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I’m at a loss this morning. Over the last 23 days I have established a new routine that has been ceremoniously ended. Considering there was a huge ceremony at the start and and the end, there was nothing UN-ceremonious about this process however there is now a gap in my day that needs to be filled else-ways. I am, of course, speaking of the recently ended Winter Olympics 2014.
I have tried “Olympic” knitting in the past but generally set myself either goals that were too lofty or was not living anywhere where I could even watch the Olympics so it was difficult to get into the spirit of the process. In 2012 there was a rather large kerfuffle with the USOC and the use of the term “Ravelympics”, namely they were put out that a legion of knitters would ‘make fun of the effort that olympians put forth’ and would, in general, bring shame to the idea of and word of “Olympics”. There was a huge change on Ravelry to put the legal overkillers at rest and there was launched the renamed the “Ravelympics” as the “Ravellenic Games” and there are a barrage of teams and prizes and rules and basically a massive headache to those of us who, like me, tend to keep to the Yarn Harlots vision of The Knitting Olympics, since it was her invention. I “boycotted” those games because I was just too angry at both our litigious society and the monster that had been created in people but this year I reclaimed the Knitting Olympics as my own.
My goal was to turn this beautiful yarn:
from Fancy Image Yarns in the perfect Seahawks colourway into socks for Mike who had been cheering the ‘Hawks all season and was still charged because of the SuperBowl win.
I cast on during the opening ceremonies and cast off the second sock on the Friday before the Games ended. These socks feature the “Fish Lips Kiss Heel” which was a first for my sock knitting but certainly won’t be the last, in fact I’ve already cast on another pair to use this heel with. It fits so very well and looks beautiful on the foot, mine and Mikes! Here is a cool interview with the Sox Therapist, creator of the FLKH. If you are on Ravelry and knit socks, I HIGHLY suggest you buy this heel pattern. Best $1 I’ve EVER spent on my knitting.
Because being a monogamous knitter is so NOT in my genes, I had to get into another project too and while its not strictly “Olympic Knitting” because it was started before, it was my goal to get it done before closing ceremonies.
This was the pattern: Song of the Sea
This is the unblocked long cowl that I made from my handspun!
It is soaking in its bath of Soak right now and will be laid out to dry as soon as I finish this post here. The true joy of this project is that it was sheep fluff and worm spit when I got my hands on it and now it is a beautiful, wearable and perfectly wearable object in so many ways. I need to do more with my handspun because I always feel so accomplished when I have a finished project.
Now its over and instead of spending the morning with Mike on the couch watching CBC and the Olympics live, because the US coverage SUCKED, I have had to find some other way to begin my morning. Good thing I’ve started running again, beginning again today, because that was the perfect way to put forth my own Olympic effort. Getting up and going running in the rain and cold? Yes, it was an Olympic effort and while I’ll not be anywhere close to the 26.2mile maintained 6 minute mile that I would need to qualify myself for a Summer Games in this lifetime, I’ll keep running all the same.
Where the heck did January go? As I am trying to get back into the blogging saddle, I keep wanting to talk about…everything that has gone on since I last posted and, as it has been just this side of seemingly forever, it is a monumental task that overwhelms me and I don’t post anything. So here I am, telling you about my day today and my right now:
Craft Lit, one of my long-standing favourite podcasts is going to be starting the reading and analysis of “North and South” by Elizabeth Gaskell. In the excitement building, Heather is having give-aways, in the form of raffles, every day from the site and in posting about it here, I get another entry into the drawing!
I am drinking my butter coffee again and I swear that it gives me more energy in the single cup than multiple ones of my traditional coffee (with 2T of Coffeemate) does. I feel more awake and nearly jittery and while I DON’T like the ‘jittery’, I do love the energy and the ‘must move now’ feeling that goes with it.
