sock porn for knitting voyeurs.

Monday, October 27, 2008

handspun wisteria sweater from twist collective

Umpqua, superfine Corriedale lamb fleece-- silver to steel grey with taupe tips
from Whitefish Bay Farm

scoured in lock formation

handcombed into sliver

spun worsted (short forward draw)

...all for Wisteria by Kate Gilbert from Twist Collective, Fall 2008
Started: August 25, 2008
Finished: October 17, 2008
(spun yarn during same timeframe)
US 8 needles, variety of lengths


I really like this sweater. The idea, the shape, the silhouette. The top down yoke! More than just on me, from browsing finished Wisterias on Ravelry I really like how well this sweater seems to fit a huge variety of sizes *well.* I tried and tried to take a picture of myself in it and nothing worked (not used to taking full on body shots and not feet, I guess), but I like how it looks on me-- a rare thing. I knit the 47" (!!) size, giving myself 3" for the bust for ease and relying on the gentle shaping at the waist Kate provided to give me some shape (illusion with my linebacker frame) and it worked. I guess I'm just surprised that a sweater can really fit a range of body shapes and sizes in a complimentary way :)

I'm also surprised I managed to spin an entire sweater's worth of yarn as I knit... I'd comb-spin-knit, comb-spin-knit... I spun 1355 yd over 7 skeins and 500 grams (not including combing waste) and really, IT WASN'T HARD. If I can do it, anyone can :) Now, was each skein the same yardage per gram? Nope. Should I/could I have spun all my singles at once and mixed older and newer bobbins when plying for a more even end yarn? Probably. But I was impatient to knit, as fast as this sweater knits up I wanted it done. I'm not entering it into a wool show, I'm not asking for curious viewers to turn it inside out and look for irregularities where I added in a new skein*... I just wanted and got a really nice sweater that I'll wear and wear and that I am thrilled I took from fleece to finished object.

Speaking of wear and wear, I've worn this sweater a lot over the past few days... at least five. (Yay for cold weather and putting off turning on the heater!) I'm already seeing pilling wear at the underarms and across the lower part of the body.


Aside from needing to buy a sweater shaver, I don't really care. I do find myself thinking about it though... I intentionally spun the combed sliver with a short forward draw (inchworm) for a "true worsted" yarn (inchworm from fibers all the same length and combed in one direction), so I was a little surprised to see it appear so soon since a true worsted yarn should be smooth and dense. The more I think about it though it makes sense... the lamb's fleece was very, very short (2.5") and extremely crimpy/lofty-- not really the wools "meant" for combing and smoothing down into worsted yarn. I did remove a lot of waste from the fiber when combing, but maybe the prep and spinning method couldn't overcome the nature of the fleece itself.

Too esoteric.

As you may have guessed, I find myself locked in a love affair with raw fleece lately... I actually take a lot of enjoyment from every step, and really dig the individual characteristics of each greasy beast as I wash, comb, and spin them. This one-- the color of the fleece was what had my toes curling, pale to deep grey all tied together with the taupe tips made the color change on how you looked at it. First it was grey, bands of grey where you can see each little puff of sliver spun and run out...


...where a different angle brought out the warmth of the light brown shades mixed in during combing.


And another.


Definitely not a brown sweater, but not just a grey either.

As happy as I am (and that those who love me think it's spectacular, too)... I'm thrilled to be finished combing this fleece so I can start on another. :) Big plans!!

Til then, moo!

*one more idea i had spinning and knitting this sweater... i've seen designers use a smaller needle to achieve shaping across a garment where a pattern would make it difficult to insert traditional shaping. what would be cool is to think about spinning different weights of the same yarn from a single fiber to achieve that effect-- slightly lighter weight yarn at the waist/lower sleeves for a clingier effect, slightly heavier when incorporating cables and don't want to do increases to compensate for the pulling in, etc. lots of possibilities where shaping is concerned. i can't think of any commerical yarn where it comes in weight/grist gradation across the same colorway (much less dyelot), but for spinners! kind of a neat thought experiment, anyways :)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

new obsession: weaving on a weave it

I blame Karrie.

I should really, really be working on this...

