new pattern is complete!

Say hello to Sideways Gull Stitch Mitts. Wow. I am not very creative with my naming. This pair has a cable along the bottom cuff and is knit sideways.  I love this cable in particular — it’s only a four-row repeat, so it’s easy to remember and it looks fancy without much effort. Also, adjusting the size for larger/smaller hands or a heavier yarn is simple.

I used a handspun singles yarn for the initial pair. It is 100% undyed alpaca. If you were to use a yarn that was more worsted (not woolen), the cables would be clearer. However, I do not plan for things such as that, so it is what it is.

gull stitch mitts

I want to thank Rebecca of Dusty Tree Soap and April of Studio Strategos who were both a big help testing and editing this pattern. I am still very new at the writing of patterns, so I tend to be insecure. April has a great technical eye, so she gave me lots of suggestions on the terminology and Rebecca worked through the pattern twice. The first time she didn’t have enough yarn, so she only got one mitt done. It’s still beautiful though!

rebeccamitts02
On the second pair she used a heavier yarn and size #9 needles. She noted that the lighter yarn required 12 pattern repeats and the heavier required nine. Also, she used a provisional cast-on and added a thumb. They look so cool!

rebeccamitts

customer project

I am so pleased to share a series of photos from a friend and customer of mine, Amber. She purchased my stock of chunky grey alpaca on Thursday and has already created a stunning crocheted cowl. It has suddenly gotten chilly here in Ohio, so she was pleased to wear it this morning.

ambercowl2
ambercowl

Amber is a keeper of bees and maker of body products. You can find her luscious goods online at the Square Market and in her Etsy shop. Buy them live at the B&O Night Market every Thursday through September. Find out more about her by reading her blog or browsing her Instagram photos.

new to the stash

Last fall I went to Stramba Alpaca Farm in Wampum, PA to have some fleeces processed. I had collected the fleeces over the course of a few years and they were sitting in my stash with no future. When I heard about a processor that was only 40 minutes from me, I was very excited to take a road trip. They gave me a tour of the mill and spent a lot of time with me. Then we looked through my fleeces and decided to turn them into big, fluffy batts.

new stash!

This weekend Terri Stramba was at the Knit & Crochet Festival and she had my batts! They are beautiful and clean and I can’t wait to get spinning. My plan is to create a series of bulky and lofty yarns in lovely natural colors just like the skeins I spun for Irene in September (below).

heap of alpaca

In total I had five fleeces processed and I purposely kept each color separate. There were three shades of brown, one grey, and one black. Each finished bag weighs around 23-26 ounces, but the black is about 36 ounces. That one came from Ross Alpaca Ranch and I’ve had it two and a half years. The grey and two browns were from Black Walnut Alpacas. And the other brown was from an alpaca named Gwen (had to buy it!), but now I can’t remember which one it is. If I have to spin alpaca, this is my most preferred preparation — fluff!

new stash!

new stash!

feather & fan fever

Apparently it got stuck in my head. After making that first pair of mitts with the pattern at the cuffs, I couldn’t help thinking, “what else can I do with this?” So I proceeded to make a neckwarmer using the same alpaca yarn. I’m wearing it right now. I put it on for this picture and now I don’t want to take it off.

feather n fan neckwarmer

I also wanted to see what it would look like to carry the stitch pattern up the entire length of the mitt, rather than just at the top and bottom. So I used this recently spun Falkland singles to test out the idea. It was a perfect match — the yarn was the right weight to accommodate two repeats of the stitch pattern.

feather n fan fever

Okay, so this last project does not use the feather & fan stitch pattern. Rather, it is a remnant from my wet felting experiments. I finally had the chance to get back and finish it. My original intention was to create a small purse/pouch. Instead I ended up with this.

mint green teapot sweater

suri snow puffs

snow puffs!

It’s safe to say this isn’t my style. But a friend asked if I could spin 26 ounces of white suri alpaca for her. And since I owed her, I said yes. It was quite an experience. Firstly, I’m not a huge fan of alpaca. It’s soft and fine and smooth and all those things that makes it so luxurious, but also a pain in the butt. Second, I don’t like spinning large quantities of a single fiber/color. This was a two pound commitment to white and the first time I spun suri roving. In general, it was a positive experience. My main complaint: slow going!

