It Was So Simple to Start With!

Time flies! Let’s begin:

FOs: Nada. Just working on big projects, I guess!

WIPs: Continuing to spin the big pile o’ Romney. Thus far, I’ve got 751 yards of finished 2-ply and 5 balls of singles to ply.

20170313 2-ply Romney DK

2-ply Romney, before washing

I’ve got a lot of Romney left to spin. It spins beautifully and just about drafts itself. But after spending so much time spinning charcoal Shetland, then brown and moorit Shetland, I am ready for some COLOR!! Hence,

20170317 ComboSpinFibers

Late last week I pulled out all my fiber stash except for the white Merino/silk and a little bit of alpaca that I had set aside. I had three braids of dyed Merino blends (some silk, some sparkly nylon) plus a bunch of natural dyed Merino and BFL that I had left from last summer’s dye fest. I stripped it all out, mixed up the strips, and randomly stuffed them into my big fiber basket that sits on the sewing table just an arm’s reach away from my spinning wheel.

The plan is to spin one storage bobbin (i.e., TP tube – about 30 grams) full of Romney, then one of the combo spin. So far, that plan’s working quite well. I’m using the same drive tension for both, so that’s pretty easy. I guess eventually I’ll then have at least two sweater quantities of yarn to knit with if I am persistent. The basket shown above is holding about 560 grams of fiber, so I will probably get enough 2-ply yarn for something. It’s spinning finely enough to end up as a sport or DK weight, but because it’s mostly Merino, I won’t know what I’ve got until I’ve plied and washed the yarn. The stuff “poofs up” when it’s washed.

The mitered square throw is coming along. No pictures for now, because I’m working on writing a pattern for it. Let’s just say that I started off with the basic mitered square idea, then wandered off on a tangent to build panels of squares separated by panels of texture or lace. I am also incorporating some interesting textural stitches, some bead work, and may include a little color work as well. Some of the texture stitch squares are proving to be real head-scratchers to work out a way to maintain the mitered square idea and incorporate, for instance, a texture stitch on a 4-stitch repeat without skewing the mitering or the texture stitch. I can see it may end up as a stitch sampler, with the written pattern being for someone that isn’t afraid of learning some new techniques.

Of course, now I’m contemplating purchasing pattern authoring software.

Sometimes the whole thing makes me want to stuff it into the project basket and go knit something EASY!! Or go out and plant radishes. If it would quit raining, that is.

No FOs Today

I guess the title says it all. I’ve been knitting and spinning and carding a good bit of fiber, but I haven’t got any finished objects to show for all my efforts. I will, however, show what I’ve been doing.


This is the barest start of my mitered square blanket. I’m knitting this with sock yarn scraps. Each square is 3.5 inches across and takes right at 3 grams of yarn. I’m working with a mix of superwash, “regular” sock yarn, and handspun and am focusing on wool, silk, and alpaca. (No acrylic touches my needles! Ever!)

Here’s the same thing a few days later:


Since this picture was taken, I’ve completed the base row and the second row and have started on the third row. I’m really happy to be knitting with some color.

I’m still working on B’s scarf. I’m more than 24 inches in and am still enjoying the pattern. I’ve just started on the third ball of yarn and have two hanks in my basket for this project. Just in case, I’ve got more of the same fiber “in stock” so I can spin more of this lovely 2 ply if needed. It’s just heaven to work with, so I really don’t mind that it’s undyed.

I’ve been wheel spinning some of that pile of Romney that I’ve got, and have hand carded a bunch of it. (One of six bags was hand carded. Yikes.) I drove down to Latimer Quilt Center and borrowed a Clemes and Clemes drum carder today so I could speed up the process a little. Spent three hours this afternoon carding ONE bag of locks:

20170307 CardingRomneyLocks

What you don’t see here is how messy this project is! Seeds and stuff going everywhere – my trusty supervac is off to the side here and I’m sucking up all the junk every so often so I can control the mess factor. The batts are so lovely, though, I can hardly wait to start spinning them!