I frogged a shawl that I was designing and using my hand-spun yarn for because I found a pattern that I love very much and think that it will be perfect for this particular colourway. First the yarn: It was was the October 2012 colourway from Into The Whirled club and was inspired by this photo:
The softness of the merino and the shine of the silk made this lovely to work with. I kept the braid intact and spun end to end and then N-plyed it to keep the colour progression intact and LOVE the way it feels and came out. I have had this finished yarn for ages and have been wondering what I was to make with it. And then I found this perfect pattern. The pattern is called “Song of the Sea“(Rav link) by Louise Zass-Bangham who blogs over at Inspiration Knits and who wrote about this pattern in this blog post. I plan on starting this very soon, maybe even today!
I have multiple spinning projects and, like always, multiple socks on the go and I’ll update you with those projects one at a time over the next few days.
Its good to be back.
Someone recently said to me, “If you think that time flies now, just wait until you have children!”. Well as there are no children, save for those borrowed from my friends and family in my future plans, I’ll just have to settle for time passing at my own appalling rate.
I have been…busy…since I last blogged in so many, many ways.
My joy of fibre continues. My spinning had been amazing and I’m working on this Into the Whirled, in Mandarin (an old club offering on BFL) and this Enchanted Knoll , in Johnny Jump-Up on Superwash Merino. More on the spinning soon because , OH BOY, do I have something to show you!!
I have been knitting, but not so much in the last week due to an unfortunate injury:
Pepper was rather put out that we left her at home when we went on our recent camping trip to Salt Creek Recreation Area and didn’t let her seen the pod of Orcas or chase chipmunks and get tangled up like Sisu did so she took out her vengeance on my leg, claws and teeth, after purring and rubbing into me 5 seconds before. I swatted at her, missed, hit the wall and heating vent and damaged my fingers badly enough for x-rays, good painkillers and at least 2 weeks in splints to protect me. Yes, they still hurt 1 week in but I finally have some mobility back though I cannot make a fist or touch those fingers to my palm without pain and actually, they won’t bend that far at all, pain or no. I am not impressed with myself.
The biggest part of what I’ve been doing? Running. Finishing the Rhody Run with my friends was the start of my real training for the Seattle 10k and my mileage has only grown from there. So much so that I have these to proudly display: Bruised toenails #1 and #2. They are my external display of my long runs and I couldn’t be happier or more proud of myself. 11 weeks ago I was dreading the idea of 8 miles whereas now, my last long run was 13 miles in 2.5hours.
Oh yeah. And I’ve been cooking and kitchen experimenting daily, bought a sewing machine and have made pj bottoms, skirts and an amazing infinity dress that I LOVE, have a successful herb garden in my strawberry pot, been reading and listening with voracity and spent far less time with my camera than I intend to do in the future. And intend to keep this blog going as I know I have missed sharing and need to write again.
Oh this project…
I bought this fiber back when I begun spinning and what a lucky purchase it was. I had seen it on Etsy and messaged the dyer to see if she would dye it for me. I learned 2 things from this exchange.
#1: You always should ask because the worst they say is no.
#2: You always should ask how much if you haven’t seen the original listing.
I was a little shocked when the bill came but chalked it up to learning and the cost of cashmere.
I would do it again instantly if I found another listing that sang to me the way this did.
This beautiful fiber came out of its packaging every few months to get pet and admired and then put away as I realised that I was no where near the spinner I needed to be to delve into this gorgeous stuff and give it its due.
After I finished Intentions, I needed a break from BFL and thought that, after all this time of spinning consistantly, it was time to get in there…and it was.
The fiber spun as from a dream and the colours were beyond my hopes.
The plying was perfect and preserved those colour repeats that I wanted to hold on to.
The knitting was more bliss as I began a simple shawl with a 3 stitch garter edge with a YO and then YOs next to the spine stitch before YO next tot the other garter edge.
It worked up beautifully.
As I got to the end of my ball, I thought that simple lace faggoting would be the perfect way to finish.
I worked until I could feel the end was nigh and began my cast off with JSSBO. I knew it would take a good deal of yarn so saved myself what I thought would be perfect.
I was close.
6 stitches close.
There was weeping and gnashing of teeth. Ask M. There was cursing too.
Lucky for me, I was binding off in the brilliant line-green section of yarn and I just happened to have some lime green yarn that is a very nearly perfect match. You can’t tell unless I point it out to you.
