Sunday, April 27, 2008

Blue Citrus Done

Just as the unusually cold week is over, my blue Citrus York Pullover is done. It's way too warm this weekend to actually wear it, but I'm sure I'll have some chance during the summer -- Evenings can be quite chilly in northern California summer, and it's a cotton/silk blend yarn.

Pattern: Citrus York Pullover by Katie Himmelberg, IK Winter 2007. Yarn: Misti Cotton Worsted weight (100g/191 yards a hunk). It took three hunks and 1/3, so total of 330 grams , 649 yards used (600 meters) used. Needles: 10 1/2 DPNs and circular. Modification: I added a little increases on the sleeves (toward the wrists).

Not a big fan of the york part -- Doesn't look very neat to me. Maybe it looks better if I blocked? But it's very comfortable and wearable. I was concerned that the york part may be a bit constrictive and the arm joints very tight -- but was not the case.

Now I am onto "Heartbeat Sweater" from Just One More Row. It seems that the owner is still working on rebuilding her site, so I have no pictures I can link to; I will post a photo next time. This is the pattern I bought at Stitches, and the hand-dyed silk noil yarn to go with it. It's a huge hunk, and the label says 32.5 oz, 1000 yds +-. Here's how big it is rolled up in a ball.

Yup, blue again! Hopefully I'll get to wear it this summer. Going down from 10 1/2 to 6 is a bit of a change in the pace. And of course, the pattern is a lot more challenging.

Three of us went on a bike ride yesterday to the park. It was wonderful, and I managed it. Mitch was very proud of me, and kept announcing to the passers by that this was "mom's first time riding with me!"

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Blue Citrus and The Story of My First Bike

I have one sleeve done on the Citrus York Pullover.

The yarn is Misti Cotton, pima cotton 83%, silk 17%. It's so soft to the touch and I love it, but it "sheds" somewhat, and I keep wiping my face to remove the fine flyaways that tickle my nose while I knit. This is a top-down sweater, so yes I did try it on. It fits -- although I wish I had made it a tad larger. Will post a photo on me as soon as I'm done with the other sleeve.

On the completely un-fiber related topic -- At last weekend's Knit Night, Erin gave me a bike she no longer uses, and I now am a proud owner of a bicycle! This is the very first bike I've ever owned in my life. Do you think that's strange? I grew up poor, and had owned very little in the way of toys, clothes, books and everything else that a child would have in a "normal" childhood. As a result I never had a bike growing up, and as a result of that I never learned how to ride a bike until I was in high school. I think I've ridden a bike fewer than ten times in my whole life.

Last Sunday I got myself a pretty red helmet, and went on a ride all by myself around the block. What an adventure, and how exhilarating! I am going to be a late-blooming cyclist for sure. A conversation between my son and me last Sunday;
Me: I'm going on a test ride around the block.
Mitch: I'm gonna come wif (with) you.
Me: Oh, next time. I'm not very good yet, and I don't think I can make sure that you are safe. I'm going to be quite busy taking care of myself.
Mitch: I can teach you, Mom.
Soon, it'll be the case for almost everything. Even now, he teaches me how to sing "Flying Purple People Eater" song.

I went to a Knit Night and came home with a bike! Thank you Erin! I might get a bike trainer (not training wheels, mind you!) so I can knit while I pedal away in the garage :-)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Long-term Project

As promised, here's how my Japanese Indigo is doing.

This is a pot in the backyard. The seeds I sowed in the sunny veggie patch are not doing well at all, but a neighbor cat has dug up the soil twice already, and it may be the cause.

This is a different plant from the Indigo we have in the US. Both yield blue dye, but the Japanese indigo leaves can be used alone, crushed, to dye, where the Indigofera tinctoria requires fermentation before it can be used. Last summer I read so much about the fun of Indigo raw leaf dyeing on several Japanese blogs, so I wanted to try.

Here's what I found on Youtube. In case you understand Japanese, the narration is actually talking about dyeing with safflower, but you are actually seeing the Indigo fresh leaf dyeing. Note the aeration, then re-dip. Added bonus: you get to see the making of a silk cap, and at the end you'll see a beautiful pink kimono dyed with safflower. Enjoy!

I hope my plants will grow well so I get to try this at the end of the summer. Now that's a project that needs patience and planning!

I'm finally making some progress on Citrus York pullover.

Doesn't it look funny?

Mitch (another long-term project) and I went to the beach last Saturday. It was a perfect day on the beach. He said he had "the bestest day ever." I totally agree.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Fleece Therapy

I've been spinning a lot. "A lot" is a relative term. 3 hours in the evening is three times more than I usually get. I need it; treadling and watching the fiber slip between my fingers, the rhythm, the gentle white noise. The sense that I am producing something -- for some reasons, spinning is more therapeutic than knitting to me usually, as it brought me fewer disappointments and frustrations so far.

Brown New Zealand Corriedale I bought at Stitches. I spun two full bobbins this week, and I was planning to ply this with the redhead alpaca, which I also spun more of. Then I realized that these two are too different to be spun together -- the alpaca is too good for this particular corriedale, which is not N2S soft. I'm not too sure about the color combination either -- the dark brown and cinnamon seem too high in the contrast. I think I will spin some white merino and try plying that with the alpaca.

The brand-new book called A Fine Fleece arrived! It's a beautiful book.

This is about knitting using handspun yarn, but the patterns are pretty much all Aran sweaters. They are beautiful to look at, but it is a bit disappointing; I don't think I'd be spinning one kind of yarn (and consistently that is) enough to knit an Aran sweater. I have no patience to knit a fancy Aran sweater with full sleeves either, not to mention the skills!

Another disappointment is that the photographs, as much as they are beautiful, don't show the full view or the details of the finished works. There are two vest patterns in the book, but I can't really tell what they are going to look like in reality! There is a close-up shot of a nice cable stitches for one of the vest patterns, but I can't figure out where exactly the stitch is used, from the photo of the vest itself. I may actually try knitting one of them just to see -- if I can spin enough yarn for it.

At last, I give you my apple blossoms! Next post will be about the Japanese Indigo.

Have a nice weekend!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Happy Sheep (and Goats) Day

On Saturday, my son and I went to visit the Meet the Sheep Day at Meridian Jacobs in Vacaville. Lots of Jacob sheep and lambs, and goats frolicking in the sun was something I really wanted to see this weekend.

Don't they just make you smile?

3-weeks old lamb. Awwww.

Mitch meets a kid goat. Goats are very curious, sociable animals, compared to sheep.

There were several spinning and weaving friends of the owner Robin, and Mitch and I enjoyed spinning with our spindles in the sun. What a nice way to spend a sunny afternoon.... This really made me think that we need to form Marin Spinning Connection.

No, I didn't buy any fiber. The new spindle and dyed wool were for Mitch, so they don't count!
Come to think of it, he probably needed a bag of multi-colored Jacob too. Well, next time.

We got to feed the two weeks old kid goat. This little guy was about cuddly as a cat.

Robin and I got to talk about spinning and how I got started on spinning. I almost asked her for how she got started on sheep farming, and how that's been working for her, but I stayed away from that subject; that's something I can't even dream of doing in Marin, as much as I'd love to.
I can also see from the sheepskin that were sold there that sheep farming does involve some business other than fiber. I'm not sure if I can deal with that.

We had a great time. It was good for me, in many ways. I know somewhere in my heart that this is the kind of life I want to live. I'm sure that many visitors who came today had the same thing deep in their hearts. I spent the rest of the day by my spinning wheel.