Mail with added fibre

Two parcels in the mail on Wednesday and one on Thursday from Norma. I love getting mail.

Mail with fibre.

From left to right, the big bag of roving is Dark Coopworth from Copper Moose, and the label says it’s from New Zealand, which makes me very happy. It’s the colour of dark chocolate, soft and smelling slightly of farm. Eight ounces is a lot more fibre than I was expecting, just over 200g. I’m hoping I can spin this into yarn for a scarf for Hubby. I don’t know how yet, but I’ll learn. I’ve never bought roving before, this was a first.

The spindle is Cascade’s Little Si, made from maple wood, and it is my first spindle. It came from The Bellweather with a small chunk of beautifully dyed fibre that smells of maiden aunts and is soft as powder. Both stores shipped fast, I would definitely order from them again.

Finally, the gorgeous red yarn is from Norma for winning her stealth contest, thank you! It is Classic Elite Lush, half angora and half merino, soft and cuddleworthy.

Smitten

(If you see anything odd here in the next week or so, it’s just me testing out a new theme.)

Finished one of the Bittersweet mittens on Sunday, here it is posing with George, my pet roving:

Mitten and George.

I made some changes to the pattern (start with 4 less stitches, add ribbing, increase after ribbing, different increase for the thumb, slightly shorter hand) and I love it! The Morehouse Merino yarn is so lovely to work with I didn’t even mind having to rip the thing out twice to get the wrist sizing right. The yarn is undyed, made from blending fleece from black sheep and white sheep. If I learn to produce something like this I will be very happy!

What is a good book for a beginner spindle spinner? "Spinning for Dummies" hasn’t been written yet, and I want something with lots of clear pictures. What would you recommend? And is there a better name than "spindle spinner"? What’s the collective noun for spinners? A twist of spinners? A draft of spinners? Anyone?

Knit 1, crochet 2, spin!

Rox gave me a birthday present at knitting group on Saturday: a skein of KnitPicks colour-your-own sock yarn, another of Wool of the Andes in natural, and some Kool-Aid for dying! Having done some research on various blogs, I think I’m going to try for a long stripes effect, using orange, lemon, and cherry flavour Kool-Aid. Got my Pyrex dish, my microwave, my baster, some glass jars, all I need is a quiet evening to myself. Last week of the month, I’m going to dye! Between the KnitPicks dying instructions, the Knitty Kool-Aid article and the Knitter’s Review article I should be set. Pictures to come at the end of the month.

It has sometimes pained my crocheting friends that I refer to their craft as "the dark side" and generally make fun of it. I figured out the cause of this antipathy: craft afternoons at primary school. While many craft afternoons were great fun, teaching us batik, how to card and spin fleece into yarn, and tie-dying, the crochet period was not a good one for me. I was making a small handkerchief holder out of thin blue yarn which had to be doubled, using triple crochet, and doing it before I got my glasses. Before I even knew that I needed them, before I knew that the people on the TV had noses, or any facial features beyond a fuzzy pink splotch, back when I couldn’t see across the road, catch a thrown ball, or read anything further than a foot from my face. So I’ll relent, and maybe one day I’ll even get a copy of Debbie Stoller’s The Happy Hooker.

Visited Myer’s House yarn store on Saturday and got sent home with a free chunk of fibre. Not yarn, fibre, something from a sheep, cream coloured and soft and decidedly not spun. Double-checked my name is down for the spinning class, drooled over the spinning wheels they have in the barn, and came home with my new fibre, with instructions from the store to "pet it and feed it and name it George". George will be spun on a Cascade Little Si spindle, which will shortly be heading my way along with some dark Coopworth roving from Copper Moose. I have no idea how to turn George into yarn yet, but I’ll find out soon.

Spring Cleaning

I’ve been clearing out the old projects. The FIL socks were finished on 27th February. The Koigu scarf was finished on 3rd March. The third strip of the leftovers blanket was finished tonight:

Blanket strip three.

This leaves only the Eternal Sweater. Half a front, one sleeve, sewing up, and I can take this one off the project list. I really want to finish it this year. If I do a few rows each day when I get home from work, I can get it done, eventually. Please God, let there be enough yarn left! It’s the double moss stitch that’s killing it for me. The cable pattern is great, but I’m done with the moss stitch, or seed stitch, or whatever you call it, for at least a decade!

The two projects I’m looking to start next are the Hempathy Seaman’s scarf (on hold till Patternworks gets the yarn in), and the Bittersweet Mittens kit. Haven’t chosen a colour for the scarf, still dithering between the Desert Sand and White Beach. I want a colour that will stand out against the colours I normally wear (purple, blue, and green). I need to work on something almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea socks for a while.

Found a four-week spinning class at my favourite yarn store, to be held in the next month or so. I’m on the list to be called when it’s time to start. They’ll cover drop spindles, plying, and let you use their spinning wheels. I don’t have the room, or the budget, for a wheel at home but it will be fun to try!

Finished reading "Carry on Jeeves" by P. G. Wodehouse on Sunday evening. It is a rare book that I finish, and immediately pop the bookmark back in at the start. This one contains the only Jeeves and Wooster story I’ve seen from the perspective of Jeeves. Wodehouse is an amazing comic writer and I love his stories.

