I love flying..

20131004-084149.jpgAirport knitting rocks. I always get there to the airport early, get my coffee, and have a travel project cued up. Knitting with a paper pattern means I can knit during take off, taxiing, etc., and I honestly don’t care how long it takes.
I’m not a chatty flier, so I tend to put earphones in even if there’s no music 🙂 because I like being in my own space. But I have had two knitting and flying stories worth repeating.
The first was hilarious. I was knitting a shrug with some handspun I had made that had about 20% angora in it. The guy next to me started sneezing, but I didn’t put two and two together until he opened the window shade and the sunlight streamed across my lap. I was sitting in a cloud of angora fluff that was floating around me as I knit peacefully away! I did apologize..but wow. How do you recover from that???
The second was a sweet story. The woman next to me was also quiet, but at the end of the flight, she asked what I was making. We chatted for a few, and then she got teary and said “My mother used to knit like that, and watching you brought up such good memories of her.” It warmed my heart to see her smile like that.
So, you never know the blessing you can be passing on..even when you don’t mean to!
Spin (and knit) on!

Celebrate Life & Dare to Dream!

yarnTime to share a dream.  On the eve of my 45th birthday (halfway to 90!!), I am stepping out to do something that started as an idea almost 10 years ago.  I had just started spinning, and I knew down to my core that this was a form of art for me.  I would dream patterns, yarn colors and styles, and I taught myself how to weave, knit and clean/card my own wool so that I could create things that are as close to locally sourced as possible.

All the while, I was wondering that the true value of this is.  Yes, it brings me joy, and Yes, I love to give people things I have made.  But was there more?  I started reading about alpaca farmers in Peru, and local artisans around the world and I suddenly felt incredibly blessed to be able to create for the sake of art while others do this to survive.  So, I had this idea…

What if I created a business model that meant I would make what I wanted, sell it for the value it was worth as a handmade item, recover the costs for my supplies..and give the rest of the $$ to an organization that was helping other people around the world?  Honestly, my friends thought I was nuts…but I couldn’t shake the idea.  A few years later, I ran across Awamaki, an amazing cooperative for women in Peru that was started by an awesome woman who lives in the Seattle area.  The dots started to connect, but between work and family things, the time wasn’t right for me to dig in.

scarfI’ve decided the time is more than right, right now.  My new SeattleSpinner Etsy Shop opened tonight.  I’ll keep adding to it to my heart’s content, knowing that what I am making will serve two awesome purposes.  People can buy handmade items that also support local U.S. farms and know that the proceeds will go to benefit women in Peru.

So, that’s my birthday present to myself.  Dare to dream…and even more…dare to do it.

Spin on!

Sweater done! A few firsts for me..

Remember this?

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And I asked for advice on the sleeves, which was awesome! Based on combined feedback, I went for 3/4 length, and did one set of the lace, which made a nice touch but wasn’t too busy. So, here’s the finished piece:

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I love it. It fits beautifully, falls just below the waist, shaping where needed, and I do think it’s the perfect traditional sweat for late summer, early fall.

Here’s my firsts on this:
First full sweater of entirely handspun (weighs12 oz, which is also helpful info for the future)
First time spinning beads into yarn and using it in garment design.
First self designed pattern! (I know, it’s raglan, but still..gotta start somewhere!!)
First time asking for readers to help me sort though the last stages of design, so thank you!!!

Now we’re off for another camping weekend, and you know I’ll be wearing this in the chilly evenings! Here’s a pic from last week’s alpine backpacking trip:

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Happy Friday! Spin on!

Knitting and Yoga

What do knitting and yoga have in common besides tying oneself in a knot? Funny, I had that question and wondered if it was a unique thought (ha). I did a quick google search and found an interesting series of pages. What really fascinated me was that much of the conversation is about the relaxing and meditative quality of both…yet was drew me to the search is the physical biomechanics of knitting and spinning and how GOOD I feel when I counter those positions with yoga.

We do a lot of rounded-shoulder sitting both while knitting and spinning, and I’ve recently found myself trying to bring my upper body into a seated tadasana pose (basically better, more intentional posture) and it’s really helped me feel more comfortable at the wheel. Or..at the beach while knitting, which as you know, I tend to do quite a bit.

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I think it’s really important that we counterbalance these long seated postures with a little grace and spinal stretches. To me, it feel like the best of both worlds. One of my favorite sources for very good quality audio yoga classes is Yoga Download. (This is my own personal recommendation–no bennies to me for giving them a shout out.) But here’s the deal. They have tons of free 20 minute classes that are just perfect for a quick loosener or stretch. The paid classes are longer, but I have done both and find them to be very high quality.

So, Hubs and I are off for another backpacking adventure this weekend. A few nights in the middle of the mountains at an alpine lake with no reception (eek). Lots of hiking, fishing, reading, knitting, and yoga (also feels really great after a night of sleeping on the ground) in my future. I hope to come back with some great pics and maybe a project update!

