Wednesday, April 28, 2010


Since my 2010 Stash Knit Down is in full swing, I thought I'd post a short update on my progress.  I finally finished a pair of Hedgerow socks knit from KnitPicks Felici in their colorway Dakota.  After a tiny little mistake about a year ago, these were sidelined.  Obviously the stripes and the pattern are not a great pairing,  This lovely, simple knit and purl almost-lace rib would have shown up much better in a solid or semi-solid.  I promise I'll try this pattern again in a more appropriate yarn.  But they are now complete and ready for the strategic present reserve. 

I'm much more pleased with the Happy Waffle socks.  My all-time favorite sock pattern, the Blueberry Waffle sock, this time in a muted purple-ish colorway that I just love.  A nice no-brainer pattern that really moves along.  Sock #1 is done to the toes.  Sock #2 is about 3 inches long and I have some Dr's office waiting around time this afternoon so I should make some serious progress.

Next week, I will be traveling on business with airport, plane and hotel knitting time.  I am looking for a good sock to knit.  I have a lovely skein of Cushy Color Sport by ColorJoy/LynnH in a semi-solid denim blue.  It's sport or DK weight (I can't remember at the moment), so it should go fast on about a size 3 - huge in sock-world!  Any pattern suggestions?  If so, leave me a comment.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The President's Spring Break

I live in Asheville, NC.  A city of about 70,000, Asheville has long been known as a haven for both art and craft. There are more than 100 Etsy shops, at least 7 local yarn shops - 3 in walking distance to my house.  It is (mostly) gay-friendly, (mostly) progressive and undoubtedly beautiful.  I moved her about 10 years ago, very much by choice.  It's no wonder that President and Michelle Obama chose Asheville for their spring get-away.

Obama chose Asheville to prep for the Nashville debate back in the summer of  '08.  He liked the food (particularly the ribs at '12 Bones'), the warm reception and the ambiance.  I guess he liked the hotel too, because he returned to the Grove Park Inn with its great food, excellent service and wonderful spa. A heck of a view too!  So he brought Michelle with him this time.  and we all got a little bit Obama crazy.

First stop was lunch at 12 Bones.  Can't really blame him.

Then they went hiking.  Just a short leg- stretcher on the Mountains to the Sea Trail.  They didn't go all the way.

By the way, all these pictures are from the local newspaper, the Asheville Citzen-Times.  These plenty more, so check them out.

The Tall One played golf while Michelle took advantage of the Spa at the Grove Park Inn.  I hear he shot some hoops too. 

I spent Saturday and Sunday working at the Farmer's Market where a friend has a  handmade gallery, 'Locally Grown.'  Since the Farmer's Market was on the list of  possible stops, I was fully prepared to spin for the Prez.  Sadly we ended up on the cutting room floor.  My guess:  too hard to secure.  All those open doors! 

Now Asheville is no stranger to cool visitors.  I think FDR spent some time here.  So did Zelda Fitzgerald.  Thomas 'You can't go home again' Wolfe grew up here and got away as soon as he could.  But the Obamas did not have to stand in line to see the Biltmore House.  They got a tour of their own.  It was raining, but we needed it.  And since Michelle is a gardener, she probably didn't mind. 

Later they went out to dinner at the Corner Kitchen, a sweet little restaurant in the Biltmore Village area. 

Now when the President comes to your town, there is a tiny bit of inconvenience.  They secure (read 'shut down') the airport.  They shut down the interstates, including bridges oven the intended route.  Cops everywhere.  And they did pick up a guy with a small arsenal handing around the airport.  But since I wasn't stuck in stuck traffic - another reason to have knitting with you at all times - it seems a small price to pay to have the leader of the free world drinking the local brew, eating in some of my favorite restaurants and saying very nice things about my town.

Another good thing was that spending the weekend at the gallery shop was that I got a lot of spinning done.  This is just a sample.  Add many, many yards of plain vanilla, an experimental black yarn and some natural brown.  In this picture you'll see a glittery dark brown, a glittery olive green and a glittery bright pink.  Hmmmm... do we see a trend here?  I have been having some fun with my drum carder and because I bought a mixed pack of angelina a few months back, it seems to want to jump in with everything.

So we are sort of glowing around here, what with out cool guests.  I'll be in his town next.  Maybe I'll get a glimpse of him then!

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Little Local News: Mars Hill Wins Southeastern Collegiate Cycling Championship

With a break from our regularly scheduled knitting program, the small college where I work won the Southeastern Collegiate Cycling Championship.  We hosted the race in the western North Carolina region where cyclist come from all around to train.  In fact we have a number of international students who come to Mars Hill and other schools in the region for an education in an area with challenging terrain.  One of my excellent students is on the team. and rode quite well.  Read all about it here.

Back on the fiber front, I did a good bit of dyeing.  Thanks to my fine customers, the Etsy shop is sorely depleted of dyed fiber.  I'm working everyday to dye, photograph and list more fiber.  The LYSs have been selling steadily too.  Not complaining, mind you!  The Happy Waffle socks are also charging along.  I turned the heel on sock #1.  Not bad in less than one very busy week!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Happy Waffle Socks

I stated a new pair of socks last evening.  I love knitting the Blueberry Waffle Socks pattern by Sandy Turner. It's my go-to sock pattern and has been since I started knitting socks.  It fits well, is easily adjustable to any gauge or foot size and seems to move along quickly.  I think it's the 4 row repeat.  It seems to go by in chunks of about 3/4 of an inch.  At least it does when knit in the original dk weight and size 5 needles.  This yarn is a bit skinnier as are the needles. I seldom knit the waffle pattern onto the instep.  I'm ready to knit in my sleep by then.

