Saturday, December 8, 2007

Long drought

I have been moping around for several weeks mourning the loss of my primary method of income. I got laid off from my company in a large group of people right before Thanksgiving. Nice, huh? I've been looking for work online and feeling ineffectual in general as I thrash around for direction. I am sure that this will turn out for the best and I'll probably be much happier in the long run, but it is always a shock if you are not expecting it. And this is the second time in 10 years that this company laid me off. OK, I get it. Go work for somebody else.

I have been feeling a little bit sorry for myself and with Christmas coming, everything seems to make me feel like (or actually) crying. I have it way better than lots of people and I am not in any way destitute. But it's always scary to face change, especially when you didn't choose it and it blind-sided you. But I will prevail. I signed a new lease just days before I got the news so my first week was spent moving. The second week, I escaped to Tucson to visit my folks. That was nice. I took my knitting and you have already heard the bamboo sock yarn story. But I did get some knitting done.

Today I tackled organizing the garage which has become a dumping ground for all the things that won't fit in the new place. I ended up washing some suri alpaca that I had ordered. And now I have plans to mix it with some angora and try some laceweight yarn for a shawl. I have been thinking of trying a sweater again also, maybe with the handspun that I saved from the beautiful sweater I knitted that was too big for me. There's lots of it.

I also dyed some of the angora yarn a pretty gray to knit a hat for my youngest son. I was knitting one for my elder son who had asked for a green one, and the younger came up with a swatch of angora yarn that I had knitted and said "I want a hat out of THIS!" It had fuzzed up beautifully and was so soft, he could not resist it. This is a 20 year old guy and it surprised me and was so endearing because I didn't think he'd like something so soft and cuddly. Not manly enough, you know. My middle son admonished me not to make a "girlie" hat for him. 22 year olds are so conscious of their dignity. That made my youngest son's request all the more surprising and delightful. So I can't wait to finish it for him. He has been my model for his brother's hat which is helpful because his brother is 200 miles away.

I used to sew a lot of my children's clothing when they were young. Then when they became teenagers, they didn't want hand made things anymore. So I started making quilts instead. Now all the young people I know want hats and scarves and other accessories. It's fun, but I wonder if I'll have time to do the things I want for myself. Probably. Especially if I'm off work for a while. LOL But it's cool that I'm back doing some fibery things again and so I had to post about it. I'll get a picture of my youngest in his hat as soon as I finish it.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Visiting Arizona

I have been in Arizona for a week visiting my folks. It's lovely here, especially compared to Chicago. But it did rain today, that was a sight. And I go home in two days. I have gotten a lot of knitting done since I've been here. Two scarves for gifts, and a pair of socks out of the bamboo yarn I purchased in New York. However, my mom, being helpful, put the socks into the dryer and they felted pretty well. They are much fuzzier now but not very stretchy. So she tried to stretch them out again, but I don't think it did much good. They fit so well and it was their first wash. (sigh) Oh well, I will have to start over again now. I have been knitting a hat for my son out of some angora yarn and then maybe I'll start on some more socks later. Maybe on the plane back.

It's odd how you get lots of comments about what you are doing when knitting, but especially socks. A number of people seemed to think I was wasting my time when I could just buy them. They have no idea how much nicer hand knit socks can be. Can be, if they are made right. And with that pair, I felt like I had finally gotten it right. LOL I wonder if other people catch crap for hand making something that you can buy. I hate the socks you get at the Target or even Kohls. I just don't see a lot of cushy, warm, pretty socks. So I aspire to having a number of pairs of them. So they will just have to get used to me knitting socks. Especially when I am out and couldn't be quilting anyway.

I was laid off about 3 weeks ago from a job I'd been at for 10 years. And the odd thing is that I feel so much better now that I'm not working there. Granted, I am worried about getting a new job and having enough income to make it through. But I have not had a headache since I stopped going into work. So I think that things will work out well, and the nice thing is that I have extra time to make stuff before Christmas. So I will be getting out the spinning wheel and going to town. I will also try to do some quilting. It's about time to get back into it.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

It's all about the gauge

When I showed my daughter what I bought at the Sheep and Wool festival, and it was all about yarn for socks, for me. It was crazy at Tony Neil's booth in NY, her shop is called "The Fold", because she had the "Socks that Rock" yarn and everyone was mad for it. I have used it and liked it as well, so I nosed over there late Sunday and they had a few colorways in the medium yarn left, so I bought one. I am lucky in that Tony's shop is in Merango, IL only about 40 minutes from me. So I can go there any time. Her booth was absolutely mobbed during the whole show, so I imagine she did very well. I also got some cashmere and some cashmere/silk blend from her to play with - beautiful stuff. It was a good price too for cashmere. I want to knit my daughter a wedding veil and am looking for the best fiber to spin yarn for it.

So anyway, I bought a lot of sock yarn because I'd love to have a drawer full of home made socks. The only problem is that the perfect knitted sock evades me. I have made 4 pair and the Socks that Rock pair is the only one I'd consider wearing. But it's still a bit too big. And the issue, I found out, is my gauge. I had the opportunity to have a knitting diva on the trip with us and she dictated a sock for me to knit. I eagerly worked on it on the long drive from Canada to New York and discovered that it was too big. I was using a size 1 needle, on a pattern that she uses a size 2 on. So I switched to a size 0 and she still pronounced it too big. I guess I get really relaxed when I knit or something. My hands are anyway. So I started knitting as tightly as I could and I think I have the gauge now. So I frogged the thing and started over, maybe twice. But I am 2/3 the way done now and I think it will fit me snugly and not feel like steel mesh on the bottom. I am very happy and grateful to my friend for helping me with this. I am looking forward to having some socks that rock of my own. Pictures to follow soon.

