Thursday, April 28, 2005

A Wheel!

Look what followed me home! A spinning wheel. Okay, maybe she didn't exactly follow me home without coercion, I had to rent her. Still, with a tune up provided by Louise she is spinning beautifully and without complaint. Yipee!

Image hosted by

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

First Lesson

I had my first spinning lesson today and it was a blast. To my great relief I had no significant problems, unlike my FIRST small attempt to spin in high school 28 years ago. (Good grief has it been that long!) At that time I had taken a Fiber Arts class and spinning was the one thing that I had extreme difficulty with. So glad that this time around it is going much better.

I spun on my teacher's Ashford Traditional and other than a bit of trouble with the treadling I think I did pretty well. Louise was kind enough to let me try several different fibers in various forms. My favorite was some beautiful chocolate brown "stuff". I'm ashamed to admit I can't remember what she said it was. Lamb maybe? Anyway it was gorgeous and I found it quite easy to spin. I reached my limit when she handed me a bit of Merino. I'm not ready for that lovely wool! It kept slipping away from me. I WILL conquer it some day. Merino is just too lovely to wear to give up that easily.

My Elann subscription came today while I was out. There is a beautiful shawl pattern advertised there as well as a yarn I would like to knit a sweater from....but I still have yarn in my studio that is waiting to become a sweater too. Aargh! So many hobbies, so little time!

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Celtic Cross Purse

It's done. The project that has been taking up much of my knitting time lately and has been frustrating me to no end.

Image hosted by

The knitting was relatively easy once I got past the "how to-s" of knitting it in one piece (the box corners were tricky). I think it turned out very well.

Image hosted by

The sewing of the lining is what nearly did me in.

Image hosted by

I bought fabric and a zipper THREE times and spent three days sewing and ripping, sewing and ripping before I got it right. In the end though it was worth it as I love my new little purse. Just DON'T ask me to do it again!

I designed this purse using the graph from the Celtic Knot Pullover. I made the purse rigid by creating an internal structure of plastic needlepoint canvas. It doesn't show because of the lining. Between the plastic canvas and the outside knitted panel I placed a small layer of quilt batting to give the purse a softly rounded look.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Herd That Roving

Shelby looks to be part Border Collie. We can't be sure, she was a "mixed breed" puppy (Shelby doesn't care for the word "mongrel"). We bought her from the SPCA who had rescued her from a backyard full of miscellaneous interbreeding canines. If her tendency to herd roving is any indication, I would think that somewhere in the line her forefathers did include some breed of herding dog. When I put this wool roving down to take a picture she circled and sniffed, circled and sniffed. Having tasted wool in the past she resisted the urge to nip at its flanks.

Image hosted by

I have now completely spun up and plyed the Coopworth Top that I started with. I haven't yet decided what to do with it. This new stuff, a hand dyed roving, is proving much more difficult to work with. The fibers don't slide apart as easily and my resulting yarn is thicker and uneven. Kind of discouraging when I was doing so well with the top.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Guild Meeting

I went to a drop-in, casual gathering of a few of the members of the local Spinners and Weavers Guild yesterday morning. The ladies were very helpful and answered a lot of my newby questions. I showed them my spindling efforts and they seemed impressed that I was able to do as well as I did with only a few days practice and using an homemade spindle.

I returned in the evening for their formal meeting and have decided to join the guild. I was hoping I could rent one of their spinning wheels right away, but there is a waiting period of several months before a new member is allowed to rent equipment. *sigh* I really don't blame them though. They wouldn't want to lose their expense spinning wheels.

One of the members overheard me saying how disappointed I was about not being allowed access to the spinning wheels right away, and she stepped forward and offered to teach me how to spin and to let me use one of her spare wheels. I wish I could just rush right out and buy one, but every spinner I have talked to has cautioned me to try spinning on many different styles and makes of wheels before making a purchase.

