Fiber Corner

Daily life of a knitting designer/publisher of handknitting patterns

Monday, May 29, 2006

Spinning and Spindling

Lately, I've been spindling or spinning on my wheel in all my spare moments. So, here are some works in progress shots.

On the left, on my Kundert spindle, is some superwash Merino in Electra from Lisa. I love the color; it's only a touch less vibrant than the photo. In the middle on one of my Russian spindles is a Cashmere/silk blend. It is soft and shimmery and absolutely a joy to spindle. And then my new little Golding Tsunami has the Persimmon Tree Alpaca/Mohair/Silk blend I purchased at MS&W. It is definitely not as red as it appears. I wasn't positive I'd made the right spindle choice at the Golding booth since I have several spindles about this same weight. However, this one spins so fast and is so small and easy to carry with me everywhere, that I'm very happy with it, now.

On my wheel, I'm practicing the long draw with some Hidden Valley Farm roving I purchased last summer. And surprise, surprise, I'm spinning it worsted weight! So I don't get too frustrated with the long draw, I'm limiting myself to ten minutes a day. No photo, yet.

My long term wheel project is also some of Lisa's fiber; Wild Things in Silk/Merino. This stuff is so wonderful to spin--it's mesmerizing watching the colors slide by. I'm spinning it very fine and may ply it with some of the same colorway in regular Merino. We'll see.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Down for the count--but not out

Well, I managed to dodge getting the flu last winter, avoided coming down with the mumps when that little bug came to town this spring, didn't even catch a cold on my recent airplane flights. But boy, a wicked case of food poisoning sure did me in last week. Absolutely no spinning, spindling or knitting was accomplished.

But by Saturday, nothing could keep me from enjoying one of my favorite spring time activities--buying plants for the garden. The day started off with a visit to the annual plant sale held by the Paine Art Center. They often have unusual varieties of perennials and herbs and always have a staff of very knowledgeable and kind master gardeners who are happy to answer any questions.

Then, it was off to the Flower Farm--a quintessential family run business that I remember going to and picking out flowers when I was a wee lass. In fact, it used to be a much larger working farm that sold sweet corn in the summer--the kind of place that a dozen ears was always a bakers dozen. Now on the few fields they have left they plant pumpkins. But, ALL the annual flowers, vegetables and herbs are sowed from seed on the premises and grown on in their dozen or so greenhouses. And, no little plastic 3-4 packs either. Very environmentally friendly peat pots and plaques. People do trek from many of the surrounding cities as their plants are so well grown, but I'm lucky enough to have them only about 5 minutes away from me. (which means that this was the first of probably many visits)

Okay, here's the real reason I love this place so much. The Pansies! Usually they have 50 or so varieties. This pic only shows one small sampling. We've had a dismal couple of weeks of weather when it was cloudy/cold and rained every day so some of them weren't blooming yet. Did I mention that pansies are my favorite flower? I love that another name for them is HeartsEase--because that's exactly how I feel when I look at them.

I will leave you with a shot at the wagonload I bought. It is only a sampling as some of the out of bloom annuals were cut off of this pic.

Hold good thoughts that the rain will hold off this week so I'm able to get them in the ground.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

MS&W--meeting friends both old and new

Last weekend was my first time attending Maryland Sheep & Wool. I've heard so much about it for the last couple of years and, by and large, it did not disappoint. The weather was sunny and warm; the people warm and friendly.

Yes, I bought my share of goodies. We got there early and took turns standing in the t-shirt line so as to get that chore out of the way. The logo was really cute this year. Only bought two spindles (though I put my name on the list for a Bosworth Moosie) and also picked up the Patsy Z DVD on spinning silk, cotton and flax and a new set of handcards. These are the Ashford mini cards--much lighter weight (and easier on the wrists) than the Howard Brush cards I bought last fall. If you're interested in buying or trading for those, let me know, otherwise I'll be putting them up on ebay.

I know you want a closer look at those spindles. The one on the right is a Golding 2" Purpleheart Tsunami (.95 oz). After seeing Tina spindling with her Golding 1.3 oz Celtic Knot Saturday night, I found myself wishing for one of those, too. But, Convergence is only 6 weeks away and as Kerri reminded me when I ran into her at BWI airport--there's always mail order.

