Wrappin’ It Up

Day #7

What a Yarn

There’s one love that we all share: yarn. Blog about a particular yarn you have used in the past or own in your stash, or perhaps one that you covet from afar. If it is a yarn you have used you could show the project that you used it for, perhaps writing a mini ‘review’. Perhaps, instead, you pine for the feel of the almost mythical qiviut? You could explore and research the raw material and manufacturing process if you were feeling investigative.

I can’t pick just one.  I’m knitting with cashmere right now, and I love the softness, but I also love the smooth, slick strength of alpaca and the sproing of a nice merino.   I just love fiber.  Each fiber has its own charcteristics that make it ideal for some projects and out of the question for others. 

Photo from SpringValley Yarns

So, it shouldn’t surprise you that my favorite yarns are blends.  Silk Merino, cashmere merino… They marry the best of two yarns together.

That’s Jessi‘s Cloud Nine in Sissy’s custom colorway.  That could be another definition of my most beloved yarns… the ones my talented friends create.  Kathy‘s creations, in yarn or fiber are pure joy going through my fingers.  Dianne’s cashmere blend was the first fiber love of wee Gretchen’s life.  Amanda’s Franconia is another cashmere blend that makes my heart sing.  Knowing that these gifted, gracious women are also my friends only makes the yarn that much more of a treasure. 

Yeah… that’s where my yarn treasures are… in the friendships I’ve made.  Knitting with the yarns my girlfriends have “colored” adds another layer to the communion that is knitting.  So, the yarns they’ve created are the ones I prize above all others, regardless of whether they are custom colorways that honor my dogs or whether it is a staple in their shop that caught my eye.  I promise you won’t be disappointed with any yarns from any of these gals. 

Now I also owe you a secret.  It’s not a secret anymore though.  The Majacraft Aura made its debut at Maryland Sheep & Wool yesterday, so I can tell you all about it now.  (Photos from Majacraft.) 

They were setting up their display model for MDSW when we arrived at Misty Mountain last weekend, so we promised to keep the secret and got to be some of the first to try the new wheel.  It treadles like a dream, as all the Majacraft wheels do.  It’s stunningly beautiful with its curved Rimu wood, but you can see all of that for yourself.  I’ll also leave you to read the specs yourself, because even if I had spent more time with it, I wouldn’t know how to explain the two drive bands and how they work.

What I can comment on is the unique dual function orifice, which I refer to as the delta with the curly cue in front.   You have to kinda’ wrangle the yarn through the almost standard delta orifice part  (the left most bend of metal on the right side of the photo), and then through the loopteedoo at the front (the right most part) to spin.  For chunky or art yarns, skip the delta and let the loopteedoo guide your just-spun single onto the bobbin.

And what a bobbin it is.  It looks huge, which isn’t a size I generally ascribe to bobbins.  I’m rather spoiled by my own Heavenly Handspinning bobbins which I have yet to max out, so I really can’t tell you just how much they’ll hold.  Frankly, bobbin size is something that gives me pause when I consider potential new wheels.  I can’t recall another bobbin that’s made me think I won’t miss the Bellus’s capacity quite so much.  Besides, I plan to keep it for plying and just because it’s my first wheel.

The Aura isn’t on my short list though, but spinning on it made me realize the Rose does need to be.  Those treadles are smooth, perhaps the smoothest in my opinion.  I’m looking forward to catching up with the Rose and its traditional flyer soon.

Now that I’ve tied up some loose ends, you can skip over to Nichole‘s and check some reviews.  Don’t miss the chance to win a Vogue stitch dictionary not available in stores, and don’t forget to say you heard about it from me.

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Ghost of FO Past

Day #6

Revisit a past F/O

Bring the fortune and life of a past finished project up to the present. Document the current state and use of an object you have knitted or crocheted, whether it is the hat your sister wears to school almost every day, or a pair of socks you wore until they were full of hole. Or maybe that jumper that your did just didn’t like that much…

Remember the crate pad I made Gretchen for her birthday?

I had taken a photo, but for whatever reason, it got lost.  (I think that was the last “I didn’t put the memory card back in the camera” event?)  At any rate, these otherwise darling fur-girls destroyed it this winter, and you’ll just have to take my word for it.  There were broken bits of yarn everywhere.  It surprised me a good bit, because Mugsy loved his snuggle and seemed to know not to scratch and dig in it.  In fact, he was buried with it.

