Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Singleton's Holiday Weekend

I admit that I am a single woman of a certain age. I like myself very much.  Yes, I wish I was taller and smarter, but in the great scheme of things, I am just fine.  This Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the USA.  Now Thanksgiving is pretty much my favorite holiday. The focus is on gratitude, food and family.  No excessive gift giving, though you can shop if you desire. Even the football really is optional.

But as my sweetie is out of town and my family lives far away, I treat this holiday as a deeply personal one.  I long ago realized that spending Thanksgiving alone is okay.  I have frequently accepted invitations to people's homes when I should not have.  I love my friends and their children, but I don't want to be tied into other family's traditions and time tables.  I want my day to myself.

So this year I decided early on that I would turn down invitations and be thankful on my own.  I will cook and eat a special meal - I even bought the smallest turkey breast I could find.  I will take a walk in the woods, enjoying being out in nature.  But I'll do it on my own terms.

My do list (in no particular order...
  • Play with fiber - wash, dye, card, spin, knit.
  • Paint the bedroom - taking advantage of this glorious opportunity of a long weekend.
  • Read good books
  • Watch a decent movie or two
  • Get some exercise every day
  • Call a contra dance at the Old Farmer's Ball
  • Clean and organize a wee bit around the house.
There's plenty more, but not for public consumption.

I know this is not everybody's idea of how to spend Thanksgiving.  There is no travel, no picking the perfect wine, no family drama, no major overeating, no getting up at 3 am to shop on Friday morning.  But somehow I'll manage to survive - and in a newly painted bedroom  Besides, I still have a few hats to knit in the 30 Hats in 30 Days self-imposed challenge. Still on target!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Something to Look Forward to in January: Winter Fiber Retreat in Asheville

Registration is now open for classes at the Winter Fiber Retreat in Asheville, NC.

Hosted by local yarn shop Friends and Fiberworks, this weekend of activities will take place on January 14-16, 2011.  A large variety of classes in knitting, spinning, weaving, felting, dyeing and lots more.  Great teachers - many of them teach at SAFF.  We spin each Wednesday evening at F&FW and the ideas were flowing freely the other evening.  Still being hatched: a sheep-to-shawl contests - my job is to make the rules!  Yikes!

Lisa has negotiated special hotel packages for people looking for a mid-winter get-away. Vendor space is still available too.  Here is the link:  http://friendsandfiberworks.com/winter-retreat

I’m teaching a couple of knitting and dyeing classes and there are plenty more that I’d love to take!  I just don't know how they will fit in, though I hope I can. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Heathered Roving

I find that I love to dye and I love natural colors.  When they come together I get heather tones.  In my booth at SAFF, my heather colors sold first.  I also have good response to the oatmeal and sheep's grey roving.  This weekend I had fun dyeing oatmeal roving in the both warm and cool colors.

A few years ago I developed a line of colors that I call Andromeda Shades - colors based on the planets, and other heavenly bodies.  Two colorways are heatheres.  Mercury is blue and purple on a oatmeal base.  Uranus is orange and bronze, also on an oatmeal base.  Here they are drying on the line.

Heathered Pumpkin is just that: multidimensional orange on an off-white base.  People seem to like it for needle felted pumpkins.  It has a much more earthy feel - not even close to that international neon color that hunters wear in the field.

Oh, and hats?  Still on track.  Yesterday I knit #17.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Hats Challenge

The 30 Hats in 30 Days challenge continues unabated.  I'm having great fun in the design process - matching different yarns to make hats that look great and are fun to knit.  I'm discovering yarns in my stash and in a few different yarn shops in my local yarn shops.  I'm also spinning yarns that should work nicely in my hats.  In an earlier post, I showed off some yarns I was spinning.  Here are those yarns all knitted up.

This is the pretty, sparkly blue yarn in an all-garter stitch hat with a brim that you can turn up or not - your choice.  I added a darker blue stripe just because I had the yarn around and thought it would be pretty.  I'm wondering if both of these hats are a bit short.  I may adjust them longer - and I have the yarn.  Of course that means I have to pull out the crown and knit a few rows before I start the decreases, but I think I'll like them better.

The second hat is from the yarn I didn't like very much.  It was brown with a bit of yellow-y tan that I wished I hadn't carded in.  Guess what?  It's not bad at all knitted up.  Go figure!  Both hats are from the same recipe: all garter stitch. Just start knitting, decrease when it makes sense and don't stop until you are nearly out of yarn.

I'll continue knitting hats this weekend.  I'm still a bit ahead on my challenge, even though one day did not see a completed hat.  I spun instead.  I have a plan to go to the WNC Farmers Market this weekend and spin in front of my friend Sally's gallery shop, Locally Grown.  It gets me out of the house on quiet weekends and is good for both our businesses!

Also on the weekend's agenda - dying, delivering. working in the yard and attending a event to honor a local teacher.  Since I nominated her, I think I should go!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Fresh New Yarns

I've been carding some blends for spinning lately - partly becuase I enjoy it, and partly because I have a good bit of fiber that needs some prep before it's ready to spin.  Here's a very pretty blue - I added some black fibers and some angelina - that's fine shiny nylon that adds a subtle bit of sparkles to the yarn.  I'm worried about overdoing it, so sometimes it's very subtle.