The blocking was magical, as it always is, and the simple lace is perfect.
I wear this scarf/shawl often and it is the project that I stick into my bag daily if I don’t wrap it around my neck before leaving. The cashmere and superwash merino couldn’t have been a more perfect blend and this project is sheer perfection in every possible way.
This was the fiber that I scored on Freecycle: 2 llama, 2 alpaca and 1 random surprise sheep fleeces from an animal rescue in this area.
In order of photos: Bags o’ Fiber, Alpaca #1, Alpaca #1 close up, Llama #1, Llama #2, Me with llamas 1 and 2.
Now, most of the llama that you see in the photos with me in it above was far too fragile to be processed, sad but true. This happens when animals aren’t fed properly or on a regular schedule and aren’t treated right because the stress has an impact on their hair growth. But, that beautiful chocolate brown? Oh baby, it was super soft even when dusty and dirty so I divided it from the other colours and told Barry (of Taylored Fibers) that, if anything, I wanted him to process this in particular. He looked at it and thought that it would be OK and, if that was what I wanted, would try it. Best. Decision. Ever.
The alpaca I picked through to get out the vegetation and de-haired (that long, string-y looking thing in the 2nd photos). Just like the chocolate llama, so, so soft and I knew that it would be a beautiful roving once that lighter cream tips were mixed with those beautiful milky coffee patches. Holy. Alpaca. Its so pretty and so very soft.
What you don’t see is that in the Alpaca #2 bag, which just went to Barry on the 15th, there was a random sheep fleece as a surprise! The most surprising part was that this fleece wasn’t completely loaded with VM and actually was in very good shape. When I had Barry assess the Alpaca #2, the sheep fleece just fell out of the bag and I was thrilled that it was something not only salvageable but a great find to boot. The crimp is lovely and with a 3-4″ staple and soft enough to be close to skin worn, this turned into a perfect white roving.
Take a look at my beautiful new roving: From L to R: Alpaca (4), Sheep (3), Llama (2)
And this perfect milk chocolate of the llama? Heavenly.
All told, I have 24.3 oz / 1.5 lbs of llama, 39.75 oz / 2.5 lbs of sheep and 47.3 oz / 2.95 lbs of alpaca.
And there is more wool coming within the month from Barry, both sheep and alpaca.
off my wheel and start with one of these beautiful natural wools. Which to choose becomes the new conundrum!
On the final day of the 4th Annual Olympic Peninsula Fiber Farm Tour, I visited Compass Rose Farm and their Icelandic sheep.
One of the first things that grabbed me was the colours of the sheep. Not just black, brown, grey and white but all types of shades that comes from different breeding. Light brown, dark brown, brown-black, red brown, tan, carmael, brown with white/grey/black/different brown spots grey, silver, grey-black, white white, off white, white with brown/black/grey spots, black with white/brown/grey spots, black-brown, black black…the list goes on and on and on…
And, just for MORE variety, there were two guard llamas looking on. Yes, guard llamas. And, just as their sheep are different colours, they are too!
I had a wonderful talk about the sheep themselves and breeding practises in the US versus Iceland (for multi-coloured wool here vs meat and milk there) and the practises of Compass Rose Farm. It makes me so glad to hear that breeding for colour and fine-ness are hand in hand for them.
After talking sheep for a while, I then looked around a bit more and admired their garden and plants and realised that I really like their set-up with the chip lined pathways…
but kept being drawn back to the animals.
It was a wonderful visit. They also have bees, though I failed to photograph their 3 hives. Like most of the farms that we visited, these lovely folks have chickens too, 4 different breeds, and I had to buy some eggs.
And yes, since you asked, some wool DID follow me home. There was a beautiful black for Mike, much more black than the dark grey (dark brown) Romney we found yesterday but with enough character for me than I won’t feel like I’m spinning into an abyss. 26 ounces (1.625 lbs) in 2 bumps.