I also want to say thanks to the people who leave me comments. I enjoy reading them. Yes, I will most likely sell the hat pattern and maybe the yarn that it is made with on my site. I use an 85/15 Angora/Merino blend from Samson Angora's that is amazing and beautiful. It takes about 3 oz or 1 1/2 skeins of the sportweight yarn. It is warm, and light and beautiful. So stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival

So I'm back from Rhinebeck. It was very crazy with lots of vendors and lots of people. I bought a bit of yarn for socks and a couple pounds of raw black shetland wool. It's very pretty. I also got my huge bags of combed fiber from Zeilingers and I barely fit them into the trunk to bring them home. It was a lot of driving and a lot of work. But we did pretty well because the hat that I designed was wildly popular and it sold all of her yarn the first day. So then we were out the second day. So my design was a big success. I have a picture of it so I can post it.

The weather was beautiful and there were hordes of people at the fair. I ate too much and stood on my feet too much. But all in all, it was good to get away.

Friday, October 5, 2007


I think I might be getting tired of hats. A couple friends want me to make them scarves and I will have to buy yarn for that, but that's OK. So many people think that wool is itchy, but really only commercially processed wool is itchy. They all say they are allergic to it when often it is just that the wool has a lot of pokey fibers and was not treated nicely. My handspun is soft and beautiful. I can't wear commercially processed wool, even over another shirt, yet I can wear Merino and Angora blends next to my skin. Also Alpace and yes, even Mohair. Even I was surprised about that.

I had someone who told me he was allergic to wool and yet he put on an 100% merino wool sock that I knitted and said "Oooh, this feels good". LOL But it's an uphill battle.

I love my fiber, all the different colors, and textures and lengths. There is something so sensual about natural fibers, something seductive. I love just touching them, and wearing them is so enjoyable. My first love is spinning and I need to do more of that and less hat knitting. :-P After I finish this one and write down the pattern for Leslie, anyway. I have a week to get it printed out so she can use it with her yarn at NY Sheep and Wool. I can't wait. Oh, and she picked up my two huge bags of fiber from the mill. I can't wait to see them! She says they are perfect, as I had them combed. So I am looking forward to spinning them up.

Keep on spinning!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Long time

I have not posted for a while. I finished the Celtic hat for Leslie. She decided it was too small. I was making a headband like it, so that is now the new hat. I've almost got the band done and will start the top of it soon.

She also came up for her father's 80th birthday and we had a nice visit. She showed me some spinning stuff and is trying to talk me into keeping track of my TPI. I am an intuitive spinner and she is more technical. :-P I just do it. But it would be better if my spinning was more consistent. I actually do very well, but maybe could do better with some consistency for selling stuff.

She showed me some novelty yarn spinning which was fun. I may have to try it.

I have orders from many people for things to make them. So I will be busy this fall. In two weeks, I go to the New York Sheep and Wool Festival with my friend who will have a booth there. Maybe I can sell some stuff even though she was not encouraging about the yarn. She thinks my finished items are worth more. Probably right. She is in the biz and has been for a long time.

Also, my wool that I took to WI Sheep and Wool is done at the mill and she will be picking it up for me. I can't wait to see how it turned out. I'm very excited about it. I hope she calls me when she gets it to let me know if it looks good. I had it combed so it should be beautiful.

I need a new camera for more pictures to post. That is next. So much to do!

Monday, August 20, 2007

New Pictures

OK, I finally got some pictures of me with 40 lbs less of fat to lug around. I even got a few pictures of me spinning! Very cool. I am working on designing the Celtic hat for Leslie. I have the band done. It looks good. Will post soon. I have to figure out the rest of the hat now. It is a bit snugger than the other version I did. She loved the other one but needs a hat and a headband out of 2 skeins of yarn. So I am working on accomplishing that.

I am working on my second sock also. I hope to wear them soon. I also have 3 ply Angora sock yarn from Leslie that will be so warm and soft. I can't wait to try that out. It's a nice tight ply and should wear well.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Latest projects

When I went to the fiber fair in Crystal Lake, I fell in love with a triple picker. But I also bought and have enjoyed a skein of "Socks That Rock" in shades of blue. I have now knit one sock and am on the second sock. I like the yarn, I like the pattern. I took it from the basic sock pattern in "Folk Socks" and am using small needles (USA 1) to get a cushy sock. It should be lovely to wear.

Nice. And I knitted it mostly in staff meetings. Sweet!

I also spent last Saturday spinning the final ply and plying my laceweight Lambswool and Angora fiber. I got a huge skein on the bobbin and my hands both ached when I was done. But now I have two skeins and can think about starting the shawl. I'd love to do one for Crystal, my daughter as she is getting married in May. But she may not appreciate it as she doesn't wear shawls, ever, or dresses, or anything fussy like that. So maybe I should do her a bedspread or something? I like the idea of a shawl but it may not be practical for her. Oh well, there is no accounting for taste. I have taken some pictures of my laceweight yarn.

