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Archive for August, 2011


My First Yarn

Dear Ellen,

dsc03314.JPGdsc03307.JPGdsc03308.JPGI have yarn!!  And lots of it — 545 yards of beautiful bluefaced dsc03310.JPGleister spun on my Jenkins Meadowlark turkish spindle from 4 ounces hand painted in the Rivendell colorway by Kimber of Kimber Baldwin Designs.  Last night  I skeined it as you recommended, soaked it in some Soak, gave it a dozen whacks and hung it out to dry.  By the time I got home from work it was dsc03313.JPGdsc03312.JPGdry and fluffy and gorgeous.  I fondled it for a bit and then I amazed Dale by twisting it up into a very professional looking skein.  I can’t wait to cast on!

Love, Jan

After the Storm

Dear Ellen,

dsc03299.JPGdsc03304.JPGMax and Ruby were very content to ride out the storm on cushy blankets.  But now it is past.  It was amazing how quickly it went from dark and dreary to sunny and blue.  And it appears we got through pretty well unscathed.    There are some trees down across our path in the woods.   dsc03300.JPGdsc03302.JPGdsc03298.JPG  And our farmer may have lost some of his corn crop…not sure.  (These shots taken about an hour earlier than the ones at the beginning of this post…like I said, amazing change.)  If the flattening of the corn isn’t total, it might still dry out and the combine could get in there.  Keep your fingers crossed for him, he’s a nice guy.

dsc03303.JPGI finished spinning the singles of the BFL last night as hoped and have started the plying. Once plied, do I need to whack it?  I presume that would be in a soaked/squeezed condition prior to hanging to dry with a weight?  There is about 310 yards wrapped around the box and another 140 or so (my best guess) either on or headed towards the spindle. That means I should have enough for Saroyan…and I think this would be great yarn for that pattern.

Love, Jan

What is the Air-Speed Velocity of a Fully Laden Lark?

Dear Ellen,

dsc03292.JPGI am down to about 12 grams left to spin of the BFL from Fiber Optic.  I expect to move through a good bit (or all of that) tonight, so eager am I to move on to the DesigknitPolwarth from Erica.   I do have a pretty sizable cake to ply.  I’m not sure how much this lark is carrying, but as you can see, it’s quite fully laden.  I never found it to develop any aerodynamic issues despite the load.  It did become pretty heavy though — and I had to shorted the drafting span to make sure it’s weight didn’t  pull the loose fibers so quickly that they wouldn’t have enough time to take the wrap.  I may not get the plying done tonight, but the cakes seem to be happy to just rest after I remove the spindle.

2011-hurricane-season-google-chrome-8272011-52406-pm.jpgWe’ll get some other whirling tonight — the winds from Irene!  Right now we’re just getting a few light gusts accompanied by a steady rain.  We’re at the farm to ride out the storm…I understand DC has lost power in a lot of areas already.  Our forecast is for up to 6-7 inches in the next 36 hours.  Glad we’re on high ground!  And I’m glad all of our daughters are not inside the high threat areas in Brooklyn!

Love, Jan

This one’s for Alison and Paula…

Dear Jan,

112.jpgI’m pretty sure this young ‘un came looking for that pretty yarn that was hanging off the deck last night.

Or maybe for one of the squirrels that have been hanging around the bird feeder.

We told the kiddens they were not allowed to play with this guest.

Love,

Ellen

Armsful of yarn…

Dear Jan,

42.jpgI had asked folks to estimate the yardage of the fiber I’d spun; perhaps I should have asked them to estimate how many armsful I’d end up with.  The answer: one, but a very full one.

62.jpgIn yards, the answer is 1396.  This means Jocelyn, with a guess of 1430, came in very close indeed and is our winner.  Nicely done!  Joce, I don’t seem to have your address, so if you would, send it my way and I’ll get something fun in the mail to you right away.

32.jpg51.jpgI got it all washed tonight, too, and it seems to be well balanced.  It pudged up just a bit with the wash – see the before (left) and after (right) to see how a dip let the woolen yarn bloom with a nice little halo.  I’d estimate this to be a light worsted weight once it finishes drying.

