Monday, December 18, 2006

I Won a Moosie!

I can't believe it! I was one of the 3 winners of the Funky Hat Contest at! If you have never checked out this online spinning magazine, it is worth a look. I won in the category of "Most over the top". The prize is a Moosie spindle from Jonathan Bosworth at The Moosie is my most favorite spindle. It is made from moose antler (no moose is harmed in the acquisition of antlers), and it spins forever!

I really enjoyed the task of creating a "funky" hat from scratch. This is the first item I have completely designed. I usually use an existing pattern, or alter a pattern, but this time I created the design myself. (See a picture of the hat from the post on November 10.) It was fun to spin, fun to design, and fun to knit.

I am off to Germany and England on Thursday for the holidays. I will post again when I return in January.

Peace and Bliss to everyone this holiday season.

Friday, December 15, 2006

A Year in Fiber

I have been neglectful of my blog once again. I have been spending more time spinning and knitting than blogging, and, that is as it should be. Nevertheless, I am posting photos of completed projects that I never got around to posting earlier in the year. New Year's Resolution: I will post at the time of completion!

Early in the year, I spun and knit a sweater in three weeks for the Knitting Olympics - see earlier post. That taught me that I can actually complete projects in a reasonable amount of time! So I then spun and knit the green stripe shawl with light green merino and a naturally dyed, slightly courser wool.

I liked the simple shale pattern so much that I then knit a sandlewood brown linen shawl from commercially prepared fiber. It is so comfortable to wear.

Again, the pattern was so easy yet beautiful that I knit a commercial organic, naturally colored cotton shawl for my mother's 90th birthday.

I also have been working on washing and carding a Corriedale fleece (see earlier post on the Breed Exchange). Here is a photo of some of that fleece dyed using Cushing Dyes. It has been fun to experiment with the dyeing and I know that I will continue dyeing experiments next year.

In the fall I knit another shawl, using Morehouse lace yarn and their pattern. I absolutely love this shawl. It is so soft and I get comments on it every time I wear it!

My cat, Libby is sitting in the middle of a quick crocheted scarf I made out of handspun Grafton Fibers wool.
I have recently completed two pairs of socks, a scarf a headband and a coffee cup holder, but those are Christmas presents so I can't post photos yet.

Next week I am off to Europe for Christmas. I am dropping off my son in Germany to spend Christmas with his dad (there on sabbatical for a year), step-mom, sister, step-sister and two half-brothers. His grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousins are German and live south of Heidelberg, so he will have a chance to visit with them as well and have a traditional German Christmas. I will spend from December 22-January 1 in London, then go to Bremen, Germany to spend a few days with my daughter who is spending the year in Germany with her dad and family. My son will go to Berlin with his dad and family for a few days so I will have my daughter to myself. She can show me around her 'home for a year'.

I am looking forward to the time spent by myself in London to sightsee and knit and spin. I will keep a scrapbook of my experiences as well as take many photos. I will post a few when I return. (As part of my New Year's Resolution! :) I am also looking forward to the time spent with my daughter. She was home for Thanksgiving, but I miss her again already.

I hope everyone has a wonderful, peaceful, love-filled holiday season.

Friday, November 10, 2006

New Hats
I finished a hat and entered it in the Spindlicity Hat Contest. I used fiber prepared by Linda Diak of Grafton Fibers. She has the most luscious color blends. I wanted to use every color I had, so I spun each up on my Bossie spindle and planned out a pattern that would show off each color. First, I knit 9 points which I joined, then used a combination of Fair Isle patterning with pin tucks inbetween. At the end, I crocheted little curlycues which I sewed on top. It was such fun to create my first pattern by myself. Now I may try and design my own sweater.........
I am continuing to process my Corriedale fleece. It is better now that I can see the end. I figure it is taking me about 1 and 1/2 hours per ounce to wash and card (not counting soaking or drying time). Flicking open the locks to prepare for the carder is the most time consuming part, but I love the pile of fluff I am creating. I have gotten hooked on the possibilities of starting with raw fleece, so I have already reserved a Coopworth fleece from Deer Run Farm for spring.

My son thinks I am crazy, but he is reaping the rewards. Here is a picture of a hat I made for him (he wouldn't model for me). I used the first of my Corriedale fleece (the bright yellow/orange) with some of the Totally Tubular mix made by Crosspatch Creations and Three Bags Full of wool and silk. I love their creations. I just ordered another from Amelia at The Bellwether. I love all the little bits of color and the nebs from the silk noil. My son actually wears this hat, so I know I finally got it right!

