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Yesterday I tackled the room to see how much spinning fiber is there and to organize yarn not in the cubbyholes...oh, and the WIPs and UFOs.  It took time and I got my 10,000 steps in easily without a walk outside.  While I like the room, it is small and fiber takes up room.  My drawing table faces the window, which is good, and my computer is next to it, but I find the bulky fiber stuff distracting at times.  The art supplies are stored in the closet, organized and out of sight while the fiber-related things are visible and bulky.  Hummm...it's a process and I'm working through the fiber and projects downsizing along the way.

Finishing the almostsixyear project was huge for me.  I started it August 3, 2011 and finished it July 31, 2017.  The yarn is Spud and Chloe Fine, a wool/silk blend with beautiful color and drape.

The photograph below shows the steeks with the red yarn marking exactly where to cut after securing the stitches on either side with machine sewing.  After securing and cutting the steeks, I was picking up the stitches for the band and yarn moved.  That is something one doesn't want to see when cutting the knitting.  Back to the sewing machine I went to re-zigzag and then the vest went in a bag in the corner of the room to be in time out.  I like to think the steeks were healing.  Three years and many projects later, I revisited the vest and finished the band around the fronts and neck and partially hand stitched the facing to the inside.  The only knitting left to do was for the simple armhole bands.  At that point other projects and activities took over, life happened, and just opening the bag and peeking in was enough to make me shudder.

Fast forward to summer 2017.  Determined to finish those pesky projects (the vest included) majorknitter's Ravelry group Finish or Frog It Friday members to finish projects during the month of July.  I managed two sweaters and this vest (just qualifying under the wire).  It was just the motivation that was needed to light a fire under my rear and get those needles busy.

 Ta-da!  It turned out beautiful and I will be happy to wear it on the first day it's cool enough.  I named it Tangled because one of the hanks of yarn was just awful to wind.  It is Kasuri Chanchanko, from Folk Vests by Cheryl Oberle.  Kasuri is the Japanese form of ikat weaving, using resist dyeing before weaving the fabric.  The process gives a softened or blurred effect to the designs on the fabric. This is the fifth vest I made from the book making Folk Vests one of my favorite sources for vest patterns.

I popped a bit of color inside the facing.
The other sweaters I finished are Knitting Pure and Simple V-Neck Neck-Down Cardigan #994 in Debbie Bliss Cotton Denim DK and Tulgey Wood (so named because of the yarn color--Frabjous Fibers March Hare), which is really Acorn Trail minus the cables.  To find just the right buttons for these sweaters, I took a dive into the button stash and organized the buttons in the process.   I don't remember where I purchased the buttons for the blue sweater, but the three for the brown sweater are from Treadle Yard Goods in St. Paul, Minnesota.  

Rather than making buttonholes, I made button loops on the bind-off row.

The perfect cotton cardigan for cool days.  I had Mary snap a photo by my studio space at Anoka Fiber Works.

The wait is on for sweater weather!


Adventures in Scotland, the wool and whiskey tour continued

The Artist's Cottage B and B in Farr was charming!  Designed by Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 1901, the house was built in the early 1990s from the original drawings that featured only the outside.  It seems to be in the middle of nowhere, but is located close to Inverness.  We enjoyed a delicious supper at the Snow Goose.  

Bathroom window

Bedroom window

There were some sheep in the field behind the house.  
Also near Inverness is the Tomatin Distillery.  Their clever ads show the Softer Side of the Highlands.   The Heilan' Coo is pretty darned cute.

Whiskey barrel furniture.  

Inside one of the antique vats.  I like the design of the drain holes.

One of the stills.

Tomatin has an in-house cooper.

Whiskey aging gracefully.
The day got even better as we made our way to Skye.  Sheep were everywhere and the weather was just gorgeous, although windy!  The Talisker Distillery was the first stop.  I enjoyed the smoky flavor of Talisker Storm.  

I'd contacted Roger of Skye Weaver prior to our trip and was very excited when we arrived.  He was so gracious to show us around and I even got to try out the pedal-powered loom.

The wool fabric covers the weaver's handle bar.  

This fabric is for scarves.

