I am a Frogger..

Wow. I have to admit this publicly. I can commit to a project, but if I don’t LOVE it, or something doesn’t feel just right, I will rip it out with no regrets.

Anyone else like that?

Take my current quest, for example. A few weeks ago, I posted my thoughts on going from fleece to sweater. I thought that with the first bag of wool, I would do something smallish, like a vest or shawl. Then, with the lamb’s wool locks (which is so soft it’s amazing) I would do the sweater.

On my trip to the UK, I started the Hiker’s Waistcoat. Hated it. After about three inches, rippit..rippit..you get the picture. Then I decided just a simple cabled vest. Made it to four inches. Yup. R-I-P.

Then I started the shawl from Lee Meredith’s site, got to the last part..literally the trim..and out it went, to the knitted WIP graveyard.

I saw this vest on Knitty. LOVE…

But I didn’t want grey. By now, I had spun the right amount for the vest, right gauge, so I dyed it a beautiful cobalt blue. I’m in. No more frogging.

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And while I knit this I will be spinning my lamb’s wool..enough for a sweater that I don’t frog, right?

Spin on!

Home sweet home..

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Spinning in public in the town of Looe..awesome memory.
But wow. Jet lag + work + travel for work = really interfering with my blogging! I still have so much knitting and fiber stuff to write about from this trip. But after the cleaver situation this week, I am glad not to be in London. My condolences to my new British blogging friends..what a difficult thing to process.

I loved my trip and time in the UK. The English countryside really is magnificent, and I loved walking through the streets of London. I found this amazing book when I was in Polperro that had local guernsey designs, and that is part of my inspiration for a new knitting project.

We also flew through Iceland and has a short amount of time in the airport to wander through the shop that sold sweaters knit from Icelandic wool. Again..I fell in love with local design.

So with all that on my mind, I couldn’t decide where to start, but I wanted to be knitting, so I started knitting a shawl pattern from one of my favorite indie designers, Lee Meredith. She has a great eye for creativity and patterns that have very clever construction. I am cranking away at this with my grey handspun until I can decide what sweater to begin. I got such great advice from all of you and I am totally in for “fleece to sweater!”

But now..four ounces of peaceful spinning when I got home last weekend.

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From Cornwall to Devon (and a wooly story)

Wow. Hard to believe we are done with our costal walk. We started at Falmouth and ended last night at Plymouth. To be truthful, we didn’t walk the entire 80 miles…after the first two days of 14 & 16 miles, and arriving at our destinations so tired that we couldn’t walk around, we decided to walk a little over half the course each day and then take a bus. Of course, there was the day with the gale force winds..we opted out of that afternoon because 60 mph winds while cliff walking is a tad scary!!

The walking is amazing and the towns were spectacular. I love the English countryside. Love. This is one of my favorite stops.. Polperro. We had a house right on the bridge at the end of the quay, where the river flows underneath. So lovely. And, I discovered a knitting book with Cornish stitch patterns that I will talk about in my next post.

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But now for the wool story. I’m not gonna lie..I was so excited to see fields and fields of sheep when we were on the train from London to Falmouth. At that stage, I think I saw more sheep than people. However, I didn’t really think we would see them on the hike…too close to the cliffs and all, right?

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Wrong. On the very first day, we went through a gate that said “stock grazing,” and I figured it would be cows. I looked over the hilltop and thought I saw something moving, so I called out “sheep!” to my hubs. Right when I said that three heads popped up like ET and stared at us…from that point over we were walking through fields of sheep, which was glorious.

And then the crazy coolness started. It’s great to look at them and appreciate the beautiful coats, etc…but really, I wanted wool to spin. Not like that’s going to happen, right? Well, apparently there’s been some sheering in this area recently, and when we rounded the corner, chunks of wool were floating around. Real chunks, clean with locks, etc. It was crazy!! I wasn’t going to gather any at first, but then thought that even if I get a little, it’s a cool souvenir, right? Wool from Cornwall? Yeah!

