Monday, June 25, 2007

There may not be a whole lot of fiber content for a few days...

I'm O.K. now but I had to go to the hospital on Sunday to get a breathing treatment. This hasn't happend in a long time but when it does I have to go on steriods for a few days to get the inflamation down. The side effects of prednisone suck big rocks, swelling in my hands and achy all over to name a few. Of course I'll deal with the side effects to keep breathing but this really cuts into my knitting. You may notice even more type-o's so please bear with me.

On the bright side I had a wonderful time at an SCA event on Saturday. Here's a picture:

Isn't my hubby a cute one? You can read all about it on my Live Jounal. There's a link in the sidebar.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Sock Progress

Hi Alicia,

I wanted to show you the progress I made on the first day of the Summer of Socks. Since I'm using shades of yellow for this pair I've decided to call the pair Walking on Sunshine. I'm looking forward to see the colors you've choosen for your Walking Meditation Socks.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Summer of Socks Starts today!

Happy Summer Solstice to all!

I'm just about to cast on my first sock for the SOS and wanted to share what my plans are for the summer. My friend Alicia and I have planned on doing a bit of theme for our socks, Twins of Different Mothers, so were doing the same socks for the whole KAL. We each choose two socks to get us started. I really wanted to do the Walking Meditation Socks from Compassionate Knitting, which Alicia hadn't seen yet, and the Eleanora Socks from MimKnits, which was on Alicias sock to do list. Alicia wanted to the Pembrokeshire Pathways Socks and Hedera, both of which were on my sock to do list. So we are are starting with Meditation, then doing Pembrokeshire, Eleanora, and lastly Hedera. We also want to squeeze in Straight Laced.

I picked up the pale yellow yarn from Tess at this past Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival and will be the main color of the socks. The darker yellow is an odd ball from me stash and will be the heal, toe and a knot motif in the sock. Originally I was going to use red but when I looked at my yarn this morning I realized that the red I had picked out of the stash was a bit to heavy compaired to the pale yellow and the contrast between the colors was just to strong. I went stash diving and so now I'm going to to this tone on tone combination which I think works much better for the theme of this sock.

So there you have it, my start to the Summer of Socks.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A pound of fiber and sock progress (long and lots of pictures!)

I have been keeping myself very busy, mostly with spinning this week. I received my first pound of fiber from Crow Mountain Farms. The colorway they sent me to spin for their Sock Hop Yarn is called Spirit in the Sky. The fiber is superwash merino and it was such a pleasure to spin.

I've also been keeping my self busy with trying to get my current socks done by Thursday which is when the Summer of Socks starts. Not that I can't work on these after Thursday but my friend Alicia and are are going to be doing the same socks at the same time. We are after all twins of different mothers, even if we haven't actually met face to face. So I want to keep pace with Alicia on our socks. So far we've chosen 4 patterns but I'll post about them on Thursday.

Before I get to the yarn pr0n I want to take a moment to clear up some confusion that may be out there if anyone is thinking they might like to spin for Crow Mountain Farms and have been put off by what you may have heard about their being overly picky about the product you produce for them and not getting paid if the yarns not quit what they wanted. Teyani and Klaus do have a standard they want their product spun to but they always pay you for the yarn you spin. Now if the yarn you spin is really not the quality they want (and according to Teyani this happened only once because the yarn really was unusable due to severe over twist. Ask her for yourself. She's very happy to talk to anyone who has questions) then they might not ask you to spin more fiber for them but if you a get pound of fiber to spin for them then they'll pay you, period. O.K. I'm off my soap box.

Now, here's the progress from fiber to yarn:

The two hanks that made up the pound.

The fiber in hanks

Each hank has one end that's heavily saturated with color and one end that's much less saturated. To get a consistent range of color throughout the whole pound of finished yarn I pulled 2 foot lengths of fiber off both hanks then jumbled them up so I'd be grabbing a random length of color.