36 ounces (2.25lbs) in 2 bumps. It was love at first sight and no, I’m not sorry at all that there is barely any room in the
spare room wool room. If I could have still fed my family and bought the rest of the cinnamon tweed, I would have. Granted, if I had bought it, I would have needed less fiber to clothe us but I didn’t think it would be in our best interests.
All in all, this has been such a stellar weekend. The weather has been lovely, the people super friendly, the animals beautiful and the fiber abundant. While at Taylored Fibers, Barry showed me the rescue/freecycle llama, alpaca and random breed of sheep wool fleeces that he had washed and was ready for the carding machine in the next few weeks. With glee I gave over the Shetland and two other alpaca fleeces and should have those in 6 weeks or so. I am so very excited about getting started spinning all my new lovely wool so the real question becomes: Which do I spin first? Suri Alpaca? Jacob? Romney? Icelandic Black or Cinnamon?
So many choices came into being this weekend, we shan’t speak of the beautiful colours that are already in the stash or coming from the ITW club. While I’m selling my Ladybug this weekend, I am sorely tempted to get another wheel so I can have multiple projects going at once! Wouldn’t it be smart to have two though? One for natural colours, one for those beautiful dyed woolies? Makes sense to me!
This weekend is the Fourth Annual Olympic Peninsula Fiber Farm Tour and I can’t tell you how excited I have been waiting for it to arrive. Last year, I was all excited about going and then I didn’t have a job so no real money for fiber…but this year there was no problems what-so-ever.
Mike and I started our tour with a stop at Metro Bagels for our Chai (regular for him, soy for me) and bagels (plain bagel with jalapeno cheddar cream cheese for him, parmesan bagel with sun-dried tomato and garlic cream cheese for me). We have a tradition of starting out our explorations with a breakfast from them and haven’t seen any reason to stop yet! Everything goes better with chai and bagels to begin with and today was no exception.
We arrived at Ananda Hills promptly at 10am and spent over an hour talking and walking around there, admiring the tomato hot house, the guardian dogs with the chickens, seeing the Shetland sheep hiding in the hills and right outside the barn door, and talking for a long time with J and C, the amazing people who own and run the place. I don’t think we could have had a better start to our day than visiting with them!
Out to Quilcene we went and onto Jacob’s Fleece where we met the lovely JG and her flock of Jacob sheep. Talk about colours! They have such a distinctive look and I must say, I have a ‘thing’ for critters with spots so they really appealed to me.
Finally for today we stopped at Taylored Fibers, home of the Taylors and their fantastic fiber processing business in addition to seeing their Chevoit sheep. I had quite a lot of alpaca to drop off for processing as well as something else that I’ll show you in a moment, but what I was really looking forward to doing was meeting Judith MacKenzie. She was lovely and I hope that someday I’ll be able to take a class with her. Fiber people are just some of the best people there are, I swear its true.
Because we had to head home for a delivery, there is one more farm to visit on the tour and we’ll see them tomorrow. We had a fantastic day visiting the sheep and their farms and their owners and I can’t wait to do more tomorrow.
One last thing…did you think that I could visit sheep and shepherds and not bring home souvenirs? Nope, me neither and that would be why I brought my checkbook.
From Ananda Farm, I found a perfect Shetland in multiple shades of brown. In a world where historically colours have often been bred out in search of the “perfect” white, I can’t tell you how excited I am. Actually, I can: Excited enough that I forgot to take a photo of the bag ‘o fleece before I handed it over to Barry Taylor and only have the sample of the locks that I pulled aside for myself!
From Spring Hill Farm: 2 bumps of Dark Grey Romney, 15.75 and 15.25oz = 31oz (1oz shy of 2 lbs)
Now, in the direct sun, you can see that they look MUCH more brown…but with myself casting a shadow:
Quite a bit more grey. Mike picked this out for himself so I am already plotting a project with him in mind!
Jan was spinning some of this herself and I just loved the tweed-y way the colours were blending.
