No Snark Today, Just Spinning (NaBloPoMo day 3)

So. I thought about ranting about all the crazy surrounding Hurricane Sandy and a lot of people’s ^%$%#’d up comments surrounding it, but  I’m certain that conversation will have been beaten like a dead horse by countless others, and I really don’t have anything new to add to it. So, spinning.

I got my first Turkish spindle back in 2008 at the NY Sheep and Wool Festival. Though I do prefer using a wheel I do from time to time just want to spindle. When I learned that Turkish spindles produce an automatic center-pull ball I just had to have one. I got that first one from Fessler Spinning and Weaving and have spindled almost exclusively with it.

Earlier this year, however, I noted how small the spokes were and how I couldn’t really get a whole 4 oz. of fiber onto it. Having seen other Turkish spindles with much longer spokes, I set my mind on getting a new one. One of my awesome VKC ladies told me about a wood worker who she convinced to make spindles, and before I knew it, I’d received one. I’ve been spinning with it the last couple days and I’m really enjoying it. It’s very lightweight, spins real fast, and with 5.5 inch spokes I’m sure I could about 4-5 oz. of fiber on it in one go.

Right now, I’m testing it with some merino dyed by yet another VKC chat buddy. You can’t really see it(perhaps I should have photographed the thing before I put fiber on it?) but one of the spokes has a deep pocket where the other spoke slides through it. I was told I might have a bit of trouble getting the singles/yarn off the thicker spoke, and with a tiny sample I did. I’m thinking now, though I might not have any issues with it.

With tons of fiber to spin, especially for larger quantities, the wheel is my go-to method. But after not having spun it for a while, I spent a few hours treadling like mad and wound up sore in the glutes like you wouldn’t believe. So, spindling is the order of the weekend for BeanKnits.

Hope you’re enjoying your weekend. What crafts are you up to?


NY Sheep and Wool–part 2!(The Haul Edition)

Despite the crazy that was Hurricane Sandy, October had been fairly good to me. Most years it is, because it’s my birth-month.  This year in particular I got spoiled like nobody’s business..

My Virtual KnitChat girls gifted me at every turn for my special day,  and some of us got the royal treatment at Rhinebeck as well. Knitters are some of the most generous people in. the. world.

While browsing the offerings, I did purchase a few goodies such as:

Finn fiber from Point of View Farm

1 lb. of Finn! I love me some Finn! I haven’t had any since Rhinebeck ’08, from Misty Mountain Farms. I went by their booth this year but they only had top, not roving. Bah. During a second pass-through on day 2 of the festival I found a vendor selling nothing but Finn products. Score! I will be sure to find them next time.

Little Barn haul

Another old stand-by that I did manage to get lucky with was Little Barn. I always make sure to stop by their tent and I was not disappointed. I’ve never spun Coopworth before so this will be my intro to it; 8 oz. total, plus 4 oz. of random dyed wool (maybe Corriedale?)

More goodies!

Then I scooped up 4 oz. of Falkland fiber from Into the Whirled and an oz. of Suri Alpaca with sparkle from Still River Mill. I’ve never spun either of these breeds so I’m really looking forward to them. Into the Whirled actually had a similar colorway all dyed into one braid but I chose the separated version so I could stripe the yarn myself. It finally occured to me why I sometimes get disappointed with the results of pretty colorways spun up: short color blocks get ‘muddied’ when they’re spun and plied; with separate color sections you can spin them end to end and navajo ply them for striped yarn. I’m hoping to spin the Alpaca on a hand spindle to get a really thin single. I spindle park-and-draft style so that shouldn’t be too hard.

Now, for the surprises(I told you knitters were awesome, didn’t I?):


A mystery bump from Still River Mill and the infamous Loop Bulls-eye Batt! I’m guessing the ‘mystery’ part is the colorway, as the bumps were labeled as Alpaca and Merino. *shrug*. I’d heard a few things about the Loop batts, but never really considered buying one. I actually finished spinning up the singles last night to Navajo ply another day, and I swear pulling the fiber out of the middle was like a fiber-y clown car! There appeared to be 4 different colors but there were actually 5! I like big batts and I can not lie! ;). I will do a proper review of the spinning once it’s all done.

