Friday, March 23, 2012

Benny Does Disco

This morning, Benny put on an Electric Light Orchestra CD and got himself dressed up.

The headgear wasn't quite right, though, so he changed quickly into his brother's "vintage" hat.

I assured him he was very vintage.

He began his dance.

You have to admit, he has flair.

Some of the moves were more subtle.

Take no notice of the couch chaos behind him. Part of the dance involved leaping over the back of the couch and strewing cushions everywhere before landing on the beanbag chair. This was an important element, though my pictures of it ended up nothing but a red, white and brown blur. I'm sorry you missed it. I could bring him out to demonstrate how that part works; I'm sure he'd love a bigger living room to develop the dance further. Any takers?

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Plenty of progress, not much completion. The first and most exciting progress to me is the progress of spring. (I can't believe I'm posting this in March, and I feel the Universe will bite back viciously if I'm not careful.) I have been watching the progress of this outside my back door:
And look! That's actually a bud! I'm trying very hard not to get too excited about it. There are more daffodils near this one but they haven't come up yet, which I think is a good thing... the other ones will have a better chance of actually blooming properly. But just think! If this blooms, it will be the earliest I have ever seen flowers in Calgary.

I finished spinning up the purple soy silk, and decided to n-ply it after all. In the end I got this:
 160 yards, and 50 grams. I'm not sure what it'll be exactly but I'm on a moebius neckwarmer kick, so that's a strong contender. But I can't knit it right now.

Last month, I finished spinning a rainbow 2 ply, and Ian quickly claimed the yarn for himself. This week I finally finished the thumbs on his mittens:
The precise reversal of colors was a fabulous accident. I knit these top-down. Unfortunately these took a little more than half the ball, so I can't make another pair, but I think I will be able to make a smaller pair for Benny.

I have also been chipping away at my endless blanket (Started in July 2010!) and now it is time for an update. It's getting a bit big for bringing around everywhere, but I keep it in my car and work on it if I happen to be waiting for someone or forget to bring something else. 
My last bit of progress is some spinning. The March challenge for the Spindler's group is to spin something "femme fatale", which for me is red corriedale. The March challenge for the 12 in 2012 group is to spin something in a carded preparation, so I am doubling up my challenges and spinning my red corriedale from carded rolags. 

I also pulled out some of my luxury fiber for supported spindle. I had a need for green, so this is the 40% bison, 40% alpaca, 10% silk and 10% merino blend from Ancient Arts Fibre.

As you can see, I have filled one spindle and am filling up the next. I think I could have spun this on my wheel, but not so thin and lofty. It is so smooshy! I am thinking of ordering another bag of it, it's such a lovely blend.

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Few Firsts

This week is just burgeoning with first times, and I'm pretty excited about all of them. But which one to start with? Well, for a first first, I'm blogging two days in a row. Two whole days. That's a significant first, but it may also be a last. 

I think it would be fun to tell the tale from spinning firsts to knitting firsts, even though the knitting firsts are a little older. So, my second first involves soy silk. I have never spun or knitted this stuff, and when I ordered it from Spunky Eclectic I wasn't entirely sure if it would take an acid dye. I did a little investigation, and indeed it does, though there was some complaint about the dye not taking completely. I understand there are people who like a fully saturated and uniform dye job. I am not one of them. Discovering undyed portions in a top makes me happy. I usually employ some sort of resist technique to make sure they happen.

After I opened up the soysilk and tested it a bit, I wasn't particularly happy, though. It was wispy and looked like it would be annoyingly slippery. I threw it into a purple dyepot, hoping my favorite color would make it more appealing, but it came out in such a globby, stinky mass that I was pretty sure I would never bother with the stuff again. In fact it looked and smelled like something I've cleaned out of a fetid fish tank.

When it dried, it was a little better, but still clumpy. But I thought I could draft it out to be a little smoother, and maybe I'd still be able to spin something from it. 

Well! That's much better! Soysilk has endeared itself to me. I find it a little easier to spin than tussah silk, because it has a shorter staple, and it doesn't dry out my hands. Other than that, it's very similar spinning and it is also very strong, like silk. And really, it smells bad but not as strongly bad as silk. Now the only question is, do I ply or not? If I do, it will have to be n-ply, because I only have one bobbin free at the moment...

My second first is that I made batts! Lovely fluffy things, also quite coincidentally purple from some corriedale fleece I dyed up. I tossed in some yellow here and there. I'm quite happy with them, and am looking forward to that distant day when I have free bobbins.
I am dangerously close to throwing caution to the wind and procuring my own drum carder.

The third first was that I dyed some really gorgeous alpaca top!

I am really pleased about the way this came out. Again, I heard murmurs about alpaca not taking dye as intensely as wool, but either I use excessive amounts of dye or I have the patience to wait for the bath to exhaust. I want to spin this one but I think I'll put it up in the shop. I have two 2-oz braids like this.

Now to talk about the knitting: just over a week ago, I took a class from Sivia Harding on how to knit her Harmonia's Rings pattern, which uses Cat Bordhi's moebius cast-on. It was pretty awesome to watch this thing form. So, for my fourth first, I learned the moebius cast-on, and for my fifth first, I knit with beads.

I became so enamored with the moebius cast-on that I then made this:
And I have also cast on another Harmonia:
The special thing about this project is the yarn: it is among my first handspun, and if I remember correctly, my first plied yarn. It was my first foray into luxury fibers- one ply is baby camel, and the other is silk. It's also old enough that I never wrote down my yardage... I "knew" I would remember... so I don't really know if I have enough for a full pattern or if I'll just leave off the yoke. Judging by how quickly it's disappearing, I don't think there will be enough. That, however, is not a first.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Feathered Fish Fibers

Well, my latest news is that I have added a lot of new stuff and to my Etsy shop and renamed it Feathered Fish Fibers. I have had tons of fun dyeing fibers and spinning yarns, and I'm becoming... well, quite passionate about it.

There you'll find some gorgeous handspun yarns:

Merino Yak luxury yarn, 3.5 oz, 160 yards 2-ply

Merino 3-ply, 5 oz, 456 yards

BFL singles, 4 oz, 450 yards

As well as some beautiful rovings:

(Finn, Corriedale, BFL & Cheviot)

I have more fiber in the dyepot as we speak, and I update the shop regularly.
Every fiber lover will find something there to enjoy!