Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Merry Christmas!!

Look at what Santa brought me!!

Yes, its the new Sidekick from Schacht. I realized that I wanted a new wheel when I was at the spinning retreat this past summer. Travelling with my Louet was a big pain. And while I was there, I got to try a bunch of different wheels and I really liked the feel of the Schacht wheel that was there. So, when Schacht introduced the sidekick later on this year, I knew I had to have one. Its designed to fold up and travel. And you can purchase a bulky flyer for it to allow for spinning art yarns - which is something that I'd really like to get into more.

Kevin bought the wheel from Gaspereau Valley Fibres. They are based in Nova Scotia (about an hour outside of Halifax) I love the look of their store, and someday I will visit it for real instead of online. Someday soon, perhaps.

So far, I've been spinning up my Bullseye Bump from Loop in the colourway Plum pudding and I'm loving it. I'm able to spin very thin and consistent. I'm hoping to get good yardage from my 'bump' and intend to navajo ply it to maintain the gradient colours. I'm thinking I'll knit a shawlette from the yarn.

I cannot believe that I've progressed to being an owner of three spinning wheels!! My friend Heather sent me pin which sums up my obsession nicely. It says "Spinning...because knitting isn't weird enough"

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Silk Hankies

Last February, the yarn harlot posted about knitting with silk hankies. I was intrigued. Her mittens turned out beautiful. Then Caryn from 'Round the Twist' video cast started knitting mittens with silk hankies. Her's were also beautiful. Again, I was intrigued. Then Amy from 'Stockinette Zombies' video cast also started a pair. Finally, I gave in. I ordered 1 oz from etsy seller Mulberryfibers. I loved the look of the hankies as they were.

When you separate each hankie, you can see how thin each one is. I understand that they stretch each cocoon from the silk worm over a square box, and keep adding on cocoons, layering them and layering them until you have the silk hankies. These are definitely not the silk hankies that a refined gentleman would keep in his suit pocket.

And then, to get the 'yarn' I poked a finger through the center of the hankie layer and pulled and pulled on each length (not unlike predrafting fibre to prepare for spinning) until I got a thickness of yarn that I was happy with. Like this.

Then I knit them into a beautiful pair of fingerless gloves. I am so happy with them. I made them fingerless because I was afraid that I didn't have enough of the fiber to make full mittens - but I did. Oh well, I guess I'll save the leftover hankies and maybe blend them into something else with the drumcarder.

They are so light, but yet warm too. I've already ordered two more ounces of the silk hankies from Mulberry fibers to make another pair!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Another Spinning Post!

I've been bitten by the spinning bug lately. Its all I want to do. Usually when these sort of whims hit me, I just go with it.

I just purchased some teeswater fiber off of etsy seller beesybee fibers Teeswater sheep are the guys that look like they have dreadlocks. The prepared top had a very long staple length and it was very interesting to spin.

I did predraft quite a bit. Just look at how fluffy it became with a little predrafting.

It was almost like I imagine spinning human hair would be like. The fibers were so long and silky. My goal was to spin this into a heavy worsted weight to make some mittens.

Once again, its a two ply and the weight is just what I aimed for. I am happy with it, but I'm not sure that the resulting mittens won't be itchy. This yarn has quite a bit of halo going on, and I'm pretty sure that the micron count for this fiber is quite a bit higher than merino. Maybe I'll knit the cuffs up in a different fiber. God knows I have plenty of it.

And, I'm going to Halifax tomorrow!! So excited! I'm going to see Amy perform in the Phoenix Rising show. I haven't seen Amy since August, so I'm really, really looking forward to spending some time with her. I'm also hoping to get to Loop Cafe! I hope they have something interesting for sale!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Fractal Spinning

I've heard of fractal spinning before, but have never tried it. The concept is quite simple. You just strip down your roving in such a way that the colours in a multicoloured roving should hardly ever line up, and you end up with mostly a barber poled type of yarn.

Here is my attempt at fractal spinning, and I'm so happy with the resulting yarn.

This started out as a hand painted merino roving from etsy seller Chimera. I've purchased fiber from this seller before, and I've always been super happy with her stuff.

I ended up with about 350 yards of 2 ply fingering weight yarn. You may also notice a mini skein on the end. For some reason, I always end up with a fair bit of more singles spun on one bobbin and this time, instead of leaving it there for all of eternity, I decided to navajo ply it just to see how it compared with the fractal spun yarn. Quite different isn't it?

