Spinnin' 'n Stitchin'

The last couple of evenings my husband was gone on a business trip. So, I had two evenings to myself and decided to work on two things that I haven't worked on in a very long time. 

The first one is spinning. I unfolded the wheel, oiled it and got out some wool. 


I am working on a fleece that I got at the Black Sheep Gathering a couple of years ago (!). I washed it and got most of it carded soon after I bought it. Then I started spinning it. I'm not sure exactly why, but after about 2 bobbins I just stopped spinning. I got a little more of it spun this past summer but haven't touched it since. My goal is to try to get another bobbin or two spun before Christmas. 


The second project that I have revived is my cross-stitch. I have been working on this on and off for many years and would really like to actually get it finished at some point in the near future.


All of the actual cross-stitching is done and now I am just working on the back-stitch. This is the thread that goes on top of the cross-stitches and really makes everything stand out. 

In the picture below you can see the blue area on the bottom that I am currently working on. The left part including the starfish is done while the right side and the fish are not. 


Of course, cross-stitching is always more fun when you have a corgi to help! 


Fall Cowl

If you remember a few posts ago  I had spun some yarn using the fractal spinning method. I just finished knitting this yarn up into a cowl. The pattern is Stacked Eyelet Cowl by Ami Madison. I ended up making it too small at first and had to rip it out and start again with more stitches and bigger needles. Here is the pre-blocking picture:



and post-blocking:



I think that the colors turned out pretty interesting and will most likely be trying this fractal plying method again in the future.

The cowl is long enough that I can either loop it around my neck once or twice, I am pretty excited that the weather is finally cooling down enough that I will be able to wear it soon!

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Lily was very interested in what I was doing and decided to be in the pictures as well.



She's even a pretty good model!


Fractal Spinning

I've had this wool for a long time. Well over a year. I loved the colors so much that I didn't want to mess it up by spinning it wrong, so I just didn't spin it. I recently heard about fractal spinning and decided that this would be the perfect wool to try this technique. 20130602-222115.jpg


To do this, I first split split the roving in half. I saved half and spun the other half just as it was. This makes really long stripes of color. Once that was spun onto one bobbin I went back to the other half and split it in half again, but lengthwise this time. This makes the colors form much shorter stripes. Then I plied the two singles together into a skein that looks like this:


It should have some interesting striping patterns once it is knit up, though. Not sure what it will become yet. Maybe a hat? I'll be sure to post pictures when it becomes something!

Oh, and Lily says "Hi"!


Experimental Yarn

A few weeks ago I decided to dye some wool. I had my soon-to-be-born niece in mind here when I picked the colors. I broke the fiber into pieces to start off with. The majority was in one piece, then 3 much smaller pieces. I decided to go with purple for the main color then teal, pink and yellow for the mix-in colors. I knew that I wanted to try to use my drum carder to blend the colors. Other than that I was completely winging it here. 20130601-175251.jpg

The dye did not take evenly at all. In fact, there were so many white spots in the purple wool that I dyed it again. To even out the color I decided to try running each color through the drum carder a few times.


Which worked pretty well.


Then it was time to try mixing the colors together. I evenly divided all of the colors into 6 sections and made 6 bats by randomly picking a color and running it through the carder.


Then I randomly chose a bat and started spinning. I was able to fit 3 bats onto 1 bobbin, 3 onto another and then plied them together onto the third bobbin.


Didn't turn out exactly how I expected (although I really didn't have much of an expectation to begin with). I was going for a darker purple and lighter yellow, but too late now. I think it might be ok for a baby jacket or something. We'll see...


Woolee Winder

My newest fiber toy is an attachment for my spinning wheel called a WooLee Winder. Most wheels come with a flyer like the one in the picture below with little hooks all around edge. To wind the yarn evenly on to the bobbin you need to move it down the hooks every few minutes. 20130602-212511.jpg

But, the WooLee winder is different. It's hard to see in this picture, but there is one loop that the yarn goes through. This loop moves back and forth along the length of the bobbin. This results in yarn that is very evenly distributed along the bobbin.


This mechanism works because there is a gear on the flyer that aligns with the one on the bobbin.


As the bobbin turns, the gear on the flyer turns which controls the movement of the loop up and down the bobbin.


