In which we talked about making sure our listeners could hear our podcast, Madrona, why alpaca are like kindergarteners, zumba, Nemo, Madrona, our perfect yarn shop, designing by starting with a concept and designing by starting with the yarn, Madrona, how easy patterns can still bite you, the History on Two Needles winner, Madrona, The Fiber Factor competition, Madrona, and Madrona.
I have started rooting for the owls to come out during the daytime.
While watching the squirrels raid our feeder, I’ve been working on my Fiber Fusion sweater. After the precision demanded by the Master Knitter program, the freedom to create a knit fabric that is organic and rustic and in which I have no preconceived notion of the final garment is quite freeing.
I did get back that first round submission, by the way. I’m pleased with how I did. Several swatches to reknit or reblock, a few more swatches to rewrite, plus a reknit of the wrister (I forgot a row in the pattern - huh!?). But the big happy is that all of the reports were accepted! Lisa and I will start back on our work this week.
I’ve decided I’m going to make the Decibella cowl by Gale Zucker. It just keeps haunting me with its magnitudeness. (I’m sure that is a word.) But I didn’t want to spend the big buck for the big yarn suggested. Good thing I know how to make my own!
I’m using the cerulean blue fleece, colored in the remnants of the dyebath that I used for all that 5-ply yarn I spun a while ago, drum carded and spun into singles.
I saved a chunk of the last batt to blend on the drum carder with some more of the natural colored fiber. The misty blue that resulted is equally enchanting.
Six plies of each makes for bulky yarns with just enough contrast for interest, and close enough that your eyes won’t hurt looking at the cowl.
Too bad I don’t have that cowl done already as we are getting socked by a good snow. Nothing like out east this weekend, but enough that getting to work in the morning will be challenging. And that morning will come fast enough, so bye for now.
In which we talk about new eggs and new alpaca, spring coming to Minnesota on owl’s wings, fiber retreats for both of us, Master Knitter returns, shetland ponies in fair isle sweaters, yarn design for a bulky cowl, fulling and felting, a kindness of knitters, electric blankets for the car and emerald green.
Jan is delighted to report that the alpaca are laying eggs now. Wait, I mean the hens are laying eggs. The alpaca came afterwards - all EIGHT of them.
Ellen enjoyed the SavvyGirls at their recent talk at a Minnesota Knitters’ Guild meeting.
Jan attended Tina’s Fiber Retreat and had a wonderful time with a kindness of knitters (listen to the kindly comments at ~11:00).
Ellen attended the Knitajourney Midwinter Retreat and had a wonderful time with a kindness of knitters (listen to more kindly comments at ~20:00).
Ellen also listened to some signs of kinder weather to come when she was serenaded by great horned owls during their courting rituals (~24:45).
Susan Dolph of the Knitajourney Podcast shared her thoughts on the weekend and looks back at what her podcast gave to her and continues to give to the fiber community (~26:40).
In On the Runway, Jan shares she is working on the Wham Bam Thank You Lamb! neckwarmer. She continues on her Death Spiral shawl (design by Erica Gunn). Ellen’s Fiber Fusion sweater is seeing good progress. Ellen’s Blue Moons Cardigan has come out of eclipse (Forestry by Veronik Avery). As she recorded, she worked on Rimfrost, aka Many Moments of Grace.
Jan avoided being nipped by her knitting, but Ellen did not. In Bitten by Your Knittin’, she explained that a short skein (only 88 grams instead of 100), shorted the last two mystery knits in her series of 6 (really, you won’t hear of these again until they go public). She also explained that her Master Knitter Level II submission came back from The Knitters Guild of America committee who judged it. Yes, she has to reknit a few swatches. No, she doesn’t have to rewrite that report!
Neither twin had anything to report in Finely or Finally Knit, but both admired the lovely Fair Isle sweaters on those chubby Shetland ponies.
In Design Principles, Ellen challenged Jan to design a bulky yarn for a Decibella cowl, Gale Zucker’s recent design.
Ellen recommends that you embellish your car, especially if you live in MN, with an electric blanket. It is really wonderful on those subzero mornings. She got hers at Menard’s.
In 360 degrees, Ellen reports that she has already started spinning the singles for the yarn she designed in Design Principles. Jan has plied her burgundy and black alpaca and silk from a local Pennsylvania alpaca farm and spun and plied a gorgeous merino and silk gradient from Fiber Optic Yarns.
