A Big Ol’ Pile of WIPs!

This week was a whirlwind here. As I’m sure I’ve mentioned in the past, once a year Mr Knitting Sarah has a conference that takes place at a nearby-ish resort and his company very generously allows families to tag along should they be able. So while Mr KS is in meetings, the kids get to run endlessly through the resort’s waterpark. This year, just because the kids are older and to keep things interesting, I even sprung for the indoor theme park pass for them. So for three days, we alternated between waterpark and indoor theme park. As an introvert, it totally overwhelms me, but the kiddos love it and, of course, I can bring my knitting along so I manage just fine.

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This time around I got almost to the toe on this sock for the mister. I’m just working the basic socks I also do for him (I am forbidden from trying anything new with his socks), so they are nice and easy and sport weight, so they roll off the needles quickly. He’s been wearing mostly handknit socks lately, so I’m definitely motivated to get a few more socks in his sock drawer. I would have gotten farther on these, but unfortunately on day three of adventure park mayhem I got a nasty migraine and just couldn’t bring myself to pick up my needles.

Despite departing the sensory overload that is the adventure park, my migraine did not totally go away for another day or so, so I kept things super chill.

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Just a whole bunch of faster singles, all but one of which will be spun into a 2-ply.

This one I actually finished before we left…

 

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It’s the Three Waters Farm Top of the Month Club for February. Seeing as though March will be in the mail shortly, I’d better get plying soon!

The other three were all from new-to-me dyers…

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This one is from On The Round.

And this one…

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And this one…

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Are both from Wound Up Fiber Arts. I’ll have a full report on them once they’re plied and finished.

And, of course, my wheel is not empty now…

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Nope, I have Quilter’s Magic on Rambouillet from Three Waters Farm on the wheel. This one I intend to be just plain ol’ low twist stand-alone singles.

And that has been my week really! A busy week resulting in a big ol’ pile of WIPs. I think it’s almost time to start finishing them off!

Learning Long Draw

A very long time ago, what feels like a lifetime ago, I received this delivery…

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Over 4lbs of freshly washed roving…

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From the sheep my hubby adopted for me. This roving has sat, carefully packed away for far too long for one very simple reason: I was kind of scared to attempt to figure out long draw.

I realize that this isn’t the mountain of impossibility that I made it out to be for so long. I was intimidated by it though — where spinning felt wildly freestyle compared to knitting before I learned how, that’s similar to the intimidation I felt with long draw. Short forward and short backward draw are both very accommodating for people who like to feel in control because you ‘inch worm’ along with them to make the beautiful worsted yarns (‘worsted yarn’, not to be confused in this instance with ‘worsted weight yarn‘). Long draw though, you make lofty, airy super warm yarns. And you can do that with one hand! What?! Insanity!

Alas, this type of prep, this roving really calls for long draw and the magic that is woolen spun yarn and thus the fiber waited while I worked up the nerve (for those who don’t know the difference between worsted and woolen yarns and want to know, check out this post!). I over-thought the whole technique for — you know — a couple years. Then finally with a little gentle nudging from friends and a review of the lesson in Drafting from Worsted to Woolen on Craftsy, I grabbed some of that special roving and I just went for it. And you know what…

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It took me about ten minute to go from “What is happening?!?!?!?!” to “I got this!” I’ve got a lot of learn about consistency with it, but as everyone told me, long draw and woolen yarns are pretty forgiving when it comes to consistency. And it is super fun!

Of course, after filling two bobbins worth of fiber with a bump from the 4lbs of fiber I’d gotten, I worried and overthought the plying for a few days. But it’s plying, right? I watched the portion of the Craftsy course on it, asked for input from my spinning mentor and at her encouragement, I just gave it a go. There are certainly technical ways to measure the “right” way to ply this yarn, but rather than over-think it more I opted to just go by eye and see how I could do.¬†Of course, once it was plied, then I worried about finishing this yarn. Because every step of this yarn kind of freaked me out, but having survived the singles and the plying, I just went ahead and finished it. After all, I’d come that far!

And lo and behold, it all worked out!

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It’s plied a bit tighter than it probably needed, but it’s close — close enough for a first try definitely.

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And the yarn itself… it’s magical. It weighs next to nothing — there is so much loft, so much air trapped in it. For someone who has been spinning worsted yarns for years, to have created this… it just blows my mind.

