Fiber Corner

Daily life of a knitting designer/publisher of handknitting patterns

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Road Trip

Anyone familiar with southeastern Minnesota would know this landmark. It's known as Sugarloaf and sits on the edge of Winona, MN, the town where my mom spent some of her childhood years. I'd been promising her a visit back there all summer, and with a glorious late September weekend ahead of us, we headed off. If you'd like a sampling of the sights we saw, read on. The only fibery content in this post is the edible kind.

First we paid our respects to the relatives. The ones living in town--here she is with her brother, my Uncle Stan.
And, those only living in our memories. If you ever happen to be driving past this town, I highly recommend taking a small detour near the center to check out this place. It's the best bakery in the whole wide world!
And, a shot of some of the goodies. These are even better than those at the Dixie Cream Donut shop we used to have in my hometown.
Winona is a beautiful community scattered with churches, each with more unusual architecture than the next. Some of the most unusual include the Central Methodist church which has a towering tall steeple with little tiny windows at the very top and one which has parapet's and looks like a castle. But, my favorite is St. Stan's.
This white dome can be seen from the road as you drive the river road towards the town. It also has incredible stained glass windows and pink and white marble inside. Oh, and the stonework carvings inside are fabulous.

We paid a visit to the Watkins Museum and shop. Great fun and good to stock up for all that winter baking.
Watkins vanilla is the only brand I'll use.

The Farmer's Market was great fun, too.
Unlike the one in my town where vendors have a little of everything, several of these growers specialized in just one thing. This lady had scads of different kinds of potatoes, another had more different types of peppers than I've ever seen.
So, that was alot of fun to explore.

On the way home we stopped at La Crescent, located just on the MN side of La Crosse. Why? Apples!
It's apple time around here and Bauer's is the place to get them. We bought Jonathon's, Empire, and Honey Crisp and tried samples of lots of other varieties.
Plus, they had Kohlrabi fit for...well, for a giant!
That's the foot of my in progress sock, for scale.

We spotted this beautiful paddleboat taking a trip down the Mississippi as we crossed the river back into WI. Hope you enjoyed the sights as much as we did.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Into the Woods

As one can see from this photo of my backyard sugar maple tree, the typical colored leaves of autumn haven't begun to appear in this neck of the woods. But, it won't be long now.

Though, I recently finished Sivia Harding's Norwegian Woods shawl that illustrates another change of season, that of winter into spring.

First come the Winter Branches.
Then, the Budding Twigs and Emerging Leaves.
Ending in a shady leaf covered bower.
This is what I think of as a sampler shawl--several patterns put together, many times along some sort of theme. Sometimes they look rather disjointed, I know a couple of weeks ago at Wi S&W I saw several examples of a very popular design that looked that way. Not so with this design. Sivia skillfully has balanced the different stitch patterns--some with more openness than others. But, all of them with that nice rhythm that makes them fun to knit.

The only change I made to the pattern was in the working of the double decreases. Instead of a SK2P (slip one, knit 2 together, pass the slipped stitch over), I worked a SS2K.

First Slip 1 as if to knit
Then, insert your needle as a k2tog but instead, slip them to the right needle.
Then insert your left needle into the front of all three sts on the right needle and knit them together. It results in a decrease with the same st on top as if you SK2P but is more efficient.
I also worked the S2KP in the same manner. One thing to always keep in mind about double decreases, the stitch your needle touches first, is the one that will lay on top of the others.

In spinning news this week, I spun up the Mountain Colors Targhee in Ruby River.
It's 575 yds, of a light fingering weight. This was very sproingy fiber to spin. Some gloves are definitely on the horizon.

Okay, a few more thoughts on Norwegian Woods. This was a very fun knit, and would be a very good design to work if you happen to have a problem with different size YO's in lace. These can happen when a decrease occurs directly before the YO or directly after it, depending on your knitting style and tension. Most of the YO's in these stitch patterns (until the last charts) are simple eyelets, with the corresponding decreases happening elsewhere in the stitch repeat.

The scallops along the edge are very cleverly shaped and not that difficult to block--took a little more time than just making points but is so worth it. The beads add a nice touch.
Shawl stats:
Blocked Dimensions: 66" x 33"
Yarn: 810 yds spindle spun mohair/alpaca/silk laceweight yarn
fiber from Persimmon Tree/spindle used .9 oz Golding Tsunami
Size 3mm needles
Copper 8/0 beads along edge

Monday, September 08, 2008

Update--Wi S&W and other stuff

Last weekend was the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival. June told me to buy alot of fun stuff so I'd have something to write a blog post about. Ever obliging, here's goes.

First up, we have a braid of Mountain Colors Targhee in Ruby River.
This is absolutely my favorite Mountain Colors colorway, a little deeper and richer than the pic shows. I'm thinking mittens or gloves, maybe stranded with black.

One fiber I've been wanting to try spinning is SeaWool--70% Merino/30% SeaCell. Creatively Dyed Yarns had some at her booth. Her Ravelry id is Creative and a nicer woman you will not meet.
She brought scads of yarn and roving with her! Really beautiful colors.

I'd resisted the gorgeous Random Acts batts from Hooked on Felt at the MI show, but she had more and even prettier ones with her at Jefferson.
This pic shows both sides of the batt. It's Merino/silk/alpaca/angora/glitz. Very soft and sparkly and pretty. Don't know what it will be or how I'll spin it but it should be fun.

Also bought some luscious alpaca (from supermodel alpaca Brown Sugar's little one called Sweet Cheeks) and a Jensen Niddy Noddy.

Other pretty rovings which arrived recently include the August offering from the Spunky Eclectic club.
She calls this one Thermograph and it's BFL. There's pink in it, so you know I'm happy.

Also traded some of my April club fiber to June for this Feb offering called Think Spring. Oh, look, there's pink there, too. :)
Kerry gave me the nudge one night which prompted the arrival of these little bundles from Copperpot Woolies.
At each around an ounce, they're perfect little spindle projects.

And, a package from Lisa, arrived last month just before I left for MI. I needed some Wensleydale for my cardi project and she had a new colorway called Lake Superior. It's seen on the left along with Elektra on the right and some superwash merino in Violet's Pink Ribbon in the middle.
Let me tell you, spinning the Lake Superior was almost like spinning the sky. It's right up there with my favorite colorways of hers. Here it is all spun up.
BTW, Lisa has bunch of other new colorways. Be sure to head over to her website to check them out if you haven't seen them already. I feel another order coming on.

And, finally, I figured I may as well post a finished pic of these socks finished last month. They're from the spindled yarn shown in July from the Chocolate Princess roving. The colors are really off in the photo but are more browns and rusts.
It was a close call finishing with only a small butterfly of yarn left. I love how they stripe and really did nothing special in the spinning or knitting to achieve it.

Okay, hopefully soon I'll be back with more substantial posts. It seems so many have let their blogs lapse and I miss them. But also realize it's sometimes difficult to find the time to put together an interesting post. As much as I hate it when people beg for comments, they are motivating.