Monday, March 30, 2009


Floral Detail on Bamboo Cowl

I'm participating in a Cowl Swap with the lovely nuttnbunny - we are subscribed to many of the same fiber clubs, and we continue to spin and then knit very similar things. We're Cowl Soul Sistahs! We had decided a while back to work out a cowl swap with our "Buckland" fiber from HelloYarn. I knit up this little guy! It's easy, stretchy, squishy bamboo stitch with some 1 x 1 rib on the top and bottom. I had some excess and whipped up a few little flowers with the more solid sections of the yarn, and threw on some crazy buttons. To make the cowl a bit more, um, versatile? I also put buttons on the BACKS of the flowers, so they're removable. This will be heading out in today's mail!


In my continuing quest to catch up with the fiber, I spun up my March Club from Spunky Eclectic immediately upon receiving it. This is some Dark BFL in the "Myrtle" colorway and it is wonderful. The colors are so subtle and simple and lovely.

Spring has been teasing us - not quite here, but thinking about it. I've been feeling the same way about my knitting mojo these days. I don't feel super-enthused about any of the projects that I currently have on the needles, I'm not feeling any particular urge to work on any other patterns, I'm just....well, making yarn. For now. And practicing my crochet! I've joined the pot-holder and hot pad swap, and I need to get to it!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Taking Care of Business

Desert Sky

Anyone reading this is the Northeast will understand me when I say that at this point in the winter, the only thing that gets me through is complete and total resignation that it will NEVER. Be. Warm. EVER. This is how it will be for the rest of our lives.

There have been some teaser days, followed by snow storms or icy cold rain/slush. I'm not going to be fooled by those few nice days - I know how this game works, nature!

So I've been spinning a bunch - I received a lovely package from David at Southern Cross Fibre, full of brilliant colors and fluffy fibery goodness. That picture up there is the "Desert Sky" colorway in Polwarth (which is a dream to spin) and gave me about 260 yards of 2-ply yum. It has a nice shimmer to it, and pluffed up a fair amount in setting the twist. I've got some other stuff from David on the bobbin right now - in the "Fields of Gold" colorway, this time some BFL. I had nearly forgotten how wonderful it is to spin BFL - it's so delightfully springy and plush!

Meanwhile, on the needles - actually, just about off:

Dancing Socks

A mildly dodgy picture of some socks. The main yarn is Superwash Merino, spun up in the "Dancing" colorway from Knitterly Things. It's a 3-ply, and I think it's about 300 yards or so? I split the whole thing into 2 cakes, yardage-wise, and knit them toe-up. The toes, heels, and cuffs are some leftover commercial yarn (I think it may be Rowan 4-ply Soft?) and I am trying to use up every last ounce of that as well. There's some minor shaping up the leg, short-row toes and heels, and a k2p1 rib for the cuff.

These are a gift to my friend Anne, who is a lover of handknit socks. She appreciates what goes in to the making of things like this, and in the past, has refused to accept socks from me. So these are my gift to her, for MY birthday :)

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Keeping Up With Club Fibers

I've been trying to keep up with fiber club shipments as best I can. I try and keep the fiber "stash" portion of things to any excess fiber purchases throughout the year (Rhinebeck, various shop updates, gifts, etc.) and play with that stuff in between shipments. Of course, this is all a rough guideline - sometimes things fall behind, sometimes I'm just not into a club colorway or fiber, sometimes I have bigger plans. For the most part, though, I try to keep up, and I think that's what counts.

New Day!

This is "New Day" - the February fiber offering from Spunky Eclectic. This is 4 ounces of Corriedale, spun 2-ply, and I ended up with about 240 yards after a hot/cold soak and a good thwacking. I didn't do much prep to the fiber - I split it lengthwise and spun each half, then plied them together. It was a fast spin. I'm a little bit afraid that it may be a bit "Burger King"-esque, but that may just be from seeing it in process, when the colors were truly separated out.

Boys of Summer

This is the February offering from Southern Cross Fibers - 100% Polwarth in the "Boys of Summer" colorway. The polwarth is divine - it's a wee bit "sticky" and has a ton of spring to it. I also split this lengthwise, and then again, spinning up 2 lengths each to a bobbin. This is also a 2-ply, though much finer - my yield is 435 yards. I'm thinking it may get woven up into a scarf.

Thankfully club shipments do not ALL arrive on the same day - a little bit of a break and a chance to delve into the "stash" section of fiber. Or catch up on past club shipments. Or knit up some of the handspun, perhaps. We'll see what happens!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Some Vellum Love......

Veiny Calf Vellum Binding

I taught a Limp Vellum Bookbinding workshop this past week. This binding structure is really quite beautiful, and this is one of my favorite workshops to teach. The course runs for 3 days, and we create this fantastic book!

Limp vellum binding were prevalent in the 14th century. The covers of the books were formed from one piece of vellum - usually a goat or calf skin - with the textblock of the book sewn on alum-tawed thongs. The process of alum-tawing the thongs creates a leather that does not stretch as much, and it wears much better than tanned leather.

Limp Vellum - Process

These bindings were wonderful for re-binding things as well - it is not uncommon to find limp vellum bindings where the cove vellum is a sheet of old calligraphed manuscript. The textblock is sewn using a herringbone stitch, which gives it some movement, but not too much. There is minimal adhesive used. The thongs are then split and laced through a vellum cover, which has mitered, tabbed corners, and a yapp edge to protect the foreedge of the textblock. Many historic limp vellum bindings featured a yapp edge on 3 sides.

The vellum itself is hygroscopic, causing it to "move" with humidity levels. For this reason, the limp vellum structure is ideal - the textblock can easily be separated from the cover and rebound, though the vellum is easily the strongest, most durable material for covering.

Limp Vellum

Once the textblock is set within the vellum cover, the book is held shut with more alum-tawed thongs and a bone clasp. A vellum staple can be added to the doubled-over thong to keep it in place. The thong and loop closures are also attached using no adhesive.

Because the vellum is a skin, there are many variations in the weight through one cover - the skin is stiffer and less flexible along the spine, and it tends to be thicker, as well. Folding the vellum can be a bit of a wrestling match. The skin we used for this workshop was a beautiful veiny calfskin - you can see the veins of the animal it came from.

When completed, this binding is quite satisfying to hold. The vellum is very smooth, and has a subtle lustre to it. The flexible book molds to your hands. They open quite easily and are structurally quite sound.


Boys Of Summer

I've been spinning up my first installment from Southern Cross Fiber Club - this is some Polwarth in the colorway "Boys of Summer". It's a joy to spin - quite plump! And I'm excited to see it plied and done. The colors are sooooo saturated.