Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Agonies of indecision: Which shall it be?

Shall I make another Morning Surf Scarf (free pattern!),

...or another Garterlac Scarf like the one I just finished?

for this:

Just FYI, the "Garterlac Scarf" is actually named "Slotted Neck Scarf with Entrelac Knitting" and is Suzanne Pufpaff's (Pufpaff's Fiber Processing) own pattern.

The stuff I am spinning is so lovely, with its many subtle shadings of blues, browns, melding into whites - all of them quiet, gentle colors reminding me of a late Winter's day, with the sky so blue and the brown Earth still covered in snow, but melting at last. The Garterlac Scarf would work so well to express that! But, then again...

I am reminded of the Winter ocean with her cold, blue waters foaming almost-white against the sandy, shell-strewn beaches. The Morning Surf Scarf would be perfect for this imagery.

Which, oh, which shall I make?!? I wish you could see this yarn's sheen and luster. I suppose you could, if only I was able to take good pictures. My camera-skills are legendary. For their poor quality, that is. In the skein photo, it appears as if some of the browns have a green-ish cast, but I assure you - they don't! That's just my lack of photog skills shining through. Guess I'd better have dd try her hand at it.

I wish you could feel the warm, silken hand and surprising drape. I didn't know a rather tightly-plied yarn would still have such nice drape! I had to spin it rather tightly due to the general shortness of fibers, and - being so eager to see it "done" - I then Navajo-plied the first bobbin (the second just barely begun).

Because of the extremely uneven character of the dyed areas across the loose roving, I knew I couldn't get a satisfactorily shaded (to me) 3-ply. Once again, I had recourse to the good old standby of Navajo-plying. I'm so grateful someone invented it; what an excellent way to keep color-runs together to obtain a certain effect!

If only I'd had 8 ounces of this exquisite 50 silk/50 Merino, I would make both! Does anyone out there have a preference, or should I just toss for heads/tails? Take my poll and help me out, here, please!

Winter's End:

I think I forgot to mention that this fiber came from Leah of Yarn Or A Tale - wonderful stuff! - and she ain't got no more of that particular dye batch :-( Dang it.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Entrelac (garterlac) Scarf done!

Well - it's been simply ages since I posted. The days have just whizzed by. I got this scarf done 2 days before Christmas and got it to its recipient - and forgot to take pictures. As usual!

The fiber is Falkland from Laughing Rat Studios (thanks, Jenn!)

and the pattern is from Suzanne Pufpaff of Pufpaff Fiber Mill.

She has some really interesting patterns and I wanted to try her simplest one as I'd never in my life done entrelac. It was a weird experience, but I'm so glad I persevered! I changed her pattern quite a bit (mostly making it narrower), but it still looks much the same as her original one. I used size 6 needles (4mm) - and they were the totally cool Kollage square circular needles. WONDERFUL needles!

The biggest changes I made to the pattern was that I only knitted the leaves up to 30 stitches wide, and I changed the entrelac "rectangles" to squares by using garter instead of stockinette. Then, for the number of stitches in the squares, I kept them at just 8 stitches wide, rather than increasing them up to 10 or 11, as the pattern called for. But other 'n' that - it's just the same!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

You know your house is cold when...

you go to bed fully dressed (well, minus the boots), flannel pyjama pants on over the leggings, wool socks, thermal shirt, large wool shawl over the shoulders, heavy denim skirt, heavy wool scarf over the head and ears, 2 very heavy quilts and one heavy, double-knitted blanket. And you're still :::shivering:::.

In case you're wondering, dh looked about the same, but he has no knitted wool shawl, poor thing. Perhaps he will never again whine that his hand-knitted, Cherry Tree Hill, totally gorgeous, handknit socks are (hold your breath):

"too hot".

He's lucky not to have been moved out to the garage for that crack this Summer.

I really, really HATE Winter. Hate it. I hate and despise everything about it. I don't understand people who say crazy things like: "I LOVE snow and cold weather! I can hardly wait to freeze my tushie off!"

Me? I think they've cracked up. Totally. That's not freaking normal by any sane standards on Earth. Unless you're a penguin at the South Pole. Or something.

Bears are smart. THEY know when to stay in out of the cold.

I'll post about knitting and spinning as soon as my fingers thaw sufficiently. Right now I'm using a pencil held between my teeth...

just kidding, guys :-)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Did I ever show you this wheel?

THIS is what I would love to have for a bulky/artyarn wheel! It's Pocket Wheels by Doug. Yes, I know - A Ladybug has my name on it...somewhere, somewhen, but it doesn't spin bulky - and that's what I'm needing. This Pocket Wheel is just too cool! I know - I'm beginning to obsess about a bulky spinner. I never thought I would want (let alone need) one. Oy. That's what I get for Spinning My Imagination: more flippin' wheels to buy. Hm. I wonder if Harvey could make something like this?!? Oooh - I'm going to ask him!

Also - on a VERY happy note, little "Charlie" (our new foster Brittany) actually came OUT of his crate and jumped up on me to lick my face! How about that, eh? Needless to say, I am so pleased! He might be even younger than we thought for him to try to make friends this soon. This is great!

