Wednesday, October 31, 2007

eighty-five

Since it all seems to be about colour these days, this is what Autumn looks like in my home:


Some super hot chili peppers drying so that they will keep over winter.


Some chestnuts we gathered down near the beach.


And, some scarlet runner beans popped out of their shell and ready to go into a paper bag for seed next spring.



The buttons are on my Kauni and I am wearing it to the exam today along with some good luck socks Y gave me specifically for exam writing.

Monday, October 29, 2007

eighty-four

And now, some knitting.



The Kauni is complete! (except for sewing on some buttons, but I'll do that tomorrow)



The yarn, Kauni in EF colourway bought from FunKnits. The great thing about Shelley's shop (other than Shelley herself) is that she ships everywhere. Not only that, FunKnits is Canadian and within a days journey from here. I hope one day to make a pilgrimage up to Quadra Island to visit her in her native habitat.



It's washed (the yarn had a slight farm smell to it which is delightful while knitting, but undesirable in a finished sweater) and is drying as I type.



This is the first object I've ever knit out of pure peer pressure. First off, I saw it on the Yarn Harlot's blog and thought it lovely. Not lovely enough to make for myself, but lovely in that wistful sort of way where you think to yourself, perhaps one day, but really you know you will never find the time or inclination to make it. Then, Brenda created a KAL for the Kauni Cardie and invited me to join along. It was exactly the motivation I needed. I contacted Shelley and it wasn't long before I had two HUGE skeins of yarn arrive at my doorstep and absolutely no idea what I had gotten myself into.



For the most part, it was a delight to knit. There are a few (ahem) errors in my sweater. The sleeves don't match quite so well as I had hoped and there are a few extra rows here and there whenever I got distracted by the television. It took longer to knit than anything else I have ever made! Even longer than that Wedding Gift I knit for Teddy. I suppose if I had spent more time knitting it and less time on other projects like Christmas gifts and learning how to spin sock yarn (something I am still working on by the way), it would have been finished sooner.



Now that I think about it, there is actually one item that took longer to knit. I'm not certain how long exactly, but a guess of five or six years would be conservative. I haven't even woven in all the ends yet.



Scratchy acrylic yarn and colours I'm not overly fond of have taught me the importance of making certain that new knitters have access to top notch yarns rather than the cheep stuff. Just because you are learning and knitting strange shaped rectangles does not mean you don't deserve to enjoy yourself.





In other news I've been baking, studying and as of this evening, writing essay. Exam's on Wednesday. Wish me luck.




Saturday, October 27, 2007

eighty-three

You may think I have forgotten about knitting since it seems that all I've been blogging about lately has been spinning related. But I assure you, I haven't forgotten. In fact, I've been knitting up a storm. Most of the storm is secret, and therefore cannot be blogged until after the Christmas holidays. But I've finished all save one Christmas gift, I simply have to weave in the ends, block them and put them in a box. They turned out really nice, if I may say so myself.


My next post will most likely be all knitting, because I can only go so long without talking extensively about knitting. I think you will be impressed with how the Kauni is coming along, even with having to re-knit at least one button band.



The great thing about spinning is that when you spin, you make yarn which can be knit into things. For example, I spun some sock-like yarn out of some wool I picked up from the Cowichan Fleece and Fibre Fair.




It's pretty two ply spun woolen style. Because I spun woolen style (where the twist enters the fiber cloud) I didn't have as much control as I would spinning worsted style (inch-worm style) so it ended up being thicker than I had hoped. I think next time I spin woolen style, I won't bother to ply the yarn - that way I can have thinner yarn.


It's not very consistent either, but I made this yarn. And darn it all, I'm going to knit some warm socks out of it.



Speaking about sock yarn, I received my roving from Knitted to a T (Knits Galore). (See exception 2 of my no-yarn-for-me.) First off, I just want to say that the roving itself is gorgeous! Such an amazing colour combination, and being super-wash merino, it spins up like a dream - far easier than any fibre I've spun before! Check out her blog and her Etsy shop (links above), make certain you visit both as she doesn't always have the same things at both locations.



Now, this where I rant about the postal system: How exactly does "hand dyed roving" mean "illegal drugs"? I admit, I know virtually nothing about drugs or other illegal substances, so it could possibly be a euphemism for illegal substances. I am also glad that there are people out there keeping us safe from what ever evils travel by mail, but (and this is a BUT with a capital B), slicing a large cut through the package and almost halfway through it than badly taping it up again is rather annoying. It feels invasive at the least. One would think that when they determined that there was nothing wrong with my parcel they would have put one of those preprinted notes that talk about how they just want to keep the country safe from bad mail instead of just slapping some tape on it and sending it on its way. Lucky there was no serious damage to the fibre and I suppose all is well that ends well.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

eighty-two

Happy news everyone: HollYarns is having another contest. I am not going to enter because I won the last one and recieved the most wonderful needle holder and some cotton yarn. But I encourage you to.


