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Graded Love January 10, 2011

Posted by lunarawe in Fiber Optic Yarns, fo, handspun, spinning, spinning - FOs, spinning fo, stash enhancement, yarn.
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I just can’t stand it. I. Cannot. Stand. It!

Love. Overwhelming, head turning, foolish-making love. One day merino met silk in the hands of a wonderfully gifted dyer. That dyer layered, and layered, and layered, and kept on layering until the object of my affections emerged from the dye studio dripping with promise. Well, perhaps rinse water. But still radiant I have no doubt. The photo below is from Kimber’s etsy shop.

I have been collecting layered gradient rovings from Kimber since she began dyeing them. Frankly just admiring them in their braids gives me joy, but I figured I should spin at least one. To see if it might actually be prettier once drawn out and twisted.

Oh it was. These two photos (above and below) are soaking wet, right after fulling. Fulling would be the nice term we use to describe taking the object of our affection and stressing it between hot and cold water then whacking it firmly against a hard surface. The yarn evens out, relaxes, and drapes beautifully.

I will admit to being woefully behind on blog updates (ha. as always.) but I had to move this most recent spin to the front of the blogging list. Did I mention that I’m in love? Oh yes.

Here it is dry and skeined. About 350 yards. It is hard to tell how soft this is. The yarn is 80% merino and 20% silk and its shine is not to be believed. I know there is nothing to be done. The ultimate proof is that I am already about to knit with it, having just barely finished a completed project made from the tempranillo that I finished months ago.

Gradient yarns. So pretty!

Rhinebeck, Day One October 17, 2010

Posted by lunarawe in Fiber Optic Yarns, goats, NYS Sheep and Wool Festival, Rhinebeck, sheep, The Fold.
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Rhinebeck! Is there any event in the fiber world that I look forward to with greater glee every year? Not even close. Not even spinning on the beach. Not even on a tropical beach. Rhinebeck is just heavenly. Where else but the NYS Sheep and Wool Festival can you find so many like minded fiber obsessors artists in one place! OK, yes there are other wool festivals. I happen to love this one.

Look at all these people! Clearly it is Saturday morning at Rhinebeck. Ravening hordes Dedicated shoppers and enthusiasts are making their way among booths and animal pens, admiring each other’s handwork and elbowing their way to the goodies.

And boy are there goodies! I didn’t actually take pictures of any booths today (those who have read my posts during Rhinebeck in years past will know my camera tends to be drawn to fiber animals), but a few special things did catch my eye. Check out the treadles on this spinning wheel. Gorgeous! I will try to remember tomorrow to actually LOOK at the sign and tell you the name of the delightful man who made it. Apologies. We’ll blame it on the wool fumes.

And look at this amazing felted tapestry. Yep, again, I didn’t read the sign. Terrible, I know. But this is gorgeous wool craft! Worth admiring.

This year I had a plan, and it was a good one. I ignored all the wondrous and distracting things and went directly to what mattered to me most. The fleece sale (whoops, got there an hour after the fair opened, most of the goodies were gone… I’ll do better next year), the Fiber Optics Yarn booth (many goodies scored! gradient dyes, and some lovely OOAK pencil roving), and The Fold (Socks that Rock, Rare Gems! Not to be passed up). I even managed to stop by the Woolee Winder booth and grab some high speed bobbins. Happy spinner!

Then I stopped by the spinning competition to fondle all the yarn (which sadly this year they wouldn’t let us do. boo.) and check on the eight skeins that I entered this year. I have to admit my shock when I saw Grand Champion hanging from one of my skeins (it was the Footnotes UNSPUN in Mayan Chocolate from Fiber Optics. Yum!). I remember when I was scared to enter my spinning at Rhinebeck. To win for best skein is humbling. Of course I didn’t get a great picture of that. And I haven’t blogged about that yarn yet. Oops. Again, I’ll try to do better tomorrow. The yarns above were for the 3-ply wool class, and I am delighted to say that that blue ribbon is also mine! Rhinebeck spoiled me this year – two firsts, two thirds, and a fourth place ribbon. Hooray!

You also have to admire some of the rarer sights when a large fiber crew gathers. This is Susan Stapleford demonstrating spinning on a pendulum wheel. It’s so huge I didn’t manage to get the bobbin in the shot. It’s just off camera at the end of the long pendulum. Good Grief! She was very gracious about letting me take a photo. It is hard to tell but that pink skein fourth from the left is the sakura documented in the post below. It won fourth place in the exotic fibers class.

What else? This stunning shawl won Best of Show and deservedly so! I wish they had taken the space to stretch it out completely. What a lovely job this knitter did.

All in all it was a fabulous first day. I got to see Toni from The Fold and Kimber from Fiber Optic Yarns, and both things just brought me great joy! Kimber, this blog update is in your honor! Thanks for checking on me so regularly even when I am terrible about posting. To that end, I chose to update the joys of today. I will work on catching up with all the fun spinning and knitting from the past… groan… three months and change soon. As always, here are some of the most adorable sheepies and goats ever! I will have alpacas for you tomorrow.

