Scrummy Studio Time

I’m getting ready for a marathon work inventory progress, so I treated myself to some quality time in my studio today.

I made a colored pencil palette In my Knitting Season journal for Milarrochy Tweed yarn, as was suggested by Kate Davies and other club participants. Once I started coloring, I didn’t want to stop, so I recharted my Birds of Blendon hat.

I also finished the brim on my Otter Ferry hat from Milarrochy Heids. I’m not sure I’ve posted about this project yet, but I have the loveliest ceramic button from artist Megs Levesseur I am planning to use. I’ll include a pic of the button next time. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, I’ve misplaced it. I’m sure it will turn up.

Practice Makes Perfect

Kate Davies posted a helpful article about getting started with your journal. Yesterday, I made my first marks in it.

Rudimentary, but a start. This is a 2 ounce cake of Better Breakfast DK in Poppyseed from Bare Naked Wools. I want to knit a cowl with it, and it’s my first design of the year. My ideas for this design are still pretty half baked, but getting a sketch done and a gauge swatch is helping me inch forward.

Yesterday felt like I was playing house, only playing knitting designer in my studio, because this was very much an exercise. And that’s why my word for 2019 will be “Practice.”

My next entries in my journal will include a list of knitting projects in my queue, and a completed color chart of the Birds of Blendon hat.

But today, today is for hiking!

One and Not Done, and Lofty Thoughts on Fiber and the Environment

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First off, sleeve one is done. It took much longer than expected, and I knit like a woman obsessed while watching one after the other of Christmas horror movies (A Christmas Horror Story, Krampus, and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri – not a Christmas horror movie, but horrific in its own way, and you can only tolerate so much schlock in one sitting, after all. Although I would consider all of these movies dark comedies.)

I want to credit Ann Budd’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns for helping me through the armhole shapings. I should really know how to do this by now, as I have sewn clothing and drafted my own patterns, but it has been a while, and this is for my son and not myself, and I felt nervous about it, and this is why next year my word for the year is going to be “exercise.” This includes physical exercise, but also exercising my design muscles with monthly challenges. I look forward to blogging about it.

Talking to Henry about the environment has me thinking about how sheep farming and the wool trade effects the climate. While I am not vegan – I am not even vegetarian – I believe factory farming is unethical – so bad for animals, people, and the environment – and I think small, family farming is the way of the future, and we should eat much less meat than we do. I would be happy giving up all animal food products, but I will never give up my knitting wool. There, I said it. I do try to source my yarn ethically, although the supply chain can be deep, so sometimes you don’t really know. I am looking at you, Berroco Chunky Alpaca. My guess is that alpaca farming is pretty ethical, though. In general, I find small yarn companies to be very transparent, which makes it much easier. Knitters have always cared about the sheep, and I think yarn companies know that and make sustainability part of their ethos.

How sustainable is wool? As a fiber, it is very sustainable – long wearing, biodegradable. And as far as land use, wool animals (sheep, goats, alpacas) can graze on land that is not suitable for farming, so that’s okay too. Yay, wool!

Of course, we have so much plastic that now it is being recycled into fiber for clothing. Think about that. Plastic clothing that will never get dirty and never wear out, like The Man in the White Suit. Would that be better for the climate? I guess it depends on how it is processed. And what happens to the animals, who now rely on humans for their survival? So, no thank you to plastic for my part. Plus, I like my clothing to breathe.

If you are still with me, thank you for reading. I needed to get these thoughts out of my head before I start my very busy work week.

Here’s my question for you, dear reader. Do you see those stripes on Harald’s sweater? Those lovely stripes that say, “Hi. I am a handknit garment of fair trade wool yarn that is hand kettle dyed by women in Uruguay, which is why I went a little stripey here. Don’t mind me.” Should I vat dye this sweater and try to mottle those stripes out a little bit? This is totally within my power. Let me know what you think. Thank you for sharing your opinion.

Knitting Friends

Nothingbutknit graciously offered to participate in a holiday swap with me. It all started when I wanted to send her some shea butter lotion chips made by local women. The challenge was to send a skein of local yarn.

Here is a photo of the beautiful things she sent me. (Except for the candle which I made with a pottery cup gifted to me and handmade by my stepson.)

Isn’t this red yarn festive and lovely? It’s also soft enough to wear around my neck, so I think I want to knit a “hap” with it. (Props to Kate Davies for reintroducing the word to our vocabulary.) I didn’t know a small shawl or wrap had a name, but sure enough, if you look it up, the third definition is “clothe, cover.”