One goes out...and another

comes in. I am a bit discouraged - I admit it. This gets old really fast, people dumping their unwanted animals just any old where - no food, no water, no nothing :-(. I mean, what would be SO hard about taking their unwanted animals to a freakin' shelter, for crying out loud??? Are they afraid of "what people would say" if they used a shelter? That's what they're FOR!

"What people would say" is a whole LOT worse when they find an animal's been dumped! At least the poor animals get fed at a shelter. But they don't get fed when they're in the middle of a freakin' field! Figure it out, you selfish jerks!

I sometimes fantasize about slapping the irresponsible jerks into next week, after having starved them for a couple of weeks, first.... I find myself grinding my teeth into powder...

As well, my poor Meems has been sick as a dog (no pun intended!) almost this whole week with a hideous sinus infection. She rolled out of bed around noon today looking almost human. Her eyes were a bit unfocused, but at least the fever's gone, thanks be to God!

We finally found a Forever Home for our sweet, goofy little Brittany foster girl, Ginger. Yes, she really did lay like that. ALL the time :-) Isn't that a hoot? That denotes GREAT hip sockets, btw - probably no hip problems in later life. But I miss her so much! We all do, and the day's been kind of a bummer all around.

She left early this morning on her long journey to the North, all the way up to Michigan, where she will have 3 other Britts to run and play with. She'll have a 10-acre wooded area and fenced yard to run and play in (lucky little girl!). I can't help but worry about her, though: is she scared because her Family (us!) isn't there anymore? It makes me sick to think she might be scared. We took one of Dave's old t-shirts and rubbed it on ourselves and the other dogs (they miss her, too!), and sent along her big Barbie sleeping blankie (Meem's old comforter) with her and lots of treats and toys. I sure hope she will be happy and not miss us!

ANYWAY...we already have our next foster here. We don't know his name, of course, because his former owner apparently abandoned him up near Salina when the dog proved to be gun shy. Damn all "hunters" who don't know squat about being a REAL hunter! This poor dog had no collar (of course not) and is very thin, though thankfully not skin-and-bones like most of our rescues are.

It looks like the poor young fella was on his own for a good week before a REAL hunter found him, cowering under his truck, terrified of the gun shots. This was a hunter who used to raise his own Brittanys (and still has 5 of them). He took him back home to Andover with him and contacted American Brittany Rescue to let us know he'd found a dumped Britt who needed a home, then fed & watered the poor dog. Kept him overnight until we could get him (thank you, Larry!)

This poor baby is so scared of people, he just cowered and shook when he got here this afternoon. That means only one thing to me: he had to have been beaten and abused by his former "masters". Just give me a rubber hose and 15 minutes alone with him/them in a locked room. That's all I ask. Hell, I'll settle for TEN minutes.

We FINALLY got him to take a bit of turkey this evening (he loved it!), but he still won't look at us - doesn't dare :-(. He lets us pet him, but he just freezes, not responding to our strokes or anything. I could just cry in rage for what was done to him. He's around 2 years of age - this young'un should be silly, bouncing, frisky and into everything. He should be driving me distracted by tearing up everything he sees. That's a normal 2-year old Brittany: just plumb crazy. Not this pretty boy, though. Maybe he'll warm up to us a bit later tonight or tomorrow.

I've got to arrange for his neutering and chipping, asap. Boy - next week is already looking mighty busy! Forget the Christmas knitting - it ain't gonna happen. No way. *sigh*

I had SO looked forward to some relaxing spinning. But stayed tuned...I'll get back to the wheel soon. I've got about 4 of 8 oz hand-dyed Merino spun up (from April of The Gourmet Sheep). Lovely colors - not really pastel, but not dark, either. It should Navajo-ply up into a beautiful yarn - I hope! Yes, I'll get a photo posted - after the batteries are charged. I swear, those batteries don't hold a charge worth anything! I wish I could afford a plug-in power source for it!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

IntroDUC ing...Knarly Knots™!

That's what we've (Shelly and I) named it: Fairyspun Knarly Knots. Whaddya think? It's definitely gnarly stuff. Looks like I stomped all over it before pulling it through my teeth.


No, I promise! I didn't! It just looks like it, I said.

Baaad roads out there, folks...

Hubby said it took him nearly an hour to get home; his usual drive-time is around 20-25 minutes, shorter if he's coming home earlier or later than the normal rush-hour craziness. He said he slid alllll the way home :-(. I am so glad I didn't realize how bad the roads are - I would have chewed my fingernails to the elbows worrying about him. As it is, the day has been just crap. Just one of those stupid days that you hope don't get repeated very often. Almost everything that could go wrong, DID go wrong. Ugh.

If I believed in sleeping, I think I would go to bed early.

An adorable little Angel ...

is wearing a hat her Mommy knitted up for her. Isn't her sweet little face so awesome?! She's Shelly's little three-year old girl and she loves to wear things knitted for her by her mum. She makes the hat look great, too - LOL!