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It is utterly unlike any yarn I’ve created before. I am so inspired to get into my next foray into long draw and woolen spun yarns. And I just know that knitting with this yarn is going to blow my mind even further.

In addition to the roving, I’ve got some Shetland top that I intend to prep for a go with this new skill. It has gotten bumped from my to-spin list a couple times for various reasons, but I am happy to say I’ll be prepping and spinning them soon. Now that I’ve tackled long draw, I fully intend to explore all this technique has to offer!

A Period of Purple

When it comes to my knitting & spinning, I try to work in a lot of different colors. Most of my wardrobe consists of neutrals which conveniently work with any colors I might fancy spinning and knitting. This lets my handmade wardrobe sing and it also keeps me inspired as I work with all the colors of the rainbow. Every now and then, though, I take on a larger scale project which settles me in one palette for a while. The end of 2017 and beginning of 2018 took me into just one of those periods. A purple period, if you will.

The December 2016 Top of the Month Club from three Waters Farm was called Winter Fancy.

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Photo courtesy of Three Waters Farm

When I first got it, I was on the fence with my love for it so when a spinning friend posted an ISO up for it I happily sent it to her. Once I saw it spun up though, I bought a braid for myself. I spun it and then knew I would have to give it to my mom because she’d like it. I really liked it though, so when I found a braid in destash later, I snapped it up for my stash.

Then last November, when Layers of Darkness and Mercurial Light were introduced at the new Top of the Month Club and coordinate…

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Photo courtesy of Three Waters Farm

 

I had a project idea…

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I would ply Winter Fancy with Layers of Darkness for a weft and then ply 8oz of Mercurial Light for a warp in a grand, moody purple weaving project.

I spun all 16oz to be fingering weight so it was a lengthy project, but I love the moodiness of the colors and I adore BFL + Silk, so it was a good project (aside from trying to take photos — the shine of the silk in this yarn in the light available today was a challenge!) . I started this back in November or December and I finally got the yarns set over the last few weeks.

And now, I happily introduce to you…

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Mercurial Light…

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It’s hard to pick up the colors, but it’s a deep purple with hints of all sorts of yummy deep neutrals.

And Winter Fancy + Layers of Darkness…

 

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It’s such a fantastic combination. Where Winter Fancy was a little whimsical and icy, Layers of Darkness gives it some depth and gravitas.

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It was hard for me to pick up the colors in the light I had here. Suffice to say, I am excited to see this combination take shape on the loom…

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And if that wasn’t enough purple for me (and you!), I spun and plied the January Top of the month club…

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Which in taking these photos, I realize if very similar to my Winter Fancy + Layers of Darkness combination.

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This yarn I just spun for fun and I chain plied it. I really don’t know what I’ll do with it yet, but a simple hat is probably most likely. It’s a worsted weight, so it’ll do nicely I’m sure.

I do believe I’m spent on purples for the time being — 20oz on one color palette with little to no interruption is a lot for me. What colors come next, I can’t wait to see! I also can’t wait to see the FOs that will ensue from this Period of Purple — I’m sure they’ll have been worth the dedication!

Fe-blah-ary

I love winter, but if I had to pick a time of year that I struggle most with, it would be February. A long time ago a friend of mine referred to my feelings as the “February Blahs” — a kind of late winter ennui. I love the silence of winter and I love the cold and I love all the secrets kept by the natural world during this stark time of year, held closely and revealed only to those brave enough to venture out in the elements. Something happens to me in February, though. I get restless. The bundling up, the relentless chill, the perceived sameness of the palette¬† — it can all wear on me. And while I love winter and I hate the idea of saying good-bye to it, I start to think about spring… a lot. The warm sun on my face, running out on errands without having to pile on 3 layers of clothes, being barefoot — even in the house! But I digress. After years of experiencing this, I’ve learned to stay busy, take on challenges that excite me, and just keep on, keepin’ on.

And that, my friends, is where I spent my past quiet week. Tucked away in a multitude of tasks, staying busy, and doing the little things necessary to keep my spirits up during this bought of the Fe-blah-ary-s. Baking. Field trips with the family. Cooking. Spinning. Knitting. Movies. Music. Reading. And today I thought I’d pop in to share some of the crafty things I’ve been up to…

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Have I shared these singles here yet? I finished them a while back and am aiming to wind them off and get them washed and set and drying later today. Sure, I’ve said that a few times already over the past weeks and these singles sat on the bobbin, but I really am going to try to get that done today.