So what is fractal spinning? Well, my understanding of it, is this - Its all in the fiber prep done prior to spinning. I split my length of roving into half lenghtwise. One half, I set aside. The other half, I divided again lengthwise. Each of these halves, I divided again, so of this half, I had four pieces of roving about as thick as my thumb. I then predrafted each of these pieces and spun them up onto one bobbin.

The other half, I just spit in two (not four) and predrafted that down to about the size of my thumb and spun that. So, basically, this method is designed to have the colours line up in as random as possible. I'm super happy with the resulting yarn as this is how I think handspun should look. Something that cannot be replicated by bigger yarn companies. I love me some barber pole. Now what to knit with it?

Next up....I have some lovely Tesswater fiber that is just begging to spun up into a worsted weight for a pair of mitts.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Knit Lobster

All of my knitting time in the past week has been taken up by knitting this lobster costume for Colson.

It turned out pretty cute - the hat was a little small. I'd forgotten how big toddler heads really are. Lol. I improvised the whole design and overall I'm please with it. I told Heather if she wanted me to do something for next year, she would have to give me at least a months notice. Geesh....who can knit lobsters that quickly?

In other news, I've been watching the Knitgirlls podcast a lot lately. They are quite productive spinners and they've inspired me to spin more. Here is my lastest spinning project. The roving came from etsy seller Chimera Fibers I've purchased from this seller before and I'm always happy with her stuff. Its 100% merino top and I've spun it into a 2 ply worsted weight yarn. It is very lofty! I'm guessing there is about 200 yards or so of the stuff - enough for a pair of mittens for myself. At least this is what I want them to be. Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

A Very Random Saturday

Its been a while since I last posted and I feel I'm over due. For some reason I only tend to post finished objects, not works in progress - so it would seem that I'm not doing too much, but I am - honest.

Now, I don't knit for Christmas - way too much pressure. I have been known to knit for Halloween though. Thats whats been taking up my time lately. I've been charged with the task of knitting a lobster costume for my nephew Colson. Last year, I did a duck costume, remember? After a search on Ravelry, I realized no knitted lobster costumes patterns in a toddler size were to be found. Believe it or not, there was an infant bunting bag pattern that is super cute, but no way would Colson put up with being bound up in that for Halloween, not anymore, since he is walking this year. So, I've been improvising my own pattern and so far so good. I've two mittens completed and almost finished the hat. Next up, legwarmers that somehow look like a lobster tail. Yeah, I've saved the best for last. And I have to finish this by tomorrow. Pictures of my success (or failure...eep...) to come later.

In other news, I've been so busy with Anne Hanson's Knitspot Fall into Colour Club!! I've completed Longshawdows. I wear it all the time. It is so beautiful and lightweight, yet warm enough.

This is a picture of it blocking - aggressive blocking makes all the difference. I just love the colours.

And here it is on my neck.

I've finished the knitting on the second pattern from the club too. Its called Hazeline. Its a top down, triangular shawlette pattern. I'm smitten with this too. I just have to graft the center stitches together, block it and I'll be good to go.
This isn't a great picture, it was taken in the dark with a flash. The colours are very sophisticated. I'll post a picture, post blocking. When I get a chance...too busy knitting a lobster.

And here are the mittens that I finished knitting for Sam. She loves them. I love knitting for people who really appreciate things. She was so grateful for the mittens and she's been wearing them ever since.

In an effort to try and document more WIPs I'll show you what I've been knitting. I started this hat my favorite designer Lee Meridith. Its called Wild is the Wind. She has a new ebook called Remixed - she is releasing a pattern each month. So far, I've received two patterns and I love both. Lee writes any gauge patterns - which I love! This hat is no exception. The pattern features twisted stitches and is so pretty. I just have to finish this lobster, so that I can finish the hat.

And finally, here are a couple of pictures of the latest addition to our family...well, not directly our family. I'm not sure I could take training two puppies right now. These two cuties belong to Aimee, Keith and Max. This is Bailey.

And this is Spike. I think they are insane, but I can't argue with the cuteness factor!

Saturday, October 08, 2011

My Hero!

