What is it about summer that compels me to join swaps? Last summer there was the Ravelry Caffeine Addicts Swap and the Knitter’s Virtual Vacation Swap. Those were fun, but I seemed to be sated…that is, until recently.

The Ravelry Fiber Swap is 3 months long, with three other partners, so it’s almost like 3 swaps in one. So far it’s been a ton of fun. I got my July package from Ravelry user ambergem.

There is 4 oz. of hand-dyed merino/linen roving. I’m slightly intimidated but very excited to see how this spins! It will probably marinate for awhile, but I am looking forward to trying it. She also sent a little superwash merino (burgundy) and some mohair locks (green). I love it!

I have pictures of what I sent for July but I keep forgetting to upload them to flickr.

I have a few other dyed fibers, but so far my attempts to photograph them haven’t gone very well. They’re red, and one of them is targhee wool which is so fluffy that the camera doesn’t want to focus.

Soon there will be more dyeing for the August installment of Fiber Swap. I know what I want to do, it’s just finding the time that is proving difficult.

The other swap I joined last week is put on by the Spunky Eclectic group on Ravelry. This is one of the chattiest groups EVER, and one of the mods decided it would be fun to do a swap. Luckily we don’t send until the end of the September, but we’re sending both fiber AND handspun, as well as goodies and extras, so I can’t procrastinate too much. In this swap the only secrets are what we are actually sending – we know who our partners are and hopefully we get to know them over the course of the swap. It should be fun! I don’t know if I will be dyeing for this. I am hoping to go to the California Wool and Fiber Festival in September and I want to try and get the unspun fiber there.

This is the 1oz. of dyed alpaca I showed you last time, spun into a worsted weight 2-ply. Spinning from the fold was pretty tricky, because the alpaca is very slippery, but for a first try, I’m happy with how it came out. More than anything, I love how soft it is. It’s only 50-something yards, but I think I might use it as an accent in a hat.

This spinning is a little more recent. I finally got brave and tacked some Wensleydale I purchased from Hello Yarn awhile ago. It definitely came out a bit fuzzy (they call Wensleydale “the sheep’s answer to mohair”) but relatively soft. I’m a little nervous about using it for a hat or a scarf, but we’ll see…maybe another idea will strike. It’s around a DK weight. I haven’t counted the yardage yet. I’m loving the colors though. The greens/teals you can see in the roving have kind of dissipated, but I think they’ll show a bit more when knitted up.

In knitting news, I’m trying to work through a few very late gifts, and I recently finished knitting Talia. I still need to weave in ends, block it, and find buttons. Buttons are the hardest. Maybe I’ll take my chances and order online. Life is just too busy these days for button shopping.


I might as well have joined Tour de Fleece officially, because there has been a lot of spinning happening this month.

“Mud Season” from Spunky Club’s March fiber
100% merino wool, 4 oz.
fingering weight, approx. 470 yards

This was a long project, after I finished the first 2 oz I took a break from it for awhile. But as I got used to the fiber, and my spinning improved, I got a bit faster and the second half flew by. Spinning merino gives a very satisfying result – a soft, bouncy, squishy skein of yarn. The colors in this go so well together. Right now I’m thinking it will be the Palette scarf from Knitty.

“Franny” from A Verb for Keeping Warm
100% Bluefaced Leicester, 2 oz.
DK weight, unknown yardage

After hoarding AVFKW roving for months, I finally pulled some out to spin. I think this was my first time spinning BFL…I can’t believe I waited this long! It drafts wonderfully, it’s got a little crimp, and a little sheen, and it plies all bouncy and gorgeous. I love it. See?

Oh, and the red-orange-salmon colors of this naturally dyed fiber spun up so gorgeous too. It’s going to be even harder to resist buying more roving from her now.

Finally, in an effort to fill up my already-scarce free time even more, I’ve started dyeing fiber. Nuttnbunny tipped me off to a Fiber Swap Club on Ravelry. The swap lasts for three months; we were put into groups of four, and each month we send 4 oz. of fiber to one other person in the group. I joined and have used it as an excuse to start dyeing, which is something I’ve been wanting to try for awhile. I just mailed my first swap package yesterday, so I can show what’s inside of it yet (lest I ruin the element of surprise), but here are some dye experiments on alpaca.

2 oz. of combed alpaca top, kettle dyed
I call this one “Northern Lights”.

1 oz. of combed alpaca top, handpainted & steamed
The colors in this got a little more blended than I intended, but that’s why it’s an “experiment”. I think I should have steamed it in something a little flatter – I used a cheap colander that I bought at Salvation Army, but I think a lot of the dye pooled down and mixed. Luckily the colors blend well. I spun this up the other night to see what it looks like. The mini-skein is drying now. More details soon!

