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?):

Batts!

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!

TTFN!

NY Sheep and Wool Festival… or, Rhinebeck 2012!

After a 4-year absence I got the chance to hit the NY Sheep and Wool Festival, aka Rhinebeck, again. The first time I went, I only spent the Saturday there, but after spending the weekend in 2008, I knew I’d have to continue making a serious vacation of this experience.  And, so it was a weekend this time too.

The highlights are as follows:

People:

LetteKnits, HeiressKnits, CiciCarry

(L-R)LetteKnits, HeiressKnits, and CiciCarry!!

G+ KnitChat finally meets.

My G+ KnitChat crew, clockwise(VivianneKnits, me, Monetb56, PDXLaceknitter and TamiKnits– we all rode up together except for Viv who freaking LIVES up there! I am Gel- Us!
Food:

Maple Cotton Candy!

Maple Cotton Candy, ohhh so good. I was holding out for these delectable soaps I found in ’08 from a vendor with no online presence, but alas, he was nowhere to be found.

and Fiber goods:

Untitled

Lots of decorated wheels. I keep saying I’ll do up mine, but I get lazy and scared of messing up so..

And don’t forget the sheep!

Untitled

Cheviot girlie!

And just think, I did this times two! We stayed all day on Saturday til we just about got kicked out, but left early on Sunday to avoid the crazy that is trying to get out of the parking lot all. at. once. Live and learn.

So much to see and do and tried to take photos of it all. Wallet in one hand, camera in the other and a ton of fun was had.

I will have to make a separate post of the actual haul, as I’m still trying to recover(and make room!)

 

If you’re heading out to SAFF this coming weekend, I hope your experience is just as, if not more fun!

 

TTFN!

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..

TTFN!

Addiction–Not Pretty, but perhaps Useful

That was the theme for a recent photo from my 365 challenge. I’m referring to a washcloth pattern that I found, when looking for something small and portable to work on while running errands that required long waits or travel.

Washcloth in progress

I had about 8 or 9 balls of dishcloth cotton. I was supposed to make some new potholders but got sidetracked by a stuffed animal pattern, only to abandon that(for the time being), to wind up working on the washcloths. The pattern is easily remembered and that only fueled my crochet addiction.

I’ve got some Sugar n’ Cream ‘Denim’ yarn which is a bit thinner than the regular style. I’m going to make towels with those instead of cloths. Can always use more kitchen towels, right? ;)

I’m making minimal progress with Eileen. I’ve long since finished a front but I had to rip the second front when I realized I’d done too many waist decreases. Oopsie. I should be picking that up again in the next few days. It’s just the portable, mindless, addicting washcloths came into my life and totally took over.

On another note, I might wind up dropping the second towel to get back into wearables for the Beanlets. It’s getting cooler and that means hat and scarf time. Littlest is begging for gloves instead of mittens. I really am not a fan of knitting all those fingers. I convinced her to stick with mittens by telling her that your hand stays warmer if all your fingers are together; like in a mitten. She went for it, so I’m off the hook for now. ;)

I’ve got some undyed Merit brand 100% wool I picked up a the Save-a-Thon a while ago, I was making a shawl from it but it’s just too thick and not very shawl-like. It’ll make a decent hat for her and that’s what it’ll become. I just need to find a suitable pattern.

That’s what’s been going on with the yarn-craft.. If you’re looking for photos, check here!

Halfway There; In the Zone

I forgot how ‘in the zone’ I can get when I’m spinning. I can just prep my fiber and go. Adding on and adding on and lose track of time. All of a sudden, I’m half way there.

TdF day 6(5 for me)

Above: HelloYarn “Gestures” 100% Merino wool

As of this writing, I’ve since finished plying it and it’s awaiting a bath to set the twist.

 
Creatively Dyed singles

Next up is some Creatively Dyed bamboo/wool I got at Rhinebeck ’08.  I’m spinning it really thin, so I can navajo-ply it. It’s going so fast, that though  I’d originally figured it would be ready to ply on Wednesday, it might get done on Tuesday instead. So I’m looking forward to finishing this and moving on to the next fiber.

