Friday, March 25, 2011

Suzie for Sale

Sylvia has several spinning wheels, all lovely. But she has never bonded with her Majacraft Suzie Standard. So, she’d like to sell it. She’s had it for about 5 years, yet it only has about 10 hours of spinning under its belt. In other words, it’s in next-to-new condition. It comes with 3 bobbins.

Here’s a picture:

You can find information and specs about this wheel at the Majacraft website.

New, this wheel sells for about $800. Sylvia is asking $500 plus shipping/packing (UPS) and insurance. I told her that I’d be willing to deliver the wheel if delivery is on the way to one of my teaching gigs. Click here to see my upcoming teaching/travel schedule as listed on my website.

If you’re interested in the wheel, contact Sylvia (the owner) at

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Bubbles Progress

The latest meeting of the Bubbles Brigade (see blog post February 3, 2011
) was at my house. Wine was served, but not the sparkly type. Significant progress has been made by a select few Brigade members; I am not among that select few.

Sylvia leads the Brigade. She’s now up to the last 6-inch section of her scarf.

Carol is a close second. Her work looks so neat and tidy.

Joan finished her first bubble at this meeting.

I…well…I have let my bubbles stall at the swatch stage. Instead of knitting with my Brigade sisters, I spun. Hey! I’m trying to get samples ready for some upcoming teaching. My swatch is pitiful. Pitiful!

To compensate for my lack of scarf bubbles, let me show you my bubbly shower curtain.

It counts for something, doesn’t it?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Complete Tattoo

The hold up was the collar. I thought I had a good idea for the collar. But I didn’t like the first attempt. Or the second. Or the third. As I was tinking the fourth effort, I stopped with the collar halfway undone and tried the sweater on. And I was hit with a new inspiration for the collar.

Attempt number five was a success. After I finished the collar, I decided to add shoulder pads. I’d never put shoulder pads in a sweater before. I followed the instructions -- more or less – for a lightweight shoulder pad in The Ultimate Knitting Book (Vogue Knitting). I think they help the sweater.

The sweater does fit me, but I will try to sell it first. (If you’re interested, let’s talk!) If the sweater doesn’t sell by the end of the year, I’ll adopt it as my own.

I would like to write up the pattern, but I’ll need to re-knit it first. As with most of my creations, there are some things I’d change in a second iteration.

Here’s a picture of the front.

And a closer look at the right front.

And a look at the left sleeve.

And a look at the back.

I think the buttons work. And I really like how the duplicate stitch worked. What do you think?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Very First Woven Scarf

Jean lit a fire under me, figuratively speaking. She was my host in Sarasota. When I first arrived, she showed me all sorts of fibery things in her extensive studio. One thing that really sparked my interest was a series of scarves that she’d woven from bits and pieces of wild and crazy handspun yarns. She then showed me the loom she used for weaving these scarves: an Ashford “Knitters Loom”. I must say it was the first time I had a serious urge to do some weaving (other than my previously mentioned inkle weaving). It seemed a wonderful way to use small amounts of handspun.

And I have plenty of small amounts of handspun yarns! Currently, they’re just “maturing” in a couple bins.

Over the course of the weekend, I praised Jean for waking me up to the possibilities of such small loom weaving. I told her I would, no doubt, get one of those looms and start making some very cool scarves.

Well! As I was packing my suitcase to leave, Jean came into my room with a canvas bag with “Ashford Wheels and Looms” printed on the outside. She laid the bag on top of my suitcase and said, “Oh good. It’ll fit.” Puzzled at first, I asked what it was. And she told me: she was giving me an Ashford Knitters Loom. Can you believe it!!?? I am so thankful to Jean. And so incredibly excited to start learning a new fiber craft.

I got home from that trip on Sunday. And on Tuesday, I wove my very first scarf. To keep my first attempt on the simple side, I selected two mill spun yarns from my stash: DK weight merino wool singles. One was a solid color, the other a variegated yarn. I used the variegated for the warp and the solid for weft.

Here’s the scarf on the loom.

And here’s the scarf finished, washed, and dried.

I think I’ll make another scarf today….

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sarasota was Something!

I got back on Sunday. A whirlwind visit. And loads of fun. There were 10 people in the workshops, and after two full days, I felt right at home among them.

Let’s go around the room:

Tammy had a very cool spinning wheel, I think made in New Zealand, but she’d purchased it in San Diego. The wood was beautifully striped.

Jean was my host. She made me feel like family at her home. She is originally from Maryland and was involved in the inception of the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival
. Once a shepherd with more than 150 sheep, she now has a house filled with all kinds of equipment and fiber. She is a dealer for Spinolution and Ashford equipment. I got to spin for a bit on her sweet Spinolution “Mach 3” wheel. Awesome! Oh, and she let me try her Fricke electric spinner. Very cool too!

Debbie was the youngest among us. She had recently gotten a Spinolution “Hopper” wheel. So incredibly cute! She also had some crazy tales of “clubbing” in Tampa on Friday night.

Maureen was getting to know her Bosworth “Journey Wheel”. The workshop topics required frequent changing of spin direction, so Maureen ultimately became very comfortable switching the drive band on her wheel. Maureen also does some very nice dye work, and she gave me a bit of some lovely tencel that she’d dyed.

Elizabeth is a talented, long-time fiber artist. She is especially good with precision work. So, it was no surprise to anyone that she loved the more “tidy” yarns that we made, and she was much less enthusiastic about the more “reckless” yarns. A good sport!

Kate is a new spinner. In fact, prior to this workshop she’d never plied a yarn! And the first morning was all about “plying for texture”. A lesser person might have had a meltdown, but Kate persevered with equanimity. I was very impressed.

