fiber diva

This is the chronicle of one woman's forays into knitting, crocheting, spinning, embroidery, papercrafts, and whatever else catches my fancy at any given time. Oh, and I talk about my cats a lot, too.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Tried a new knitting group

After hearing all kinds of great stories from others about knitting groups that they attend, I've been a little jealous, and looking for a knitting group in my area. And it looks like I finally found one! Last night I went to a "Come Sit and Knit" group that's close to where I work, as in less than half a mile and about a 1-minute drive. (I could have walked, except it was nighttime and I didn't want to). I found them through, which isn't just knitting or fiber arts related. I ended up joining a couple different groups, some of which aren't that close to me, but this is the first event I attended.

I enjoyed it. Despite the fact that I was the only newbie (to the group) and pretty much everyone else knew pretty much everyone else, folks were friendly and pretty welcoming. Our hostess even had pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and let's face it, I'm pretty much going to feel friendly to anyone who gives me a rocking chair to knit in and then offers me pie! There were about 6 other knitters there, all women, diverse ages as far as I could tell, and it seems diverse skill levels and years knitting.

I'm often amazed at what a great connector knitting is. I'm sitting amidst of group of strangers, in the basement of a woman I'd never met before, happily showing off my half-finished gardenias for the tote I'm still trying to complete, eating pie, and chatting about who's making what. And it never occurs to me that I maybe shouldn't feel comfortable, these people being strangers to me.

What is this power of sticks and string? I can't think it's just me who automatically assumes someone is approachable just because she (or he) is knitting.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Back from vacation

Well, despite my vacation's being relatively short, I did appreciate being away for a bit. I might even feel rested. I spent a couple of days in Cape May, New Jersey, a lovely Victorian resort by the ocean. I took many, many pictures, a function of having a digital camera with a memory card that lets me take more than 300 pictures before it needs clearing off.

And in other news, I took my laptop and the software that came with the camera, and even managed to successfully install it. Now I'm able to download the pictures from the camera to the laptop, without the stop at Rite Aid to copy pics from the memory card to a CD, which is how I've gottten pictures to post before.

Course, I still have to actually sit down at the laptop and do the downloading AND I have to then write the pics to a disk so I can bring them to this computer (so much faster) and put them up here. Which is my long-winded way of saying that I don't have pictures of vacation to list yet. But they're coming.

And in the meantime, I do have some pictures of spun yarn that I had put on disk before.

This is the modular "sampler" made with my first spindle-spinning efforts. Actually the yellow in the center row, second column from the right was the very first spun yarn. The fibers were samples given out in a class that I took during the Knitting Guild of America (TKGA) meeting in July in Pennsylvania. The class was actually on working with unspun fibers, so I doubt this is what the teacher had in mind for them (my apologies there).

This is colonial wool in a pretty blue color that I bought from an e-bay store. (It's sitting in my lovely felted tote/basket my pal Sue from the first tote exchange made for me.) I thought I was spinning a worsted weight, but it's really a bulky by the time I plied it. This is the first yarn that I "set the twist" on, and then I wound it into center pull balls. But now that it's ready to be used, I have to say that I'm a little intimidated. What to make, what to make with about 500 yards of unevenly bulky blue wool yarn? hmmmm.....

This is blue-faced leicester yarn that I'm in the process of spinning, that might actually be worsted weight. I still have to do wraps per inch for it. Though as uneven as my yarn still is, I think I'll have to take measurements from several of the skeins and average them out. I also still have to set the twist for this one. I might have to hang a little weight from some of these skeins as well, since I'm still not quite getting balanced yarn yet.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Spinning tales of cashmere

Still working on the pics, but I wanted to post my experience spinning a little sample of cashmere that I bought after last weekend's spinning class. Can I just say that I'm spoiled? After an ounce of cashmere, the merino blend that I thought was so soft just last week? Just not that thrilling now.

BUT, it really is interesting to see how the properties of different yarns affect how evenly I manage to spin them. I know---this is not news to anyone with more experience spinning than I have. Cashmere, beautifully soft, separates very easily, and slides against itself really easily. For me, that meant having to be pretty careful when predrafting and making sure I had a decent twist while spinning. On more than one occasion, I move my hands up a little too fast and heard the tell-tale thump of the drop spindle becoming a little more drop than spindle!