Merino fiber

Last but not least, almost 8.5 oz. of lovely pastel ‘clown-barf’ Merino fiber. I don’t know. All I did was look at it, put it back and 10 min later it got laid in my arms. Weeee :D

So there it is!! Truthfully though, I could have left Rhinebeck empty handed and it still would have been a great time. I got to hang out with some of the coolest people I know: Yarnies!! :D Thank you ladies for an awesome time! I am truly blessed!


Knit-Chat Alphabet Knits 2012

Aran Twist Socks

The lovely ladies of the G+ Knit Chat and I have begun a year-long project whereby we are going to start/work on/complete a project based on a corresponding letter of the English-language alphabet, every two weeks. Started on New Year’s day, which was conveniently on a Sunday, and I’m now working on “D”. The rules are somewhat up to interpretation, such that we can alter project names to suit.

The socks above are my “A” project. The Aran Twist Socks were a heck of a project, mostly because I kept messing up and having to restart. Annoying as heck but user error for sure. Nice simple pattern that I would likely do again. I did a different heel than what’s listed in the pattern but the main thing is the top and leg of the foot right? :)

Next up is my “B”. I had originally thought of the Buttercup Tunic (Ravelry link) sweater but that pattern is a disaster, IMO. I read through it to familiarize myself with the construction and couldn’t make heads or tails of why it’s constructed the way it is, so I changed my mind and went for a Tappan Zee Sweater, renamed ‘Bridge Sweater’ to fit the project. So far, not bad. I’m already done with the knitting. I opted to make it into a pullover instead of the cardigan it’s designed as. Not sure if that was a good idea, or if I just used a not-very-good choice of yarn because it bloomed like CRAZY with blocking. Instead of buttons I will be adding in some ribbon to cinch the neckline and button band. Whoops.

Then there’s “C”: the Caroline Hat. Caroline Hat

This needs a ribbon and I already bought it, but you know me, procrastination galore here in Chez Bean. I bought it the same day I got the ribbon for the Bridge sweater, so at least I’m on something of a roll in terms of acquiring the embellishments. I’m sure I’ll get it done before Fall. ;)

Finally, I’m on “D”. First, understand that projects are NOT required to be finished within the two weeks, just that it should be the main thing I’m working on.

'Da Age of Brass and Steam shawl

I’m knitting The (‘Da) Age of Brass and Steam next. It’s all in my own handspun. Some of the fiber is pre-dyed Grafton Fibers Merino that I picked up in a buying frenzy when I first learned to spin back in ’06. The rest is some undyed Merino that I dyed myself, with Koolaid the following year. I’m just now getting around to using it. I’m sort of on a stash-burning quest in the process of completing these projects. Kill two birds with one stone, or something like that.

Eileen is next on the horizon, though, guess what? She’s done! Except for the zipper, which makes things easier, but I’ll likely throw in a secondary “E” project for $hits and giggles. We’ll see..


Whoops! or, Crash and Burn

That’s basically how things have been going with the spinning lately. I’ve missed a few days in the TdF. But apparently I missed more than that. I somehow mislaid a bit of the fiber I was spinning and thought I was done with it. And I also seem to have forgotten how to Navajo ply.

I think that’s why I put off finishing that little bit that remained. Because I knew I couldn’t remember how to chain ply. And I also had forgotten that singles which are going to be chain plied need to be tightly spun. Every attempt I made at getting into a groove failed because the singles would unravel and drift apart. Sigh. Add to that the fact my lazy kate is untensioned and it’s a recipe for disaster. I have decided I will have to add the extra step of winding that singles off into a center-pull ball so I can Andean(2-ply) it instead. :(

Do I make up the gaps by spinning through the second rest day? Or do I continue with the socks I’ve been working on. There are some changes with them too.