I originally thought I would want one of those fairy tale type spinning wheels, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that a smaller travel wheel would probably be better. I likely would want to take it to lessons and guild meetings. A smaller size would actually be more practical in the house too. A local woman sells many different wheels and is willing to let people try them. I'll have to learn to spin a bit and then go talk to her. She also happens to be the closest source of spinning fiber.

The guild also has many looms all warped with "group projects" and for a small fee that covers the cost of supplies you can sign up and weave off one of whatever they are making. At the moment there is a tea towel, a Christmas table runner, and a chenille rug/wallhanging that can be done. As the warping of the loom is what I DON'T like to do, this situation is ideal for me. Maybe once I have gotten back into weaving a bit I will be able to face the task of warping my own little 8-shaft table loom.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Spinning, Knitting and *gag* Sewing

The drop spindle spinning continues. I love it and even though I have been busy with other pursuits I have still managed to find snippets of time to spin for a bit. My resulting singles are improving with each spindle full. My addiction deepens!

In other fiber arts arenas, I have been working away on the knitted purse I started and posted a picture of a while back. It is taking quite some time but it is almost done and it is turning out lovely. Unfortunately lining it requires that I do some sewing. I used to love sewing but avoid it as much as possible now. I find it aggravating and also hard on my back. Last night's attempts proved that aggravation and back pain are still very much a part of sewing for me. Hopefully today after hunting down some more lining (I trashed the first lot!), I will get this sewing over with and will have a finished purse to show you tomorrow.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Fledgling Spinner

I've spun enough wool to knit you a sweater......if you are a hamster and don't mind lumpy, bumpy, uneven sweaters.

Image hosted by

I went to FibreFest 2005 in Abbotsford BC. When I first walked in the door I thought perhaps there was not enough there to entertain me for an hour let alone the entire afternoon/evening that I had set aside. It seemed smaller than last year's, and I figured wandering the booths and looking thoroughly at all the wares would take me an hour, tops. I had forgotten about all the free demonstrations I had marked down as "must attend". From 2:00 until 5:30 I was watching one interesting demonstration after another, all free.

I saw a woman making socks on an antique sock making machine. That was fascinating, but not knowledge I could make use of.

There was an "Australian Locker Hooking" demonstration. A craft so easy that I am sure I could pick it up without further instruction. It is a method of taking unspun, wool roving and making a berber type rug from it. I was given a square of rug hooking canvas to take home and try out the technique.

I briefly watched a demonstration on Scandinavian horse hair spinning. "Briefly" because it was only a few minutes before my severe allergy to horses started acting up and I had to move off.

There was a demonstration of how to spin multi colored roving(?) in various manners to produce wildly different effects. This was too advanced for me, having at that time, not spun at all, but I did find it interesting and tried to glean what I could for future reference.

Then there was the demo that may have launched a whole new obsession for me. A woman and her young daughter (11) showed how to spindle spin. They made it look easy. It's not. Well, not at first anyway. I bought a book on spindle spinning and have since learned that it is often used as a first step to learning to spin on a wheel. An experienced wheel spinner apparently has far less trouble learning to spindle spin.

Anyway, I bought 100g of "Coopworth Top" and the spindling book, and went home and made myself a few spindles out of wooden toy wheels, dowelling, and cup hooks. I made a "top whorl" and a "bottom whorl". So far, for me, I find the bottom whorl easier to use.

In the above picture, the ball of wool is the first spindle full. I have plied it and wound it into a ball. There is about one ounce and it is very uneven. My second spindle full is looking much better. I am getting a more consistent and thinner result.

Spinning is mesmerizing and addictive. Even if I was not ever able to feed my other passion (knitting) with the end result, I think I would STILL want to buy a spinning wheel and pursue this further.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Raw Chicken Hats

My daughter and I have finished our Raw Chicken Hats.

Image hosted by

I altered the pattern a little and made the drumsticks larger. It looks more chickeny, but less like a Viking hat now so I don't know if it was an improvement or not. I kinda like it both ways.

