Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Fleece to Yarn

350 yards of my hand-spun two-ply yarn makes a skein about the same size as Simon.
But it does not weigh as much. Simon is now 7 pounds and I have yet to spin the whole pound of Jacob Top Roving that I have.

I'm trying some of the "Rare Breed" Fleeces on the wheel this winter to see how I like them. After the Jacob, I plan to try Shetland, Icelandic, and Wensleydale (which is also the name of Wallace and Gromit's favorite cheese -- how could I not try the Wensleydale?). 

After that I've got plans to try spinning with a superwash fleece. I've loved knitting with superwash, and it's supposed to be just lovely with absorbing dyes, so we'll see how that goes. Dying more of my own yarn is high on my list for the coming year, especially after how well the broken black and broken brown turned out.

Sadly, many of these new year's goals are already hampered by the fact that my shoulder is acting up again and the doctor has suggested... okay, strongly advised... fine, ordered me not to spin or draft or even knit for the next month.  The knitting might be allowed, in small doses, next week If I promise not to overdo it. Thankfully, I did not ask about quilting so I have not been told I can't do that. I hope the doctor doesn't read my blog!

Breaking Black

I'm very pleased with the results of my latest dyepot. (These photos were taken as the roving hung outside to drip dry.)
By using Wilton gel food coloring - black - and removing or adding dry Falkland Top at various stages of exhaust, with different amounts of acids, I achieved three different colorways.
A "Black Raspberry" colorway with maroon and burgundy going through raspberry to lavender purples. 
A "Blue Ridge" colorway which has smokey purply blues hinting at denim and steel.
And a happy "Robin's Egg Turquoise" blue (in the middle of this photo) that was the last of the color to absorb/exhaust.

I was having so much fun, I also broke brown then.
I really love the way some of the copper colors came out deeply but some went almost peach, and in the yellowy tans there's just a hint of almost green that gives this a very rich woodland feel.
I thought I was going to like the broken black better so I didn't use very much of my fleece on the brown. That was a mistake, I love the brown! But no worries, I plan to do this again. :) 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas Knitting Pictures

I couldn't share peaks of what I was knitting for Christmas presents before Christmas.
The pictures would have given it away way too easily.
BUT Now that we're past Christmas I can share with no worries.
I knit all sorts of Mittens for the Nephews.
In mix-and-match Fair Isle(ish) patterns.
Sets of three, with a "Universal thumb" that means the mitten can be worn on either hand. 
And the third mitten means there's a spare if they lose one.
Which little ones will do.
I did a pair for their Dad too -- but he only gets two.
I think he's less likely to lose one. (Watch him be the first!)
And a Hat for my Sister.
This is the Baa-ble hat pattern from Shetland Week, but done in Lion Brand Wool-Ease.
I'm calling it "Wash-a-baa-ble" :)
Of course, then there had to be sheepie mittens too.
Like the sheepies on mommy's hat.
Or not, maybe just sheep. Crazy-Googley-Eyed Sheep Mittens.*
(Which are probably being played with like hand puppets right now.)
*Let me know if anyone is interested in a pattern/tutorial for these Sheep Mittens. I took notes while I was making them, so I could create a pattern from that for you if anyone wants to copy them.

With Special Thanks to the Repairman

Hooray! The internet is working.

I had a great repairman today fixing the service, and I am really tickled to find that there are people who are still trying to do their jobs well. Some repairmen just do what they have to to solve the problem fast and move on -- which explains why "our engineers said you shouldn't even be on that line" and he needed to move me back to the line I was supposed to be on. The last guy that came out must not have wanted to deal with the issues on the line I was supposed to be on and just moved me to another one so my service would come back on and he could go. Now, though, I am on the line I'm supposed to be on again, which should also help the speed be faster for everyone.

Which line should I be on? That would be NOT the one that goes through the box "the squirrels are in and we can't keep them out of it. They've stripped the wires and it's sparking..." so he had to fix that as well. But rather, my line is the one that "had so much moisture in that one it was all dry rotted. Fell apart in my hands..." and he had to splice in a new cable all the way from the box on  back pole that "had bees all in there..." on both sides. Thank goodness it's gotten cold again he was able to knock them all to the ground without getting stung!

Engineers, squirrels, bees, moisture, and dry rot. That's got to be one crazy service report! But no wonder my internet was going out so often!

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Unplanned, Unplugged, and Unforgettable

Merry Christmas Everyone!

We're getting flooding rains and lost electric most of Christmas Eve... and the internet (still out) won't be fixed until the 29th.  (This post courtesy of a random wifi hotspot.)

But it is all still GOOD. With Family and Fun it's easy to forget the power's out and easier still to remember Christmas is a time for sitting back, relaxing, and remembering the greatest gift ever given -- that baby in the manger.

Hope you all have been having as Blessed a holiday as I have.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Simon Says: What I Endure

This is a very clever concept for a doggie sweater with an attached hat. I think it's adorable, and I made it for Simon.

But, Simon says, aren't pompoms like that meant to be played with, chased or chewed, and not worn on one's head?

Just try it on, I say. It will be nice and warm. You'll like it. It will keep your ears warm.

Maybe, Simon says. and maybe not, but I will allow you to try it on me.

Mostly not I think. Simon says, once it is on him.

Just let me snap a couple of photos, I tell him.

I'm being very patient but can you please take it off now? Simon asks. 

Looks like I will be un-knitting the hat part and going with just a sweater for him this Christmas.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Live and Let Dye

Experiments with color: BLUE
Top: chain (3) ply yarn from unknown fleece, handspun ages ago, plied and then dyed in the yarn using hand painting, and cling-film-in-the-microwave method (re-skeined).
Bottom: Falkland top roving, dyed in the fleece using mason-jar-in-the-microwave gradient technique (randomized and spun single ply).

Monday, December 14, 2015


The weather this autumn has been back and forth, some spring-like days mixing in between frosts, and some days that are downright summery.

Which may explain why the fall blooming crocus, which I did not expect to bloom this first fall, did bloom this fall. Not all of them but a couple, and thus I have my first harvest of homegrown saffron. (I am a saffron rice addict.) Yum!

Now, here's hoping the squirrels continue to ignore the "tasty" bulbs and I get flowers next year too!

Friday, December 11, 2015

From Seed To Pie: Why I Grow Pumpkins

This is one of my pumpkins that I grew from seed.
It happens to be a blue crown pumpkin.

Add a little water to the bottom of the baking dish.

This will make enough for two deep dish pies.

And then, of course, you eat them. :)

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Oh Christmas Tree

This year I made a felted sheep ornament for the tree.

Or, more accurately, I made five of these wee ewes for my tree. They were fun to make and I love the way the natural wool color looks exactly right with everything else. 

This year's tree is
all blue lights 
(it took three strands to do this lovely fluffy fat tree, and blue is the only color lights I have three strands of.) 

and strung popcorn garlands made while watching Christmas movies 
(eat half the bowl string the uneaten bits -- either I watched a lot of movies or I was stringing a lot more than I ate.)

and unpainted salt dough ornaments
(there were to have been painted but I never did, and I'm glad for they're the perfect color as is.)

and wooly sheepies
(assorted sized balls of felted wool strung together with brown beads for eyes.)

with a pompom-headed "urban primitive" angel
(made from a yarn cone, fisherman's wool, and brown paper.)

in a big old brown and white crock 
(marked with a blue 3 to mean three gallons and match the blue lights perfectly.
I love when things just match up like that. It's like magic.)

... like magic ...

Monday, December 7, 2015