Sunday, March 15, 2009


My spinning wheel is in pieces!!!
But it will be better soon. I hope. Have a guild meeting Saturday -- will need it by then.

This project has been cooking in my head for awhile. My wheel, an Ashford Traditional, was purchased unfinished and unassembled. I gave it a thorough waxing before putting it together. That was over three years ago, and I'm here to tell you that the Minwax looked nice back then, but was getting in sad need of a facelift. I've been pondering what to do--stain, varnish, paint,re-wax, ignore--and finally decided on tung oil. It's fairly user-friendly. No need for gloves & respirator, just a couple of pieces of an old T-shirt and some fine steel wool for buffing between coats (might use gloves for that; I dislike the stuff.). So the poor thing is in pieces all over our dining room table. She's had the first coat and sucked it up greedily. Tomorrow is a buffing and then the second coat. We'll see how things look then, but I wouldn't be surprised at a third coat for good measure.

And here's my Gulf Coast Native wool project, spun, dyed, and knitted. A hat pattern I found on Ravelry, "Tweedy Cabled Cap" by Zhenya Lavy. You can find it at
I washed and blocked the hat today and it's looking nicer now than the pre-blocked picture above. I found the GCN wool pleasant to work with, though extremely full of VM. But these sheep are not coated, since their primary purpose is not as fiber animals, nor would they have been coated in the 1860s. I spun the yarn fairly thick (8-10 wpi), with a hat in mind, and used size 9 needles.
And now, since I must go to work tomorrow, buff and oil my wheel, and bake Irish soda bread for St. Patrick's day, I think it might be prudent to hit the sack. . . .

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Leaf Lace . . .

It is finally finished.

Based on a traditional Shetland lace pattern, this shawl comes from Evelyn A. Clark's "Knitting Lace Triangles." You may recognize the yarn -- from a much earlier post -- as my handspun fingering weight. Nearly a year ago, I think.

I chose the leaf pattern because I thought it would compliment the yarn by showing off the colors while not losing pattern definition in the "stripeyness" of the yarn.

The shawl used about 650 yards knitted on size 6 needles. It measured 56 inches across and blocked to 72 inches across and 36 inches deep. Once again I am amazed at the magical transformation that blocking provides.

Overall I am pleased and a bit proud. I learned a great deal while working on this project, both spinning- and knitting-wise. The yarn is a pretty consistent fingering weight. A trifle underspun and underplied, I think, though it proved sturdy enough for lace and did not split while knitting. I did not wash the yarn after I spun it to set the twist; I wonder if it would have made a difference? As for the knitting itself, mistakes are there, though the pattern seems to swallow them up. I'm sure an experienced lace knitter would see them easily, but I'm able to live with them. On the other hand, I learned more about "reading" my knitting and not just blindly following a chart. I became more adept at seeing and correcting errors. I found rhythm in the pattern, and near the end was able to rely on my brain rather than the chart.

Thanks to Evelyn A. Clark for her wonderful little book, which left me wanting to come back to it in the future.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Ch-ch-ch-changes. . .

The other was a bit dreary and altogether too melodramatic. All that black was getting tiresome. This will be fun for a while.

What do you think?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Stashing 2 . . .

The February spinning guild meeting featured a trunk show by the owner (also a guild member) of Scarlet Fleece. Yummy fiber and yarns galore. I stocked up on some of her hand painted wool roving and splurged on 2 bags of natural grey cashmere (from Kathy's own flock). Scrumptious!

At the meeting I was also given a bag of Gulf Coast wool. Each year the guild goes to Meadow Farm near Richmond to participate in spinning and weaving activities, including a "sheep-to-shawl" demonstration. Since the farm portrays an 1860s era operation, we will be dressed in period-appropriate clothing while we work. This is obviously a first for me since I've just joined, so we'll see what happens. Meanwhile my assignment is to make an item from the wool I was given. (Gulf Coast Native Sheep are among the rare breeds and Meadow Farm has a flock of them.) So I've got the wool carded, spun, dyed, and am in the process of knitting a hat. That bit of stash didn't last long!
Now I just have to make my dress. Heh! I think I prefer 18th century costuming over 19th. A co-worker who does some Civil War reenacting showed me a nice (and historically accurate) layered box pleating method that is -- how shall we say -- more flattering (to my butt!) than cartridge pleats. And easier, too. I guess the whole thing won't be too bad; it's the lack of familiarity with 19th century style that puts me off.
That's mostly it on the stashing for awhile. Unless I win the lottery.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Stash Enhancement!

Never mind that my current stash (beads and fibery things) probably exceeds my life expectancy; I'm continually on the prowl for MORE!!!

Sadly, given the current state of my economy and the estimate for dental work that I got in the mail Saturday, I will have to go on a No-Fiber Diet for the forseeable future. Oh, but that's not as bad as it sounds (she keeps telling herself). I'll have one more installment of my FatCatKnits fiber -- prepaid. I'll be participating in a sheep-to-shawl demonstration next month -- free. I'm signed up for an Anne Fields 3-day spinning workshop at the end of April -- budgeted. And -- get this -- I've already started the "diet" by NOT going to the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Show last weekend. I have no resistance for these sorts of things; I knew going would result in buying. Instead I stayed home and enjoyed my stash by spinning this:

It's the roving I got from the FatCatKnits fiber club in January. The Easter-egginess turned into some nice stuff. I was hesitant to spin it because it seemed so NOT ME, but I must 'fess up that I do like it very much. 3.6 ounces turned into 485 yards. A light fingering weight that is about as fine as I am capable of spinning at this point. It will most likely become a lacy spring scarf.

Now there is FatcatKnits #2 to debate upon. A riot of deep, rich colors in superwash Bluefaced Leicester and a dollop of glitz for fun.
I'll have to think on what I want to do with this one. Lots of possibilities.
In December I joined Clotho's Children Handspinners Guild (Richmond, VA). I had thought about joining a spinning group back when I first started spinning. The local group (Williamsburg) only meets on a weekday morning, thus eliminating those of us who are working at that time. So I forgot about it for a while. So I was playing around on Ravelry and just happened to look at the New Groups section on the same day as one of the Clotho's members started a group. I checked it out and went to the December meeting. I was hooked! I cannot say enough good things about these people. Their enthusiasm is contagious. They are friendly, generous, intelligent, talkative, good cooks --their wealth of knowledge is astounding -- and if that's not enough, try sitting in a circle of 30 or 40 people all spinning! Amazing.
I've more to tell, but my pillow is calling. Daylight Saving Time.