Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Spinning - but not in circles!

Spinning.  I almost gave it up. Then I watched Judith MacKenzie's "Popular Wheel Mechanics" and I fell in love again.  She has a gentle way of instruction, and explained many things that I didn't know. I've started over as if I were brand new to spinning.  Now I relish the thought of the fleece slipping through my fingers, the soft whrrr of the wheel, changing tensions to create the thickness of yarn I want.  And for the first time, I've managed to do a 3-ply. It's a bit chunky, but it's beautiful.

I'm looking forward with anticipation to creating a fine lace homespun for a shawl, or my very own sock yarn.  Currently, I'm spinning up some fleece from the Canby fair - Shetland with a bit of Angora. It's a bit soft (not as soft as Yak or Alpaca) and has some nubblies, which at first I didn't like, but now I'm realizing that it will make a nice heather yarn.  My singles are now consistent and fine. With this fleece I'm using the Hanson Mini e-spinner.
Single on the bobbin

Shetland fleece

Monday, July 18, 2011

Afterthought Heel

OK, I'm a baaaad blogger. I finished those socks and narry a picture posted. They came out wonderfully. I ended up taking out the first heel as I didn't like the way the decrease was making a ridge.  Consider this a trial run for re-doing the heel later on.  It worked!

Socks are a bit large, but otherwise beautiful.

So here is my second pair.
Adding the waste yarn

Picking up the heel stitches
After futzing with the first pair, I realized that the seaming for the heel was rather bulky.  I did a decrease stitch, each side of the row, both needles, every other row.  Same way you would do the decrease in the toe.  It created a nice shape and good looking, but still rather bulky. I think with this pair I'll try a wrapped stitch decrease as for short row heels and see if that works.

After knitting in the waste yarn, you keep knitting up the sock in a tube.  Taking out the waste yarn this time was easier, since I knew what I was doing.  Then I just pick up the stitches making sure to keep the stitch from being twisted.  Eh voila! I can now start my heel.  For this pair, I knitted 4 rows of plain knitting before decreasing to give a little more length in the heel.  I could always add an extra plain row to give more length if needed.  I made sure to keep trying on the socks to make sure I had enough heel room.  The result is a beautiful pair of socks!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Fun with Rhymes

Here's a little rhyme for kids. I love these.


In through the front door,
Once around the back,
Peek through the window,
And off jumps Jack!

And the Purl:

Down through the bunny hole,
Around the big tree,
Up pops the bunny,
And off goes she!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Now about those Socks!

Help my heels are totally destroyed!  I've lost 2 pairs of beautiful socks to evil holes. I tried to repair them, but I've ended up with a mess. Darning was out of the question. The holes were the size of the Grand Canyon.

Enter the Afterthought Heel.  I'm working on a new pair of toe up socks with leftover bits of Koigu KPPPM for toes and heels and Knit Picks Stroll sock yarn. I think I will knit the first sock until I get to the heel part, then start the second sock and end at the same place so they are equal length. If this works, I will have a repairable pair of beautiful socks.

Zen Knitting

Well, I don't know what it is about me and knitting, but it seems that my work always ends up in new homes.  I don't know how many pairs of my hand knit socks have found their way into a friends hands - or feet as it were.  It appears that my socks have a soul of their own. They simply don't belong to me, and are just waiting for the right owner.

This happens with my hats, scarves and mittens, as well. On my way down to KFalls to a weekend sheep dog clinic, I had decided to make a hat for myself out of my newly spun wool. Mind you, it wasn't the greatest wool of all times, but I did spin it beautifully.  As I knit I kept thinking about my new dog and how we are developing our relationship in the herding world; what I wanted from her; how I wanted to be as a shepherdess; and where she and I were going in this new journey. So, all good thoughts and hopes were knit into this warm, wooly hat.  I finished it that night, but it was too big. When I returned home, I promptly put it in the wash to felt it down a bit, and laid it out to dry.  Alas, it was then just a bit too small - I hadn't knit the top long enough.

This past weekend I went to another sheep clinic where my good friend Denise and her new pup were going to work together as a team for the first time. Denise is new at working sheep and has been letting our trainer work her.  When she saw me, she admired my hat; said she needed to get a hat, because her head was always cold.  I promptly put the hat on her head - IT FIT! I guess it's your's, Denise. I told her about all the love, hopes and dreams that were knit in every stitch. Sunday she worked her dog, with her Zen hat, and she was fantastic! 

What can I say - I'm a Zen knitter. I love it.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Cathy's Tee

Finally - it's finished. The little Tee that took me 2 years to knit is done. With a lot of 'frogging' and some heavy duty math, it's completed.  I love the little rose decoration that Lee gave me - it really makes the sweater!  Yarn is Bamboucle in rose. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Shetland Chic

Finally! I have spun and fulled the fleece that Christine gave me. It's actually turned out quite lovely.  I used my new e-spinner and got a very concise spin. There were some lumps that happened, but - oh well, gives it character.  This was not the nicest fleece to work with.  Short, sticky fibers with some debris and lots of lanolin.

I decided to full the yarn. This was my first fulling attempt and I think it turned out rather nicely.  Soaked the spun fibers in hot water with wool soap. Let it sit for 20 minutes. Rinsed out twice with warm water until the water was clear.  Squeezed the hank just slightly until it wasn't soggy dripping. Then took my anger (not that I have any) out on the fleece and whacked it against the tub walls. Very satisfying, I might add.  I got most of the water out this way.

