Monday, February 28, 2011

Early Spring

Spring has come early to the mountains this year.  Although the nights are chilly, the days have been warm and sunny.  A few of my bulb-like friends have come up early, like these tiny iris.  Yesterday the first daffodil bloomed.  I put in a row of peas and planted some onion sets & the fall planted greens (collards and turnips) are up and happy - tasty too!  But as lovely as it is, I am resisting the temptation to get too carried away this early.  I'm afraid that I'll clean up all the old leaves and other litter only to get some serious cold.  We have had some of our worst snows in March.  Still, I spent a few hours in the garden this weekend.

But I'm spinning and dyeing and knitting, as evidenced by this tiny still life.  The rust colored yarn is the merino silk roving that I have been spinning for a future sweater.  The creamy yarn on the bobbin is part of the everlasting Falklands wool that I spin for both my own knitting and for the local shops.  The dark brown is a sweet lamb's fleece that I purchased at last year's fleece show and am hand processing.  It is also destined to be a sweater, though no time soon. The small skein of purple yarn is a sample for the local fiber shop.  I have nearly finished the tiny baby cardi.  Just a few bits left to do.  The I'd better send it off before he grows out of it.

This week the design work continues and the day job will keep me hopping, but in a good way.  My students have an assignment due and so do I!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Conference Knitting, as Opposed to a Knitting Conference

I am currently at a social studies education conference (this one).  My session yesterday went well, I've attended a number of other sessions and I am currently sitting one out.  I'd leave and go home, but I want to attend the next one.  History education is currently focusing on the US Civil War.  The session I'll be attending is focusing on analyzing the session arguments in North Carolina. 

This photo is from the state archives - this young woman is a weaver at Black Mountain College in the 1940s.

As fascinating as that is, what's really interesting is what people are knitting.  One woman in my session was knitting lovely creamy wool socks.  Another woman was making a baby hat - very tiny!  I'm knitting the Mossy Cardi - again or still -whatever you want to call it. It's all the way up to 5 inches long so it's almost as long as it was when I frogged it last time. 

In the evenings I've been working on a couple of new hat patterns.  No details yet, but there is a bit of a time crunch.  My friend Lisa (of Friends and Fiberworks) will e a vendor at Stitches South in Mid-April and wants some easy one skien patterns that are yarn-specific.  She wants to sell the patterns for yarns that she has a good bit of.  So my task is to develop patterns for these yarns that are reasonably easy to knit and don't exist yet.  Two have come out nicely.  The third is really giving me trouble.  The pattern that she visualized does really work with the pattern.  I kind of knew that, but I sometimes try to give people what they want.  I think I'll leave it where it is and ask her to take a look at it before I go any farther. 

Although I am certainly ready to go home, I kind of like the out-of-time feeling of being at a conference.  Staying in a hotel, eating in restaurants, seeing people that you seldom see in 'real life.'  But the 3 hour trip home should be pleasant.  I am listening to 'The Knitting Circle' by Ann Hood.  Highly emotional and a wee bit melodramatic, it's a good travel 'listen.'

My biggest decision for the drive home, where shall I eat lunch?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


One of my favorite goat herds called me up the other day.  Seems that it's nearly time to shear and she still has plenty of mohair so it was time to find new homes for the good fleece - nice enough to be processed by hand.  I bought 3 lovely fleeces.  Here's how it starts - a little stinky and dirty.

Then I soak it - at least twice - before I wash it.

 After a trip through the dyepot, it looks like this.  This is my fire colorway.  I dyed it together in my big turkey roaster.

Pretty, eh?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Seems I can hardly get started on things these days.  I'd have a hard time finishing if I had anything to finish.

About 2 weeks ago, I frogged the Mossy Cardi & immediately cast on for a new cardigan.  And cast on I did - to knit up a sweater that would have been nearly 50 inches around.  That's 78 cm - making it seem even bigger!  Even on my fattest days, I don't think I am that big.  Because I did not measure until I had knit about 4 inches, I happily frogged that sweater and cast on again.  I have now knit about 1 1/2 rows.

About a week or so my niece gave birth to a baby boy.  I cast on for a tiny sweater.  Now in good faith, I will say that she did not tell anyone the gender ahead of time and I'm not a mint green kind of person, nor is my niece.  So a tiny pale blue sweater is now about  two thirds along.  Here is what it looks like today.  The nicest thing about baby things is they knit up quickly.  I'm knitting this pattern [rav link], but I'm already making mods as it is written with gobs of sewing up later.  I kitchenered the shoulder seams.  Now I am knitting the sleeves from the top down.  notice the stitches on holders rather than cast off.  I think it will be quite cute and very tiny!

