Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Spring Knitting: Socks

It seems that all I want to do is knit socks, but that frequently happens this time of year.  The hat business goes on hiatus for a while.  No one is buying hats this time of year, so it's time for me to let my creative muscles relax - new designs will find them.  Although I am currently knitting a sweater, I won't wear it until October or so, so no need to get too far ahead.  My early gardening is done, the beds without baby plants have manure on them, so the frequent rains will spread the manure juice into the earth. 

After finishing the 'Blue Jeans' socks on March 20th, I immediately cast on the springy 'Easter Egg' socks that you see here.  In just a little over a week, I am well into sock #2, and have just started the gusset.  Granted, these are very straight forward - the kind of socks that self patterning yarns are best for, IMHO.

I have a brief trip next week.  I think I'll take another pair of socks, as they are nearly perfect travel knitting - compact, they take a good bit of time.  Best of all, I'll have another pair of socks at the end of the trip!

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Things to do instead of working on my taxes.
1. Make a cup of tea. 
2. Laundry.  Hang up shirts from dryer & start another load, thus ensuring more dawdling later on.
3. Check the garden.  The peas planted last weekend are just coming up.  The kale is also now visible to the naked eye.  Everything is very wet as it has been a rainy weekend.  Grass is very long.
3. Turn off the dyepot.  Admire the lovely dyed fiber and put more on to soak.  More dawdling to come.
4. Post some roving to Etsy.  The 20 % off sale has done well, but I still have lots of fiber and I'm dyeing more.
5. Surf over to Facebook.  Look at pictures from last night's contra dance.  Note that those people are having fun, but I am dutifully doing my taxes.
6. Check work email to see if anyone has registered for my summer institute.  Three.  This is good since I just sent the first announcement on Friday.
7. Put on music.
8. Post to blog.  
9. Try very hard to come up with another item to make this a 10 item list.  After all, aren't 10 items better than nine? 
10. Now back to the taxes.  Bye!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Old School

I was knitting away on my Easter Egg socks during a web meeting today and I finished the heel flap, quietly rooted around to find the recipe for turning the heel, then I picked up the stitches around the gusset.  Obviously the meeting ran long.  Note to all:  I was actively engaged, my computer screen was actually displayed to the universe (ok, the other participants) and there was nothing embarrassing displayed.  Not sure how that happened.

The only hassle was that I did not have my circs available, only double pointed needles.  The good part is that they don't match.  I was rooting around in my dpn collection as I started the socks the other evening and grabbed the first 4 of the right size.  Two are bamboo, one is an ancient plastic, one is aluminum.

But here is the yarn and half a sock, sitting on my laptop in all their mismatched dpn glory.  The truth is out!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

So Much Fiber - Time for a Sale!

As you know, I love to dye  In the crock pot, on the stove, sock yarn in the microwave.  But every now and then I take a look at what I have on hand and I'm blown away!  I went down to take some pictures and see what I need to dye  The short answer:  I need to take a lot of GOOD pictures & I don't need to dye anything!

I need to move it out or spin it, and as it is getting into gardening season, I am spinning less these beautiful spring days.  I call the roving on the left Copper Penny.  It's a lovely merino combed top, that really wants to be spun or felted.  It has many friends and they all need new homes.

So, my faithful blog readers - Does 20% off get your attention?  All fibers, patterns and tools in my Etsy shop, Smoky Mountain Fibers are 20% off through the end of March.  I'll keep posting new stuff daily so check back.  Just use the code, SPRINGSALE.  It's an Etsy coupon, so the 20% will be deducted from your invoice automatically.  No revised invoice required!  I'll also refund shipping overages for purchases where Etsy's shipping calculations go beyond actual cost of shipping.

If you can't find anything that you like, drop me a line at amwalter [at] mail [dot] com (edited appropriately, of course) and ask.  I have some beautiful fiber that my point 'n' shoot camera can't quite capture & I may have more that I haven't posted yet. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Knitting and Dancing

I've been knitting, but not blogging lately.  Between the day job and dance calling gigs, I've been on the go.  I'm writing this in a Bruegger's bagel place in Durham, NC.  The wireless in my hotel last night was so poor that I was forced to watch cable TV and knit on my demin blue socks.  I've been blasting through these at nearly record time.  In fact I knit from midway down the cuff & most of the heel flap last evening, after I took the picture on the right.

I really like this yarn - Paton's Kroy Socks in a demin blue colorway that fades lighter & deeper as one ply changes at a time.  The socks don't truly match - and that's okay.