I also took a picture of my latest quilt which was actually sewn together 3 years ago. It's just the top. I need to sandwich and quilt it.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Fiber Art Fair

There is a first annual Midwest fiber and folk art fair in Crystal Lake, IL this weekend. There was a day and a half lace knitting class that I was tempted to take. But I did not have time off work to spare. I shall have to go tomorrow though and check out the vendors and see if there is something I can' t live without. I really shouldn't go because I don't need any more fiber. I have enough to last me the rest of my life. But I must support this venture because after all, we need more fiber fairs, right? Then next weekend is the felting symposium in Madison and my favorite fiber/felting diva Leslie Samson will be there. I am hoping to get a way for a day and hang with her. I might have to bring my new significant other to meet her if he will be OK with going to a felting symposium. He's a really good sport but I'm not sure how he'll feel about it. I will have to ask him tomorrow.

I have been carding up more lamb fiber with angora to spin and have a pretty good collection now. But I'm worried about starting spinning because I want it to be active singles when I ply it and when it sits around, it tends to set the twist in a bit. I really tried to spin it well and even respun the first bobbin before plying it. Still, it seems to be kind of thready. We'll see how it behaves when I do some swatching. I might just use the square Orenburg pattern because I own it and can start it NOW. I am feeling impatient to get going.

I love the bridal shawl though. I shall have to order a few patterns when I get a bit of extra cash. They are not cheap, but are so beautiful. I also want to get the Victorian Lace Today book. Everyone else is having fun with it and I loved the preview I saw of it in the magazine. Maybe tomorrow?

I also got clever and decided to decorate my own shirts to save some money. So I bought 3 t-shirts for $10 each and then went to the fabric store. Clever me. I spent $47 on lace, sequins and 3 patterns. But if I hadn't gotten the patterns, it might have been cheaper. Still, the whole adventure was expensive after all. But I have patterns to make more shirts. I need new clothing because of losing so much weight. It's a great problem to have. LOL

Friday, June 29, 2007

Spinning Laceweight

I am spinning up some hand carded 1/2 Border Leicester lamb's wool and 1/2 4" staple Angora bunny fur. I am spinning it laceweight and have been looking at lace patterns to make a shawl for my daughter for her wedding. Not sure if she will like it or not. I am trying to get it as cobwebby as I can but it will be a 2 ply, and so it will have to be thicker than a cobweb style commercial yarn. I am spinning it as thin as I dare and it does have some variation, but it is way thinner than the last shawl I made. So I think it will look OK. The bridal shawl I see at Looks very large and will be larger in a thicker yarn. It's a beautiful shawl but it would take me a long time. I just haven't found anything I like better. So I may have to order the pattern.

I also like the Magical Earth Shawl in "A Gathering of Lace", but I think I want to make that for myself. It's not really a bridal shawl.

The kids are coming to visit me on Sunday before heading off to Navy Pier on Monday for the day. It will be fun to see them. Maybe they can meet the guy I'm dating. I also may have a chance to go to Arizona at the end of the month. It looks like I can and although it will be hotter than hell, I can spend the whole time in the pool or the air conditioning. I love the heat anyway and it will be a time for myself. Again, it would be nice to take my new guy but he says he can't get away. This is his busy time. Oh well. A free vacation is a free vacation. Plus I will get to see my parents. That's always a bonus.

Back to spinning Laceweight!

Monday, June 18, 2007

Heat Exhaustion

Man, is it ever hot in the summer wearing a long dress, hoop skirt and long sleeves. I thought I was going to die of it! It was so hot and humid last weekend. I just don't know how they did it in the olden days wearing all that clothing and working out in the heat too.

I did spinning all weekend which was fun although it seems like I did a lot of little bits and didn't get a lot done on my stuff. But hopefully I interested some new people in spinning. There were a few kids that seemed to take to it really well. I did get some knitting done and one pair of half-gloves is ready for the girls at work.

I played hookey today and went kayaking down at Lake Michigan. It was fun except when a squall kicked up and it was raining hard on us. That was a little scary out in the middle of all that water and with the wind and waves kicking up. It turned out OK though. At least I was not overheated today and I drank lots of water to help get rid of the residual headache from the heat exhaustion. Plus it'll be cold at work tomorrow. It's always cold there.

Candy (my new friend in Sauk City) gave me a big bag of wool for helping them with the spinning. It's pretty, a grey with tan tips and a nice crimp. I'll have to wash it up and make something fun with it. I got more lamb wool and Angora spun for Crystal's shawl. I still am filling up one bobbin though because the lace weight single is so fine that it doesn't take up much space. Then I have to start swatching and figure out which shawl to make. I'd love to design one but that may take too much time.

Did I mention it's really hard to relax while using a port-o-potty? I just can't tell you how much I like flush toilets. LOL Thank goodness I don't really live in civil war times. I will put up a picture of the Wisconsin river that we were by all weekend. It was so lovely there. We all enjoyed the trip, hot as it was and would go again. Plus I got fiber! That's always a big plus.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Well, I have been distracted lately from my fiberous activities. I met a new guy 2 weeks ago and have been smitten ever since. I have been spending a lot of my free time with him although I do take my knitting with me.

I am preparing to go to Sauk City Wisconsin to do a spinning/carding demo at a Civil War re-enactment over the coming weekend. That should be lots of fun. I am making some CD Spindles to take along and give out. Maybe I can addict some new folks to fiber! We can only try. LOL

I also moved my room and took all my spinning stuff downstairs with me and it's all piled up in a corner of the room. So I have to get organized before I can do much more work. I had been carding up lots of wool, washing more wool. I carded up the lamb fleece Leslie gave me with some beautiful Angora, also from her. Then I am spinning it laceweight in order to do a new shawl. I have thoughts of making something for my daughter Crystal's wedding next May. If I start now......

I have also been making half gloves for the girls at work. It's always so damn cold here that I have to wear sweaters and gloves at my desk. That's so annoying!

