Socks galore

Lately, I’ve been doing a fair amount of travel, including trips to Frankfurt and Seoul, with plane trips in the 11 – 13 hour range depending on where I’m going.  I’ve been knitting socks on the plane 🙂

Hedera Socks

One of my favorite patterns was the Hedrea socks by Cookie A.  I love it so much I’m making a second pair after switching the chart around to be toe up!

Transoceanic Socks

Transoceanic Socks

On my first trip of the year, I had the unfortunate luck to forget my socks on the plane … and after calling lost and found for 4 days, they never found my socks.  And it was my handspun too!

Honey Badger Socks

I ended up knitting another pair of the Transoceanic Socks, as well as the Honey Badger, and finished off another pair of crochet socks made out of leftover sock yarn!

I think I’m well on my way to having enough hand made socks that I can use just hand made socks!  I do need some more cotton anklets for working out, and I think I can get 2 for each 100g ball of sock yarn, so it shouldn’t be too bad .. just to get the yarn!

Oh! and I’m doing some spinning between all the knitting and crochet too!

Handspinning in action!

Spin off Autumn Retreat 2012

Spin off Autumn Retreat 2012


Soar 2012 was held in Tahoe, CA at Granlibakken Resort.  The resort is lovely, and the staff are really helpful, especially as we managed to get the first snow of the season and it was *heavy*.  I think we got up to 18 inches by Wednesday!

We got there Wednesday night, got settled in our room and headed down to dinner.  Ken from KCL Woods saw us at dinner and happily tempted us with tales of new spindles!  I won’t spoil the surprises, but keep an eye out for what he has coming up!

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It’s a Stormy Sea

It’s been a while working on this one!  I took some of my fiber from The Painted Tiger’s fiber club, split the yarn by colors and spun them in a graduated way to have the colors go from green, gradually going blue, then gradually to purple. I spun each color as it’s own single, then broke it into different sections of each color based on how much I need.

I then plied for the graduated color … 3 green singles, then 2 green singles + 1 blue single, then 1 green + 2 blue, 3 blue, 2 blue + 1 purple, 1 blue + 2 purple and finally, 3 purple singles.

I took that fiber and knitted up the Stormy Seas Shawl!

I’m really happy with the way it came out.  The color change came out just the way that I envisioned and the shawl knitted up beautifully!

Now I can’t wait for it to get cool enough for me to wear it regularly.

Oh so squishy!

Last year at CNCH, I was lucky enough to get a couple of lovely alpaca fleeces from Alden Alpacas.  A couple of weeks ago, I finally got a chance to lay one out and start to process it.

I initially just shook out the worst of the dust and flicked the locks … then spun.  And my hands got VERY dirty!!  Apparently there was quite a bit more dirt in there than I thought there was.  Flicking was great for removing the VM that’s in the fleece, but not so great for all the dirt.

I divided up the fleeces into pieces and put them into mesh bags and into the wash!  But very carefully!!!  Alpaca felts quite easily so I had to be careful.  I filled the machine with water and a little soap, then turned it off and put the bags of fiber in to soak.  After about 20

– 30 mins, I pulled the soaking fiber out and let the water drain, then dropped the bags of fiber back in and spun the water out.

Three rounds of cleaning later (I need more mesh bags), I had a clean fleece that was still mostly intact.  I just laid the fleece outside on a sheet to dry, occasionally fluffing it and checking for dryness.  Once it was dry, I bundled them in clean cotton sheets and stored them for later processing.

It came out so incredibly fluffy!!  I wanted to lay down in it and cuddle up with all the pretty soft fiber.  It’s soo soft!  And my fingers don’t get dirty when I’m spinning it!

I drum carded and spun up a few yards on a spindle and ohh .. it’s awesome!!  I’m in love with my alpaca now!

Making Clean Fleece

Like many fiber nuts, I have an acquisition habit.  Lately, this habit has lead me to gather up small amounts (2 – 6 oz) of unwashed fleece of various breeds .. it’s a great, inexpensive why to try out some of the rarer wools. 

The only challenge is .. well .. it’s unwashed, and I’ve never washed wool!

So .. I braved the washing with some Cheviot and some Polwarth.  You would think that I might choose something not as delicate as Polwarth, but … well .. it was on the top of the bag.

I used my big “Phil” tub and a smaller bucket for the two fibers.  Each tub got about half filled with hot tap water, and then an additional kettle or two of boiling water added.  I used my cooking thermometer for readings and the water was close to 200 degrees once I added the boiling water.  From what I’ve read, this is a bit hotter than needed (and there was NO way I was putting my hands in there!) but it seemed good enough.  Each tub also got a squirt of generic dish

washing soap.  I lined the tubs with some fine mesh fabric too so I could use that to pull the fleece out with minimal disturbance.

Both batches went through two soaks of 30 minutes in the soapy water … the temp never got below 140 degrees so the lanolin stayed in solution … and then 2 soaks in warm-hot water (I could put my hands in it but it was uncomfortable) without any soap.  Then a spin in the salad spinner and out to dry on a towel.

Some things I’ve learned …

1. The wider profile of the Phil is WAY better to wash fleece in!  A thin layer on the top of the water is much better than the fleece trying to spread out in a taller vessel. 

2. Polwarth is VERY white!!  And oooh so soft.

3. It doesn’t take as long, nor is it as scary as I thought

4. If there’s VM going in .. there’s likely VM coming out!  … The Cheviot is still FULL of VM .. it’ll take a bit of flicking to get that all out.

5. I could see washing a whole fleece in a bath tub … and I might when I get my baby Shetland fleece!

6. Prep takes a lot of time, but it’s rather enjoyable to see sticky raw fleece turn into something spin-able

Overall … it was pretty fun, didn’t smell up the house too badly, and I’d definitely do it again!

Birthday Present!

Look at what my wonderful hubby got me for my Birthday!

Isn’t she cute!  Her name is Lady Rose .. she’ll be staying with her family up in Washington.  I’m sure she’ll be happier there than in my apartment!  She’s an adorable Shetland lamb from and I’m looking forward to watching her grow up and grow a lovely fleece for me to spin later!

A Study in Drumcarding Color

A few weeks ago I took a class at Purlesence Yarns in Sunnyvale, CA.  The class was in colorwork on the drum carder.

We started out with three different colors and running them through the drum carder once, twice and then three times.

The colors really started to get more and more muddled as we ran the colors through multiple times.  All these samples were from the same combination.  We took the batt from the first pass, then ran a portion of that through again, then ran a portion of that new batt through for a third time.

Check out the photo with the three runs side by side.  One pass through the carder is on the left, and two passes through in the middle and three passes on the right.  The colors really shifted towards brown as they got combined. 

The next experiment was with lighter colors using the same technique so we have can see how the lighter colors shift towards white.

In this pairing, the less blended batt is on the right, and the more blended batt is on the left.  The colors really fade as we blend the colors more.

The next sample was to show how black and white really change the colors!  We blended these batts 50/50 with red and either white or black.  I think it’s very obvious which is which!ColorClass4

For our final exercise, we made self striping batts!  My batts were yellow, blue and orange.  They’re a little fussy to make, and it’ll take a lot of practice to get them right but they’re really cool!

I also learned how to roll the batts so they look very cool for presentation!  Check it out! 

Here’s the result of the spun striping batts then navajo plied on my wheel.  It’s a horribly overspun bit of yarn.  I think if I navajo ply again, I’ll do it on a spindle where I can control it easier!