I've also been knitting on my green cardigan.  It's a yoke sweater based loosely on this pattern, but I doubts I'll start with the lace motif.  It's very pretty, but I think the character of the yarn might be better suited to a moss stitch section, then maybe a garter rib, then a seed stitch with a couple of garter ridges in between. I can hide the decrease rounds in the garter rows.  Seems like it might be a good idea to knit a swatch of this pattern combination - what a concept!

The dance schedule has been quite busy.  I attended the English Country Dance SpringFest in Durham last weekend - I had a wonderful time dancing to Helene Cornelious & the Sun Assembly's house band, Collard Greene (great name!).  I called the TCD contra dance on Friday night, I'll be calling the Asheville Advanced Dance this coming Friday night - that's tomorrow- and I'll be calling the ECD on Sunday afternoon.  I'm usually not this busy, but all of a sudden I have a bunch of calling gigs.  Also, there are dance events all over the place.  I'd love to go to the Nashville Playford Ball, but its kind of a haul - about 5 hours of driving each way, though the band and leader are probably worth it.

In the mean time, I've been dyeing and shipping orders from the shop, but mostly the day job has kept me quite busy.  In a few minutes I'll be on my way to a meeting at UNC-Chapel Hill to work with a collaborator.  We are developing a Summer Institute for teachers using the Library of Congress and the Paideia method. Ah, spring break!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Phat Fiber's Sweet Shop: Caramelo

I have been sitting out the Phat Fiber Sampler box for the last few months.  The day job and dance calling responsibilities have precluded adding anything to my workload, even something as pleasant as being involved in marketing opportunities for my Etsy shop.

I did dye some samples for the February box, whose theme was gems and minerals.  As a rockhound, I could get around that.  I had lots of ideas, just not enough time to make them happen.  March's theme is 'Sweet Shop.'  Of late I have been interested in working in brown-copper-olive families.  So it was a short hop to 'Caramelo,' a caramel-colored merino roving that looks and feels just yummy. 

So over that last week or so, I played with dyes & I just finished making up and packing my samples.  They are all a bit over 1/4 ounce and will be shipped to the queen of the fiber sampler on Monday.  Now the Phat Fiber blog and Facebook page are worth following as the contributors frequently donate full-size rovings, batts or skeins of yarn and they are given away to people who comment on the blog.  I've donated rovings a few times and it does seem to generate a good bit of shop and blog traffic.  I've also won a couple of times - that's kind of nice.  There is a supporting Ravelry group that is quite active.

Now I do this to get my samples of my work into the hands of future buyers; but a fringe benefit is that contributors get a sampler box of their own so that I get to see what other fiber artists are doing.  I am so inspired by the work that I see people doing. Join in the fur and you can be inspired too!

Also on the list this weekend:  Knitting on Mossy Cardi II, finishing the tiny sweater for my tiny nephew and getting it sent off, working on the books for Smoky Mountain Fibers, dyeing & photographing fiber, making bean soup (it's gray and chilly out there) and plenty more. 

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Fiber Nights - Back-to-Back

Wednesday evenings are for spinning - at least most Wednesdays.  I find that setting this time aside, spinning with other reasonably serious spinners puts me with like minded people.  Our only connection is fiber.  I like them very much - many of us serve on the SAFF board of directors.  Kim took this picture last night.  She had just resolved an thorny issue with the IRS and had declared it Best Day EVER!  Our expressions say the same thing!

But tonight's fiber group is completely different.  We are a group of women who have dinner together once a month to eat, sometimes have wine and talk about life.  Sometimes work, frequently relationships, occassionally fiber.  One woman is an amazing quilter who crochets. Another is a very talented production weaver who dyes multi-colored warps & teaches lots of workshops.  The third likes about everything fiber and bead related.  She quilts and sews and crochets, maybe knits a little.  I think of myself as a spinner who dyes and knits.  We all have busy lives, work hard and came together through the music and dance scene.

We have lost a couple of members because of work commitments (if you are a special ed teacher who starts at 7:30 am, it's hard to carve out a week night - even if it's only once a month) and family responsibilities.  Anther person just didn't mesh with the group and stopped coming.

Sadly for us & happily for her, one of our group is moving away.  She has been one of our leaders so it is very difficult to lose her. We will be down to 3 and I'm not sure that that is enough to keep the momentum going.  But we are slow to invite new people.  We have invented a good bit of ourselves in this group and talk about our lives and families - the good and the bad.  One woman has gone through a particularly difficult divorce and this has been a safe outlet for her. We can't just bring in anyone.

So I guess that our group will have to figure it out.  With a few months before our amazing quilter (with the cutest dogs and the cleanest house!) leaves us, we will simply continue to share meals and lives and fiber!