Tuesday, May 31, 2005

such a dweeb

I went to a fiber festival 3 days before june... and bought mittens.
yes, mittens. i'm a total dweeb.

I totally blew my fair-budget on them too. But they are the most awesomely gorgeous mittens i've ever seen and i HAD to have them. They were wet and needle felted by Leslie Samson, who is teaching felting workshops at Bay Colony Farm. The colors are purple/blue/green/yellow and totally match my glasses which are purple outside, blue middle, greenish inside! i am now completely obsessed with wet felting. MUST learn to make awesome mittens - stat. Helen said she may come back to teach a mitten/hat class sometime this fall or winter. YAY!
I was so in love with my mittens that I turned on the a/c in the car so that i could WEAR my mittens home. GIANT dweeb.

I also bought 1 lb each of Orange and Golden yellow dyed fleece from Winterberry Farm. It was grown by a merino x sheep named Mabel and will become a sweater for Big Orange. (i guess that's pretty obvious). Saturday night, in front of the TV, Mia helped me hand card the colors into rolags and i spun up an entire bobbin. I'm going to dye up some other fleece in reds and browns and card them all up in different ratios to get a noro-ey look. (hopefully). a drum carder would make this loads easier. just what i need to lust after... another expensive gadget. *le sigh*.

As we stashed the orange fleece in the trunk of the car and head back to the vendors for more oogling, i spotted a gaggle of people that i recognized as Knit Bloggers. "psst... Darius... that's Claudia!" i whispered. "should i go talk to her? she doesn't know me." i'm such a BIG HUGE DWEEB. She was nice, didn't point and laugh at me, and introduced me to Rosemary and their other friends (names forgotten. eep!)

I took tons of pictures of sheeps and the sheepdog trials, but on real ACTUAL 35 mm film instead of digital. I finished my springy shawllette/capelet in time to wear to cummington... so of course the weather cleared up! No need for a wool cover up that day. TADA! here it is:
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egads the fashion police need to come over and throw out ALL my pale pink shirts! i'm so pale - they make me look dead. or naked. or both!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

more on color and creativity

I always need inspiration. When faced with a blank canvas my creative juices freeze right up. too many colors. too many possibilities. where to begin? At the "paint your own pottery" parlor i always spend at least the first hour browsing through the idea books until i find a jumping off point. My finished piece never looks anything like the one in the book, and i never intended it to. Same for scrapbooking, beading, and dyeing fiber. I'm in awe of knitting friends who think up a sweater and design it from the ground up. I need books, pictures, ideas to get the gears working.
I used to get very sheepish when friends would say "you are so creative!" No, i didn't think of that idea on my own... i started from an idea in a book and worked from there. "real" creative people come up with lovely things all on their own, right? i'm finally starting to change my mind.

A really awesome beading book got me thinking about this. I bought it at the Lush Beads 1st anniversary sale. Yes, i'm obsessed with color theory right now, and I don't need any more books on the subject. This one really caught my eye, though. Its called A The Beader's Guide to Color, by Margie Deeb. Even thought its specifically about beaded jewelry, there are gorgeous inspiration pictures and each page has multiple color scheme ideas based off of each major color. Last time i was doing some dyeing, i brought this book to the lab and flipped through it for inspiration. Without idea books i keep making variations on the same color combinations over and over again.

One of the ones i liked in the book was a yellow/lavender/purple grouping. I used that as my guide and painted two skeins of worsted wool in that color scheme. I think the skeins came out great. When i was looking for plane knitting last week, these two jumped into my luggage.

At the moment its sort of ugly and i'm not terribly in love with it (the bad picture helps none). I have faith that it will be more appealing once its blocked and behaving better though. I started with the "Cozy" pattern; and once i got the hang of the pattern repeat i realized that its actually a classic lace pattern that i've used for scarves before. It won't be huge (i did less pattern repeats than the knitty pattern), but i think that with both skeins i should be able to squeeze out a nice small stole / shoulder warmer / capelet-thingy. cross your fingers!