I’ve been working steadily on my handspun Brillig

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I’m loving this knit. The fabric has a wonderful, drapey feel and I can’t wait to wear it.

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And this photo shows the colors a little better than the first. I’m alternating Three Waters Farm Iron Blue & African Sunset, both handspun and chain-plied to a light fingering weight and thus I went down to a size 4 needle. It appears that I did not spin the African Sunset’s colors quite the way I thought I did, so I’m a little intrigued to see what’s to come here in the remainder of the yarn. I also have a feeling that I will have to spin more Iron Blue before all is said and done because I believe I will be running short. I did buy extra after measuring the skeins, so I have it on hand — it would just delay finishing a bit.

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The singles of my Three Waters Farm Top of the Month club are complete as of last night! I intend to chain by this bobbin as well. I couldn’t bear the idea of breaking up these yellows and blues. I have no idea what I’ll do with the yarn once it’s plied, but I sure did enjoying spinning it!

And last, but certainly not least, I spent those in-between moments in the kitchen with one of my Jenkins‘ Larks…

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I really do love the spin on these spindles. Of course because I do love the kitchen for my spindles, I had to include the home-made granola and fresh bread in the photo as well. Yum.

And with that, I’m heading back to it! It’s snowing again and I’ve got to spin some color into this freshly pristine white landscape!

Balancing Plans and Inspiration

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that I am at my best with my craft when I listen as much as I plan. Like many, I usually have a plan — what I want to work on and what I want to accomplish and a general timeline for those things. Like maybe fewer, I am someone who tends to stick to those plans. More importantly, though, over the years I’ve learned to always proceed with balance in mind. There has to be a balance between the plan at hand and where curiosity and inspiration takes me.

This week, my wheel and I weren’t connecting as much as I thought. I love the project I’m working on…

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It’s the February Top of the Month Club from Three Waters Farm and I really truly absolutely adore it. I broke it into 4 roughly equal lengthwise pieces and I’m planning to chain ply it. I think it’s going to be a true stunner.

But…

You knew there was a “but” coming, didn’t you?

For a multitude of reasons, I just wasn’t getting the time I’d hoped for with the wheel and when I did, I was tired and we just weren’t clicking.

I turned instead to an experiment I started a few weeks ago: the Turkish spindle.

I’ve been hot and cold with Turkish spindles. Really, spindle spinning finally made sense to me for the first time about 2 and a half years ago with a Turkish spindle, but I have struggled to find the Turkish spindles that I want to spin with regularly. I have bought and subsequently sold or gifted away at least 5 different “Turks” since I first started spinning with them in 2015. I’ve been through a number of very nice ones from very skilled spindle makers, but they just weren’t it.

A few weeks ago, I was ordered something for my wheel or loom from The Woolery and noticed they now carry a few Jenkins Turkish spindles. I’ve heard nothing but good about these and have long assumed if there’s a Turkish spindles that I’m going to get along with long-term, it might just be one made by Jenkins. One thing about spindles over the years is how to interpret the word-of-mouth skinny on them and these babies get nothing but praise. I hopped on The Woolery’s online chat — oh how handy that is! — and I explained what spindles — weight and makers — I like and asked which version of Jenkins they recommend I try. I really wasn’t sure how I should compare them to my beloved top-whorls and sometimes it just helps to ask, you know? I got some great advice, ordered an 18 gram Aegean and a 22 gram Lark. Reassured by the online help I received, I figured if one of those 2 wasn’t my jam, none would be. The beautiful thing about spindles is that if you take good care of them, they really do hold their value and reselling is a breeze.

I got them, I played with them a bit, and instantly loved how they spin. Great news, right?! Even better, it’s reignited my interest in a spindle spinning WIP I’ve had on a low simmer for a while (I’m all about getting through the WIPs lately!).

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This photo shows the Aegean on the right and the Lark on the left. The arms on the Aegean are thinner and wider, giving it a very balanced, spin, but the spin is not especially tight. Think more whimsy, less zoom. The Lark’s arms are more compact and a bit thicker and, as I understand it, was actually designed for tighter spaces, like public transit. Personally, I just love it’s fast, tight spin.