20170307 CardedRomney2

Goin’ Nowhere

I woke up dreaming of planting peas and radishes and spinach. It’s early enough in the spring now to plant peas in the bean beds and get away with it, I thought – they’d be done by the time I can safely plant beans. And of course, radishes and spinach, because: why not? I dreamt that I would get out there today and rake out the little bitter cress that is already rosetting its way across the garden spaces and waiting for just the right second to shoot out its flower stalks.

Just the day before yesterday, I clomped out to the big garden, basket and kitchen shears in hand, and dug and trimmed the rest of the leeks and green onions. Checked out the Russian kale stalks that I’d given up for dead after months of on-again off-again freezes and snows and realized that they were very much alive and putting out new leaves.

Must be getting close to Spring! Time to buy seeds!

For now, though, I’m going to be content with holing up inside, though: we’ve got two new inches of snow this morning. And, apparently, more on the way. I see it as time for planning the gardens and for spinning and knitting. Not wasted time, indeed.

No finished objects this time. But more work done on my sole WIP for the moment:


This is B’s dress scarf in progress. I’ve completed about 24 inches of 66 so far, and finding this a very enjoyable knit. Keeping my interest without being overwhelming. And the yarn! Oh, the yarn: a very soft and squishy merino and silk blend in a two-ply. Spindle spun and plied. (Yes, lots of work.) Here you see it with the third ball of yarn, which I started last night. I just want to pet it, it’s so lovely! Squeee! (And you know me, I almost never “Squeee”!)

Spinning is coming along. I am loving the Griffis wheel, although I am seeing clearly some of her limitations and am casting a roving eye toward others.  JMS Cassandra and the Schacht Flatiron are a couple I’m drooling over right at the moment. The JMS fits my budget better than the Schacht. I’m not settled on a double treadle, really, and want to try one out before I jump into a purchase. Griff is a single treadle, and I like her just fine. Treadling her is kind of like tapping my foot to music, except with a slightly rocking heel to toe motion.

I’ve finished spinning the last 8 oz. of the moorit Shetland and have about 6 oz. of nice 2-ply yarn and a ball of singles to play with. (Seen below “pre-spa” with Kokopelli.) The 2-ply will very likely become part of a shawl in the near future. Not sure what I’m going to do with the singles. Might ply it with something else or finish & knit it as a singles yarn.


Earlier this week, I dived head-first into the first bag of Romney locks. Oh.My. I think I’m in love! I carded my way through the first half of the first of six paper grocery bags full of washed locks and I’m seriously loving this fiber. It spins effortlessly. I’m getting about 3 rolags to the bobbin and 3 bobbins to the storage ball  (Griff has a tiny bobbin – she’s a flax wheel). I’m spinning my way through a big basket full o’ rolags and have not quite finished half. After I’ve finished the basket, I want to take the next half of this bag and spin from flicked locks so I can compare the difference in the singles.


It’s still snowing, but for now, it doesn’t bother me! Nowhere I need to go, and I am not in any hurry to get there.

KALs and Stuff

I never knew that I was a joiner, but I’ve found myself hooked into the world of Knit-A-Longs (KALs) and Spin-A-Longs (SALs) and I’m having a good time with the idea of participating in a virtual crafting group. I’m so enjoying the pictures and chatter online (Ravelry) posted by the other knitters and spinners – nearly as good as going to a LYS knit-night. (But better – no travel over icy roads!) Among the KALs I’ve participated in recently are the Grocery Girls SockBash2017 for January and February and a couple of month-long themed spin-a-longs in other Ravelry groups that were pretty fun. Such a push for the creativity! It’s like being given a really juicy writing prompt.

FO’s – just one since the last update: Courtney’s birthday socks!

