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.

il_570xn-1340279270_7emk
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…

3-collage_mercurial_light_layers_of_November
Photo courtesy of Three Waters Farm

 

I had a project idea…

img_8715

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…

img_9940

Mercurial Light…

img_9932

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…

 

img_9929

 

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

img_9931

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…

img_7691

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

img_9928

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

img_9927

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!

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!

img_9743

Won’t they be lovely?!

img_9744

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

img_9745And this is also my handspun, a 40/40/20 blend of Merino/Superwash Merino/Silk also from Three Waters Farm called Moving in Circles. Obviously, this will be the weft. Both are neutral and subtle and absolutely beautiful. I think they’ll be wonderful together.

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!

img_9742

The Quiet Moments

The title says it all, my friends, I have been a busy little elf.

We’ve finished the bulk of our gift buying and wrapping. It’s been a holiday movie watching, birthday celebrating (happy birthday to Mr Knitting Sarah!), Christmas lights perpetually on kind of couple of weeks. We’ve been saving the baking for this week when we plan to give the kiddos a couple half days of normal studies in school complimented by afternoons full of some intense home economics lessons in holiday preparation. I’ve been tidying the house up though in fits and spurts and we’ve had a couple big snowfalls that have had me busily shoveling our sidewalks.

And there’s been this…

img_5506Shhhhhh…. don’t tell. It might be a gift.

And this…

img_5512Mr Knitting Sarah graciously allowed me to size them to his feet just in case I should find someone with his exact foot size to give these to. I’m on the foot of sock number 2, so I’m very happy and relieved that barring disaster they will be done in time for the big holiday. You know, in case I should find someone to give them to with the exact same size foot as Mr Knitting Sarah.

And to celebrate the knowledge that they’d be done on time and to keep myself from doing too much of one thing, I started a new spinning project.

img_5515I’ve been sneaking in a few minutes in the early morning before the kids wake. Watching the sun come up and spinning is one of my favorite things in life.

img_5521And this colorway, Stone House by Three Waters Farm on BFL, has been the perfect subdued colorway to be spinning. I have 8oz which I plan to spin into a 2-ply fractal and then knit during the Three Waters Farm Susan Ashcroft SAL + KAL in January & February. The plan is to knit it into Light Relief. I think it’ll be lovely. It certainly helps motivate me as this braid is absolutely made up of  some of my favorite colors.

And that, my friends, has been my week. With the upcoming holiday and my own birthday looming on the horizon along with the new year, I’ve been in my own head quite a bit. Looking back, looking forward, and thinking about changes I’d like to make and things I’d like to prioritize and make happen in the next year. I’ll share more about that next week, but for now, I just wanted to pop in, share some of my holiday progress and let you know I’m hoping that you are all having a wonderful season, that you’re enjoying time with friends and family, and that you’re finding bits of quiet time to watch the sun rise and spin or knit away to some holiday tunes. Even if just for a few moments, those moments to reflect are wonderful for the soul.

Just ask Moose…

img_5518If anyone were to be labeled an expert, it could certainly be him. He definitely understands the importance of quiet moments.

A Winter Wonderland

When there is a big snow headed our way, a lot of things happen. Most people go out and buy milk, white bread, and eggs. I do not know why, but I assure you it happens. We make sure our winter gear is ready to go. Shovels get dusted off and those with snow blowers fire them up to make sure they’re in good working order. We fill up gas tanks on our cars and if we have to travel we make sure our emergency bags are properly packed and in the trunk.

And then we wait.

While we waited, I prepped and worked on a gift. I won’t divulge any information until after the holiday, but I will share a single photo of it.

img_5433I just love this photo for so many reasons. I’m not quite finished with this project, but I’m close.

Sunday morning we awoke to four or 5 inches of fresh snow. We had a quiet morning while we waited for the plows to get out and clear the roads. I worked on my brioche project a bit…

img_5461It’s enormous and I’ve convinced myself to abandon the actual sizing and just go until I’m out of the main color. I think I’ve got a couple repeats left to go. This one has been so long in the making that I absolutely cannot wait to finish.

And of course, because we are who we are, when afternoon rolled around and we headed outside.

img_5462Does it get prettier this time of year? It’s very grey out because it was still snowing at the time.

I walked.

img_5463

Moose “snurfed.”

img_5482 “Snurf” is the word we use to describe what he does when he runs through snow because it looks like he’s “snow surfing.” I did not get any actual snurfing pictures, but suffice to say he was…

img_5480Delighted with the state of the world.

Someone wound up a little off trail…

img_5470

And my boy found…

img_5465A spider walking across the snow. Later identified as a Pirate Wolf Spider, they are know for being particularly hardy.

We rounded out the afternoon by letting the kiddos sled at our local sledding hill for a while with the mister and I chatted in the warm car. We came home to hot cocoa and had a little pizza party. What a fantastic winter wonderland-y day!

We don’t have more snow on the immediate horizon, but we do have a very cold snap headed our way.

img_5483You can bet I’m already making my plans.