I had a fun evening with the Guild this week. They had something called an informal gathering where we came with our fibre arts and socialized. There were lots of people there, many of them spinning. Some were knitting, others crocheting, needle felting, and weaving. And some of us were committing acts of fibre prep.



I got to try my hand at some combs.





This is the most desirable form of fibre prep I'm told and one I hope to prefect with time. Combing wool is the first step to true worsted yarn. In a way it seems like a bit of a waste as only about half of the fibres you begin with make it to the finished stage with this process. The shorter bits are already picked (or fluffed apart) ready to card for woolen style yarn, so it is actually more efficient than you think. You can also use combs for fibre blending. Look how beautiful that is.





Considering how long and pointy combs are, not to mention the intense concentration required to perform the act of combing, I think it is something I should do in a solitary setting. So I moved on to picking.





This is a drum carder.





It turns this





into this





and this.





Before you put the wool into the carder, it helps, I am told, if you pick it apart first. This process is called picking (or fluffing by some people, but they haven't watched the same TV shows as I have, so I don't call it fluffing - if you get the joke good for you, if not, I'm not explaining it to you). The evening was a great deal of fun. Lots of people turned up to play with fibre and I learned all sorts of new skills.








I have an exam next week followed by yet another essay. It is most likely that blogging will be less frequent until the middle of November. Or, if the essay goes badly, it will be more frequent. In the mean time, can anyone think of a job for me where I don't have to work with too many people. Preferably something either fibre related or where they pay me to write stuff. Writing stuff about fibre would be best.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Three Bags Full

I make myself laugh.


That fibre fest thing I told you about, it was incredible. I bought far more than I intended and I still came home under budget. I was especially fortunate to travel there with a fibre friend, let’s call her M the Wise, who was not only good fun to travel with, but also wise enough to help me decide what best to make with the many fibres I bought.


I think I saw one or two people from Ravelry, but I really can be quite shy in person, and there was so much fibre to look at. There were fibre friends there I did recognize, including one who brought their adorable kitten out with them to enjoy the day. That’s something I would have loved to get a photo of, but the kitten was so excited, I doubt I would have got a good shot.


The fibre overwhelmed me; I took maybe three photos the entire day. At first, I was almost dizzy, but once I got my bearings, I managed to buy a few things. No yarn though, but I suppose that’s a good thing considering my yarn fast and my desire to become a better spinner.


Okay, are you ready for this? I bought 3 bags full of fibre.


Don’t let their size deceive you; there is a lot of fibre in these little bags.


First, I picked up (and have almost finished spinning) some wool from Conheath Farm. I can’t remember which type of wool it is. It has a strong texture with lots of crimp, and I think the type of sheep starts with a C. M the Wise said that it would make great sock yarn. I have tried spinning it worsted style, but it spins up more even woollen style. I captured the last of the dark blue-ish colour that she had for sale and some of that light blue to ply it with. So far I’m well pleased with this fibre.


Next up, Hummingbird Fibre Arts: This is one of the great centres of pilgrimage for fibre artists on the island. She carries such high quality fibres and tools at affordable prices. It makes me smile.

I picked up some wool,


some wool silk blend,


and a little later, I picked up some alpaca silk blend (I couldn’t help myself, it was calling me from across the room while I was eating lunch.).


From Qualicum Bay Fibre Works (one of two local fibre mills and processors in the area) I bought some different alpaca silk blend. I actually picked up quite a lot of this, 8oz, and I have no idea what I will do with it. But it’s soft. M the Wise says I shouldn’t make socks with Alpaca as it doesn’t wear well. She also says that since I naturally spin quite tight, I should be able to spin this up lace weight no problem. Perhaps a light lace jacket for spring?


It seemed to be a very Alpaca festival. There was one shop in the corner with a collection of alpaca from different farms. I bought some dyed alpaca blended with silk noils and some jet black alpaca to ply with it. Again, I have no idea what I will make with this, but it’s soft and it’s ‘purddy’. At the very least I will use it to improve my spinning skills.


From the local guild, not the guild I belong to, but the wonderful people who put on this fibre goodness, I bought some hand dyed wool. I actually had to fight a little bit to buy this one. I was going to buy two, but when I realized how much one of my fibre friends wanted more of this dye lot, I decided to only buy one. I think this is going to make great sock yarn as well, but I also think I’m allergic to something in it. I might have to wash it before I spin it as I get the sniffles every time I take it out of the bag to admire it.


Lastly, I want to talk about Twist of Fate. It’s a vender I’ve never seen before, but I’m well pleased with all the pretty things she has for sale.


I’m delighted with the fibres I bought there and I regret passing up the cotton and the bison she had for sale. But maybe she will make it to the Victoria Spin-in early next year.