After a few sessions of leading the fiber unit in Art Education, I've almost completed my fingerless mitts, just a bit of sewing up to do.  It would take about 10 minutes.  I'm meeting tonight with a yarn shop owner to discuss my making a couple of patterns for her store.  Note that I am adding to my list with actually finishing anything.

I'm on several deadlines at the day job, but they seem more doable.  I make a list, break things down into smaller tasks as need be.  Later I cross them off as I finish them.  I have crossed off lots of things today. Somehow my at-home lists are a bit less pressing that my weekday lists. I think I know why - it has something to do with my distractability.  There are just so many interesting things to do!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

New Idea for the New Year

After a month-long hiatus, I am having fun at the dye pots again.  Part of the break is weather related.  My basement is quite cold and pulling fiber out of the cold water is hard on my hands.  Also, I had gotten ahead of myself and I had lots of dyed fiber.  But between my spinning, carding and sales (thanks, customers!) I needed to dye some of my favorite colorways.

I'm doing a project that seems to want some variations on a theme.  I had this idea.  Suppose I dye some of my multi-color rovings and dye additional rovings in a semi-solid version of the component colors. So last evening I dyed my Neptune colorway.  Then this morning I dyed 2 other rovings - one in the watery blue aqua color and another in the green color.  That way the spinner can decide whether she (or he) wants the yarn to be on the blue side, on the green side or just randomly Neptune-ish. This picture is the yarn drying in the sun this afternoon.

As a side note, after a false start the Mossy Cardi is coming back.  Note to self:  Check gauge better and earlier!

Monday, February 7, 2011


The Mossy Cardi is no more.  It's sad end came on Saturday morning.  There was no fixing the problem, so I frogged the sweater and washed the yarn.  Before (sorry the picture is so dark) ...
Note that although the sleeves were not yet knit, I was nearly to the shoulders.  But alas, the Mossy Cardi is no more.  Instead of becoming this, it became this...


Since washed and hung to dry.  I don't even feel the least bit bad about it.  I enjoy the process of knitting, so even if the sweater no longer exists, I had the pleasure of the knitting.  But since I like the yarn and I like knitting, now I have a chance to knit something completely different....I think this...

You may now call me the Queen of Confidence.  I've already started spinning the yarns for the yoke! 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sad End of a Project and Art Ed Knitting

Before the tragedy befell my Mossy Cardi
The blog has been a bit quiet for a number of reason - mostly day job related.  But I hit something of a rough patch in my knitting too.  I pulled out the Mossy Cardi to take up my knitting where I left off in early fall.  I was knitting along, dividing for armholes, decreasing for neckline shaping and I picked up my sweater to admire it and found a great big honking mistake.  Actually a hole - perhaps even a moth hole.  Of course it is in a truly obnoxious place - center lower back - as though I am sprouting a tail and need a place for it to come through.  I have not seen any other evidence of same, but I am up against a decision.

1. Duplicate stitch over said hole, unravel excess yarn  & carry on.  Hope mend doesn't show.

2. Unravel sweater to hole & reknit, watching carefully for 'evidence.'

3. Unravel entire sweater, watching carefully for 'evidence,' wash all yarn and decide which sweater I want to knit. 

4. Glare at the offending sweater and wish it would get better by itself.  This has so far been my ploy.  Sadly, it is not working.

On a more positive note, I will be joining my colleague Barbara in her Art Ed class as we teach a dozen or so future elementary teachers (and a couple of future art teachers) to knit.  We are using a super simple hand warmers pattern, First Fingerless Mitts [Rav link].  All you really do is knit a rectangle and sew it up, leaving a thumbhole.  But for a begininng knitting project, it's about right.  I prefer to knit a wee thumb, but this time it's not really about me.

Last evening, Barbara and I went to a chain crafts shop to purchase yarn.  We got a nice mix of colors in a collection of tweeds & soloids.  I bought myself some Lion Brand Amazing as my class samples.  'Amazing' is Lion Brand's wool-acrylic color change yarn.  I don't have the ball band with me, so I can't tell you the color name and number, but it is a lovely orange-copper-red-gold combination that I like very much.  I've knit about 2 inches of garter stitch and it looks lovely.  I like the fact that they won't be 'matchy-matchy' though I'm not sure our students will appreciate it nearly as much.  After my short lecture on the history of knitting and looking at a few samples, casting on begins tomorrow.