Asymmetrical Cardigan from Knitting Nature
Vermont Organic Fiber Company O-Wool in saffron

...but this little demon child Karrie sold me at Color Fiber Festival has been taking over the waking minutes around here instead.

vintage Weave-It, 4"

I've admired Karrie's weave it squares and projects for ages now-- but having this in my hot little hands and a huge (really, you don't want to know) bag of sock yarn scraps within easy reach means this...


and this...


The handspun I listed in my etsy shop? Pulled for weaving.


My son's getting in on the act, demanding a blankie for his bear, Bear, out of this ball of mystery yarn.


Even my bead and wire stash is getting into the picture...

woven square pulled into diamond shape and secured at wrist on itself

Reminds me of the wire bracelet I knit a while back (I like that one better, just for the seed pearl details. Weaving with wire again will have me adding pearls and semiprecious stones, no doubt.)

Woven fabric is a totally different animal than knit-- not as soft when worked tightly. I'm still learning, but decided to not double the sock yarn for weaving squares so they're left openish...


...but have much more drape and let the softness of the yarn still peek thru than when doubled. In a far off galaxy I'd plan to make a million of these little less-than-5-yards-of-sock yarn squares and seam them for a blanket (a 4x4 square on the loom is SO MUCH FASTER than a 4x4 square handknit by me)... in this one, I'm content with making them and not really-really having a project in mind yet.

It's not to say there aren't any-- Karrie has a whole host of idea from her "week of weaving" on her blog, eLoomaNation has vintage Weave It booklets in pdf form, Hazel Rose has a bunch, there is a whole book dedicated to projects for small hand looms (Weavies One), and Spin Off even published an article in Winter 2005 with an accessory project-- "loom blooms". And as with everything, there *is* a Ravelry group :)

Me? Aside from the very vague idea of seaming the drapey sock yarn squares into a blanket (and the hotly demanded baby bear blanket), I was driven by circumstance to make a few things myself. My mom recently adopted a shelter kitten (aw...) and I figured handmade is in order for all new arrivals, furry or not.

Single and double dumpling woven cat toys

The one on the left, one square of doubled Lisa Souza Sock! that had a single bell inserted in the center and seamed like a flower dumpling. The one on the right, 2 woven squares of mediumweight Socks That Rock seamed flat with two bells inside. Mom had bought a bunch (and I mean, a BUNCH) of plastic ball cat toys with bells inside, and the little monster (whom she called my brother!!) has already rolled them under immovable dressers and places where mom or kitten can't rescue them. Apparently, these don't get as lost as easily-- although I've already fielded requests for more (and with catnip)... oy.

But how can I say no?


Larson likes 'em.


Monday, October 20, 2008

color fiber festival fall 2008

An excellent weekend! How could it not be... it was Color Fiber Festival! :)

i also took way more CFF pics than i could fit here... you can find them here and the flickr color fiber festival group is here if you have some of your own to add. i'd love to see them! :)

Once again held on the Pacific School of Religion campus (many, many kudos to Sara for wrangling and orchestrating this beautiful scene)-- a breathtaking place with lots else going for it.


I didn't take any classes this time around, but instead hit the market and spun with a great circle of fiber lovers. Some market pics:

Tactile Fiber Arts (mid-set up)

I bugged Maia away from setting up her booth to find her Spindlewood stash since Malia has almost converted me... I barely escaped the clutches of a ebony/ebony square whorl. BARELY. I was heading back in to buy it when I realized I was a whole five minutes late-- turned on my heel emptyhanded :)

Handsome Books and...

...Pigeonroof Studios. With lots and lots of stock ;)

Krista's booth had her gorgeous Luminosity Project yarns on display-- they look so great in her pics, but in person?! Amazing. She also hinted at a fiber and yarn club in the nearish future. I'm a brat, I was thinking I'd not say anything til I'd already snagged a spot :) She has a mailing list that I'm sure she'll dish more on when the time comes.

Girl on the Rocks and abmatic

I finally met Karrie! We've been joking the other must not exist since we never seem to be in the same place at the same time :) I was bummed not being able to take her weaving on a hand loom class, but more than made up for it by purchasing a vintage Weave-It from her.


Don't tell anyone but instead of my two front teeth, I've been lusting over a 25" Schacht Flip. Still thinking, but the hand loom has taken the edge off for at least a week. Some things don't change :)

A Verb for Keeping Warm

Another almost falling down experience here as always :) Receiving the second shipment of the aVfKW fiber club a few days back helped... but Kristine had batt rolls! in PURPLE!! (I'm trying to actually whittle down the stash, both yarn and fiber. I am afraid of the 15# of roving I'm expecting from 2 mills in the too-near future. Serious nightmare scenarios about woman living in a shoe, having so much roving she didn't know what to do...)