Well, off for now. I keep meaning to put up more pictures. :-P But Crystal took my camera cord so I have to find another way to download. (sigh) The things we do for our kids.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Too Much

I am feeling overwhelmed lately. I have more wool to wash up. I have so many knitting projects started, well 3 or 4 anyway. I have a bunch of housework to do and other things too. Plus my social life may be getting more interesting. I need to re-organize and re-arrange. I now have mechanical project to overhaul and work is busy as always. I have so much I need to take pictures of and document. Plus there are so many other things I want to do. I guess I need to make choices. LOL

I joined the lace knitting group on yahoo. It sounds like fun and I also have been looking at lace collars because of my re-enactment. I love lace knitting but it is time consuming. I am also a member of the spin list and I find I enjoy reading those 2 posts once a day or so.

I am currently combing a bunch of Targee and Targee Cross wool. I also have some BF Leichester and Romney. I got some beautiful stuff from Canada and I can't wait to figure out what to do with all that. I guess I'd better get back to work. :-)

Sunday, May 27, 2007


Acres and acres of Tulips in Ottawa. The colors were spectacular and even though I'm not a tulip fan, it was pretty cool. I had a fun time with my friend and scored big with fabric and experience which is pretty much priceless. We washed and dyed a lot of wool. We did lots and lots of driving, and it was pretty much cold and rainy the while time. But the company was wonderful and it was totally worth it.

I have been washing wool like crazy since I got home. I have a civil war re-enactment in a couple weeks and am hoping to take some of the wool with me. I also want to look into making some spindles with CDs to let the kids use. I'm doing a spinning demonstration, which should be fun. Everyone is always fascinated by it.

I have so many projects partially done for my knitting. I need to finish my other sock and do some fingerless gloves for the girls at work. I also got a beautiful baby sheep fleece from my friend that I am thinking to card with Angora and knit a wedding shawl for someone special. So much fiber, and so little time!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

More Icelandic

I am still waiting for my second batch of Icelandic wool. I hope it comes soon or I shall have to email her again and see what is up.

I tried the hand cards and reprocessed the wool that I had carded on the drum carder. I spun it up and it seemed to work reasonably well. So no nice batts or rovings, but I can make little rolags to spin from. I carded the two together because I want it to be softer. The undercoat or Thel (I think) is very soft and pretty short, but it seems to hold together. I have yet to spin a second bobbin up and ply it into a 2 ply yarn. But it should be fairly nice. Not as smooth as I'd like, but it will be nice and warm, maybe for gloves or even socks.

I am going to Canada next week to see my friend and I can't wait. Hopefully we'll do a bit of fiber stuff, and she has promised me some black Angora. I can't wait to see it. I am reading with envy the women on Spin-list going to the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival. I'd love to do that. I think I'm going to New York or something later in the year. I forget which one my friend goes to but prob NY. Then I hear the Wisconsin one is nice. So more to look forward to.

I have committed to doing spinning demos for a Civil War re-enactment in June, on Father's day actually. I also am thinking of being a vendor at a brand new fiber fair near where my daughter lives in Illinois. I could stay with her at night as it is not far from her at all. Then I might sell some of my stash and some of my friends stuff if she has anything she wants to get sell at that point.

I will post pictures of my icelandic yarn and the socks. I am still making the second one. LOL I think it's called sockitis, when you only make the first one. Ah well, so much to do, so little time.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Icelandic Wool

I bought some Icelandic fleece that came last week. I washed the white up and it is so beautiful. I love the look of the long tog with the really soft shorter thel (undercoat). However, some of the fleece is so short that I'm having trouble carding it up. My drum carder is just not working well with it. I need to try hand cards, I guess. I did spin some of the batt up and it was OK. THe yarn is a bit irregular, not as smooth as I like. But it's soft and wooly.

I am worried that the yarn will pill a lot as the thel is less than an inch long in places. I think it was only part of the fleece that was so short, but most of it is way shorter than I'm used to. It seems like it would be warm and I could always blend it with some longer wool. But would that just ruin the longer wool? Such a dilemna. I will have to ask my friend in Canada about it. Hopefully she has some experience with it.

I plan to go up to visit in a few weeks. I can't wait. It will be fun to get away. My son is supposed to go visit friends this weekend so I'll have the house to myself. That will be a treat. He's going down to do some music. I hope he has fun. I hear him downstairs practicing his beat box. LOL He is so good at that, it's amazing.

I finished one sock and will post pictures if I can get my card reader back from him. It looks good but not sure how it feels yet. Have to try it out. I have the second one started but only knit on it in the staff meetings. So every Tuesday, it gets bigger. must sleep. More pics later.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


This is a picture of my Orenburg Lace Shawl, more pics and details below.

I am making plans to go visit my friend in Canada in May. She will be participating in a doll conference and I get to go with her and do some sightseeing. She is a felting diva and does felted soft-scuplture dolls and things. It will be so much fun.

I am working on the socks still and yet another hat to send to Canada. She liked the first three, so I am pleased. I am almost done with one sock. The yarn turned out a bit firmer than I had hoped but we will see how it feels on the foot. I bought some nylon and have blended it and some angora into another batch of Polypay so I'm hoping that turns out a bit softer and maybe more durable. I have been doing a lot of carding and blending lately. I also have bought a number of fleeces on the internet lately. I'm getting some Icelandic wool which I am excited about because I have never worked with it. I'm also getting some more Polypay and Dorsett. It's tough to pass up all the goodies available right now because it is shearing season. My kids think I'm crazy, of course.

