Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Definitely Summer

There are a number of indicators that it's summer.  Well, it's hot out.  Today it may well hit 90 degrees F.  91 will break the record, but I'm ok if we fall short.

Yesterday was Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer in the US.  Thanks to the vets who keep us safe.  I really appreciate the men and women who died for what they believed in.

We cooked burgers on the grill.  I love burgers cooked outside with mayo and mustard and a slice of tomato, even if the tomatoes aren't very good yet.  We had a big salad, potato salad, sugar snap peas from the garden and peach shortcake.  It was wonderful!

My dyeing has slowed down a bit.  I dyed a good bit of roving for a fiber fair where my colleagues were vendors brought a lot of it back, so I'm caught up.  I am dyeing some colors I need - and washing and dyeing mohair locks.

I want to hang out in the basement - a clear sign of summer.  It's cool and dark and I can card fiber for later spinning.  I've also been doing a bit of de-cluttering again.   I'm hitting kitchenware, clothing and quilting fabric this time.

Knitting?  That too, is in summer slow-down mode.  A hat or 2 a week, I'll likely finish the June socks fairly soon, since they were recently pulled from the marination chamber.  I actually like to spin in the summer, so I'll have hand spun yarn come fall.  I finished 2 skeins last week and the recent carding will help in that department.

The garden is planted and weeded and mulched.  Not much to do except cut the grass every week or so, keep ahead of the weeds and pick the vegies and fruits as they ripen.  The peas and onions are pumping out, we are eating kale, the beans are climbing.  The poppies are beautiful, but I don't take any credit for that.  They simply grow and spread their seeds around.

One of the surest signs of summer is the mood on campus - pretty relaxed.  My day job is a 12-month staff gig at a small liberal arts college.  Although I am busy getting ready for my summer workshops for teachers, the overall place is a ghost town.  The faculty are gone, except when they are here to teach a class.

Summer time, and the livin' is easy!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

April Socks - Teal and Sparkly

Back in April I knit a pair of my all time favorite pattern, the blueberry waffle socks in Berroco Sox Metallic in the lovely teal colorway highlighted with lime green and purple, charmingly known as Acai.  probably.  the label was lost when I took it in trade from the local yarn shop for whom I do a bit of work.  Although I knit them quickly, sock #2 sat around waiting patiently for its toe to be kitchenered until I needed those particular needles.

Today is their first wearing.  Although they will be more comfortable once they are washed, I like them very much.  I wanted to dress sort of like a grownup, even though summer is a ghost town on many college campuses.  However there is a wee reception this afternoon and sparkly socks will be all the rage.  Actually footwear will primarily be sneakers and sandals, including the ubiquitous Birkenstocks, the Asheville shoe of choice.

The purple socks of the last post are completed, but still unphotographed and unworn.  Watch this space!

Thursday, May 19, 2011


I just returned from a short business trip to DC.  The meetings and camaraderie were great.  The actual getting there and back less so.  I ask, how do non-knitters cope with air travel? OK, I see people with their Kindles and other book readers, and people diddling with their cell phones and I really get why people have smart phones and iPads.  I had a laptop with me and did actual work in the airport and in the hotel room.  But I must say I spent about the same amount of time in airports and airplanes as I did in meetings. Here is what I have to show for it.  90% of a pair of socks.  The yarn is Fortissima Socka Mexiko Color (0051).  They were lots of fun to knit.  My seatmate on the final flight to Asheville, suggested that I stay in the airport long enough to finish them, though I decided to go ahead and finish them later.  Maybe tonight, surely by week's end.  This may be a personal best in terms on sock completion.  Nothing fancy here, obviously.  Just a basic sock recipe that I like to use for self striping yarn. As it happens, this is my 5th pair of socks in 2011.  Even if I am not really in a self-imposed sock club, these seem to be my May socks.

My fiber is traveling without me to the Carolina Fiber Fest in Raleigh, NC with Judy and Marie, owners of Asheville HomeCrafts.  They are vendors at the event and decided to make their booth's focus Needle Felting.  So they'll have lots of notions and supplies, including plenty of hand dyed fiber from the studio of Smoky Mountain Fibers.  I spent a few weeks dyeing and prepping the fiber for sale and now it is on it's way    They are also taking hand spun yarns and my patterns.

Friends and Fiberworks will also be at the Fiber Fest, taking lots of great yarns and patterns, including the 2 new patterns that I developed for their store, including this new red version of the Trailside hat. So if you are in the neighborhood of the Carolina Fiber Fest, drop by either booth to visit my work in person.

Meanwhile, I'll be finishing this fine pair of purple socks!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Asheville Yarn Crawl! and more...

