Dec 18 2010

Little Lamsied Ivy

Published by under Knitting,Spinning

Let’s see — I’ve been wearing this for two winters now, so it’s embarrassingly behind the times to post it. That said, it’s the first garment I’ve knitted purely of my own handspun, so it really needs to make an appearance. First, we’ll begin with the fiber. This is Corriedale dyed in osage orange and indigo and prepared by Stefania Isaacson of Handspun by Stefania. Although she doesn’t name her colors, I couldn’t help myself and labelled the photos of this fiber “Summerlawn.” One look at the fiber against my grass and you’ll understand why!

just a little bit of the prepared fiber

First, I enjoyed the wool all by itself. Then, there were spun singles and fiber….

Then a 3-ply, spun singles, and fiber…

Spun singles, 3-ply, and fiber

Then the 3-ply on the niddy-noddy, 3-ply on the bobbin, spun singles, and fiber…

Fiber at all stages of preparation before knitting.

And let’s not forget the final product: the scarf itself! Sadly the color isn’t quite true in this picture, but the lace pattern (Ivy Leaf from Barbara Walker) shows up quite well.

Ivy Scarf from handspun Corriedale

Oh, and the gloves I made to go with it! (My own design, made of Berroco’s Ultra Alpaca…I didn’t have enough of the Summerlawn to manage a pair of gloves as well!)

Gloves to go with the scarf

One response so far

May 01 2010

Totally geeked out…

Published by under Fiber,Weaving

OK, so here’s the thing:



Seriously, though, it really is ridiculously cool. I’m making a wool blanket that’s twice as wide as the warp on the loom, weaving one layer of cloth atop the other with an attached side that’s just a fold in the center. Seems impossible, but it’s completely doable. And, with the right instructions, it’s pretty darn easy. Here’s the warp:

The warp is twice as thick as it should be for its width because it’ll become two layers of plainweave cloth. Weird.

Here it is, at the start. Looks like normal weaving from here. BUT IT’S NOT…

Check that crazy stuff out! Two layers. Amazing.

And yes, I know that I’m only the latest person to try it, and that other people have done it many times before. I still think it’s the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. Now to finish the warp…

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Apr 27 2010

Too Pretty Not to Post

Published by under Fiber,Knitting

Oh, I am a bad bad blogger. I keep finishing things and taking pictures, but forgetting to put them up. This will be a short little post with pictures, because the Hanami Stole really just speaks for itself. It’s lovely! Thank you Melanie of Pink Lemon Twist for creating this pattern. I’ve knitted it up in an alpaca/silk dusty rose blend, added a few extra beads, and put it into the church auction. It brought in a pretty penny and went to someone who really appreciates it.

Given Hanami’s Japanese motifs, I’ve asked the Japanese maple in my backyard to model it for us…

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Apr 01 2010


Published by under Fiber,Spinning

Spinning outside!

April 1, 2010: High of 80+ degrees Fahrenheit.

The gooseberry bush is nearly in full leaf, the daffodils are blooming, and the forsythias burst into bloom today.

After work, I spun purple corriedale and silk on the front porch and posted to the blog.

This is April 1 in Chicago. Given the weather and the events of the day, I fear the sky may be falling.

2 responses so far

Sep 14 2009

Felt the Pain Away

Published by under Fiber,Knitting

I have avoided felting. It seems an unkind and unnatural thing to do to yarn than one has loved, fondled, and turned into something wonderful. I am a spinner, after all, and it just seems odd to take perfectly good yarn — yarn that has been organized into sensible plies — and then force it to become all disorganized and fuzzy again. All that hard work, vanished in such a short time!

That said, I wanted slippers for my loom room, a.k.a. my basement with concrete floors.


Even walking to the loom was uncomfortable…and so I decided to do it. I decided to Felt the Pain Away (with apologies to Peaches). I took the woolen odds and ends of various projects and proceeded to knit remnant slippers. The ugliest things I could imagine. See?

slipper pre-felting 1

slipper pre-felting 2

And, once again, I knew the only solution was to felt the pain away, but this time, the pain in my eyes. Ye gods! It’s like evil pixelated confetti in shoe form…and yet, like certain bulldogs and babies, strangely cute. After a serious session with two zippered pillowcases, an old towel, and a hot washing machine, they were done. I wore them, standing on towels to absorb the water, once they were cool enough to manage. It did take them much longer to dry than I would have guessed — about 2 days to be fully dry — but they are wonderful!

felted slippers 1

felted slippers on

More examples of these ubiquitous slippers can be found here on Ravelry and the pattern found here on the web.

Who knew felting could be so wrong and yet feel so good…?

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Sep 09 2009

Passing On…

Published by under Life,Spinning

I’m pretty pleased with this stuff! It’s a 2-ply merino in a medium blue with some purple and pale gold heathered throughout. I picked it up at The Fold some time ago, while Toni (the proprietor & wise woman of fiber) was hosting a fiber-related estate sale for an area spinner who had died.

I should note, too, that my loom here at home was also passed on to me from someone who was in the process of passing on — hi Phyllis, wherever you are! — and I can’t think of a better way for one’s materials to be given another life than to be given/sold to another artist/crafter. In fact, my niddy-noddy also came from the estate sale at the Fold…and was part of spinning this yarn.

Wet-set on the left, freshly plied on the right!

Wet-set on the left, freshly plied on the right!