The fiber divided into lengths ready to be spun

In order to keep the yarn consistent Teyani (the dyer and owner of CMF, along with her hubby Klaus who has such a great accent I could just listen to him for days) sent some sample for comparison. She sent them on a piece of plain card board but I put them on a spinning info card from Nancy's Knit Knack's. I like the contrast of the fiber against the white card stock and being able to hold my yarn between the strands of the sample.

Matching the single

When I was done with the singles I had 5 full bobbins and one almost full. I didn't think to take a picture but I used my Katie-a-go go from Nancy's Knit Knack's. It's a tensioned Lazy kate and while I also have a tensioned lazy kate from Ashford the Katie is smaller and has rubber feet so I can have it right on a coffee table next to me. When I'm spinning yarns that require a firm twist I like to have my kate as close to me as possible and the Katie-a-go go just make this easier. I'll try to include a picture the next time I post about spinning.

The whole pound spun

Here I'm using the sample card to make sure I'm getting the twist per inch correct and seeing that the over all width of the 2 ply is similar to the sample. If you look closely at the picture it may seem that the yarn is just slightly undertwisted but I'm holding the yarn away from the orifice. The yarn will still get more twist right up until it get to the orifice. So if you really want to be sure your getting the right amount of twist the pull the yarn off the bobbin and com pare it there.

Matching the ply

And here is the whole pound spun up into 7 hanks of approximately 200 yards. I had a 20ish yard skein, some very small lengths of yarn and a teeny ball of single left over. All which will get sent back to CMF.

Seven skeins all in a row

And a close up of the yarn. I very happy with the consistency of the yarn. I was a bit concerned that the yarn is definitely 18 wraps per inch and possibly a touch thinner but Teyani assured me this is just fine. I really can't speak highly enough of Teyani and Klaus. I had the pleasure of speaking with Klaus when I worked at my LYS. As I said I just could talk with him for days. They are both just so nice.

Sock Hop Yarn

And now for some sockage. This is an overview of just where I am with three different socks. In the upper left a sock made with Austerman step that I started way to long ago. In the lower center is my Jaywalker made from yarn dyed by Alicia. There's a long story of why I still only on the first sock. I the upper right a ribbed sock made with Lorna's Laces Shepard Sock. In the lower left corner is my sock project bag from White Willow. She has the greatest fabric selection for project bags and is quite the yarn pimp. I highly recommend buying from her! I'll have a sock made out of her yarn to post about in this Summer of Socks

Socks, Sock, Sock,

So here's the close up of the Step sock. I'm work on my ebony needles which I love but have to be careful that this project doesn't get squished because I've broken needles that way. Notice the ball is a bit messy. This is one of the projects that Hubbies cat decided the yarn would make good dental floss and chewed thru the yarn.

Simple Sock using Step Yarn

And here is the second incarnation of my first Jaywalker. I got past the gusset and tried the sock on only to find it was to tight to get over my heal so I went to the frog pond. Then I got about 6 inches on the second time round and had to frog several inches due to a mistake. So here I am about to turn the heal.

Jaywalker Sock

Here is the start of my ribbed socks. I started these socks at the beginning of the semester last fall when I stopped at the yarn shop near school in desperate need of a yarn fix because I had to be at school late to see guest speaker and completely forgot all my knitting at home.

Simple Rib Sock

So there you go what I've done for the last week in my fiber life. I'm expecting a large shipment of fiber next week sometime from CMF that should be enough to last me for a month. In the mean time these socks need knitting on and I think I'll finish the scarf I've got on my Rigid Heddle Loom. So look for some weaving content in an upcoming post.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Long and lots n lots of fiber content

