Sunday, February 29, 2004

I love unexpected blessings! Amidst the unrelenting telephone calls from telemarketers and others pushing their wares, I received a remarkable call from a cyber friend, Caroline. It seems her stash of fiber had burst its boundaries and had begun consuming the living areas of her house. Caroline responded swiftly and banished some of the troublesome fiber. She asked me if I would give some of it asylum in my home. I readily agreed.

The fiber arrived yesterday in a box with bulging sides. When I opened it, the most exquisite fiber exploded out like a Jack from its box. Wow! I am on a natural colors kick right now and these are just incredible! Thank you so much Caroline! The black is natural alpaca, the brown is yak and camel down and the white is cashgora, viscose rayon and firestar, respectively.

I've spent time this last week reading weaving books and cleaning up my loom. Lots of accessories came with the loom, but I can't figure out what to do with these:

I'm hoping someone in Cyberland can tell me (1) what these are, and (2) what to do with them.

I really am going to have to attempt a weaving project soon. I am pretty much tooled up at this point and my husband mounted my warping board in the hallway.

He is such a good man and so tolerant of my "hobbies".

In the meantime, I did finally finish my Autumn Leaves shawl. Whew! Problem after problem arose during the construction of this shawl and I thought I would hate it when I finally finished as a result. I was glad, for I thought I would try to sell it at our guild's "show" next year.

I ran out of yarn/fiber before completing the fringe. (My math was okay, but I didn't account for shrinkage when I set the twist in the yarn.) Fortunately, I was able to find enough scrap yarn to unspin, recard and respin and then finish the shawl.

During fulling, large quanties of dye ran off of the mohair leaving it duller than I originally intended. When wet, the mohair looks absolutely gray. But dry, it is not so bad. Fortunately again, I was able to set the dye with a large dose of vinegar.

I ended up really liking the shawl and have decided to keep it. Though I despaired when the mohair lost so much color, in the end much of the orange ran out of the shawl leaving it more golden, which I must admit I really like. The Lord apparently believes I need training in the areas of patience and "be[ing] anxious for nothing." He showed me that something even better can come from what originally appeared to be a complete disaster.

Undaunted by the challenges of the Autumn Leaves shawl, I have already started the shawl I am making for my friend Barbara.

Barbara is a terrific lady and I rely upon her like a sister. She helps me whenever I need anything. She watches my dog every time I go out of town. She is just a wonderful lady. I enjoy finally doing something for her!

The camera just can't seem to capture the beautiful interplay of light and color in this yarn. I am prodigiously proud of it! I think this shawl will be absolutely fabulous!

Kurt's Dale sweater continues to grow for a change. I am past the point of my last frogging and into new ground!

I think it is going to make it this time!

But, the LOTSS Stole's "days are numbered." I am still praying for strength, however. . .

Thursday, February 19, 2004

I LOVE the new yarn I'm currently spinning! I think I'll name it, "Dew Drop Morning" or "Sunrise Storm Cloud."

I wish my digital camera would capture the gentle interplay of sunrise pink and blue with the sparkle of silver in this boucle yarn.

This is the yarn destined to become a shawl for my good friend Barbara. I spun it from the fiber I carded last week. Thus far I've got about 200 yards of yarn, but I need at least 600 for a large shawl. It is a time consuming process. The yarn literally passes through the orifice of my spinning wheel 4 times. I spin my singles, then I ply and push up the curl, then I overspin my plied yarn and then I cable it onto a silver thread. Whew! But it is definitely worth it. I think this is the prettiest yarn I've ever spun!

Spring is in the air and I'm starting to think about lace once again. Out from the depths of the darkest corner of my knitting bag, I pulled out my LOTSS stole.

A fog hangs over this project. Shall I continue it? Or shall I rip it all out and start again? My tension is a mess! I started out too loose and when I realized it, I tightened up. Now nothing is even. But what I have represents SO MANY hours, days and even months of work.

To frog or not to frog, THAT is the question. . .

I must decide. I'm 80% in favor of frogging it and starting over, but the other 20% of me cringes at the thought of so many lost hours. . .

In the meantime, I am slowly finishing up the Autumn Leaves shawl.

I'm at the fringe and straighten portion now. I wish the fringe was longer, but I ran short of fiber and thus yarn before I finished spinning. Today, the shawl reminds me of a lion with an orange mane.

I've likewise been knitting away at Kurt's sweater here and there as I find time.

I think I have finally resolved my tension issues and can proceed. It will be nice to eventually move beyond the first 8 inches of this sweater!

