Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Do You Feel Like Getting a Little Wild?

I've got this yarn. It's funky. Thick and thin, from when I first started spinning. Not all that much of it. But I think it would go nicely with brown yarn. Or orange yarn. Well, you be the judge:

This first picture makes it look darker than I think it is

But these pictures make it look lighter than I think it is.

Natural sunlight's just not doing me any favors today.

Anyway, what do you think? Is there some pattern out there that would be ideally suited to this fiber? It's wool. And I definitely have a skein of the orange that I plied into this. And I've got lots of brown yarn.

Benny's Blue Bunny Fiber is Ready to Be Knit!

As you may recall, I've been working on my stash, which in this case was a lovely blend of cornflower blue alpaca and bunny fiber that I dyed with my friends Kristi and Val, carded on my Patrick Green electric drum carder, spun on an assortment of hand spindles, and then plyed, also on the hand spindles, and named after our dear, departed dog, Benny. I've finally finished spinning and plying it, so now it's time to figure out whether there's enough to make a sweater, and if so, to find a suitable pattern.

What do you think, will this cover me up?

I suppose you want me to measure it, don't you? OK, here's how much fiber there is:  757 yards

Somehow, I don't think that will be enough. Although I am a delicate flower, I am also rather... well let's just settle for not quite as petite as I'd like to be. But we'll see. I really want a sweater.

And here's a close up of how it looks once it's been plied on one of my favorite spindles:

Monday, July 5, 2010

Exploring My Inner Geek

One of my sad personal failings is an inability to picture what something will look like if something is changed. So, I bought a pattern for a sweater, and now I want to know if this sweater would look good if knit with the fiber that I am spinning right now. So I loaded up Photoshop, pulled up a picture of the sweater, and changed the color to match the exact shade that I am spinning. Now if you all could just take a peek, and contemplate if a sweater made with blue bunny alpaca that followed this pattern would work, my work here would be done:


OK, so, what do you think? Please keep in mind that this yarn is half bunny, half alpaca. So it'll have that whole bunny "halo effect", and it will be drapey, thanks to the alpaca. So if you think I'll look like I'm wearing a big fluffy, drapey tent, you have to tell me.

There's Always Brown

What can you say about the color brown? It is... brown. Dark. It accessorizes well with other colors. I like brown with blue, for example. So here is some brown Romney wool yarn. I try not to spin straight wool, because it makes me itch, but just this once...


Can you see that this brown has a hint of grey going through it? I am pretty sure that this is a natural brown. I certainly didn't dye it, after all. Well, I suppose another nice thing you can say about brown is that it looks nice wrapped around my spindles.

Art of My Art

So, my sister Leslie Knaup is a painter. And she painted a painting of my favorite things, my drop spindles, my fiber, and my Wizard of Clay pottery. The Wizard of Clay is a potter who has had a business for as long as we remember, near our old home in Honeoye, New York. I have Wizard of Clay dishes, Wizard of Clay flower pots, Wizard of Clay lamps, Wizard of Clay toothbrush holders. Oh, my, you're starting to think you've discovered another passion of mine, aren't you?

Now, the painting has been done for a while, but no photo was forthcoming. Fortunately, I found a digital camera at a garage sale that we think will meet my sister's needs, so we sent that, and she is off and running.

Anyway, back to the art. Not to put too fine a point on this, but the spindle on the left is my Golding spindle, and the spindle on the right is my Tom Forrester spindle. I love them both, though lately the Forrester spindle is holding a higher place in my heart because it is lighter weight. I am spinning a lot just now, and my arm is getting tired.


I think my painting is lovely, and I am very grateful to my sister for painting it. Of course, now she's set an expectation... what will she paint for me in August, when she comes to visit next? If you like what you see, just let me know and we'll see if you can't commission a work of art from Leslie. Imagine how nice your spinning wheel would look, or perhaps you have spindles and fiber that need to be memorialized?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Meet the Suri Alpaca Fiber

This is my first time working with Suri alpaca fiber. It comes from a champion breeding alpaca ranch in Victor, NY, EastWest Alpaca Ranch.

There are two kinds of alpacas, the Huacaya (pronounced Wuh-kai-ya) and the Suri. Huacaya alpacas are fluffy like teddy bears and Suri alpacas have long shiny locks like very soft, slightly curly hair. Suri alpacas are more rare and more expensive.

To make this fiber easy to work with, I've blended it with white wool. The color is called jade. It is hand-picked, cleaned, and dyed, and all ready for you to try.

The first picture shows what this fiber looks like spun up.




There are a number of ladies at spinning guild that make really pretty shawls. I think this fiber would be perfect for a shawl.

Lovely Lavender and Gold

I just love how this fiber turned out. I started by dying alpaca  from EastWest Alpaca Ranch a lovely violet color. And then I added in white tussah silk and lots of gold firestar. It's SHINY. And lavender-y.

This is what it looked like after dying and before I carded it:


This is what it looked after I carded it:


Now I ask you, how can you resist this lovely fiber? I don't think my camera is doing justice to the gold firestar, but when I look at this roving, I want to stop everything and make something out of it.

My Nefarious Plan: Infiltrating the Guild, One Batt at a Time

OK, so every month, I go to guild, and I put my lovely batts of fiber out on a table. And then, when women who can knit walk by, I say, "Psst... wanna trade?" That's right, I lure the knitters, because I can't knit worth a darn. And I like socks. Really, I like socks a lot. So I send my trading partners home with yarn that I've spun up, and they bring me back socks, and I give them batts of roving, and then - this is my big plan - then they come back to guild and spin the fiber that I made. How's that for a plan? And progress is being made. Of course, once I realized that roving was a tradeable commodity, I started thinking bigger. I traded roving for honey. And for more roving. And now I'm thinking... there's got to be someone out there who likes to make sweaters. Yeah, I could use some sweaters.