The process went something like this:

  • Fill bobbin to the brim with singles
  • Fill another bobbin with singles
  • Ply until the bobbin is full
  • Refill bobbins with singles (attaching to wherever was left after plying)
  • Continue until all the singles have been plied
  • Wash and dry yarns (let me say at this point that alpaca smells awful when wet)
  • Count plies (ugh — next gadget is a yardage counter)
  • Using awesome new jumbo ball winder, wind skeins into balls

snow puffs!

It was all rather tedious, but the end product is quite stunning, if I may say so. All told, I spun about 1140 yards. Whoa! The skeins weighed between 4.5 ounces and 5.75 ounces. I’ve never been able to get 5.75 oz of wool onto one (standard) bobbin. Alpaca is just so dense! But spinning it, it was so light and delicate. I basically just drafted with my left hand and did that thing where you go back and draft the thick spots again (don’t know what that technique is called). I think it’s something one does more often with a great wheel. But I’m not that particular about these things. It seemed to work rather well. Now these little guys have been sent off to their new home.

snow puffs!

shop update!

I used to be good at getting photos of my yarn taken before they’d disappear from the house. Now, not so much. Also, I haven’t actually added yarn to the Etsy shop in months. I realized I could kill two birds with one stone if I just start photographing my yarn again. And now I have handspun yarn in the shop again!

waves of grain
"Waves of Grain", Blue-faced Leicester
regenerate
"Regenerate", Alpaca/Cormo/Tunis blend

 

reskeining.

One of the Ravelry groups I am a member of is all about vending at fiber festivals. It’s been interesting discussing various issues with other dyers/spinners who 1) produce large quantities of product and 2)  drag it around to events trying to convince people to buy it. One of the best threads dealt with bad experiences. It’s nice to know I’m not the only person who has had rude people saying stupid things in my booth. There has also been discussions about displays (that’s how I heard about Woodland Marketing and those new shelves), payment methods, logos/branding, transportation/storage, and other things. One person asked about reskeining, and I found out I am in the minority when it comes to said task. I reskein all of my yarn after washing. Sometimes the strands stick together or they get tangled and disheveled. My mental state is just more calm if I reskein. However, I do not dye massive quantities of yarn for resale (or any at all), so I am working with just a few skeins at a time. I suppose if I was dealing with oodles of yarn, I might change my tune.

Just for kicks I took photos of my latest yarns to see if there was a noticeable difference before and after reskeining. I’m guessing that no one will be able to tell anything happened, and I suppose that’s ok with me. I know that the BFL singles yarn was massively stuck to itself before I sent it around the niddy noddy for a second time. Or that the Shropshire had shrunk a significant amount.

It’ll be my little secret. And my personal satisfaction.

just washed
before reskeining...
reskeined
after reskeining.

new hat for mom

My mom requested a new hat, so I decided to get right on it.
I started it on January 8 and completed it on January 9.
And then I gave it to her before getting a photograph.
But a few days later I took it home to get a picture.
And then I didn’t get around to photographing it for weeks.
But today the sun came out.
So I finally got a picture of the hat
And now I can give the hat back to her.

She says it makes her think of Spanky from Little Rascals.

"spanky"

spanky

Pattern: Reggae by Emily Rossa Field
Yarns: Handspun, handdyed domestic wool and handspun natural wool/alpaca blend

friday’s question

A few days ago I decided I was tired of tripping over bags of recyclables, so I took them out to my car.  When I opened the trunk, I was somewhat surprised to find several bags of alpaca fleece.  I had gotten them the weekend of the demo at the farm and just hadn’t brought them in the house.  I relocated them to the kitchen so I could fill the trunk with recyclables.  The alpaca fleeces (along with the newly acquired wool fleeces from Rhinebeck) are still sitting in a heap on the kitchen floor.  Eventually I will need to relocate them again to the wool room (with all the rest of the fiber), which desperately needs a better storage system.  Someday I’m going to cover the back wall in shelves.  My totes will go along the bottom, sitting on the floor.  I’ll be able to store the bags on the shelves and nothing will have to be stacked.  Someday.

Question:  What is your house full of?  Unspun fiber?  Handspun yarn?  Commercial yarn?  Unfinished projects?  Finished projects?  Where do you stash your stash?  How do you store your items?