MA Sheep & Wool role call:
I was planning on going sunday, but now weather may dictate a saturday visit. If you'll be there on saturday let me know and we can try to make a meeting point/time.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The case of the missing laceweight

i'm getting on a plane to texas at 6 a.m. tomorrow morning. i haven't packed yet, but of course i'm obsessing over which airplane knitting to bring. I thought i'd give the yarn harlot snowdrop shawl another shot, since i did spin up a replacement for what Theia ravaged. That skein, however, seems to have disappeared.

prime suspects were rounded up and brought in for questioning. They were split and interrogated separately. (i know what i'm doing. i've watched LOTS of Law & Order.) Being hardened criminals, they refused to crack - despite my best Chris Noth impersonation.

"nobody likes a RAT Sabine. we can't get busted if we both stick to the story!"

the skein is still missing; the search will have to resume monday when i return from the wedding. I've decided to go with Cozy or Clapotis and yarn that i dyed last week.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


back to the cormo!
(raw lock on left, simple bathroom sink wash on the right) The fleece has very little VM and tons of lanolin - very sheepy smelling! I washed one handful of it in my bathroom sink and let it dry overnight. When dry, it was really white and much less smelly, but still had a lot of lanolin. The whole fleece is definitely going to need to be washed a few times. Diane (one of the fleecey 3-way ladies) said she washes her fleeces in a 2nd (dedicated just to fleece washing) washing machine in her basement! i'm pretty sure my landlords would shit a brick if i washed this in their machine, so i guess the bathtub will have to do. or maybe the back patio once the weather warms up!

I spindle spun that washed bit. still very greasy - but obviously going to be soft as buttah once its washed well! On an allergy side note: Trista is allergic to alpaca and MOST wool, but not Merino. Now, whenever i get a bit of fleece from a different breed of sheep, i give her a little to put in her sock for a bit and see if it causes an allergy rash. From this she has determined that she can also tolerate Coopworth, Cormo (and i think corriedale? can't remember). Since cormo is a merino cross, that makes sense. its still good to know for sure, and sort of interesting to experiment with.

We've started having SnB at my house, which is much more quiet than the bookstores/coffee shops. It also means i can spin while everyone knits! i am all about the spinning lately and not getting ANY knitting done. Last night i finished spinning up the X-Files roving from Helen. its such a great color! I think i might ply it with another natural gray roving, but i haven't decided for sure.

I don't usually talk about much personal stuff in this blog, but since i did mention this before and people have been asking: we are not moving to texas. I will be starting graduate school at Brandeis University (waltham, MA) in the fall! The Big Orange and I will be moving from worcester to waltham sometime at the end of the summer. i am both excited and stressed to high heaven at the same time. eep!

Monday, May 16, 2005

miniscule festival haul

I was SUCH a good girl! ok, really it was forced by lack of fundage more than my stunning self-control, but i like to think that i was restrained and mature in the face of SO MUCH temptation. I did not come home with an angora bunny. I also did not put down a deposit on the Hitchhiker travel wheel, even after i saw Helen plying away on hers (formerly Cate's mistaken lefty). So what did i do at New Hampshire Sheep & Wool on sunday?

I went with my friend Mia, who knits and only very recently started spinning, and was patient enough to listen to me prattle on about fibery stuff for nearly 5 hours! The weather was rainy and unexpectadly cold on sunday. yuck! We were also there towards the very end of the festival, and many of the vendor's shelves were starting to look a little bare (which is really a good thing when your self-restraint is thin to begin with!) First, we watched some of the sheep dog trials... too cute. Then we started making rounds through the barns. The very first booth we found was Helen of Bay Colony Farm! I couldn't resist some of her blue/green/gray angora and icelandic mix roving. the colors remind me of the x-files for some reason.