Psst... wanna trade?

Here's a closer look at the fiber I've been selling:


This one is sooooo soft. It has bunny that my friend Denise gave me, some violet, lots of firestar, and alpaca.


The one on the left is a little darker than the one on the right. It has super soft dark, dark brown alpaca, grey alpaca, white angora bunnie, a smidge of purple rayon, a smidge of blond mohair, and a smidge of silver glitz. It looks dark grey. The one on the right is super soft grey alpaca blended with black mohair. These are both on my "hard to resist spinning" list. There's only about 7 ounces of the glittery stuff, and 15 ounces of the grey left.


This is my friend Denise. I knew I was heading in the right direction with my roving when I gave her a batt of the darker grey, and she immediately asked for another one. She's spinning it in this picture.

This is the darker grey fiber that my very first customer bought from me. She's an amazing spinner. That's a Golding Drop Spindle she's using. And look how thin she spins! She makes really pretty fingerless gloves. Needless to say, negotiations are in progress...

Green from Serena

My friend Serena Rachels, from guild, also makes batts of fiber. Hers are positively wild. I picked up one a few weeks ago. I picked it because it has lots of green in it. Now my mom has another knitting project!


Here's the yarn I made out of Serena's roving.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Cherry Chilly Chonga

Ha cha cha! My cherry colored fiber turned out very interesting. See what you think. I started with cherry alpaca blended with cherry bunny:

This is the alpaca
This is the bunny
And this is the orange wool

So for my most exciting blend, here's the cherry alpaca and bunny blended together:

After that, I tried blending in some of the orange wool:

Neat, isn't it?

My final colorway is the cherry with the orange and with some white thrown in, for a mellower colorway:

I have to admit, I like them all. And one of the things I like to do when I'm blending is to start off with one color and make up some batts, then add in a color and make some more batts, and then add in another color. Although I am not a knitter, it would seem to me that you could get a pretty interesting effect to work your way through the various shifts in color.

NEWS FLASH - I resisted for as long as I possibly could, but nobody bought it, and I think this fiber is DREAMY. So I spun it all up into yarn.

Peachy, Just Peachy

I'm not a fan of orange. But I do like peach. So I've taken some wonderful peach alpaca, blended it with orange wool, and white tussah silk, and then topped it off with some firestar:

This is the orange wool
This is the alpaca, after I dyed it, but before I carded it

What do you think? Do you see the flecks of gold firestar? I really like this.

I like the way the yarn came out, all different shades of peach

Friday, July 2, 2010

I Got Da Blues

The dog died. She was a noble dog. So I decided to spin something I thought she would like. This is 50% bunny, 50% alpaca. And I'll go so far as to say it is part of my stash. Now, a fiber lover's stash is a lovely thing indeed. I own lots of fiber. It is carefully quadroned off in bins that are carefully labelled: "Ready to Card", "Yarn", "For Sale". Generally, my fiber moves from "Ready to Card" to "For Sale". I haul it to guild every month, and if it doesn't sell, then the next time I run out of fiber to spin, I start spinning up from the "For Sale" bin. But this bunny stuff... well, it is dedicated to a noble dog that died. So I'm spinning away, hoping to make enough to have a sweater made out of it.

This is the bunny fiber, drying in my garage. I dyed it cornflower blue, which is just lovely, if you ask me. I blended in a lot of white bunny fiber, and white alpaca that was also dyed cornflower blue.



 

I am an incredibly methodical spinner. I bag up my carded fiber, and then I spin that fiber until it's all gone. I use all my drop spindles, and in this case, I've plied all the yarn as I work my way through it. At this point, I'm running out of drop spindles. I've probably got a week of spinning left to go. And I'm still not sure that I'll have enough yarn to make a sweater. I'm not very good at judging. I'm a little worried that I shouldn't have plied the fiber, but we'll see.

The only other fiber that is officially in my stash is some amazing caramel colored huacaya and suri fiber that I bought from Kristi at East West Alpacas. I want to spin that single ply and then make my husband a - dare I say this out loud? - a poncho. Now, I love my husband dearly, but I have to admit that as we get older, the both of us are losing our senses when it comes to what we'll wear out in public. His favorite outfit to wear on a cold winter night, as he sets off to karate, is a blue and white serape, his Indiana Jones hat, and his karate gi. And now he has a big long stick that he carries. Can you picture what he looks like in your mind? He's such a big man that I don't think anyone has ever had the guts to say anything to him.

And me? Well, I wander the world in hand-knit socks with sandels from September through April, because it seems to me that if someone went to all the work of knitting me socks, then the world should get to see them. But they're kind of warm, which explains the sandels. We won't talk about my high water pants (the better to see the socks, I assert). Interestingly enough, no one has ever dared say anything to me about my wardrobe choices, so perhaps we're not as eccentric as I'm thinking. 

nahh. 


Resistance is Futile

I have an uncanny ability to find cool things at garage sales. It's a gift, and, of course, I respect the gift. Today I headed out to a sale offering "high end yarn". "Pshaw!", I thought, "that's not going to be anything much." But I stopped anyway, only to find, well, the mother lode of high end yarn:










Best of all, there were all these books with patterns to go with the yarn.


So my Mom looked at it and said, "Honey, you're going to need more bins." And then she thought about it a little and said, "Honey, you're going to have to learn to knit." And my husband looked at it and said, "This wasn't all her stuff, was it?" Err... well, no, this was just the stuff she felt like she could part with.

I do think, though, that I will pick a pattern that looks easy, and haul downstairs and see if my Mom can't help me knit something.