Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Handspun & Winter Sun

Piles of Handspun

I've delved head-first into a non-bloggable knitting project, so I thought I'd throw some handspun eye candy up here in the meantime! This stuff sure accumulates! It also tells a story of my progress as a spinner - there are some yarns in there that I am not too thrilled with, there are others where I do not care for the fiber. It serves as a reminder that I need to get better at labelling fiber content and yardage, as well.

Lots of fiber club stuff in there!

So I'm on a brief break from spinning as I plow through some test-knitting. I'll most likely get back to it in a day or two - it's meditative and calming. I'm also catching up with some bookbinding projects that have been back-burnered for a bit - I'm doing some layout work in order to be able to print books in sheets for binding. It's slow-going and nitpicky, but I'd rather take the time and really really get it right instead of constantly having to tweak it before every print run.

Summer Solstice Stone

Meanwhile, winter weather continues to taunt us. This is a picture of one of the solstice stones at America's Stonehenge, which I visited this past weekend. Many of the ruins were still buried under snow - and there's more snow coming tomorrow! - but it was an interesting site to see, and a lovely hike through the woods. I'll definitely be returning there once the ground thaws.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Out & About (A Little Bit)

I met up with my friend Maritza from high school - turns out we've both been living in Boston for the past couple of years and only recently reconnected! We rendezvoused in Harvard Square, played a bit of catch-up, talked knitting, and visited this Shepard Fairey piece outside of the Tannery. It was nice to see one up close and personal, and check out the workmanship and layers. Also, the brick coming through and the texture......quite stunning, actually.

Maritza kindly gifted to me some yarn, as well! These 2 little lovelies of sock yarn - one skein of Vesper Self Striping Sock Yarn in the "Algae" colorway, the other Sundara Sock in "Ivy". These are wonderfully plush, and the colors are so completely rich and saturated. I've started the great pattern search to find just the right pattern to highlight these yarns. Any ideas?

Earlier this week I had a field trip to the Boston Athenaeum - my 3-month Bookbinding students and I reunited for a tour of the conservation lab. It was lovely! The Athenaeum is in a beautiful building behind the Granary Burial Ground, and the conservation lab overlooks the cemetery.
It was wonderful to go behind the scenes and see what they were working on, what the space was like, how they decided what to work on and what the treatment options were. It was fascinating!

One of my students had recently taken a paper marbling workshop and brought me this stunning piece of paper that she made during that course:

This paper is worked in 2 separate layers, allowing the first to dry completely before setting down the color for the second layer. The pattern for both layers is similar, with only the color varying. Stunning! I don't know what to use it for yet......we'll see what I can come up with.

Monday, February 9, 2009

In Which I Complete A Knitted Object

Finished, and fast:
That's the ZeeBee hat, and man-oh-man is it a fast knit! This one here is made out of Hello Yarn Fat Sock in the Sand & Sea colorway. It took just a bit under one skein, and it is knit on US 5s. It's quite delightfully soft, and the garter stitch really makes the hand-dyed just POP! This little gem went to Young Sef, but I definitely see more iterations of this hat in my future.

Meanwhile.....I continue to work on lace. No progress pictures there because, well, it's lace, so until it's blocked it really just looks like a big lump of purple and green and white rice noodles. But! I'm past the halfway point in the charts, but as the size increases, I'd guess that I am actually only 1/3 of the way through the actual knitting. It's going smoothly, and I'm enjoying it - it's been a while since I've had any lace on the needles, and I'm finding it to be much more relaxing than I remembered it.

I'm also looking at piles of patterns for a cowl for nuttnbunny - she's my cowl soul sistah, and we're doing a Cowl Swap with our handspun "Buckland" - the November colorway for the HelloYarn fiber club. Oh goodness - I was going to post a picture here but I don't seem to have any of that yarn! I'll be sure and get one up. It's a lovely acid green and deep plum wine.

