Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Welcome to the World, Little Margot Eve

Two little sweaters for my dear friend's new baby grand daughter, four weeks old tolday.

This is the class Elizabeth Zimmermann February Sweater or Sweater on 2 Needles. I used a stash yarn I'd had and loved for years. It's perfect.

The bottom sweater is my stockingette version of the Mason-Dixon Baby Kimono in kitchen cotton. I hope this will be handy during the summer months. I tied up the present with the other yard of the ribbon for use as hair ribbons.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Guild Challenge for 2008

Every year we have a "paper bag challenge" at the guild. This year we received about 2 oz of CVM, California Variegated Mutant also knows as California Red. I've spun it before, having bought a sampler package from The Bellwether in Washington State which included an ounce or so of CVM. She doesn't offer these samplers any more but I found it a very useful way to learn about different sheep breeds.
The fiber Jenny bought from a NJ was softer but still had a few second cuts. It isn't a particularly soft fiber but the red hairs m hairs and creamy color make it intriguing.
The skein, 62 yds and between 1.5 and 1.75 oz, is one of my many "orphan skeins" from such experiments. It'll probably be great for rug hooking.
I spun it on my new Golding "birthday spindle", a 1.21 oz sterling silver ring spindle which is a dream to use -- like all of Tom Golding's spindles. For plying I used the Tracy Eichheim 2 oz "Starlite Comets" spindle. The hook is quite small but works with thick yarn surprisingly well. This is a trusty, great spindle to work with.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Burping the Baby!

I've experimenting with the Mason Dixon Knitting pattern for a "burp cloth" -- the Baby Genius Burp Cloth.

This is the first one, using the pattern suggestions for one ball of kitchen cotton -- about 95 yards and #8 needles. It made a loose fabric, wider than long. I'm concerned that it won't be impervious enough for the purpose intended, nor long enough to cover the "burper's" shoulder adequately. Some babies are mighty good burpers.

So, for the next two (only one is photographed) I switched to #7 needles, which resulted in a 11" wide cloth. I used 3 balls of 95yd Lily 'n Cream in adorable pastel stripes. (see my Ravelry site for details). One is 15" long and the other is 16" -- no reason, just what worked out in terms of color repetitions. The fabric is properly dense yet drapes nicely.

The yellow and ombre striped version (#3 here) is my favorite so far. I'm using Bernat Cottentots from my stash and it's just perfect. I frogged what I'd knitted on #7 needles because the fabric wasn't drapey enough. And goodness knows, it certainly has to drape over the shouler. The loosely plied yarn makes a denser, thicker fabric. And, it's much softer.

Friday, July 25, 2008

New Spinning Wheel "Launched"

Finally, after a year, I have a spinning wheel again in the city. I bought this lovely Lendrum from Elisa, a fellow guild member. She was so sweet and threw in extra bobbins and a big bunch of fiber. We finally got the wheel into town last weekend. I took it out of the box last Sunday morning, all eager to assemble it but the big knob was stuck -- probably the finish on the bottom of the knob adhered to the finish on the wheel. Happily, on Monday morning the super was able to turn it for me. When I got back from work I put it together. It's so easy and logical. The double treadle is very comfortable. I like the way the orifice hook is built right in so you don't have to go fishing for it. I must say that it does spin fast and that I had to learn not to sit too far back.

Elisa included a basket of cool accessories. There's a fast flyer (bottom left of basket) for cotton and silk. Towards the back of the basket is the jumbo plying head (plus 2 jumbo bobbins). The most exotic and intriguing is the quill head -- at the very back of the basket. The metal spoke is protected, thank goodness, by a plastic sheath. I watched Jenny spin paper with it at a guild demo and I can't wait to try something like that.
I was even able to produced a skein this week. I'm thrilled with the ease of this wheel. I chose some Black Welsh Mountain Sheep fiber, bought some years ago. It's a very challenging fiber -- greasy still, short, wiry fibers and very rough. It'll be great for rug hooking. I washed it last night in hot water with a little synthrapol. In the last rinse I put a little lavender oil and hair conditioner.

Plying was a little more tricky -- as Alden Amos told us, plying is a whole different kettle of fish from spinning. I'd spun very tightly but after some fiddling, was able to get the right amount of twist. And, wonder of wonders, I produced a balanced skein. My usual trick is to underply but I may have finally overcome this tendency.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

A New (to me) Yarn Store I Adore

I've just returned from a 10 day trip -- mostly business but some vacation, too. Of course, I managed to visit 3 fiber-related emporia in three different places! First I'll tell you about Knit One in Pittsburgh. You see, I live mainly in Manhattan but even when I'm in NJ for weekends, the lys are fairly small, sometimes even tiny and cramped. Knit One, by contrast, is in a large -- even vast by lys standards -- wonderfully warm and welcoming space. Stacy, the owner, has succeeded in creating a user-friendly space that is a knitter's heaven as well as haven. Yarn is arranged by weight and then by type. So, baby yarns, sock yarns and novelties, etc. are grouped together. In addition to the shelves lining the walls, there are also stand-alone units in a charming array of styles. What I also loved, and what The D.B. took advantage of, is the inviting seating in various arrangements throughout the store. Tho' chock full of different yarns, the store is tidy and organized which really makes a difference to the self-reliant shopper. I couldn't think of a yarn that wasn't included in their collection. We ended up spending hours at Knit One when we meant only to shop for about half an or so. It's also possible to drop in with your knitting and hang out -- we saw knitters do just that while we were there.

The best part of the whole experience was the individual attention available to yarn shoppers. Rochelle was on duty when we arrived. She is so very welcoming that we felt right at home immediately. Rochelle took me on a yarn tour of the store, showing me how the yarns are arranged. Because she's so yarn-savvy, she helped me find just what I was looking for -- easy care natural fibers for baby knitting. I had the privilege of speaking with Stacy, too, when she arrived and really enjoyed our conversation. Although I love my NYC lys, I confess to being smitten.

Knit One is in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood, just "up street" (Pittsburghese for "up the block") from where The D.B.'s father lived and on the same block as a now-closed family-favorite special occasion restaurant, Poli's. Pittsburgh is a city of steep hills, which the natives take for granted. Murray Avenue, Squirrel Hill's main drag is no exception. It all adds to the atmosphere.

Don't miss this store if you're even vaguely close to Pittsburgh. In fact, I told someone yesterday to urge her knitting daughter to find a college she likes in Pittsburgh just so that she can have a good lys! How's that for a college-finding criterion?