Change of Seasons

Goodness, but it’s been a while!

Such a busy summer with lots of weekend travels and working at the still-new-to-me job. But after a beautiful, long late summer Autumn is finally in the air and I have to say I am ready.

The past few weeks have been filled with canning (apples and salsa verde) and dehydrating (peppers, onions, and herbs). I’ve finally baked a few morning-coffee things, and cinnamon and spice smell incredible right now. It’s just so right for this time of year.

Nesting is setting in, too. I’ve made new pillow covers for some throw pillows, washed all the fabric curtains in the house, and am in the middle of a deep dusting everywhere. You know, the kind where you get up on a ladder with the vacuum’s hose attachment.

Knitting was almost non-existent around here this summer. After the Knot Hysteria retreat, it was as if I was topped-off on fiber for a while. But lately I’ve been churning out Puffs.

I’ve reached a grand total of 69. (I found 5 more on my desk after I took this photo!)

And… Angelberry is finished! As soon as it goes to its new owner I will post pictures of the final steps and the stole in all of its sparkling glory.

In a walk around the yard today (in between the rain showers), it’s evident that the transition of seasons is well underway. The hydrangea are getting rusty.

Brilliant colors are all around, but not quite yet everywhere.

The hosta are making one last statement of autumn beauty.

Benny and I saw our first spawning salmon of the year, and we were lucky enough to watch it wiggle its way up the creek.

Happy Autumn!

Sea & Sky

A couple of weeks ago I decided to try something different on the spinning wheel. I have a few things to knit for baby boys who are about to make their grand appearance, so I thought I’d try spinning up the blue cormo I got from Crown Mountain Farms last summer.

This blue-on-blue colorway is called ‘Clapping with One Hand’ in cormo, but ‘Sailing’ in merino. That name, Sailing, was a big influence on why I bought it last year: I got it just when Tom left for his trip to Hawaii.

I’ve never spun cormo before, and this was also the first fiber I’ve spun from Crown Mountain that hasn’t been corriedale pencil roving. But cormo is a cross of corriedale and merino, both of which I love spinning.

The colors were just right for what I wanted for baby knits, though, so I got to spinning. My plan was a 2-ply worsted weight, so I split the original bump into two equal (by weight) nests.

It was during this first step that some questions about this fiber began to form in my head. As lofty and soft as it looked in the bump, I was amazed (and more than a little disappointed) to find it incredibly dry-feeling, slubby, and not very smoothly prepared as roving.

The fiber was so dry – I can’t imagine that there was any lanolin left in it at all – that it was almost sticky. That’s not the right word… clingy or catchy, maybe. This made it quite hard to spin at first, until I decided to quit trying to spin what I wanted (smooth and regular worsted) and start trying to spin it how it wanted (irregular and aranish weight).

You can see how lumpy and uneven the roving was:

I didn’t split the lengths of roving before spinning for two reasons. First, the prepared roving was already split, totally unevenly, in a bunch of places. Second, I wanted to retain as much fiber alignment as possible for a worsted-spin method – so having a bunch of pulled fibers going every which way would not have been helpful. But I did pre-draft each section as I unwrapped it to loosen the fibers and make it possible to draft them somewhat evenly while spinning.

But… even with all of that going on, it was not nearly enough to stop me from spinning! It’s all learning opportunity, right?

The two bobbins of singles were lovely.

Plied and on the niddy noddy:

The final yarn ended up too bulky for the projects that I wanted, but it is very pretty nonetheless. The colors range from the robin’s egg blue of the sky, to bits of white recalling wispy clouds floating above, to a steely teal that so resembles the waters of Puget Sound. 

Sea and sky:

Sea & Sky:

I love the experience of trying new fibers and spinning methods. What new things have you been trying lately – especially anything that seemed like it might not turn out too well but provided some type of upside? I’d love to hear.

Sheep Sweat

Yeah, you read that right. Sheep Sweat. This week’s #1 search term for Contemporary Insanity!

What did we do?!

Here are some pretty pictures to distract you:

Mountain Fire

Blue Moon STR in SweetPea

Sunshine and frost.

Clean Jacob locks ready to card and spin.

First true flowers of the year

Puffs and puff yarn - 22

Featured!

Although I haven’t mentioned it here yet, a few months ago I started offering some of my handspun and a few possibilities in a little shop on Etsy: MinkRoadMonkeys.

I haven’t done any promoting, just let the thing float. And along the way a thing or two has gone to a new forever home with much joy from me.

Well what do you know, but the wonderful CharmTopia selected this yarn, which I am now calling “Blue Berries”, to be featured in a Treasury List she created “Blueberry Surprise.”

How fun! Please check it out as a way to say ‘thanks’, and also because I’m sure you’ll want to see the pretty blueberry-ish things on her list up close, as well as the really beautiful jewelry in her shop.

The First of the Fleece

On a bright and windy day not too long ago I washed the first bits of my Jacob fleece:

As I was getting everything ready to soak, Benny realized that wool smells pretty sheepy and awesome. I had a hard time keeping his big Roman nose out of my wool.

I was surprised at how totally filthy that first batch of rinsewater was.

I’d read that sheep sweat ‘a lot’ (I would too if I was wearing a 3-inch thick wool sweater into spring), but I was still amazed. Two washes and a rinse later, I felt like it was clean enough.  The whites were so much whiter, and the browns definitely looked better.

I put it between two puppy-proof layers to keep it all from blowing away or being eaten.

When it was completely dry, I drum-carded those locks that had mixed colors:

This is one of the batts from those mixed locks.

There were tons of noils, so I decided to just intentionally include them in the spinning for a very neppy tweed effect:

Next I carded and spun the locks that were (almost) all white.

There was another thing I’d read about Jacob sheep: the white fibers tend to be finer than the darker ones, regardless of where they are at on the body. I’m not sure what part of the fleece I pulled these particular locks from, but they definitely had a softer feel and finer crimp than the darker locks. You can see that the white spun up with almost no noils/nepps.

Then I plied them together.

As I was spinning, this yarn reminded me of something so specific that I had to plan a special project just for this yarn. When it’s done, I’ll write it up.

Do you think of anything in particular when you look at this yarn – either the finished yarn or the singles? What would you knit or make with it?

Cool or Fool?

“Cool or Fool?”

That’s a phrase the Captain and I use a lot. We know full well that we fall outside the norms of modern-day society and expectations, but at times we get pretty far into the deep end of our hobbies and passions, and we’re not quite sure whether what we’re doing is all Kitschy-cool and hipster rad, or just plain weirdo foolish. Hence Cool and Fool.

With what’s in this big shipping bag, I’m pretty sure I’m walking the line. I’m not sure exactly where I fall.

I leave it to your feedback to inform my final decision. In the meantime, I’m happy as a clam, and as excited as Benny when the T-Bone snausage snacks come out.

I have a fleece!

This is a Jacob fleece, to be precise.

I got it off of ebay for $20, from an organic farm in Virginia. Isn’t it pretty? 

Raw (unwashed) wool, 3 pounds of it. Dirt and hay and lanolin and sheepy smell.

Look at the beautiful crimp on those locks!

I love it. Possibly more than the pups, who were mighty fascinated. (And sequestered for their own safety and my sanity.)


Whachoo doin’, Momma!?!

A lone lock.

 

 In the wind I hear a whisper: S p i n M e

 

For any of you who have purchased a raw fleece before, should I be happy with this one? Sad?

Where does it lie within your spectrum of ‘A Good Fleece’?

So – Cool or Fool?