I was asked about my handspun Orenburg lace shawl. This was my very first handspinning project and my first lace knitting project. Before this, I only did scarves, LOL. I haven't put up pictures because it's hard to represent it with photos. But I have several and will post them so they can be seen. It is a beautiful shawl made with some fiber that my Canadian friend grabbed off of one of her carded Angora blended bats and gave to me. It is beautiful fiber and has a lot of Angora in it (and maybe alpaca?) which gives it that halo. But you can still see the pattern, so it works OK.

Now I am hooked on lace knitting and am planning a project with the dark brown llama that is so beautiful spun into lace weight yarn. But first, more hats!
It was a good effort for my first piece. Here it is all pinned out drying. I was amazed at how much better it looked after blocking. Wow!

And here is a closeup of the detail in the shawl. I used the Orenburg Lace Book by Carol R. Noble. I will put the title up when I find it. It's not the Gossamer Webs: The History and Techniques of Orenburg Lace Shawls, but another one by the same author. Can't remember it at the moment but they are both very good books for learning to lace knit.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Sock yarn

I have spun up some of the Polypay that I processed. I spun it a bit thick and worsted, so that it is a bit overtwisted. I then did my first skein dying project and made color bands so that when I knit it up, it will have bands of color. I will put up pictures soon.

I have been working on the hat, but I had to take 16 rows out because it was getting way too big. It was almost a sweater! This hat has been a pain to knit but it will look nice when done. I am determined to get it done in time to send to Canada with adopted daughter. I spoke to my Canadian friend and she is happy with my progress even though it has been slow. I can't wait to visit her myself. Maybe in May. We will get together and spin and geek out over fiber. She's a felting diva so we will felt up some of my overprocessed Merino. Canada should be fine in May.

Pictures coming soon of my hat and my new sock yarn. I hope it makes cushy socks!

Monday, March 26, 2007


It was a beautiful weekend. We had 70 degree temps and I did not spend much time indoors. I am trying to get another hat done to send to my friend. It is somewhat complex and has a lot of cables and twisted stitches. I hope it doesn't take forever to do. I want to finish my hats before the Sheep and Wool festival. (New York?) One of those.

I helped my mom get going on blogspot and she should be happily blogging away now. I will put links to her stuff when I get a chance. I have managed not to buy any more fiber lately. I have just been washing and combing it up. Those Russian paddle combs are vicious and I have had several nasty wounds from them. So I'm trying to get used to wearing gloves while I work. It's tough and the fiber tends to stick to them. But at least I have no more nasty wounds on my fingers.

I have gotten used to using the combs and now I kind of wish I'd gotten the english combs for my merino. Maybe one of these days when I get rich. LOL You just never have enough fiber, or enough tools to work it.

Friday, March 16, 2007


Last night I pulled all the boxes of fiber down out of my closet and went through them. I did inventory and wrote down everything I had. I pulled out all the stuff that was not clean or carded. Boy do I have a lot to process. Wow. I will be busy for a while. I am toying with the idea of an Ebay store to sell stuff and have just not decided yet. I just wonder how successful it might be, but I am having trouble letting go of the idea. So maybe I should give it a try. I just want to make more money than I spend. I need a way to pay for my habit.

And do I sell fiber or yarn? Beads? I think more people knit or crochet than do spinning. But then it will take more of my time. But I do love the raw fiber and spinning it up. And what is the best use of my time? I don't know. I need to focus on one thing but right now I feel scattered.

I am so proud. Last night my youngest son did a speech on fiber and did a spinning demonstration for his college speech class. I bagged up some fiber samples for him and labeled them. They taped it and I hope to get to check it out as soon as a friend converts it to DVD for me. Maybe he'll learn how to knit next. LOL He already knows how to cross-stitch, all my kids do.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Yarn Harlot

I was surfing the knitting books at Borders when I came across a little book that attracted my attention. It was the Yarn Harlot: The secret life of a knitter. I have read some of it and it's pretty good so far. I love her description of her yarn stash and her unfinished projects. It makes me feel a bit guilty about my blue sweater. I have been doing fiber prep and ignoring my knitting except for starting a hat for my angora buddy. I feel like I need to be finishing up her hats for the shows she will be at. The book is a lot of fun and I can tell I won't be long finishing it. Unlike my blue sweater.

I watched a video on how to card on UTube. It was strange, I didn't learn anything I didn't already know exactly. But somehow, after I watched it, suddenly things seemed easier and some of the fiber that I had been laboriously opening lock by lock and feeding into my drum carder was being combed instead with much less damage to my hands. Combing wastes more fiber, but I am saving most of it and will try carding it up on the drum carder for felting. The only thing that didn't do so great was my beautiful ruined Merino. I get less than half the fiber back, but actually, the new combs work as well as my mini combs. I got the Russian paddle combs which are only single teeth (I was disappointed about that) but they still work pretty well and do a fair amount of fiber at a time. The video is in three parts and starts at this URL

The woman in the video is seriously goofy. But it is somewhat entertaining and it seemed to help me a lot with working the combs. Now I just need to get a table to work on and find that piece of wood that holds the comb on the stand... Where on earth could it have gone to?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Hats, and more hats

I have pictures of the two hats I have finished. This first one is my 4 rib hat. I

just made this one up.

This second one is a 4 rib hat. I got this pattern from a book and converted it to a knit-in-the-round hat as it was designed knitted flat. (weird) These are both knitted in the Samson's Blizzard angora yarn. So soft and cuddly!

I spent all weekend washing and carding fleece. I love working on the fuzz but I have to figure out what to do with it all. So much fiber, so little time! I just can't retire yet to work on my fiber. So I have to keep my day job. Ah, such is life.

