Friday, May 30, 2008

Fiber Friday 5/30/08

I've officially lost my spinning mojo.

I'm sure it will return again, but for now... NO.

Where did it go? I'm busy.

1. Test knitting for someone else, something I can't discuss. Boo.

2. Submitting sock patterns to a new book - I'll let you know what happens.

3. Submitting a proposal to a magazine - I'll let you know what happens.

4. Making a halloween inspired project. Yes, I finally went there. You'll hear more about this in say, six months. (Boo)

Sooooo you can see the problem. I am knitting like a fiend but nothing really to share. Boring. I'm boring myself just typing this.

The spinning will return when:

1. I get back from the Black Sheep Gathering in three weeks with a giant bag of fiber.

2. I give myself permission to order more of other kinds of fiber.

3. I set up the dye station in my new apartment.

4. The Tour de Fleece hits on July 5th.

I've lost my spinning mojo, but admitting it is the first step to recovery.

Monday, May 26, 2008

World's Worst Sock

I probably should have saved this story for Halloween... This is a tale of a rotten sock - be afraid.

One of my challenges for 2008 is to align the right yarn with the right pattern. I play around with this a lot and when it starts to look wrong, I frog. Usually.

It's inevitable that if you knit a lot of socks that at some point it all comes together in the worst possible way. If this occurs at the same time the knitter is feeling particularly stubborn, a real disaster strikes. This is such a sock.

The yarn I chose was controversial: Tofutsies in a bright color.

I got this yarn in Hawaii, on the Big Island. I hadn't really heard much about tofu and crab shell fiber and I was seriously intrigued. Also, I was just at the beginning of the sock addiction, and all sock yarn was good yarn. I went for it.

Disclaimer: There is nothing actually wrong with this yarn. The color is wild. The gauge is tiny. There is no stretch. Big deal.

Bad choice #2: The pattern. It's a lacy cabled sock with little to no stretch. Again, nothing wrong with the pattern itself. Just the timing of it entering my life.

I cast on the toe and the yarn pooled strangely. I should have frogged immediately. I normally would have. But I was still curious about the pattern which had elements new to me like a princess sole and lacy cables.

FYI: A princess sole is done in reverse stockinette, so the knit side is against your princess feet and the purl side is facing outward. Yes, this means purling every row of the sole.

I kept knitting.

I turned the short row heel, and the sock was too tight. I ripped back to the foot and tried a stretchier garter heel over more stitches. I could get it on, but it was tight.

I kept knitting.

It was ugly every step of the way. What was I thinking?

1. I've already spent too much time on this sock. It's going to have to work.

2. This is for Sock Madness. Even though I was already eliminated, I wanted to stay and knit in solidarity (and be eligible for a prize? Shudder)

3. I'm a sock knitter now. I have to find a way to make this work. Failure is not an option.

SO... I re-defined failure and eventually frogged the thing. I can't believe it happened to me. Such an ugly sock.

Are you ready? Meet the ugliest sock I ever knit:

I couldn't even be bothered to photograph it on my feet!

Why would I show this off?

1. Because it happens to all of us.

2. As a reminder to not be so stubborn.

3. To keep an open mind about "making it work."

Seriously people. This is the real craft of knitting. It is filled with poor judgement and errors. It is a window to our real selves. It's about getting back on the needles without fear.

I have since knit lovely things, and there is more to come.

Finally, here is proof that I frogged it. Bye ridiculous beast!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Leaves of Grass

The challenge: Knit a pair of socks without a pattern. The solution? Re-visit the old knitlist circa 1997.

Pattern: Leaves of Grass Anklet socks by Marilyn Roberts

Yarn: Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Potluck. Color: Pearberry.

Needles: Hiya steel 32" circulars, US size 1 (2.25mm) Magic loop.

Pattern Review:
Easy to follow, though the lack of picture was surprisingly maddening.

There is an error in the leaf instructions, but it is easy to spot. There is "P3" where a "P2" should be in the last row. Weird, considering this pattern has been online since 1997.

The socks are worked in ribbing from the cuff down, with a traditional heel flap, and leaf lace along the top of the foot.

It would have been nice if the lace was charted, but alas, no. For a pattern lacking a picture of the finished object, perhaps a chart would be asking too much.

Modifications: None. Unless you count making a longer cuff. In which case, one.

Yarn Review: I adore Cherry Tree Hill Supersock. The base is the familiar Louet, that many sock people seem to use. It's washable (though I always hand wash) and wears well. It's not squishy soft nor is it scratchy.

