Monday, April 28, 2008

Monday Manic Monday

This weekend I spun Alpaca:
2 ply sport weight 300 yards 3.8 oz from a fleece I picked up last year in PA.

I tried many different processing techniques to see what worked best. This is a whole fleece with some guard hairs (alpaca doesn't have too many but there are some in there) and seconds, (the shorter bits of fluff from the second shearing.) The fleece itself isn't dirty so much as it is dusty so I prefer to bathe my alpaca in a modified fleece cleaning style. Usually just a couple of cold water rinses and soaks to remove the dirt and dust. Then I water my plants with the gunky water, which sounds gross but plants love love love it. Every time I wash a fleece I take the cold water soak (make sure there's no soap) and I water the terrace and indoor plants. After the cold water rinses I give the alpaca one good hot soak with just a touch of soap and then another warm water soak to rinse it out.

Alpaca tends to get static build up and when you run it though the drum carder or use your hand combs you can see the electricity make the fibers fluff out and stand on end. To combat this I usually give it a spritz of water/conditioner solution 5 parts water 1 part conditioner to tame the static and prevent crazy fly aways. But this alpaca didn't blend very well on my drum carder (I think the Louet fine cloth is more like a medium cloth on other carders and alpaca needs a fine cloth for the best processing.) So with the drum carder out of the question I started combing. The combed alpaca looked lovely and spun thin and smooth but I wanted a fuzzier yarn and it wasn't really happeneing. Plus I was feeling lazy and all that combing to get like 1/2 an once of roving was starting to grate my nerves.

Then I did something unexpected. I rushed to the closet where the stash monster lives and dug around my smaller monster (the tool monster) and found my hand cards. Hand cards? Yes, hand cards, those things I almost threw away when the drum carder arrived on my door step. Hand carding isn't as easy as drum carding but the rolags I made were just the thing I was looking for. No static issues or fly away problems with hand carding and if you really concentrate on just having the card teeth barely touch it's not so hard on your arm and back muscles. I carded a few ounces worth of rolags and spun two thin singles using the long draw method. The end result is a fuzzy, soft yummy yarn that I was proud to send to a fellow ravelry user in a swap.

I also spun another batch of alpaca, but this is from a batt I received in a carftster swap, it's a wool/alpaca/angelina blend. It's a single dk/sport weight about 100 yards from 2oz
The interesting thing about this yarn is that it's spindle spun. I've been spinning on my spindle more and more because I've been traveling. When I first got my first wheel I took it everywhere, but these days I simply pack a batt and a spindle in my bag and I find that it's much easier to carry my luggage. I wasn't the biggest fan of using spindles (as soon as I could afford a wheel I abandoned my student spindle) but I find that I almost have a more intimate relationship with fiber when spindling it. There is less control and the fiber really tells you what it wants to do when you spindle, when I spin with a wheel I have ratios, and tension and all sorts of options to whip that fiber into submission, but spindling is basic and organic.
Believe my I won't be getting rid of my wheel anytime soon but I think it's a nice change up.

I also carded batts:
3oz wool/mohair/angelina "Paper Boy"
You can find these on the etsy

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

As the Days Go By

I woke up one morning and it was spring. I'm not quite sure where winter went, but I'm amazed at the weather these days. It seemed that winter was taking a long ass time to leave us but then it was 70 degrees and sunny. There was no in between, no days of temperatures in the middle 50's so I could wear my denim jackets and cute blazers, oh no it was 30 one day and now it's very much not.

I decided that it was definitely time to start planting on my terrace. The plan was to get this done on Saturday in the lovely almost 80 degree heat with the sun helping me get out of bed, but sadly Saturday came and went and I stayed in bed sick as a dog. So Sunday would have to be planting day, but Sunday was cloudy and cool with droplets of mist in the air, definitely not planting weather. I kept to my schedule though my body resisted, I got in the car and drove to the 14th street greenhouse to stock up on annuals, vegetables and herbs. A few hours and bags of dirt later I have my little urban oasis ready to sprout. Tomatoes and hot peppers are planted next to peonies and Gerber daisies. I have basil, thyme, rosemary and parsley and maybe they will all last through the summer (I have aspirations of a green thumb but I am the Dr. Kevorkian of the plant world.) I also picked up some plants for inside the house, succulents and orchids are bringing some much needed cheer to chase the winter blahs away. I will post better pictures of the terrace when it more impressive, tiny saplings do not make great pictures. Until then I have some shots with the blythe dolls at the bottom. (I keep these away from the content for you Harlempurls, I know how much they creep you out.)