Here is my favorite “hap”, which was the start of a lace shawl that I cut short because I’d had enough of knitting it many years ago.

I wrap this around my neck once or twice, and it’s the perfect scarf. This is knit from Jagger Spun Zephyr Wool Silk, which has really withstood the test of time.

But back to the red! Aren’t the gold flecks lovely on this Campfire Knits yarn? The hand dyeing really stands out too. This is “Winter Cranberry.” I’ve already cast on a simple eyelet increase triangle scarf, but I’m not sure how I feel about the garter stitch.

And I love these stitch markers which were included in my package, made by her husband. So festive! They make me crave peppermint.

My issue with lace is I prefer for my knitting to be intuitive. I like to memorize the pattern so I’m not constantly referring to the chart or instructions. And because I’m old have short term memory challenges, I need the repeat to be about four rows. So I am looking for a simple, all over lace pattern. I’ll keep looking! Maybe my fabulous red hap will be done in time for Valentine’s Day!

Thank you, nothingbutknit! I’m grateful for your friendship. It is always encouraging knowing someone is reading and paying attention. Thank you for the beautiful things and for being willing to participate in a gift exchange with me. ❤️

Experiments and a Q&A

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Today I experimented with wet felting my coopworth fleece, real (pressed) leaves, and beeswax. Not a total failure, but nothing great either. I have an art piece due in a couple of weeks and hey, guess what, I don’t have one ready to hang. I might have to fall back on knitting, as it is the one medium I feel I have mastery over. I do still have time to knit something, but I am lacking a strong vision.

So how about a Q&A from nothingbutknit2?

What is the first actual craft you remember doing as a child? (Not coloring or finger painting. Something more special that you didn’t do regularly.)

Embroidery with my grandmother. I also remember some really great crafts at my hippy dippy primary school. We made those ice cube candles and sand candles, and batiked our own t-shirts. I made a Wild Cherry design on mine. (Enjoy.)

What is the craziest craft you’ve tried?

I can’t think of anything crazy. I made corn dollies for a short while. It was fun and easy and I was good at it. The hardest part was sourcing the dried wheat.

What craft would you like to try but you know you’d be bad at it?

I would love to try lost wax casting my own jewelry. I probably would be bad at it because I’ve never been a good sculptor. It was the one art class I didn’t take in college. Although, if I am being honest, I’m not sure that’s relevant. I did take painting, and I’m a horrible painter.

If you had to give up your crafting how would you spend your crafting time?

Probably still sitting on the couch watching horror movies but not knitting. I would like to spend more time hiking, though.

What craft isn’t your thing? Have you tried it or do you just know you wouldn’t like it?

Macrame. You would think it would be my thing, all fiber arty and really trendy right now. But I guess I have some old memories of the 70’s lurking in the back of my mind and some resistance to trying it. I have seen some beautiful jewelry made with macrame.

Knitting Q&A

You know I can’t resist a Q&A! This one is from nothingbutknit2.

Q. You’re given a magic yarn bag that will supply one skein at a time as needed. You reach inside and pull out a skein. What is this yarn? Be specific or not.

A. Cerulean Wool DK. It’s similar to a yarn I’m working with now. I almost said cashmere, but cashmere is too limp and floppy. I like my yarn to have some body. Also I prefer a local yarn. So maybe Targhee, although I don’t know that much about sheep. And maybe a tweed with some flecks of navy, olive green, and burnt orange.

Q. When you enter a yarn store how do you work the space? Does it vary if it’s your regular store or a new to you store?

A. I will head directly for the worsted. Then I will backtrack and go up and down the rows. If it is a new-to-me store I will stand in a place with a good view of everything for a minute to assess the layout, then do exactly the same.

Q. Have you ever knit or crocheted something that you swore you never would? What was it? Why did you never want to make it and why did you?

A. Yes, big knitting. It was that big knit ruff/cowl. I think that big yarn is absurd and not fun to knit with. But that particular yarn was so scrumptious I really wanted to make something with it. Also, I really wanted to knit something for my favorite then nine-year-old and I didn’t have much time.

Q. What is your next project going to be? Do you have a planned queue or do you make whatever strikes your fancy at the moment?

A. I’m going to cast on for that Carbeth in the red Targhee soon. I also have socks in blue Knitting Goddess yarn that I haven’t started. I was going to make them plain but now I think I’m going to use a pattern from this Hunter Hammersen book that feels like it was created specifically for me:

Knitting and plants and vintage botanical illustrations! I haven’t picked a pattern yet.

