Sunday, March 30, 2008

Wanna hear about this week?

Signs of Spring.
Thursday proved that Wednesday was a cruel trick.
This is the front of my house at the beginning of the snow. We got about 4 inches:-(
But then it melted and Friday was back to sunny.

Oh, you weren't looking for a weather report? You wanted to know about Abby's visit? Well, if you insist. But I'm warning you in advance, my photography skills were very lacking this weekend and these pictures are really the best I have.
There were stars all over the place. This is Faina Letoutchaia modeling her latest shawl design. It is dedicated to Abby. It has traditional Andean designs knitted into it and Abby has been given the task to name the shawl. It is handspun alpaca yarn. I had a post including one of the fronts in February.
Sharon Winsauer was there and brought the real and first Heere Be Dragon shawl. It is fantastic and of course you can't see the detail in the photo.

I'll take a moment here for some shameless self promotion. Sharon will be teaching a 6 week lace class at my shop beginning in May. I'm so excited for this class and I hope that many people will take advantage of this rare opportunity to study lace with a master. It is a beginning class though and no lace experience is necessary. You do need to know how to knit and do the regular increases and decreases. Easy.

So Abby and me and Sharon and Faina went out to dinner before the class and I felt .... honored and lucky to know these women. Also, I ate too much.

So the spindle class started and it was interesting and challenging from beginning to end. In the above photo there is Michelle, Dragone Sharon, Lynmarie, Knitsib Cindy, and that tiny girl all the way at the right is Donna.
Lisa (Acadia Sun on Ravelry) and Jofran and Marilyn Van Keppel (Google that name and see what comes up! I'll wait. Yup, that Marilyn was in the shop. she came from Missouri).

Greg (came from Iowa) and my girlcrush you-know-who and Faina who-I-love.And there's Rita on the right. I didn't get a good shot of her. And now I realize that I'm missing a picture of Ellen and her husband. Ellen comes later when I show what she did to my poor shop. Her husband is quite the spindle guy but on Saturday he was off doing some geocaching.

And I'm missing Michelle. Bummer.

I have no pictures of the sleepover. There was a lot of talking and laughing and Ellen brought a truckload of stuff to show and Greg learned a lot of new things. I can't really go into it here but let's just say that the fact that I am a Mormon girl never crossed his mind due to my joining in with the fun. No, I wasn't swearing but for crying out loud I can be a fun date! There was chocolate and wine and root beer and we all laid down to sleep at around 2AM.

In the morning there was a coffee run and also freshly baked cinnamon rolls from the Copper Pickle. Lunch, by the way, was also from the Copper Pickle. Delicious.

The new stars started arriving right around 9AM.
There was Jillian and Carla who can make the darkest of days look sunny.
Here they are working hard. Next to Carla is Ellen and Shannah is acting as Abby's assistant.
Kat is now a professional spinner. She can spin from the fold while at the same time looking at samples being passed around.

Here's the thing. There is an article in the current Spin Off written by Abby about plying. We talked a lot about plying and singles twist in this class. Take the article in Spin Off and do the experiments. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! What really is a balanced yarn? It's not what you think.
So everybody left and Ellen started shopping. See all of those empty holes in the Wall O'Fleece. Ellen is responsible. Bummer. I will now have to shop for some fresh spring fleeces. I'm so sad - NOT!
Here's Ellen. Proud of her work. It was in the name of research. Seriously check out her blog. It's fab and informational and well researched.
Here's Abby standing in the wreck and carnage. The shop is destroyed. There was a rock star in the house and the venue has cleared and we are left with the remnants of a fun time where our brains were about to explode with new information. People (Faina and Abby) were sick and they muddled through anyway, in the name of fiber scholarship. These classes made me a better spinner and a better teacher. (Not necessarily a better student since I was sitting in the bad kid's section.)