Socks on the loop

I started out with the Java socks pattern but that wasn’t working out. With this alpaca yarn, you can’t really see the stitch pattern all that well, so I’ll just keep on with the 2×1 ribbing. I’m going to run out of this yarn before I get to the toes, so I’ll be using some other yarn to finish. They’ll probably spend all their time not being seen(except in an FO photo) so I’m not really worried about them being perfect. But the effort involved in making them according to the pattern would be totally wasted if you can’t even see it.

Due to my epic failure in spinning this evening, there are no fiber photos. So I’ll leave you with the Lower Manhattan Skyline, as seen today from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade.

Lower Manhattan Skyline


A day late and a bobbin short…

HelloYarn Merino wool for Tour de Fleece

Every year, there are special fiber-craft events going on. Lacevember(and NaNoWriMo, for everyone) in November, Socktober in October, various Mystery shawls, and Tour de Fleece which is held during the Tour de France cycling event.

This will be my first time participating in TdF. I don’t have any specific spinning goals; I’m simply using this to get back into spinning. I admit I did get in over my head trying to spin an adult sweater’s worth of yarn(2 years ago) and that frightened me a bit. But I’m back in the swing of things, so to speak.

TdF began yesterday July 2nd but I’m starting today. No goals, remember? ;)

I’ll be spinning some lovely HelloYarn 100% Merino gifted to me by MUAKnits. YAY for crafting friends, huh? :) I love HelloYarn fibers, so she must have read my mind because it couldn’t have come at a better time. Alors!

Leap of Faith

It’s been a crazy past week or so. Over a week ago I got some terrible news. My Godmother had passed away unexpectedly. I was in no way ready for a funeral, emotionally or wardrobe-wise. Mary was always impeccably dressed at church and I felt I could NOT step into that sacred place looking like crap. But, life goes on and it got in the way of me making a full outfit to wear. I did manage, however to squeeze out a new skirt. I needed something long to cover my legs since it’s Winter, but simple enough that it wouldn’t drive me nuts. After those graduation dresses last year I felt like I could sew anything. But still, I was afraid of screwing it up. I’d gone down to the wire, with last-minute attempts to just buy a skirt but none was to be found.. So sew I did..

black(blue!) skirt

That’s a quick shot on the train platform on the way home. I wasn’t really in the mood for photos(obviously) but I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to get a picture of the skirt before the sunlight was completely gone.

Pattern: Simplicity 3827 in size BB
Fabric: some random blue(I’d mistaken it for black when purchased, perhaps) cotton/lycra blend from the 50% off room at Paron Fabrics
Notions: black(and some blue thread, see below!), elastic for the wasteband, size 90/14 sharp sewing machine needle.

Overall this was a very simple skirt pattern. I never had to look at the instructions and scream, “WHAT?!”. It’s a 6-gore skirt in two lengths and I chose the longer of the two. For the Spring I may go with the shorter. The pattern pieces for the skirt were just two but I’d need to make two cuts from each section on folded fabric to get the extra sections. I took the time to trace copies so I could lay out all the pieces and pin once instead of pinning, cutting, removing the piece and then pinning and cutting again.

About 2/3 of the way through I ran out of thread in the bobbin and went to refill it and got this:
Bobbin gone to hell...

I just sat there staring at it for a good 10 minutes. I didn’t give up though, kept right on going, thanks to a lovely bobbin with navy blue on it. That ran out too, but the next time I went to refill with black it went off without a hitch.

I will definitely make this skirt again. It was worth the effort and time challenge, despite the circumstances which caused me to need it in the first place.

In knitting, I also took a leap of faith with some handspun yarns I’ve had in the stash for a while. So long, in fact I couldn’t remember what the fiber content was or where I got it. After some thought I’m confident it’s a wool/silk blend, but I still don’t remember when or where I got it.

Winter Tam 2010

The fact that the yarn was a silk blend combined with a 1×1 ribbing was not a good idea for this hat. It’s already all stretched out at the brim, but I’m not sure if a soaking would help it snap back into place. I decided to knit another a bit bigger and in some 100% wool, this time some Merino 64s I got and dyed back in 2007. A week and 3 tiny skeins later:

All together now--Flickrtoys mosaic

I like this one better. The color is more accurate in the shot with the flash.