In Fiber Jargon, Jan and Ellen discuss felting and fulling. The use of the terms is changing, but Ellen still likes the traditional use. But Ellen wholeheartedly supports the use of a “kindness of knitters”, the collective noun for a group of knitters that was coined by Paula of the Knitting Pipeline.
Enjoy the episode!
*RAP - Random Act of Pattern. See the Friends of KnitPurlGurl Ravelry group for more info.
In which we congratulate Erin of “The Anatomy of Knitting” on her two new baby boys, chat about the rewards of preventative medicine and Jan’s adventures and misadventures at the Pennsylvania Farm Show, listen to an interview with alpaca princesses and a local youth fleece to shawl competition team, avoid the worst of Jan’s flu experience, review knits on and off the needle, get into a disagreement over fulling and felting, offer some tips for finding fiber arts classes that will make you happy you took them, drool over edible roving, discuss how dye helps you find tippy tips of tippy fleeces, learn a tip to eliminate ladders in garter stitch knit on dpn’s in the round and look forward to fiber retreats this weekend and next.
I am finally finding time to make headway on my project for the Fiber Fusion Design class taught by Steven Berg at his StevenBe Workshop. Steven had a career in Big Fashion before becoming one of the most creative and beloved LYS owners in the country, and he is teaching us how to apply some of the approaches they took to making designer knitwear.
Basically, you work from a sewing pattern to identify basic shapes that work with your inspiration. My inspiration was the small skeins of various handspun wools I have, including some rare breeds. I thought something like this tunic would suit streaks of knitting in various colors.
We traced the rough design of the pattern pieces on tag board, I sketched in my rough plans for shaping and knitting direction, and away we went. I finished the right front back in December and today got much of the way through the left front. It goes fast at this gauge!
Lisa is taking this course with me. You can see her progress on her Ravelry page (actually, I think she is already finished - she ain’t called Turbogal for nothin’!) She and Steven want me to keep the little rubber butterflies that were part of the art yarn I’m using to liven up my natural colored handspun skeins. I want me to be able to wear this sweater in public, so I’m not sure how long they will last. For now, I guess it is kind of fun to have them hovering over the work.
Time to go hover over the pillow.
…Penguin, that is.
We had, as always, a wonderful gathering for the holidays at our house. The entire family on Wilson’s side (with the notable exception of Wilson’s own daughters and son-in-law (mine, too, I haven’t been keeping something from you)) came for a rolicking-good time. In our heartbreak over our offspring being responsible working adults who couldn’t make it across half a continent to see us for a day, we had to adopt a new child.
Peterson helped Merry bake cookies.
and helped Mom cook dinner.
Peterson chose yet more cookies to bake.
Peterson snacked with Paula on Wilson’s famous party mix while waiting for cookies to come out of the oven.
When Wilson hung the Shining Hippo** on the top of the tree, Peterson was there to catch him if he fell.
Peterson listened as Dad read Silver Packages,
and went on the cold (and short) Christmas Eve walk with Margaret and Merry and Jon and Wilson and me.
Wilson helped Jon open gifts,
and wore Beauty Bows with Mom.
Peterson was concerned about the menu for dinner,
but wholly approved the job Marty and Dad did in constructing shelves for the new closet.
All that work made Peterson sleepy. (Poison was sleepy from general naughtiness.)
Peterson thinks feathers are better, but still found carding wool to be fun if you get to do it with Margaret and Mom.
And Peterson even pulled a New Year’s Eve cracker with me. He was brave and didn’t cry when it went off.
Don’t worry, Karen, Brandon, and Jenny. Peterson doesn’t take up much space. There is always room for you.
*In the Fun Facts to Know and Tell category, Roger Tory P. was known by the nickname King Penguin.
**Newlyweds, be careful of little jokes you make like hanging a cheap pompon ornament at the top of your tree because you don’t have a star. It is amazing what will stick for 32 years.
In which we discuss much holiday fun and frolic with family and lots of food, update each other on a miserly quantity of completed knitting, have zero actual spinning going on, chat about the gleener, note the trick to the Channel Island cast on, and offer up our intentions to have better resolution in 2013.
Detailed show notes can be found in the podcast page over on the righthand sidebar of the blog, or click HERE.
