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!

Stress and creativity

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Car spinning. Road trip to Portland. Much needed break. (P.S. Hubs is driving)

So, I am curious. When I am stressed, especially with work stuff, I tend to go into a mega creative zone. Other that long walks or running, my creative outlet is very much my stress therapy.

I some senses, it’s thinking time. In others, it’s a chance to have control when other areas feel a little out of control.

But here’s the thing. Not only is it therapeutic, but I truly enjoy it. I get into a really happy place and my creativity goes on hyperdrive. Yesterday I took a day off work, carder some art batts and spun my heart out! Here’s a look 7.5 ounces of fiber in different stages:

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The batt in the middle is the 5th one I carded yesterday, all at about 1.5 ounces each. Here’s the recipe: BFL, recycled gold thread from a thrift store sweater, silk, merino, and alpaca from a local farm.

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So how about you..does stress hinder or help your creative process?

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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“Perfect” is self defined

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Up until about six months ago, my focus on spinning was to get my yarn as even, smooth, and consistent as possible. Sometimes I would go for a sock weight, sometimes bulky, but mostly I aimed for the best worsted weight I could muster. After about 7 years of spinning, I found myself being less and less satisfied with the finished product. Not that there was anything wrong with it..but I began to feel like I was just “producing” yarn.

Then I started spinning art yarn, and while it’s a new path of discovery for me, I realized that I had gotten pretty good at technical skills but was confining myself to that box that equaled “the perfect yarn.” (PS. There us no such thing..!)

The ability to find joy in thick and thin and suddenly consider slubs as neat and random elements of texture lead me to the project posted above..my Mardi Gras scarf. Rules broken.

I also found that when spinning from one of my recent raw fleece projects, I could rely on my technical skills to keep the overall weight of the yarn even and enjoy the fact that slubs and bumps were incorporated in. The pic below is 3.7 ounces of what I’ll call “freshly spun” from the Dorset fleece I got a few weeks ago.

All in all, this little lesson reminded me that in life, work, and projects..if we focus to much on what we consider to be the “ideal” result, we might miss something amazing in the process.

Spin on!

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As the World Spins…

And tim20120520-171921.jpge flies. My year has been a blur, and blogging pretty much stopped when my mom was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. Somehow, a year has gone by, family things continued to occupy my mind and time..as did my job. Fibery projects have been my peaceful place. I love my family and my job..but the creative outlet and meditative moments have kept me feeling like I am taking care of “me.”

I have so many updates that I don’t know where to start. First…my new wheel! I bought a Schacht Sidekick and the world of spinning has taken on a whole new life. I have even taken her spinning in public..along the beach in Seattle. My first time taking wheel out was to Alki Beach in Seattle. Being a tad introverted, I really wanted the experience of spinning outside in the sun, near the ocean (I mean, who wouldn’t?) but not the attention/questions it would generate. But.. I rationalize the Sidekick purchase by telling myself that I wanted to be more portable…so I had to do it.

The scarf/cowl in this picture is a result of my desire to create the perfect small spinning project designs. I’m actually going to go to the next step and write it out to publish it. For free, of course..it will be my first published pattern so feedback and thoughts would be much appreciated!

The moral of the story for the past year is to treasure to the good things in life when times are hard.  You never know at the time how much it helps, but it does.

What a Calamity!

Dear Designers:
I love you all, but…please..please..do not use words that could imply impending doom when naming your projects.  Could it be that I was jinxed from the start?
{hugs}
A Faithful Knitteress

The Story

I’m all in favor of living the life of strong and exciting women though our knitting.  As strange as that sounds, I’m knitting a Boleyn Shawl right now, so obviously I’m on a theme here with female protagonists.  But when I started Calamity Jane, I thought my struggle would be the lacy-ness of it.  I was surprised when I found the lace challenging and fun (“fun” is not usually the word that follows “challenging” with my lace attempts) and was convinced I would make it through–especially with the great lace pointers I got through twitter and the blog post below.

As I was knitting, I was innocently thinking that I had SO much yarn..I might make it bigger.  The yarn was my own handspun and dyed superwash BFL..4 oz, and everything was going swimmingly.

Until I started the bottom border.  Which I lOvEd.  Great pattern and wonderful way to finish an awesome design.  Until..about…1/3..of the way through and my remaining yarn supply was dwindling fast. So fast it was almost evaporating.

I took this picture, but I couldn’t even blog about it, I was so distressed.  There was NO way I was going to finish with the yarn I had left.  I ordered more BFL and tried to dye it, but..yep..I’d used the last of the dye already and could not find that color again.  I toyed with doing the border a slightly different (but intentional) hue.  I procrastinated.  I put words between “calamity” and “Jane” that would best not be repeated.  I stared at it and thought it might suddenly seem possible to finish.  I started Boleyn.  I wove two scarves.  I cleaned my bathroom.  Nothing changed.

So, last night, I frogged the border and finished it with a plain jane garter stitch trim.  Will anyone ever notice?  No.  Is it still pretty?  Yep.  But I hereby resolve not to download another pattern that makes my instincts go on edge by the name.

Blocking, happy, finished..but what a calamity!

Betiko, lilacs, and fiber updates

At last, I can post the betiko picture with the the actual flowers spot that inspired the project and the dye job.  Every morning I walk my greyhound past this one little spot (that he doesn’t pee on) of beautiful flowers that are randomly growing out of a stone wall.  Not only do the flowers make me smile, but the sight inspired me.  Here’s a look at the finished shawl next to the inspiration.

And..the trip to Chicago was good, and was the time with my mom.  We still don’t know anything about her white blood cell count, but after the last round of blood work, the bone biopsy is the last test. We did have a great time hanging out, and she was kind enough to help me relive one of my most embarrassing childhood memories..my mom, the lilac stealer.  Yep.  She would wait until dusk, go out to the alleys, and clip lilacs off people’s bushes.  This time she did it in broad daylight, with me driving the getaway car. Funny how we are both hanging out with purple flowers..

And  a teaser picture for the next post. Can you say merino/angora blend?  Probably one of the sweetest fiber blends I have ever found..no pre drafting needed, smooth, shiny, and slightly dense when plied. Yum.

Seattle Sun, Random Spinning, and White Blood Cell Counts

Ok, I am admittedly hyper because we have sun in Seattle for the second time this week.  Somehow, I’ve managed a great balance between work, family time, spinning, and knitting.  The area that’s killing me is running and yoga.  Can someone please give me one more hour to the day?

On the spinning side of things, I have been enjoying my SIPness (spinning in public), but that will be saved for another post.  I’ve also been spinning my heart out for my current betiko project, and I gotta say..I like the way it’s going!  The hubby and I work at the same humanitarian relief organization, so we carpool to work, which means car knitting time for me…and spinning in the early mornings/evenings.  Not a bad deal.  Here’s the latest pic of the WIP.  90% of it is a wool/angora mix, but I am anticipating running out by the bottom border, so I spun up some extra BFL yesterday to get me through and ready for my trip tomorrow.

And about that…I’m headed to Chicago for some quality time with my mom.  Since this blog is so new, I know I don’t have many readers yet, but if you are reading and can cast some positive thoughts/prayers our way, that would be awesome.  In the near future, my mom is having a bone biopsy for a dangerously low white blood cell count, and we are praying that it’s not cancer.  I’m happy to have this time to spend with her while she’s in limbo and not knowing, and this time is going to open new doors for us in our relationship.  If she’s cancer free, I’ll be grateful for the reminder that life is short and we need to grab our loved ones close while we can.  If not..I’ll just hold on to her with all my heart.

Thanks for reading while I put this out there..