Wednesday, April 30, 2008


Last weekend we made an unscheduled trip back to West Texas, braving thunderstorms threatening golf-ball sized hail and tornadoes during our late-night trek across the state. Thankfully, we made it just fine. I got some knitting done, but I ripped it all out. I think I have to finish a thing or two before anything is going to go right on the needles.

My father-in-law is a bit of a bird watcher and puts out five gallons a week of sugar water in his many hummingbird feeders. They attract quite the crowd.


I stood out on the porch for a long time and got some pretty cool shots.


I also finally got a chance to take a picture of some long-finished knitting. I made this out of Cascade 220 a while ago, but it took me a while to block it and then it sat around for a while before it got photographed. I got it in just under the wire, though, before dropping it off for its recipient.

hat for Fritz

I made up the pattern myself, and I think I'll make another one out of the llama I spun up. I'll need to make a few modifications, since the original is already on the large side and I think the llama may be heavier than the Cascade 220. And I'll be doing some kind of contrasting softer lining on the second hat.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

More spinning!

Are y'all getting tired of this yet? Because I'm not. And I haven't much else to show you. I've started a new lace project, and it's coming along, but it doesn't look like much and I've got it all bunched up on a 24" needle, so I can't really spread it out and show you. No nupps on this one, but it is Estonian lace and uses a lot of the same k1, yo, k1, yo, k1, yo, k1, yo, k1 in the same stitch maneuvers. And, I gotta tell ya, I don't know if it's that or the crocheting of dishcloths or both, but my right shoulder is really taking a beating. So every day I tell myself no crochet or lace, and every day I sit down and think, "well, just a little," and then the next morning I wake up and can't turn my head to the right and swear I'll take the day off. But spinning still doesn't hurt, so that's a good thing.

handspun Llama

Here's the first fiber to come off the new wheel. It's the llama that I purchased at the fiber fest. In retrospect, I should have started with a more familiar fiber on the new wheel, but what's done is done. I'm not entirely happy with it, and I don't know whether it's the fiber or my growing pains. All I know is it's not an airy woolen-spun and it's not a smooth worsted-spun and it just feels kind of heavy and lifeless. DH still likes it, though, and still wants a hat. I suspect it will look a lot better when it's knit up.

handspun Llama

It's a three-ply and I should have just about enough for a hat. I got myself in one of those awkward positions when I was plying where the wheel just wouldn't take up, so I'd pull out more singles and let the twist flow up, adjust the tension and try again, and still, no take up. I was completely tangled up in yarn before I realized that the drive band wasn't over the bobbin. (Doh!) I don't know how it happened, but I think it means that spinning four ounces of fiber and trying to ply it is perhaps a little more than I can handle in one day.

handspun BFL

For my second try, I chose some BFL I had purchased from AllSpunUp on Etsy (I like how she doesn't name her colorways). I think this was still the day of the wheel's arrival and my husband and I had gone out for dinner and margaritas and we came home and I was all, "My spinning wheel! Let me show you it!" So I pulled out the fiber and split it in half and spun a little bit for him. I chose the high speed whorl to see what it would do. Then later I was kind of stuck with that decision.

handspun BFL

I decided to do the fractal thing and spun the one bobbin I had started from the end and split the other half several ways and spun them on the other bobbin. Because of the way the yarn was dyed, though, I didn't end up with a whole lot of solid-color portions. You can't tell in the skein, but the beginning is mostly green and the end is mostly the red/rose colors. I could use it for socks, but they'd be fraternal in the extreme.

handspun BFL

I have about 520 yards of 22-wpi 2-ply. I'd call that a light fingering weight. I'm not entirely sure what I'll do with it just yet. I'm tempted to make an EZ garter stitch moebius, but I kind of also want to branch out from scarves, hats, and socks for my handspun. Any other ideas? There's not much on Ravelry for 500 yards of light fingering that isn't socks.