Abby will be back. She promised.
So then I gave Maggie a Greensleeves Bare Bones Spindle this morning. The Louet one wasn't working for her. I walked into the kitchen and came back to find this. I had to smile and then rush for the camera. The girl is a true spinner. I hadn't yet relayed the Abby stories of spinning off of ledges and roof tops and the little girl figured it out.
We were both spinning an Abby batt that was left from the classes. She told me she didn't like the spindle. the last time she worked with one was last August but I knew that now that she was more familiar with the feel of the slipping fiber she might take to it. She did. This is what she had spun in about 45 minutes of work.

As far as the Abby's Yarns Batts. Abby brought me some to put in the shop. I did. I am down to only 5 batts. Can't remember the fiber in them but I will photograph them tomorrow and if you are interested let me know and I can send them to you if you're not in the area.

All in all it was fantastic. I crashed this afternoon. About 12 I thought I'd just lay down for a minute and I didn't wake up until 4PM. And I have no doubt I will sleep well tonight.

I don;t know if I left anybody out. My brain is only working in 1st gear right now so if I missed you let me know and I'll edit you in. Really, I'm happy to do it.

Until next time. Take a nap.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Sucky Spinner Endeavors to Improve

Two weeks ago I got two bumps of wool in the shop (about 20 pounds each) One was Blue Faced Leicester in white and the other was Masham. A wool I had actually never seen before but it was described as a Wensleydale type long wool.
Here's what the Sheep 101 website has to say about it:

Masham sheep have been bred for over a centry on the hill farms in the Northern Counties of England. They are produced by crossing a Teeswater ram onto either a Dalesbred or Swaledale ewe, both hardy hill breeds. It is from these parent breeds that the Masham gains its hardiness, longevity, heavy milking qualities, strong moterhing insticts and high prolificacy. The Masham ewe is medium sized and hornless. Her fleece is long staples, 8-10 inches on a yearling and 6 to 7 inches on a ewe, with a good degree of lustre.

The photo there is of the unspun top. It is lovely. It has a nice weight. It is not soft like BFL but has a lovely luster and drape.
I've spun one skein. 534 yards. About 17-18 wpi. It will be used for the Vine Lace Cardigan in Gathering of Lace. I need 3 more skeins of that yardage. I forgot to weigh it. I'll do that tomorrow. I spun it on the Majacraft Little Gem on the 10.5 to 1 ratio using a short forward draw throughout much of the skein. I know it's not a good idea to switch drafting methods mid bobbin but...I got board with it sometimes. I filled the bobbin almost full and plied it from a center pull ball using the Schacht Matchless.

I'm somewhat happy with this skein but I'm still working on getting better consistency throughout my skeins. Changing drafting methods on and off throughout the spinning isn't helping with that goal. I know.
Here's Maggie's latest progress. She's working on thicker yarns and also consistency:-) Like Mother like Daughter.

This week Abby will come and teach me to be a better spinner. Well, other people are coming too but in the end it's all about me, right? I'm nervous and excited and also nervous. At the shop I am the queen of the spinning's Abby. What if she doesn't like my shop? What if my spinning is actually as sucky as I make it out to be in my head? What if....

And she knows I feel this way cause I told her, so don't be going all tattle-tale on me and emailing herHere are the two little darlings before we left for church this morning. Aren't they sweet. I just happened to catch this non fighting moment.

Monday, March 17, 2008


It's been a busy week and I kept neglecting my camera duties. I also have had a bad case of the Februaries and now that we're halfway through March I'm mostly trying to get rid of the disease by deciding that winter is over. I'm wearing my spring clothes and trying my best to avoid the coat. I'm sick of the ice and snow and cold and gray sky and leafless trees.

Now don;t get me wrong, in July I WILL be complaining about the heat. I don't want you to get the wrong idea. I don't like summer more than I don't like winter. I prefer spring and fall.

A big pick-me-up arrived at the shop on Saturday, though.
My darling Jillian. The girl makes me smile just by being in the room. She can make me snort liquids out my nose and makes me feel very good about myself. I stole this picture from her blog cause I didn't get the camera out. Do you all have her books in your collections? You know, Big Girl Knits and More Big Girl Knits? She wrote them with Amy Singer. She also has the cover pattern in the new Classic Elite book called Curvy Knits

In addition to all of this, she loves me. look at that hug. Full of love.