More projects later.

Friday, March 9, 2007

It's all about the fiber

I have been washing fleece and carding it up until my hands are sore. I did find some brown shetland that I'm going to card up with my llama and see if it makes a nice yarn. I love the 100% llama but it will be silky and not have any spring to it. I still want to make a shawl with it as well. I keep thinking I should put some of my stuff up on Ebay but I can't decide whether to put up the fiber or the yarn. I'm sure more people knit than spin. But you never know what will go.

I have a shiny new computer from work and I'm going to see if I can hook my scanner up to it. Sometimes scanning stuff gives truer colors than taking a photo. So maybe I'll try scanning my hats. I started a 3rd hat and got a 4th pattern from the web as per my friend's request. I'm looking forward to a weekend of washing, spinning and carding.

The cool thing is that my youngest son (20 yrs) has decided to do a speech on fiber preparation so I will be making little bags of fiber for people to feel. He learned to card and spin and will demonstrate his skills in class. Too cool.

I will put stuff up to look at soon, I promise.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Black Faced Cotswold

I have been working on some beautiful black faced cotwswold wool this weekend. I washed it all up and started picking the vm out of it. My left thumb is swollen is keeps cracking now because I was pulling stuff apart all day long. I have maybe 7 lbs of wool. It is beautiful silver, dark grey and blonde or brown tips. It has a really long staple although some of it is felted about 3 inches down and I've been having to loosen it up as I go. It is 7 or 8 inches long and is a medium coarse fiber with a soft loose crimp. I am separating the dark from the light and will maybe ply one strand of each to make the yarn. I also did a lot of carding on some shetland I washed up. It's pretty too. I'm gonna have to do some knitting or something that doesn't work my thumb until it rests up.

I started my diet 3 days ago and I have been hungry almost constantly. I hope this is working, it sure feels like it. If I can just keep myself distracted with fiber, maybe I won't notice being so hungry. LOL Now the weekend is over. At least the sun was out today.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

No Roadtrip

There are just too many factors so I will not be going to Canada for a fabulous fiber weekend. It's a shame and I am disappointed, but we will do it later. I will just have to do some fiber stuff on my own. I have some wool to process and a sweater to finish. I also have tons of spinning to do. My youngest son turned 20 today which is kind of scary. They grow up so fast. I also have about 6 more hats to do. I ordered a pattern that was requested of me, and I have some other ones that look promising. There is another blog poster who seems to make a lot of hats and posts the patterns. She is at I will be trying some of her stuff. I will also post up pictures and patterns from the hats I did so far.

The weather is relentless and we are getting more snow on top of ice and rain. That's one of the reasons I'm staying home. I am going to focus on sun, and then maybe we'll get some. Think warm!

Monday, February 26, 2007

More snow!

Oh my gosh, is it ever going to end? I stayed in most of the weekend hiding because of the sleet/snow/rain/snow that was going on this weekend. The trees look pretty, but I'm ready for it all to melt. And it's snowing again today as I look out the window right now! Come on Spring!
Below are 2 recent projects. This is the sweater I'm making out of my handspun that I have been working on since last July. This piece is the last sleeve and I am so ready to be done. And I'd like to wear it this year. Maybe not... It's got beads and cabling and I am getting tired of doing it. I'm pushing to finish it.

I also am adding a picture of my hand warmers that I made for work with Samson's Blizzard yarn (80% angora, 20% merino) They are so cozy and I love the bloom from the angora. So soft and warm. If anyone is interested in a kit, I can get them for you. The kit will do 2 pairs of hand warmers. My hands always get cold at work so these are great.
I also washed up a couple batches of raw Shetland wool that I bought last year. Since I am buying new fiber, I need to finish processing the other stuff. Then I have to spin, and then knit. I also want to do some dying but am timid about this still.

I think I'm going up to Canada this weekend to visit my friend. I can't wait. She is in the midst of washing and dying fleece and wants me to come up and learn from her. Plus she'll show me some spinning tips and we will probably do some felting with my ruined merino. I have been needle felting squares to put together to make fabric. And she's making Mole! I love mole. Oh, I need to add pictures of the hats I knitted for her. Oh well, maybe next time. Hope it's not snowing because it's a 9 hour drive.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Hi, My Name is Holly

And I'm a fiber addict. It's been 3 hours since my last fiber purchase...

OK, so I bought some fiber on Ebay today. And boy do I have a lot of stuff in my watch list. I bought this black faced Cotswold that has some gorgeous colors in it and I'm sure it's even prettier in person. I can't wait to see it now and am just waiting to hear my final price so I can pay her and she'll send it to me. I will put a picture up as soon as I get it. I have been diligently working on my Merino/Angora sweater. It is so pretty. I am holding off to put a picture of it up here in one piece, but I might need to do some partial shots. I'm also going to buy some English combs in the next day or so. That will be cool. Then I"ll try to comb out my ruined Merino.

I had my first comment today! How exciting. Thanks to Rita for visiting and for the nice compliments.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Dreary Days

Late February and early March can be so dreary here in the Midwest. This year is no exception. There have been a few sunny days which does help a lot, but only if I'm home feeling it stream through my windows. Otherwise, it might as well not be sunny. And today is one of those gray days where the sky and the ground are two complimentary shades of gray. (sigh)

I have been struggling over whether to start back to work on my quilting or to continue with my fiber fantasy. I am knitting hats for my friend. I have 2 done now which I need to send. I have worked on my blue sweater which only has the one sleeve yet undone. It would be nice to finish that. And I have played with my 40 lbs of ruined Merino trying to figure out what the heck I can do with so much bad stuff. And I thought the "black" Merino was good, but honestly, I see a lot of short fibers in that also, and I wonder if it was overprocessed. I thought I sent the mill a good fleece, so either I was wrong, or they goofed it up. I can't believe that it is all bad, the black and the white. I had plans for some of that stuff. My friend seemed to think the black was OK, but the white was bad. But she's a felter. From a spinner's perspective, I think it is all pretty bad.