I realize how lucky I am to have a supportive spouse in my life. Kev truly supports me in all that I do. He doesn't complain (too much) about the 20lbs of fleece that is currently stored in the shed. He will (sometimes) model shawls and lace scarves when I need to do a photo shoot, but today, he really proved to me how much he loves

As I said in an earlier post, our little guy Max started hockey this year! So this means more time being spent at the arena - which in turn means more time knitting socks and mitts at the arena. I don't usually get to go to too many practices since I work full time, but today, being Saturday, I got to go.

I took my latest work in progress and off I went. I'm currently making a pair of mitered mittens (by Elizabeth Zimmerman) for Sam (my friend Karen's daughter) I've made these mittens many, many times and could make them in my sleep, I think. I finished one mitten, except for the afterthought thumb and cast on for the second.

After hockey, we went and got our fresh turkey for Thanksgiving. Kev's cousin Monica has a farm! And then we went grocery shopping. We had people coming for supper so I had a lot to get ready, but I figured I'd get a few rows of my mittens in before company came. I pulled out my mittens only to discover that I just had the second mitt - which was just a measly bit of ribbing. I told my sad story to Kev - I think I left it at the arena. Can't you knit another - he asked. Of course, I can knit another, but....but...this was handspun!!!!! And handspun that came from Torbay, Newfoundland, created with fiber that the dyer called "Jellybean Row" (named after a row of colourful houses on a street in St.John's) This mitt was special!

Well, my hero didn't hesitate. (Well, he did a little - they were recapping the Olympic gold medal men's hockey game on TSN) Off he went to the arena to try to find my mitten (sans thumb) Meanwhile, I was sick with worry. Would he find it? What if someone picked it up and realized its beauty and decided to keep it. (Without a thumb, I'm not sure if anyone would have realized what it was) What would I tell Sam? She had picked out the pattern and the yarn herself.

Well, Kev (being Kev) came through the door looking very sad, and very dejected - and I knew right away..... that he had indeed found it. He does that to me every time and he really is quite a good actor. I always say he missed his calling. He would have convinced anyone else that the mitt was gone forever, but not me. I know this man too well.

My hero saved the day - and the mitten. I just really hope I have enough yarn to finish! If not, the thumbs will be some commercial yarn.

You can see why I was upset. These are gonna be gorgeous!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Going big!

I've been pretty monogamous to my fall club knitting, but its lace knitting on laceweight yarn and its getting a little tiresome. I've been hankering for some immediate gratification knitting. And this involves super bulky yarn with huge needles.

And since I'm still a few shawls short of my goal for 11 shawls in 2011, I was on the hunt for a bulky shawl. I just received my latest issue of Interweave Knits and loved the Pembroke Wrap.

I had to go out and buy yarn for it, and of course the selection is so darn limited here in Goose Bay. I ended up buying Bernat Roving This is normally not something I would buy as it is 80% acrylic, 20% yarn. But, I needed super bulky and I wanted it now. So, whats a girl to do. Of course, this will likely be gifted and thats a good thing since most of my giftees appreciate a washable item.

I do think I'll make this pattern again. It was so fast...like 3 hours fast! And next time, I may even spin a bulky yarn for it - that will make the gift even more personal.

In Fall into Colour Club knitting, I have finished Longshawdows. I just have to graft the two ends together. Then I can cast on for the next project in the club. Its called Hazeline!! Cant wait.

By the way, who says that acrylic blends don't block well? Here it is preblocking
And here it is post blocking. Not as nice as a 100% wool fiber, but still I think it blocked out rather nicely.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Fall in Full Colour

I am really enjoying Ann Hanson's Fall in Full Colour Club.

I've been pretty monogamous with knitting the first project. Its called Longshawdows, which is a great name since the colours do look like shawdows. Here is my progress so far.

It is such a great lace pattern and the yarn is stunning! This yarn is a custom blend made for club members by Spirit Trail Fiberworks. Its a laceweight merino, cashmere and silk blend.

I've also received my second shipment. I love this one too. Here is Morgan modelling it, since he thinks it looked like hair.

The pattern for this yarn is a triangular shawlette - which I love knitting. I'm resisting casting on until I finish the first one.

And in family news....guess who started hockey this week??

Too big!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Random Saturday

I was thinking of having regular blog segments. Things like

* Favorite Thing Friday (where I'd write about something I really, really like or I'm really into at the moment, something like Meghan of 'Stitch it' podcast fame

* Spinning Wednesday (where I'd talk about fiber and what I'm spinning or maybe why I like one wheel, or one spindle)

* Yarnie Thursday (where I'd feature a new yarn I've tried and do a review of it)

I think this is a great idea and would likely get me blogging on a more regular basis, I just can't seem to get my s@#t together and do it. So, here is my favorite thing Friday - except its Saturday.