So, because I have forgotten to take photos of goings on I'll share a few of my favorite photos from today. Lisa was taking pictures of fibers for the shop website. (She doesn't have a blog but is Acadia1 on Ravelry.)
This is Forest Fur. A blend of New Zealand Possum and Merino Wool. Three colors but the lightest color is pretty low so I should place an order:-)
Aren't these cocoons beautiful? Makes me want to start soon as I finish that scarf and finish spinning for the sweater and finish the feather and fan shawl and and and...
These are the dyed bamboo tops I have. Aren't they beautiful? Lisa really has a talent for the photography. There are other lovely pictures but these were the ones for tonight.
Also, I got a few new things in the mail this week. Two Fancy kitty Carders and a Fancy Kitty Picker. The above carder is Walnut and has a rose design.
I love that Ron Anderson has found a way to make a quality pieces of equipment with beautiful wood that you love to look at.
The picker - it's cherry.
This is the top of the swingy part of the picker. Just beautiful.
And a Cherry carder to match with the same carved design.

Ron Anderson is the guy that makes these Fancy Kitty carders and he's also the guy who makes the carders for Howard Brush so you know he knows what he's doing. I love them.

Off to figure out this website stuff:-) Not my strong area.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


So o.k.
(I seem to start a lot of thoughts with "so")
I've been thinking a lot about swatching lately. You know about some of it because of the Faina design sweater swatches. Well the swatching hasn't ended.

When I began knitting I had a teacher who never swatched and when I asked her about what the books were talking about with the gauge swatches she told me that she never did it. So I began my knitting career as a non-swatcher. Thing about it is, I got a few sweaters and knitted items that I didn't like, didn't fit or the yarn wasn't the right yarn for the project. This was all due to lack of swatching. Now I'm not going to tell you that I've grown into a huge swatcher with mill spun yarns. I do make a swatch. It isn't necessarily as big as it should be all of the time and I don;t always take it all the way through the washing and blocking stages like I should but I still think it's important to make an informed decision about the yarn you are using for a project as well as a needle size.

Now I have to say that with handspun yarn the iffiness of the rules gets a little less iffy if you are spinning for a project you've never done before. If (lots of if's huh?) you have made 20 hundred pairs of socks from your handspun then it's a pretty sure bet that the swatching is the last thing you need to do. If, however you are making your first pair or second pair of socks from your handspun yarn then get out your swatching needles for crying out loud! Is the yarn springy enough? what size needles does it want? How does it hold up in the washing? You need this information. Making some mittens from that freshly spun fleece? You have to swatch! A sweater? Then swatching is even more crucial. You want the stuff to fit and last right? A swatch takes a tiny bit of time in the grand scheme of a sweater from sheep to seam and we don't want it to be sleeping in the pond.

You can do teeny tiny swatches to know if you are on the right track. Jenny advises postage stamp size swatches right at your wheel to make sure you are on the right track. Just spin a few yards, do a plyback and get those needles working. If you like what you see then continue on. This does not, however, get you off the hook from the larger swatch. It just gives you an idea of what you're doing.

Swatching handspun requires a washed a finished yarn and then a washed and finished square or rectangle so that you can be sure that you are doing the right thing.

Then there was today at the shop. This week I got a new Schacht Wolf Pup and there are words that Abby said to me not so long ago that keep resonating. I was telling her that I'm not a weaver. I'd like to be because I love the finished products but I'm not. And she said in her wise way,"Then be a weaver." Hmmm. There's a project I've been wanting to do. I bought some coned silk some time ago just for it. Have never gotten the courage up.

Now you may be thinking - Girl, what does this have to do with swatching? Well, I'll tell you. A weaver came into the shop today. She's good. It's the first time I've met her and she signed up for beginning spinning and showed me some of her projects she had in her car. She even speaks at guilds and stuff. So I say to her that I have this project in mind. A single color silk shawl with some textured weaving and what did she think of the pattern I was considering. Know what she said?

She told me that I should wind a warp of like 2 or three yards in cotton and do a sample before I try it in the expensive silk. She basically told me to make a swatch to see if what I wanted to do was going to work.