Ceallach Dyes

A stunning booth. Where Tactile and Verb both use natural dyes-- Ceallach uses a solar dyeing process, the heat of the sun setting the dyes to be fast. Stepping back to think how much energy is used in heating water and that she avoids this while producing beautiful, huge skeins of color is jawdropping.

Flynn Creek Churros

A really neat booth. I had a chance to spin some Navajo Churro locks Maia brought for the class I took at Color in the spring, a dual coated sheep. I especially loved those little boxes of colored roving Flynn Creek had for sale-- I'm big into the natural colored fleece gradation colors right now.

You should be proud-- they had fleeces, and I didn't buy one! :)

Pan's Garden Yarns

Pan's Garden had a beautiful, BEAUTIFUL booth with handspun (true) art yarns. The kind where it's okay to buy them without a project in mind because you just want to admire them and be happy they exist and were made by hand and it feels good to have them near. Really.

For all of the amazing (local! woo!) vendors, my favorite part was the spinners and knitters who came out. Oh, well maybe my favorite was Susan and her og Columbine wheel...


The bobbin on this thing! Size doesn't matter my...


I started here under one tent, before the fog burned off...


...and eventually, another tent and a bunch of spinners and knitters appeared to just sit and be excellent in each other's company. And ogle the wheels and spinning and yarns and purchases and and and... :)


Fun-fun :) A good start to a great day-before-turning a year older*.

That's right, not a brain but still...


Made my wish and didn't share :) No, I don't feel any different! Not about my birthday, anyways.

Til then!

*last day for free shipping in my shop! :)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

cashmere cowl at article pract yarn tasting

me :)

monthly yarn (and food and drink!) tasting

Every 2nd Sunday

Article Pract, best yarn store in world

Because going to Article Pract's yarn tasting always drives me insane, and in the process I (usually) end up with an off the cuff FO.

I haven't been to a yarn tasting in a while, what with all the fleece buying and washing and all :) Finally, all sheep local to me are naked and their fleeces sold so I can stop collecting and head back to Article Pract for a monthly sit and knitdown. An excellent month to return-- Christina's choices are centered around a theme, sometimes a genre like sock yarn, sometimes a product line (Noro), sometimes with a fabulous author in tow (just added Closely Knit to my knitting bookshelf). This time tho, this time the tasting was cashmere.


I thought it'd be mainly cashmere blends, those admittedly beautiful yarns that have a ~10% cashmere content. Uh, no. All 100% cashmere yarns (Jade Sapphire 2ply, Jade Sapphire Handspun Cashmere, Lobster Pot Cashmere Bulky, Tanglewood Cashmere Tex Handspun, Habu A-34) except for the Jade Sapphire 2ply Cashmere Silk (55/45). The 2 plys and the Habu were roughly the same gauge (in the lace on larger needles way), and the Lobster Pot was an 8-ply (4 plies of 2-ply)... so I took the hour of the tasting nuttily unplying the Lobster Pot into 4 smaller 2-ply balls in between talking elections and petting the Tanglewood handspun, and dragged the whole lot home with only vague intentions.

Casting on across a US 5 24", I aimed for a "mini cowl" (circular scarf) and alternated each of the four colors in garter st in the round til I ran out of yarns. Every 8th row I inserted YO/k2togs every 6 sts, planning on threading the Jade Sapphire Handspun thru them as a makeshift ribbon choke. If I'd have kept it for myself that's what I would have done, but it took me more time attempting pictures than it did to knit, so I enlisted mom as a model. In the process, she managed to talk me out of the little scarf so she'll wear it how she likes, minus the choking ribbon :)

Designs by Romi sterling silver Elements pin, beautiful!

I've never made a cowl before but think they're way cooler than a scarf and a perfect project for small amounts of handspun. I should have cast on across a 16", as a cowl it draped too long (I was wearing it open then tucked under itself... more freeform than mom's folded and pinned miniscarf version). I like this though, the way mom wears it.