A word regarding the color. They do these "potluck" or "lottery" colors which are limited edition and highly intriguing. I bought this particular oddity at The Loopy Ewe based on a tiny thumbnail picture.

I like weird colors. I like Pears and berries. This yarn is a crazy insane weird color. I like it.

Overall: A perfectly fine pair of socks. It's a basic sock, with a lot of ribbing. And the lace is on the top of the foot, where it is hard to show off. But they fit well and were a fast project.

I have no idea why this pattern is so named. There are leaves, but not like grass. Is it after the Whitman poetry collection? These particular socks seem to sing the body electric on their own. Maybe it's just so.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

KnitPicks Visit

Yesterday was not a typical Monday... no. It was very very exciting. My pal Brooke and I got to visit KnitPicks and see it in person.

First, I made cookies.

I did not want to show up empty handed and I also wanted to make a good impression. Perhaps they'll remember us fondly? It was worth a shot.

Brooke assembled a basket to put the cookies in along with stationery and other fun gifts she put together. We figured there were a lot of people working there and they should all like us!
I didn't take enough pictures, but I found this wall fascinating. This is the design wall for the spring 08 yarns currently available with the colors and inspirations for everything on display.

I wanted to stare at this wall all day.

Actually it was a bit bigger than what you can see. I tried to focus in on one board a little closer. What you don't see is what they have in the works for this summer and fall. Top secret!

It's a good thing the yarn warehouse is in another state. There may have been an incident otherwise.

Everyone we met was very nice and it seems like a great place to work. (Hire me!)

Angela was our lovely tour guide for the morning and I tried to get a picture with the three of us but I think we took turns blinking/looking goofy. I had to show all three so you can see for yourself.

I should have made everyone pose together... with Xena, the small dog who also works/blogs there. She is ridiculously cute.

They certainly would have noticed if I dognapped her so I fought the urge.

I now have some projects in the works using some Gloss yarn, which I can't wait to show off.

Tease: One of them is Halloween related.

Overall it was really fun and I hope I get to go back sometime.

And then our adventure continued...

A giant salad bar was in order. We ate and knit and no one noticed or cared. It was great. I have a picture of Brooke eating but I am feeling kind and won't post it. Let's just say there wasn't a food stylist present.

No it was not a typical Monday. It was very exciting indeed.

Monday, May 19, 2008

This week in blogging

Hi friends!

Have a seat and join me for a moment, won't you? If it's not too hot, you can consider this simple soup.

Soy ginger broth, organic bok choy from Brooke's garden, and vegetable dumplings.

This week look here for the following tales:

1. A visit to Knit Picks.

2. A new shawl pattern.

3. A sock disaster. Seriously. The worst sock that ever happened. I can't believe it happened to me.

4. A perfectly fine pair of socks.

5. Ramblings, plans, dreams, chaos. Unlimited.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Ronnie's Homespun

I'm sad to report I just learned about the recent passing of a fiber friend - Ronnie of Ronnie's Homespun.

She was a fantastic person, generous and talented, and she will be missed by many. I have been buying fiber from her for years and honestly don't know what I'm going to do now.

I first found her in June 2006 on ebay selling an undyed blend of merino, targhee and rambouillet under the name "Lucky Llama Lover". This is what arrived:

How did she get that mass of fiber into that flat rate box!?

This was my kind of woman.

I tried it out and instantly fell in love. It was soft, bouncy, and took up dye perfectly. I bought more and more and more. And then some more.

Eventually she stopped selling on ebay, so I hoarded whatever fiber I had left from her and started buying from other sources, but her wool was my favorite.

I can't possibly show you pictures of all of the roving and yarn I made from her fiber - there is too much. Click on the Flickr badge with all the moving squares for a sampling.

At the Black Sheep Gathering in 2007 she had a booth on the front lawn outside. I was thrilled! I immediately bought another pound of undyed wool from her. (Big white ball in picture)

While I was there, she was telling us how her 9 year old grandson helped her dye wool, so I had to go ahead and buy a big one pound braid dyed by him personally! (Braid at bottom of picture)

He dyed yarn using all of the best colors. I could never reproduce it.

I was really looking forward to seeing her again at this year's Black Sheep Gathering and loading up on her awesome fiber. I heard that some of her friends are going to be selling off her stock and of course I'll try to buy some.

I spent a lot of time working down that pound of fiber I scored from Ronnie's grandson. I decided to try spinning it in different ways as an experiment. A boucle, a single, a sport weight, and a bulky.