I’m also going to knit another Brassica hat out of the same yarn as before, but in green:

I over-edited this photo in Snapseed in an attempt to make you feel as in love with this color as I am.

As you can see, I mostly plan my projects, but sometimes I linger over the planning stage because the fortuitous unexpected will happen, like the Hunter Hammersen book. That’s fun to say! Hunter Hammersen.

A Wool Gathering

Hi! I went to A Wool Gathering with my friend Mystic Llama Shop (Sara) and brought home some new yarn. This llama loved having his photo taken and would pose like this for you when you raised your phone. He really needs a bow tie.

I found this gorgeous locally hand spun merino in my favorite color. It is a deep blue with specks of violet. I’ve already cast on for Purl Soho’s Sweatshirt Sweater.

Another local yarn, this gorgeous red Targhee is for a Carbeth. I may go ahead cast on for that too. I love starting new projects!

And this linen and cotton is for a simple shift top. I’ll wait until spring for this one.

I recently saw a post on Instagram about being a monogamous knitter. I thought, that’s nice. I wish I could do that. And gleefully cast on my second sweater.

What about you? Are you a monogamous knitter?

Wool Painting

I finished phase one of my artwork for This Inspired That at Open Door Art Studio. I find fiber arts are often a mystery to people so I took a time lapse video of the wet felting process.

This still needs some work – at least a little needle felting to secure some of the rosettes, maybe some stitching (I haven’t decided), and then a hanging system of some kind. But I’m pleased overall with how this is coming out.

New Sock Yarn!

I decided to embrace being an “over the pond” knitter and buy my sock yarn from over the pond. This blog post explains why long fiber, tightly spun wool makes the best 100% wool sock yarn, so I went for it. Plus it’s such a pretty blue!

I’m still working on my WHW club hat. I’m almost to the crown. I may need to redesign it so the pattern works with the decreases. I may not be able to enter the contest, but that’s ok. It’s been a good exercise.

I signed up to participate in an art show. It’s the first since 2015. I’m planning a felted piece. I’ll blog about that later.

Valentine’s Day Field Trip!

This field trip had nothing to do with Valentine’s Day, other than I wanted to go, and Bob came with me. He’s a real trooper and a keeper. ❤ Are you ready for a treat? We went to Ohio Valley Natural Fibers!

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I have a Coopworth fleece I bought at Great Lakes Fiber Show many years ago. It is still dirty, stewing in its lanolin in a box.

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I think it’s pretty, though.

I did hand wash, card, spin, dye, and knit a small amount of it (just to say I did it). I kind of lost interest after that. It’s a big job! A job for professionals. So we took a little day trip about two hours south to Sardinia, Ohio.

The rooms were filled with gorgeous old equipment. It was like a step back in time.

The picker is from the 1880s, and the carding machines are from around 1916. The belts are made from buffalo hide! When they need parts, they ask the local Amish to make them, because everything on these machines is irreplaceable. I know they look like antiques, and they are, but Richard, the gentleman who gave us the tour, fired one up for us!

Here is the web, which is divided into what looks like yarn, but is actually tiny rovings, which are then plied.

This yarn is 3ply, as you can see if you look carefully. The machine is from post WWII, and was also used for plying parachute cord for the Vietnam War.

After plying, it can be wound onto cones. This machine is from the 1960s.

The yarn can also be put up into hanks. They don’t have a date on this machine, but Richard thinks it may be from the 18th century!

Here he is telling us how it works.

So we left my fleece and in 8-12 weeks I will have some nice clean batts ready to spin! I don’t have enough fiber for a yarn order. And, unfortunately, I sold my spinning wheel during the great studio purge. I am thinking about getting a new drop spindle. I was never very good at it, and it might be time to pick it up again. (Honestly, I was never very good at the spinning wheel, either, but I did make some beautiful thick and thin yarn.)

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Here is Diane, the owner and a local sheep farmer, with two hanks of yarn from her own Icelandic sheep. I bought these two, and they might be perfect to make the new West Highland Way design! Talk about synchronicity! I will swatch it and see how it knits up. Now I wish I had bought another hank, but I could order it and ask them to pop it in the mail to me.

We had such a wonderful time, and want to thank Richard, Diane, Sean, and Renicia for showing us around and starting up machines for us. I particularly enjoyed Sean showing us all the different kinds of fiber people asked them to process, like husky, cat, and elk!

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After the tour, Bob and I had a nice lunch at La Cascada and a little hike at Rocky Fork State Park, which was beautiful.

I hope you have a nice Valentine’s Day, if you celebrate! If not, Happy Wednesday!