There were tons of other things that i really really really loved, but i was on a very strict budget. I made it through several more buildings without buying anything. The big purchase came when Mia was purchasing some eye-bleedingly pink mohair locks and i bent down to admire a beautiful cormo fleece. wowie wow wow was it nice. Two other ladies came up and also started oohing and aahing over the same fleece. We all agreed that if we had space or money for the whole thing, we would want it. Then one of them suggested splitting it 3 ways. twist my arm, why don't ya?! There was 5.5 lbs of fleece from a Cormo named Bella, and i came home with 1/3rd of it. You gotta love fiber people! I don't think there are many other situations where total strangers would offer to go in on a purchase together. it was quite funny. Turns out that Diane and her friend (ack. bad with names) spin with the Island Pond Spinners group, some of whom i met when i went to the spin-in at the Textile History Museum in lowell.

now, looking at the festival booklet and map, i see that we actually missed almost half of the vendor barns!! But we were underdressed, underfunded, underfed, and people were starting to pack up towards the end. We decided to book it out of there with minimal purchases all around, and the knowledge that the MASW fest is only two weeks away. (I will miss the webs fleece sale due to previously scheduled maid-of-honor duties).

i've already got pictures of a bit of the cormo fleece washed and spun, but since this post is rambling on i'll hold off on that until tomorrow. i'm such a tease. ;)

Friday, May 13, 2005

geeking on color

The dye-lab setup is getting more and more complex. my newest fascination is color theory. I've been reading "Color Works" and "Color in Spinning" by Deb Menz. As a scientist, this "split complimentary" and "double triad" stuff is all new to me. the concepts are not terribly hard to grasp though, and i have a pretty decent eye for color.

I started out with 3 primaries in jacquard dyes: cherry red, sky blue, yellow sun. The colors that i made from those are nice, but the range seemed fairly limited. I was having a hard time getting really vibrant colors like turquoise, lime green, or pink. After reading everything i could find about color mixing, i decided that i needed to go to six primaries so i could mix warm and cool tones of each shade for a little more variety. I purchased Brilliant blue, bright yellow, and fire red; as well as turquoise and brown (still waiting for black to arrive from a backorder). I was very happy with the new range i was able to get from mixing different tones of each color. Still, something seemed strange. Then i found a CMYK color wheel on the clearance table at my local art store. The CMYK model is used in printing when a color is place over white paper, similar to dye on white fiber. Do other dyer's use that system? I asked big orange what he thought, but he lost me when he started in on "subtractive color" vs "additive color" thing. I had turquoise to use as cyan, "yellow sun" as an eye-bleedingly bright yellow, and "fire red" (which is far more 'magenta' than the color chart would lead you to believe). So i thought i'd give it a shot.

WOW! the colors that i get from that experiment are way more vibrant and bright than anything i made before. i made a very bright Kermit-the-frog green and some gorgeous peacock teal/blues/purples that i tried before and couldn't get the way i wanted.

In the end, I just don't have the patience for precision color formulation, a la Deb Menz. Now i am combining RGB and CMYK mixing to get a really wide range of colors and am able to get much closer to the color that i am aiming for.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

good Whoa and bad Whoa

i haven't read anyone's blogs in almost a week. i just couldn't handle all the talk of MDS$W. so in my usual state of denial, i just stopped reading all together. Now i'm finally getting around to catching up on all the fun that everyone had. and the shopping! *drool* Trista, Kat and I went to Rhinebeck last fall and had a blast. I wasn't a 'real' spinner yet then so i didn't buy any fleece, but i definitely will next time around. And by 'next time' i mean THIS SUNDAY when i head up to the New Hampshire S&W fest! yay! i know its not as big as MD or rhinebeck, but i know i'm going to have a good time anyway. (And hopefully get out of there without spending the rent and grocery money!)

