Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Project Updates, An "Awwww" and The Yarn Farm

We'll start with the "awww" portion of this post. Remember the toddler poncho I made for Miss Emily Juckes' first birthday. Well I got pics of her modelling it as she ventured out for pumpkins. Could she be any cuter?! That's mom's arm in the back so Miss Emily doesn't fall off the pumpkin wagon! And while this pic is too cute....

This one shows the poncho better. Yes Emily, I love the great pumpkin too.

As a follow up to the spinners retreat weekend, here is the MacAusland yarn I bought as it drys after being washed in dish soap and spun it in the washing machine. It made a huge difference! But now I have a yarn farm going on in my bathroom downstairs. And this is only half of it!

Now on to projects. There is lots on the go around here. Tim is away in China for 2 weeks so my knitting and spinning projects have taken over the house. Well that and I'm procrastinating. I am giving the dogs their fall grooming special. It's taken me 3 days. Day one was brushing, day two was baths and today is day three and they will get their haircuts. Here they are after their baths. I'm trying to get them to lay in the sun to dry out. Speaking of cute...

Okay on to projects. I felted the purse for my aunt made out of the Bernat Felting Natural Wool. It felted up with one run through the agitation cycle on my washer set to heavy duty. I just checked it then let it run through the rinse and spin cycles. I love it but found out my aunt wanted beige but then I talked to another aunt and now it's going to be for yet another aunt. Anyway, one more gift done. I think I'm going to sew in a zipper. It really makes it functional.

While at the spinning retreat what little knitting I did was on another pair of cable booties. These are for a friend. I made the cuff a little longer, doing 4 repeats of the pattern instead of just 2. I knew I could do this because I had yarn leftover the from the last pair I made. I use Knitpicks Wool of the Andes for this and it knits up really nicely.

Still working on the heat wave sock. The young lady I'm making these for has a size 10 foot. I knew she had larger feet so I only did 3 repeats of the pattern for the cuff so I'd be sure to have enough yarn. I love this pattern! I'm using Knitpicks Dancing Yarn for this project.

I'm also still working on the scarf for my nan and I'm really happy with how it is turning out. But I do have to be really focused when I knit it. I'm using Knitpicks Palette yarn and the pattern is Branching Out. It's a great pattern to start trying out lacy projects.
I also have at least 2 other UFOs that are for Christmas. I'll show them when I'm done. So as if all this wasn't enough, on Monday it was so freakin' cold that I nearly froze my hands off when I went outside with the dogs. So I wondered if I could quickly knit myself a pair of Fetching Fingerless Gloves. Now you may be saying to yourself, "CJ, are you insane?!" but wait, I have a rationale for this insanity. See I'm debating what to do for my niece and my friends daughter, ages 14 and 15. So I thought I'd see how quick these knit up and if they were quick then I'd do them each a pair with a matching hat and maybe even a scarf. I have some great fun fuzzy yarn I got from Granny Tan when she did some destashing. So it really was a test project. They do knit up super fast. I'm almost done the second one, just about 20 - 30 minutes more and I'll be done. I did these in a cotton thinking it would be good to wear when I'm knitting with wool and I had a chill... See, lots of good reason to have cast these on!

Happy knitting and spinning everyone!

Monday, October 15, 2007

7th Annual Maritime Spinners Retreat

So this weekend I took the plunge and joined with other fiber fanatics and embraced my inner yarn goddess. For those of you who still think knitting is just for grandmas have I got news for you. I finished my university degree at a mostly women's university ( Mount St. Vincent University), proudly consider myself a feminist, ignore any glass ceiling some people want to build and am packing a bigger pair of cajones (balls) then most men but never, and I mean NEVER, have I spent so much time with an empowering, positive, supportive group of women, of all ages and backgrounds. This my friends is where feminism truly exists, right in the grassroots movement of fiber arts. No catty gossiping, no backbiting, no bitching. It was fantastic! And I even spun a little yarn. Yes there were some more mature, experienced women there, many may even have been grandmas. So throw out your stereotypes and lets get sharing!

