Sunday, January 29, 2006

Mason-Dixon Knitting

My new fave site Mason-Dixon Knitting.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Welcome to The Fold

Drooling over the colorways at The Fold and hoping to get some Jewel of the Nile to make my first cascading leaves with.
You my spare time.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Yarn Harlot: The 2006 Knitting Olympics

Yes. I've lost my mind. I've joined Yarn Harlot: The 2006 Knitting Olympics. Scroll down to Heather O.
This is what I'll be doing (scroll down past the kitty).
The Map of the World Afghan.

But the really REALLY stupid thing is that I've TOLD people that I'm doing this. I'm really going to have to FINISH this damn thing now. I've had the goods since last Hannukah, but its' so daunting... so...GLOBAL.

There are some amusing rule clarifications from the Yarn Harlot's site that I'll list here...then I'll get on with the metric ton of work I have for the weekend...then I have to train for the Olympics. Think I'll finish my Del Mar gloves...from handspun...which should fit this time. Pics to come. Here's the Harlot:

Olympic Regulations.

Elizabeth D. asks "But -- aren't we supposed to have four years of training before we enter these events?"

No. Next question?

Carol asks "How dare you challenge me to a feat of this magnitude? Do you know what you are doing to me?

I have a pretty good idea what I'm doing to you, but you're the lady who picked entrelac. Truthfully Carol, I thought less of you guys were going to go for it. It turns out that when the men with the huggy coats cart me off, I'll have lots and lots of friends to play with.

B. Asks "Will there be drug testing?"

No. Although you should be careful to make sure you are consuming enough drugs. (Namely chocolate, red wine and coffee and toward the end...hard liquor.) As for the stronger stuff, I figure that if you can knit a challenge while using any other drugs, good luck to you. It's like that Canadian Snowboarder who won gold while he was high as a kite. Most peoples major feat after going the way of the BC Skunkweed is to successfully locate a bag of cookies. The way I see it, if you can do that while you are stoned, you should get two gold medals. I wouldn't be able to find the snow.

Kat with a K asks "if I remember correctly, the flame is not actually lit until partway through the opening ceremonies (?). Does this mean that we need to knit something else while watching the beginning part of the TV coverage and then switch when they lit the flame? Or can we cast on when the opening ceremonies start?

Here's the executive decision. The Opening Ceremonies start at 8pm Torino time. Torino is six hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, which would mean starting at 2pm in the afternoon.
How about we agree on 2pm February 10th, no matter where you are? (Does that help those of you without a tv?)

From Katie, who's going to do a shawl "Does it have to be blocked by the time the flame goes out?"

Yes. Does a marathon runner need to cross the finish line? I suggest steam. Less drying time than full immersion.

Many of you asked if Wendy was banned from the games.

Of course not. I went to her site and did some math though. Looks like she knit one of those fabulous bohus sweaters in 3 weeks. I thought two things.
1. Has anyone screened her for steroids?
2. It gives me the heebie jeebies to wonder what she would need to do to challenge herself. Really.

Several of you asked if you had to do a sweater, or if you could do more than one thing.

You can do anything that is a knitting project as long as it represents a personal challenge for you. If that's 20 hats...go ahead. The idea is to set a difficult and inspiring goal.

Finally, The list of Knitting Olympic Athletes can be found here:

The Knitting Olympics Page.

I know I said that I would list you all in the sidebar, but when you see how many there are of you, I think you will understand why it's got it's own page now. (Not everybody is up there yet, and not all of the code on the bottom of the page works. Html vexes me. I'm working on it. Give me a day or two before you register complaints. It's a lot of work.) That's probably the page you should link to if you took a button too.
There is now a link to the whole Knitting Olympic shebang on the sidebar, should you wish to (and I hope you will) check in on the athletes.

I'm off now. I've got a full day of work, a whole lot of spinning and a sweater to hack up.

