Thursday, October 24, 2013

Green Sheep

Recently our library had a community night and invited people to come and share with those who came to visit.  They had hot dogs, free school supplies, and lots of activities.  I decided to go and spin because I have met many of my fiber friends at the library.

One lady was very inquisitive. "What are you doing?" she asked.

"Spinning yarn," I reply.

"Is that insulation?"

"No it is wool," I say."

"From sheep?"


"Where do they get green sheep?" she asks.

Trying not to laugh, I tell her,

"Uh, they dye the wool after they shear the sheep."

"OH," she exclaims.

She stood and watched a few more minutes and thanked me.

I am still looking for a green sheep.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A Labor (Day) of Love, My Spinning Through One Year

Well it has been just over 4 years ago that I attended the Men's Fall Knitting Retreat in Seattle, WA.  My wife won the trip for me and it was a life changing event.  This past weekend was this years retreat for the West Coast and I one day wish to return.  While there I learned to drop spindle spin.  I practiced for several years, but it takes some time to get enough yarn to make something.  I will say that I now own 3 drop spindles (2 for use and 1 for decoration).  It is easy and portable and I love to take it places with me when I can.

About a year and a half ago I took my first spinning class, using a wheel at the Carolina Fiber Fest.  The yarn I made was awful, but usable and I still have it in a hank, in a basket to use to show as my first.  After taking the class a friend loaned me her grandmother's wheel and I practiced over last summer.  This is what I got:
Spun on 100 year old wheel.

I bought a spinning wheel from Craig's list just over a year ago and began to practice.  My wife and I went to Maryland Sheep and Wool.  I bought some multicolor fiber with my daughter in mind:

Still has quite a few extra twists in it.

I had some Tunis wool that I continued to practice with and here is the result.  I find the Tunis a little harder to spin, but is good for practice.

Tunis, less twist, but thick and thin.  I think it is better.

Over this summer I think I have practiced well.  This is the first result of this summer's spinning.  It is Mountain Colors BFL plied with Pagewood Farms Pencil Roving:

I was very proud and had some single left over:

Just this week I finished some Sweet Georgia Roving plied again with some Pagewood Farm pencil roving.  I am thrilled at the results:

Orange is my favorite color and these are great fall colors.  I love the results and it came out basically even so that I only had about 6 inches of the pencil roving left after plying.

So finally here is a comparison:

What a journey!  In just over a year I have handspun yarn I am very proud to display.  

I also completed my first project from my handspun.  It is the Fenced In hat  and I loved making it.  

Hope you enjoy my journey.

Friday, August 9, 2013

My Mountain Hat Contest

So about a month ago I noticed on Facebook that there was a contest for hats.  I love to knit hats.  So I asked for the yarn to be sent and this is what evolved.  The idea is to knit a hat which will convey an idea about "Your Mountain" (something you have to overcome in life).  Each hat has some meaning for me.  I will tell you about each one.

This is the Spiral Cap.  It reminds me of the times when I am running from Soccer to Volleyball to work to church to...
(you get the idea).  To recenter myself and stop the spiral I just look at that cute face under the cap (my son Avery is 
Next up is the Slalom Cap.  The cable pattern of this hat symbolizes when I am dodging all that life is trying to throw at me at one time.  Fortunately I have a loving an supportive family to help get to the bottom of the slope.  My very crafty daughter, Eleanor is modelling.

This is the Super Stripey Slouch.  It reminds me
of those days when you just need to be lazy.  I love a rainy, slouchy day when all I want to do is knit and get caught up on projects.

Finally we have the Life's Ups, Downs, and Rounds Hat.  Just like my unconventional life, I constructed this hat in an unconventional way.  The secret will be given away in the pattern (it is quite easy).  It is my favorite of the 4 hats and I will enjoy wearing it this winter.

All the patterns for the hats will be coming soon.   Wish me luck in the contest!  

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

World Wide Knit In Public

This past Saturday I had the great opportunity to organize and participate in a Knit in Public event.  Andrea, owner of The Yarn Club, Inc. in Virginia Beach, VA, wanted to do something for this event, but would be dealing with her daughter's graduation that week.  My wife did some investigating and found a great venue.  Town Center in Virginia Beach would be having their monthly, Town Fair event on Saturday, June 15.  I called the organizers and they offered us a spot  without a fee because we were there for demonstrations and not profit.

When we arrived, we got center stage, literally.

We were given a spot right in front of the fountain to enjoy a cool breeze and an occasional spray from the fountain.    Here we are just after set up.  

Hazel and Heather enjoyed chatting as Hazel drafted some fiber for spinning and Heather worked on fingerless mitts for her sister.

Brittany worked on some fiber to spin on her drop spindle as well.  As the time passed our group grew:
There were about 12 of us coming and going through the 3 hour period.  It was great to connect with new fiber enthusiasts, friends we haven't seen in a while, and enjoy each other's company.  
As you can see there was a nice breeze to keep us comfortable through the event.  Hazel was drafting more fiber to spin.  
Here I am, Mr. Organizer, beside the banner I made for the event.  I did not add a date to the banner so I could use it in year's to com.  We all had a great time and enjoyed our time to share fiber arts with the community.  

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Almost 2 years in the making

When I started to do a blog post yesterday, I noticed that this was the last blog post that I had tried to do before life went spinning out of control.  The picture below is of my Herbivore, made from Regia Hand Dye Effect.  (It looks much better with my burnt orange henly shirt.) I started it over 2 years ago and decided that it would be my project for the Ravellenic Games last summer.  I entered it in the Works in Progress Wrestling category.  Since it is made with fingering weight yarn, and begins with a garter tab cast on technique, it seemed as though it was taking forever to knit this piece.  After 3-4 days of knitting, I picked the pattern back up and read "knit until @ 12 inches deep from cast on."  So I measured and had 13" from cast on.  I knit the last 3 rows, bound off and have gotten tons of compliments every time I wear it.  I probably could have sold it for a huge price at a yarn store event last fall to a woman who did not knit but was there with her friends. (She told the shop owner she wanted her to make one for her as a gift.)  Since completing this scarf, I have started another Stephen West pattern for this fall season.  It is the Boneyard Shawl, and I am knitting it in 100% alpaca that I got from a local farm.  I hope to work on it this summer, so it will be blocked and ready when the cooler weather of fall is upon us.  I am including another picture of my Herbivore, all spread out, below.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Spinning Out of Control

Last August, the day before teachers went back to school,  I bought a spinning wheel for myself.  I had wanted one for quite a while, done some research, and used my birthday money to get a steal of a deal on a Majacraft Saxonie.  I was so excited to start using the wheel, then school started...This has been a particularly stressful year for me as a teacher.  Between implementing the new Common Core curriculum,  learning to do DIBELS reading assessments, a new math assessment, and taking care of my own family there has not been a great deal of time for knitting or spinning for myself.  As the school year is winding down,  I am trying to find time to do some of the things I really enjoy.  A couple of weeks ago, I ordered some new tension springs for the wheel and installed one as soon as they arrived.  (BTW  The Woolery is a great place to order your fiber supplies.  Prices are great and the shipping is very fast if the items are in stock.) 

It took a little practice to get used to the new spring, but I got better over Memorial Day weekend. 

Here I am at Twin Lakes Campground with my family and parents.  It was so nice to be sitting outside with beautiful weather, family that I love, and wool that I had been longing to spin for over a year.  It is wool from Tunis sheep, the same kind of sheep that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson raised on their farms.  I am hoping to continue to practice spinning it, dyeing it, and knitting something beautiful from it.  Starting Monday I should have a lot more time to knit, spin, and even do a little crochet.