My alpaca top is some natural gray fiber I bought at Piedmont Yarn. It’s called “Handspinner’s Dream” from Alpaca With a Twist. It’s really lovely stuff, and it comes in a whole range of natural alpaca fleece colors. It takes the color wonderfully…and it is making me seriously consider doing something crazy like adopting an alpaca.


Mystery Stole 3.  Yeah, the one from LAST summer.  I finished the knitting in March but just blocked it recently so it could go on display at Piedmont Yarn.  Go see the entire Flickr set here.

Noro Lace Ribbon Scarf.  Just in time for summer.  At least it’s nice to look at.

One helical striped sock, a la Grumperina.  For my sister.  In place of mittens.

Aspen (merino tencel blend), Spunky Eclectic club fiber from last August (my first ever!)
2 oz, 290 yards, fingering weight single.  So gorgeous!  Spun from this.

Awesome green two-ply.  Spun from a hand-carded batt purchased from Funky Carolina
3+ oz, 189 yards, worsted weight two-ply.  I love this yarn so much, it’s ridiculous.

I was sad to be away from my spinning wheel when I was in Japan (I know, life can be so difficult…). After I finished Pie, I started spinning some mystery purple fiber that Larkin gave me with the wheel. I was spinning thinner, about a fingering weight single, so the going was quite a bit slower. When we got back from our trip, I finished up the purple singles, and then got out the remaining 2 oz. of my Spunky Club “Goblin Eyes” Romney. The first two ounces were used in spindle experimentation, spun pretty thin and Navajo plied…but I think the whole mess was overspun because it was more like twine than yarn. I didn’t really enjoy that spinning experience very much. So I spun up the rest of it on the wheel, trying to match it with the purple singles. Toward the end I got a little lazy and the singles became sliiiightly thicker, but I’m pretty happy with how it came out after I plied the two together:

“Purple Goblin”
277 yards, 3.95 oz.
sport-ish weight

I love all the purple! And because it wasn’t so overspun this time, it’s a bit softer, and even more so after washing. It’s not supersoft, but I’m considering trying to make slipper socks from it, if I have enough. Toe-up will definitely be the way to go.

Here’s a not-so-great picture of my wheel…I plan to take a better one later.

As you can see, it’s been “well-loved”. Everything seems to work perfectly fine, the wood is just a bit worn and nicked in places, especially on that horizontal piece across the front. The tension nob for the brake band looks like a dog chewed on it, and I plan to order a new one at some point. The scotch tension also is just a piece of string tied to a smaller piece of fishing line (rather than springs like it should be), but it seems to work OK. I’ll replace that when I get around to ordering my Ashford Maintenance Kit. The drive band WAS just a black cotton string, but I fancied it up with lanyard cord. I was looking for Pony Bead Lacing, but Beverly’s didn’t have it. I got some green sparkly lanyard cord (the flat kind) and managed to melt the ends together enough to stick. It works ok, but I’m going to get the lacing next time I’m at Michael’s. It has connectors so you don’t have to melt anything, and you can change it out really easily. I also need to screw in more cup hooks on the flyer because they are only on one side. At some point I’ll need to get another flyer too (probably the 3-speed, but maybe the jumbo), because this Traditional is old enough that it only has one ratio. So far it hasn’t been a problem, but as I get more experience, I think I will appreciate the added versatility.

I started spinning Merino for the first time a few nights ago. I’m working on Spunky Club’s March fiber, “Mud Season”:

It’s not as hard to spin as I thought it would be…though I think it’s going much better on the wheel that it would have on the spindle. The Merino is sooooooooooo soft and sort of like spinning clouds. I’m spinning a pretty fine single and I’m hoping to get a fingering weight yarn from it. The colors are coming out really nice as they get more spread out and soften up.

The more I do it, the more I realize how addicting this spinning thing is!

I got a spinning wheel! The Lady was kind enough to GIVE me one of hers – for free! It’s an Ashford Traditional, and I’m sure it’s seen many owners…but it still works beautifully and is simple enough for me to figure out. I got a quick one-hour lesson, which was enormously helpful, and since then I’ve just been learning by doing. I spun some green Corriedale for practice, and then I dove into my build-up of Spunky Eclectic club fiber. “Pie for Everyone!” seemed like a good place to start.

(click for bigger)

Can I just say that spinning on a wheel is awesome? I knew I wanted a bouncy, springy, bulky weight yarn, and that’s pretty much what I got. I spun and plied all 4oz in just a few nights, and I had so much fun while doing it. It’s not perfect, I could have given it even more twist in places, and my drafting needs work (though it’s loads better than it was with the spindle), but I love it.

Spunky Eclectic Club Roving, November 2007
100% Falkland wool
4 oz, 116 yards
something like bulky weight

I’m envisioning turning this into a squishy Urchin or Zeebee hat. I’m a little hesitant to knit it up because I love looking at it so much, but I haven’t knit with my handspun yet and I think it will be awesome.