I bought some wool silk and wool cotton blends.


One thing I’ve noticed now that I have had time to admire my purchases is that she doesn’t list the percentages of the fibre in the packages. The content is listed, but not how much of each. I suppose I’m over curious.


That’s about it for me. Now that I’ve had time to reflect, I think I would have liked to buy some Shetland as well. What makes me most happy is that most of the venders were local farms, and those that weren’t were out here for other reasons anyway, so their eco-footprint was quite small.

It was a very happy day and an all around good fibre fest.






(I apologize that some of the colours are not spot on, I had bad lighting due to rain, but I wanted to get this post out and I didn't know how long the bad weather would last)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

eighty-one

I am so close to being finished my Kauni. All that remains is for me to pick up the sts around the neck and the button bands, learn how to make button holes (I measured and placed safety pins for where they go – on the right side – before cutting the steek), and finish it off. I have decided to do as everyone else and not knit it all in one go. It’s not because I cannot, it’s because I can’t – I have the knowledge and the will, just not a circular needle long enough. Instead of working on it last night, I knit one and a bit chemo caps while watching lord of the rings (am I the only one in the world that thinks the battle for helms deap is the best battle scean in the history of film?). I’m using the EZ pattern for a toque (Canadians know what I’m talking about, I think the rest of the world calls them beanies) as I’m not up on how to knit hats. I have both wool and acrylic in my stash, so I’ll make hats with both as not everyone knows how to, or has the desire to wash by hand.

I am excited about the Fibre Fest today. I don’t know what it’s going to be like, but there will be fibre and fibre friends. What more can I ask?

Speaking of fibre friends, I promised a description of the best-ist party game ever!

We pulled our chairs into as small a circle as we could manage, nine of us knee to knee huddled around a basket of yarn and a selection of circular needles.

We each chose a yarn and a needle and cast on as many stitches as we could fit on the needle.

We were instructed to give one end of our needle to the person to our right, keep one end (the active end with the yarn) which we use to knit the stitches given to us by the person to our left. Confused yet? Remember, these are circular needles, so it makes life far easier than if we were using for example, regular needles.

You then take the sts that have been given to you and knit them. At the same time, the person who has the other end of your cast on knits those sts and the person to your left is knitting more sts for you to enjoy.

The hilarity that ensues at this point is amazing. There is virtually no way that you are not going to twist the cast on edge, but in all likelihood it will be twisted almost the same amount one was as the other to sort of balance out. Eventually, once everyone gets into the rhythm, you have a group of happy people, sitting knee to knee, all knitting the same project. In the end, we draped the finished circle of knitted fun around our most gracious hostess curlysalamander and thanked her for bringing so much joy to our evening.

Knitting is such a solitary art, even when you are knitting in a group, you still knit your own work, your own sts, in the end, it’s entirely up to you. With this game, you knit someone else’s stitches and someone else knits yours. It’s communal. It’s a great deal of fun, and if you can find a group of knitters somewhere, some time, I highly recommend trying it.

Friday, October 19, 2007

eighty

Lots of things to tell you about this rainy Friday morning. Let's see if I can get this all accomplished before I have to run out into the rain and go to class.

First off, cancer caps.
As you know, during the next thirty days or so I'll be knitting caps to donate in honour of Katie's husband to the ward where he use to work. If you are thinking of joining in, that would be wonderful. It's just a little something we can do to honour the memory of a very special person who I am told was an inspiration for Knitting Our Way to Peace. If you do choose to join in, and you live near me (west coast of Canada), I'll be collecting together the caps to send off in one parcel. Just let me know.

Second, Corsets.
I have a secret. I love vintage undergarments, especially corsets. That's why the guild meeting was a double blessing last night. Not only did I get to mingle with the wonderful people of amazing skill (they are so inspiring it makes me wonder how did I live my life up to now without a guild), but we also were also treated to a talk on the history of the Corset by Melanie Talkington.

Third, Fibre Festival.
Sorry, I can't find a link to this one, but the Cowichan Fiber Fest is tomorrow. It makes me realize just how many of my fiber event I discover through the Internet. Now that I am part of a group of fellow fiber fiends (hope you don't mind me calling you that, it's meant with love) I am discovering an infinite number of fibre events that never make it to the Internet.

You may think that attending this event conflicts with my no-yarn-for-me; but you forget, the clever person who invented the rules (that's me) allowed for some exceptions (else, madness would ensue). Have a look at exception number 1., and I quote, "Fiber festival shopping is exempt. It's the equivalent of eating birthday cake when you are on a diet." See how smart I am? I can't wait until tomorrow!

