Trash to Treasure in spinning

Aw, come on – we all have them. Admit it. You save them too. Those trashy bits of the most perfect fleece. “I’ll comb it”, yeah, right. Alpaca tui so soft, but the poor little thing was a roller, wasn’t he? And that Cormo with the bits of hay. You already made the sweater, shawl, socks, hat, gloves, etc. The fleece has already done its job in other projects.

Well, I get out what trash I can and then card them. This is a particularly free fiber. How could I spoil it? And Frugal Fibergal just can’t throw that stuff away. Obviously, this should be done just before you clean the dickens out of your carder to get out all the trash.

See the neps and vegetation?

But look at what it becomes.

I spin a fat singles, uneven due to the junk, and ply with something clingy and felting like Romney. I use a strong dose of vinegar in the rinse water to help break down the weeds and wash very vigorously. I am trying for a partially felted yarn. [Read as I beat the crap out of it.] By the time it is ready for knitting, I feel few chunks, though a couple fall out while I knit – leggings in this case. Then the whole thing goes for a round in the washer, or two. By now, I don’t feed any chunks or sticks, just the haze created by the baby alpaca standing straight out from the static electricity of washing. (Sometimes drying too.) See the haze?

Even as I photograph this on my arm, my first though is ‘I wish I could afford a sweater’s worth of this yarn’. And then it hits me. This is my leftover junk and I have a pile of it. No problem! Ooh, goody.

And on a separate note, the first flowers of spring in our yard. Even the weeds look good close up, don't they?

Oh, and one last thing. You all know by now that I am MAD about swatch sites. I just love them. In case you might have missed it, I direct you to The Walker Treasury Project. Boy, what is not to love on this site? It is elegant and simple. It has rules which make things easier. Every swatch I see both educates and inspires me. I often have a page or two of the Treasury books with me for any given project, so I really enjoy seeing these in color. Who wouldn't want their swatch to permanently represent a pattern here?


Got dye?

I hate color.

Especially sock yarn.

It was a day of dyeing using other than my normal methods. First the finicky self patterning yarn. I found a yarn I liked and attached it to my warping board, wound off way too much yarn and set it up. Most people would be a bit more fussy at this stage, but I loosely piled, applied, squished and wrapped. Then steamed. I have not wound it off yet. Dye ended up almost perfectly aligned with my markers - isn't it amazing with my loose technique?

And I tried something I really don't recommend in any way from an old dye book. This was to sprinkle dye powder on wet fleece and massage it in. This is dangerous and I was fully protected. The results were pretty splendid though.


The Homing Instinct

My wheel has made the journey back to its birth pond.

It had a minor part that needed attention and got a general tune up. It is sooo smooth now. The people at Schacht couldn’t have been nicer. And I almost fainted when Barry Schacht himself took us on a tour of the facilities. I hope he didn’t notice how I was just floating with a big stupid grin. Have you seen the beautiful new cherry looms?

The wheel is a very happy camper tonight. Me too.

We enjoyed Boulder. We saw mountains.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research and obligatory rock shots.

Pearl Street

On the way out of town we got to visit the best shop I have ever seen. Maggie Casey’s Shuttles, Spindles and Skeins. Wow. And Wow again. This is like 10,000 square feet of glorious fiber. Her sale area was bigger than most shops. Oooh and the goodies she had. We escaped with a little silk, some needles and a few old mags. I had a feverish yarn lust there. Did I mention how nice everyone was? It was so nurturing that someone there was just cutting into the steeks of a Dale 2002 sweater that she finished since the end of January.

She has a great new article in the coming Spin•Off about double drafting.

Last but not least, have you heard the news? Our dear Eunny Jang is the new editor of Interweave Knits! Check it out.


Rant removed

I apologize for the vehemence of my comments yesterday. I have removed them. You all have such nice fluffy yarn and mine was thin and wimpy. I was simply jealous. Any problems I have with a yarn are really between myself and the dealer. Her colors are lovely and some of the patterns quite nice. I hope you weren't put off too much.
I leave you with signs of spring and a little BFL.


Knitting for Therapy

That’s *FOR* therapy, not *AS* therapy. Know anyone with arthritis in the feet? Or just unusually cold feet. As knitters we can help that. As spinners we can really help.