This time I'm using Plymouth's Happy Feet, a super wash merino with about 10% nylon.  I love the color combination, poetically called #11 - kind of a subdued violet, gold & teal - very mellow.  Not a great picture here - out of focus, but I think it shows the colors.  I have knit with this yarn before, but hated that colorway, so I took the finished sock and unused skein back to my LYS & traded it for this colorway.  That waffle sock remains a store sample and I pet it every now and again when I visit. This yarn has lived in the Tub o' Sock Yarn ever since.

Since I am now on a quest to Knit Down the Stash and I have a SAFF board meeting tonight, I needed a bit of mindless knitting.  I'll be tracking my progress on Ravelry here.  I've already selected the next sock yarn in the stash, though not the pattern.  Could be another waffle - Watch out!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Naturally Clean

Today is another look at creative things that people make with Smoky Mountains Fibers.  Over in St. Louis, Missouri A Breath of French Air is a terrific soap maker who makes scented and unscented soaps for a variety of uses, including the Gardener's Scrub Soap.  Those of us who like to dig in the dirt, know that we need a little help after.  Scraping my nails on a bar of soap is a good start, though I have to remember to do it before I get dirty.  But one solution is this lovely felted soap.  It's a soap and a scrubby all in one, this time in natural, organic shapes and colors.

If you are an Etsy member, you can even vote for this item in the "What's in Your Ideal Garden?" poll.  There are lots of lovely things.  Check it out.  Wish I could vote early AND often!

I spent a bit of time in the garden this week.  The peas, beets, radishes and onions are up and looking very cute.  We have been eating wintered over collards and Kale, but they look ready to go to seed, so it's in the 'get it while you can' mode.  I also planted lettuce plants, but this warm weather is not their friend.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Giving it Away!

I'm the feature artist today on the Phat Fiber Blog. Phat Fiber is a sampler box of very cool stuff from independent fiber artists.  When you purchase a box you can sample lots of different hand painted yarns, hand-dyed roving, sparkly batts, beautiful stitch markers and lots more.  Artists who contribute to the box frequently give away a full-size skein of yarn, wheel of roving, or in this case, a bag of mohair locks. I've been a contributing artist for about a year, every other month or so.  I'd do it every month, but that would give me about six more deadlines than I need. 

If you want to win a full-size 3-ounce bag of mohair locks in the Fire colorway, you just have to head on over to Smoky Mountain Fibers; then share what you like on Phat Fiber's blog.  The picture you see here represents the samples I sent into the March box - both roving and mohair locks dyed in my 'Fire' colorway.  No purchase is required, but it will only be up for a day or 2.  But things change, so come back later.  It just won't be me!.

I love to dye this colorway - even though they are seldom exactly the same and reds are notoriously hard to photograph.  Last weekend I dyed a batch of roving that came out too pale, but still beautiful.   I love to spin this combo, so if I have to keep it, I don't mind. So, Get fiery!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Loves Me Lots

I dye fiber several times a week and ship it to my Etsy customers (thank you very much!) and to local yarn shops ( thank you very much!), but then I often lose track of it.  Roving gets spun into yarn or made into felt, patterns get knitted into hats and worn with style and grace or get lost on the school bus, never to be seen again.  But it finds a life of it's own.  But these simple dyed Romney locks became part of a lovely work of art.

Spin Drift Studios in Maine took a few ounces of moss green locks and felted them to become the background for 'Loves Me Lots,' a hand made piece of art that truly declares love.  In her description the artist states, 'The daisy petals are created from a handmade felt of silk caps and merino wool rovings. A real daisy was used for the petal templates. They are embroidered sashiko style with fine cotton thread.'  Already framed and ready for hanging, 'Loves Me Lots' is available in SpinDriftStudios Etsy shop.  What a perfect wedding or engagement gift!

What have you made from Smoky Mountain Fibers?  Let me know and I'll be happy to feature it here!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

This is my favorite (ok, only) Easter joke:

Have a great day with family and friends, walk in the park, or the neighborhood, admire the flowers, knit in springy colors.  Have fun. In my town we will have an English Country Dance.  I may have to sit the gate at least part of the time, so I'll do a bit of knitting.  Probably the hedgerow socks.  I'm on the heel flap and that is a good time to do some boring knitting.

I'm also doing normal things:  Dyeing my Mars colorway,  Washing a beautiful Aran sweater that I wear as a coat , and sad to say, doing my taxes :-(  But I don' t really mind doing them.  I had an awful 2007 - very confusing - so last year I went to H&R Block.   I left there $500 poorer, so this year I am seeing what they did and using that experience as a pattern for doing it myself.  It's almost time to fill in the main form.  I think I have all the auxiliary form and schedules taken care of.   This will be a good one to finish up!  Apparently I had a good year!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Back to the Dye Pot

I've been back at the dyepot lately.  Even though I have been working hard painting my studio, the bath and the hallway, I can nip down to the wet studio in the basement and get some dyeing done to restock the shop.  Neptune (the roving that you see here) is just one example of what I've been up to.  I've been dyeing red/gold combos and the blue/green as well.  Even did a blue/purple that I have not done in some time.  So simple and so pretty.  But the purple refused to be photographed.  I'll try again tomorrow under natural light.

The house work is coming along nicely.  I am a very neat painter.  Now I am not one of those people who doesn't get a drop on my person.  In fact, my clothing is one of the ways my work stays neat.  The elderly T-shirt makes a handy spill cloth.  But the 2 tone watery blues in the bathroom looks lovely.  It is the same colors as before as I had about 2/3 gallons of each color left from before.  But the studio and hall are a color called 'Heirloom Lace' from Olympic paints.  It's creamy with a tiny touch of peach.  Sweet!