First of all we had to drive to PEI in the rain. Okay, only PEI can still be beautiful in the rain. And the leaves did not disappoint. On the way home I was actually sad to leave the island... I think it's love. This was the view from our hotel room window at the Rodd Mill River Resort.

We got a goodie bag when we arrived and it was full of fun stuff for spinning, 2 different types of silk, a soy silk and a Merino and seacell blend. I can't wait to try these out. I didn't get a chance at the retreat (you'll see why in a minute). I think I will probably dye the spun yarn and use them as accent yarns in projects but of course that is subject to change.

Friday evening when we arrived we went to MacAuslands Woolen Mill which was just around the corner from our hotel. Man are sheep stinky creatures. I thought for sure I'd have some sort of allergic reaction right in the mill but I was fine (I remained heavily drugged all weekend but I spend most of my time that way so it was nothing new). When I got home last night I realized my dogs don't smell that much better these days - time for some baths around here! But back to the wool. I bought 2 bags of their 'seconds' yarn for making felted projects. I have to soak it all first in some Dawn dish detergent to try and remove some of the lanolin oils. It will felt better with less lanolin and since I'm allergic, it will save my hands a bit too. The top bag is 3 ply and the bottom bag is 2 ply. What are the odds I'm going to remember that when I'm knitting with it?

We had a great dinner at the resort Friday night. The rest of the meals were part of the retreat but Friday night we were on our own. Line, Tan and I all ordered the same thing... this became a theme all weekend. We did take advantage of being on the island and indulged in seafood!!!! That alone made my weekend!

This was the sunrise that greeted us on morning number 2. I, personally would have missed it but Granny Tan popped out of bed at the crack of dawn both mornings.

There were vendors at the retreat offering their wonderful wares. I was a good doobie and only bought this luxurious yarn to make a pair of socks for myself. It's 50% cashmere and silk and 50% alpaca. Did you know alpaca is considered hypo-allergenic? I will be testing this theory in depth as time goes by as alpaca is amazingly soft. Ya kinda just want to lay naked in a big pile of it.....

The vendors were open at 3 different times during the retreat. So like everyone else, I went back and bought more.... Again though I was good, I only bought this pencil roving, Fleece Artists (my first Fleece Artist purchase ever!) Sea Wool (70% wool, 30% seacell, which is made from the viscose processing of seaweed). It is really easy to drop spindle. I'm also keeping this for myself. I see a wrap of some sort out of it. This picture is only about 1/4 of the roving I bought.

So then we got to the spinning. It was a huge room full of fleece and spinning wheels. (Granny Tan at her wheel)

More spinners.

A couple of women getting a lesson in drop spindling silk hankies. With her back to the camera is Line, our other roommate. She did some serious work on her drop spindle this weekend.

This is my mohair fleece. When I had taken the drop spindle class, I had found working with the mohair more easy than some of the others. And near as I can tell, I'm not allergic to mohair but I'm keeping a watch out on that one.

We had some furry companions at the retreat. Angora bunnies! In this pic it's the face of one with the arse of another beside it. They were sooooo soft. And so calm. Apparently they make excellent house pets and you can litter train them!

I spun up 50 grams of mohair and one 100 grams of the Sea Wool. Then is was time to say goodbye to PEI. One last look out the window and we were off.

On the way home we stopped for lunch. It was our last weekend getaway bit so we all ordered seafood platters. Holy haddock (I kept saying "holy mackerel" but Tan kept reminding me that there was no mackerel on the plate)! Tan and I were going to share one and we should have! We all took home doggie bags and now I have leftover fried seafood for tonight. I think I'll have a pile of green veggies with it...

When I got home I hung up my mohair and sea wool to straighten them out a bit. I want to get the rest of the mohair spun so I can dye it. I have another potato chip scarf I want to do and it would be beautiful along the edging.

I will probably spin all the fleece you've seen here and then not spin again until next years retreat but that's mostly because I have so much stuff to knit. Remember, I haven't even been knitting for a whole year yet. I still have so many things I want to do; a toe up sock, a full sweater, wraps, shawls, gloves, mitts. oh my, I'd better get busy!