I also picked up 2 ounces of pure heaven in batt form from Karen Rose of Rosebud fibers, a Port Townsend local company. I was powerless to resist and you can see why:
At Taylored Fibers, I dropped off my lovely new Shetland to be processed…along with 2 alpaca fleeces. One was a 3+ pound cria fleece that I had been lucky enough to A) find on freecycle, B) be the first person to respond to the posting, C) have 2 years of growth, not the normal 1 and D) have Judith MacKenzie look at it just prior to me handing it over for processing and nearly have her swoon. She laughed and was enthralled and could have knocked me over with a feather when she told me that she had bought some alpaca fleece recently that was nearly exactly like this…for $65/lb. Seriously. I knew that it was something special, so fine and long and just lustrous but now I’m even more excited about it!
The second was a birthday present from my amazing sister J. She went to a fair in MI and walked thru the shearing and showing barn where alpaca fiber was on display. After looking around and feeling and talking to people, she made a purchase of 3 pounds of cream alpaca with a gorgeous crimp to it. It has a 2-3″ staple and is so lovely. I feel so lucky to have such a thoughtful sister!
All told, I have…a LOT of fiber now. Alpaca, llama and wool that were an amazing find from freecycle, alpaca from my sister, Romney, Shetland and Jacob from local sheep AND some lovely brown from Friday Harbor sheep that I cannot, for the life of me, remember the breed! I have satisfied my want for natural wools for…most likely the rest of my life.
And tomorrow I get to visit Icelandic sheep…and THAT will be it. Really.
Yesterday was an amazing day for me. Not for any particularly profound reason…actually yes, it was a very profound reason. Yesterday, after just over 2 years of spinning, I finished the Intentions fibers. Remember these ?
Yup. All (nearly) done. The last two, Perserverence and Strength are still on the bobbins waiting to be plied, hence the nearing/nearly completion/done parts but still, I cannot convey to you the feelings of…Power? Amazingness? Fulfillment? Relief? Emptiness? Just the feelings that are flowing thru me right now. For the first time in 2 years, I have an empty wheel and no idea what I want to (and that WANT is a new feeling too, far different from the ‘need’ to move to the next fiber in the series) put on it. Those last two should sit for a few days, plenty of time for a whole new bump to slide through my fingers, but I haven’t a real idea what I want to spin next. I’ve looked at my stash and picked up and put down bumps and braids countless times, all with the feeling of “Yes…No…Meh…No…Yes”.
For the most part, I took photos and jotted notes of my Intentional Journey along the way. “Joy” is the exception to that rule. I must have been so joy-ful in my spinning that I got wrapped up and clearly forgot to photograph anything except the finished yarn! For a while there, I was posting the process and the photos here on the blog. And then I moved and life got in the way and now I have a backlog that I am getting through 🙂 In the next few weeks, look forward to those posts and photos here, as well as my pleas for pattern ideas as what to do with the yarns themselves.
I must have been nuts to think I could do it all, and think mindfully about each, in a year.
3.75 pounds of Superwash BFL. 15 different colourways. 24 months. Intentional thoughts and spinning.
I am so pleased with myself.
As I told you way back at the end of April, I got a Matchless spinning wheel from Sheri at The Loopy Ewe.
Let me tell you…I LOVE IT.
The very first thing that I did was try spinning in double drive. Now, for those of you who aren’t in the know, there are three ways that a rotation of the big wheel can spin the bobbin. They are called Scotch tension, Irish tension and Double Drive. Lucky for me, the Matchless does all three(YouTube clip to show what I’m talking about.). One of the many reasons that I love this wheel so much!
In Irish Tension, the drive is over the bobbin and the brake is (often) an additional piece. This is often referred to as “Bobbin Lead” spinning. When I first learned to spin, I learned on a Louet S10 which has the whorl built right onto the bobbin itself and the brake is a strap of leather that lays over the end of the flyer and can be adjusted for more or less tension.
In Scotch Tension, the brake band (the one applying tension) is over the bobbin and the drive band is around the whorl (connecting it to the large wheel). In the Matchless this is a loop of string with a spring at the far end and one can adjust the tension by turning a knob. This is called “Single Drive” spinning. This was how my Ladybug was originally set up and how I kept spinning for 3 years. I could have attempted Double Drive…but never did.