I am lucky enough to live in a community that values art and craft.  So it's no great surprise that this weekend is all about - and this time it's not just me!  There are 2 big fiber events going on this weekend.

First is the yarn crawl? The what?  Well, the independent yarn shops throughout Western North Carolina and even into upstate South Carolina want to make sure that the fiber enthusiasts and artists are well acquainted with all the shops as well as the companies that supply and distribute the yarns and accessories we carry.

So much like a studio tour, there is a self guided itinerary for the exploration of  eleven participating stores, fiber farms, and galleries. Starting in downtown Asheville, there are 3 shops in walking distance of my home!  How cool is that?  The organizers contacted the yarn companies and they are contributing full sized samples of yarns, needles, and other great products that are included in raffle baskets that will be available at every store along the crawl. There is one raffle basket in each store, I should make it to at least 4 shops, possibly more!

Saturday is also the Southern Highland Craft Guild's annual celebration of textile arts at the Folk Art Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  They'll have spinning, dyeing, weaving and quilting demonstrations, vendors and hands-on children's activities. There will even be wearable art fashion show. 

I've set myself a budget for the yarn crawl & intend to stick to it, but I do need a few things.  Note to self:  bring yarn to match for Windy City hats!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Getting Ready

Although I will not be at the Carolina Fiber Fest, my fiber will be festing away with the best of them.  One of the shops that I work with, Asheville HomeCrafts is a vendor at the Raleigh event and they are focusing on needle felting supplies.  So they have asked me to make up lots of grab bags, bonbons (little one-ounce rolls of hand dyed fiber) and larger quantities of hand dyed fiber for spinners and feltmakers.

So for the past 2 weeks or so I have been keeping the dye pots cooking away as I dye across the spectrum.  I make up the grab bags as multi-packs in color families of reds, greens, blues, skin tones, naturals and mixed colors.  This means I have to have at least 8 shades of red - red, pink, orange, purple, a bit of yellow, etc. to make up a red multi-pack.  That's a lot of dyeing as each shade is a separate pot.  I also like to use some of my painted fiber to make the multi-packs extra special.  I'll make about 5 dozen grab bags for the show  + a few extras because they sell well in the local yarn shops and in my Etsy shop.

The bonbons are the cutest.  Each is a one-ounce roll of roving, coiled up and tied with yarn. I attach a business card so people know where it came from.  So far I have made about 60 of these and I hope to make close to 100.

This is a big order for me, but as school is out, the timing couldn't be better.  So this past weekend, I dyed, weighed, packaged, and labeled fiber.  I dyed just about every color I could think of, but I may be short of blue.  Although the event isn't until May 20-22, I will be out of town before Judy and Marie leave.  That gives me an artificial deadline of May 15th or so, but since that conflicts with the Asheville Yarn Crawl, my deadline moved up to Thursday.  I chatted with one of the shop owners on Saturday, concerned that I was sending too much.  Impossible!  was the answer.  They need the fiber for the show, and besides, it sells well in their shop, so no worries!  

As it happens, I am dyeing for Smoky Mountain Fibers at the same time, so I will have lots of fresh stock!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Herbs and Spices

I love greens!  Mossy green, deep forest green, the color of leaves and frogs.  Greens on the blue side and greens on the yellow side. So although the May Phat Fiber theme is Spice Market, I have to tell you that I went a bit herbal myself.  I dyed both Merino and Falklands roving in 2 shades of green - one kind of olive; another more on the bronze side - both beautiful.  The colors should be just right for leaves of you are a felt maker.  I will likely spin some yarn from this colorway.  It definitely belongs in the permanent line for my Etsy shop.

Perhaps green is my favorite color at the moment because my garden is looking so pretty right now.  The peas are in blossom, so I'll be munching on Sugar Snaps by the end of the week.  The Red Russian kale is coming up nicely and we can eat all the green onions and parsely we want.  It's time to start to plant warmer weather crops, with the most tender after mid-May.  No garden pictures yet, though I definitely should.  With everything weeded and mulched, it doesn't look too much better than it does right now.

I did a fun little weekend project.  As my faithful readers know, I knit a lot of hats that are sold in a number of local shops, so I need to start knitting about now so I'll have enough.  So over the weekend I pulled out lots and lots of yarn to make 'kits.'  Match yarns and patterns to knit later, put them in bags and then in totes.  One tote is already in my office for lunch hour knitting.  I just cast on a (green!) hat, then decided to write this little post instead.  But my knitting is ready and waiting for me.  I have a final to give today.  Perhaps I'll knit while my students write!