Forth, Kindness.
HollYarns had a contest some time ago, and guess what? I won. I had hoped to take a photo for myself, but the rain makes for bad lighting and I just can't do it justice. So, have a look here if you would like to see my bran new yarn (thank goodness for yarn - yarn fasting is difficult) which is brilliant blue cotton from Manos del Uruguay and my firs ever needle case. The needle case is like spring time with flowers and sunshine yellow inside. It even has a couple of cat hairs on it to make it extra special (I miss having a cat). Thank you kind stranger.

And lastly, I'm out of time.
It's time for class. I didn't talk about everything I had planed to, but that just leaves me with something to talk about next time (party games anyone?). I will do my best to take lots of photos at the Fiber Fest, but you know me when I am around large amounts of fibre or yarn. If you see me there (because, I'm told that people actually read my blog) remind me to take photos.

One last question, is it 'fiber' or 'fibre', and why is it one and not the other?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Something Sad

Please send your love and your prayers to one of my heroes who has recently lost her husband in a car accident. Katie is part of the Knitting Our Way to Peace movement, something I talk about at great length because I believe in it so strongly.

In honour of Katie's husband and his work as an oncologist (cancer dr.) several of us are knitting chemo caps to send to the hospital where he worked. You are more than welcome to join in on this, simply pick up some needles, some stash and pick a pattern that appeals to you. There are lots out there to choose from, but I'll give you a list to get started.

Remembrance Ribbons Hat (my personal fave.)
One Ball Really Easy Instant Chemo Cap
Helping Hat
Pi Topper Chemo Cap
Chemo Cap
Knit Chemo Cap

If none of these catch your fancy, I bet you could find something via Google. There was also one posted on knitty a while back with all sorts of lovely cables.

I'll post some more details on where to send them when I know. I think that it would be absolutely wonderful if more people would join in.

Monday, October 15, 2007

seventy-nine - Party Time

Sometimes I think I must be the luckiest girl in the world.



This weekend I got to play with fiber and fiber friends. There were some old friends (for example, Shelley from Fun Knits who I haven't seen in ages was there) and some new ones (the exceptionally fun Curlysalamander among them), all of them wonderful. There was yummy food, knitting, crochet, and perhaps the most fun, albeit the oddest, party game I've ever played.



Shelley has recently finished her Kauni cardie (which is fantastic - I can only hope mine turns out half as good) and is now onto other Kauni adventures. She is knitting another sweater, this one from the top down,



and my particular favorite, and something I never would have thought of on my own: a Christmas stocking.



I am amazed by all the things one can make with this yarn, and even more in awe of Shelley's talent. She is inspiring and since that evening I have not put down my own Kauni except to eat, sleep, study and blog.



I also received a present of fiber to help me survive my no-yarn-for-me-pledge. People are so kind.





As for this party game, I would love to tell you all about it. I don't know if I am allowed to or if it is top secret until after the knitting retreat on Quadra Island. I can tell you this, if you are lucky enough to attend, then this 'retreat' will be a 'real treat' for you.



I can give you a few hints of what is in store: It involves yarn, people, knitting, co-operation, problem solving skills, and far too much laughter. I've never done anything quite like it before. If we are very lucky, a photographic genius and computer guru will make a video that can go on a blog, then I can share it with you.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

seventy-eight

Fall colours on campus are inspiring. I just want to take all these colours and turn them into fabric. Can you imagine spinning yarn the colour of an oak tree with the tips of the leaves turning fiery red, but with the texture of merino wool and bamboo carded together? Imagine a sweater that can capture the subtle hues of orange and faded green, or the sensation of sunlight shimmering on a pond on one of the last sunny days before the frost sets in.



One day, I will learn to dye, and then I can capture the colours I see in the world and create fiber and yarn to reflect the changing seasons. One day, but not today. Today I will share with you a simple post with some photos taken on campus this week. As if you needed more proof to know that winter is on its way.



I hope you enjoy.





Thursday, October 11, 2007

seventy-seven

I remember mentioning once or twice that there are apples in my home. There still are. What is more, there are more on their way.


But in an attempt to conquer the ever growing pile of apples and reclaim a small portion of the apartment in which I live, I have been making pie.


There is this nifty little device that peals, cores and chops the apple up for us.




What's more, it creates lovely compost that the garden just adores. (All those little worms will have wonderful food to feast on over the winter; and in the spring, when we dig the garden, it will be nothing more than velvety dirt)




Made copious amounts of pastry with my great grandmother's pastery cutter.




I think I roll out the crust fairly thin, what I thought would make three pies, made seven.




Stick the tops on the pie, put some vent holes in them, then off into the oven they go.




After a while, something goes beep, and the pie is ready.




Or, should I say the pies are ready?








Knittingwise, I'm back on the Kauni. I have realized why it wasn't finished yet, I hadn't been knitting it. I have been spinning and knitting my hand spun (those secret Christmas gifts take a great deal of time). But I'm back on the Kauni now. The second sleeve is underway, next I get to wrestle with the button band.