Friday, July 24, 2009

More yarn

This is some yarn I spun since I spun the Columbine yarn. I was trying to make a thicker yarn to knit a hat or cowl or something.

The fibre is from Tactile Fiber Arts and I bought it at Stitches West 2009. Its a Blue Faced Leicester combed top in colour 'dogwood'. Tactile use natural dyes and the colours are pretty and delicate. I love the pink/green colour combination and wanted to preserve the long colour transitions, so I spun the top without splitting it, and then navajo/chain plied it. I had tried navajo plying previously but it was much easier with my tensioned kate. I have 85 yards from 2oz of fibre, although I had spun a little of it on my drop spindle so the yarn is actually about 1.7oz.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Marine Layer

Temperatures in triple digits sent us over to the beach again this weekend.
We went back to Rio Del Mar beach arriving before the sun had burnt off the marine layer.

The boys spent the entire day in the water, coming out only for brief refreshment breaks. The weather and water were so lovely even I made it into the water.

While we were at the beach there must have been a lot of fish close to the shore because the water within 50' of the shore was packed with wildlife. We saw literally dozens and dozens of seals, some eating fish, some surfing the waves like we were. There were also a lot of pelicans feeding, and even a pod of dolphins. I have never seen so many seals in one place, and shortly before we left the beach, all the seals disappeared too. I guess that the fish had also moved on.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Sheep to Shawl: finished

So here is my shawl:

It's the Old Shale Lace pattern published in Spin Off magazine. I knitted it on 3.75mm needles.

The yarn is my handspun from the sheep Columbine (or maybe Celestine). The finished size is 52" x 25".

It knitted up surprisingly quickly, in fact the shawl was quite small before blocking, and I had been afraid that my yarn would not tolerate a hard blocking, but as you see it blocked quite OK. It was fun to try to spin something with a specific end product in mind. This is my first serious amount of handspun and I wanted to make it into something 'special'.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Off the needles: Lamour

I have finished knitting my Lamour sweater. The pattern is from Rowan 44 which was published last summer.

It's knitted in the called-for yarn: Rowan Wool Cotton, colour is Grand (954). I knitted it on 4mm needles (3.25 for the moss stitch bands) but I am not even close to gauge. I knitted the size 12 and it's still rather generous on me. A nice pattern despite the poor charts.

I like the neck detail, the button is from my box and I think from a suit I sewed for work in the late 1980s. I can't believe that I ever had the time or inclination to sew tailored suits, but I guess that everyone wore a suit all the time at work, and I didn't have the money to buy 5 suits!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Handspun Fetchings

Having spun quite a bit of my orange fiber I thought I would try knitting something from my handspun. The gauge of this fiber is like a thick aran so I thought Fetching mittens would fit the bill.

They look like handspun in that the texture of the yarn is rather uneven, but I think it works pretty well with this pattern. Of course it's been over 100 degrees here every day so the idea of wearing mittens seems rather distant!

These are the first actual item I have knitted from my handspun!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Sheep to shawl: a slight snag

The Old Shale Lace shawl pattern seems a good match for my yarn and it's really been knitting up nicely. A load of travel last week helped with progress! However I have run into a small problem...

I'm out of yarn. I decided to do the picot cast-off, which looks terrific by the way, and have run out of yarn 4" before the end of the cast-off.

I have some fleece left so I can at least spin some more.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Where in the world:Prarie edition

Living here in Silicon Valley (the Santa Clara valley) it's easy to navigatewhen driving about: to the west are clearly visible the green tree-covered Santa Cruz mountains; to the east the brown slopes of the coastal range. It was very strange then, this week, to find myself on a drive of 160 miles where there were no visible landmarks on the horizon in any direction.

This was my first visit to the praries and I was amazed at just how big the sky seemed with nothing to interrupt that horizon. The visibility was over 10 miles, and even from the top of the local hill, all I could see was rolling grasslands in every direction.

One thing about my job that I like is that I occasionally travel, and sometimes to places that I would not otherwise visit. I usually don't get any time for sightseeing - but it's great to see some other parts of this huge country.

So where was I?

And the corn was about as high as an elephant's knee!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sheep to shawl: Cast on

Time to start knitting my handspun. I had intially planned to knit another Ishbel shawl but as I started it was soon clear that my handspun does not have the drape for a fine lace shawl and I needed to look for something more 'rustic' to suit my yarn!

The pattern I have chosen is The Old Shale lace Shawl published in the Summer 08 issue of Spin Off magazine and so far it seems a good match for my yarn.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Sunset at Sunset

Over the July 4th holiday we went over to the coast to camp at Sunset State Beach . We have not had a hot July so far - but the weather at the beach was lovely. The campsite is on a bluff behind the beach and we had a 'birds-eye' view of pelicans flying.

The boys as usual enjoyed the typical camping activities! The site was large and there was lots of exploring/camp building/running about activity. They were also brave enough to swim without their wetsuits.

We were able to walk 100 yards to the overlook to watch the sun set over the beach.

I think Sunset SB might be my new favourite camp site - large sandy sites with the noise of the sea crashing on the beach as a gentle background noise lulling us to sleep at night.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

My own private sheep to shawl

At Lambtown last year we watched some of the Sheep-to-Shawl competition: multiple spinners spinning yarn for a weaver to make a shawl, with fleece from a sheep shorn that morning. My private sheep-to-shawl is a somewhat more leisurely affair (not to mention trans-atlantic!)

Here's is Christina's sister's sheep Columbine being shorn.

Christina then washed and carded the fleece and sent it to me.

I spun the fleece into real yarn! This took me quite a long time (probably 20 hours or so spinning).

I plied the single into a 2-ply yarn, skeined it, and then set the twist by washing the yarn

I now have 380 yards of fingering weight yarn to knit into my shawl. I committed a spinning sin by plying my first 2 bobbins before spinning the second 2, but a) I thought I might have spun enough on 2 bobbins...seemed like miles, and b) I wanted to see if it 'worked' before I spun any more.

The yarn is pretty soft, and a lovely rich brown colour. I managed to spin both lots pretty evenly at 16 wpi, but am not sure how it will knit up - it seems rather weak and I broke the yarn once winding it into cakes

I will cast on once I finish me an incentive to knit that second sleeve.