Somewhere, Shells picked up a hat with the yarn barf on top - it is SO cool - which looks like dyed dredlocks! She asked me if I could spin something like that and, being the idiot intrepid spinner that I am, I said "SURE!" :::coff:::

Actually, I had been messing around with "novelty yarn" like this just a couple weeks prior (making a total mess around me, with mohair floating all over the place), and had achieved - sort of - something like it. She gave me a box of dyed mohair locks (oh, lovely!) to play with. It would have been pure pleasure to spin it up, except...neither of my Babes have bulky-yarn orifices! Oh, NO! They have tiny 1/4" ones which just don't like having 1/2" wads of mohair yanked through them! Don't ask me how I did it - *I* dunno.

After having managed to produce about 6 feet of wild, messy, pastel dredlocks, I had to felt it to keep it from coming apart, as Shelly was going to cut the length to several shorter ones. So, after sinks of hot and icy water dunks, coupled with vigorous palm-rolling, I had what - I hoped! - resembled the hat she'd already bought. She liked it! So...I get to do several more lengths!

My willpower is so strong...


I don't really have any spinning silk (well, none to speak of, neway) and I'm kind of scared of spinning plain, straight silk, so I've mostly avoided getting any. Until today.

Ruth MacGregor, of Spinning Forth - Temptress Extraordinaire and Enabler that she is - has just dyed up a fresh batch of her glorious silks. PLEASE go see her website! Not only does she sell gorgeous hand-dyed silk, but she's also got wonderful articles and videos on How To Do Stuff!

I fell resoundingly from my (pathetically brief) self-imposed Fiber Fast and ordered one of her spinning kits (spindle, her silk-spinning book plus 50 gms silk), and ... um ... several more 50 gm hanks of other colors. I hope Ruth doesn't mind my borrowing these photos 'til I have some of my own (I'll ask her!), but feast your eyes (hey, wipe yer slobber off her pics!) on these...

No, I didn't get ALL the colors. Just...most of them. I'm not saying just how many. Wouldn't want anyone to be jealous. Or anything. Some of these are new colors (I think!) - there are many, many more on her site. All of them glow like cut jewels - all of them. I will try to list the colors later, but I got Stuff To Do Today, so it might take awhile before I get the time to do it.

She told me that 50 grams of wool, as any spinner knows, doesn't go very far (she's right - it doesn't!), but with silk one 50 gm hank would make a hang-to-the-waist scarf.

Wow! I didn't know that, but I should've figured. The problem will be in ME spinning it thinly enough. Well, practice makes perfect, but the thought of barfing this up makes my stomach hurt. We'll see!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Now THIS is more like it!

I am so loving this new yarn I've spun up - it looks EXACTLY the way I'd planned it - for once! I hope the photos show the rich and lovely color changes to this hand dyed Falkland top from Jennifer of Laughing Rat Studios. She called the colorway "Evening". Yes, I know...I get half my fiber from her - I can't help myself! I also just noticed that her Studio does NOT appear in my "Stuff I Can't Quit Buying" list (see sidebar)! So sorry, Jenn! That is now rectified! I guess I thought I'd gotten the link inserted everywhere, but apparently not.

I love how she chooses many different wools to work with, rather than just sticking with one type. I've gotten Merino, Shetland, Falkland & Finn from her (and probably others, as well), which allows me to find out the different characteristics of each type of wool. I find that I LOVE the Falkland for spinning worsted. It's so much like Blue-Faced Leicester (pronounced 'Lester', in case you wanted to know), that it is going to be one of my favorites - I can already tell. BFL is not always easy to find and, sometimes, darned expensive when you do! The Falkland fiber (similar to BFL and Shetland in length) is much longer than Merino, allowing for a more leisurely draft and a looser twist (if that's what you want). I didn't opt for that this time around, but were I spinning for a lace-weight shawl, you bet I'd want that for a nice, drape-y hand.

Isn't this stuff lovely, though? There are so many subtle, varying shades of browns, reds, teals and a bit of green, that I can hardly count them. I divided the top in half lengthwise and spun the first half, but couldn't wait to ply it, so I'm just now spinning the second half, and about 1/3 the way done with it. That is NOT the 'recommended' method for dealing with a project (can lead to very different twists between the plies), but so what... Its MY stuff and I just couldn't wait this time. Here's what it looked like on the bobbin:

Rather than merely hoping to keep the colors together by plying from 2 bobbins (this is always an iffy prospect when dealing with a many-colored top), I chose to spin a rather thin single and then Navajo-ply it. I wanted a worsted weight yarn with lots of twist in the ply - and it looks GREAT, compared to what I usually produce! I'm about 1/3rd the way through the second half of the split top, so maybe I'll be done tomorrow or the next day and can ply it up. I just wish I'd gotten a good 2 lbs (for a man's sweater!), as I'll only end up with around 360 to 380 yards, total. Darn it - not much after all that work, huh? Anyway, I am probably beating my drum a bit too hard, but I sure do like this stuff!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

All I Want For Christmas...

are these. Or these.

That's all. That's it. I could die happy if I had a full set some of them!

The only other thing I have ever wanted just as badly was is a Schacht Ladybug ::sigh::