This means that you save time by not having to stop spinning every few minutes to move the yarn onto a new hook. Also, with such evenly distributed yarn (along with the slightly bigger bobbins) you can fit a whole lot more yarn on to one bobbin.

So far I really like it. I have spun up 2 skeins of yarn. It did take a little while for me to get used to the tension of the woolee winder. It seems to add quite a bit of tension to the yarn. Once I figured this out and turned the tension on the wheel itself almost all the way down I was good to go.

The first yarn was one that I dyed a while ago with kool-aid. It is Tesswater wool from my Paradise Fibers fiber club a while back. I divided the roving in half and dyed half with cherry and the other half with grape. (Must have forgotten to take a picture of the grape half. Oops.)


Here they are spun into singles. There are 2 oz of fiber on each bobbin with plenty of room to spare.



I then plied them together. The picture is a little washed out but you get the idea.







My craft room is mostly set up and I love it! I got a desk from Ikea that fits in the corner. It's hard to see, but in the back corner of the desk I have my swift set up with the ball winder on the edge behind the chair. I am also able to keep my sewing machine out. It used to live on the top shelf of a closet which means I never used it. Maybe now that it's more accessible I will actually sew once in a while. 20130404-184047.jpg

Behind the desk is my bookshelf/yarn shelf. On top of this I have my drum carder, drop spindle and all of the knitting needles that I got from my grandma last time I visited.


The closet has the majority of my yarn. The black container to the left of the closet holds all of my spinning fiber.


It's great having so much room for all my crafting stuff. I could pretty much hang out in this room all the time. :)

Springtime Socks and Spinning

We've had some great spring weather around here lately. Warm and sunny and I've been doing lots of spinning. The skein that I just finished started off as this 85% merino, 15% silk roving. 20130318-115325.jpg

It's interesting that the roving had separate chunks of red and blue but once it's spun it looks purple.


The silk makes it shiny and it's really soft. I like how it turned out. I'm now spinning some corridale which I will have pictures of once it's all spun.

Recently I also finished some socks. This is a stitch pattern from Charlene Schurch's book Sensational Knitted Socks. I used the stitch pattern for the top of the foot and leg but used my own toe and a short row heel.


Here you can see the stitch pattern in a little more detail:


The only thing I would change if I were to do this pattern again would be to use a more solid colored yarn. I think this would make the cables show up a little better. They kind of blend in with the stripes of color in this sock.

I also finished these socks a while ago but only just got around to taking a picture of them. They are just plain socks knit from the toe up.


And, because I can't resist, here is a picture of a silly pup known as Lily waiting for the ball to be thrown at the dog park. She loves springtime, too.


Rose City Yarn Crawl

This past weekend was the Rose City Yarn Crawl. The yarn crawl involves visiting 18 Portland area shops in 4 days (Thursday-Sunday). I was able to hit a few Thursday and Friday after work, but I hit most of the shops this weekend. My husband came along for the ride on Saturday and we hit 10 shops. I hit the rest on Sunday. You print out a passport to take to all the shops to get stamped. Once your passport is full you turn it in to the last shop you visit and are entered into a prize drawing. Ever since we moved to Portland I have wanted to visit all of these yarn shops, but hadn't made it to most of them. So, the yarn crawl was the perfect opportunity to see all the yarn shops in the area.

I ended up with a good bit of new yarn and fiber.





Clockwise from top to bottom:

  • Mountain Colors Hand-painted yarn in the Harmony Sweet Grass colorway
  • Debbie Bliss ecobaby in Brown and Denim colorways
  • Sweetgeorgia sock yarn in the Boheme colorway
  • Madeline Tosh Vintage in Teddy Bear
  • Blue Moon Socks that Rock in Aurora Borealis
  • Woolgatherings fiber 70% BFL / 30% Seacell

I am super excited about all of these yarns. With the exception of Madeline Tosh I have never knit with any of these brands before so they are all new to me.

This year they even had a tote bag that you could take from shop to shop and pick up a pin for each shop you visit.



I had an awesome time participating in the yarn crawl and can't wait to do it again next year!



Lilliput Yarn

4/10/14 Edit: I have recently started dying some commercial sock yarn. Soon I will have an etsy shop named "Lilliput Yarn." Once my shop is all set up, this website (lilliputyarn.com) will re-direct to the shop.