The warping mill was a re-purposed tractor rake, reclaimed wood, bicycle gears, other bits and pieces including a dishwasher hinge.
Roger showed us the creel that holds up to 112 cones of yarn.
Inspiration for projects can come from anywhere and this photo was the inspiration for the scarf I purchased.
The scarf is wonderfully soft and warm.  I ended up wearing it for the rest of the trip.
As we were leaving, I spotted some henty leggits (or henty lags) and Jim had to stop the car so I could gather them.



Happy birthday America!

Today is July 4, America's birthday.  Happy birthday to our country.  I love the vintage postcard image from Vintage Holiday Crafts of the bears celebrating.

It's been a busy summer so far.  June was Grey Wolf month.  We were blessed with beautiful cool weather during Week 2.  Nine patrols of eight participants came in on a Sunday and graduated on Saturday.  The rain showed up of catapult effectiveness day and despite the dreary weather, everyone had a good time.  

The staff and participants heading back to camp from a day of activities.  
Comfy shoes--check, scout uniform--check, water bottle--check!
A beautiful view from the porch at Swanson Lodge of the sunset.

Grey's strapped in and ready to head home.
The fifth stage of team development is laundry.

I have been combing the fleece I got from Andrea of Black Cat Farmstead. Ben the sheep's fleece is a nice natural black color.  The bobbin is almost full since the photo was taken of the spinning progress.  When I arrived home from camp, I was able to finish the Einstein Hat test knit of Deb's  pattern.  

Weaving continues on the studio loom at AFW and I warped the Cricket with some yarn I was given by a friend.  The weft was a nice surprise that was left on my bench when I returned to the studio.  Fun colors in the fabric that will be turned into accessories.  

Spinning from combed wool is a breeze!

The Einstein Hat test knit.

The crazy sock yarn is a great colorway for the warp and the reddish coral is perfect for the weft.  Both yarns are woo/silk blends.  
Seeing Mexican Hats during my morning walk was a nice surprise, as they are the same flowers I've seen in New Mexico on the hiking trail.  They are common in New Mexico, and a bit rare in Minnesota according to a range map of national distribution.  Philmont is calling me back to HOmE (Heaven On Earth).  

Mexican Hats


In the meantime...

I sold the Weaving Wednesday project from the last post, finished warping Hank (the floor loom), volunteered to run a station at the. Star Wars themed Cub Spring Fling last weekend, finished knitting Ben's moose sweater (ends are woven in and pieces are blocking), and I have to prep for my demo at Shepherd's Harvest Festival for Saturday.  The weather warmed up and it should be a nice Mother's Day weekend.  Ben's birthday is coming up and the sweater should be finished in time, which makes me very happy and I know he'll love it.  I managed to find some buttons that match nicely, although they aren't made of antler.  If I can find some nice antler buttons the others can be replaced.

15.05.2017 The weekend was warm and sunny.  I drove to Lake Elmo early on Saturday to help Linda before her felted slipper class at Shepherd's Harvest Festival.  My spinning demo was fun.  I love seeing old friends as well as showing others the fun of carding together bits and bobs of color bits with white and a bit of gray wool and then spindle spinning.  After the demo it was time to walk around.  There  were lots of new vendors, most of which had commercial products and hand made goods.  Nice items to look at, but nothing I was interested to purchase.  The focus of the festival has shifted a bit in twenty years.  My favorite button-maker was there and I bought some lovely lilac wood buttons with purple in the wood grain.  Most of my time was spent in the Anoka Fiber Works booth spinning and chatting with passers-by.  After picking up the fleece from Andrea and taking it to the car, there were sheep and goats in the barn to visit and even two yaks were grazing outside.

The moose sweater was finished in time for Ben's birthday on Mother's Day, which makes the day even more special.  We had ribs with fixings and then an ice cream cake.  I'd ordered a small cake, but  when Jim picked it up it was a large cake...we'll be chipping away at it for awhile when Ben visits because it's too big for his freezer.  Ben brought a lovely bouquet of roses and doughnuts (from Andi and Ben).

05.31.2017 I believe it's time to finish and post.  Since the last installment, we filled the shallow hole in the back yard with twelve yards of dirt, eight yards of fill (containing large dirt clods and rocks) and four yards of black dirt.  Friday was a long day until Ben came after work and helped finish the four yards.  Jim sent this information to me about the weight of the dirt:  Topsoil's weight can vary greatly due to moisture content. In the dryness of the summer, the weight of a cubic yard of soil can drop down to around 1700 pounds, while in the spring when soil is damper, one cubic yard may weigh well over one ton.  Did I really need to know that?