The ply twist might be a little funky on this as well, because about the time I was halfway through plying, I found (gasp! horror!) dirty footprints on my treadles. The Schacht is oil finished, not varnished, and my bare feet were leaving some grime behind. I cleaned it off and switched to a socks-for-spinning policy, but the ones I chose were slippery on the treadles and it was a completely different feel.

Bamboo bobbin

On the wheel is some bamboo from my Zen String fiber club. I'm spinning laceweight singles straight from the roving for really long color shifts, and I think I'll make a Montego Bay Scarf with it.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Lily of the Valley still isn't done.

In fact, this morning I shoved it in the storage ottoman. I don't want to look at it for a while. The thing is so huge, I'm not going to be able to block it on our queen-size bed, and seemingly no closer to completion after several days' work than the last time I showed you. So I'm giving myself and the huge knot in my back a break from all the nupps. We're closing on a house May 1 and doing some painting and improvements to move in June 1 or so, so I think I'll try to finish it sometime in there so I can block it in the empty house. And then we can drape it over the roof and use it for insulation or something.

Think Spring handspun laceweight

Luckily, it has not killed my lace mojo. Last Monday, I decided I couldn't stand it any more and printed out a pattern and cast on with my handspun laceweight. It was so refreshing to start at the top of a triangular shawl and increase four stitches every two rows and see quick progress rather than start on one short side and decrease one stitch every two rows. So I'd work a repeat of Lily of the Valley and then a few rows of the new shawl.

Think Spring Things in progress

Before long I was at the good part, and started working on the new shawl full time. [Does it mean I'm crazy if I still think nupps are the good part?] Anyway, I cast off on Saturday and by Sunday morning it was blocked and ready for a photo shoot.

Think Spring Things
Think Spring Things
Think Spring Things

Spring Things Shawl by Susan Lawrence
2 oz. of my my handspun laceweight yarn (1134 yds/4 oz, 42 wpi, 2-ply) from the Spunky Eclectic Fiber Club - Think Spring South African Fine (February '08)
US5 KP Harmony needles
Ravelry project page

I still can't believe I made that out of a ball of wool.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Fiber Fest Spoils

DFW Fiber Fest 2008 was the first weekend in April. I went last year and browsed the vendors and thereafter planned to take a class or two this year, but with the move going on I wasn’t certain I’d have the time. Turns out I was right about that, but we did have time to swing by as we were in town to finish packing on Saturday. I snagged some divine handdyed silk laceweight from Madeline Tosh, fondled some kid mohair yarn from Brooks Farm for a long time before talking myself out of it, and picked up 4 oz. of llama fiber that will become a hat for my husband.

Madeline Tosh Silk Lace Llama

But the best part? Walking around, my husband noticed all the little travel wheels that some of the vendors were spinning on and said, ‘we need to get you one like that, that you can take with you.’ And if just planting that bug in his ear wasn’t enough, he was serious about doing it right away. (Stay back, ladies, he’s mine!)

I didn’t expect to get another wheel for years. I was thinking maybe, if I was very good, Santa might bring me a Woolee Winder for the Symphony this Christmas. Of course I had thought about it, and hinted about it, but I just thought it would be a while. And I probably should have told him that it should wait, but, people, I am weak.

At first I was thinking I’d get a Little Gem – you can’t really beat that for portability. But the more I got to thinking about it, it seemed silly to spend so much for a wheel that I’d mainly use when I traveled. (And plying -- apparently they have huge capacity bobbins.) For the money, though, why not get something that I’d be happy to use every day, that was also portable? Why not examine my current situation and see if I can fill in any other gaps besides portability?

When I researched wheels the first time, it was really important to me to get a Saxony style wheel. In fact, the Lendrum Saxony was my first choice, and the Symphony was my second. Both met all of my criteria, I just thought the Lendrum was a little prettier. I still love the way the Saxony looks, but now that I know what I’m doing behind a wheel, I’m better able to appreciate the beauty of all styles of wheels. It’s more about the ingenuity and engineering of the design than the turning of the wood that gets me going these days.