(PS - for those of you who wanted to know about the wee blue gansey sweater from the other day It's Design "E" from Sirdar Book 241)
Posted by Stephanie at 10:02 AM | Comments (301)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Spinning Yarn - Knitting - Meditation - New York Times

Spinning Yarn - Knitting - Meditation - New York Times
Don't know if this will be accessible after today, so here's the text:
January 19, 2006
The New Spinners: Yarn Is the Least of It

THERESE CRUZ is a newcomer to the ancient art of spinning, and she is hooked. She began learning to spin last June, already has two imported wooden spinning wheels and is getting ready to buy an even nicer one.

"It saves me from being addicted to anything else," Ms. Cruz, 51, said with a laugh as she pressed her bare feet, one after the other, against wooden pedals and steadily fed puffs of colorful fleece into her turning wheel.

She and a dozen other avid spinners had gathered at a fiber workshop in Alexandria, Va., in early January to celebrate St. Distaff's Day, the ancient English holiday when household chores resumed after the 12 days of Christmas. The spinners had come with their own wheels, from large wooden machines to small Indian charkhas, and were diligently producing yarn thick and thin, colorful and plain, wool and silk.

Spinning, these days often associated with quaint demonstrations by costumed ladies at historic sites like Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, is moving into the mainstream. From knitters who want to take a step back and create their own yarn to those who simply want to be soothed by spinning's repetitive rhythms, more people are taking it up.

Unlike their colonial counterparts, whose clothing often depended on what was spun at home, many of today's spinners are not concerned about turning their handiwork into fabric. Nor are they claiming to follow in the footsteps of Mohandas K. Gandhi, who spun every day to persuade Indian villagers to renounce imported textiles and resume making their own cloth.

Many spinners say they have no intention of making anything at all. They churn out skeins of wool, cotton or more exotic fibers like alpaca or camel, and pile up skeins, in their varied colors and textures, for display. Or they give them away to friends and relatives. It is the calming, rhythmic and even meditative effects of spinning that have won many people over.

"It is like taking a trip," Ms. Cruz said. "It is so tranquilizing to do this at the end of a day."

Randy Scheessele, 43, who sat beside Ms. Cruz at the gathering, held at the Springwater Fiber Workshop, was making yarn on a drop spindle, an early spinning method that relies on a dowel topped by a hook, a piece of wood or even a CD. "When you come home after a day's work," said Mr. Scheessele, an economist at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, "spinning helps you wind down."

Rain Klepper, a chiropractor and naturopath in Paonia, Colo., who works with cancer patients, said of spinning, "It's what I call 'pleasure cruising.' " She is so enthusiastic that she now raises her own sheep. "We can all go to Wal-Mart and buy a sweater," Ms. Klepper, 47, said. "I'm not spinning because I need clothes."

Many people believe that rhythmic activities help reduce stress and soothe people. "Activities like spinning are meditative," explained Dr. James S. Gordon, a professor of psychiatry and family medicine at Georgetown University. "You get absorbed in the rhythm, and it is that rhythm and repetitiveness that is relaxing because all the thoughts that crowd the mind can be put aside and the mind is in a neutral state."

"It is like taking a little vacation from the way our mind works," added Dr. Gordon, who founded the Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington to aid trauma victims.

No one officially tracks the number of spinners, who like weavers and knitters, are not organized. Some, however, connect through Internet spinning sites. Spin-Off, a magazine devoted to spinning, had a 46 percent increase in newsstand sales in the past four years, its publisher reported, and spinning wheel manufacturers have recorded a steady uptick in sales.

"In the past year we have really seen a lift in interest in spinning," said Marilyn Murphy, president of Interweave Press, which publishes Spin-Off. "Our subscriber numbers are up." Ms. Murphy said that over the last three years revenue had grown by about 75 percent, not only from the magazine but from sales of how-to books, especially combination titles, pairings of, say, spinning and knitting, or spinning and dyeing.