Friday, November 03, 2006

The Never Ending Fleece

I bought a 12 pound Corriedale ram fleece at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival in May. It was my first fleece purchase. What was I thinking? The bag was huge! It was so soft, I could not resist, but it is taking me forever to process. In my initial euphoria, I washed and dyed four lots. I am only able to wash about four ounces (weight after washing and drying) at a time, as I do not wish to put the lanolin down the drain, so I use a small drainer and tub in the kitchen sink, then dump the lanolin soaked water on the ivy in my backyard - nothing kills ivy. I wash twice in very hot water, then rinse once in hot water, trying to agitate the fleece as little as possible. Corriedale is very high in lanolin and felts very easily. After washing the first four lots, I let the huge bag of fleece sit under my diningroom table for months (small house, no other place to put it!)

Last month I joined a fiber exchange from the Yahoo Spindler's list called a Breed Exchange. There are 32 participants each with a different sheep breed. I, of course, chose Corriedale, hoping it would force me to work through this fleece. Each participant includes 1 ounce of processed fiber, one lock and a one-yard length of spun yarn for every other participant. Also, we have each researched our breed and this will be put together in a binder for each person. At the end, we will each receive a binder of information with the lock and yarn sample, and 32 one ounce samples to spin!

I have been picking and washing and picking and washing.............
Here is a photo of my drying technique: a net spread between chairs in my screened gazebo. Unfortunately, the next few nights in the DC area where I live will be below freezing. Ummm...frozen locks. I will bring the almost dry ones inside to finish drying.

Today I will finish picking the last of the fleece. I have washed 12 batches and probably have from 8 to 10 batches to go, which I am determined to finish this weekend. I will dye what remains after I package up the 32 one ounce samples. I am also participating in the Twisted Knitters Knit Along where each participant is dyeing, spinning and knitting a project of their choice. See:
I hope to have enough fiber left to knit a sweater. I figure I will get about 6 pounds of usable fiber out of this fleece. I have already dyed 1 pound, will use two pounds in the fiber exchange and will therefore have 3 pounds left - plenty for a sweater. Now what colors to use........

Lessons Learned
When I chose the fleece I chose for softness, but did not examine the whole fleece properly. Early Saturday morning at the MDSW festival is a madhouse and I rushed myself. I later discovered that there were huge areas of scurf - flakes of skin caused by mites that does not come out in washing. I have spun some of the dyed fleece and found that the scurf falls out while spinning. The areas without scurf have a fair amount of vegatable matter (VM). After picking through as carefully as I can, I will use the better parts of the fleece for the exchange.
Now, back to washing............

Monday, October 09, 2006

Montpelier Fiber Festival

I went to the fiber festival in Montpelier, Virginia on Sunday. It was a muddy day as a rainstorm had gone through on Friday and Saturday. Cars were getting stuck in the mud and parking was a problem. Notice how muddy the sheep were! Nevertheless, it was great to see the sheepherding demonstration. Anyone know what type of sheep these are? They look like Coopworth, but I am not positive.

I also bought a bit of fiber. I bought 2 pounds of naturally brown Corriedale roving to make into a sweater.

From "The Barefoot Spinner" I bought some lovely hand dyed Border Leicester and Romney blend in red/pink and in blue/green. The red/pink will be spun finely and knit into a shawl and the blue/green will become a more thickly spun hat.

I love the colors. I am glad that I bought enough for specific projects. Usually, I just buy what I like, rather than planning the use of the final yarn. I can't wait to get spinning!

I have a number of finished projects that I will begin to post in the next few weeks. I knit quite a bit over the summer, but didn't have time to post to my blog. I hope to be more regular in maintaining my blog.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Today I received my Spring Fling package from Chelsea in New Mexico! It was so much fun to open up the package and see all the fiber! I now have new fibers to try to spin. I love the dark green Coopworth/silk fiber. I already spun some on the cute Annie May spindle. Chelsea also hand dyed some bamboo and polypay wool. The colors are gorgeous and the bamboo is so silky. She also included some blue/green multi-colored Colonial wool - a great colorway. My kids will love the Peeps, but I think I will hide the Cadbury Creme Eggs for myself! :) My garden desperately needs flowers so I will plant the Iris bulb and look forward to it coming up this summer. Thank you Chelsea, you are so thoughtful. This has been a fun Yahoo Spindlers Group exchange.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Gold Medal in Knitting!!!

I just obtained my gold medal from the Yarn Harlot website. Thanks Stephanie Pearl-McPhee for coming up with a great idea that generated more interest than anyone could have expected. Go to to learn more about it.