The good boy and his snuggle

I’m rather sure Gretchen’s tiny paws and claws didn’t ruin the snuggle, but I also know that both girls root and dig in their blankies, so for now, we’re sticking with store-bought hand-me downs that the humans have worn out already.  (Or soon, cotton blankies from the human bed that have also been destroyed by the same crazy routine.)  I was disappointed, but dogs will be dogs.  No more crocheted crate pads for these two for a long while!

In other news, Sissy and I are headed out to visit Wondervet again.   I’ll update the girls’ blog (link will appear once I post), but it’s more of the same with Sis’s on-going food allergies and the Dadaw who says “a little bite won’t hurt.”

If bobby pins would work in  her fur, I’d have Sis wear this to the vet’s today!

Mudders and Locations

Happy Friday!   I’m in a fabulous mood…  Tomorrow is 136th Run for the Roses, aka: the Kentucky Derby.   Never in its history has it been called on account of rain, so let the drops fall!  (Easy for me to say; I won’t be there to get soaked in my glad hat and fancy frock.)

And remember that you heard it here…  Paddy O’Prado to win, place or show (the only way I place a wager).  There’s an old saying in horse racing about betting on the grey on a cloudy day, and this handsome Irishman is a mudder, which is to say that like a good scrappy lad, he doesn’t mind digging deep and slinging some mud. 

He just takes my breath away.    I want to go scratch his nose and feed him carrots.   My sister had a horse that would steal a can of Slice soda; wonder if this Irish boy wants a Guinness?

While we’re not going to a Derby bash per se, we are going to the Grymes Memorial School‘s annual auction.  That’s the big deal for the weekend here.  I’m really looking forward to spending the evening with Ann and her friends and family!

So, Day #5 of Knitcroblo

Location, Location, Location

Where do you like to indulge in your craft? Is your favourite arm chair your little knitting cubby area, or do you prefer to ‘knit in public’? Do you liek to crochet in the great outdoors, perhaps, or knit in the bath, or at the pub?

Sissy's knitting corner... mine is at the far end... 12/08

Like most of these questions, there’s not a simple, single answer to this one.  Mostly, I knit from my corner of the sofa I share with the fur-girls.  However, I also knit at the firehouse, in whatever vehicle we’re in, out on the deck… anywhere.  I tend to crochet at home, because of late, my crochet projects are big and bulky.

Another favorite spot - anywhere at OBX!

I know it doesn’t ask about spinning, but I spin from the Knight’s recliner most of the time.  I also love to spin on the back deck and find the wrought iron chairs just about perfect.

So, where will you be watching the Derby?  (And please feel free to knock me off my high horse and remind me that not everyone waits all year for the Run for the Roses.) 

True to my culturally diverse lifestyle, we’ll head home to catch the end of the almost in our backyard Richmond NASCAR race.  Sunday will truly be a day of rest, and I sincerely hope it doesn’t rain on those of you going to Maryland Sheep & Wool on Sunday.  However, knowing this region as I do, I think that with highs near 90, you’d better anticipate a thunderstorm or three…

Hey! Look!

Happy Dogs on Thursday, little friday, Thankful Thursday and day #4 of Knit & Crochet Blog Week.  WHEW!

Gretchen very sweetly did a dog post for me on their blog this morning.    She did indeed cover what I had in mind, based on photos I took earlier this week.   Sis has had a great time shouting at all the wildlife moving through the woods and yard recently.  It seems EVERYTHING has spring fever!  (And why yes, that is a metal dog bowl at Sis’s feet.  She likes to carry a bowl around, for some strange reason.)

I’m using the wild card topic today, as day #4’s topic would lead me to tell you YET AGAIN that I can’t do stranded knitting to my own satisfaction…

All Tooled Up

Do you have a particular knitting/crochet tool or piece of equipment that you love to use? Maybe it is an old bent pair of needles that used to belong to someone special, or a gorgeous rosewood hand-turned crochet hook that you just love the feel of? Write about what you love it.

Whoa, Nellie!  That’s a loaded question.  I most certainly don’t have tools that belonged to anyone special, although I suspect that some of the crochet hooks Anita has shared with me may have some history to them.  I do have a whole host of gadgets I almost always have on hand.

Stitch markers by Ann

I am blessed to have a host of talented friends who keep me well-stocked in pretty stitch markers.  Even if I’m doing lace, where I prefer THESE markers, I often have one pretty marker at the start of a row, and always use one to mark the beginning of a round on a sock or other knitted in the round project. 

