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April 2007

more tools in my belt

If your mind is open to learning, there is always something new to try.  Life is wonderful that way. 

I have long wanted to play more with silk.  Spin, dye, card, blend, the whole enchilada.  Everything I've spun up to this point has been smooth, silky, that which comes to mind when I think about silk.  This week has been about adding more tools to my tool belt. 

I bought a ball of silk roving that is FULL of noils.  Let's call it TEXTURE.



See them?  If you found that your silk looked like that would you think good thoughts or would you want to trash it?  I decided to play.  I spun a few tests on my spindle.  This one is a Powell.  The first test was a small sample of 2 ply pure silk, the second a carded blend using the oh so present, seemingly never ending supply of Bess.


then some more...  I like it.



Here's a close up of the plying ball.  It has been mentioned on a number of sites recently.  Rita Buchanan teaches spindle plying using this technique.  Carol and Cindy have shown great shots of it.  If you want to try it and need more information, check out the tutorial  at Spinning Spider Jenny.


Next up... COLOR!


walk with me wednesday

Most of my current projects are things that a keeping me indoors.  Not so good.  It was catching up with me.  Time to take a walk, check to see if the vernal pools were beginning to receed, or still growing, and find out who was out and about. 

There were a couple firsts for the season.  Streams, though still racing and full, had once again returned to the confines of their banks.  The water striders, Aquarius Remigis were out, skimming about in the eddies.  Flying cross the path in front of me, were bright blue Celastrina butterflies, little flying flowers.  They become innocuous, camouflaged when stationary, so much so that I missed every shot.   






they are coming


As of 4/22/07.  See that one little blue spot all the way up in New Hampshire?  Get those feeders out.  The Hummingbirds have traveled a LONG way to get here. 

  • There were a few spring firsts this weekend.  Friday night, the peepers started singing.  Nothing, NOTHING, says spring to me like the sound of the peepers.  I made sure to put a screen in the bedroom window before I went to bed.  That is a song to serenade me to sleep.  One spring, some friends that live in the city came to visit.  They remarked that the country was far too noisy for them.  How could anyone possibly sleep with all the racket going on.  (See Marcy, here's another example...There IS an ass for every seat.)
  • Saturday, the black flies came out in force.  I got my first bite of the season.  As Cyndy pointed out, I should not call them bastards..they are the bitches.  True.  Also true that they need this blood meal to reproduce.  There is some salt to rub into a wound.
  • The male cardinal changed his song.  Was he calling his lady or letting all know that he was fully in charge of this territory.   Wish I knew.  I can see the happy couple in the spruce as I write.

drying day

As I stepped onto the deck this morning, first cup of tea in hand, I imagined hearing my mother's voice saying, " what a perfect drying day".  She would be referring to laundry.  I thought fleece.  Well, laundry too.  It was the first really warm and sunny day of the spring.  I grabbed a double arm load of winter jackets from the hooks where they've hung all season and started throwing them two by two into the washer, then out to dry on the line.  By evening I had most of them ready to put away for next year (that ought to give us one more snowstorm).   

The fleece.  That 5 ounces of Border Leicester I showed last week..


I washed it, too.  First it was put into separate little mesh bags.  I filled the sink with hot soapy water and let them soak, draining and refilling the sink three times. 


Afterwards, I soaked them in a clear water rinse and spread the fleece out on drying racks in the sun. 


When they were dry, I carded some of the white wool to test spin on my Forrester Safari spindle.  The staple of the BL is quite short, 1 1/2" - 3 " and the wool not particularly soft, but it spun nicely.  The small sample will help in deciding what project to use this fleece. 


Along with the warm weather, earlier than usual, the black flies, blood sucking bastards, came out and immediately started feeding.  First bites of the season.  (I find it interesting to comtemplate my place in the food chain, changing from minute to minute.) It means that insects are present as a food source.  In case there was any question...  it is time.   The hummers are on their way, already reported in southern Massachusetts.  If you live in New England, put your feeders out now!


sock yarn

After what seemed an awfully long wait, the yarn order arrived.  All this dyeing has me hankering to knit more socks.  I can't wrap my head around the reason for it, but a new skein of sock yarn, in a new color, feels a lot like getting a great sweet yummy piece of candy. 

Yarn candy.   

Blackberry    Blues

Buttercup    Cardinal

Cloud    Dandelion

Leaf    Sargasso_sea

Tulip  I'm loving it.

Mountain Spring socks

Sock_detail_2 The weekend was a washout, not bad, not good.  I sort of like a rainy day.  It means a project day to me.  Sunday morning, as I looked out the window at the spring rain, I remembered that I had saved a skein of sock yarn in my Mountain Spring colorway for myself.  The colors fit the view.  I needed a pattern, preferrably one with a 4 or 8 stitch repeat.  I cast on and completed the picot top without knowing where it would go from there.  I tried a number of different stitch patterns, starting with a slip stitch.  I knit, I frogged, three times.  I tried an old stitch I'd used years ago called "little tent".  Nothing worked.  The rain continued.  I wanted a leaf pattern, spring... something.  Then I thought of a pattern I'd seen in IK, the Embossed Leaves by Mona Schmidt.  It was just what I was looking for.  It was so much fun I got the leg completed while I watched TV in the evening. 

Pardon the scanned picture, a dud for sure.  It's a dark, grey afternoon, and I am in a hurry.   The dye pot is heating.


saturday spin-in


Friday I sat down with my calculator and divided the weight of two very beautiful and very clean Border Leicester fleeces by 17.  Then I hauled my trusty triple beam into the garage and began bagging up the wool.  The Guild's April meeting was Saturday.  I handed out 5 oz. bags of mixed black and white fleece with the idea that by a date to be selected (September's meeting) we would use it to make a project.. pretty loose, huh?  The only stipulation was that we would share our thoughts and  process  along the way.  Learning from seeing and doing, works for me.  It'll be interesting to see what happens along the way.  One member got her combs out immediately and in a few minutes had a smallish pile of gorgeous soft, lofty black wool ready to spin.  I'll probably wash mine first.  Then what?  Dye, blend, spin... separately, together?  I love possibilities.  Imagine, 17 different minds, 17 different projects. 

P1030512    P1030511

"orange'a glad.."

Remember that old "knock, knock" joke.. the one that ends with "orange'a glad I didn't say banana"?


I tried a number of new things (for me) on this pair of socks.  First, and most obvious is the picot top.  I love it.  I jumped over to Claudia's and read her tutorial before I started.  It didn't take long.  If you were to add up the time it takes to rib a top vs. using the stockinette for the picot, there wouldn't be much difference.  It's something different, stronger and yet has a pretty sort of look to it.

The second thing I tried is a bit harder to see.  I carried the slip stitch heel pattern down under the heel.  I hope the little bit more density that it gives will add to the life of the sock.  You can't feel the difference, no bump, so far so good. 

This was the first time I used the Knit Picks needles.  I have to say that I really liked them.  The points were great for picking up the k2tog stitches.  I used the #2 as a magic loop for the top and leg.  Then I put the heel stitches on the #1 and continued to use it for the sole and toe, while keeping the top of the foot on the #2, thus using the two circ. method.  When I reached the last couple inches of toe, I switched back to the magic loop using only the #1.

P1030500    P1030498  

P1030505     P1030504

P1030503    P1030501

The pattern stitch started out as my memory of the Mata Hari sock I saw over at Grumperina's.    Apparently I am not the only one that used it as an 8 stitch, 4 row repeat.  Others seem to have read it as a 10 stitch, 8 stitches in between the yo, k2tog.  I like it, simple with just a little bit of interest.