Today is actually supposed to be a rest day, but I decided I will spin today to make up for my starting a day late plus missing a day. Truth is, I’m having too much fun to stop at this point! ;) I’m thinking, had I started on time and not missed a day I’d be done with the bamboo/wool and onto the next thing anyway. It’s all good.

 

TTFN!

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!

Fleece Festivals, Beanstalks, and ZOMG I ruined my Shawl!!

I know I promised a post about Mother’s day, shawl WIP photos, tea and potholders. That’s not gonna happen. At least not yet. Haven’t started the potholders and probably won’t for a while yet. Tea’s not really that big a thing to talk about here so I’ll leave that out. It’s rained probably 10 of the last 11 days so I couldn’t get any decent shawl WIP pics(though I will discuss the shawl and why the pic didn’t happen the one day it was sunny), and Mother’s day was really uneventful. So there.

Let’s get this show started!

I did get a gift for Mother’s day from Littlest Beanlet though. She brought a little seed packet with some dried organic green peas, a little slotted planter box(kind of like what berries are sold in), and a little baggie of soil. I planted the peas that day and 11 days later we have this:

Progress!

I put in 5 peas but only 3 stalks have emerged. Remember, how with the other plants I tried last year I lamented my lack of full sun in the livingroom. This little plant has spent most of its time on my the windowsill in my son’s room, where there’s more sun. So far it’s been thriving somewhat. I’ve been thinking about getting more peas and taking another chance at growing something. It hasn’t been all that sunny the last week or so and yet this thing just grew like wild! It’s quite encouraging..

Speaking of lack of sun, that last time we had a nice warm day I set out with the hubby to the local Botanical Garden again. Just the two of us for a little date. We had a great time, despite learning that we’d missed the cherry blossoms and magnolias. Aww. But we had an awesome time exploring the new Azalea garden:

At the Azalea Garden

There was a guy there with his tripod taking pictures and I was wishing I’d brought mine so I could get a picture of both of us, but a kind lady offered to take the picture when she saw me taking solo pics of him. Thank you lady, wherever you are!

On the way out the garden I was hoping to get a spread-out shot of the shawl but I couldn’t. When I pulled out the work I noticed I’d left it with a few stitches left to that row and the needle had come out of the short side!! Ugh. I put the needle back in and then realized some of the stitches seemed to have been dropped down a bit. I spent maybe 10 minutes standing there trying to figure out how many I’d lost(remember lace means YOs and such, which complicates counting rows), and wound up having to give up because we were running late to get the Beanlets from school in time. So I never got the picture I wanted. And I was horrified at not being able to figure out where the stitches were dropped exactly without just ripping back a few rows. The lifeline was back by about 10 rows and had partially snaked out of the row so ripping back would have required going back 21 rows!!(I had the lines every 12 rows). I was so heartbroken I didn’t even touch the shawl for a few days. When I finally did pick it back up again and really counted the row I discovered I’d screwed up the count somewhere and that I was initially correct in the number of stitches I’d first attempted to pick up. Phew!

Between all the recent crazy going on in the media and the seemingly unending rainy days, I was glad to get out of the house for a little sun and warmth with the Beanfamily. The Prospect Park Zoo was holding its annual Fleece Festival and since I’d missed every one of them since I’d first heard about it several years ago, I packed up everybody and we headed thataway. There were some tables hosting spinning and felting demos, as well as small weaving looms. Boy Beanlet took to the loom like a moth to a light:

I've rubbed off...
He did NOT want to leave! In the back of my mind I was thinking, “Hmm.. Maybe I can get a small loom if I tell hubby Boy Beanlet wants it, instead of me…”. Bad LadyBean! ;)

During the festival, there was to be two sheep shearing events and I got to take pictures and video of one of them! Yay!:

Cotswold Sheep pre-shearing

That cutie wasn’t too thrilled once she realized what was going to happen, but eventually she calmed down and took it like a trooper! Click through the photo to get to a video of the shearing! (approx. 6 min. long)

It was a glorious day and I’m glad I got to spend it with the people I love the most. :)

Stay tuned for more crafty fun!

TTFN!