Well, for the next few days, each time we entered a farm, there was wool floating around..to the point where I was getting very picky about what I picked up. Hubs was even getting into it and one time scaled a fence to get the perfect piece!! Now it’s dirty, mind you..but soft and long! I ended up with a half gallon ziplock bag that is crammed full, and I can’t wait to take it hope and wash it. It won’t be anything huge or stellar, but maybe a his/her hat with a local stitch pattern? I’ll have to be careful on the return trip through customs…”no, I haven’t been on any farms…”

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Yep. I wool gathered along the coastal cliffs of Cornwall. Awesome!! And now we are off to Portsmouth to see friends and then finishing next week in London! Best. Vacation. Ever.

Spin on!

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Cornwall, hiking, and (of course) wool!

Cornwall is amazing. We’ve had fabulous weather (so far) and amazing, breathtaking hikes along the coast. I can’t even describe the beauty of the English countryside, but it has been breathtaking. And steep. You hike up to the cliff, and down to the port. Repeat a gazillion times. So far, 34 miles!!
Windswept cliffs..

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Beautiful beaches…

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Flowers galore…

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And SHEEP!!! Along the path. Glorious.
As you can see..it’s pretty amazing. Three more days in Cornwall. I have a hilarious sheep story for my next post. Until then…

Spin on!

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Off to Cornwall!!

Today is the beginning of what I think will be an amazing adventure. It’s our 5th anniversary…and these part five years have been unbelievably wonderful. Seriously. Sometimes I have to pinch myself.

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We’ve been saving for a vacation to celebrate, and this afternoon we are off to the UK for a seven day walking tour along the south coast of England. I am so excited I can’t stand it!! 78 miles (or so) from Falmouth to Plymouth, with a few pubs, castles, and churches in between.
I’m ready for the adventure, and have prepped and packed 5 ounces of wool + spindle + 3 ounces already spun for the walking and traveling part. Our plan, if the weather is nice, is to stop along the way and hubs will draw while I spin. I am aiming for some crazy fun spinning in public pix! (Seriously, best husband ever).

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And..thank you everyone for your advice and encouragement for my first “fiber to sweater” project. I bought Amy King’s “Spin Control” to read on the plane. When I spin this wool on my spindle I get a very steady worsted weight. On the wheel an Aran weight comes me naturally. I’ve spun three ounces on the spindle and am taking five with me, so my first project will be the Hiker’s Vest (which seems appropriate, dontcha think? And when I come back, I think I might take on the Honeymaker sweater. It’s a bold call, I know…but when I saw the pattern, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. You know that feeling?

Anyway, my updates and posts will be SeattleSpinner on the road!! Hope you enjoy the adventure with me!!

Spin on!

Help me decide…!

I’m gonna do it. Normally I am a small project person, but after all of this fleece processing, I feel the urge to knit a sweater with handspun, handprocessed, local yarn. Something cozy, Saturday wear, not overly complicated, and in aran weight.

This is the yarn I am talking about:

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It’s from one of my recent fleece purchases…It’s lofty, has spring to it, and will make a great sweater. I have knit sweaters before…but I have not spun the yarn for a whole sweater yet, so this is a long term commitment! I don’t want it to find a home in WIPland….

Any pattern recommendations? Who’s gone from fleece to sweater before? I’m gonna need some encouragement!

PS. What do you think of my new design for the SeattleSpinner logo??? My friend designed it based on the idea that’s been lodged in my brain for a while and I think she nailed it!!

Fiber Friday!! Today’s thought, “Slow down…”

Today’s post is largely inspired by this post on one of my favorite blogs “Suzy Sells Sea Shells.” After reading her post, I found myself thinking more and more about how amazing it is to slow down and enjoy the process of what we do in our fibery worlds.

Slowing down gives us the ability to see what is transforming before our eyes. A concept of fiber to finished project that most people don’t really comprehend (you mean yarn doesn’t just come off the sheep?)