The spindle on the right is a Hatchtown Kaari (1.05 oz). The whorl is Fishtail Oak on Hickory and the shaft is Padauk. I had heard good things about the Hatchtown spindles and that they sell out fast so it was one of the first places I headed when I took my turn out of the t-shirt line. I love that each of the spindles seem totally unique; even the ones with the same woods had a little different turn on the shaft or something. So, the decision was difficult and as I debated, I chatted with the woman next to me. The booth was packed and I heard someone call to "Mel" and then a voice said "Kerri". Yes, it was them--part of the FT group. And, the woman I'd been talking to was Kim! Fitting we met in a spindle booth, I'd say!

Lately, when I get to events like this, the yarn seems secondary to all the spinning stuff but I'd heard that Koigu brings their mill ends and I confess to collecting their yarn. Vanessa advised me to get to their booth early as it sells out quickly, so it was one of the next places I headed. The line was l-o-n-g. In fact, I was only halfway through it when it was time to meet the rest of the FT group. Do I leave and hope there's still some left later or miss the photo op. By the looks of the picture, I guess you can see what I did--I knew they'd understand. The mini-skeins are on the left and the two full skeins on the right are from Carodan Farm. I stopped by their booth Sunday morning to introduce myself since they're using my Diamond Patch Sock pattern for their Soxperience retreat next month. They just happened to have two dye codes of my favorite # P105.

The large double skein in the pic is Brooks Farm Yarn 100% mohair. I've been hearing about this yarn for over a year now and just couldn't believe it could be that good. That is, until I saw it. This colorway is not my usual, but it literally jumped out at me and I had to take some home.

The stitch marker was made by Jen B, a very multi-talented knitter. She was wearing a really pretty pink cardi on Saturday night (Sitcom Chic, I think). Thanks, Jen!

Lastly, I picked up some fibers to experiment with this summer and some fiber to spindle. Starting in the upper left corner is some mohair/alpaca/silk--from Persimmon Tree. The color is much prettier than it looks on this pic and I wish you could feel it's softness. Next to it is a little bag of coppery glitz and some bleached Irish linen combed top. Then, some angora and undyed washed mohair locks. Lastly, a diz and threader. And, my Golding and Hatchtown spindles.

Take a closer look at the diz and threader. Saturday night I mentioned that I was looking for a set and Mel suggested I check out the Woodchuck's booth. Sure enough he had several sets left on Sunday morning. This one is made from Moradillo wood and just might be my favorite purchase at the entire event.

So, those were the purchases. But the best part of the entire weekend was meeting friends, both old and new.

After missing the FT get-together Saturday morning, I wandered up to the meeting area and several of them were still there. Here are party hostesses Caroline and little cutie Emily and a part of Joanne.

Even though there were probably 20 people at the party Saturday night, I only managed to snap a few photos.

Kim and Jen B.

Mel trying on Joanne's black boucle shawl.

From left to right, Laura, Sam and Caroline admiring someone's (I can't remember who this belonged to) Flower Basket shawl. All of these ladies had the most incredible finished items but I neglected to get pics of any of them.

Elka in the background (who passed out a few locks of her beautiful Cormo fleece to people--thanks Elka!) and Jen J. and Mel. Jen is wearing her freshly finished Diamond Fantasy shawl. Mel brought her handspun Diamond Fantasy shawl, too (no picture but it was gorgeous) and a small skein of her Perendale handspun. I aspire to be able to spin like that!

It was the first time I met any of these ladies and yet, it felt like we were old friends. If only there had been more time to talk.

I missed meeting up with a couple of the other master knitters I knew were attending the event. But, they were probably hanging out in the knitting booths while I stayed mostly in the spinning related ones. I did meet up with an old friend, however. Someone that I don't think I've seen since the day I graduated from high school. Head over to her blog to see how entirely shocked I was to see her...and that she recognized me!

All in all it was a wonderful weekend full of friends and fiber--what could be better!