20170211-cocosbdsocksThese started out as vanilla toe-up TAAT Magic Loops socks, but then I added a Fish Lips Kiss heel and did the leg patterning in the Hermoine’s Everyday socks stitch pattern. A little yarny embellishment adds some interest and ‘fixes’ a hole or two that I discovered during blocking. The FLK heel is a winner – it is destined to become my ‘go-to’ heel pattern (just like it is for so many other knitters these days!). The yarn is from ‘ancient history’ stash for me – years ago I got into the habit of buying 100-gram lots of sock yarn, so I had two balls of this colorway to play with. The socks used 51 grams, so I still have enough for another pair of socks if I choose a second color for the toes, heels, and cuffs. I don’t know that I particularly care for the length of the color sections – I think I’d prefer them to be a little shorter, so the stripes are narrower – but I think the yarn is totally usable and works up very nicely. It’s a superwash merino with a bit of nylon, so it will wear well. KnitPicks yarn is dyed well & doesn’t tend to fade over time. Coco will probably wear out these socks before the yarn fades. 🙂

WIPs: Just one for now, B’s scarf. I’m plodding along on it, still enjoying the merino & silk spindle-spun 2-ply yarn and thankful that the pattern is interesting enough to keep me from being bored silly. In an 8-row repeat, the odd rows have a good mix of front and back cables in two different widths (8-stitch and 12-stitch) with the even rows being a simple K1P1 to echo the front side. I’m doing two iterations side-by-side of Bruce Weinstein’s Reversable Cable Scarf pattern that B picked out last year on a Knitter’s Pride US-2 bamboo circular needle. I’m not excited by the needle, but the bamboo keeps the yarn from sliding off the needles if I’m not paying attention to it, so it’s saved me from dropped stitches many times during this knit.

Spinning: I’ve finished the Shetland & Merino spin that I was working on and have about 1,000 yards of cushy light worsted to knit something lovely with. I haven’t chosen a pattern yet, but I’ll be looking for one with minimal texture because the colors will hide whatever texture is there. I’ve yet to swatch, so will do that before I get serious about choosing a pattern.

[And I’ve been terrible about taking pictures lately, too.]

Just one little project on the wheel now: I’m spinning up 8 oz. of moorit Shetland so I can make a 2-ply to include in Joji Locatelli’s “The Girl From the Grocery Store” shawl:


I’m considering the moorit Shetland for one of the lace panels. Or not. We’ll see.

Whoosh! Went January!

Oh. My. That went fast! It seems like just yesterday – or at least last week – that we were just getting back from our Christmas holiday in Las Vegas. Since then, we’ve spent two weeks in Mexico (missing the 2017 “Snowmaggedon” event completely!) and I’ve even completed a couple of projects.

FO #1: Socks! These are the first socks I’ve made with my handspun yarn, and they’re for me. (Not sure why WordPress is insisting on rotating my image, but I’m not going to worry about meta data today.) I knitted these with Staci Perry’s toe-up TAAT Magic Loop pattern, and find that they fit really well. 20170126_seaofcortezsocks1

FO #2: A hat for Grandson, who is 14 on Valentine’s Day. The yarn was given to me a couple of years ago, and is a handpainted superwash merino sock yarn by The Sanguine Gryphon in their Prince Edward Island colorway. Knitted on US 5 circular, held double. Should be cozy and warm for Madras, Oregon springtime!20170131_joshs14thbdhat

WIP #1 continues to be B’s scarf, knitted on a US size 2 circular in handspun 85% merino / 15% silk blend. Kinda slow going, so we hope it will be finished before the start of the 2017-18 season for Oregon Symphony. It’s a goal.

WIP #2 is a quick pair of socks for GrandDaughter, again toe-up TAAT Magic Loop. This will be my project to keep my hands busy while B is in the hospital with his shoulder surgery tomorrow. That, and an audio book on my smart phone & I’m all set for hours of waiting.

Spinning: Not much. I had promised B that I would finish sewing the curtains for the dining room before I did any more spinning. Auto-magically, viola!, the curtains got done yesterday. ‘Cause I wanted to spin. 🙂 So, for spinning, I’m plying the shetland / native-dyed merino that I spun last month (!). I also spun up a ball of pale yellow / light tan / bright orange yellow singles yesterday, just to have something colorful to spin. I experimented with carding together the three colors so I have short color runs in the singles. I will probably chain ply it and then knit up a swatch to see what it looks like.

I haven’t started carding or flicking the Romney locks yet, but will be doing so soon. I’m kind of making myself work on the Shetland first. I know how I am!