Knitting Sarah Weaves

I’ve talked a fair bit over the last year or so about my interest in getting a loom and learning to weave. I’ve been reading and researching and conversing with other weavers over that time to find out a good fit for me, not really knowing when I’d be able to take the plunge. I knew I wanted something with some versatility when it came to project size. I knew I wanted to weave with my handspun and being able to weave shawls as well as scarves was important to me. At the same time, I don’t have space or the price range for a floor loom or a table loom. From early on, I was pretty sure I was looking at a rigid heddle loom — the question was just which one.

I waffled for months over whether I wanted a folding one or a fixed rigid heddle. And then I wavered over what size I wanted. Of course, all this while I was thinking my loom was a year or two off in the future. And then, about a month ago, on a whim we went early birthday shopping for Mr. Knitting Sarah and when we got home, he said, “Would you like to order your loom now? I mean, I can do it, but I’m guessing you’d prefer to get exactly what you want.” I really hadn’t considered that I’d have the opportunity this year, but of course he’d been planning it for months only lobbying so hard against it so I wouldn’t ruin his surprise. He was right, though, I was glad to take the reins on picking and choosing and I  got down to making my final decision.

I’m excited to share that about a week and a half ago my early birthday & Christmas present arrived at my doorstep…

img_5001It’s a 28″ Ashford Knitter’s Loom and I love it. We got it on a Monday while the kids and I were working on school and I stoically waited until we finished up our studies. Then I opened it all up and assembled the stand immediately. I made some quick calculations and I had everything out of the box, set up, and warped within a couple hours.

img_5002For the record, I’d heard a lot of horror stories about warping so I studied ahead of time for it. I watched some tutorials from Ashford ahead of time and took advantage of a Craftsy sale and took the beginner rigid heddle weaving class they offer. Going in prepared in this way, warping was a snap and done in under an hour.

I had intended to just use this one behemoth skein of handspun that’s been hanging around in my stash for a good long while.

11336190_465994776900643_2110861461_n_small2

I really didn’t have a great idea as to how it would knit up, but I had a feeling it would be beautiful woven.

img_5006It is.

And it didn’t take long for me to realize I’d woefully miscalculated the warp and I’d either have a very weird, stubby rectangle of fabric or I could find another yarn to finish out with. I hemmed and hawed a bit, but ultimately went with this skein of handspun…

Cl-elysium-sw-bfl1_small2

And then on a whim, I used a bit of this handspun, too…

You’ll see why in a moment.

Before we got there though, let me spend a moment gushing about the loom itself.

img_5008It’s less than a yard across all set up and only 24″ deep and yet it has a full 28″ weaving width. It’s the perfect size for my small space.  You can get a better idea for scale with my daughter in the photo…

img_5009(As you can see, she is ecstatic about this new tool.)

My Our new loom is extremely light-weight and easy to move around. When not in use, you can actually fold it in half even with a project in the works (I tried it and it’s a slick feature). Knowing there would be a fair bit of this and that I would have to store it out of sight when not in use, I got the specially made bag from Ashford for the loom, too. It makes storage and transport really easy. Because of the size, should you be considering this loom, I’d also recommend getting the stand. It is simple, but sturdy and adjustable and it makes working with this loom much more comfortable than I think it would be without.

Suffice to say, I chose wisely. This beauty is perfect for me. I just cannot say enough good things about it.

My first project was highly addictive and I quite literally finished in no more than 3 days. Would you like to see?

img_5061It’s my first woven project ever, so it certainly isn’t perfect…

img_5058But it definitely exceeded my expectations.

img_5056In this photo you can really see where I ran out of the original yarn and switch over to the tonal yellow.

img_5059And here you can also see the two random stripes of the green handspun I added, just because I thought it helped draw together the plain yellow half and more multi-colored half.

img_5060And there’s another photos of the green. You can also get a good feel for how nicely this drapes.

img_5057I took the time to add a twisted fringe. Not having a fringe twister, I did it all by hand. It took a long time, but I think the results were worth it.

All in all, it’s a little weird and a little funky, but I really love it.

I’ve had a few other things on my to-do list so I haven’t had the opportunity to get my next project warped, but I do have the yarn picked out. I’m hoping to get it on the loom sometime this weekend. This whole weaving thing is a new and exciting journey that I’m over the moon to be on. I have much to learn, but I’m looking forward to every lesson!

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I love holidays & birthdays & anniversaries as much as anyone, but one of my favorite weekends of the year is the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival. To this fiber artist, it’s really one of the most wonderful times of the year. It’s really everything you want a sheep & wool festival to be — not too big, but not too small, dog trials & sheep  galore, and enough vendors to be really exciting. Most of all, though, after you’ve been there a couple years, you get the distinct feeling that it’s kind of like an extended family reunion. There are always familiar booths and faces and that common love of the fiber arts makes small talk easy and light.

My family has our own little ritual with this festival. My mom comes down to my house and we drive down together. Often one or both kiddos come along, but that usually depends on interest and my hubby’s schedule. This year my daughter tagged along while my son had my hubby all to himself for a dad-son day. So three-generations of ladies in my family headed down on Friday to enjoy our day.