Took the yarn outside to dry, since it was a nice sunny day.  And here is the result. A wonderfuly, soft, fuzzy yarn, that will be excellent for my new herding hat.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Doing the Math

Did I mention that I used to be good at math?  Well, I was very good at Algebra, geometry....but please, don't give me any word problems!!!

And that's what knitting is....word problems.  I finally figured out what was going on with my sweater for Cathy. The beautiful little Tee made with Bamboocle.  I've ripped it out 3 or 4 times and I think this time I've got it.  I had to do some heavy duty math.  How many stitches per inch do I have with the pattern size needle; size down; still too few sts/inch.  So calculate how many sts I have per inch on the smallest size I can knit and still have the cloth look good, then multiply by the number of inches needed for the width I want and voila - I'm down from a size 20 pattern to a size 16. But my sweater diameter will be perfect.

Finished the back and am now working on the front. It may not get done for her birthday, but it's already 2 years late, so what's another few weeks.

Monday, March 7, 2011


I've had some fleece from a friend that isn't particularly very good. It's got some vegetable matter in it and its not been washed or carded particularly well. It's been sitting in the basket for a good year now.  I've decided that I'm going to just go ahead and spin it, lumps and all, full it, then knit myself a nice hat for herding outside in the cold.  I'd like to felt it, so I'll knit it rather big. Pictures to come.

Friday, March 4, 2011


I'm struggling with those heels and have put them aside for a while until my friend and trusted knitting companion gets back from Oaxaca.

I wonder if I've taken too much away in trying to get rid of all the worn yarn. I may have to ditch the project. A shame because I really love the lace on the top of these socks.

 Meantime, I struggle with gauges. I've been frustrated with my sister's sweater size. I think I've ripped this thing out at least 4 times and tried other patterns.  I've changed needle sized and dropped to the lowest size and I still get something big enough for 2.

As you can see, I have 5 sts/inch, and the pattern calls for 6 1/4sts/inch. This is the back and it should measure 20 1/2 " at the bottom edge and it's 30". So you see my problem. When I did my gauge it came out perfectly. I must get looser as I go. This time I'll try 2 sizes smaller needle.

Long time break

We've had a break from lessons and sheep. It's been raining so hard that Lora's sheep are wading in mud. And, she's had an outbreak of lambing. There will be lots of cuties to see next Wednesday.  Meanwhile, Jill and I continue to walk, play ball, learn respect, and go to daycare.

We had lots of snow last weekend - Jill's first REAL big snow. She was so happy she did laps around the yard in ecstasy.
 Waiting for that perfect ball throw.

The child in David comes out. Snow ball flights of fancy. Jill didn't get it. She's going "but...where's my ball, dang it?"

"And you're going to throw the ball...when??"

Perfect picture from the porch. We got 3" of snow that day. Then the sun came out. I love sunny snow days.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

KKnx clinic Feb

Kathy Knx clinic up in Arlington, WA. Feb 23/13. We worked Jill in the round pen, she's too green and so am I to work in the open field yet. There are NO fences out there! Better to be safe in a round pen.

So I started off in the morning and was very nervous.  Jill did her typical lets run straight for the sheep and they got stuck in a corner, where neither she nor I could get them out.  OK, here's what I should have done.  Take her on leash first, walked around the sheep to get them to move off that corner, then let her go. But being nervous, my brain wasn't working.

I let Kathy take over. Issues are:
  1. On her first flank she always heads straight towards the sheep
  2. She is not listening to me with her brain as we enter the ring.
  3. She will pull and tug and almost jerk me on leash trying to get into the arena
First thing was to get control of the brain. Kathy made sure she didn't get her sheep when she didn't get out.  She also showed me how to snap the leash on her to 'wake' her up. Kathy worked her both times Saturday and in the morning Sunday.  I took over Sunday afternoon session.

I always learn better watching someone else work, getting the idea firmly planted in my head, then giving it a go.  I did pretty well, I think. I also think that Jill was responding to my corrections. It helped that we walked in on leash and stayed on leash until her body softened a bit. She was still very tight, but not as much. Great improvement.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


My favorite pair of socks are falling apart at the heels. One has a huge hole. Has anyone mended their own socks?

I still need to figure out how to make socks with replaceable heels and toes. Go read that book again!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Rantings of an Old Lady

So what happens if....
  • a crazy lady comes in and paints a mark on the new painting you just finished.
  • you mess up the lace pattern you were just knitting and you're passed that row 
  • you get a hole in your favorite socks that you knit all by yourself
  • you plan for A but B happens
What if we take each day as it comes. Each minute as it happens. Look at the incident with fresh eyes. See the world in a different color.  Dare to do something different. Notice the mountain and enjoy the process of the climb. So you made it to the top....now enjoy the process of the other side. Every step is a new step. Nothing is the same.

New knitting projects. Finishing old.

Resolutions -
  • Finish up all my UFO's.  2 baby tanks. Added buttons and crocheted around the edges. Put trim buttons on the little girl dress. DONE!
  • Begin again, on Cathy's little T-shirt. I found another design, that has pretty little lace cap sleeves.  Picked a size and I'm sticking with it. It looks a little big, but we'll see how it turns out.
  • Try something new - found a new kind of patternwork and will do samples. Start simple!
Pictures to follow.