Pattern: Laura’s Floppy Beanie(pdf file)
Yarn/Fiber: Handspun Merino 64s (don’t remember where I got it from), dyed with Orange Wiltons food coloring
Notions: 3.25mm and 3.75mm circular needles with the magic loop method

Again I’m really liking this hat more than the other and it will see some serious use this winter. I thought I had a lot of the yarn around to maybe make matching mitts or something but I guess not. I do have a little left over but it’s probably not enough to work with.

That’s all for these few weeks; we’ll see what I can get into next!


I’ve been RAOK’d! and New Teapot!

Gifts and new Teapot!

The week was sorta dragging along until I got a RAOK(Random Act of Kindness) package from Nashe . She sent me the two knitting novels and some lush spinning fiber(Hello Yarn!), along with a cute little notecard. And it’s knitting themed too! I gotta find out where she got them from, I’d love to have some to send out to other crafties!! It’ll be a while before I can allow myself to play with the pretty fibers but I’m definitely looking forward to it! Crafting buddies are the best!! :D Been thinking about new knitting mysteries and this came right on time.

As I type this I’m sipping on some Adagio Rooibos Orange tea. I’d previously tasted rooibos and didn’t care for it at all. But this flavored blend is really nice; neither flavor overpowers the other. I’m thinking this, along with their Bengal Green Chai and Ti Kuan Yin are my new favorite teas!! And yes, that’s a new teapot. My first ceramic pot got sick and I had to put it down. It had fine cracks that I decided to ignore. Well, the cracks grew and got all gross inside so I had to chuck it in the trash. I miss that pretty pot and I’m glad pots like it are still being made. Maybe in a few years I’ll get another.

I had a second pot already to brew the teas because it has a built-in strainer, but the holes are a little too big and small bits of leaf were getting through. Once that first pot went kaput, I broke down and purchased the PersonaliTea pot, again from Adagio.(Sue me, their tea is reasonably priced and they deliver fast because they’re across the river!) This one is considerably smaller but! it has a mesh infuser basket that fits right in it! Makes much better tea. The smaller size is perfect for me since I drink tea alone. My only real peeve about this one is that the lid and infuser get very HOT and picking them up is tricky. Hmm.. Maybe some tiny tongs are in order.

In knitting, the Seasons Shawl is coming along nicely.

Seasons Shawl progress

That’s the third color I’m working on and soon I can add in the fourth. Why, yes, those ARE lifelines every 12 or so rows. I kid you not, if I don’t use them I fark it up lovely. I refuse to allow this project to wind up a mess because I didn’t take the time to put them in. So far, the only mistakes I’ve had to deal with were no more than half a row away. I plan to put some more rows on it this weekend if I don’t start seaming squares first. That’s right. A while back I mentioned sewing a baby blanket or two and now, everyone has popped. I admit my craft depression got the best of me and I never even started. But dangit, at least ONE baby quilt is getting made and gifted before this year is out! I must!


Gaining Confidence…

… with my spinning. Seeing the yarn come together is awesome. Visualizing the project to be done is exciting. Hoping I made the right choices is stressful.

It’s been a long road to making something I can really work with. As previously stated, I’m learning to more properly determine what size yarn I’m making. And I’m still working on really understanding how thick my singles are turning out. I’m still struggling to spin thicker singles.

I’m also learning that the form of fiber and the breed really affects the outcome. I’m seeing that carded fiber and longer staple combed fibers tend to thicken a bit with soaking/setting the twist. At least that’s how the BFL I’ve been spinning for mittens is turning out. I’m thinking it will be great for a pair of Pirate Mittens.

This might be Pirate(Mittens)

I’ve decided to go ahead and knit with the mauve-dyed Australian wool and then overdye the garment. I still don’t have a pattern in mind for it, and I’ve been trolling Ravelry for something I’ll like that uses thick yarn. I’ve yet to swatch but I get the feeling I’ll be using 8s or even 9s. This is a three-ply after all. Next time I do that I’ll have to go for a thinner single. Or leave it as a two-ply.

All hanked up and ready to go!

I’ve yet to fully measure the sweater yardage but so far one hank is coming in at approximately 147 yards. I’m sure I have enough for the mittens though. Off to swatch!

