Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Holidays are coming!

And with that in mind I have a few presents already done.

First is a pillowcase I embroidered for my paternal grandmother:

I actually finished this a wile ago, but kept forgetting to post a picture.
I've started another pillowcase for my maternal grandmother and it's almost done.

I also need to make dishcloths for her, but have been dragging my feet, because they are so simple and boring.

Also in embroidery, (cross stitch to be exact) a bookmark for my mother:

(Modeled on one of Bill's textbooks)

I also want to embroider up a few cute little ornaments for other family members, our local library had a book sale a while ago and I picked up a ton of holiday crafting books.

Since I was in an embroidery kick, I made this.
I decided my new wheel needed a tote bag, so I took some denim and made it on, then I embroidered the thumb an planet logo from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy on one side, and "Don't panic" in nice friendly letters on the other:
embroideredhitchhikerbag on

embroideredhitchhikerbag don'tpanic

On the selfish knitting front, I took the alpaca/merino/mohair I spun up and knit myself a pair of mittens:

Pattern: Plait Cable Mittens
I love them, so soft and warm. The pattern was pretty good; but I have a little gripe. I hate patterns that are written for 4 (or any number) or DPNs and give instructions as needle 1, needle 2 needle 3, etc.

I knit magic loop and it is a huge PITA to convert everything where there are no actual stitch counts. (ie, knit 5 stitches, purl 2, cable, purl 2, knit 5 stitches, etc.)

I’m not sure if I got the thumb placement just right, and there were a few other bits I had to fudge due to the lack of actual numbers.
but otherwise this is an awesome pattern, and the mittens turned out beautifully.

after my mother saw my handspun hat, and then the mittens she started pestering my for a par of mittens for herself. So I've carded up some wool, 1/2 romney/perendale sliver, and 1/2 louet northern lights in violets, and I'm going to spin it up and knit her a pair of matching mittens.

But first I have to finish my current spinning project:

4 oz merino/tencel from stony mountain fibers.

It's coming along beautifully; I actually have a full bobbin done, and am working on the second half now. I'm hoping for a light fingering. I want to make myself, a nice little lacy scarf or something.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Saturday Sky

on Wednesday Bill and I went for a hike on the nature trails at the Minna Anthony Common Nature Center on Wellesley Island.

while there we decided to stop and rest at the bench overlooking Eel Bay.

eel bay sky

Saturday Sky, taken Wednesday November 5, 2008, 2:30(ish)pm

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The great fleece to sweater adventure!

One of the ladies at my Wednesday weavers and spinners group has sheep, and recently gave me two fleeces.

fleecetosweatersdventurepart1 bags

She said they were washed, and the do look it for the most part. But they are also old.

One of the fleeces has a long staple, good crimp, but is a tad coarse, and in fact, a bit crunchy and dry feeling.

fleecetosweatersdventurepart1 girl

The other fleece is rather short and fine, but also still quite greasy and tacky. The sheep was a male, and the fleece is a bit… um, strong, if you know what I mean.

fleecetosweatersdventurepart1 boy

All her sheep are a mish-mash of different breeds, and there was no note as to the lineage of either of these fleeces.

The crunchy fleece, I hoped, just needed a little hydration, I carded up a couple of ounces and spun them up, and after a nice bath with some kookaburra it seems much better, but still a little rougher than would want for a sweater.
fleecetosweatersdventurepart1 samples female

The other I took a handful and gave it a nice hot bath with some Dawn before carding it up and spinning. And not only did it smell better but it came out amazingly soft. When I was picking it to get ready for carding, I had this intense urge to cuddle up into the soft cloud of fibers and take a nap! The spun sample was nice and soft, but not very strong feeling. And if I want this sweater to stand up to a lot of wear, I need a strong yarn.
fleecetosweatersdventurepart1 samples male

Also, I noticed a bit of felting at the cut edges of the fleece, and ended up with a ton of nepps because of it. Thankfully, when I went back and looked at the original fleece, I didn't see any of that felting, so I'm assuming I was a little too rough when washing my sample, and I just have to remember to be extra gentile.

After my original samples, I blended up a 50/50 batt of the two fibers, and spun that up.
fleecetosweatersdventurepart1 samples blend

It came out way softer than the skeins of just the long fleece, but also much stronger feeling than the skeins of the soft fleece. So I think I have found my winning combination.

The next step of this adventure is to dye the fleeces up and get them prepped and ready to spin.

Wish me luck!

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