Last November we were visited by a large bird. It stood about 3 feet high. I wish I knew what it was. But I grew up in Las Vegas and the only birds I learned to identify were sparrows and pigeons.

I took pictures with my "other" camera (i.e. not digital) which is why it has taken 4 months to post. Most of my pictures failed to turn out as they were taken through a window and a screen and the bird was suspicious of all the movement in the house. We see these birds all over the neighborhood, but this is the first one to appear in our back yard.

I started reading the instructions on one of my new weaving toys this week.

Unfortunately, it wasn't as easy as it looked. I think I might have to wait until the pine trees stop dusting the area with pollen and try to make sense of the instructions again. Too bad. I wanted a new book mark. I thought it would be nice to start marking my books with something other than scraps of paper or tissue.

I'll make a weaver of myself yet!

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

"Third time's the charm" right? I sure hope so! Last week, Kurt's sweater looked like this:

But the further I got, the more I realized I had a tension problem. I knit the ribbing loose and the pattern much tighter. So during the week, Kurt's sweater took on a new appearance:

He was not happy. My poor husband despairs of ever getting his sweater. However, I've tightened my tension and the ribbing now looks like this:

I've realized I knit much too loose and am going to have to cultivate better tension behavior. With that in mind, I am contemplating ripping out the three month's work I put into my Legends of the Shetland Seas shawl last Fall. This project sits all alone at the bottom of my knitting bag because it is unloved, because it is too loose. I know what must be done, but I am weak. . .

In the meantime, I am slowly plugging away on the orange shawl. A cyber friend, Trish, called it the "Fall Leaves Shawl." I really like that name and the images it evokes. I think I shall so refer to it from this point forward!

I'm almost done. I've had many problem solving opportunities arise with this shawl. Most recently, I ran short of fiber for the fringe. I threw all I had left onto the drum carder, carded it up with some sparkling Angelina and spun it a bit finer than the yarn for the shawl.

To make it work, I'm going to have to reduce my normal fringe length by a few inches. Now I pray that my math skills were sufficient for the task!

For quite some time I've been planning a shawl for a very dear friend. She is the kind of person who is always there when I need her, even if I have not seen her for awhile. I blended up some colors and fibers for her shawl last Fall. However, in light of running short on fiber with my last two shawls, I thought I'd better increase my quantity since this is a one of a kind blend!

I blended silk, mohair, Merino, BFL, Gulf Coast Native and Angelina for this. I used white, blue, pink, purple and a touch of several other colors to create a silver looking fiber. Then I carded and carded and recarded to get it in spinnable form. And I still have piles to card!

I find that I really enjoy blending fibers on my drum carder. I love this part of the creative process. I suspect I might enjoy the dyeing process as well.

I want to spin my present blend up into a boucle yarn like I used for my lacy sea kelp green shawl using a silver, metalic thread for the cable ply. I think it will be beautiful and look fabulous on my friend! These are great colors on her and will match many of her evening gowns.

Monday, February 02, 2004

Orange is not my favorite color. But I love a beautiful sunset. And I adore wearing gold. So when I saw this fiber in Destin, I thought it might make a nice shawl.

I thought if I carded up the mohair (on the left) and held it together with the mystery wool roving, I could create a textured yarn I was hoping would look like flecks of sunset when woven. I was thinking of a Monet painting while I spun.

The yarn spun up pretty ugly.

And pretty orange. But I forged ahead thinking positive thoughts. Of course, I used my small tri-angle loom to weave up a small sample to make sure all would be well. I liked the results. When woven, this yarn turned into a fuzzy sunset befitting an impressionist artist of mediocre skill. I was content.

I started a 7 foot shawl on my tri-loom and the corners looked perfect. But, to my dismay, the further along I got, the more the shawl started to look like a couch from the 70's.

There is a striping and subtle plaid pattern in the shawl I had hoped would not appear.

I am losing my optimism. I don't know if this is going to be something I adore or not. And what shall I do for fringe? I sure don't want barber pole fringe. I'm thinking I might throw all of my remaining fiber onto the drum carder and blend it into a batt to spin for fringe. Of course, that will probably give me ORANGE fringe. . .

When in doubt, it is my nature to turn to something else. Thus, I have made pretty good progress on Kurt's sweater this week.

I have made it past the point where I frogged it a few weeks ago and Kurt really likes it. There is a slight ridge where the ribbing and the pattern meet. I hope blocking will fix that. Otherwise, this is my first serious multi-color project and it looks pretty good all things being considered.