Join us if you can!

The Tour de Fleece July 4, 2010

Posted by lunarawe in Fiber Optic Yarns, handspun, spinning.
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… has begun! Or began yesterday, I should say. This is my first year participating and I am delighted to be a part of Team Fiber Optic Spinners – Spinning at the Speed of Light! Or trying. *laugh*

I decided to return to the second batt of Sakura and complete what I am hoping will be a lovely color graded two ply heavy lace weight yarn. It looks like it might be closer to a light fingering weight, but we shall see. Above is my spinning from the beginning of day one. I did get back to it last night and progressed further, but the light was not good for taking pictures. I will upload more action shots later today.

I am, as usual, way behind in sharing recent spinning, so here is a quick update as well. I have been spinning a lot of Kimber Baldwin’s fabulous fiber in preparation to knit a triangular entrelac shawl for Devorah. The North Woods BFL is completely finished, with both skeins totalling 360 yards of three ply yarn. To that I have added the first of two skeins of BFL in the Elia colorway which resulted in another 270 yards of three ply (the yarn pictured on top). The Elia came in five ounce braids instead of four since they were from the monthly club. Luckily I really like this color! Here is the yarn spun for the shawl to date:

I also took a brief break from shawl spinning to play with four ounces of Merino dyed I believe by Pigeon Roof Studios. More details when I find the pesky tag. This is about 220 yards total of chain plyed (3-ply) yarn. This may be destined to become some sort of short fingerless gloves.

Back to the tour to hopefully finish the second single of Sakura today. Good luck to all those participating!

Fiber Optics Extravaganza May 19, 2010

Posted by lunarawe in Fiber Optic Yarns, fo, handspun, spinning, spinning - FOs, spinning fo, Uncategorized.
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Well the best news is that I finished my first year of doctoral study. Hallelujah!

As the semester drew to a close (read as I sat unmoving for hours on end at my desk writing papers) I allowed myself small spinning breaks to keep my brain from melting into a small, pitiful puddle of ooze. As excited as I am about finishing the second sakura batt and choosing a wonderful triangular shawl to show off its color gradient, I knew I needed something easier to spin for the moment. I had recently received my second As the Whorl Turns fiber club mailing (from Fiber Optic Yarns) and I decided to spin that.

Footnotes UNSPUN in the tempranillo colorway -  4 ounces of 80% superwash merino, 20% nylon fiber. I love these colors! This is pencil roving, already split in two exact matching halves (notice below how this did not result in evenly spun color, lol, my control is just not that good). After finishing my last paper on Friday night, I rewarded myself Saturday morning by sitting down to ply. The result is 370 yards of fingering weight two ply yarn.

I may finally have to knit a pair of socks out of my handspun – it’s about time!

Next I turned with real excitement to another Fiber Optic roving that I purchased from Kimber at Rhinebeck last year. This is 4oz of Blue Faced Leicester in her Northwoods (OOAK) colorway. Happily, I have two braids – 8 oz total.

I spun this as a straight three-ply, dividing the roving straightforwardly by length into thirds. Each third I carefully split in four, maintaining the color repeats while spinning in the hopes of having an overall balance of color in the final yarn. After pre-drafting the depth of the colorway really came to life.

The picture above is the pre-drafting for just one of the three plies. This was also my first full spin on my new woolee winder attachment for my Schacht wheel – a fabulous birthday present from Devorah. It is wonderful! I am still getting used to how densely packed my bobbins are now. This is the full four ounces of fiber!

It looks like there is almost nothing on them. But in the end they spun up to 188 yards of 3-ply, super sproingy and still very soft. Next on the list is the second braid of this fiber, and I am hoping to spin two other colorways in greens, also on BFL for some mad handspun project.

Here is a closeup of the final yarn, apologies that the color is a bit washed out. The full skein picture is truest to color.

Sakura in Progress April 17, 2010

Posted by lunarawe in Fiber Optic Yarns, spinning, yarn.
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The cherry blossoms have been absolutely stunning this spring, so it has been an extra joy to spin Sakura – a cherry blossom inspired batt of wool, bamboo, and silk from Kimber Baldwin at Fiber Optic Yarns. This was my first selection in the As the Whorl Turns fiber club, which I highly recommend! The club will open to new members on May 14th.

I asked for two batts this first month, with a 2-ply, heavy lace weight yarn in mind. My plan is to do a long color grade, working a triangular shawl from lightest at the center to darkest at the edge.

At the beginning the color was dark and rich, and the flash in this first photo shows how the fibers create a beautifully light reflective yarn.

I took several pictures as I got closer to the end of the batt in an attempt to document the color shifts, really enjoying the changes in hue.

Here is the final single, and I am off to work on the second! There are bits of pink gossamer lightness floating about my house (and clothes!).

