Friday, January 20, 2012

Handwoven: Emerald Forest

As the holidays approached, I wove several scarves for gifts and several for the Etsy shop so other people could give them as gifts. :) One of them was the Emerald Forest scarf, woven with a combination of merino/silk/alpaca/sparkle yarns. It was quite lovely, and sold in the shop quickly to someone who wanted a gift for her mother.

Fortunately, I had warped the loom for two scarves. :) This one waited patiently until this week, when I had a chance to weave it. I love the undulating color changes of the greens with the hints of brown. I used one of my favorite yarns as the warp - Enchanted Knoll Farm's "Fairy Dust", a lovely merino/nylon yarn with a touch of sparkle for elegance. The weft is an alpaca/silk blend from WEBS.

The finished scarf is 70" long (excluding fringe) and 7" wide. The hand-twisted fringe on both ends is 5" long.

I sold it in my Etsy shop.

I'm always weaving, though - if you want something custom-woven for you, give me a shout and we'll work something out!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Kraken Ahoy!

The rest of the fiber for my handspun Kraken polwarth sweater arrived this afternoon. So gorgeous! I love this colorway. David of Southern Cross Fibre is a genius with the dyepots.

Now that I have all the fiber for the sweater, I'll split it all up and combine the two dyelots to ensure the yarn will be homogenous.

Along with the Kraken, there was a hitchhiker - a sneak preview of David's new semi-solid line of colorways. This one is "Dark Cheddar", a color that made this orange-lover swoon with delight when he revealed it in his Ravelry group.

There will be over 30 new semi-solids available over the next 6 months, in colors that will coordinate with so many of the colorways in my stash. My wallet may not survive!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Roc Day 2012

I joined the New Orleans Weavers Guild in November 2007. I found the local guild via internet listings, and begged them to teach me to spin. :) Two months later, they introduced me to the Roc Day tradition. We celebrate it on the first Saturday of January every year. The hosting of the event is rotated among the Gulf Coast guilds in our area. We have a great big Spin-In, and there are vendors (yay!) and we share lunch, door prizes, and tall tales. :) This year it was held by the Lake Charles area guild, the Spinners and Weavers of Imperial Calcasieu. A number of us went on a girl's road trip and had a great time. :) On our way to the area, we visited Running Moon Farm, where our friend Margrett keeps a flock of Gulf Coast Native sheep.

It was a lovely weekend. The sharing, the camaraderie, the laughter - I'm so glad I found this great group of fiber friends!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Kraken Sweater - Beginning

After 11 years of dabbling, I'm still a beginner knitter. Oh, I can knit a mean (basic) sock, and I can knit/purl a ribbed scarf with the best of 'em, but to me, advancing past "beginner" will entail knitting real SWEATERS.

Now, I've knit two sweaters, but they were both child-size and the same pattern, in the round with a 3-needle bind-off at the shoulders. No piecing, no seaming. I knit them from Reynold's Lopi, for a charity serving Russian orphans. They were simple, WARM, and bullet-proof.

But an adult sweater has not yet sprung full-born from my needles. I've started one, the Oatmeal Cardigan, in (appropriately) oatmeal bfl, handspun of course, but the staggering neutral yardage bored me to tears, and it languishes in a knitting bag somewhere.

Handspun handpainted - now THAT's the way to go, to keep my interest during both the spinning and the knitting. So I joined the SCF & Friends Sweater SAL/KAL (Rav-link) because I knew the wonderful members of the Southern Cross Fibre forum on Ravelry would encourage me and give the kick in the pants I'll need when the going gets tough.

I chose one of my very favorite Southern Cross Fibre colorways - Kraken - and one of my very favorite fibers - polwarth.

 (picture courtesy of David at SCF)

(Isn't it scrumptious???) I have enough fiber for half the sweater, and David (one of the best dyers on the PLANET) was happy to dye more. It's shipping today (from Australia). I'll wait until I have all the fiber together, so I can split it all up to combine the dyelots, for a nice blend throughout.

Since this is my first real sweater, I knew I'd need a simple pattern - the Bailey Cardigan (Rav) is great for handspun, and has good clean lines. My friend Sandi has already knit it and I was able to see (and feel!) it in person on our last Montana trip. I'll knit mine in fingering weight yarn rather than in DK, because I want it to be lightweight and useful for indoor wear.

And since I want the sweater to be wonderful and perfect, I knew I'd need to sample and swatch. (Yikes.) I did both. I spun samples of 2-ply, 3-ply, and navajo-ply:

(My camera washed out the colors - they're actually rich and vibrant like David's fiber photo above.)

I really like the 3 ply best, but needed to knit a swatch, not only for gauge, but for the look and feel of the fabric. So I knit my first ever swatch:

(top, n-ply; middle, 2-ply; bottom, 3-ply)

I love the look of the n-ply, but for socks, rather than for a sweater. I prefer the heathered transitions of the 2-ply and the 3-ply. In the end, I chose the 3-ply, because its fabric gave me the look and feel I liked best. It's so soft (yet durable) and pliable, and it drapes nicely.

I cannot wait to get started on this project! I'll keep you posted...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Welcome, 2012!

I loved 2011.

It was my first full year of retirement from my fulltime job, where I'd worked for 24 years. My first full year of freedom and rebuilding of my self-esteem and confidence. We paid off our last bit of consumer debt, leaving only our mortgage - oh, what a great feeling of freedom! I learned a lot about me as a person this year, and about myself as a fiber artist.

Spinning: I did a lot of commission spinning this year, and a good deal of spinning for the shop as well. I got much more comfortable with the Hansen miniSpinner as a spinning wheel, not just a plying wheel (though I still spin most of my yarn on my beloved Schacht Matchless.) I spun 32,010 yards of yarn this year (and I only started keeping track in April.) That's 18 MILES of yarn! Much of it was lace and 3-ply sock weight. My wheel has been very busy this year! The widget that keeps track in my sidebar has started over fresh for 2012 - I'm eager to see if I can beat 2011's total. :)

Weaving: I took several local informal workshops this year - learned to work with cottolin, how to weave overshot, and creative design with Saori. I wove a lot of scarves, some dishtowels, and a few table runners. I'm planning a lot more in 2012 - some traditional, some Saori-style. I am blessed with a lovely stable of looms - a Macomber 10H, a Baby Wolf 8H, two Flip RH looms and a Cricket. The plan for 2012 is to keep them all warped and in use.

Knitting: Hmmm. Well, you know I'm not much of a knitter. I like to knit, but I far prefer weaving and spinning. I mostly knit when I'm a car passenger - it keeps my hands busy and passes the time. I usually keep a pair of handspun socks going for that purpose. That's all I knit this year - a few pairs of socks. I just finished spinning samples for my first real handpainted handspun sweater - I'll show you that later. I'm planning to knit several of those this year, as well as a few pairs of socks for my husband, who's finally agreed to wear them. :)

This will be a year of transition for us. My younger daughter is moving out on her own next month (after being back home with us for 6 years post-Katrina). My husband's company is being bought by a larger one, that will likely allow him to work from home. And this is the year we plan to realize our dream to sell the house and move to Montana.

Lots of changes ahead, all of them good. 2012, I'm happy you're here.