I've been working on my shawl for the Spun Stitches KAL. I thought that a lace shawl done in just the brightly colored merino viscose blend roving was just going to be too garish so I decdided to use one end of white along with one end of the colored yarn. I ordered some plain white merino and viscose blend from a company in Canada and it finally arrived. I had it sent to where I used to work by mistake. Opps! I could have sworn that deleted that address so I wouldn't make that mistake but I guess I only thought about doing it. It wasn't to bad to have to go in and get it. The fiber is was really inexpensive because it was mill ends. It's mostly orderly so I could spin it as is but when I tried that the yarn didn't come out as smooth as I want for lace. I decided to use my Louet mini combs to make a nice fine roving. Here is some of the 2 pounds I ordered along with my tools.
Here's a close up of the combs, ditz and threader. The combs are a single row of tines which is great for really fine fibers like this merino viscose blend. I bought the ditz and threader a few years ago at the Maryland SHeep and wool fesitval. Notice in the ditz the row of holes to draw the fiber thru, I'm using the smallest one to get the narrowest roving I can. This will cut down on the amount of drafting I'll have to do. Re-combing the fiber causes neps (bunches of short fibers that get tangled into tiny knots) to form. By drawing the fiber thru the smallest hole allows me to see and pick out the neps. This is some fiber loaded onto the comb. The second comb is empty at the moment.

And the fiber once it's been combed out. There's still some fiber left on the comb on the right and it's trash. The sibers are super short and/or reallt tangled. Combing always results in more trashed fiber but it's worth it to have really great roving to work from. This particular fiber was really inexpensive and with having 2lbs I'm not worried about waste.

Here you can see I've got the convex side of the ditz towards the comb and I've inserted the thread the get fiber thru the teany tiny hole.

Starting to draw the fiber thru the ditz.

I've now drawn all the fiber thru the ditz and now it's offcially roving.

This picture shows what's left on the comb after the fiber is drawn off thru the ditz. More short tangled fibers.

Here are some nice neat bundles of roving that are just waiting to be spun. It took me about an hour to fill the box up (sorry for got to get a picture of that) with about an ounce of roving.
This is the start of the new single of white. The sheen is decidedly flatter than the colored roving but that will just make the colored single just sparkle.

I decided to use a pattern from Victorian Lace Today. It's the first of the scarf patterns but I'm going to do a few more repeats of the end boarder to make it wider. The end boarder calls for 7 repeats for the scarf so I think I'm going to do 11 for my shawl. I wanted a simple lace pattern so the color won't fight with the stitch pattern. I also wanted it simple because I'm sure this project is still going to be in process when I go back to school so I wanted to be able to knit on it during lecture.

Here is a closer view of the start of my shawl. It's just the first repeat of the end boarder. The yarn is soft and has such a great hand. I know the whole shawl will have wonderful drape.

Next time on Get a Clew: The progress on the Jaywalker Socks after a set back and what I have planned for the Summer of Socks and or what ever else comes to mind.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

The wait for Ravelry! or my friends are sad

I'm very happy to say that I received my invite to join the beta testers for Ravelry (the newest and some of the best crack on the net to date for fiber folks). I might be happy but apparently there are folks on the waiting list how aren't. Casey, one of the owners and site developers posted this letter to the front page of the site to respond to a snarky person who complained about having to wait so long and to explain what the hold is on get an invite. This is a labor of love for them and they are spending as much time and a considerable amount of their own money to provide this service to the fiber world. If your on the list please try to be patient. I know it's hard when you hear people like me saying how great the whole Ravelry site is. In case your wondering who I mean when I say they, I mean Casey and his wife Jess and that's it, they are the development team. Two people who have a waiting list of 5000 anxious people! So please be nice.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Spinner for hire

I just heard from Teyani at Crow Mountain Farms and she liked my sample so I'm now going to be a Sock Hop Spinner. I love spinning and I need a job with a lot of flexibility especially this coming fall so I've decided that in addition to spinning Sock Hop Yarn for Crow Mountain Farms, I'm going to start offering my spinning services again to anyone who wants custom yarn. If someone sees a roving from a dyer on Etsy (or any place else) they can buy the fiber, have it sent to me and I'll spin it up for them. This way the client can choose from the vast array of fibers and colors that's out there and get yarn that is to their specifications. I'll get to spin during the odd times of my typical day at school (like having any where from a 45 minute to 4 hour break between classes) while doing something that I love doing and I don't have to go anywhere else so I'll save on gas in a big way. One of my wheel is an Ashford Joy it will be very easy for me to take it to school.