I like to spin, but I have ended up with more yarn than I can knit in the near future. I have tried to sell it on my Etsy shop with no luck. The problem with selling something like yarn on Etsy is that people want to touch it and see the color in person. Luckily, the owner of  Black Sheep has agreed to sell some of my hand spun yarn in the shop.

I wanted to make up a cute label for the yarn, and what's cuter than a corgi puppy? So I decided to call it "Lilliput Yarn." (Lilliput is Lily's registered name and is a reference to the small people on the island of Lilliput in Gulliver's Travels.)

Lily and I had a little photo shoot. Many pictures were taken and this one was chosen:


Next, my awesome husband offered to photoshop the picture to make it look like a drawing. He did a great job and his final product ended up on the label.

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There are a total of 8 balls of yarn in a variety of materials (wool, silk, alpaca...) and weights.

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Falling Leaves

Now that I am back to blogging, I am going to try something new. The idea of this blog was to be able to show family and friends (and anyone else that is interested) what I have been working on. As I finish projects I have been storing them in a "blog" folder on my desktop. I have accumulated quite a backlog of projects there. So, my idea is to post something that I am currently working on along with something that has been finished and sitting around waiting to be shown to you. For my "old" project this post, I will show you my Falling Leaves beret. This hat was designed by one of my favorite designers- Alana Dakos. She also does the "never not knitting" podcast and blog. This pattern comes from a book called Coastal Knits that she co-wrote with Hannah Fettig.

I used Kollage Yarns sock-a-licious in the Indian Rose colorway.

My pictures are not great, but I love this hat. I have never owned a beret before, but it is perfect for this area. It doesn't usually get cold enough to need a winter hat (with the exception of the last few days) but it still keeps the top of my head warm.

One fun thing about this hat is that to block it you stretch it around a dinner plate. Kind of interesting.

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Ok, now back to my current spinning project. The roving from my last post is all dry and I have started spinning it. I just wish I had a picture of the look on my husbands face when I first showed him this roving (before he even saw the blog post about it). We both agree that it is not a very pretty sight. Although it seems that Lily still likes it as I just had to pull it out of her mouth while writing this post. I guess I left it a little too close to the edge of the table. She couldn't resist.


Here is how it looks on the bobbin so far:


The white really washes out the little bits of color that are there. I'm going to just keep spinning it, and probably make it 3-ply using the navajo plying method. Once it is all done and plied I will see what I think but right now the plan is to over dye the enitre skein. I'm thinking a darkish orange color, but I'm not sure so if anyone has any better ideas feel free to let me know!

Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival

Ever since I started spinning almost 2 years ago I have wanted to go to a fiber festival. (I would have wanted to go before I started spinning too, it's just that I didn't know such a thing existed until I started looking for spinning fiber.) One of the big ones on the West Coast is the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival (OFF). I have been planning on going since we first moved to Oregon and it was so much fun! I have never seen so much fiber in one place before. It was an entire fairground full of fiber animals, fiber, yarn, spinning wheels, drop spindles, knitting supplies, weaving supplies and basically any fiber-related thing you can think of.

First we got to see some alpacas

and sheep.


Then it was time to watch a border collie heard some ducks. The border collie had a great time, but I'm not so sure about the ducks.

Then we decided to go back to the barn to see the goats. This cashmere goat likes to pose for pictures apparently.


Once we saw all the animals we wondered around all the booths. There were so many to see and Jason patiently went with me while I ooed and awed over all the yarn. I wanted to buy everything but had to keep reminding myself that I already have tons of yarn and spinning fiber at home.

Once we made sure that we had seen all the booths we decided to go home. But then we noticed a barn that we hadn't been to yet. We went in to find that it was the lama barn. Not only that, but the lama obstacle course was in progress. Yes, I just said that there was a lama obstacle course.



We stayed to watch 3 lamas go through the course then decided to call it a day. I had a great time and already can't wait to go again next year.

Haven't Forgotten..