As it got nicer on Sunday I ventured out of the house to the Drum Circle for wounded war veterans and the Woodstock Project at the VFW in Saddlebrook. Say what you will but you haven't been to a fundraiser that is more insane and hilarious then this one was. Old hippies, families, enthusiastic special needs children and 80's hair band rejects pounding their drums while others dance in rapture (some on the beat others, not so much.) It was worth every penny of the 20 dollar donation at the door and I had a good time hanging out with people who I normally wouldn't cross in my everyday life. I tried to get some pictures but then I realized that I didn't have permission from these people to post them on the Internet so in the spirit of goodwill I have nothing to share except my memories.

On the fiber front nothing too interesting going on. I finished one spirogira and have about 80% of the second to do, I'm fighting that second sock syndrome and I keep abandoning it for more alluring projects. I'm still plugging away at the Kauni but at this rate it will be done next December. I spun up some alpaca for a swap but I need to photograph it and I'm currently working on some cormo for another swap, but cormo has a tendency to be fun for only so long and then I want to rip my bobbin off the wheel and spin some boring merino or superwash. On a side note anyone know where I can get some flax? I figured that I could try something new. I want to spin flax for the project up on knittyspin but I'm having a bitch of a time finding any. Do you think I could use hemp instead? Ideas are most appreciated.

ADG Golden Goddess
Primadolly Ginger (Lola)

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

So Satisfying

There is something magical about a project you start and complete in less then a week. Even if you have to knit like your life depended on it to get it done. When my sister called me two weeks ago to ask what I was getting for our grandmothers birthday she caught me off guard. Of course I remember that my grandma's special day is in April but the way I've been running around I was positive it was still March (it wasn't in fact she called me April 7th so now you know how off my game I am.)

I'm lucky enough to have both my grandmothers around. My fathers mother is a salty progressive up front kind of woman. She'll tell dirty jokes and curse when she feels like it. She's most un-grandmotherly but she's always a riot and I never feel uncomfortable getting drunk with her. My mothers mother, who's birthday I was anticipating, is the exact opposite. As she's gotten on in years she's become increasingly girly, favoring pinks, roses, lace and potpourri, she is what one thinks of when they think grandmother. She loves my fiber work and will wear anything I give her with pride, even if it's not her colors or something she would normally choose herself. I wanted to give her something special, something she would love and I wanted to have it done in time.

Pattern: Little Arrowhead Shawl by Pam Allen (links to PDF)
Yarn: Handspun 3 ply Tencel Merino blend spun from roving from Hanksinthehood
Needles: US 7 Addi Turbo Circs
This was a wonderful quick knit. Cast on and off in less then a week. It's a small shawl, and if I had more yarn I probably would have added at least one more repeat but I only spun enough to knit the pattern Exactly. The lace is simple and easy to memorize. The shawl itself needs an good wet blocking even though the pattern suggests a light steam block, I soaked it good and stretched it as much as I could to get mileage out of it. Knitting lace in a DK/Worsted weight is super gratifying because the lace builds quickly and you can see each stitch, this would be an ideal project for a first time lace shawl knitter.

And here's the woman of honor, seated next to her life partner (my grandma is so cool) of 40 years, a man who is 15 years younger then her.
89!! I should look so good when I'm 70

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I'm Dyeing

Really I am. I was out of work sick for two days (damn treatment getting me down.) And as any loyal reader knows, I suck at lying in bed all day. Too much to do, to much to see to be horizontal all day long. I took advantage of the time at home at carded up some batts for the shop. I also messed around with some roving. Here's one of them I think I'm calling it "Desert Rose" it's 4.5oz superwash and I'll list it tomorrow.

Dessie has taken a shine to my batts and I find her stealing them if I leave them on the floor too long. Now while most dogs would chew and destroy something furry and fuzzy Dessie has a different approach
She drags them to a sunny spot and snuggles them. When I look at this picture I can almost hear her saying "Mines all mines, you can't haz it." Yes Dessie speaks like a lolcat in my head.

On the knitting front I've been working on the Little Arrowhead Lace Shawl. I spun up some Merino/Tencel from Hanks in the Hood, yes I love that shop, it was 4oz (ha-ha I originally typed 40oz but that wouldn't be a fiber thing) and I spun a dk 3 ply and stretched it to about 250 yards. I'm almost done it's a quick knit and the tencel makes it shine and gives it a lovely drape. Hopefully it will be done before Saturday because I'm intending it to go to my grandmother for her 89th (I'll give you a moment to process how old she is) birthday. I figure if you're lucky enough to live to see 89 then you deserve a beautiful handspun hand knit shawl.

I love my grandma, she's a wonderful woman who at the age she is has yet to give up her independence, she is an inspiration to me and the woman who inspired my love of fiber. At the age of 5 she decided I should learn to crochet and started me out on some Red Heart Supersaver and a saize h hook. I'm sure I didn't make much but I do remember chain stitching a mile long chain for a school project ( I think we were studying measurements of length) in the 3rd grade. Grandma thank you for inspiring me, I'm sure you had no idea what an obsession I would develop.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Fiber Friday

Okay..I'm not feeling too well. But here's some yarn I spun this week. It's all for swapping except the last yarn (cause I can't give it all away!)