I have tried combing the white to get out the useable parts and get about 50% of it that is worth spinning. So what to do with the rest? Make a mattress? Stuff a couch? And I will have to buy bigger combs, I'm looking at the English variety, because my mini combs are about to make me crazy with the small amounts of fiber they hold at a time. Wool, Warp and Wheel generously offered to lend me their combs until I buy some, but I haven't gotten over there yet. They are nice people, for sure. I also tried combing a bit of angora in with the white merino and that made a softer yarn which wasn't bad. But I hesitate to use my lovely angora with crap wool. If it is weakened from the process, I don't want to use it on something nice.

So I am nursing my wounds (those cards are sharp!) and trying to think about what I want to do with all that fiber. Maybe I could use it as quilt batting...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day

We are currently digging out of a huge snowstorm that hit us yesterday and the day before. We probably got 10 inches around here so I have been staying inside a lot and playing with my fiber. I went to Wool, Warp, and Wheel on Sunday and took my last spinning lesson on how to spin down fibers. We spun some yak which is very short and "downy". I'm not sure I have the technique down (no pun intended) as he had me overspin it some and it was too much. You apparently have to add a lot of twist to keep the fibers from slipping and you spin it worsted with a short draw to keep the yarn from having any air in it and creating a weak spot. I have some more yak and I also own some so I will practice this and see if I can create a nice looking yarn from it. It is apparently very warm as yak as a down fiber is very warm even when not allowed any air in it. It was interesting but I'm not sure I'm excited to do anything in yak. But it's a good technique to know so I will practice it.

I am working on a second hat for my Canadian friend and it will have some cables on it. I've never done cables before so it will be fun. I'm substituting yarn, using angora of course, so I started and tore it out probably 6 times. I think I have it now. I'm adapting a pattern that was not knit in the round, which seems weird to me. I bought this book called "Hats gloves scarves" by Louisa Harding and NONE of the hats are knit in the round. That just seems strange to me. So I am changing the patterns. It has some nice patterns in it but they are just done oddly. I don't want to make a seam on a hat, seems wasteful and will make a back to it which I don't like.

I also have been combing some of my 20 lbs of white merino that I had processed and which turned out terrible. It wasn't the mill's fault. I bought a junk fleece and added it to a nicer one I had and so there are tons of noils all through it. If I comb out the really short stuff, there is some nice merino left and I have spun that up extra fine. It is a true laceweight and I will probably make a shawl with it. It won't pill so badly if I make something that doesn't get a lot of wear. I toyed with adding angora to it but am afraid to put my beautiful angora with this questionable merino. I will save the angora to blend with some good stuff.

It is Valentine's Day which is not normally a good day to be single. But I feel grateful today to be where I am in my life. I am working to focus on the things I do have rather than dwelling on the things I don't have. I do have great friends and family and so have lots of love in my life. I feel like I have a path to follow and I intend to focus on where I am going and where I am right now. I have to keep asking myself, "What can I do right now to move in a positive direction?" And then I move to make that happen. That way I don't get bogged down or discouraged as often. Life is a journey and I am taking it one step at a time.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Not Guilty!

I ended up on a jury this week and decided on a civil case. I think the defendant was probably guilty of one of the charges but the prosecuting attorney was very green and was not able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the charges were true. So we found the defendant not guilty. It was an interesting process and I suppose it was good to have gone through it. But it is inconvenient. The people at the courthouse were nice, except for the security who took my tweezers. :-P

I did some spinning and knitting in the jury assembly room and while waiting for stuff. I received several inquiries about what I was doing and everyone seemed interested in both the knitting and the spinning too. An older woman who came here from Poland who now lives in Vernon Hills chatted with me and talked about knitting. She looked at my Vogue Knitting magazine and took a card from it. She said something about me teaching her but it sounded like she knew how to knit. I gave her my contact information and she may get ahold of me. It was interesting. I like working out in public because it always generates interesting discussion.

I'd love to start a fiber group in the area. It would be fun to go places, hang out and knit/spin/crochet or whatever. It is always fun to share.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007


Wow, it has been so cold here the last few days that it has made up for the whole rest of the winter. I'm sorry but 31 below zero is just insanity. It snowed today to add insult to injury although usually I feel that if it's going to have to be cold, it might as well snow. But at this point, I'm thinking that it's February and shouldn't it be getting warmer yet?

I have been taking my knitting into our staff meeting at work. We are a small group and my boss has a great sense of humor so I always get funny looks and comments. But I have persisted and they are starting to be interested in what I'm doing. I work with almost all men and they are younger than me. So they ask what I'm doing and if it's for them. LOL So I took my angora hat in today and discovered I had an error. Ooops. So I did more unknitting than knitting. But overall, for the day I'm at a net gain. I'm thinking that angora anything would feel good at this point because angora is so warm.