It came out nice - just as I thought it would.  3.5 ounces (100 grams) and 109 yards - so about a bulky weight.  It's a lovely shade of blue - perfect for someone with blue eyes.

The next yarn was a pleasant surprise.  Now it was a less-than-fabulous dark brown roving to start with, but it had a number of grey fibers that I didn't like.  So I overdyed some in burgundy and some in olive and they looked good.  The brown dye on brown roving came out ...well...brown.  I thought it needed some jazzing up, so I blended it with some samples from various PhatFiber Sampler boxes.  

There were a couple of very pretty red-orange samples and some peachy-gold that looked like they would work.  It turned out that the peach blended nicely, but the gold looked a bit jarring.  I took the batts to spinning night last week and was not happy - maybe even a bit embarrassed by my rather sorry looking yarn as it grew on the bobbin, but my fellow spinners we quite encouraging.  I thought that maybe their Southern politeness was clouding their judgment, but I was there to spin, so I soldiered on.  I plied it a day or two later, happy to get it off by bobbins so I could move on to something that I liked better.  It turned out to be just fine - the lighted bits add a depth that sursprised me.  4.1 ounces (116 grams) and 85 yards - so a bit a bulkier.

Both yarns are destined to become hats.  Still ahead of schedule.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Really - It's not about me this time...

This Etsy treasury celebrates Appalachia and the items in it are wonderful representations of the mountains here in Western North Carolina and the whole mountain region.  The killer, handmade banjo is a great reminder of the old time music that I love - and love to dance to.  The apple butter shows one of the foodways that live on.  The pottery, quilts and baskets represent the handmade life that existed long before the craft mafia took over this here town.  Not that I am complaining, being a card carrying member of that gaggle of renegades.  Thanks fiftyleven,  for making me and my sheep's grey roving part of your thoughtful treasury.

The 30 hats in 30 days quest continues.  I'm a little tiny bit ahead.  Could be I'll take time for carding and spinning this weekend.  Of course, that's what got me into this hat deficit.  But if I'm going to use the yarn for hats, it's okay.  Right?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

2 Days 2 Hats

The Challenge is on: 30 Hats in 30 Days.  As today is November 3rd, I have the first 2 hats to show you.  Both are the same pattern. but are different in fiber and size.

November One is my Windy City pattern in purple worsted with a band of Plymouth Expressions.  I like this multicolored soft, textured yarn.  Although I am usually not a fan of unnatural fibers, this yarn is 55% wool and 45% acrylic and is quite soft.  The colors are very nice - expect to see a good bit of it in the coming month.

November Two is Windy City again, but sized larger and in different yarns.  This time it's made of Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride and Ironstone Sunset, a glittery mohair blend.  The color is a deep red and super pretty.  Because most of my hats are for sale, I try to make some larger and some a bit smaller.  After all, people have different size heads. 

The hat for November 3rd? Already on the needles.  Don't worry, this month will not be a parade of similar hats. I'm keeping a spreadsheet (what a geek!) for myself, so I'll only show off the ones I particularly like.  I admit, I do make a lot of Windy City Hats. They are quite flattering on a number of women. Plus, two of the shops that carry my hats also sell the patterns.  A few nice variations on display help sell hats as well as patterns.  If you like this pattern and want to make your own, visit my Etsy shop. It's a great way to use up  30 yards of a pretty yarn already in the stash.

By the way, this hat is looking for a new name.  I originally called in 'Windy City' because a friend who wore hers in Chicago says it really stays on.  But there is another Windy City hat on Ravelry so I need to change the name.  Any ideas?

Monday, November 1, 2010

New - Vember

Just coming off of 2 very busy,crazy months, I am happy to usher October out the door.  November is looking good.  Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday comes later this month, with it's mini-break.  It's the last full month of the semester, so for the academic side of my life it's a nice period of getting things tidied up.

One other thing that happened in November is the winter knitting season keeps pace roughly ahead of the  Christmas shopping season.  The shops that sell my work will sell a good many hats in the next 7 weeks.  Although I have several in the 'hat bank,'  I'd like to have a few more on hand.  How about 30 hats in 30 days?

Can I do it?  Should I do it?  I looked back at the last 2 previous years and found I sold about 50 hats in November and December.  With an increased presence in the 3 shops where I sell my work but also with a depressed economy, I should be able to match or beat that number.   And to sell the hats, I have to knit the hats.  Lately I have been spinning a lot -mostly because I find peace and joy in spinning.  I simply love to make yarn and so have been spinning daily - or almost.  I also need the yarn!  My marketing mix requires me to sell a hats in a combination of hand spun and commercial yarns.  And that means I need to make the yarn so I can knit it up.

Last week I traded both patterns and blogging services for yarn - the kind I can't make but love to make into hats that should sell quite nicely.  So I currently have a table of interesting yarns in the studio.  I'll keep track of  my progress here.  In all fairness, I have a couple of hats in progress, but finishing counts, so that unfinished hat that I just found the yarn to finish knitting the last couple inches - it's in!  Time to get knitting.