About Me

My photo
Minnesota, United States


School is in session

School is in session and it's time to finish a project, add a class, and experiment.  The latest FO is my handspun vest made with the Mocha Dream roving from Ewespun Fiber Mill.  The fiber, ⅓ each Romeldale wool, alpaca, and camel down, was a dream to spin.  I ended up with 478 yards of two-ply yarn, which was more than enough for the vest.  The pattern called for a size US 9/5.5 mm knitting needle and after knitting a swatch I got the gauge I needed with a US 7/4.5 mm needle.  The pattern is from Folk Style, a book I've had in my library for some time.  The Grand Tour Waistcoat, designed by Di Gilpin was the perfect choice. There are a few Ravelry projects using the pattern without the intarsia motif.  The finished vest looks good with or without the swirls.  I didn't mind battling the bobbins, as intarsia is one of my favorite knitting techniques.

There's nothing better than a finished project.  The latest FO is a vest, knitted using spindle-spun yarn, using the intarsia knitting technique.  (I have an upcoming class for teaching the intarsia technique at Anoka Fiber Works.)   Intarsia, aka picture knitting, was popular when I picked up the needles in the early 1980s and I dove in relatively quickly as a fearless young knitter.  Thankfully the bobbins of varying sizes and shapes are still in the toolbox.

There wasn't a plan for the yarn in the beginning, as I just wanted to spin the beautiful roving from Deb Peterson, proprietor and shepherdess of Ewespun Fiber Mill at Old Man Wool Farm.  Deb premiered the roving at Shepherd's Harvest Festival over Mother's Day weekend.  The fiber blend is ⅓ Romeldale sheep's wool (from Deb's flock), ⅓ alpaca (also locally sourced), and ⅓ camel down.  The process of spinning was a joy and the natural colors blended into a beautiful variegated two-ply yarn with z-twist singles and s-twist ply.  I am thankful to have purchased that third ball because the 478 yards were enough for a larger project.

Fortunately, after many years of knitting and spinning, I have an ample library of knitting and fiber-related books.  Folk Style had the perfect pattern, Grand Tour Waistcoat designed by Di Gilpin.  Figuring that
Mocha Dream spy with the IST oak burl spindle.  The perfect tool for the project.

Mary snapped a photo for me.  There are three cables in the middle of the top motif.  

The upper fronts sport some seed stitch texture and cables.

A new class on the schedule at Anoka Fiber Works is for a Dorset "Cartwheel" Button.  Janie Crow taught our knitting group how to make them while in Shetland.  It was fun and we used the wool from our projects.  I thought it was time to practice and found the buttons easy and fun to make.  

The first three buttons turned into eleven buttons and counting.
The fall colors have been delayed by the abundance of rain this year.  I love the pops of color against the sidewalk concrete and grass.

I found a skein of fractal-spun Malabrigo Nube from a spindle spinning class I taught a few years ago.  The colors look like the leaves on the sidewalk (minus the grass).  I don't know what it will be, but I'm knitting a gauge swatch to try it out and see how it knits up.

Weaving Wednesday is a good time to experiment a "painted" warp.  I had some fabric markers, so I went small scale on a small loom to try it out.  No drips!  If I like doing this, I'll invest in some good quality fabric paint.  The blue and white fabric in the top left corner of the photo is Fey's kitchen towel.  She was very happy to finish them!

I finally used the skein of Vice yarn (Blurred Lines) that has been waiting patiently in the stash.  I think it would make a nice hat.  At the time I took the photo (yes, I fixed the position of the dowel to go up and over the front beam) there really wasn't a weft yarn I thought looked good with the colors, so I went with a neutral color.  As of this writing, it's coming along nicely.


Maiden voyage of the escape pod (Silver Traveler)

Summer's last hurrah, the last pre-season Vikings game and...

...the maiden voyage of the escape pod, aka Silver Traveler!

Leaving the launchpad

Nice landing spot at Wild River State Park

The flaming lantern, or as I like to call it, the reenactment of the microwave incident of 2005.

We took off on Saturday for wine tasting at Winehaven in Chisago County's gently rolling hills between three lakes.  They produce good wines and we purchased three bottles, white, port, and stinger mead.

This medium-dry wine contains abundant peach, pear and floral notes that remain distinct through the soft finish. The perfect complement to fresh fish and poultry.Recent Awards:Bronze Medal - 2016 International Eastern Wine Competition (New York)

Port (750 ml)
This rich, premium port offers a seductive combination of luscious blackcurrant and cherry flavors culminating in an intense, lingering finish.  Pairs well with dark chocolates and aged cheeses.
Recent Awards:
Bronze Medal - 2014 International Cold Climate Wine Competition

Stinger Mead
A smooth, nicely balanced wine with a crisp, delicious finish that boasts a spectacular perfume of honey which is accompanied by an intriguing array of floral scents.
Recent Awards:
Silver Medal - 2016 International Eastern Wine Competition (New York)
Silver Medal - 2013 U.S. National Wine Competition
Gold Medal: 2012 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition

information from Winehaven's website.

We then took off for Taylor's Falls and the Wild Mountain Winery.  The wines were good and the Log Jam Hard Cider was a favorite for both of us.  I got to cork the bottle.  We got back to the campground and promptly had lunch, relaxed a bit, and hiked one of the trails.  

This friendly black bear greeted us

Making our way down the list with munchies

Chocolate and port!

We hiked along the St. Croix River

On Sunday we took another bike ride and enjoyed the beautiful weather and early fall colors around the park.

The view from the hammock

All is right with the world


The Wonderful World of Bobbins, Intarsia Knitting

The current (new) project on the needles is the Grand Tour Waistcoat (pattern designed by Di Gilpin) from the book Folk Style, by Mags Kandis, Interweave Press, 2007.  After counting the finished yardage and looking through my library, the vest stood out and having knitted a gauge swatch I knew it was the perfect pattern for the yarn.  Digging through the handspan stash I found the dark brown yarn, although I know it's wool, the type is a mystery.  

The yarns are two-ply, z-spun and s-plied, approximately 9 WPI (wraps per inch).  The gauge worked well with a 4.5 mm/US 7 knitting needle for the heavy worsted to Aran weight yarns.  (I used The Standard Yarn Weight System Handy Chart from Spinderella's Fiber Mill.)

Mocha Dream roving to yarn

Mocha Dream is made up of  ⅓ camel down, ⅓ Romeldale, and ⅓ alpaca
The dark brown mystery wool will be a nice contrast color
Each section of color has a separate bobbin of yarn, making the back look like organized chaos
So far, so good with the knitting.  I love the rustic appearance of the knitted fabric and the dark brown stands out nicely from the background.  



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.