I surely have felt fenced in of late. The post-surgical complications (nothing too serious, dear readers) have been a figurative and literal pain in the……okay, okay, I won’t go there. I was going a bit stir crazy, but I’m very happy to report that in just the last few days I have seen a dramatic increase in my ability to sit upright without doing additional damage or suffering some very discrete yet powerful pain. This translates directly into my being able to do things with my hands like knitting, doing needlepoint, needlefelting, etc. One is far
less likely to go insane more able to entertain oneself when not limited to lying about on one’s stomach. This has yielded a number of completed projects on which I’ll focus most of the rest of this blog post (assuming anyone who reads this blog also listens to the podcast so I don’t need to tell them about Thanksgiving or the chickens).
I will comment on one other item though — Dale, with some help from Allen, Heidi, one of our teenaged neighbors and me (on the very last short board so I could say I helped) has completed putting up the posts and rails for our first paddock. Isn’t it fabulous? (Okay, it’s a crappy picture from Dale’s very old phone, but at least you get the idea.) We (and by we, I mean Dale) still have to put in the gates and trim the posts to height, but the hardest work is finished. I’m now working on the shopping list for halters, water troughs, hay racks and medical supplies. I can’t wait to see alpaca inside that fence.
Now to those finished projects. I’m really pleased with my Spring Grove Tocque and Mitts. They’re knit from yarn produced by Spring Grove Alpaca Ranch — our intended source for our first alpaca. (But you can only see the tocque here, and not yet blocked at that — imagine very similar mitts till I post a picture some day.) Carl, the owner was so generous with his time and alpaca for the wedding that I wanted to knit him something to repay him. I think he will appreciate it doubly since they’re made from his yarn — a lovely sport weight in natural fawn and tan colors provided kindly by the alpacas Prediction and Ellamy. I do so love knitting with alpaca yarn — kitten belly soft (TM).
I also created a little menagerie of fiber friends to keep me company in my confinement. They are all needlefelted, most have a partial or complete pipecleaner armature. Each one only took a few hours to complete — pretty quick and I think they turned out really cute. Each is the representation of a well loved pet. Can you pick out Max and Ruby? These guys are destined to find themselves under a Christmas tree (or in a stocking). I’ll miss them, but by then I should be able to be out and about and talking to humans. (No, I haven’t been talking to these guys….much.)
I also knocked out a handful of felted ornaments — 2 sheep, a snowman and a whoopie pie. I gave the little Wensleydale to my friend Jeri who raises them. The little snowman went to our knit group ornament exchange. Dale will get the whoopie pie and I get the little white and black sheep (perhaps a Suffolk?) is for me. I think I need to add a ribbon to the whoopie pie to make sure Dale doesn’t think he can eat it.
And Show Me Your Larch Pack is finished!! Off the needles, pieced and photographed…though not blocked yet. I do think you can see it’s fantastic potential in these photos — just imagine what it will look like after a good wet blocking. I am so looking forward to wearing it.
I haven’t cast on Pretty Thing yet, but I hope to before the weekend is over. I’ve got some other things to get done, so I’d better get to it if I’m going to get this posted and pick out yarn!
After the miles of worsted lace weight spinning (well, maybe not miles, but perhaps a quarter mile) I’ve done lately, I needed some instant gratification. A batt - I needed to spin a batt with a woolen draw and to make it interesting I’d try to spin at a little heavier gauge than I have a tendency to do.
I made a trek to the Chamber of Secrets and the icy blue batt that from the drum carding class I took last spring practically jumped into my hands. It is lustrous Coopworth fiber from Carol Wagner at Hidden Valley Farm and Woolen Mill, mostly in blues & teals but with a smidge of yellow and yes, to spice it up, a little bit of pink. (I know, I don’t do pink. Yet there it is.) The locks were dyed the individual colors and then I carded them together.
I spun the singles with a forward semi-woolen draw, fairly long because the staple on Coopworth is several inches, letting enough of the twist slip back into the fiber to grab yet controlling it enough to prevent locking up and to enable slight smoothing of the yarn. I drafted quickly and was able to produce a heavy laceweight singles which when chain plyed produced a heavy dk weight yarn.
The yarn that this fiber produces is strong and supple, perhaps not next to the neck soft but it would be fabulous for rugged mittens or an outerwear sweater. The flecks of color remind me of tweed, but don’t have that slightly unkempt look some tweeds can have because the tweedy bits appear to be about to fall off the yarn. And I have to say, I even like the pink.
I hope you are feeling more and more in the pink every day.
P.S. Happy Solstice tomorrow!