My favorite thing this week is homemade yogurt. All the ladies that I work with make it. I didn't think it was worth the trouble, though I was intrigued with the idea. Then last weekend, Kevin came down with a severe dental infection and was on IV antibiotics. I was so scared of c. diff infection. (I personally know someone with resistant c. diff and I really didn't want that for Kev) I became obsessed with feeding him yogurt and lots of it. But I think he was getting bored with it. This coincided with Courtney bringing me some of her handmade yogurt to try. Oh my!!! It was so delicious. I tried it right away.

Here is the recipe that I used. Super easy and great results! Next time I will leave it for longer than their recommended 7 hours. Courtney and Charlotte and Mehrnaz all leave theirs for 24 hours to get a thicker yogurt. But first I have to eat the litre that I made. Not too hard when it looks like this.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Here it is...another Stephen West design. Obsessed much? Well yes, I believe I am. Lol. Make no wonder, just look at this stuff that he comes up with. Unbelievably simple, yet so effective.

Its knit in Berocco's Ultra Alpaca Fine and Noro Silk Garden sock yarn. I really enjoyed knitting this. I knit quite a bit while travelling to Toronto earlier this summer and vowed I'd knit until the yarn ran out - so its quite long.

I decided to lay it out on the piano so you could see the length of it. I highly recommend this pattern. It curves around the neck in such a nice way. There are endless possibilities in how to wear it.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mystery solved

I just finished up Clue 4 of the West knits mystery knit a long. I'm super happy with the result and am wearing it now as I type. Fall comes quickly to the big land. I'll be wearing it outside soon enough.

It is quite large - about 190cm in wingspan and 60cm deep. I love the colours too. Next up, my Knitspot club knitting.

In other news, I did squeak in knitting a bit of handspun - as was my knitting resolutions this year. This pattern is a freebie called Lychee mittens. A simple knitted mitten pattern with a few stripes thrown in for good measure. I knit a pair for each of my students this year. I think the handspun makes them even more special

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I've finally lost my mind!

Let me warn you all first that if any readers are participating in Westknits mystery knitalong ...there are spoilers in this blog post!!!

Okay, now that formality is out of the way, let me go on to tell you why I feel that I've finally lost it. Kev and I just got back from a trip to Toronto!! We had such a great time. We went to two Blue Jays games. Saw the musical "Billy Elliot". Went to the Hockey Hall of Fame, and had our pictures taken with the Stanley Cup!! We ate at some great restaurants and did a little shopping! And I even got to go yarn shopping!! Surprised? No, I didn't think so. Here is what I bought.

Yeah, thats a lot of yarn!! It cost surprisingly less than I had thought it would. There are some yarns there that are totally new to me - yarns that I've never tried before, but have always wanted to try out. And there are some old favorites. There is even a sweaters worth of Cascade 220 in the greatest green colourway ever - destined to become some unknown cabled hoodie. I'll figure out the pattern at some time in the future. Knowing me, it'll be like 2 years into the future, but the way I look at it, I'm saving up all this knitting for my retirement.

I bought all of this yarn at a place called Romni. Let me tell you, this place is stocked. Overstocked in fact. A lot of my friends on Ravelry recommended this place to me, and I'm so so glad that I went, but... the day that we went was sooo humid and hot. And this store is so crowded and big and not air conditioned. It was really difficult to make my way around. So I basically made one sweep through, without really thinking about what I might like to make, and this is what I walked out with. I didn't even look at the books and magazines (of which there appeared to be plenty)

In other news, I was so excited to sign up for a Stephen West mystery Knit along. I've praised this man's genius on the blog before, so its no surprise that when this opportunity came up, I signed up right away. The first mystery knit along that I did was by Lee Meridith and I loved it! It was so much fun that I knew I would definitely enjoy Stephen West's KAL too.

So far, Mr West has not disappointed me! Here are my results to date.

Oh and did I mention that I ordered the yarn from 'A Good Yarn'? And did I mention that Jenny helped me pick out the colours? And did I mention that I couldn't decide on a colour so I bought enough yarn for two shawls? Is the title of the blog post starting to become clearer? No? Well, the cincher for me would have to be, when I got home from Toronto there was a package in the mail. A package from Knitspot!!