Sales of Interweave's spinning book for beginners, "Hands On Spinning" by Lee Raven, have increased by 15 percent in the past five years, she said. In 2000 the quarterly Spin-Off estimated there were 100,000 hand spinners in the United States.

The revival of knitting, said Amy Clarke Moore, the editor of Spin-Off, which is based in Loveland, Colo., has gone hand in hand with spinning as people have become intrigued by luxury and unusual fibers like angora, linen, cotton, cashmere, silk and alpaca.

"We have people who read the magazine who don't do anything more with what they've spun," Ms. Moore said. "They do it because it is very relaxing to end the day by sitting at their wheel, and they mostly spin for the sake of spinning."

Spinning's under-the-radar growth can be found in the details. For example Ms. Cruz, a senior program assistant at the World Bank who lives in Cabin John, Md., said she had to check Web sites vigilantly last year to find an opening in a beginner's class.

She was introduced to spinning last year at the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, a sprawling two-day gathering each May that draws 60,000 people to watch sheep-shearing and herding, to buy bags of fleece and yarn and to choose among hundreds of spinning wheels of every shape, size and price.

"I knew right away I had to learn," Ms. Cruz recalled.

While fiber arts like spinning were once viewed as hopelessly old-fashioned, they are attracting younger people like Lisa Neel, 26. At a friend's urging, Ms. Neel started spinning in 2001 while a senior at Yale, astounding her mother, a lawyer in Oklahoma whose idea of Ivy League-educated daughters did not encompass traditional arts like spinning.

Ms. Neel began using a drop spindle, then lucked into a secondhand wheel made by Norman Hall of Oxford, N.Y. Wheels vary in price, but some of the most exquisite are made by craftsmen like Mr. Hall out of woods like cherry and maple. They can cost as much as $5,000. Simpler wheels made out of polyvinyl chloride cost a few hundred dollars.

Now working in McLean, Va., as a project manager at Native American Management Services, which provides services to Indian groups, Ms. Neel spins to relax and gives most of her considerable output to her twin sister, Lara, a photographer in South Dakota who is an expert knitter. Even so, in 2002 Ms. Neel spent about 100 hours spinning yarn for a friend's wedding chuppa.

When she began spinning four years ago, Ms. Neel said, she felt isolated. But she now frequently taps into blogs to connect with other spinners, who she said are often people with technical backgrounds like nurses and laboratory technicians.

She also cruises the Web to find different types of fleece for her projects. "There were few vendors when I started spinning," she said, "but there are many more now and it is much easier to find specialized items on the Web."

Part of the fun is tracking down small sheep farmers like Maureen A. Kane of Barneswallow Farm in Dewittville, N.Y., who breeds Lincoln Crossbred sheep for their shiny, soft and strong fleece, which she sells at festivals.

"I've noticed a lot more interest recently, especially in the last four or five years," Mrs. Kane said. "A lot of it is word of mouth."

Some who follow spinning say its attraction is part of the nesting trend that followed 9/11 or a second wave of the 1960's back-to-the-earth movement.

Spinning, Ms. Klepper said, ties its practitioners to long-ago times. She felt those ties deeply after she took up the craft and began raising Icelandic sheep, introduced to Iceland by Vikings in the Middle Ages.

"There is something about reaching back through centuries of time," Ms. Klepper said. "Knowing that, for example, the Vikings spun fleece from Icelandic sheep for the sail and rope. Of course they used that to go out and pillage."

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

As The Yarn Turns

As The Yarn Turns is a blog after my own (collective family's) heart. Dr. Dirt is a soil scientist AND a knitter! And, hey, she owns a ferret. What could be better.

On the needles: socks for DS#2, socks for Mom, hand warmers for me (my giddy aunt, it's cold), Map-o-the-world afghan, etc etc etc

Monday, January 16, 2006

boogaj: Wensleydale Sheep

Wensleydale Sheep always makes me think of Wallace and Gromit.