I also have a tape measure in almost every bag.  I like noveltly

Thankful Thursday?  Spinning.  I’m really glad I fell down the spinning rabbit hole.  Last night, I was too worn out to knit.   Luckily, it doesn’t take a tremendous amount of focus to plop down in front of  my wheel and let the fiber flow while my feet do the little bit of work.  It’s very relaxing…

Now shopping for a new wheel… That’s hard work!

One Great Knitter

Day #3…

One Great Knitter

Write about a knitter whose work (whether because of project choice, photography, styling, scale of projects, stash, etc) you enjoy. If they have an enjoyable blog, you might find it a good opportunity to send a smile their way.

I suspect it’s going to surprise Toni to see her name (and knitting and dog) here, but she REALLY inspires me. 

Photo courtesy of Toni's blog

She makes color work look effortless and as natural as breathing, which most certainly isn’t the case for me.  She makes alterations to sweaters on the fly, she cranks out beautiful socks, all while making sure Dexter and the rest of her household feel loved and cherished.  Sigh.  Go Toni!!

KnitCroBlo #2

An Inspirational Pattern

Blog about a pattern or project which you aspire to. Whether it happens to be because the skills needed are ones which you have not yet acquired, or just because it seems like a huge undertaking of time and dedication, most people feel they still have something to aspire to in their craft. If you don’t feel like you have any left of the mountain of learning yet to climb, say so!

Just see my Ravelry queue and favorites.   No?

Seriously, the pattern I most want to make time for is Julia Mueller’s Cheesehands and/or Cheesehead.  Double knitting AND color work.  I’ve never tried double knitting, but color work is definitely something I need to practice  more.  (Couldn’t find a non-copyrighted photo to share, but here’s a Flickr link…)

photo from Lion Brand

I also want to crochet a pair of socks, just because.   I don’t know that I have the skills to do such, but that’s the whole point of this post, right?! 

Have any of you crocheted socks?  If so, what pattern did you use?  Would you recommend it to a very novice crocheter?  Are the comfortable?

There now.  All caught up for the time being.   I do have other things to share this week, so there will either be some double posting or some really crazy posts that jump all over the place. 

Before I forget again, I do want to invite all of the spinners or anyone interested in spinning to Stony Mountain Fibers’ spin-in on June 13th.

Knit & Crochet Blog Week #1

I’m going to warn you that I’m going to double-post today.  I only read blogs at work during the week, for the most part, so I didn’t see this until this morning on at least three of your blogs.

Starting Out

How and when did you begin knitting/crocheting? was it a skill passed down through generations of your family, or something you learned from Knitting For Dummies? What or who made you pick up the needles/hook for the first time? Was it the celebrity knitting ‘trend’ or your great aunt Hilda?

Oh my.   This will be a refresher for a few of you, but I have new reader-friends who might enjoy this prattle. 

Anne & her mom, summer 2007

I first learned to knit in my childhood, from an aunt and a great aunt who were both grand charitable knitters.  It didn’t take.  I was more interested in dogs and tennis rackets than sticks and string.  However, somewhere in late November of 2006, Anne came for Thanksgiving, knitted, offered to teach me and I laughed at her, but she left behind a knitting virus that has only waned slightly a time or two since.

I had to refresh my memory on my own.  I spent a lot of time with  online sites, watching videos (mostly from Knitting Help), and I finally figured out that I’m a continental knitter.  Once I worked that out, the rest was history!

On that note, please offer up a prayer, good vibes or whatever sort of good wish you do for Anne’s mom.  She’s in the hospital right now, and she’s one dear, kind lady!

Little motif from Edie's class

Crochet?  Several women get credit for that.  I tried to teach myself, and sweet Mary even resorted to having her hubby make a video of her doing a special stitch I couldn’t manage to teach myself.   Rosanne kindly gifted me my first set of Boye hooks, which made the crocheting world a better place.  While I have almost no knitting needle loyalty, I crochet exclusively with Boye, except when I’m trying something new, and then I go back to the tried and true.

Then, Edie Eckman taught a class and made me fall in love with crochet and that cool, circular start (don’t even know the proper name for it) that I use for knitting too sometimes.  Last, but hardly least, Anita has also sent me hooks (Boye, of course!), patterns and more!  It takes a village to teach me to crochet…

Feel free to join me in joining the celebration a little late!