22.jpgWashing 10 skeins and keeping track of which label goes on which skein takes some doing.  I wash them all at once in the washing machine set for no agitation, soaking them and then spinning them out without rinsing.  I used Kookabura woolen wash – no rinsing required.  To keep the labels matched with the skeins, I letter the tags A, B, C… and then tie a light colored yarn around the skein and knot it with 1 knot = A, 2 = B, and so on.  After they are dry I’ll replace the labels and will know just what yardage is in each skein.

111.jpgOn an unrelated note, except perhaps for the streaks of dark brown on their sides, this week’s bean is San Franciscano from Rancho Gordo.  They cooked up into a fudgy texture mass – the beans mashed easily as they were stirred and just beg to become refried beans.  They would also be awesome baked beans if you like yours to be thick and squooshy.

Kind of like my new yarn.

Love,

Ellen

Fair Winds Fiber

Dear Ellen,

dsc03282.JPGdsc03289.JPGYou are quite good at keeping a secret.  I don’t know if you put her up to it, but for weeks Erica of DesigKnit has had a surprise up her sleeve.  Inspired by the picture of Argus and Io that I posted to our blog a while back, she did a special dye of some beautiful Polwarth — it’s called Fair Winds Peacock.  And it was waiting for me when we arrived at the farm last week.  dsc03285.JPGAs I told her, you could hear my “SQUEE!” all the way in the next county.  These pictures are taken with some of Argus’ molted tail feathers…amazing how accurately she hit the colors.  In the last picture I did some photo-editing to super-saturate the colors just for fun.  I tell you, no super-saturation needed — it is a stunning braid of fiber and I’m so looking forward to spinning it.  Thank you, Erica!!  XOXOXO!!!

dsc03261.JPGdsc03279.JPGI’ve got to get the BFL finished first though.  I thought I might spin a bit of the Polwarth to try it out this weekend, but I find I’m compulsively monogamous when it comes to this spinning thing.  I’m a little over half way through the braid I bought at Sock Summit, so although it must wait, the Polwarth won’t wait TOO long.  I love the little mongolian yurts that come off of the turkish spindles.  At least that’s what they look like to me.  This one is about 24 grams of single ply.  The picture of the 2-ply is about 250 yards or so.

dsc03249.JPGI don’t think I put up any pictures of the finished Sweater from Down Under, did I?  Here it is and I’m very pleased with it.  Despite the little pook of belly sticking out, the vertical celtic cabling has a pretty nice slimming effect.  And it has a comfortable sweatshirt feel to it so is going to get a lot of wear, of that I’m certain.  I feel “handsome” with it on — very warm too, so the wearing will wait till this fall or winter.

dsc03262.JPGdsc03265.JPGdsc03266.JPGI took the dogs hiking about the property this weekend and as always we found some interesting things.  Here is a delicate little flower growing by it’s lonesome in the corn.  It looked like morning glory to me, but it was mid-afternoon, so must just be a relative.  And here is corn that has been shucked and eaten while still on the stalk.  I’m almost certain it was deer…you can see where there has been some serious tramping in the areas where this corn on a stick buffet has gone.

dsc03268.JPGAs we rounded the corner to come back up the driveway I got a full view of the farmhouse.  I had to catch my breath.  There is not doubt that we have many, many good times ahead of us here.  Makes me realize that I’m really about ready to make a transition.  By this time next year I hope I can finish up my work with the Navy and make myself into a full time farmer and designer.  Happy thoughts.

Happy thoughts to you for the coming week!  Love, Jan

I’ll be wearing my skeiny jeans tomorrow…

Dear Jan,

110.jpgPlying is finished – 23 storage bobbins (edited to clarify) of singles worth turned into somewhere between 6 to 12 wheel bobbins full of 3-ply! I still have several bobbins to wind off into skeins.  That may get done tomorrow, or it may not make it until Monday evening.  This means THERE IS STILL TIME FOR CONTEST ENTRIES!

Enter by posting a comment with a guess as to the final yardage on my post from August 17 in which contest details are explained.  I’m still figuring out the prize – should I send that extra birthday something to you or turn it into contest winnings?  😉

After a quiet Saturday, I really need to get some work done on Sunday, so no guessing for me – it is time for bed!