I don't know how I'll conquer this problem...except to get some Wensleydale FIBER and spin it up!

Piggy Bank Promotion!

So, my knitting/spinning friend Joanne has an extremely talented BF, Drew. Drew makes things for a patent firm--they'll make the product you dreamed up, figuring out the specs required by the patent office, etc. So he has Access to Tools.
Which you would need to be able to make something this cool:

Yes. That is a piggy bank.
The slot is in it's back. The money is extracted by spinning the (personalized) nose up, revealing a smile. And it has the cutest little corkscrew tail.

Is that not the most adorable thing?
As you can see, it's about 6 inches tall. I think there's another size that can be gotten too. This one cost $40, which I thought was very reasonable for something (a) personalized (b) numbered by the artist (c) unique and (d) that will last my DS a lifetime.
If you want one, you can contact meepmeep981[at]hotmail[dot]com and place an order.

Love it!

Spinning/Knitting update

I hope to be knitting some of these from homespun very soon. (From the Yahoo Townsend Socks KnitAlong Group)
Currently working on socks (left) for DS's (2 year old) birthday. Then another pair for the 5 year old who outgrew the other pair I made (using Queen Kahuna, peasant heel).

And here's some more homespun.

First the pics of the overtwisted plied yarn.

Then the balanced 2-ply.

This was my first time using "real" acid dye. I plied with a heathered grey as the acid dye color was rather shockingly bright. Not muted like the KoolAid. More like the Wilton dye job below...but more neon. I think part of the problem was that I didn't saturate the color as much as necessary. It seemed so dark in the dye bath. Lesson learned, though.

Now, of course, the real challenge, is to knit myself some socks a la the Twisted between all the other UFOs I have
socks for Mom
socks for Jan
socks for DS's
Map of the World Afghan
baby hats for charity
baby hat for Mandy
baby something for Lauren

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Fingerless Gloves

So i just made these gorgeous fingerless mittens for typing (go to Spindlicity and look up projects from their first issue. They're called "Del Mar"). And I made them in Cherry Tree Hill superwash sock yarn in Blues and Greens.


I am 5/8" and my hand is nearly 8" around. So I made the size medium/'s what I generally wear. But these are too big on me. I thought about adding a longer cuff, with a strip of elastic yarn through the wrist, then I thought I'd just trade them and make another pair that fit. So--first to tempt me, first to get.
I'll post that they're gone when they're gone.

I also have to brag about some spinning/dying.
The pale rainbow is Koolaid, superwash + 15% nylon for socks. The dark rainbow is Koolaid, Rit, superwash +15% mohair for socks. The green/blue is Wilton cake color, superwash + 15% mohair. I'm going to make some twisted sister socks. I started last night at 2am when I couldn't sleep.

Pretty twisted already.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Quick and Ugly Tensioned Kate

So, one of the ladies on one of my knitting/spinning blogs was asking for a quick and dirty tensioned Lazy Kate. I uploaded pics to the Yahoo group but they're hard to find so I'm putting them here. I call mine Ugly Kate, but she works just fine.

I used fishing line on a darning needle, dowels that would fit all my bobbins, paper "straws" on my drop spindles that would fit on the same dowels, a phillips screwdriver to punch holes for the dowels...and that was it.
See the Glory:

Space Dyed Alpaca

First...I'm thrilled b/c I knit some Aplaca up rather fine (for me) and rather regular (for me) on the Louet S10.

Second, my son and I space dyed it with KoolAid (may he never drink that...stuff. Puh puh) and I couldn't be happier with the results.

Just had to share.

Sock Toes and Woes

So I have the (fab) Queen Kahuna sock book (which you can get here). But I can't get a decent toe. Look:

Now the good news is, when you put these ON, they look GREAT. But I'd like something more esthetically pleasing during construction.

I've also GOT to get some sock blockers.