Usually I share here when I’ll be there and I take lots of photos, but this year I went a little more low-key. As I’ve been  s l o w l y  recovering the past few weeks from whatever had inhabited my lungs, I didn’t know how I’d be feeling or how long we’d stay. And I just decided to spend the time in the moment rather than take loads of photos this year. I have, however, taken photos of the loot I brought home. That’s really the most fun anyway, right?

First though, something I didn’t pick up at the festival…

img_4389It’s my new-to-me blending board! A spinning friend and I were talking about tools and she had this beautiful barely used blending board that she offered to sell me. I jumped on it and since receiving it last month I have been doing a little playing here and there with it. I’ll show you some of my first blends soon, but I bring it up today because the exquisite craftsmanship of the Clemes & Clemes blending board led directly to this purchase at WI Sheep & Wool…

img_4391Wool Hand Carders!

I was ecstatic when I realized Clemes & Clemes would be at the festival and I resolved to make a stop. Since getting & watching the Fiber Preparation class on Craftsy, I’ve been increasingly interested in playing a bit more with color, hence the blending board acquisiton. Then another friend recently shared a video of making some very cool rolags on hand carders, so… there you go. Hand carders in my hands! And I have to say, I had great help in the booth finding my way to these carders, too.

Next in my bag of goodies was a total surprise…

img_4398A Loop bullseye bump! This was the first time at this festival for Loop and it was a great surprise for me as I’ve long eyed these very unique batts. My hardest choice in the show was picking just one, but I managed to just come home with “Down to Earth”.

Next I made a stop at Bijou Basin Ranch’s booth where I got to visit a bit with Lindy from Balwen Woodworks. She delighted my daughter because her son had given her his Lego Batman to accompany her on her adventure to Wisconsin. I also got touch all the lovely yarns — there are more and more every year — as well as talk a fair bit with Carl who took the time to tell me all about the awesome Big Bijou Bliss…

img_4395It’s a limited run worsted weight 50/50 yak/cormo blend that is just incredible. Soft, cozy, & just 100% fabulous. Hand-dyed by MJ Yarns, this colorway is called Lakeside and I cannot wait to find the perfect pattern for it.

Already swimming in happiness from being surround by like-minded friends and with my wonderful loot in hand, I headed to Bumblebee Acres. This farm is located about 2hours to the south of my house and I just love what they do. If you want to see what I mean, follow their Instagram account — it’s the perfect balance of yarn, fiber, sheep, puppies, bunnies, and idyllic farm life. If it doesn’t make you have a tiny yearning for a simple farm life in the country nothing will. And — even though I risk sounding like a broken record — these are some of the nicest, sweetest people on Earth. And they’re talented and know their yarn & fiber. I usually reserve my funds for rolags and batts…

img_4409And this year was no different. I fell in love with this 2oz batt of “Twisters & Tumbleweeds” and then found these “Ancient Oak” rolags (which came in a 2oz pack of four) and I think they’ll look incredible spun and then plied together.

And then they also had fiber packs…

And I used tremendous restraint and picked just two.

img_4400“Galinda”

and…

img_4402“Fallen Leaves”

They are also both about 2oz — I love that 2oz size when it comes to rolags & batts, so that’s just perfect — and both include a beautiful assortment of colors and textures. I can spin them ‘as is’ or I can use my new blending board or hand carders to blend them before I spin. I’m even considering blending each set separately and then plying them together once they’re spun. We shall see.

In any case, I got to visit a bit here with the Bumble Acres ladies (and ran into a knitting friend in the booth, too!) and I mentioned that my daughter had purchased a Purl & Loop Wee Weaver from the very helpful folks at Mielke’s Fiber Arts— oh yes, look at this…

img_4379She’s in love & has barely set it down since she got it. It is wonderful because the squares are small enough that she finishes them quickly and after a few squares she can now do them totally on her own.

(As a direct result, I may be falling down a weaving rabbit hole, too, but that’s a story for another day).

ANYWAY, the Bumblebee Acres ladies mentioned some cool weaving examples over in the Hello Purl booth, so we went and had a look and I walked away with this…

img_4397I’m not quite ready to release it from the plastic yet — my apologies, but suffice to say it’s a 1oz mini-batt that’s got a lot of different pinks in fiber, silk, and sparkles. I’m guessing I’ll spin it for my girl to weave.

And last, but not least, with a small bit left in my budget, I went back to Mielke’s and picked up Mini Turkish made by Snyder Spindles.

img_4393Earlier this year I destashed a larger Turkish I had and I very much wanted to replace it with something more petite. This 11gram beauty fit the bill perfectly and I couldn’t help but grab a rolag my daughter had blended the day before (the colors are… interesting… very Christmas-y) and try it out. It reminded me just how much I love my little spindles and I’m so thrilled to add this little guy to the family.

We ended our day as all Sheep & Wool experiences on warm September days should, with frozen custard. Bellies full, loaded down with fiber & yarn & good times, I always return home raring to get right to it. Yes, it is the most wonderful, most inspiring, most refreshing time of the year.

And now, it’s time to get knitting & spinning & blending (& weaving…).