Sock 3 of 8

I finished this tonight:

Father-in-law socks.

It’s the first sock for my father-in-law, made in KnitPicks Sock Landscape in Yukon. The yarn thickness is a little more inconsistent than the New England Foliage, and it’s odd how the light blue stays on one side of the sock. The light blue was travelling around the sock and it stopped dead when I hit the cuff. Got the same gauge on both colours, 9st per inch. It’s soft and warm (I tried it on) and way too big for me. If I finish it today, it will be six days start to finish for one sock, matching my all-time speed record.

I’m torn between Cascade Spindle’s Little Si, and Greensleeves Spindle’s Barebones with a contrasting Butchers Crown to protect the hook. What to do? I’m going to be putting in some overtime at work and I’m tempted by the Greensleeves spindle. Does anyone have one of those? Is it worth getting the Butcher’s Crown?

My birthday is in just under three weeks, and I have the day off work. I’ll be going up to Myer’s House yarn store and asking spinning questions, and reading spinning books. I love taking off for my birthday. Hubby has a massage booked for me at the spa that morning, can’t wait!

Tuesday catch up

Got my Mac back on Friday, 20 days after they took it in for a three to five day repair. By a strange coincidence, the repair was completed 40 minutes before I called the repair centre on Thursday, and on a truck heading home by 8pm that night. I’m really glad to have it back because now I can update my iPod and add the Crazy Frog version of Axel F.

Cheers to Beth for pointing me towards Greensleeves Spindles, they look fantastic! Maybe one day… Got to find a local spinning group that meets in the evenings. My future spinning teacher is part of the Weaver’s Guild, and I think spinners meet in Myers House yarn store. I know they have some spindles and roving in the back room.

Mailed off my unloved sock yarn on Saturday to my swap recipient. It should get there on Friday or Saturday because it’s gone overseas. Hope she likes it better than I did! I wonder whose unloved sock yarn is heading my way? Is it too soon to be checking my mailbox? Will it be hideous? Will it be beautiful?

Almost finished the MIL sock #2 today, less than an inch to go. Next up are the FIL socks in KnitPicks Sock Landscape Yukon, all blues and grey. It felt a little different to the New England Foliage colour and I’m wondering how it will knit up, and how they will both wear. They’ll be hand washed, I’m planning on sending a little bottle of wool wash over with them. Which is better, Eucalan or Kookaburra?

Added a couple of yarn reviews over the weekend (Socks That Rock and KnitPicks Sock Landscape) and updated a few others. I have the cuddly bear kit from Kpixie to make which has some interesting yarn, and Opal Owl to use later in the year. Another new yarn I’ll be using is KnitPicks Essential for Hubby’s second pair of socks. Once the FIL socks are done I might take a break and knit the bear so I don’t get all socked out.

When I had my fingerprints taken by the INS for my green card application, they had trouble with because the tops of the prints are wearing off. I kept making smudged print cards and they had to be clear prints. At the time they said it was from typing, I wonder if knitting needles wear off fingerprints too? And do prints ever come back?

One down, seven to go

Finished the first KnitPicks Sock Landscape sock on Sunday with plenty of yarn to spare:

First mother in law sock.

It took eight days start to finish and I’m getting 9st per inch on a 2.75mm needle. The yarn is very soft, and the colours look good together. It is somewhat splitty, I have to pay attention when I’m knitting so as not to leave strands behind, but I think it’s a good yarn. I’ll be sending the leftovers when I mail the socks to my mother-in-law in case they ever need darning. I could see making gloves with this yarn, or doubling it and making a scarf. Started the toe of the second sock today at lunch.

Once these four pairs of socks are done (MIL, FIL, Husband, Mother), I’m going to get a drop spindle and try spinning. It’s my bribe for finishing the sock marathon. Someone in town is willing to teach me, and I love the look of wooden spindles. Dad was a carpenter by training, so there was always wood around at home. His shed and the back of the garage were his woodwork shop, with the dry smell of sawdust, my own small hammer, panel pins, and offcuts to play with. I remember hammering bits together to make boats as a child, and learning how to use a spokeshave tool as a teen. When I went to university, Dad made me a jewellery box from a piece of rimu, an orange coloured New Zealand hardwood. He picked up the wood when we lived there and carried it around for over fifteen years.

I haven’t seem any rimu spindles, but any natural wood with a decent grain would be good. My favourites are yew, purpleheart, and spalted beech. Yew was used to make longbows for the English in the Hundred Years War with France in the 1300s, the colour range is from orange to white to tan. The colour of purpleheart is natural, the wood turns purple when it’s exposed to air. Spalted beech looks like someone scrawled on the wood with a black pen, which is the result of a particular fungus attacking the tree.

I think I’ll get the Cascade Spindles Little Si from The Bellweather. I love the St Helen’s spindle, it’s just a bit too much for a first one. The dark Coopworth roving from Copper Moose looks like decent starting fibre. Are these good choices for a beginner? I’ve heard good things about Bosworth Midi spindles, but I’d rather start with something cheaper in case I hate it. What’s a good book on drop spindle spinning?