Friday, February 6, 2009

A Little Bit of Light

The winter just keeps on coming. The snow has no chance to melt before there is more covering it all up. In light of that, a little bit of spring to brighten the cold away:This amaryllis is in the dining room and opened up yesterday. The second bloom on there should be open in a day or two. It's nice to have a wee bit of natural color in the otherwise cold and snowy scenery!

Meanwhile.......more spinning. I'm still catching up with some club fibers, hoping to get things taken care of before next month's fiber arrives. This is a bit of "Twilight", the January Club offering form Spunky Eclectic.This is a 2-ply spun from organic merino - it is the softest EVER. The original roving had one dark end of greys and one dark end of purples. I split the entire length of it in half and spun it up quite plump - I ended up with one bobbin leaning towards mint & grey tones, and the other light blues and purples. Combined: this plush lusciousness. It's so freakin' lovely. And about 315 yards.

I've even taken up some knitting! I tend to not knit in January - I think it's some sort of vacation from all of the holiday crafting - and sometimes it seeps into February as well. But seeing as I'm accumulating a rather large stash of handspun, I thought I'd throw something onto the needles.
I've finally cast on for the Fern Garden Shawl (Rav link) - I had picked up the pattern a year or two ago, and just never got around to it. It just happens to have the same yardage as my Rocky Mountain High handspun from a week or so ago! And I thought that the merino/silk would add a lovely drape to the pattern. It's quite an easy knit so far, and the yarn is very nice to work with - I'm interested in seeing how the striping of the yarn balances out over the length of the shawl. Also, the pattern calls for 20 beads along the lower edge - I haven't chosen anything yet; I figure I should actually get somewhere near that portion of the pattern before I take a break to find beads. The nepps are keeping it interesting as well - the tough part (p5tog?!?!?) is worked on the purl rows, so there's no rest!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Catching Up With Fiber Clubs

"Norway" colorway. Hello Yarn Fiber Club, January 2009. BFL, about 275 yards, 3-ply.

Yes, still spinning. Trying to get through some of the piles of wool around here. And again with the 3-ply! The colors in this were so vibrant and so separate from one another - I wanted to maintain a *bit* of that, but I didn't want to have extreme striping. And.....I've been loving the 3-ply lately. I split this up into 6 different bundles, and flip-flopped them in order to avoid intense striping. The colors still remain fairly vibrant and wonderful - I have another 4 ounces of this wool which I may spin as a 2-ply instead (you know, to keep things interesting).

I've got the January 2009 Spunky Eclectic club offering on the wheel right now - it's called "Twilight" and is a plump, wonderful organic merino. It's been wonderful to spin, and I'm excited to see how much it blooms in washing and setting the twist. The dye has come off of it onto my hands a bit; I'm hoping the bleed will stop in setting.

I'm planning a trip - heading down to south-eastern Florida in April. By car! If there are any suggestions regarding fiber and/or Roadside Americana, please do let me know.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Batts, Or A New Crazy Beginning

I was teaching a Non-Adhesive Bookbinding course this past week. I've been teaching this specific course for about 8 1/2 years now. I don't think that I am burnt out on teaching this, but I have seen a lot of the "standard" problems that arise. So I discuss them. This has led to the core curriculum of the course being completed in 3 or 4 days, and this is a 5 day class. I have a bunch of things up my sleeves for such occasions, but at this point, I'm realizing that those things up my sleeve have also become a part of MY curriculum when teaching the course, such as this Secret Belgian Binding. I don't know if this progression is good or bad.

Meanwhile, in the world of fiber:

I finally got a chance to play with my drum carder - I am participating in a batt swap, and these are my very first batts, heading out to Maryland. Since I wasn't quite sure of what I was doing, along with feeling a bit adventurous, I carded up a little bit of everything in nature colors. These batts are made up of merino, corriedale, a bit of soy silk, and some sparkle and camel down. I'm happy with them; I hope my swap partner enjoys them.

The drum carding process is a ton of fun, but also a bit overwhelming! So many possibilities! I'm reading up a bit more on what I can do, and hoping to get around to dying some fiber specifically for carding. I'm enjoying the blending possibilities, both for colors AND fibers. And what girl doesn't liek a wee bit of sparkle in her life?