I also like the way the garter stitch hides the color changes...

happy little seam inside

I knit one complete round + 1 st in each color, shifting the color change over and making it less obvious than a true one row stripe would be. The colors are really busy so that helps hide any jogs too.

If you're in the Bay Area, the yarn tastings are always a fun time (and sell out fast)-- and did I mention? A coupon good on all of the yarns sampled at the tasting! I loved working with these cashmere yarns so much, I'm toying with the idea of a cashmere cowl for myself now :)

Xtina was kind enough to let me take a few photos inside... LYS porn is its own genre now, isn't it?

taking it in

new spinning fiber section-- louet fibers in 2 oz bags, hand carders, niddy noddies, dyeing kits... AP also sells Louet and Schacht wheels now, too :)

wall of koigu

table of habu

up the skirt of a verb for keeping warm


Also if you're in the Bay Area-- stop by Color Fiber Festival this Saturday (October 18th!) Classes, fiber and yarn vendors, beautiful setting and good times. You don't even have to spin to hang out!

Have a good one!

Monday, October 13, 2008

the trouble with spindles

they seem to make the stash explode :)

rhyme times sampler skeins spun up, each approx 1/2 oz
most spun on spindle, plied on the wheel

I love these. The small amount of fiber means I'm finishing each up pretty quickly and that feels like such an *accomplishment* to me just starting out spindling. I'm plying the singles on my wheel, so it's not like I'm totally ignoring him :) I've even got a project in mind, but we'll see. My mind's been changing about everything, even my own handspun (I've listed a few handspun yarns for sale in my etsy shop, from lace to super bulky)... but it feels good to go in new directions.

I've been taking a spindle instead of my knitting when walking... it's a thrill to walk and spin at the same time :) My favorite skein up there is one where I even spun a few short bits in the passenger seat of a parked car... nuts. Actually I like them all, I have 8 oz of the crazy green/black ("shadow grove") on the far right in my fiber stash already and am thinking of buying more for a larger project-- the idea of a handspun vest is really appealing lately.

No doubt that idea has sprung from a recent hair of mine I've had for a week or so-- going thru all of my old Interweave Knits and Vogue Knitting magazines.

messy corner of my little messy island
clickthru for boring notes

I've bought every issue of IK and VK every since I took up knitting after my son was born (and bought a few back issues via ebay... still looking for IK Fall 2004 if anyone wants to find theirs a new home!) I didn't really buy them with a purpose, the first mag I bought was a Vogue Knitting and the only thing I liked about it was an Adrienne Vitadinni ad. I kept on and keep on buying them since I know what I'm interested in changes-- as I'm closing in on finishing Wisteria (only half a sleeve left to spin/knit now) I'm thinking about knitting another sweater and had no idea where to start. My magazines were right there, so I started going thru each and adding my favorite patterns to my ravelry favorites page-- tagging each with type (cardi, pullover, baby etc.), gauge over 4" (23, 18, etc.) and needle size (truncating down to us8, us10 etc-- rav only has one word tags now). I even added a "handspun" tag for patterns that seemed to lend themselves especially well to spinning for-- mostly vests and shruggy things that wouldn't take a ton of yardage but not be a scarf.

The tagging is not exact, but after adding only 4 years worth of magazine patterns and seeing my favorites page expand from 2 to ten pages, I knew I'd have to be able to sort thru them somehow. I've decided to go thru all (!!) of my knitting books and do the same, and fully expect that my favorites page will soon become unwieldly.

But full of goodness! :) Already found a few that sing to me and I never knew they were there... and bonus! Tucked away inside one magazine was a pattern I forgot I'd picked up at Article Pract *ages* ago...

Devilbot 0110101 by Killer Banshee
bought back when my son liked to write on everything :)

I think I'm going to take some of the armloads of Wool Ease Chunky Tika swapped with me for and make a big one for the boy.

Now to find some more time among the books and spindles... :)

Monday, October 06, 2008

spinning fiber clubs and a sale

I think I need to shy away from sweeping statements here on the blog like "I don't join fiber clubs" or "I'm not interested in spindle spinning"... cos really, it just comes back to bite me in the end. (Not that end, but thanks :))

A Verb for Keeping Warm 50/50 baby camel-silk, 3 oz-- "Maharani's Delight"
1st installment of aVfKW ultra fiber club

I know, as much as I go on and on about A Verb for Keeping Warm maybe it's to be expected that I'd go head over heels when Kristine announced her version of a fiber club on her blog and ravelry group... very very glad I did. The club's closed for enrollments now, but I'm guessing will reopen for the Winter shipments in December (best to check in with the aVfKW ravelry group for updates on that.)