The last batch of fiber I processed caused me to think through this very thing, because I realized I was trying to rush the process. Small moments of truth came to light.

If I rush this, I might not get all the dirt out..gritty yarn, not so great!
If I am impatient, I might not get the lanolin out..stiff, sticky fiber? Tough to draft..
If I hurry, it might felt..shame to have the sheep give up his coat in vain!

And slowing down means:

Really feeing the texture..
More time to dream of possible projects (or solve all the world’s problems)
Less tension…need I say more?
Spindling by the ocean…

I love the transformation process and the fact that I am knitting a beautiful hat from lamb’s locks.

I’ll leave you with these pix of my peaceful journey. What’s your Fiber Friday moment?

Spin on!

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Shepherds’ Extravaganza!!

(warning: this post contains several serious fiber geek moments)

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Yes,it was my first fiber festival.  No, that doesn’t explain the random use of jazz hands.  I don’t know what that was.  But..I was stoked.  And the extravaganza was everything I hoped for.  My goals were as follows:

1. Meet local farmers so I can buy my fiber from Washington.

2. Purchase at least one awesome fleece.

3. Stock up on goodies from local fiber artists.

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I had such a great time!  I’ve read a little bit about fiber shows, so I timed it to get there about 15 minutes after it opened.  I don’t have enough experience with this to know what I want and grab it, and that sounds pretty stressful.  Waiting was risky but more pleasant.  By the time I got there about 2/3rds of the fleeces were gone, but I still managed to snag two blue ribbon fleeces!!  One was a beautiful grey, brown romney/dorset and the other an amazing bag of locks from a Gotland lamb.  Both were about 4.5 lbs.  Really truly amazing to have the chance to look around and buy like that.  I loved it.

I’ve washed about 1.5 lbs of the lamb locks… check this out:

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And, truly dorky but awesome moment:  Sarah Anderson, from my favorite spinning book The Spinner’s Book of Yarn Designs was there.  I had the chance to tell her how much I appreciated her book and take a dorky fan picture.  She’s really, really nice and I was so impressed with how she was talking with people who stopped by her table.

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End of dorky moments.

Wow.  From jazz hands that never should have happened to a fan pic.  You just never know how a day is going to unfold, huh?

Spin on!

Going a little “batty!”

I love that this:

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Came from this:

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And became this:

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I’ve gotten into carding batts that fit “my perfect criteria.” I had NO idea I was that picky until I realized how amazing batts can be to spin– if they are light, airy, and well combed!! (Clearly I have had some clumpy, squished and not well processed batts in my past purchases) The most recent batch was a wool that I got that was a tad scratchier than I would have liked, so I dyed a BFL, silk, merino, cashmere blend I had, added some recycled sari silk clumps, and carded about 1.5 ounces at a time. Gotta tell ya..it flew out of my fingers and onto the wheel. I spun 4.5 ounces in a few hours. It was awesome!!!

And (as per my last post) very stress reducing. 🙂

Spin on!

Food and Fiber

I know, this is primarily a spinning blog. But..I love food, so sometimes that might enter the picture as well. Like this:

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This was an idea I got from Pinterest when it first came out..and it became part of my normal routine. Brilliant concept for those of us who work full time, want to eat healthy at lunch, hate hassles, and don’t want to spend $$ that could go to other important things (like fiber!)

Simple. Dressing goes on the bottom, then you layer with heaviest things first. Greens go on top and stay fresh cuz no liquid hits them. When it’s lunchtime, shake the jar like crazy and dump it out on a plate (larger that you would imagine), and you have a beautiful, lettuce on the bottom, fully dressed salad! Yum!!

Okay, back to fiber. I have a post in my brain to write soon about what I have learned in the self taught raw-fleece-to-drum-carder-to-yarn process, but I will save that for another day. Besides, I think I still have some lessons to go!

In the meantime, this is uber exciting to me. Beautiful fleece, and it actually washed up white!!! I am going to spin some bouclé with it this weekend. Can’t wait!!

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