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.