I thought I should post just so you don't think I have forgotten about my blog. Knitting is still happening around here, but extremely slowly. We have been unpacking boxes since we moved at the end of June but have only actually been in our apartment for barely a week if you add up the random days between trips. The good news is that the craft room is almost set up! Well, technically it's the craft room/office now. We moved from a 3-bedroom to a 2-bedroom so the craft room and office must be combined. Don't tell my husband but I have kind of taken over the room. We went to Costco the other day (yay! we now live in a place with a Costco!) and found an awesome yarn storage system which doubles as our TV stand. I spent today filling it up with yarn and realizing again that I have A LOT of yarn. (I'm so glad my husband encourages the fiber crafts even if the real reason is just to keep me out of his hair.)

Check it out:

Those boxes are bigger than you would think and most of them are full. They are sorted mostly by fiber type. Two "acrylic" boxes, a "cotton", a "wool", a "hand-spun", a "spinning fiber" and a miscellaneous "tools".  I let my husband use one of the slots for the internet hookup just because I need internet to use ravelry so it seemed fair.

This craft room has huge windows which is pretty awesome since my old one was pretty dark.

I'm sure I'll have more to show you soon since I will have lots of time to knit while job-hunting.

Summer Flies

The latest pattern I have finished is a shawl called Summer Flies. It started as some pink Picco Accaurdi roving from Paradise Fibers. I spun it up then plied it. Unfortunately I forgot to take a before picture of the roving, but there were different shades of pink spread throughout the wool. Once spun it looked like this:

I have been wanting to make this shawl for a long time and I thought this yarn was the perfect color. I ended up adding a few extra pattern repeats to make up for the yarn being a lighter weight than the yarn suggested in the pattern.

As usual, blocking was like magic with this shawl. Before I blocked it, there were lots of curled up edges and it just wasn't very good-looking.

I was kind of excited that it was finally done and forgot to take pictures of the actual blocking process. Anyway, the shawl is done! Since it is called Summer Flies I thought it would be fun to get some pictures out in the sun. I have been waiting for the perfect day to take pictures. Today I  happened to notice that one of the trees in our apartment complex had bloomed. I decided to take advantage of this along with the fact that it is so sunny and warm outside today.

I asked my very kind husband to come outside with me, my camera, and the shawl and take some pictures. I can't decide which pictures to show so I'm just going to show you a bunch of them.


We also found a bunny out in the grass, but he wasn't so amused at the idea of having his picture taken...

Catching Up

Since I was sick last weekend and didn't leave the couch, it has been a while since I have made a post here. I have been knitting up a storm but unfortunately most of the things I have been making cannot be shown here. This is because they are Christmas presents and I don't want to ruin any suprises!

I did finish up the green and gold baby sets I have been working on. You have already seen the hats, but here they are with the booties and blankets:


I have also been spinning some very interesting yarn. It came with my fiber of the month club box. It is the brightest pink roving I have ever seen. I am spinning the single strand right now, then will turn it into 3-ply yarn. I have no idea what I want to make out of it, but whatever it is, it sure will stand out!



This week I got a new yarn toy. We needed to go to Spokane again this weekend which meant another trip to Paradise Fibers. I have had my eye on a yarn swift, but didn't know how much I really wanted one until I tried to roll a ball of yarn from a hank. Just when I was over halfway through, I ended up with a huge knot and it took forever to roll it. For those of you who don't know what the heck I'm talking about, a hank of yarn is basically a huge loop of yarn that is twisted upon itself. For example, these are hanks:

Sometimes yarn is sold in this form, but it is also the way the yarn ends up after I spin it. It needs to be in this form for dyeing as well. Once you are ready to use the yarn it must be rolled into a ball, otherwise it will tangle, and will turn into a huge mess! A swift is a tool that holds the loop of yarn while you roll it and prevents the yarn from tangling. The one that I got is the Paradise Fibers Super Swift II.

I have mentioned the Masham yarn that I dyed maroon in a few previous posts. It got to be the first hank on the swift.

Once I found the start of the yarn, I hooked it up to my ball winder and started winding. As the ball winder spins, it turns the swift and the yarn smoothly moves from a hank into a ball.

And voila! It is ready to be knit!

Yarn Paradise

This week I don't have any completed knit or crochet project to show you (but don't worry - there will be some in the near future), but I do have more yarn. On Friday I made a trip up to Spokane and of course had to stop at Paradise Fibers! I got to try out their new spinning wheel that isn't even for sale yet. It looks like it will be a pretty awesome wheel when it is ready to go. Of course it just wouldn't have been right to leave the store without buying something, so I got a new addition to my fiber collection: 

I love these colors and it's superwash which means that whatever I make out of it can go in the washer and dryer without felting.