Knitting, spinning, weaving....make a swatch.


I will probably follow her advice.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Swimming in Chocolate....And Yarn

It's been a busy couple of days but I neglected the camera for most of it. So I'll just tell you about most of it with some pictures of chocolate thrown in for fun.

Yesterday there was a road trip to Frankenmuth. I've had 3 FILTHY Columbia fleeces for months in the shop. I actually wanted to take them out and skirt them but the weather wasn't cooperating. I did take them out on the driveway on Wednesday but they were so dirty we just took the worst parts off and decided to try them the way they were.

Columbia is a fine wool breed and the fiber in these fleeces was not disappointing if you could get beyond the filth. I did save a pound and a half of the best one to wash myself but it's going to take some terribly hot water and 4-5 soaks with detergent to even make a dent.

Frankenmuth is about an hour and a half from here and the drive was very entertaining with both kids and Michelle in the car. Michelle is an instigator and a spoiler - good grandmother material.

I also dropped off some two Romney Fleeces - one will be blended with some blue wool I had laying around the shop. It's always exciting to see what will come back from the mill.

After Zeilinger's we went to Zehnder's for lunch. MMMMM chicken. then for a little shopping in the gift shop and bakery downstairs where we got some chocolate.
This is what Michelle bought. Well, it's not all she bought. There was also bread and dressing and other stuff but this is what she bought to share. Yum.
I bought these chocolate covered pretzels but now I can't find them. Hmmm. Not in the car and not in the shop and not at my house. Not like I needed any more chocolate.

After the chocolate spree we went to Rapunzel's. It's a cute little shop with gifts and yarn. Right now she's got a working antique flax wheel for sale at a really good price and I'm still wondering if I should have bought it. I did buy a skein of yarn. Sock yarn. It's at the shop and I can't remember what kind it is but it is 100% merino and so bouncy I really thought there was elastic in it. I'm leaving it at the shop so Abby can tell me how to make it myself - but better - when she gets here.

O.K. so there was the eating and the shopping and then we had to stop at Bronner's. Michelle had never been there and so we Had to stop. Crazy huge Christmas store. We went on a sheep hunt and the sheep are surprisingly under represented in the store. We complained to several employees. Seriously. They had bison ornaments and hair dresser ornaments and tigers and even Elvis. We only found one sheep ornament in the clearance section and it had a broken leg:-(

When we got back to the shop we talked about how to move things to make more room int he shop....and then we started moving things. It's not done but it's gonna be great! The desk area is already better and the clean natural wools are much better organized. Next comes the adult section of the shop. (You know, the cashmere, silk, angora ooh ahh section.) I went to Lowe's tonight and bought some additional shelving and hope to make a little progress tomorrow and huge progress on Monday.

All of this moving began because I wanted more room in a room I haven't even touched yet...

So today there was a lesson in the morning and I drove out to Woven Art in East Lansing. I met Nancy at Knit Michigan and immediately knew I liked her. I hadn't ever been to her shop and so today was the day. It's lovely. It's got a nice yarn selection including a lot of yarn that Nancy dyes herself. Lovely, lovely colors and textures. Her weaving room has 6 floor looms for classes and she's got some roving and a few wheels. It's a very nice place. Welcoming and also a place where you can feel inspired and sometimes in awe. If you are in the East Lansing area you really should check out Woven Art.

I got there at about 1PM and didn't leave until almost 5. I hope I didn't overstay my welcome but the afternoon just flew by. And while I was there I did a drop spindle demonstration and and a quick spinning lesson to let a new spinner understand that merino wasn't above her ability.
I never took a picture of Nancy but I did buy a couple of things. These little Sox Sticks in ebony. I did get to knit with a set for a row and I kind of like them. We'll see.
I also bought a sweater kit. It's a Habu kit. I've been dying to try one of their sweaters for ages and Nancy has a great selection of kits as well as Habu yarns in her shop. This is the kit I've been eying for years and now it's mine in black and red.
Promised sock progress. Heal is turned and I am getting on with the decreases.
And for Denny and also apparently Kate who is looking for the chocolate photos. Today's chocolate was milk chocolate caramel embrace. Delicious. And I'm almost to the dark chocolates.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Start Spinning