Right before Stiches West, I sort of went through and reorganized my yarn. I had seen the Inga Hat a few weeks prior, and found some random worsted weight wool to use for it. It’s amazing how much nicer stranded knitting looks with real wool, instead of superwash.

Leftover Cascade 220 (lavender) and Galway Highland Heather (blue)
size 3 needles
I love the braid around the bottom. My excuse for casting this on (amongst my many other projects) was so I could try out the braid as a possible embellishment for the completely ridiculous hat James wants me to make for him. I think I’m going to give this to my sister, because I never finished her second mitten for xmas and I’ll be seeing her next week. These are definitely her colors.

Just for fun, my fabulous model:

I did end up going to Stitches last weekend, even though I almost backed out. I was thinking, “There’s not much I need, I don’t have anyone to go with me, I’ll just spend money, I just ordered yarn from elann.com…” But then my boss at the yarn store asked if she could ride with me so I decided that was a good enough reason. Realllllly twist my arm, right?

The only thing I knew I wanted to get was a new drop spindle…something simple and basic, lighter than 2 oz, but with a decent spin time and the ability to hold more than .25 oz of spun fiber. I love my carnelian whorl spindle from Butterfly Girl Designs, but I’m already slow at spindling and that one makes me even slower. After almost giving up, because spindles were quite scarce in the market…

…I found this lovely little Schacht spindle!

I was able to spin up THREE predrafted sections of Goblin Eyes on here, as opposed to the one I could fit on the carnelian spindle. And it went so much faster! I’ve already got this Navajo plied and will be pulling a 2 oz skein off pretty soon.

At another booth that did have spindles (but none that I was crazy about), I had the opportunity to try spinning hemp fiber. It was way easier than I thought! It drafts very easily (almost too easily…but it’s way easy to join again) and just look at these hand-dyed colors:

Fiber Fiend hand-dyed hemp pencil roving
colorway Sunset

The booth where I found my spindle was a fantastic new discovery, located right under my nose. A Verb for Keeping Warm is located right in Oakland! How did I not know this? According to the blog, her stuff will presently be available at Article Pract too. And, of course, she’s on Etsy. Here’s what I picked up with the spindle:

A Verb for Keeping Warm hand-dyed merino/tussah silk roving
colorway Branch

Pretty pretty. I was feeling so good about the hemp experience that I was confident enough to believe I can spin merino silk and not mess it up! Now I’m not so sure…

The only other thing I got was a few super cheap skeins of Berroco Ultra Alpaca. I got out for under $60 and everything I bought was either 1) relatively unique, 2) something I was planning to get, or 3) too cheap not to buy. AND I had a ton of fun with my boss, Bente. We got a full tour of the SWTC sponsor booth and drooled over tons of wool silk yarn.

I have about a million things cast on right now. My Ravelry projects page looks ridiculous with all the wips, and there’s a few I’ve been too ashamed to list. On top of that, I will be getting a spinning wheel for free in the very near future. If only sleep weren’t so essential…

I have been meaning to write this post all week, but my days have been busy.

I got a pretty good start with NaKniSweMo.  I am *this close* to finishing my second sleeve.  My goal was to have both sleeves done by Nov. 8, and they nearly were, but Wednesday and Thursday did not afford much knitting time, because of preparation for Pumpkin Dinner.  But tonight I intend to finish that other sleeve, and hopefully cast on for the body of the sweater.

In the meantime…here is the first completed sleeve:

I love the way the striping is coming out.  It’s amazing how there is no jog when knitting stripes that are only one row high!

I feel a little behind, but I haven’t lost all hope yet.  And if I fail, hopefully the sweater will at least be done by xmas.

I also got a good start on a sock for my uncle last Sunday…and had hardly any time to work on it again until today.  Here’s what I had done last week:

That is one pattern repeat, and I’ve just finished another one to complete the cuff.  Despite being umimpressed last time, I’m going to do a short row heel on these socks in hopes that they will fit better.  The pattern is Phineas.  The stitch pattern is extremely simple, created by knits and purls, and at first I was afraid it would look sloppy.  But I like how it is coming out, and I think after a washing it will look even better.  I’ve modified this pattern to be cuff down, instead of toe up, and I did 2×2 ribbing on the cuff, instead of twisted rib.

My new spindle from ButterflyGirl Designs came yesterday. I immediately started spinning some predrafted fiber that was laying around, even though I was tired.  At 1.3 oz, it is a bit different than a 3 oz. Louet, but with a little practice I’ll do fine.  After finishing a bit of singles, I tried Navajo plying for the first time, and it is awesome!  My single was not the most consistent thing in the world, but I am still amazed at this plying technique.  I think I am going to be doing a lot more spinning in the near future!  Which will, of course, make NaKniSweMo all that much harder.

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