Lynn had to leave a pinch early on Friday to pick up her dog, Foxy Lady. On Saturday, Lynn handed me a written apology from Foxy Lady which included her picture. She’s an adorable Papillion!

Elaine. Thank goodness someone else was originally from Michigan! She had the knack of asking questions that were perfectly timed to lead me on to the next topic. Thanks for keeping me on track!

Wendy remained cheerful despite having some knee challenges. Wendy and Bev treated me to a delicious lunch on Friday. We were seated outside – something that you can’t do in Michigan in March! I had lobster bisque and a grouper sandwich. Oh, and I got a sunburn on my neck. A perfect Florida memento!

Bev was incredibly gracious about the fact that I stumbled backwards over her lazy Kate and broke it. And it was a borrowed Kate. Yikes! She assured me the following day that all was taken care of. When Bev heard that I’d spent my academic career studying dance and motor control she took the opportunity to make the requisite joke. Ha ha.

Let me get back to Jean. Not only did she host me, she sent me home with some wonderful gifts. During the workshop, she gave me a sweet Ashford niddy noddy that is a perfect sample size.

And then she gave me a loom! An Ashford “Knitters Loom”. I’ll write more about this soon.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Beautiful, isn’t it? I love winter. I really do. And today’s weather is beautiful. But quite inconvenient!

Right now, I should be on a flight to Sarasota, Florida. That flight was cancelled due to the winter storm that is hitting us. So, instead, I’m scheduled to fly out very early tomorrow morning.

In Sarasota, I’ll be teaching two days of spinning workshops (Plying for Texture, Spinning With Silk Hankies, and Spinning With Commercial Yarns) for the Manasota Weavers Guild
. This will be my second visit to this wonderful guild. I was there last year in February. My flight was delayed then too, but I still made it on the scheduled day….even though my luggage did not!

At least I mailed supplies and handouts two weeks ago, so I don’t have to worry about that stuff getting there!

The storm warning is supposed to expire by 7pm today. I am hopeful that the roads (and skies) will be clear in the morning.

What to do with today? Knit and spin, of course! Re-pack my luggage, and re-set the alarm clock. Here we go….

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sock Miscellany

Sock knitting is in the air. Yesterday, I got an email from Pat Petrovich. She’d taken a boot sock class from me recently. You can see her first pair of socks in an earlier blog post. Well! She has finished her third sock. Here it is:

At what point will she lose count? I lost count of my sock knitting long ago. But I still keep adding to the score. I finished my latest pair of socks yesterday. My friend, Sylvia VM, had given me some lovely green yarn for my birthday. The yarn is made by Wool Candy
; the yarn is “Fondant merino superwash DK yarn”, approximately 223 yards, 3.5 ounces. The color “Verdant”. And howdy!

Since I’m partial to green, and this yarn was a birthday present, I made this pair of socks for myself. I perused my library of sock books for inspiration, and found it in the book, Sensational Knitted Socks, by Charlene Schurch. This is a very nice, thorough book. I love the way it’s organized. This peek through the book I was especially struck by several of the “Six Stitch Patterns”. I settled on the “Stanfield #10” pattern, then modified Ms. Schurch’s instructions to make me (and my feet) happy.

By the way, this stitch pattern is from the book, The New Knitting Stitch Library, by Lesley Stanfield. This book is a lovely collection of stitch patterns with clear charting, and I’ve used many a stitch pattern from it.

Here’s my new pair of socks. I washed and blocked them last night…they’re still a bit damp.

My original plan for that pair of socks was to have them be travel knitting. I’m headed to Sarasota, Florida next week and socks are nice travel knitting. But I finished them! Now I’ve got to prepare another project for this trip. Yep. It’ll be socks. A few years ago I designed a pair of socks that I call “ThisWayThatWay” socks. But I never got around to writing up the pattern (I tend to procrastinate on my pattern writing….). So, next week, I’ll start another pair so that I can make sure my notes are accurate. Here’s a picture of the original pair:

I’m going to re-knit them in “Heritage Sock Yarn” by Cascade Yarns (75% merino superwash, 25% nylon), in a lovely solid turquoise color (color #5626).

Friday, March 4, 2011

And So It Begins

There were only two ladies in my “Learn to Knit” class at Interquilten
in February. So it was an intimate environment for starting down the yellow brick road of knitting adventures.

Judy and Laura were complete novices. Neither had ever held knitting needles before. Oh, I do love to see the beginning! Even though I learned the knit stitch and purl stitch when I was a kid, I still remember the challenge of that most wonderful puzzle of changing string into fabric. So, I can still relate to the very beginning of someone else’s knitting life.

We covered the obvious basics: cast on, knit, purl, bind off; garter stitch, stockinette stitch, ribbing, seed stitch; increases, decreases.

In our third, and last, session, Judy and Laura started knitting a dishrag. Two days later, Laura sent me a picture of her completed dishrag. Her very first knitting project. Here it is:

My hope is that I’ve created a monster….of knitting!

Here’s the pattern I use. Pretty standard:

CO 4 sts.
K one row.
Sl 1 purlwise wyif, move yarn to back between needles, K1, YO, K to end of row.
Repeat that row until there are 48 sts on needle.
Sl 1 purlwise wyif, move yarn to back between needles, K2TOG, YO, K2TOG, K to end of row.
Repeat that row until there are 5 sts on needle.
BO. Sew in ends.

BO = bind off (i.e., cast off)
CO = cast on
K = knit
Purlwise = insert needle as if to purl (i.e., from right to left)
Sl = slip stitch
St = stitch
Sts = stitches
Wyif = with yarn in front of work (as occurs naturally when purling)
YO = yarn over
K2Tog = knit two stitches together