! I’d love to just sit and knit all day!

My perfect day would include everyone going out so that I was left alone in the house. The first part of my day alone would beCorey practicing his typing skills. spent in the kitchen dyeing yarn, and the second half of it would be spent in the living room knitting in silence. In fact, that’s not even a day, but about eight hours. Eight hours that I could spend doing the laundry or vacuuming or cleaning the house. Eight hours that I could spend teaching long division to my 6-year-old. Did I mention he’s learning to type, too? In the image at right, he’s practicing his typing skills! 🙂Stitch markers!

Congratulations to my good friend, Anita, who’s handmade polymer clay stitch markers are featured in the current issue of Knit Simple magazine! You can get a set of these adorable stitch markers for yourself by visiting her etsy shop, Yarndemon Designs. I have a set of those sweet peas, and I’ve gotta tell ya, the real thing is soooo much cuter than the images, by FAR. Her shop also features the perfect accessory that every fiber crafter needs: little tape measures with very nice hand-crocheted covers on them. When Anita sent my stitch markers, she also include one of these tape measures which I keep in my little accessory bag and gets frequent use when I’m knitting! Wouldn’t you know it’s that time of year — the season for gift giving, and these stitch markers and tape measures would make PERFECT stocking stuffers!

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I’m going to master socks, and I’m going to try to master them two-at-a-time and toe-up, via the magic loop technique. This link should definitely get me going in the right direction!

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