But it also meant that my spinning was pretty even throughout, something that I'm still struggling with ordinarily. When I moved to the merino blend, I had to pre-draft a little more diligently and work harder not to have the bumps of fiber that meant I was pulling out too much fiber in the draft. The wool's tendency to hold on to itself a little more also meant, though, that I didn't need as hard a twist to prevent the fibers pulling apart and the spindle dropping.

I really am going to try to get some pictures up. I might buy another ounce of cashmere, too, when I go back to the shop tomorrow for the second (and last) spinning class. Because I really need to make something to wear out of the this, and I'm not sure I could manage even a lace handkerchief scarf out of 43 paltry yards of about dk weight yarn!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

More (non) progress on the scarf exchange

Trying to sort out and keep up with the various exchange projects I'm involved with.

For the tote exchange, I'm now working on the seemingly endless I-cord straps for the bag, interspersed with Noni-type camilias in red, only one of which is (almost) done. And I'm thinking, too, about making at least one black one with a red center. I'm also debating about permanently attaching them, or putting them on a pin back, so my tote pal can take them off the bag, or even use them as pins if she so desired. More versatile, yes, but will that make the flowers less stable on the tote itself?

And on the scarf exchange project, I have ......not much progress to report. In fact, I might just have made negative progress. When I was a kid, I always wondered about imaginary numbers such as negative numbers. I remember thinking that as much as I disliked math, it was unkind enough of teachers to make me figure out real numbers without creating imaginary numbers with all kinds of strange rules.

But since I started knitting, I think I understand the concepts of negative and imaginary numbers so much better. Because the number of rows I've done on my scarf are both imaginary, and, if you consider how many times I've frogged the very concept of what I'm doing, definitely negative.

What's the problem, you ask? It's that I think I've changed my mind yet again. As you may remember, first I was going to use the koigu from the stash. Then I decided I wanted something silkier and found a sale on some Cherry Tree Hill fingering silk, with maybe a pattern from Lavish Lace. So I ordered the yarn. Decent plan, right?......sure. Except that in the meantime I wandered into a yarn shop and across some Artyarns Silk Rhapsody in this lovely combo of blues and greens and just couldn't resist it. So now I'm thinking that I'll use the silk rhapsody with either the Touch of Whimsey scarf or the Column of Leaves scarf that some of you were so kind to recommend back when I was using the koigu. sigh.....but notice that this is all what I will do (and not what I have done...except for the spending part!).

Late again!
(Ok, I've tried three times to upload images and three times they haven't come through. I'm going to try again later.)

Monday, October 02, 2006

spinning class and other stories

The spinning class went well, though I have to say that it wasn't as detailed as I'd thought it was going to be. But on the plus side, we also learned carding (ok, but I still don't see myself buying raw fleece anytime soon), which I wasn't really expecting.

We started on the drop spindles, but that wasn't as much of a challenge because I've been spinning with a top-whorl drop spindle for a couple of months (thanks to Laura and Rosie at the last ample-knitters retreat). But it was a chance to use a bottom whorl. In fact, the shop that held the classes had recently sold so many of their spindles that we ended up working on hand-made spindles created from cds and dowels. (Plenty of places on the web show you how to make one those if you are interested. This one was the first that came up when I searched.)

I must say that I still prefer the top whorl that I've been using, but it was interesting to try something new. I also enjoyed working with freshly carded rolags. I still prefer the processed rovings and batts that I've been working with thus far, but, again, I liked getting to try new things.

In fact, in the interest of trying new things, I bought several 1-oz packages of different kinds of fiber to try spinning. The verdict thus far is that yak down, although soft enough, is the devil to spin, unless I'm just not understanding how I'm supposed to be doing it. I've put it, and the camel down that I haven't tried spinning yet but that looks very much like the yak down, away for a while. Maybe I'll try it again when I have more experience! The soy silk is easier to spin than the yak, but, boy, is it slippery. I think it requires a different strategy altogether. The cashmere, though, that's some good stuff. In fact, it's spinning up so soft and even that I'm wondering about just using it in singles, which I've never done before. I still have to "set the twist" I understand, and I'll have to dye it, since it's a bright white that I would never actually wear. But if the first oz comes out nicely, I might buy a second oz and try making a lace scarf of it.

I didn't get the chance to get the camera out over the weekend, but I'll see if I can't post some pictures in the next couple of days. The second part of the class is next Sat, when we'll work on a bit more wheel-spinning, plying, and dyeing. I'm looking forward to it!