In Double Drive, the drive band is looped twice around the wheel forming a figure 8 and then each of those loops are placed, one over the whorl, one over the bobbin. The downside to DD is that beginners can easily overspin and end up with rope-like yarns. The upside is that this is a WAY more efficient method of spinning…at least for me. I can’t believe that I never tried this before.
I’ve been putting my wheel, and myself, thru its paces and can honestly say that I love this wheel more and more every time I sit to spin. Yes, it is quite a bit heavier than my ‘bug but I find that I like that. The only downside is the lazy kate set up. I really loved the onboard kate that the Ladybug had because of ease of plying. I felt like I had good control and liked that the singles were feeding from directly in front of me. With the Matchless Lazy Kate, I have a glaring issue: The Kate can only hold 3 bobbins. That means that, at max with this tensioned kate, I can only make a three-ply yarn. Not that I’ve made a 4-ply more than once before but I liked the option! Plus, I have 5 Woolee Winder bobbins so that means there is always this one lone bobbin, full or empty, just sitting on a shelf somewhere. Dislike.
The more I spin, the more I’m very happy with my purchase and the more I love spinning…now, off to do so!
It is amazing to me how slowly time can go in the morning.
Today, I was rudely awoken at 630 and while it wasn’t dark (far from it, there were sunbeams!), it was still only 6 and a half hours from when I put my book down and I closed my eyes. As the cat clawed at my arms, I pushed her off, saw the clock and thought, ‘just half hour more’…and then the attacked my toes and all thoughts of sleeping went right out the window. I got up, showered, dressed, pin curled my hair and took a seat to review my plan of action for the day. Had some coffee and just as my coffee is getting cold, I looked at the clock. 8am. Really? When I have to get ready for work the times flies by! When I’m at work the evening races and when I get home it seems like its only a few minutes before its 1am and I finally feel like I could sleep. But mornings…they are special to me. I hear the birds singing, I feel the earth warming up, I can see the sun filtering through the trees…it is just this special time for me and I really love mornings in general. Granted, in the recent past I was sleeping until 9 or 10 so it wasnt so much “morning” anymore but just in this past week or so I have been making more of an effort to get up and get going by 8 and in the last few days I’ve been up closer to 7.
Because the insane part of me forgot how classes can add up on you if you aren’t paying attention and decided to take not 1, not 2 but 3 classes this 11 week term in addition to working full time. That is 14 credits; a full-time student. Not only do those classes meet online and have extensive “discussions” but two of them (Anatomy and Physiology 2 and Microbiology) have in-person labs which mean 6 Saturdays, 1 per month per class, I get to spend in Renton, a 2+ hour drive for a 4 hour lab. Did I mention that one of those begins at 8am? Not looking forward to that one so much because of the freakishly early start time for my driving, especially since I highly doubt that M will want to go to that one with me. He is coming with me today though for my first day of lab and for that I am very grateful.
So here I am. Trying to manage my time well to get in classes and work and Oh, did I mention that I’m supposed to be training for three races? Yeah, the first one is on May 20th and I am far from ready. My schedule for this upcoming month is going to be packed with the addition of focused running so I don’t A) Hurt myself and/or B) make a fool of myself come the 20th.
Oh wait…did I mention that I am still trying to knit and spin to save my sanity? Yup, there is still a lot of both going on in Chez Sisu, especially now since I bought the wheel of my dreams. She is a Schacht Matchless and is everything that I could have ever wanted. There will be photos of her to come, along with a review.
All in all, I am so very happy with my busy-ness and actually am getting more done. I focus my time and effort on one thing at a time and it all gets done and I’m happy with the results. I still do some things via multi-tasking. I listen and watch A&P lectures while I spin, pausing to take notes every once in a while. I knit mindlessly while reading texts. I take my texts to work with me and read during my dinner break (not while knitting too, just reading). I set dinner to cook while participating in online discussions. The one thing that I can’t multi-task is the running…which is a good thing. With so much else going on, I think that I need that one task that takes me away from it all. But I’ll have to get back to you on that…I haven’t run in over a week now simply because it was not something I could multi-task!