Fibrous Topics

[meta: I took the opportunity to move all the Fibrous Topics post to the blog page.]

30 November 2016

I can’t believe it’s been 12 days since I’ve updated! I’ve been busy working on a couple of things and building muscle memory skills with the Griffis wheel.


WIP #1: One of B’s co-workers has a baby girl due in February, so I’m knitting a 3-6 month size sweater for her. The yoke will be an ecru yarn (not sparkly), and you can see the main yarn above. I’m really enjoying this pattern and finding it a fast knit. Last night, I joined the body and two sleeves on the circular needle and knitted the first yoke row. Last weekend while we were in Salem, we bought some beautiful pink glass bobble buttons for this project. The yarn is a superwash merino with just a bit of nylon.


WIP #2: Still working on spinning the merino / silk yarn for B’s scarf. I’ve got just less than an ounce of fiber left to spin, then I’ll two-ply the singles. It looks like it will ply out to about a fingering weight. Once the yarn is plied and washed, I’ll knit up a swatch for the pattern & then get it on the needles. Woohoo! 🙂

But even more fun than that – I’m doing some “learning” spinning on the Griffis wheel that I bought back in August. This wheel, a 1920s-era flax wheel that was purchased in 1930 by the grandmother of the person I bought it from to use as an ornament for her parlor (!!), is in wonderful shape and is very happy to have me spinning on it. Running very smoothly, with the only problems being from operator error and inexperience.

Accordingly, the task at hand here is for me to develop adequate muscle memory so I can draft either backwards draw or long draw (depending on the fiber) and spin fine singles. While getting to know my handcards, I carded up a small pile of “crap fiber” from drop spinning (matted ends, blobs, etc.) with some sample fiber in a couple of different colors, then spun it all on the wheel: cardedscraps1 spunscraps1

I’m really loving the mix of burgundy and blue here. The fiber is a mix of merino, polwarth, shetland, and silk. I’m not usually a fan of “art yarn”, but I think this 60 yards or so will get plied with something for stability then knit into a couple of rows on a hat or something fun. We’ll see!

Another bit of spinning in progress is about 30 grams of merino that was dyed with avocado skin dye, overdyed with yellow onion, then modified with washing soda. During the process I was unhappy with the color and really didn’t take care with the rinsing temperature, ending up with a braid of matted fiber in kind of an odd tan-ish / orange-ish color.  I’ve since carded the whole braid to loosen it up and am spinning one or two rolags every day to improve my wheel spinning skills. I’m still very much at the “park and draft” equivalent stage, as I don’t seem to be able to draft this fiber fast enough to keep up with even treadling, but the skill building is progressing nicely. I’m interested in using some good fiber with this wheel (once I’ve worked through this small mountain of rolags). I’ve got a two-ounce coil of merino in a bright blue to purple-charcoal colorway that I’ll wheel spin next.

18 November 2016


Finished! Amethyst Heather socks in worsted weight superwash wool. So cozy. Wearing them as I type this. I knitted them with Knitpicks Wool of the Andes yarn that I had in deep stash, using Stacie Perry’s Toe-Up Magic Loop Sock pattern. Really liked this pattern! This was my first attempt at Magic Loop socks (yeah, I know, what rock have I been hiding under all these years!?) and I can see it will be my “usual” method going forward. The pattern had 2×2 ribbing just at the top, but I decided that the fit would be better in the worsted yarn if I started the ribbing just above the short-row heel.

The next pair of socks will have 2×2 ribbing across the top of the foot to give it a bit more snugness, but I really like how these purple beauties are fitting.


In Progress! Up above you see the last bit of the first 4 oz. of merino / silk blend on the spindle, along with the next 4 ounces to spin.


Once both braids have been spun up into singles, I’ll two-ply the singles together then give ’em a good healthy soak in warm water and Eucalan to finish. The yarn will be used for this pattern: Reversible Cable Scarf by Bruce Weinstein. I’m working hard to get it finished for B before our anniversary in December.

