Confessions of a Fiber Addict

You might have noticed the Knitting Retrospective, well this is part two.

Recently my friend Shelly came over for lunch — Lou baked up a yummbly fritata (sp?) and we talked and enjoyed good food and good wine. I decided to show Shelly some (believe it or not Shel you didn’t see it all!) of my unspun fiber.

Unspun fiber lives a life of grand anticipation. “what will I become? 2-ply, thick-n-thin, navajo 3-ply, cabled, what what???” you can almost see it wiggling in its various containers “pick me, pick me”. The spinner needs to keep the fiber at bay for a while, get to know it, dream about it, think of how to use the finished yarn. One doesn’t just grab the fiber, sit down to a spinning wheel and start spinning — then you are at the mercy of caprice! With some fibers, one needs to take a little more time to mull, than with others. These things must be done “delicately” or you’ll ruin the spell!

I have a ‘fair’ amount of unspun fiber all in various stages of becoming, and almost becoming. I am a SPINNER, it is a great responsibility, the structure of the universe depends upon making the right choices, and using the right fiber for the right job. You understand??

Let’s take a journey into the sanctuary that is the fiber room. Napping in the small trunk you will find Gotland purchased just north of Detroit — it was raw and filled with the sweet aroma of lanolin, I still remember it — I had it processed and it is waiting for something special – I bought a little extra of the same type of fiber from copper moose, just to make sure I’ll have enough of it for that something special….it is currently being prepared to run through the drum carder, the first stage of becoming …… something …. special.

Resting comfortably in the BIG trunk we have some merino/kid mohair, it is still trying to recover from the emotional upset of being wrenched away from its owner during a divorce struggle and sold to a local yarn shop. As soon as it is ready, I’m thinking of something …. fine … and … lacy. Kid mohair deserves no less.

This brings me to the oddesy of the Ashland Bay Merino – 1 pound each of Merino one dyed a plum color, one with colors of the Mojave desert. This past summer I was finally ready to spin it, it would become 2 ply, 1-ply the solid plum color, 1-ply the Mojave for an interesting and subtle interplay of color, along with the satin softness of merino. I set up my wheel, chose the correct whorl, pre-drafted the fiber (this coaxes it and prepares it for the onslaught of twist) ALAS — the fiber was stripped of ALL oils, stretched, and lifeless, no crimp, no lanolin. Sorrow. I was at a loss, until my husband suggested I blend it with another fiber. As fate would have it, I had 1 pound a corriedale mix from an ohio farmer, soft, springy, itching to become yarn, and 1 pound of a dark corriedale called Twister, rich in lanolin, kinky and twisty. They both offered their individuality to bring the merino back to life. I measured out 20 g. fiber balls, 50:50 full of life corriedale, lifeless merino, it now awaits the drum carder and will become “Cherry Cordial”.

Can you see, dear reader, how the fiber starts to have a life and a destiny of its own??? This is why you must let it rest, mellow, ripen, dare I say ferment.
woolsilkalpaca1

There are more tales to be told of life in the Fiber room, while experimenting with Brown Border Leicester and Dyed mohair, the silk hidden in the closet popped a thought into my consciousness, why not blend that with white merino and white alpaca. Another moment of magic, made possible by a generous stash of different types of fiber. Are you seeing the logic??? We must keep the fiber room full, to encourage the in-dwelling of the creative spirit

I could go on, and on, and on …… So many fibers, so many possibilities, so many colors and textures to be explored. ahhhh it is heaven for a fiber addict like me.

Knitting Retrospective

The last year was pretty productive.  I started in January 08 and kept going strong all year.  At the end of this marathon, I’ve decided to start designing my own patterns.  I often find a yarn or a roving that I spin up, and want to make it fit a pattern I’ve seen — sometimes this works out, but only after I have knit the thing 2-3 times,  and made numerous modifications.

I’ve learned a lot from Elizabeth Zimmerman, and now from Barbara G. Walker.