Good Whoa:
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The Yarn Harlot was wonderful! She had me laughing so hard at one point that i really thought i was going to fall out of my seat. Ask her about the places she hides her stash. i dare you. I hope that i didn't insult her when i told her that Big-Orange likened her bookbookbook to "topical humor - like Red-Neck Jokes". (don't worry, he later recanted).
I will also say that despite claims of terror with talking in public, she seemed so calm and collected... and natural. it was great. It is always strange to hear an author read their writing. It changes the whole experience for me because as i read i can hear their voice in my head instead of my own. From now on i will read stephanies blog in her voice, with her tone and mannerisms, and pronounce things the canadian way. (beyond just 'eh?', and 'aboot'... i will now hear it as 'PROE-ject' and the knitting 'PROE-cess')

I wasn't able to go out for drinks with all the cool people afterwards, because i wasn't feeling well and needed to get home to worcester at a reasonable time. i briefly got to chat with Mamacate, and many other super-cool people (whose names i've already forgotten)! I also ate some honkin' slices of antonio's pizza. my addiction is (temporarily) sated.

Bad Whoa:
When i was younger i was the only one in my family that had no problems at all with carsickness. I always read or crafted during car trips while my brother would be green and puking at the mere sight of a book in the car. Lately, whenever i knit in the car i start to feel gross. when i stop knitting it'll go away. Its been going on for a while now and I've been stubbornly avoiding the conclusion that i know get car sick. I want to think its something i ate at a rest stop, but its not. i'm just chalking it up to one of those "oh, a lot of women develop that in their mid-20's" things - like my sudden hay fever and IBS. I am soooo depressed about this development. I only hope that it won't happen on the subway or bus because i was looking forward to some quality knitting time during my commute when i move to boston and start going to grad school in the fall!

Monday, May 09, 2005


Yarn Harlot:
I plan on going to see her at the Amherst Fiber Art Center tomorrow night. I don't know details of when i'll be leaving worcester yet... but i am looking forward to seeing Mamacate, Helen, and any other bloggy-friends who might be going as well. I also plan on eating at LEAST 2, maybe more, pieces of Antonio's Pizza. yum.

silly yarn:
Image hosted by Photobucket.comAs i was spinning up the pink/blue wool this weekend, i remembered that i had some of those plastic letter beads sitting around in my bead stash not getting used (the holes go side-to-side, but i really wanted some letters with holes that go up-down). I thought "baby colors, baby beads... yeah, that could work!"

I strung all the beads onto some purple metallic thread i have, and plied the wool singles with the purple thread; dropping a bead into the mix every 4 - 10 inches. Image hosted by Photobucket.com
The end product is so cute, but this could never actually be used for a baby garment since the thread could be easily broken/chewed and beads swallowed. not good. Now i have this cool skein of yarn and am trying to think of things that it could be used for. a felted diaper bag? (or part of it at leat - there's only one skein). any other ideas?

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Thursday, May 05, 2005

sorry honey, you can't shower today.

The 2 lbs of roving and skeins of yarn drying there take priority. ha!

In knitting news... there is none. Ribby Cardy is waiting on the final arm decreases and some seams.Pirate sweater stalled out after just the back. I'm also recovering from a horrible case of second sock syndrome.

I've been merrily spinning more of the Sydney roving that Theia devoured last week. Since i have a whole pound of fiber, the one smallish skein that i lost wasn't really a huge hit.

sadly, i didn't make it to Circles last friday to see the Yarn Harlot. I'm hoping to go to her western MA stop next week. It looks like people had a really good time. Earlier in the week i called the store to ask if they were taking reservations for the talk by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee and heard a blank confusion on the other line... until i said "stephanie. uh, The Yarn Harlot". "oh, oh! yeah, the yarn harlot". hahahahaha.

i had a REALLY hard time draggin' my ass to work this morning. Why? cause i was pre-drafting these:
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i wanted to start spinning them up right then and there. This roving was meant to be Red/white/blue, but in a serendipitous math error, Trista and I made our stock solutions .2% that night instead of 2%. i'm quite happy with the turnout!