9 November 2016

A quick photo update – the Exploding Tardis has completed the transition from fiber to finished yarn and is a lovely sock-weight skein. 124 grams / 422 yards. Polwarth (85%) and tussah silk (15%). (Note: the colors are the most accurate in the first photo below.)

I think the balance of twist in this yarn is very nice. It’s going to be great to knit up! It averages at about 22 WPI.
The frogs are liking this yarn!

7 November 2016

I’ve done a lot of spinning since the last update and have a bunch of fiber waiting for me:

Merino dyed with alder bark and dahlia tops – gathered the alder bark here on the property and grew the dahlias in our garden this summer
Natural brown/black Shetland and Moorit Shetland (with a Greensleeves Barebones Maple spindle). Fiber from Pacific Fiber in Newberg, Oregon.
Merino-Silk with “the bonesie”, a Walnut Farms maple supported spindle & cup, and an Essie Tiger’s Eye stone whorl spindle. Fiber from The Woolery.

*And* I have the last of the alum-mordanted merino (2 oz.) drying now after a long cool soak in yellow onion dye. I’m a little “meh” on the color, but it will work well with the Queen Anne’s Lace and mint that I dyed earlier. Not sure right now how I’ll spin it, but might do a fractal with the different colors. I’ve got a little bit of a lot of colors, so that would work really well. [11/9 edit: this fiber really felted up during the dye process, so will hand card it later to see if I can salvage it. I’m glad it’s only 2 ounces!]

Here’s what I’m working on now:


Polwarth (85%) and silk (15%) by Mosaic Moon (Ashland, Oregon) in their Exploding Tardis colorway, on the “boat anchor” made by cousin Angela Weber.

Back in October, I finally got to stop in at The Knotty Lamb in Forest Grove. They opened in August, 2016, but for whatever reason I had not had occasion to go to Forest Grove on a day other than a Monday (the day they’re closed) until now. I met Karen, the shop owner. We had a great visit about all things fibrous – knitting, spinning, fibers, colors, dyeing, etc., and on and on. I found a single 4 oz. braid of Mosaic Moon’s Exploding Tardis colorway for sale among lots of lovely merino. I was open to colorways containing blue or green, which I have not been dyeing, and this one caught my eye. I spun this up on the boat anchor (’cause that’s what I had at the time), wound two chain-ply balls, and am half done with the plying as of yesterday afternoon.

Exploding Tardis in progress. Chain plied.

I took Abby Franquemont’s advice – she really knows what she’s talking regarding all things spinning! – and wound plying balls rather than trying to chain ply from a cake or off the spindle. (Or doing a ply on the fly.) I really wanted to keep the colors “pure” rather than the spin resulting in a “barber pole” effect in a three-ply, so I opted to chain ply rather than make a more traditional three-ply. I also wanted to make a fairly hard high-twist ply so that it would work well for knitting socks. So far, so good. I won’t know the WPI on this spin until after I’ve washed and hung the skein, but I really like the results so far. I may just do a two-at-a-time pair of socks with this, and am thinking about using some of the BFL (Queen Anne’s Lace? Wild mint?) for the toes and heels. Maybe.

Next up: spinning the luscious ecru merino & silk top shown above. I bought 8 oz. of this glorious stuff from The Woolery along with “the bonesie”. I may well spin this on the supported spindle, though, so I can practice long draw. I really want a light, lofty 2-ply for a dress scarf for B. The frugal Scot in me is tickled about spending less than $20 to make a wool & silk dress scarf that you’d buy on Etsy for a minimum of $95. (Average price? $150!!!) [giggle]

Long Draw?? Oh, yes, not just for the supported spindle, but for this also:

E.A. Griffis flax wheel, circa approx. 1920

I am working with this little guy more now, after learning that it really is just me – the Griffis wheel works well once you learn how to make it “go”. I really think that once I master this guy, any other wheel will be a piece of cake. Moving forward s.l.o.w.l.y. . . .

28 September 2016

In the past two weeks, I’ve been doing less with dye pots and more with spinning.