I need to start the chart for the hat pattern cause I realize some knitter prefer charts but I can post the pattern without the chart tonight so let me know which you prefer. I know I've been procratinating but cut me some slack cause I'm sick.

I've so been using the I'm sick thing to my benefit I think it may be the only good thing about having cancer. I haven't had to do my own laundry or food shopping since I got sick and my father has taken to sending me random checks, like money's gonna make me feel better (okay it can't hurt) but I know that this is how he does things so I'm not going to complain.

Raspberry Sorbet from Hanks in the Hood on Etsy. I love this store I signed up for their fiber club which is an entire POUND of fiber (good stuff too like tencel, bamboo, merino and alpaca) each month for three months for the AMAZING cost of 60 bucks TOTAL. (I'M USING CAPS BECAUSE YOU SHOULD UNDERSTAND WHAT AN AMAZING DEAL THIS IS!!!!!!!!)
It's 50% Alpaca 45% Wool Top 5% Mohari 2 oz total spun lond draw to about 100 yards worsted weight 2 ply. It's so soft I can barely give it to it's rightful owner.

Up next is "Into the Blue" Hand dyed and carded by me it's a 50/50 wool top bfl mix that I spun long draw into 130 yards dk weight fulled singles.

Up next is 110 yards worsted weight fulled singles Wool Top Mohair from my Electric Razzberry colorway.

"Rose Garden" sport/dk weight Corriedale and glitz spun from batts on AspenMoonArts on etsy. About 130 yards fulled singles
The colors didn't really photograph well this is a much richer yarn then the pictures would have you believe.

And lastly the yarn I'm keeping for me. 270 yards 3 ply (I navajo plied it) superwash wool/nylon blend for socks. I'm testing out a product I hope to list soon called Sock Batts which would come with the batt and some contrasting batts in just nylon for heels and toes. I still need to spin up the contrast yarn but here's what I have so far.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Whirling Dervish

I've been spinning like a mad woman the past few days. I signed up for a few too many swaps and now my treadle foot has to pay the price.

I also want to mention that I'm featured in the Yarn Museum's current show "Singles." My White Witch Yarn
is displayed for all to see. Yes it's listed under my legal name "Tanya" so now you all know stickyfingers has a normal name. (Don't tell too many people I would hate to loose my air of mystery.) It's also for sale at the shop so if you really like it you can make it yours!

Onto other spinny things
Here is Spunky Eclectic's Fiber of the Month for October 2007 called "Goblin Eyes."

It's romney and I know it's blasphemy to say but I really don'l like romney that much. It hasn't embraced its sticky sheepy nature like Shetland does and it isn't soft like merino or sproingy like cormo. Romney to me is like a wool that wants to be something greater then it is. I say embrace your lowly roots be scratchy and greasy or be soft and smooshy but this in between shit just ain't cutting it for me right now. End rant.

Well I didn't know what to do with this fiber but I had two swaps that requested green or purple yarn and being the lazy sick lady I am these days I really didn't want to go through the hassel of dyeing up something new and experimenting with the dye pot, then waiting for the roving to dry, I wanted to spin and I wanted to spin NOW!!!. I dug through the stash monster (which is reaching epic proportions) and found the Spunky roving.

The first yarn I spun woolen with a short draw and then andean plied it on itself I wound up with about 80 yards of dk yarn
(it's not that green I don't know whats going on in this photo)
See it's nice, simple earthy and perfect for it's intended recipient.

Then I took the other half of the roving and went nuts. It seems that everyone is reading the Lexi Boeger (Pluckyfluff) books and spinning nutso crazy almost unknittable yarn. I love to look at the stuff but I would never (I'm saying never even though I know I'm probably gonna eat my words) use the stuff. I can't see how a super coil would make anything usefull but I love how it looks. I just don't have room to display all my yarn on bookshelves and not do something more productive with it. But I digress, I spun the second half of the roving also woolen and over spun it a bit. Then I plied it with quilting thread strung with metallic beads and created a boucle which has *gasp* coils!!!!
See I'm not gonna knit this, I'm giving it away so I can have the fun of spinning crazy ass yarn but not the pressure of figuring out what to do with it.

Everyone sing with me now "I've got the best of both worlds..." Okay excuse me my Hannah Montana moment and just bask in the yarn that comes from the same roving but looks very different, I like to think of these yarns as the twins from the Parent Trap. Each will go with a different parent any maybe one day they'll meet again at summer camp.