Have a great weekend everyone and spin on!!

Project Update and request for opinions!

So..I am on my way down the path to knitting a sweater from a fleece that I process. I completed a vest a few weeks back, and now I am finishing my first sweater from my handspun. My next sweater will be 100% raw fleece processed and handspun/knit. But first…I bought some beautiful BFL that is a blend of natural colors and spun some beads into the first 200 yards for the yoke. Here’s a progress pic:

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and a closer look at the beaded yarn (cuz I love it)…

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And now my plea for your opinions. I thought I wanted short sleeves, but when I finished the first one, I really didn’t like it. I’m thinking 3/4 length sleeves so it feels more sweater-like. BUT..I can’t decide how to finish the cuffs.
Do I:
a) Match the current border of the sweater?
b) Try garter stitch again?
c) Do a 1×1 rib?
d) Insert your idea here!

Thank you so much and spin on!

Fiber Friday! A week focused on new techniques.

What a great creative spinning week! It’s funny how the time goes by and it feels like you haven’t done much until you stop and take a look.
First: I sold my first yarn!!!
Wheeeee! This was uber exciting!

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Here’s a progress photo for the rest of the week:

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1. 400 yards of singles. 70% wool, 30% silk.
2. Coreless tailspun yarn: 50 yards, local lamb locks and mohair locks
3. My best ever supercoils and the project from them.

All in all, a great week. How about you?

Spin on!

What to do with supercoils?

I 💜 supercoils!

20130815-094402.jpgBut what do you do with art yarn? I am on a quest..to figure out great and exciting uses for spectacular yarn. Here’s my first recommendation. All it takes is about 70 yards of supercoils and a couple of large beads.

20130815-094541.jpg Hand pull a row of chain stitches, loop around itself three times. Pull ends through a large bead and secure end knot with fabric glue. Pretty, funky, warm..and most importantly, shows off the yarn!

Spin on!

SUPERcoils!!!!

20130813-190644.jpgThis is not just a picture of supercoils. This is a picture of (invisible) me being ecstatic because I don’t have a tangled, overspun, frustrating bundle of supercoil wannabe.
My first attempts at supercoilling have been challenging, to say the least. The core gets over-spun and I have tried LOTs of tricks to balance it..but with no luck..until now.

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Add the little spindle. Sarah Anderson talks about the wrap and roll method, so I had to try it. I started last night, and while it worked, I think I got about a foot done in an hour. Not. Sustainable. Without. Hurting. Someone.

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This morning? Much better. Could be that my beverage of choice was coffee instead of beer (that was last night), but suddenly both hands were spinning independently and I was supercoilling! And talking, and drinking coffee without missing a beat!

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Look how fine and even it is!! I am super stoked. Hoping to finish tonight and post drying pix tomorrow!

Spin on..!

Fiber Friday and Real Life

Last week, I left you all with a happy post that started with the pic on top and made its way to the pic on the bottom.

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Which then became this:

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But in between, there was this:

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And this:

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Followed by this:

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My sweet daughter, who is 24, was driving her motor scooter and was hit by a car who backed out too fast. Her right knee was shattered and she went in for emergency surgery.
Things happen in life that we can’t predict. I’m so grateful that her injuries weren’t worse. That her love of snowboarding caused her to instinctively tuck and roll when she was flying off of the bike. Her head, neck and spine are fine, as is her attitude, despite the fact that she won’t walk on her leg for three months.
Today is her birthday. Mostly, I am grateful beyond words that she is here to celebrate it and continue to grow into the amazing woman she is only now discovering that she is.
Spin on, and hold your loved ones close..

Yello! (And a free sock pattern)

Like most of you..it’s been a crazy busy summer! In the Pacific Northwest, we had an incredible stretch of beautiful weather, which tend to keep me outdoors a lot. And..the salmon are running now, so I get beach knitting time while hubs gets tries to get dinner.

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These socks have been fun, but I think I am over my brief “spin for socks” phase. I will return to that, of course, because I am a total ADD artist 🙂 but now I am distracted with a new fleece dying project:

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(That is a teaser for my next post!)

For now, here’s the completed socks and a cliff notes version of the pattern:

Stitch pattern:

Rows have 25 stitches, so each row starts and ends with 2 plain knit stitches with 21 pattern stitches.

Row 1: K2 (k1, k2tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk, k1) repeat 3X, k2
Row 2 & 4: knit
Row 3: K2 (k2tog, yo, k3, yo, ssk) repeat 3X, k2

Cast on 8 with figure 8 cast on a size 1 circular needle.
Increase to 50 stitches with kfb (that means on the last increase row, only do the first increase on each side)
Knit foot bottom plain.
Knit top of foot with stitch pattern (above)
Fleegle heel
Resume knitting in the round, complete 2 full pattern repeats before starting pattern in back.
Knit to desired length, finish with double bind off (no ribbing)

Bam! Easy lace socks!

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