In other news:

Clementine Cadiddlehopper goes "On the Road".

I took Clementine to the local knitters' meeting last night and Debbie, of Auntie Debbie's Knit and Stitch, asked if she could take Clementine along to "Fibrefest International" being held this weekend in Abbotsford, BC at the Tradex Centre. Clementine gets in free. I'll have to pay.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Sleepless Night

A few weeks ago I was in Fabricland looking for buttons and in passing saw a great set of purse handles. I was thinking at the time that they would look nice on a felted purse. I'm not too much into felting, mainly because I have a front load washer which makes felting more difficult to do. Still, the handles played on the back of my mind.

Gradually an idea developed. I went back for the handles and put them aside percolating an idea for a knitted, but not felted purse. While I was in Michaels looking for the eyes for Clementine I found some natural colored cotton and the idea became a little clearer.

Image hosted by

I still wasn't sure exactly what pattern I would put on the bag. Something aran style for sure, but what? Ever since I knit The Celtic Knot Pullover I have been thinking that the graphed design would make a nice cushion or bag, so that became the main idea. I'll expand the motif so that it is larger. I wanted it to be more than just a central motif though.

The idea of making a side panel, like that on a box style pillow, began formulating. My search for the perfect stitch pattern for the panel was aided by the chance finding of "The Harmony Guide to Aran Knitting" at a second hand book store. (Awesome book if you are into designing your own Arans).

I got a start on the bag, but puzzling over details like how to turn the box corners, how big to make it, how many stitches to cast on, seams finishes and the like kept me awake all night. I WENT to bed, I just didn't sleep much. Here is the beginning:

Image hosted by

Monday, April 11, 2005

Clementine Cadiddlehopper

Meet Clementine Cadiddlehopper, made for no other reason than her exceptional cuteness.

Image hosted by

note: Although they look different in the picture, the ears ARE the same length.

I started with the knitting pattern for "Fluffy" from Bernat's "Animal Farm" Booklet. You can see it at the Mary Maxim site by typing "Fluffy" into their search bar.

As you can see, Mary Maxim's "Fluffy" and my "Clementine" are not identical. I bought my supplies locally and could not find an animal nose in the proper size. I had to embroider mine. From there on out, Clementine took on a life of her own. While I was in the process of making her she looked first like a harp seal, then a beaver, and until I lengthened the ears, a fluffy white puppy. It wasn't until I started soft sculpturing the face (an innovation of my own) that she finally started looking like the bunny she was meant to be. It was the overbite than finally made the difference.

Image hosted by

Sunday, April 10, 2005

A Little Scattered.

I'm actively working on a number of knitting projects at once right now. That really isn't my normal style. I usually work on one thing exclusively, if not until finished, at least until all interest in it dies and I toss it aside to work exclusively on something else.

I'm participating in the "Raw Chicken Viking Hat Knit-along", so have been working on that sporadically. Here is how it looks so far, drumsticks and Earflaps yet to be added.

Image hosted by

I also have the "Shapely Tank" on the go and pick that up whenever I have time. No progress pictures with that one, just imagine miles and miles of stockinette in plain white. *yawn*

Road trips have me working on another pair of socks, this pair in a more sedate colorway than those last, bright yellow ones. I expect this project to take quite some time. I usually only knit socks while traveling or while watching TV (which I don't do a lot of).

In between all this I jumped into yet another project. I was looking through the Mary Maxim catalogue and saw something I found quite useless but totally irresistible. I was able to find the pattern at the LYS and the necessary yarns at Zellers and I was off and knitting. Two days later the project is finished and looking great. Check in tomorrow for the official unveiling when I have a picture or two to show. Until then it's exact nature shall remain a secret.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Summer Knitty

Have you seen the Summer issue of "Knitty"? Lately I haven't found much that interests me in the way of patterns in printed magazines, but this issue of "Knitty" has a few that I would actually like to knit some day. I have an annoying tendency to forget where I came across free internet patterns by the time I am ready to knit them, so this time I have printed them off to stash in my pattern binder.