Knitting this year, hmmm let me count the ways

Project Picture Description
Blue Felted Bag bluebag This was from a Fiber trends pattern.  I decided I needed a smaller bag for sock projects.  It has inspired an idea for a spinning/multiple project bag — I’ll be working on that soon.  Made this from yarn that I bought at a woolen mill that was closing down.  I then dyed it — felts perfect.
Lou’s Boot Socks bootsocks Lou needed some thick socks for cowboy shootin’ I bought some yarn from Halcyon, and used size 7 and the ladder of life pattern to get these knit up — his tootsies are now toasty warm
Summer Braids Cardigan(one for me one for Jun) summerbraids1 I worked out the kinks with my cardi — made it from Kathmandu Aran collection. Turned out nice and it is one of my favorite sweaters. I made Jun’s from an alpaca/white wool blend I picked up from Sharon Allen at Ramifications (see blog roll). Jun wanted 3/4 sleeves, so no problem (less work for me!)
Summer Braids Cardigan(one for me one for Jun) junsummerbraid This sweater design and fiber was PERFECT for my daughter in law — sweet Jun.  I had to rework the neck and arms a few times to get the fit just right, but it looks PURFECT on her and she loves it.  There’s nothing like having just the right homespun for the person/pattern you’re knitting.
Brigitta brigitta1 This sweater has actually been recycled (new pic coming) The first time around I combined Frene Creek Sherino with a purple wool/poly single — too much pilling. So I reworked it with some cool blue/teal variegated yarn I picked up at Knitting on the square — much better.
November Ruffle Wrap rufflewrap This was knit from the Joseph Galler yarn suggested in the pattern, and a 2-ply beige (natural color) Merino that I spun up just for the wrap — makes it SOFT and WARM. I’m going to make another one soon! The pattern is a Kate Jackson original — knits up fast and easy, but really looks elegant
Socks for Sierra stuberrysocks I knit 2 pair with handspun superwash (that I dyed and SPUN myself), 1 with mohair/wool mix , 1 with tofutsies maybe a few others too. Here’s just one picture — I always work on socks when we’re driving around a lot, or on long trips. Socks are portable, and I have the pattern memorized, so its easy to do — Shelly introduced me to magic loop sock knitting (using a LONG circular needle) and I’m just starting to get used to it.
Croc Socks for Lou I gotta get a picture for this When we were in Wyoming at the Sheep Shed Studio, Lou insisted I buy this BRIGHT yellow super wash fiber and spin + knit him a pair of socks. I gave him one of those raised eyebrow looks, and agreed to his request. He wanted to wear them with crocs. I spun up just enought for a pair of socks — actually there is a little left over if anyone WANTS it — and over dyed the rest of the roving with navy lanaset dye — to get an olive green (kinda nice actually)
Tomten Jacket jimtomten First I spun up the wool alpaca mix called Skippin Stones for the jacket, then I knitted it. I followed a few modifications from Brooklyn Tweed, but really it didn’t need the v-neck shaping, and I didn’t do the arm shaping. Turned out great. WARM, SOFT — it even looks pretty masculine (except for the pointy head!).
Tomten Jacket nicktomten Nick had to have one too! Really I had decided to make this for Nick, and Jim saw it and wanted one too. Nicks is made from handspun as well — Pussy Willow for the body and Aggy Taw for the Trim. I liked making these!
Thor’s Toque hats My brother needed a hat — this was my FIRST pattern design. I liked the hat so much that I made 7 of em! My hat (top middle) was made from the yarn in Nick’s tomten
Spinoff Waves Scarf I used some handspun alpaca for one (no picture 🙁 ) and the white alpaca/wool mix for the other and gave them to friends for Christmas.
Sierra’s double Moss Scarf I had to have a little of Jim’s sweater for myself, so I took some leftover and made a simple garter stitch edged, double moss patterened scarf — yumm — warm.

I had the crazy notion that I wanted to make sweaters out of handspun for the entire family. I did manage to take care of Jim, Nick and Jun. I haven’t blended or carded the fiber for Hubby’s sweater yet, but I did manage to spin the wool and make one for myself too (finished in February of 2009).

Over the years I have knitted a lot of things, too many to recall. I can tell you though, there is nothing more satisfying than giving hand crafted gifts, for both parties. 🙂