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Yes, it’s undeniably my favorite. As I’ve added yarn to the Aegean, it’s grown on me and I do intend to keep both for the long haul, but the 22 gram Lark has certainly captured my heart. It’s a lot like when I discovered the Bosworth top-whorl short shaft in the 22-25 gram range. It just fits and I love it. And I’ve been spending time daily in my kitchen — where I love to spindle spin — watching the birds, hanging with Moose, and spinning.

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Moose has enjoyed the quality nap time.

This week I also revisited a hibernating WIP, my handpusn Brillig. I started it back last fall and got behind on it and then distracted from it. It’s a long story as to why, but I ripped it back, rewound the yarn so I wouldn’t have to knit from the kinky bits of yarn that had sat on my needles for months and started fresh…

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Simply put, I am so adoring working on it. It is as scrumptious as a knit can get.

So there you have it. Sure, I had planned to finish that bulky sweater and wheel spin this past week, but this is where my inspiration took me. In the grand crafty balancing act, I think I’m crushing it. Sometimes the thing that keeps us going, that keeps us moving forward, if the freedom to veer off the plan. Balancing the plan and inspiration is the name of the game, my friends!

To The Loom (Finally!)

As many of you know, toward the end of 2016 I bought a loom. It’s a 28″ Ashford Knitters loom and as soon as I got it, I took to it right away. My main interest is in pretty simple weaving — scarves and wraps with my handspun is primarily what I intend to use it for and I love the size and versatility of this loom. I had it just a few months when we found out we’d be moving and thus, as it was the craft with which I was least familiar and thus required the most time and focus, it really fell to the wayside before, during, and after the move. When life is in an upheaval, you need to stick to the basics until the world settles back down, you know?

And so my loom has sat in my living room since we moved in last April. It’s sat in plain view in the living room, empty and unused. How sad, right?! Aside from just not having the time or capacity to really dig back in to the learning process with it, I had a bigger problem to solve. Despite gaining space in the move, I lost what in retrospect was a wonderfully convenient and well-situated warping space. Since the Knitters Loom is a rigid heddle and thus easy to direct warp, I didn’t have a warping board because with the space I had in the basement with my sewing table, I just didn’t need it. A warping board seemed like excess for such a small loom that is easy to direct warp. As the months went on though, it became clear that there was no way around it. I really did not have a large enough space that’s also out of the way for warping. I knew I had to do some investigating and figure something new out for the new house.

Alas, at the end of last year and beginning of this one, I acquired fiber and started spinning for two weaving projects. I know myself well enough to understand that if I spun the yarn, I’d force myself to figure out the loom situation. Sure enough, at the end of last week, I finished spinning the last of said yarn and shortly after getting it washed, set, and hanging to dry, I started looking for the warping answers I’d need to proceed. I hopped over to Liz Gipson’s Yarnworker website and started exploring.

I’m new to weaving, but I do know that Liz Gipson is kind of the queen of rigid heddle looms. I poked around her site and couldn’t figure out if one of her DVDs or her Weaving 101 online class would get me the info I needed, so I did what I do — I shot her a quick email asking her recommendation. She very kindly responded with a link to this free-with-registration weave-along from last summer that includes directions for a hybrid warping method that basically direct warps your rigid heddle loom with the use of warping board thus making the warping process much more compact. Exactly what I was looking for! She really is the queen of rigid heddle looms! I popped online and ordered a small warping board that should serve my purpose and some kraft paper to keep the warp in order on the loom (those cardboard sticks that come with the loom are for the birds!). My tools should arrive by the weekend and I’ll be ready to weave!

What project will I start with, you ask? Well, let me show you!

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Won’t they be lovely?!

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This is my handspun 60/40 Polwarth/Silk from Three Waters Farm in the Granite colorway. It’ll be the warp.

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I’ll admit, right about now I’m feeling pretty smart for using these yarns as an incentive to get my loom situation figured out. Nothing motivates like the promise of a pretty project! I hope to be back soon with updates on how the hybrid warping goes as well as the yarns or the other project for which I’ve got yarn drying. Until then, though. I’ll be gathering the items I need, working out the required math, and waiting in anticipation to begin!

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