That's it. I mostly wanted to complain about the weather. But I like knitting in the meetings. Usually I get so impatient while they chat about stuff, but if I knit, it's bearable. Plus I actually pay better attention. So they can tease all they want. It makes me happy.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Jury Duty

I went to my first day of Jury Duty ever. It was a very strange experience. I had cleaned out my purse but forgotten my tweezers, so the guard confiscated them saying they were "pointy". My son Phillip said I should have asked for a demonstration of how I'd hurt someone with them, but I think it was probably prudent not to do that. I heard some woman complaining about the treatment and she was evicted. I just don't know how you'd hold someone up with a nail file, or clippers or tweezers. It's too bizarre.

Then I went and sat in the jury "assembly" room all day. There was no internet and it was very cold near the windows because it was -13 out there. I sat and knitted and listened to audio books until they finally told us we could go home. They never called my number but I did get to see a video on how to be a juror. For that, we get paid $5 a day plus $5 for lunch and some kind of travel allowance.

I've been tasked with knitting some hats for my friend with her angora yarn. I keep looking for a really nice pattern but haven't seen one yet. So I spent a lot of time today looking at and trying different stitches to see if I could figure out something fancy. But I ended up with a 3 stitch rib and I'll do a plain one first. I played with my beads all weekend and my mom says she did also. I made 3 new necklaces and am trying a 4 strand necklace for the first time. It is hard for me to figure out how to do more than one strand. So I'll post a picture when I get it done. If I figure out a fancy pattern for my hats, I'll post that as well. So if anyone ever finds and reads my blog, they'll get a free pattern.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Back Home again

Well, we are home now, or at least, I am. My purse is much lighter but my suitcase was heavier. I bought some fun things and had to drag all my beads out this morning so I could play. It was a fun time with my parents and several lovely friends. We had a great time and laughed a great deal.

My friend gave me some beautiful rainbow roving with angora in it. It is soft and so gorgeous, I can't wait to spin it up. I gave her some of my yummy llama to make a hat with. I also was given some beautiful angora yarn to knit into hats. Now I get to go look for a fun pattern!

I was kind of cranky on the trip because I didn't really have a project with me and found myself with empty hands the few times I was actually not shopping for beads. So I am excited to have some things to work on. Plus I love working with angora as it is so soft to touch and works up so beautifully. I have a pair of fingerless gloves out of this yarn and also made a scarf with it. It is amazingly soft and warm.

Monday, January 29, 2007

So many beads,so little time.

Well, we have been shopping the bead and gem shows like crazy. There is stuff all over the city and we have been tramping around in search of treasure. The variety and sheer volume of product is overwhelming and it gives me ideas of how to incorporate more beads and things into my designs. We have had fun although our feet and our shoulders (heavy bags) have been suffering a little bit. We did take a break from beads today and visited the Biosphere which was pretty interesting. It was a beautiful day with lots of sunshine and temps in the low 70ies. Off to more bead shows tomorrow and Wednesday. Then it's back to snowy Chicago on Friday.

Saturday, January 27, 2007


OK, we are in Arizona ready to go off and look for bargains at the annual Gem and Fossil show. There are a bewildering array of vendors and we will be lucky to see 1/10th of it today. Mom and Dad are being great hosts as usual. They, me, and our guests are having great fun getting to know each other and unwinding from our busy lives. The sun is out, the gems are sparkly and we are off in seach of treasure!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Short Draw

We learned short draw techniques tonight in my advanced spinning class. Or rather, I refined them because I had done some short draw spinning before, purely by accident. It's a great way to spin short fibers and also to spin worsted. If you are wanting to spin a lusterous fiber, it will keep a lot of its luster when you spin it worsted (not fuzzy). We are supposed to spin yak in our last class but I will be in Tucson, Arizona at the Gem and Fossil show. We leave this Friday (1 more day) and I can't wait. I am going with friends and visiting my parents there, so what could be better? All that and semi-precious beads! We will be in heaven for sure since Mom and Dad have a hot tub. Not to mention lots of sun.

Off to get some sleep and figure out what to pack. The hand spindle goes for sure!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


OK, I know it's really boring to have a blog and not write anything on it. Let's see, things I am doing lately.... I have felt the pull to start quilting again so I am working on finishing some of my works in progress. I have also been working to finish my bead and lace sweater that I have been working on for 8 months or so now. I hand spun periwinkle merino with a bit of white angora blended in and have been making a sweater I saw in the Knitters magazine. I will post a photo soon.

I got some gorgeous dark brown llama back from the mill which I am spinning fine and I plan to design an Orenburg lace shawl for a pattern and knit it into that. The yarn is so silky and soft. I never knew llama was so beautiful. I love alpaca, but this de-haired llama is amazing. It also makes a strong and soft felt because the staple length is so long. As my Canadian friend Leslie says "you could lasso a moose with that stuff!" LOL I love that.

Speaking of Leslie, she gave me a shoebox just crammed full of 4" long white angora bunny fur from one of her best German angora rabbits for Christmas. It is amazing stuff also. I never tire of taking off the box top and just feeling it's softness and warmth. Wow, that's orgasmic. I am agonizing over what to make with 4" long angora. It has to be amazing, whatever it is. What to blend, what to knit or weave? Decisions, decisions. But first, I finish some of the things I'm doing. I am also in process on a felted vest with knitted sleeves. Again the fiber is compliments of my amazing felting diva friend from Canada. She makes amazing fiber blends and colors and yarns. She doesn't have an online shop yet but she needs to get one, for sure.

I started an advanced spinning class in January and have learned some things already. I can't wait for the next two classes. I also joined the spin-list on yahoo and have already met some very nice people. It seems to be a kinder, gentler environment than some of the other lists I've been on. So check it out. More later!