I got a new book at the shop this week. I love it! Well, I love Maggie Casey anyway. She's smiley and pleasant and makes everyone feel at ease and that's what this book does. It is simple, has lovely photos and is well organized. Maggie takes you through everything you need to know to spin wool. There's a chapter on wheel maintenance, tools and even a chapter which takes the reader through all of the steps of processing a raw fleece. Another thing I love is that she talks about actually using your handspun yarns. She emphasizes spinning for a project and talks about knitting and weaving from patterns and designing your own. Lovely.
This is for Denny. She evidently misses the chocolate posts. Macadamia Mosaic. MMMMMM

I spun this up over the last couple of days. Can;t really talk about it but I'm worried I won't find the picture again. It's thick and thin on purpose because of the fibers and that's all I have to say about that!
There was a contest during February. All entrants got 1 ounce of Cherry Tree Hill roving. Their assignment was to spin the longest thread that they could. Here are all of the entrants. From Left to right is Peggy with 686 yards (The winner)
Beth Northrup would have won but she only did 1/2 ounce and she got 372 yards - that’s fantastic!
Lisa Jacobs got 616yds
Michelle Murdock - 428yds
Becky Cook - 258 yds
Cindy Decker - 189yds
Mary Piontek 217 yds.
Michelle from Enchanted Wheel donated consolation prizes. Each contestant got one ounce of 125s merino. It's lovely. Above is Michelle with her skein and merino prize.
On the left is Cindy with her naughty friend Mary.
And the winner is Peggy who spun her skein on her Majacraft Rose. She won a pound of Shetland in 3 colors, a Spinning Loft Bag and two spools for her wheel. Congratulations Peggy.
The other runners up will get their little fabulous wool when I see them.
Also this week i got lots of stuff. Maggie buried herself in the many colors of merino/tencel that came. I love the stuff and found out that it is being discontinued so I ordered 5 pounds of every color they had left. As of this afternoon, and with the help of Michelle and Lisa, all of that wool is now on the shelf.
Also I got 20 pounds of white BFL. Fab! I kept selling out so I thought I'd better get enough. And, 20 pounds of Masham ....I think it's top. Here's a link with a photo of the breed and a little information. This wool is lovely with a very nice drape. Give you the long wool luster as well as a little halo. I think this might be my choice to spin for the Leaf Lace Cardigan.

O.K. I'm off to read more of Maggie Casey. Next time will be an update on the sock knitting.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

On Ice Even

I'm so tired but I have these few pictures and I know you are all waiting with baited breath for the High School Musical ON ICE documentation. It was last night and we took Maggie and her best friend and also, of course, Ryan.
It was at the Palace in Auburn Hills where the Pistons play. When we got there the first thin g I noticed among the retired jersey numbers was this banner. Can't read it?How about now? Bon Jovi had 10 sellouts. Crazy. I never even went to see him once -not even in Philadelphia. Yo.
So then the show started and it mostly looked like this. Sometimes there were more skaters and sometimes less. The kids all sang the songs and we bought popcorn for $7 each box and we did not buy the cotton candy for $12. Seriously. $12 for 30cents worth of sugar. Plenty of people got it though so...
And here are the BFFs. Cute aren't they?
So the next thing is this. I was talking to plenty of people this past week bemoaning the fact that I have become a sample spinner. So I got an assignment from Abby to spin about 12 ounces of merino/silk and make a lacey cardigan. I immediately started to argue with her because of that beautiful Polworth I got at SOAR. Then I remembered the wool I need to spin and knit for a swap and then I was looking at A Gathering of Lace and remembered that I wanted to make the Vine Lace Cardigan by Sally Melville. And this rambling is really about how I am a sample spinner because I have spinner ADD and can't focus.
So, here is the goal. this week I will spin the yarn for the swap. It's only like 8 ounces. I will spin it and find a pattern. Next week I will spin and swatch for the Vine Lace Cardigan.
Problem is I also need to be blending some dog hair with merino and spinning that....
I'm getting tired just thinking about it.