The skeins are “self-explanatory”, although the colors aren’t quite right in the image. The upper skein, Queen Anne’s Lace, is a clear, bright yellow. The lower skein, Queen Anne’s Lace and Mint, is a darker yellow with a hint of green. To make this skein, I spun each single by alternating narrow strip of roving between the two colors, rather than plying together singles of each color. I like the effect – it ends up looking heathered rather than striped. This is all merino top mordanted with alum, with no finish treatment. I expect it to be light- and wash-fast and am eager to knit something with it. The Queen Anne’s Lace skein may well end up as a sampler piece rather than a portion of a garment, but I don’t really know yet.

The single on the spindle and the single that is rolled into a center-pull ball are both spun from natural Shetland. At least half of the first two-ply skein will be plied with a dark blue silk thread. I plan to knit B a dress scarf with this and will knit in one or two narrow stripes of the blue silk and charcoal Shetland ply at each end of the scarf, probably an inch from the end. After plying, I suspect that the finished yarn will be between a sport and DK weight yarn. [Edited 11/7/16: change of plans – the Shetland is too ‘scratchy’ for a scarf for B, so will use it to knit a vest para mi.]

I really like spinning with this Shetland top – it drafts so easily that it practically spins itself. Easier than the merino and Blue-Faced Leicester that I’ve been working with, although I haven’t had trouble with them, either.

14 September 2016

More fun with dye pots:


Here’s what you’re seeing above:

  1. Merino, alum mordant, English walnut shell dye
  2. Merino, alum mordant, Queen Anne’s Lace flower tops
  3. Merino, alum mordant, mature curly dock tops (hey! I found a use for these weeds!)
  4. Merino, alum mordant, Queen Anne’s Lace flower tops
  5. Merino, alum mordant, wild mint tops with flowers, baking soda finish
  6. Merino, no mordant, dandelion root
  7. Blue Face Leicester, alum mordant, horsetail tops, baking soda finish
  8. Blue Face Leicester, alum mordant, Queen Anne’s Lace tops
  9. Merino, alum mordant, horsetail tops
  10. Merino singles, bare
  11. Merino, no mordant, Queen Anne’s Lace tops

I’m not terribly excited about the horsetail dye, although it’s certainly easier to come by for me than the walnut shell dye is. And, for us, the walnuts aren’t a native dye plant. I am, however, really happy with the Queen Anne’s Lace and the wild mint. Kinda “meh” on the dandelion, but it was worth experimenting with.

It will be fun to do some spinning with these guys.

9 September 2016

This summer I’ve spent most of my time out in the garden, but since the end of July I’ve also been learning to spin yarn using a drop spindle, and now, with an antique wheel.

I’m also playing with dyeing fibers with native plant dyes.

Drying rack

Here’s what’s on the drying rack this morning (l to r): Blue Face Leicester (BFL) top and merino top, both mordanted with alum; the next four strands are both BFL and merino alum-mordanted and dyed with Queen Anne’s Lace flowers; the short one in the middle is non-mordanted merino dyed with Queen Anne’s Lace flowers; the last four are mordanted BFL and merino dyed with dandelion root. I really like the yellow on the mordanted wool, and kind of like the light tan of the dandelion. I think they might be lovely spun together. Down below are a couple of mordanted singles dyed with Queen Anne’s Lace, and a mordanted 2-ply skein, also dyed with Queen Anne’s Lace.

Walnut dye is “cooking” right now:

When I took this picture, it was only about 30 minutes into the soak. I’ve got 2 mordanted merino singles, about 20 grams of mordanted BFL top, and about 20 grams of mordanted merino top (all with alum at 10% WOG) in the pot. I’m holding the temp between 150 and 165 degrees and will let this “cook” for two to three hours, then let the fiber cool in the pot. (This is, by the way, a stainless steel pot.)

I want to mordant the rest of my roving (some BFL and some merino), even though I had originally thought that I’d test the colors I use with non-mordanted and mordanted fibers. I’m really preferring the colors of the mordanted fibers more so far.

Next up are wild mint tops, dry mature curly dock tops, and fresh horsetail (which is soaking in plain water now). I’m not getting much spinning done, but I’m having a lot of fun playing with dyes!