It was a great challenge for me and it is good to know that I can knit a sweater in two weeks if I need to (in bulky yarn on #9 needles at least)!

Now for new challenges. This weekend I plan to work on some things I have been putting off. The Knitting Olympics was really an exercise in procrastination. I need to do my taxes (blech!), work on getting my website up and running, make some jewelry, spindle spin for my shawl and knit on the shawl, and work on some funky, designer yarn. I will have to make myself work in that order, or I will be tempted to do the reverse order, thus ending Sunday evening with more yarn spun and that's it. I need a shot of discipline.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Knitting Olympics

I finished my "Knitting Olympics" sweater just in time for the closing ceremonies tonight! I started knitting it when the Olympic torch was lit and finished putting the crochet trim on this morning. I knit the Sonnet sweater pattern from, although I offset the front design a bit.

I started spinning the yarn on February 4 from prepared California Red roving. Thanks to Amelia from Bellwether, who rushed the package of fiber! It is a nice oatmeal color with red guard hairs throughout. I used copper colored wool/silk handspun for the trim. All in all, I spent almost 30 hours spinning and about 40 hours knitting.

Below is a picture of the roving, spun yarn and partially finished sweater.

Unfortunately, I don't like the sweater on - it is too bulky for me and it is too large for my daughter. Oh well, it might make a nice wall decoration!

On to my next project - finishing/restarting a shawl from spindle spun yarn for the shawl contest. I started with 8 ounces of pale green merino roving and have the shawl half done (see below), but I realize that I don't have enough fiber. So, I will have to start again with a striped pattern to combine the merino with another fiber. Lesson learned - don't start knitting until I have the fiber spun!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Spindle Collection

I finally was able to catalog my spindle collection with photos. Just in time to add my new Bossies!

This first photo is my new favorite, my Moosie from Bosworth. It is absolutely gorgeous and spins so smoothly and effortlessly. If it is possible, this spins even better than my other Bosworth spindles! It is a cream color with grey mottling and a warm, reddish, bloodwood shaft. This Lincoln longwool spins into a thread-sized diameter so easily.

These are the other Bossies from Bosworth that I just received. I am in heaven! These are the absolute Mercedes of spindles. I cannot recommend them enough. I splurged with my Christmas money and bought all of these at once. Counterclockwise from top: Black Palm Midi with an Ebony shaft; Pink Ivory Mini with an Ebony shaft; Bloodwood Midi; Birdseye Maple Maxi; and a Paduak Mini. Sheila Bosworth includes a bit of wool already started on the spindle, since she tests each spindle they sell. So, right out of the box I am off and spinning!

To the left are two bossies I have had for awhile, a Chakta Vega Midi and a Bocote Mini.

This is the rest of my collection:

Left and Below, my Hatchtown Farm Spindles

Below are three Charis Spindles in Leopardwood and Panga Panga. I am unsure of the third wood type.

To the right is a Mongold Spindle - it is great for

This is a Spindrifter

Left and below are my two Grafton 'Mouton du Mois' Spindles. One is the Merino and one the Angora Goat. Oh, how I wish they still made these spindles!

From left to right: An Emily spindle by Adam Mielke; A Greensleeves Tom Foolery spindle; and a Mount Rainier by Cascade (gorgeous!)

The photo on the right shows the Sleeping Beauty spindles from Simple Market Farms along with their lovely Lincoln Longwool. They will engrave your name, or a message on the shaft of the spindle.

The spindle in the lefthand photo is very large and heavy - good for plying. I don't know the make on this.

These are two Ann Grout ceramic spindles with Celtic designs.

The three spindles in the righthand photo from left to right are: an Alaskan chocolate chip spindle, a Schacht spindle and a Snipes spindle.

This is another Hatchtown spindle and I really enjoy using it. It has a lovely combination of woods and it great for plying.

I am also unsure the make of this spindle, but I love the woods.

The photo to the right is a Golding using Purple Heart wood. Goldings spin very nicely and have a good weight to them.

This spindle is very special to me. It is a prayer wheel spindle with the mantra "Om Mani Padme Hum" a prayer of compassion written on it. Jen from Crowhill House Fiber Works painted this during a full moon thus increasing the prayers 1000 fold. I am currently spinning a soft green merino that I am knitting into a shawl. As I spin and knit I say the mantra and wish loving kindness and compassion to all beings.

Finally, I have two photos of my spindles hung from my fireplace mantle. These are all of my spindles except my Bossies, for which I will build a special display.