The Symphony can be configured with the flyer either on the right or the left. At the time, I had never spun on a wheel and so didn’t know which way I would like better. I opted for the ‘normal’ setup with the flyer on the left, thinking that I would learn to spin to fit my wheel. Turns out, I spin with my right hand in front and I can only spin with my left hand in front about as well as I can write with my left hand or knit English. I can do it, but it’s not pretty. So I spend a lot of time twisted around in odd positions while spinning on the Symphony. I don’t even realize I’m doing it. If I had gotten the wheel set up the other way, I could pull the yarn across my body as I draft. As is, I pull it straight out and sort of behind me.

A castle-style wheel, besides being inherently more portable than a Saxony, also solves the problem of handedness. The flyer is in the middle; you can spin however you want. I flirted with the Lendrum DT and the Rose, but in the end I decided on the Schacht Matchless. I ordered it last Tuesday and it showed up today!

Schacht Matchless Schacht Matchless
Spinning some llama

Ain't she a beaut?! I am like a little kid with a new bike.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Adrift on a sea of yellow lace

I'm tempted to declare the Lily of the Valley shawl a black hole of knitting, but it's just too yellow. Aside from a few dischloth breaks I've been solely devoted to this process:

lily of the valley detail

There are now quite a few lilies in my valley.

lily of the valley

And yet, it's still a far cry from a triangle.

lily of the valley

That's a 32 inch needle you see. The shawl is huge. If I put it on my shoulders in its unblocked state, the point reaches to mid-calf. When I block this, it's going to be as big as a house.

I think I've found the culprit of what started as a crick in my neck, creeped down my back, and then spread over my shoulder. It might be time to take a break, but part of me still thinks I can finish this week.

Next time I think I'll choose a lace project on a slightly smaller scale. Preferably one that has more than one motif and fewer nupps.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Sometimes I surprise myself.

I used to think I would never knit a dishcloth. I just didn't see the point.

And I guess I haven't been proven wrong yet, because I didn't knit these.

Crochet Dishcloths

I crocheted them. And it was fun! And they make me want to clean! Except I don't know if I can bear to use the granny square one; it's too pretty.

I also whipped up some Swiffer cloths. I've already used them, too.

Crochet Swiffer Cloths

Brightly colored things motivate me. As do quickie projects.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Spinning Spunky

When I first signed up for a few fiber clubs, it seemed like it took forever to get my packages in the mail, and now it seems like I can hardly keep up. Just look what I have waiting in the wings:

Hello Yarn February Zen String March Fiber Flawful Fibers March Hello Yarn March

I am on track with my Spunky Eclectic subscription, though.

Spunky Jan-Mar

Here's January, "Snow Squall" Icelandic wool, which became about 80 yards of 2-ply heavy worsted.

Spunky January "Snow Squall"

My husband wants a hat from it, but a long-stapled, tightly-spun, rough wool probably isn't ideal for a garment. Maybe if I line it with something softer.

February was South African Fine in "Think Spring." It became 1134 yards of 2-ply laceweight. It could have used a little more ply twist, but overall I'm happy with it for being my first laceweight.

Spunky February "Think Spring"

I think I'm going to do a Rippled Baby Blanket in this, partially because there's an error in the pattern that I need to work out.

Then after spinning so fine, I went the other direction with March's "Mud Season" merino. Worsted singles, using my new extra-slow whorl for the Symphony.

Spunky March "Mud Season"

It's so puffy, four ounces stretched to almost 400 yards. I could really make something with this. Maybe this vest? I'd use the handspun for the neckline and maybe ribbing on the bottom edge instead of the scallops, with a solid color for the body, I think.

Monday, April 7, 2008


I have lots of fibery things to talk about this week, finished knits, fiber fest purchases, finished yarns, but right now I just have to revel in the fact that we have furniture in our house.

furniture in da house!

Look what I get to sleep in tonight!

I love you.

So much better than an air mattress!

Of course, there's this part of moving, that isn't so much fun.


Excuse me, now, I have to go sit on my sofa.