(check out the beautiful handmade label!)

As excited as I am about this first shipment (baby camel! silk! naturally dyed!!)... I'm more excited about the news that Kristine and Adrienne shared at the open studio/anniversary party a few weeks back. A Verb for Keeping Warm is opening a retail store next to their dyestudio in Berkeley. This...


...will look like this (inside the original aVfKW dyestudio at the anniversary party):


(a few more pics of the party and space here)


Kristine also remarked that she'd like to not only have this as a retail space, but become the "coldstone creamery" of fiber for the bay area... renting out her drumcarder by the hour, hosting classes* on fiber prep and such in addition to the retail space. All still up in the air and to come, they're still building out the space, but how rad is that? Not only living out a dream, but that it's a fiber dream from a local dreamer?


And of course, more on the dream theme...

Border Leicester x Romney roving, dyed by Black Bunny Fibers for BBF Fiber Club
approx 5 oz, "plum treat"

Yall know the fleece kick I'm on lately... how timely is it that Carol's last club shipment was from a Border Leicester/Romney cross fleece that she purchased and had prepped into roving, *then* dyed individually for members of her fiber club? I couldn't help but spin it up right away...


I had just been browsing the Knitter's Book of Yarn and thought the chunky winter set (hat and mitts in a bulky thick/thin yarn) would be perfect for this fiber... spinning it into a single would help me keep the long color stretches and would look really nice across the small circumference of a hat and mittens.

It was really soft, that longwool luster soft and I was really afraid of ruining it by overspinning (I'm a treadling leadfoot!), so I put on the hugetastic "extra slow" whorl on the matchless (4:1 and 4.5:1) and spun very slowly...


You can't even see the back of the wheel, the whorl being so big :) It worked though-- just enough twist to hold the fibers together, squishy and not wiry. I fulled the yarn a bit when setting the twist, a little fuzz that filled the yarn's low twist out even more. Not quite cold enough to knit up yet, but the beautiful purples and blues are just awesome to admire.

And to bring it about full circle-- I actually spun up another sample of the Rhyme Times fiber sampler (The Bellwether's fiber sampler club).

Rainbow Roving by Crosspatch Creations, "Copper King" 8A
singles spindle spun, plied on a wheel
twist not set, will be fulled/shocked

It wouldn't be interesting news except for what I spun it on.

Forrester Dervish spindle 44.5g/1.57oz
rock maple (upper), purpleheart (lower), maple shaft

Amelia's been out of stock on her Dervish spindles for a while, so when she posted on Ravelry about sneaking some up onto her site, I immediately asked for pics of one I thought I'd want. Amelia sent me pics of several and this one jumped out at me (surprisingly not the one I asked about!)... still, I waited, being a big purchase for a little spindler like me. It haunted me for like a week and finally I decided to buy it for myself for my birthday**-- if not me then who? :)


It is a really fun looking spindle and keeps going, even though like I said, I'm new at this :) I took it with me to the first (of hopefully many!) spinning meetups at Knit One One in Berkeley last week-- if you're interested in getting together monthly to spin at k11 with some locals (everyone's welcome!), keep an eye on this thread in the Bay Area Spinners group on Ravelry. I had a blast-- I don't really like travelling w/ a wheel, but the spindle is freeing.

One more shot, since I can't help myself...


I've been taking it with me to the playground so as my son plays, I stand and spin... cast weird shadows standing on top of the jungle gym.


Til then and soon, can't stand being away. :)

* In the Bay Area? Color: A Fiber Festival is going to be on October 18 (Saturday). Lots of classes, vendors, and fun :) The venue is gorgeous and I had a great time last time taking classes, meeting people and just enjoying not being my normal hermit self. Mark your calendar, sign up for classes, join the Color ravelry group! Not just for spinners, either :)

** I am turning a year older in 2 weeks! In the theme of if not me then who, I'm celebrating with free shipping on all stitch markers (freshwater pearl and semiprecious stone) thru October 20th in my etsy shop :) As always, international shipping's on me as well-- and I've got lots more markers to photograph and upload so please check back throughout :)

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