I really liked the "Branching Out" scarf. I even have a yarn or two in my stash that would work for this.

"Soleil" is also a possible future project, although not likely this year. Does the lace edging look to matronly to you?

"W" really caught my eye. This is one top that hand painted or variegated yarn might really work well with. The short row shaping really gives the color variegation an artsy look instead of the usual "grandma's acrylic nightmare" effect.

I'm not sure if I would ever knit or wear "Cleaves", but I have to admit that the idea does make sense. I often wear tank tops in the heat of the summer, but then as the evening turns chilly I wish that I had a set of sleeves I could pull on.

I'm also printing off "Hot Tamale" even though I don't ever wear skirts anymore. It's the graphed flames that I am interested in. I think they would look great on the bottom edge of a sweater. Knitted up they might be interesting as a backdrop to my "Wovenflame" header too.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Drinking Too Much

Normally I'm up by 5:30 in the morning and while I pack my husband's lunch and chat with him, I drink one of these.

Image hosted by

It's what my husband calls my "flower pot" of coffee. It holds a full 16 oz of coffee. I love that mug. It "feels right" in my hand. The handle is just right, the weight is perfect, and it has a sturdy-not-going-to-knock-it-over feel to it.

I used to justify the size of my mug by saying that he was having two cups from his "regular" size mug while I only had one of my "flower pots". Except over the past year I have gradually been going back for a little more, and yet some more, until now I am wanting to have TWO of my monster mugs full of coffee before I face my day. If he drinks a little more than I expected, (meaning I get less than I expected), I feel annoyed. This is not good.

It is my philosophy that it is dangerous to feel you NEED something. (Other than your basic food/shelter). To "need" something is to wander onto the slippery slope of addiction. Addiction controls its victim. Addiction can warp judgment and sometimes cause a compromise of values that are held dear.

Think of the drug addict that steals to support his addiction; The mother whose infant sits unattended while she lies in a drunken stupor; The parents who can't afford to clothe their children decently but somehow find the money for a two-pack-a-day habit; The smoker with lung disease so severe that he carries oxygen with him, but after picking up his inhaler prescription, stops on the way out of the store to lean on the counter and wheeze out his request for yet another carton of cigarettes.

In those situations, who is in control, who is making the decisions, the person or their addiction?

I slept in this morning which meant that my body didn't get its usual ingestion of early morning caffeine. I awoke to muscle cramps, lethargy and a bad mood. An addiction to coffee won't make me neglect my children or break into your home to find the money for my next "fix", but taken to excess it can damage my health. Good health is a wonderful thing to have. It's worth protecting.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Doin' the Chicken

Not the bird, the recipe or the dance, I'm doin' the HAT. I've joined the Raw Chicken Viking Hat Knit-a-long.

Getting exactly the right shade for raw chicken skin is a challenge. After much searching in my local area I came up with these "ingredients", and at bargain bin prices too! (What, no one wanted to knit a wool sweater the color of chicken skin?!)

Image hosted by

Why would someone want to knit a hat that looks like a raw chicken? Well, I don't know. Maybe because there is far too much seriousness in this world and we all need a good belly laugh. I'm not the only one in my family to be nutty enough to join this knit-a-long. My daughter purchased all the necessary ingredients too.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Deja vu

Shelby says she has the strangest feeling that she has seen these newly finished socks before!

Image hosted by

Well, not quite Shelby. You have seen their mismatched cousins here a few months ago. After knitting four socks, I now have one matching pair.....and a spare.

This is what the first "pair" looked like:

Image hosted by

Of the four socks I knit, 3 are identical or, at least very similar. The fourth is like a distantly related cousin.

Many thanks to for their excellent customer service in quickly sending replacement yarn.