This is what four yards of dirt looks like.  

This is the eight yards of fill.  My job was to rake and roll after each wheelbarrow was dumped.  Jim filled the roller with more water toward the end of the fill and it was a bit too heavy for me, so I continued to rake.  
I brought home a lamb's fleece from Black Cat Farmstead.  Ben the black sheep is a mixed breed of Shetland, Icelandic, and Gotland.  I pulled out a bit of the fleece and washed it.  I didn't think I wanted to card it, so I used Mary's wool combs.  The result was so nice and I ordered a set of combs right away.  I learned how to use them years ago as a new spinner.  The locks are loaded onto the comb with the cut side toward the handle on the pad, and then with a comb in each hand, the wool is combed by grabbing a little bit with each pass so the fiber can be pulled through the diz into roving fluffs.  I dug out some clean white wool from the stash and practiced.  Now I have to scour the fleece.  The process of fleece to yarn is slow and enjoyable.

Valkyrie fine wool combs (I call them the Freddy Krugers)

The combed wool makes for smooth spinning

Deb from Old Man Wool Farm/Ewespun Fiber Mill made up some lovely spinning fiber called Mocha Dream, which is ⅓ Romeldale wool, ⅓ alpaca (both locally grown), and ⅓ camel down.  It is a dream to spindle spin.  She had a spun sample and knitted sample at Shepherd's Harvest and it was just too beautiful to resist.  I should have enough for a hat or mittens.  Each hank is about 55-yards of yarn.  

From roving to finished yarn


Weaving Wednesday project

I started this top back in November and finished the pieces, but didn't take the time to finish.  I think I had an aversion to cutting until I made the vest recently.  The top came together nicely and I took my time measuring and pinning before cutting and sewing the pieces together.  I used the sewing machine because I wanted neat stitching.  To cut the long piece in two, I measured, hand-sewed a piece of yarn evenly through the middle and then went to the machine to straight stitch and then zigzag stitch the ends, after which I cut through the middle of the yarn separating the piece for the sides.  The fronts were easy to separate because I'd woven waste yarn between the pieces.  The hem tape covered the edges of the top at the neckline.  The piece turned out nicely and looks great.  

Secure and cut!

It's beginning to look like a top.

I like the subtle vertical stripes in the center front and back pieces.  

Adventures in Scotland, the wool and whiskey tour, day 2

Day two I was feeling much better and after a nice breakfast and visit with the proprietors of the  B&B, we set off toward Inverness.  It was a beautiful drive into the Highlands and there were sheep and coos along the way.

Small spring flowers were blooming and during the trip we saw lots of daffodils in bloom.

Watching over the garden at Laurel Villa.

Laurel Villa was a nice place to stay.  The breakfast room is on the right.  

Before the sheep encounter, we met some Highland coos.

There is snow in the Highlands ahead!

This was a good place to stop and observe a large flock of sheep.

The sheep posed nicely for the camera.

What can I say?  That's a good-looking sheep.

On the winding roads, this sign was a good heads up.

Sheep crossing!
The fun of driving ourselves is to make unexpected stops along the journey.  One stop was to see the Falls of Bruar, which is part of the Cairngorms National Park in Highland Perthshire.

Between the raindrops the reflections were interesting, reminding me of Gollum, Frodo, and Sam in the Dead Marshes...don't look!

This place had a magical look.
There's something to be said for planting trees!

It was fun to wander around the rocks, bridge and falls.

I liked the tunnel, also.
The water is the same root beer color as the falls we saw on a hike last summer up north.
The last two photos are what I like to use as color inspiration for future projects. Some of the students I've had over the years find choosing colors difficult.  All one has to do is look around for inspiration.

On the way toward Inverness, we took a break and I visited the Hairy Coo Shop.  The sculpture caught my eye and inside were lots of locally made goods.  I purchased sheep and coo brooches.

We happened upon our first distillery that was open. Dalwhinnie distillery is in a lovely setting and it was a good place to stretch our legs, tour, and taste some whiskey with chocolate truffles.