Turn a Square April 8, 2010

Posted by lunarawe in fo, free knitting patterns, hats, knitting, Knitting - FOs, turn a square.
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Who doesn’t love the genius of Jared Flood? When Kierstin’s housemate (househusband) Adam was seen one too many times in public without handknit winter accessories, we had to make an intervention. She and I conspired to make him something that he would like (notice the lack of bright pink *grin*) and this is what he chose. She made the gorgeous scarf and I matched it with a Turn a Square hat. Rather than work with Noro which was brighter than he wanted, we chose Rowan Tapestry for it’s wonderful drape and hand and nice color shifts.

The colors are more true in the first pic… sorry, I didn’t take these photos myself. I think he looks super cute!

Pretty Thing Cowl March 31, 2010

Posted by lunarawe in fo, knitting, Knitting - FOs, knitting lace, lace knitting, Pretty Thing Cowl.
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A pretty thing for a beautiful woman! I am sure that many of you, like me, were itching to cast on something soft and delightful the instant you saw our very own Yarn Harlot’s Pretty Thing Cowl. What a gorgeous pattern! I immediately thought Holiday Knitting, and that fact should clue you in to how far behind I am on blogging.

Given my tendency to knit smaller than most, I went up a needle size and knit this on 4s U.S. This gorgeous, shiny, soft, wonderful yarn is Artyarns Silk Rhapsody Glitter – made of silk, mohair, and shine. It is lovely when knit up, the multiple colors making for a somewhat heathered lace instead of something that distracts the eye. Here is a close-up of the cowl, oddly stretched because it has a folded pillowcase inside to show the pattern.

Going up a needle size made for good gauge in terms of stitches per inch, and I added a repeat of the lace pattern as well so that the cowl would fit her better. I swear the Yarn Harlot must have a tiny neck. That said, I did not account well for the increase in row gauge. Ooops. This is definitely too high for her neck after blocking though she seems to like it folded over. If I make this again, which I well might since I love the pattern, I will likely keep the 4s and the added repeat but reduce chart repetitions. I might also choose a yarn with less of a halo.

Still, this gift was appreciated and that is the entire point. She’s happy. :)

Sample on Retreat March 7, 2010

Posted by lunarawe in drop spindle, Fiber Optic Yarns, fo, spinning, spinning - FOs, spinning fo, Uncategorized, yarn.
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I had the absolute blessing of being on retreat with colleagues at the Mercy Center in Burlingame, CA this past week. I took a tiny sample of Unspun Foot Notes with me from my favorite dyer, Kimber Baldwin of Fiber Optic Yarns. Here is the result from a short evening conversation. About 18 yards of heavy laceweight yarn.

Soft and delightful if a bit wonkily plied due to my lack of finesse plying on a drop spindle.

Gold Medal Shawl February 28, 2010

Posted by lunarawe in clapotis, fo, knitting, Knitting - FOs, plus size, shawl.
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Huzzah it is finished! I finished at a leisurely pace (yes, that means I didn’t get any reading done yesterday… it was a rough day) last night and finished sewing in the ends this afternoon while watching the men’s 50K cross country race. I will post pics of it on once it has been blocked. That will have to wait until my wires arrive. This is too long a straight-edged shawl to be buggered bothered with tons of pins. Hopefully they will arrive tomorrow!

Here is a close-up so you can see the detailing. Those few odd dropped stitches will even out once it is blocked. I am loving the pairing of the Rowan Tapestry with this pattern, though it is a huge pain to drop those stitches because the yarn is grabby.

Modifications:

I followed other knitters’ advice in several ways. 1) I purled the stitches to be dropped on the right side and knit them on the wrong side rather than bother with stitch markers. 2) I purled through the back loops on the stitches bracketing the stitches to be dropped (on the wrong side of the shawl) to keep a clean edge at the end. This made the pattern MUCH nicer. 3) I added several more repeats to the body to use up my yarn and increase the length of the shawl.

This is perfect tv knitting. Simple, pattern free after just a short investment of time, and very satisfying in the end. No wonder so many of these have been made! I am still cheering the rest of you on. So close! Keep breathing!

Olympics Update February 24, 2010

Posted by lunarawe in knitting, knitting olympics, shawl.
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It is growing! I am actually reducing to the final point… the end is in sight! Hooray!

I am loving how this shawl is working up. The Rowan Tapestry yarn is super soft and has such lovely drape once the stitches are dropped. And its simple repetition makes for great Olympic knitting.

Four skeins down, and into the fifth. I did several more than the 12 straight section repeats suggested by the original pattern. The goal was to use up the yarn (which has been stash ripening for over four years) and have a nice sized shawl at the end. I believe the podium is in sight! And I have managed to keep up with my reading for school so I am feeling good about my decision to do an adapted knitting Olympics this time around.

For all of you who are knitting frantically, know that I am cheering you on! Go, go, GO! You can do it! Remember to stretch.

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