Love,

Ellen

P.S. I edited to clarify that I was talking about how many storage bobbins of singles I’ve plyed up.  I’m not saying exactly how many wheel bobbins – that would give too much away!  I did not finish skeining tonight, so if I’ve led anyone astray with my unclear language, feel free to amend your estimate before 11:59 PM central time on Monday.

No knitting on a stick this year…

Hi, Jan,

Life has been busy.  When I finally stopped to look up the MN state fair entry date, I discovered the deadline was the previous day.   I guess that simplifies things, doesn’t it?

I’ll spend the time I’d normally spend dropping off and picking up entries by continuing to ply the singles I mentioned a couple of posts ago.  There’s still time to enter the contest – I’m barely halfway done.  If you haven’t guessed how many yards I’ll end up with, please comment on the contest post now.

Cheers,

Ellen

Knitting Newbie!

Dear Ellen,

dsc03133.JPGdsc03135.JPGI had to take a quick moment to show off one of our community’s newest knitter…our niece Jessie!  She spent some time with us last month and she has embraced our craft with gusto.  I’m very proud of her, she is doing GREAT!  And she mastered the long-tail cast on with just one sitting.  Watch for great things from her!  I hope we’ll have her back on the farm soon.  The doggies do too.

Love, Jan

Memories…

Dear Ellen,

dsc03233.JPGdsc03239.JPGdsc03236.JPGdsc03235.JPGdsc03237.JPGSock Summit is a memory, well a collection of memories…and a pile of loot.  I took the formidable mountain of yarn, fiber and knitting related tools and gadgets that I acquired in Portland up to the farm this weekend.  Once there I had a wonderful time reliving the great times we had up there as I went through it all.  Not a single regret in the pile.  Here it all is — from several angles.

dsc03242.JPGdsc03248.JPGdsc03246.JPGI loved the stitch marker swap you so brilliantly conceived and executed.  Unfortunately one cellie’s marker (the green acorn) is missing from this first picture.  I was quite alarmed.  But I found it when I went through the larger collection — can you spot it?  And don’t you just grin whenever you see the cellie in her tiara??

dsc03148.JPGdsc03157.JPGClasses were so FABU!!! Cat Bordhi, Amy Singer, Kate Atherley, Gayle Roehm,…FRANKLIN HABIT!!  He really helped me up my game in the photo department.  Just take a look at how my Lingonberry Scarf photographed using my “normal” settings…and then look at how rich the chocolate color appears after adopting his advice.  dsc03172.JPGdsc03166.JPGAnd getting the color right on my Hugs and Kisses Socks previously thwarted me.  Not any more!  Also, he taught us that when photographing socks, you really need to have the camera at an angle that is flattering, the most flattering of which captures a side view of and arched foot like on a mannequin.  Much nicer than the many “self portraits” of socks on the knitters’ foot from above.  A sure recipe for cankles!

dsc03230.JPGAnd I have to admit that I’ve succumbed to the spinning bug…18 grams of the BFL that I bought at Fiber Optic is now plied into a lovely fingering weight yarn…and about 9 more grams are a single ply.  The photo here is the one you took of my first mini-mini-skein spun from that sample I picked up in the market place.  There will be more photos of my spinning in the future, I’m sure.  The zen quality of the repetitive motion with no patterns or variety of manipulation allow me to empty my mind — something I surely need these days.  (No comments from the peanut gallery regards how easy you might imagine that to be!)

dsc03175.JPGdsc03176.JPGdsc03177.JPGdsc03174.JPGVCC and VCP and I had a great time being treated like royalty at the nail salon.  There are many other great memories too…meeting Carin of The Knit Wits during the podcaster meetup — and Paula from The Knitting Pipeline too.  (Darn!  I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture!)   

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You laughed so hard it looked like you would choke (yourself)… thedsc03182.JPGdsc03190.JPGdsc03183.JPGdsc03184.JPG other cellies laughed a lot too!  And we saw sheep, yarn bombing and lots of young knitters…enough to make your heart sing! 

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dsc03189.JPGOf course the very best part was spending a week with you and our cellies.  So very much fun, so very much laughter, so very much love.  It was like we went through a magical portal into another dimension.

Love, Jan