When my husband went to Alaska last month he picked up some hand-dyed roving for me to spin. (What a great husband!) It was beautiful shades of blue, green and purple. I got it spun, but am still not sure what to make out of it. Here are before and after pictures for you:


The pictures don't do the colors justice, but this is probably my favorite yarn that I have made because I love the colors so much. It is 100% merino and very soft.

Last but not least, remember this roving?

It is the Masham wool that I got as part of my Fiber of the Month Club.  This was a really easy and fun fiber to spin. As usual I spun it into singles first:

Then used the Navajo plying method that I discussed in a previous post. This made a nice sturdy 3-ply yarn:

I love how this yarn turned out. It has now been washed and is drying outside. I have exciting plans for this yarn, so this will not be the last you will see of it.

Spin, Spin, Spinning

Well, my week sans husband is almost over. I still have tons of knitting and crochet projects that I didn't get to this week, but I did get lots of spinning done.

From left to right: baby camel, alpaca/silk mix, and the last three are corriedale.

The baby camel is so soft! I tried to spin it pretty thin so that I could make something lacy out of it. This yarn is darker brown than it looks in the  picture on the right, and I think it would make a pretty shawl or stole for the fall. One thing I discovered with yarn is what a distinct smell wet camel fiber has. Good thing it was so hot outside I just hung it up and didn't have to smell it for long!

The three yarns shown above all use a new plying method I just learned called Navajo plying. This is a way of making 3 ply yarn from one strand. If you want to see a video of this technique in action check out this YouTube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JmlwtojLXI8 (you might want to fast forward to about a minute into the video). You might recognize the colors of the first 2 yarns shown above. These were the 2 colors that I plied together to make the yarn that I showed you last post (or far right on the first pic of this post). I still had a bobbin of each color left and decided to use the Navajo method to ply them individually. The orange/pink yarn turned into a really pretty variegated yarn. The third picture above it a 50/50 alpaca and silk mix that I got from the Paradise Fibers fiber of the month club. I also used the Navajo ply method, but made this a much thicker yarn. I think this may end up turning into a nice, thick pair of mittens.

While that's all for the finished yarns, I have some roving that is being dyed as I type this post. It is also one of the fibers that I got as part of the fiber club. It is Masham wool, and I decided to dye it a deep red/purple color. I have 6 ounces of roving, and I used 6 packets of black cherry Kool-Aid and 2 packets of grape. Here is the before picture:

And the after...

As soon as it dries it will be spinning time again!

Did someone say yarn?

This weekend was all about cataloging and organizing my yarn stash. I'm not sure how it keeps growing, but it does. Ok, I know exactly how it keeps growing but I just can't seem to stop accumulating more of it! I have been meaning to go through the yarn for a while and enter it into my ravelry.com stash to keep better track of it. This weekend was the perfect weekend for this event because while my husband is out-of-town for the week I have turned the living room into the yarn room. I'm starting to like it this way. I think it should stay this way permanently, unfortunately my husband probably has other thoughts... Here's the entire collection pre-sorting. A yarn mountain!

It has now been entered online so I can keep track of what I have. It is still sitting in the living room, but somewhat more organized so I have space to work:

As you can see, the wheel is positioned to see the TV, all my knitting needles are accessible, my knitting project (which I will tell you about in another post) is out, and the computer sits in the middle so I can type this post.

After seeing how much yarn I have I decided that I need to start making some projects to eat through the stash. So, I decided to do a scarf. It is a simple scarf knit the long way in straight garter stitch. I used size 11 needles, cast on 200 stitches and went to town with all kinds of scrap yarn. Here is the end result that I finished this morning:

I'm still not sure if I really like how it looks, but it successfully used up some odds and ends that I had hanging around.

When I wasn't working on the scarf, the spinning wheel has been running. I have been working on the red/pink/orange roving that I showed you in the last post. I spun the red on one bobbin, then alternated the pink and orange on a second bobbin.


Then, I took one strand from each bobbin...

...and plied them together.


I didn't know what to expect from this, but it turned out interesting. If I were to try this again, I would probably use one of the lighter colors as the main color since the red is kind of overwhelming. I can't wait to see it knit up into something! :)