(Almost) Sheep-to-Sweater Progress

So far so good...
That photo was of the first 4 skeins.

I’ve since finished spinning the yarn for the unnamed future sweater(UFS) and the twist is being set as I type this. It’s unnamed because until I knit a swatch I have NO idea what sweater I’ll make with it. And that’s IF I wind up with enough. My only regret with using this fiber would be if the 2.5 lbs is not enough. I already know it won’t be cabled. Cables eat yarn. Garter stitch also. Though, I’m itching to try either Bel or Margot and those appear to be yarn-hungry patterns. I think this is the time to really take stock of what size I REALLY am, so I don’t make too big of a sweater and wind up running out of yarn. Over the years I found myself making things way too big because I overestimated my size.

Another issue I have with my handspun yarn in particular, is that I always underestimate the gauge on them. I tended to go by how the yarn LOOKED rather than how it knit up or how many wraps per inch it made. Well this time I have no choice but to try it and see. What might dictate what I make with this yarn is not the yardage but the gauge. That’s new to me. In the past I just bought however much I needed but in this case, since I’m spinning it myself, I have to knit something that fits the size of the yarn. It’s a slow, uphill battle trying to spin to a specific weight because I can never seem to spin a consistent singles. I suppose the only way to get that is with commercial yarns but I refuse to go there.

twist setting

This is the yarn twist being set in the bathroom. 8 balanced skeins. There was a lot more dirt/lanolin in there than I thought, because the soak water was very dirty. It’s a good thing I didn’t just go straight to dyeing. I’ll have to get a huge pot to do that anyway. I don’t want to risk major shade variations caused by using two different pots. Variations within a skein, I can live with. It’s that Oh-$hit-I-got-two-different-dyelots look I’m trying to avoid. ;)

Sigh.. I’m itching to spin something else right now. What I really should be doing is using up what I’ve already spun! Time to dig in the stash! TTFN

Thought Soup.

This is just a slapdash post with everything that’s been on my mind without any particular order.

In a recent post I mentioned how I’d probably have to spin my own yarn to get a yarn I can use for a sweater. Well, I’m on my way. I think. I’ve never been inclined to join the Tour De Fleece, or NaNoWriMo or the knitting or spinning Olympics. I’ve toyed with Lacevember and Socktober though, with miserable results.

This time, though, I’m hoping I can keep with the flow to get the FO I want. I regret being cheap with each yarn purchase instead of saving it all for sweater-quantities. I’ve learned that when it comes to Yarn/Fiber is better to have more than you need than to find yourself woefully short.

Sometime last year I got a huge amount of undyed combed wool through a friend. 5 lbs of huge. Half is Superwash wool and the other is not. This latter half is what I’m using:

co-op wool

I’m loving spinning this stuff. It’s turning out to be a very easy, smooth spin. I managed to fill a bobbin very quickly and I’m about halfway through the second one:

1 bobbin down...

This will be the first time I spin yarn for a project bigger than a hat or pair of socks. I tried doing it for a shawl, and for some reason that didn’t work out at all. I’m sure I’ll give it another shot one day.

Also, this weekend(Yesterday and Today!) is the Garden State Sheep and Wool festival and I missed it! Ack! Gah! I went in 2007 and it was a nice deal. I know I won’t make it to Rhinebeck(I didn’t in 2007 either) and would have liked to think I could do one, one year and the other the next. And damn if it didn’t sail by me this time. Sigh. I hope all my spinning/knitting/crocheting/weaving friends who did go/are going have a good time!

And hey, new Knitty!! I already love at least 1/3 of the projects in there. That hasn’t happened in quite some time. I can’t decide which project I want most: Bel, Mi Escuelita, Margot, Hatheel, or Riverbanks! And upon second glance I’m thinking I might add Kernel to the list too! Sigh. Off-hand I’m thinking maybe I can use what I’m spinning for Margot or Bel for myself but I really need to get on the ball for a Mi Escuelita for the girl beanlets because this year Fall came in really quick.

Well, back to the spinning and planning of dinner.