The boucle is called "Canterbury" since that was the stage of the Tour de France I watched while spinning it. It was spun into a single and plied with steel colored thread.

The single yarn is called July in the Alps. That's where the Tour de France was when I spun it. It's a somewhat energized single. 3 oz. 122 yards.

And then: Veggie duo, done two ways. The first yarn is a worsted to bulky 2-ply and the second is a sport to dk-weight of the same fiber. Isn't it cool to see how different they look? Or perhaps I am the only fiber nerd here.

The 2-ply sport/dk weight yarn is 3.9 oz, 160 yards. It's called vegetable garden and it won a ribbon at the 2007 LA County Fair.

The 2-ply worsted to bulky weight yarn is called vegetable patch. I like how the colors didn't blend as much in this one compared to the one above. Would you believe it's all the same roving?

And then I had some leftover roving, so I spun a yarn called Canterbury Junior, following the same technique as Canterbury. 2.3 oz. 90 yards.

I'm reminded that our time here is limited. This is our community and we are all connected through it. When Socktopia's Gigi Silva passed I made a plea to everyone to step it up. I am going to do that again.

I encourage everyone to pass on what you know about knitting, spinning, weaving, crochet, felting, etc. as freely as possible. Yes, your time is valuable, but so is your legacy.

This is a good year to get that book/vacation/fair isle sweater/business/your dream here/ off the ground!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Fiber Friday 5/9/08

It's time for another Fiber Friday Flashback. I'm knitting a sock (I know) thinking about yarns spun long ago. What was I doing this time last year?

I can't imagine what I was doing back then compared to now - at a time in my life simply described as "starting over". Or perhaps "starting fresh" sounds less dramatic?

It's interesting to see I was making batts, not yarn. Batts are the result of the hard work of preparing, dying, and combing fiber to be spun. They are large fluffy clouds of raw potential.

I am still unspun right now, but I like to think of this recent move as the preparation for something great.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Yes well it is Friday so I'm sharing some fiber!

Granted these are batts and not homespun, but this is all I have to share this week.

Today is a special Friday, as it is my last day of work. This means that despite possible jury duty next week I will be dying and spinning like crazy.

Until then, lookie the batts. Six of them, all cranked out on my Strauch Petite drum carder.

They contain mixed wool, mill ends, mohair, recycled sari silk, silk noil, bamboo, and angelina sparkle fiber. I like making them. I also like playing with them. And petting them.

/Fabulous Fiber Friday Flashback.

It's funny to see I was yet again ending another job.

I worked freelance for the last seven years in documentary and television production. I never knew when, where, or what my next job would be but usually by the time it ended I was happy to move on.

I might be in the process of a huge career change here. All I know is that I need a really good job.

As I settle into my new digs I still have to get all of the yarn and fiber organized for the great return to spinning scheduled for June. The Tour de Fleece is right around the corner as well. And the Black Sheep Gathering.

It's going to be a great summer, filled with new potential. And knitting and spinning too.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Moving to Portland in pictures

Too many stories to tell... I'm finally online again and couldn't wait to get over here to post. Hi!

For this moment, just take a look at the mini photo journal of my move to Portland in April 2008.

Click on them for bigger sizes. I kept them small here for people with slow connections.

San Francisco lunch with friend Josh, day one.

San Francisco mural tour, day one.

Giants VS Arizona. San Francisco, day 2.

Breakfast in San Francisco, day three.

San Francisco, day 3. View out the window during breakfast.

San Francisco day three. I didn't buy anything, but I probably should have!

San Francisco day three. Riding the streetcar down Market, I saw an amazing guy out the window.

San Francisco day three. My pal Brooke posing in front of a shirtless motorcycle mechanic.

Portland day two. I found a place to live. This is the view out of the livingroom to my car parked on the street!

And now I really live here because I bought a couch. EDIT: Yes, a really great couch - thank you for noticing!

More stories tomorrow. More use of words in the stories too.

Friday, May 02, 2008

This better be the last picture-less post or I swear I'll...

Good news: Internet access supposedly starts Monday... 3 days from now!

This means a return to regular blogging. No more coffee house wi-fi!

I'll blog-a-ram-a-ding-dong all diggity day if possible. I'm going crazy here without sharing every passing thought on the subject of fiber.

Crazy? Me? What?

Before I go - a reminder that I was freaking serious when I said to back up your computer, people.

I lost my design notebook. The place where I put all my pattern ideas... about 25 of them are just gone.

/Public service announcement.

Have a fantastic weekend, and happy fiber friday! (You thought I forgot)