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Sep 01 2009

Owe You A Post

Published by under Life

Dear Blog,

I have been neglectful and poorly behaved. My life has been very strange for a couple of months now, and although it’s in the process of sorting itself out, posting has been low on my list of priorities. In the near future, I plan to correct this with an inundation of posting — you wouldn’t believe how my tomato plants have become jungle vines, and I’ve knitting and spinning to share.

Once the crazy subsides, I’ll have more for you. Really. I will!


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May 27 2009


Published by under Gardening

Oh, dear. I’ve been away a while — not for lack of doing postable things, mind you. In fact, it’s an overabundance of postable things that has had me so tired at the end of the day that the thought of writing anything at all sent me directly to sleep.

Here is the beginning of the springtime garden frenzy:


Terribly exciting, no? No.

This is the beginning of my back garden entryway. Last¬† year, my backyard was open to the world with a privacy fence just along one side of things. It hadn’t been replaced since long before we moved into the house, and in one evening’s windstorm and microburst, the top of the neighbors’ pine tree was sheared off the trunk and dropped onto the fence.


Doesn’t really look so bad there…how about this one?


So, after that, I had the backyard enclosed with a new fence…and then did nothing else with it, really, until this spring.


So, the First Task of getting the backyard done was a flagstone threshhold beneath the arbor gate. The series below is the efforts of part of an afternoon in step-by-step order.

The last two pictures are Yin and Yang, the Concord grapes I planted to grow up the arbor. Yin seems to have a laid-back sort of attitude, in no great hurry and growing steadily along. Yang is full of energy and growing like mad, jumping onto the arbor as quickly as possible and tendrils grasping. Yet, somehow, Yang isn’t all that far ahead…

These last pictures are teasers for more garden updates:

The sweetest violets grow in my backyard...

The sweetest violets grow in my backyard...

and in the front...

and in the front...

candy-scented irises!

candy-scented irises!

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May 04 2009

Spin to Weave

Published by under Spinning,Weaving

So, I keep beginning posts and then setting them aside because I’ve not quite finished the project…or have something else I want to write about…or (best of all!) Have Finished Something Else. In very good news for me, this post is delaying two others for the latter reason. Hot damn and holy hallelujah!

This is my first weaving completely woven from handspun yarn. I’ve used handspun (both my own and lunarawe‘s) as weft before, but not as warp. I figured it would likely work out well, but I was just waiting for the right moment.

Many months ago, lunarawe was at my house for a while and dying to spin something. I handed her some green merino and some very soft shell pink merino that I’d picked up from Toni at The Fold. (You do know about The Fold, right? Please say you do…if not, go visit! It’s a wonderful shop in Marengo, IL, with sheep on the premises and a very helpful Toni at the counter.) For some reason, I’d found myself wanting to use these two colors together; so I asked the spinning addict if she’d make me a 2-ply, with one strand of green and one of pink. After the inevitable allergic reaction to the pink, this is what she’d spun:

226 yards of handspun merino by lunarawe

226 yards of handspun merino by lunarawe

So, then it sat in my stash. Waiting. And sitting. And waiting. Until I got bit by a radioactive spider…or stabbed by a crack-laced spindle, and started to spin like a madman fairly regularly. The remainder of the pink and the green reappeared, and I spun them into single-color 2-ply yarns. Oh, did I spin them…and here’s the photo montage, starting with my green handspun merino. (As the Yarn Harlot says, click to embiggen!)

And the pink handspun merino:

And here are pictures of the yarns together:

And now for the weaving…

The wrap before wet finishing:

And after wet finishing:

I was hoping to end up with a tweedy sort of fabric, and got just what I wanted — the weft helps bring out the contrasting flecks of color from the pink/green 2-ply. I love it when experiments turn out well!

2 responses so far

May 03 2009

Illusion of Life

Published by under Construction

When I was very young, I had a spider marionette that I used to make dance and walk. I really loved that spider and had a wonderful time trying to figure out how to make it move so that it seemed real. Then, as life often goes, my interests shifted and I became fascinated by other things. Then, many years later, while living in Upstate New York, I became a semi-professional puppeteer for a while. I worked with Holly Adams and the Mental Health Players/Peacetown Puppets department of the Mental Health Association of the Southern Tier in Binghamton. Holly is a deeply talented actress and director,  and was a wonderful mentor as well. She taught me how to work with puppets, how to make them appear alive in their motion and in their ability to listen to one another in a performance.

Now, a little less than a decade later, I’m back to puppeteering! No education is ever wasted. Although there is a part of me that would love to join the cast of Avenue Q, my work with puppets has been in the service of education in the congregation I serve. (Not that being part of Avenue Q wouldn’t be educational!) There is a small group of us at the church who have experience as puppeteers; we’ve built some new puppets and are using them during classes this spring. Very early on in the process, the two I built looked like this:

Just the beginnings of people back then…but now, I’d like to introduce you to Tolo and the Commodore:


Tolo is the guy on the left in the blue; this spring he’s playing the part of Carlos in our puppet shows. On the right is the Commodore — he’s got long white hair and a white soul patch, not to mention a great deal of cool. He’s often seen sporting a pair of shades and refusing to admit that he’s named for how much his long hair looks like the ropy hair on dogs of the Komondor breed.

<i>Tolo looking very PQ (Puppets Quarterly)</i>
The Commodore

Although creating the illusion of life out of any puppet is an amazing thing, bringing your own creations to life is even better. There are a number of companies making puppets these days, some even specifically for congregational use; that said, I’m no slouch with a sewing machine and I’m almost always willing to try something new. I’m incredibly pleased with these guys, and I’m looking forward to making more.


I think they could use a few more friends…

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