Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Story of a Fleece

Sorry it's been 20 days since the last update. I've been busy busy busy this last month with thesis work. I've gotten my proposal written and accepted by my committee, however, so I'm right on track and was able to take a vacation-at-home during spring break (tomorrow is the last day :-( ).

On the knitting front, I've finished the right front and back of my Hot Pink and Vintage and started on the left front. No pictures, though. My Damson shawl is in a long term time out until I can stand to unknit (stitch by stitch) 6.5 rows. Don't ask, it's still too painful.

Spring is continuing it's march forward. I caught this little ladybug on the green of the daffodils in the back yard.

What I've really been spending my time on, though, (besides the thesis stuff) is my spinning. Here are some better pictures of my first yarn that I discussed a couple posts back.

It's wonderfully soft and sproingy.

I also finished my second yarn, which I started spinning just before the winter Olympics started. My consistency in weight improved with this yarn. It's going to make a lovely something, probably modular in garter stitch to showcase the colors.

But my big project has been my fleece. My alpaca fleece. I got an alpaca fleece, fresh off the alpaca for a steal (it was going to be burned!!! Who burns alpaca fleece?!?!?!). It's a first shear (as in, the first time this alpaca had ever been sheared) so there aren't any guard hairs to worry about. It was incredibly dirty from the dust baths this alpaca had enjoyed. Wanna see it?

That's a regular size laundry basket, for reference. I tried cleaning it in it's natural state, but the dirt was all trapped up in the locks. I ended up borrowing a drum carder from a friend of mine.

I carded all of the alpaca (a two day affair that left my right shoulder and arm sore) and knocked a lot of dirt out of it (plus picked out large stuff by hand). Now it looks like this:

It's just about doubled in volume, and is even softer now. It is cleaner, but still has dust and some vegetative matter in it. I tried washing some of it yesterday, but it didn't work well. I think at this point the best thing will be to spin it and wash it as yarn to get the rest of the stuff out of it.

The wheel in my last spinning related post is going home today. It was a loaner from a friend who was recruiting for the cult of spinners. Now that I'm hooked, I found a great deal on craigslist for a wheel of my very own. It's smaller and more portable and fits much better in my tiny space.

The woman I bought it from had left the bobbins full so I inherited that. I wound it off so I can work on my own yarn. Like this:

This is some lovely brown alpaca that was a gift from a friend of mine. I've got positively tons of this roving, so I should get a good amount of yarn out of it.

That's all I've got for now. I've got to work on reorganizing (again) my yarn stash so that it seems to take up less space.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

I Forgot!

I also have a couple of pictures to share from my Doctor Who swap that I participated in on Ravelry. I spent quite a bit of time working on a top secret project, which was a TARDIS bag.

This is the bag folded in half, it ended up being quite deep. I lined it with the black fabric in the top of the picture. I had 1/2 yard of the fabric and used every scrap in the lining.

My swap partner sent me this:

A knitted Dalek. It's about 12 inches tall (that's a standard PEZ dispenser there next to it).


A Doozy of a Post

I've been busy since my last serious post. I had a cold, I've been working my tail off on my thesis proposal (my adviser is reading it now, so I have a day off), I finished up the knitting olympics, and I've been trying to at least break even with the domestic housework of everyday living.

First off today, I'll cover what I've been knitting. I lost my teal sanddollar hat (very sad, still not over it). I decided to shop the stash for something to make a new hat. I don't have anything that will do for a new sanddollar, but I did find 4 hanks of discontinued Elsebeth Lavold Angora in Burgundy Red. I dug around my patterns and decided on Pauline, which is a lovely little bonnet. It took me all of about 2 evenings to make, even with the applied I-cord (my first time). This was the first of my Ravelymics projects.

I've gotten lots of compliments on it. I was worried about the gauge, which was much looser than I usually knit at, but the angora yarn bloomed beautifully. It's soft and silky and very warm.

The bonnet only took one and a third skeins of the yarn, so I then cast on for Snapdragon Flip-Top Mitts for my second Ravelympics project. These took more than a week to make because the pattern was more clever than I was. But I finally got them done and they are also warm and soft and silky, and my knitting group thinks they are adorable. It is much too warm these days to wear such warm mitts, though, except late at night while driving.

The loops on the tips are supposed to go with buttons on the cuffs to hold the flip top down, but i have no idea what buttons I want, and the flip tops do stay down on their own fairly well, so I'm not worrying about that.

I finished these the Friday before the end of the Olympics, and I knew I couldn't get my third project done, but I decided to get as far as I could in the remaining 2 days. The third project is Damson, made in a lovely yarn that I got as a gift. It's a two ply 50/50 wool/kid mohair that was done up in Lancaster, Texas. It's so soft and lovely, and I love the earthy colors.

Here's where I was early Saturday morning.

And here's where I got to by the end of the Olympic games on Sunday (well, the end of the closing ceremony). I've since gotten farther, but it looks pretty much like the above picture, but more bunched up, so I haven't photoed it.

On Tuesday this past week I also got out my Hot Pink and Vintage and worked on it for the first time in ages, but I haven't photoed it. I'm hoping to have it done before the world comes to an end.

Next up, we've been having some wonderful weather lately. Yesterday was so nice I had all of my windows open, and the door, too. Things are starting to bloom, and last weekend I was inspired to get out my camera and take a short walk around the neighborhood. Here's a small selection.

The last one is newly sprouted rhubarb. I just loved the texture of the unfurling leaves.

Finally, since the weather was so lovely yesterday I took the opportunity to work with my spinning. I decided to do some plying, since I had quite a bit of spun fiber on two bobbins. The problem was that I had no lazy kate (which holds the bobbins so they don't fall over while plying). What to do? I found a chunk of styrofoam in a box that I've neglected to deal with since November, got out a short set of US size 8 knitting needles, poked them up through the styrofoam and voila, instant poor girl's lazy kate.

So I plyed away, merrily turning my singles into a nice two ply yarn. Yes, there are areas that are thicker, and areas that are thinner, but for my first ever spun yarn I really like the way it looks. I got 2.5 bobbins full of plyed yarn. And, with the lovely weather, I've been able to hang it outside to dry in the spring air.

It's soft and sproingy and perfectly balanced for all it's thick-thin quality. Now I just have to decide what to knit with it.

Now I'm going to sign off. Until next time!