Discovery

Can you believe I’ve had a pair of socks in the WIPs pile for almost 2 years? 2 YEARS! I don’t think I’ve ever had a sock WIP for that long. I knit knee-length socks in 3 months! Shame on me. I don’t have an FO pic of them yet as I’m saving them to wear tonight to a friend’s birthday dinner. I must remember to get a shot of them while there. In the meantime I have some in-progress shots of me finishing the heels and the ‘new’ tool I used to get them started:

Trusty Seamripper

I’ve always been a little nervous about cutting open the contrasting yarn seam on afterthought socks. In fact, when I picked these up to finish them today I was silently swearing to never knit a pair of socks with a heel like this again. I don’t have a pair of small enough scissors to really get in there so as to minimize the risk of accidentally cutting the wrong strand.

Not quite nutkins getting done 001

Then I got a crazy idea to use my seam ripper. And it seemed to work well:
Rippity Rip!
Just taking my time.. going slow..

Rip Rip Rip!

Phew!

All done!

All finished. Then it was smooth sailing. I did almost nick a strand near the corner when I first started but thankfully it has 10 plies so it should hold up well. If not I’ve got plenty of the yarn left to darn a hole. ;)

Now to start a new pair of socks and hope those don’t take 5 years!

TTFN!

Just Doing It.

That is kind of how I feel about my latest craft projects. Other than baking for special occasions I’ve been contemplating practicing my baking a little more. I’ve always farked up whole wheat bread. It was always hard, and flat. Nothing I tried worked. But recently I read something about “vital wheat gluten”, which is supposed to help wheat breads rise better. I’ve yet to actually try it but hopefully sometime this weekend I’ll get around to it.

I did manage to make some banana bread, though:
Banana Banana Bread

from this recipe.

I’m thinking I should have added that 4th banana in there. Some of the reviews do indicate that extra banana would improve the moisture but I didn’t listen. Or perhaps the addition of baking powder may have something to do with it. In previous incarnations, with a different recipe the bread was always kind of flat and that one didn’t call for baking powder either, so I figured that was the problem. This loaf is somewhat taller but not by much(I’m starting to think other people are using a smaller pan than my 9×5′er, which could mean nothing I do will yield a taller result). Oh well, it’s still very good, even if a little on the dry side. Nothing a hot cup of coffee or tea or a glass of cold milk won’t fix.

In knitting I’m also slowly starting up. Oh I’ve knit the occasional hat or mittens or some other whimsy but one of the things I’ve been wanting to knit more of is sweaters for ME. Sadly, though, I’ve been quite reluctant to do so because of the four disasters in my knitting past: namely, the felting of my Cheesylove pullover, the shrinking of my beloved Central Park Hoodie by my MIL, and the fact that I ran seriously short of yarn for the handspun Heather Hoodie. Not to mention, the failure of kiddo’s Basic Black.

Eileen back

Enter Eileen. I just decided to jump in and do it. Of course the decision was facilitated by a sale at Michaels. ;) I went with a bold color that I love and so far the knitting is going ok. I was a little uneasy with the shifting charts; if you look at the back photo you’ll notice there is a center panel and two side panels. The side panel chart only has 6 rows but the center one has 8. The first repeat of the two charts started out with the same rows, only to have me start the side panel chart AGAIN before finishing the first repeat of the center panel. And there I was thinking I’d print the charts on the same sheet of paper and use one long strip of highlighter tape to track the rows. Sigh. Oh well. I guess I could still print them together since they’re small. But it hasn’t been a major hassle yet.

Now, while I did enhance my stash for this project I have been working from stash I already had.

Crochet Box

I had 3 balls of Lamb’s Pride Bulky laying around, seemingly forever, and decided now was the time. The other day I just started crocheting these rectangles, not even knowing what I’d do with them. I just needed to be doing something with my hands. My son came in the room and asked if I was making a box. I looked at the panels and just decided, yeah, I’m gonna make a box. And I did!

I’ve read that crochet is harder to felt than knitting and I’m seeing this may very well be true. I would have thought with the yarn being a single ply that it would felt lovely but, the crochet won out. You can still see some of the stitch definition. Also the finished item isn’t as sturdy as knit felt would be. There’s no way that box would stand up to the spindles, but this is even floppier than normal; everything is actually sitting in a hard plastic bucket the kids got a few Halloween’s ago. Eh, it works, right?

I hear Eileen calling so I’d better go see what she wants.

TTFN!

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.

Details:
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.

Details:
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!

TTFN