This all started as a discussion with Judith McKenzie about Angora and its properties. She mentioned that it was used by hospitals in blankets for therapy. I investigated this and found she was correct, of course. But beside angora, what can we use for socks that will help? After some experiments, this is what I tried:

For non-spinners, try Knit Picks Andean Silk twist. With 55% Super Fine Alpaca, 23% Silk, 22% Merino Wool, it is warm and reflects heat a great deal. At $1.99/ball it's a great bargain (3balls minimum per pair). You must knit in some structure to hold them up for all that slinky goodness. I added ribbing starting mid-foot up to leave room for swollen tootsies. Knit on #3’s and using my standard 52 stitches (think deck of cards), afterthought heel with white woolly nylon. At the moment, this is so soft and warm that it is in the running for one of the top 3 socks I have ever made.

For spinners, try blends. I used alpaca leg wool mixed with a crappy but crimpy and felty brown unknown wool. Alpaca for softness and felty wool to hold slippery ends in a bit. My foot area is made from 2 plys of recycled cashmere (each two ply), 1 ply woolly nylon, 1 ply crappy brown. That makes it cling and reflect heat. It gives me a chance to use recycled cashmere leftovers in a machine washable sock. The alpaca legs just fuzz right out when washed – yummy and soft.

During the stormy times when joints move poorly, I try to stick to simple patterns for ease and distraction. At the end of the day, I have a new hat. (original pattern photo - Magknits Fake Isle).

So that got me thinking about favorite socks. What is YOUR favorite pair of socks ever? They can be handknit, handspun or store bought. Now, the hard part; tell me WHY it is your favorite. I think I would have to say my fav is a pair that has sat in my drawer for at least nine years. I loved them so much, I let them take up space just so I can remake them someday. They were combed grey Jacob and multicolor Kid Mohair spun into a 3-ply sport. Sadly, they shrunk more than I planned and blew out the heel/leg. I will honor their existence by remaking them.

Hot sauce is good for arthritis too. Fiery foods booty (and today's pretty apple).


Sock Bra?

Does this sock look like it has tits to you? Crapity, crap, crap, crap. Well, gee, I was just knitting along following an alteration to the Jaywalker. I did run into some problems with the numbers, but pulled out the calculator to fix that. What I didn’t watch was that she started the pattern upside-down. And didn’t mention that little issue. I should have known better and stuck with the original or my own brain, as usual.

So merrily I go, knitting around on my sock when these *Things* appear. Wouldn’t they be great on a sweater? Or on me, for example. Sadly, my sock is more well-endowed. Isn’t it the perfect Barbie-shaped little bra-lette that you ever saw?

This isn’t like one of those ‘finding a face in your grilled cheese’ types of things, is it? I was hoping for some lovely pointy bits at the top of the leg, but, alas, it will soon be doomed to rip-land.

Also, the new Magknits is up and lovely as usual.


Fiery Foods and Famous Fiber

We have been out gallivanting around. Today’s fine treat was the Fiery Foods Fest in Albuquerque. Yummy treats. I guess we prepared enough for the show since only one sauce kicked my butt. I wish I had gone back to get some. I prefer the habanero and a slightly sweet, not bitter sauce. I found that delight in several things, which you may see tomorrow.

In addition, we are getting ready for the Fiber Arts Fiesta in May. We are lucky, lucky, lucky. Janel of the fabulous Chameleon Colorworks is coming. She just announced that she is a teacher this year at SOAR. And Jeane of the colorful Elemental Affects will be there too. She carries Judith MacKenzie's dyes and fibers. I get to work with Jeane and am so happy to play with all that great fiber. And look at those colors - whew!

We get to have the famous felter, Sharon Costello of Black Sheep Designs, the week before for some great felt workshops. Boy, those should fill up fast. Especially with a devil like this.

And, it must be a little miracle, but Alden Amos, yes, THAT Alden Amos is coming this year. It is like a freaking vortex of fibery goodness here in the southwest, 'cause it doesn’t get much better than this. Do ya think I might be spinning this year at all….

Look at the size of that flyer!