Apparently, I signed up (and paid for!) a six month club membership and totally forgot about it! I must be crazy, right?

Sunday, August 07, 2011

There is Nothing Cuter...

Than crafty kids.

Here the boys are stringing beads for necklaces for their moms. Morgan strung half dozen or so then got completely bored with it, but Max wanted to keep going and make necklaces for his nan and me and every other female he knows. Too cute!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Its August?

I don't know what it is about summer, but its like we are in some sort of time warp. I don't know if time speeds up in the Northern hemisphere, or is it just that our summers are so darned short. In anycase, I cannot believe that its August already. Only 8 more sleeps and I'm heading to Toronto!!! Hurrah...yarn shopping anyone?

In the meantime, I finished up some more Tour de Fleece yarn. Sadly, my Tour was way less productive than in previous years. I think it was because I was suddenly unexplainably smitten with my spindle. Go figure, and I have two wheels.

Jess was in town for the month of July. It was so great to see her and talk knitter with her. I had almost forgotten our language. Lol...good thing that I have ravelry and that I went to the spinning workshop. And Jess has finished her Sylvi. I was so impressed with it that I took pictures. This is in part to show off her mad skills and to pressure myself into at least casting on for Sylvi. I've had the yarn for close to two years now. Shame.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Its Tour de Fleece Time!

Its that time of year again. July is the perfect time to spin. With so many others spinning for the tour de fleece, the ravelry boards are a constant source of inspiration. For example, the other day, I saw someone had a spindle that had as its whorl, the Wheel of Fortune!! I pm'd this person to tell her how cute I thought it was and she immediately put me onto the esty seller. So, I have a new spindle on the way!!!! Not a wheel of fortune, but one with candy butterflies, set in resin. I cannot wait to see it...and spin it too, I guess...lol.

These two pictures show my favorite skein to date. Its BFL/silk from an esty seller from Torbay, Newfoundland. The colourway is Jelly Bean Row. How cute is that? I'm very happy with how the colours lined up and I only had to do a couple of resectioning in places to make it work. I'm so tempted to immediately cast on for a pair of mittens using this yarn. Thats a good sign that I'm getting over my inability to knit with handspun, right?

This yarn is my first time spinning polwarth! Its from etsy seller Kelpiefibers and I spin this completely on my new Kundart spindle - which is a dream to spin on, by the way. I don't know why, but ever since the spinning retreat, I've been obsessed with spindle spinning - and we didn't even do a whole lot of spindle spinning there.

And finally a picture of what summer is all about! Homemade popsicles with fruit! I made these for 'the boys' but so far, I've eaten them all myself. Can you blame me?

Thursday, July 07, 2011

The Time of My Life

I'm just back from a weekend of spinning and dyeing at Full Tilt Creative Center in McIvers, Newfoundland! I always promised myself that if I ever got the opportunity to attend such a workshop, then I would take advantage of it. I'm so glad that I did. I was very vilifying to see other spinners (especially the instructor, Robyn Love) and realize that I'm doing things right! Most - well, all of my spinning knowledge has been gleaned from books and youtube videos. I have always felt somewhat isolated as a spinner. I learned a lot of things from this workshop, including a better way to wash fleece. My Big Project will definitely improve with the knowledge gained from this weekend.

This is Blanchard House. This is where I stayed the entire weekend. It has a beautiful view of the 'Bay of Islands". There is a small island with a tern colony just off the beach. The terns didn't stop screeching all night long. Surprisingly this was quite soothing.

Here Robyn demonstrates how to properly scour fleece. I hadn't been adding enough soap to my washings. I'm hoping this will help with my very greasy Saskatchewan fleece.

This is Jen sorting through some fiber that came from our indigo dye pot. Aren't the colours amazing?

Martina (my roommate) looks at all the dyed fleece drying in the sun. Again, the colours are spectacular!

These are my two yarns from this weekend. I used all the colours from the natural dye pots to make both of these yarns. I carded up the fibers (both on hand cards and the drum carder) for a little blending and I threw in bits of novelty yarns to attempt art yarn. I was going for a thick and thin single, which I think I succeeded.

This young lady was one of Colette's workers. (Colette is the owner of Full Tilt) She was interested in spindle spinning, so I gave her one of the spindles that Kev and I made. She is spinning with some fibre that took a quick dip in the indigo dye bath. I love that light blue!