Monday, March 12, 2012

Coming In Like A Lion......

March, that is.  Last week we had 25 inches of snow in three days.  Four days later temps were in the  50s and it mostly melted.  Three days after that....back in the teens.  I won't show you pictures of the snow because aren't we all just about done with that by now?  However, I do know one thing we are not tired of and that is pictures of cute corgis in the snow!
I can't help it.  The snow on the face kills me dead every time.  

I think you can tell by my latest bit of handspun what I've been dreaming of.......
Yep, just look at the beautiful sunny yellow.  If I can't have sunshine outside, well I will just make my own.  
To go with it, I am working on this:
Doesn't this look like I'm spinning up a bit of the ocean?  This is from hand dyed roving I ordered from an Etsy shop called Woogatherings.  Oh, she has the most beautiful fibers.  This is polwarth, which I've never spun before, and I have to tell you it is a dream to spin. I'm going to try to Navajo ply this.  I've been practicing.  We'll see.  There is a little more hand-eye coordination involved than regular plying and I'm most definitely in a learning curve.
So.......what's going on with all this yarn?  I really want to make this shawl by Carina Spencer:

It's called the Faraway-So Close shawl and I think it is just stunning.  Many people on Ravelry have made this with their bits and bobs of their handspun and it makes a beautiful sampler shawl. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Three Degrees

See that number three in the left-hand corner?  That was the temp yesterday when I went to take Lucy for her walk. Oh, and don't think I have a choice in the matter.  This is the way things work around here.  I have until 8:30 to wake up, eat breakfast, check my email and get dressed.  By 8:20 the whining starts.  And by 8:30 Lucy is using all her herding skills to move me towards the door.  And if that doesn't work, I get THE LOOK......the laser-like stare that pierces your brain and makes you unable to do anything else but her bidding.

What's the big deal?  The weather is perfect!
So I put on my 8,947 layers of clothes and off we go. (I'm not kidding about the clothes.  At last count I wear a long johns, a sweatshirt, my jacket, a wool headband, a wool hat, my hood, a black skiers mask that my husband says I can also use to rob banks, a scarf, a pair of gloves and a pair of mittens.)
Because it is so cold, we seem to be the only ones crazy enough to be out.  The air is crisp and you can hear the crunching of your foot steps as you walk.  In fact everything seems to be a bit brighter and clearer.
Along the way, we see little footprints of night visitors. While I would prefer to hurry,  Lucy has to sniff in each and every footprint as we walk.  So we walk and we take a little time to notice the things around us.  The trees are heavy with snow..................
and soon we pass these towers that guard a neighbor's driveway.  As usual, I take a few minutes to think about who might have made them and the time it took.  I admire the colors and think about how they would look in a rug or in a skein of hand dyed yarn.
One the way home, the sun rises.....
and while my fingers are frozen and my nose running; I'm glad my little pup made me come out and greet the day.

Spin, Spin, Spin

Sorry for the long break, but I have been busy, busy, busy playing and having fun.  One of my new friends up here is a spinner.  No, not just a spinner....a Spinner.  She has been spinning since the 70s and has taken a group of us who either want to learn to spin or who are beginning spinners under her wing.
A few weeks ago she lent me this:
I know, I KNOW.  I am just peeing my pants excited to have this in my house.  I quickly dyed up all the roving I had and have been playing around with it ever since.  Seriously, it is so much fun to see what colors do when you blend them all together and then to see what they do when they are spun.  It really is a color adventure.  So far I've done this:

The first two skeins on the right are from batts I bought and the two on the left are from batts that I made.  
This is my next batt: you think someone is craving a little sunshine?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Really Blogger, really? And I Hate Everything...

7,954 hours later, I finally found out that I now need to link to my blog through Google Chrome and not Internet Explorer.  
Also, while it said it was 40 degrees out yesterday, it was not a balmy 40 degrees.  It was a windy, icy rain type of 40 degrees which I found out after I headed out for a walk with Lucy.  And once you are out with a walk with Lucy, you don't turn back unless you want your leg chewed off.
And, I oven-dyed some roving yesterday, which turned out very cool and I would show you pictures, but I didn't take any pictures because of--see above--I couldn't figure out how to post things any more and was going to give up this stupid attempt at blogging.
But the roving turned out really nice and wait until you see the colors--Rasberry, Lemon Drop and Island Blue. Let's just say you won't need your glasses on to see it, as my grandmother used to say.

Monday, January 23, 2012


Not sure what is going on with blogger.  Every time I try to write a post I get about half-way through and then everything freezes up and I have to delete the whole post and start over again.  Some strange version of blogger hell.  
I've spent countless hours trying to fix things and I guess I will just have to wait until things work themselves out.
Please talk among yourselves until things get up and running again.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Expect Good Things

I won't lie.  The past couple years have been....well.....difficult.   An extremely stressful job combinded with chronic pain issues resulted in the decision to take an early retirement.  That decision resulted in having to sell the house in a short sale--which, by the way has to be the most frustrating and degrading process I have ever been through--which meant cleaning out, packing and moving. 
So in the past two years I've hit several major stressers in life.
I won't lie.  It has been a pretty rocky road, however, the house is gone, we've moved up north and I'm working with a new pain doctor.  So, while I'm still recovering, I am able to look at things in life with a little brighter outlook and with a bit more hope for the future.
Well, that was a very long introduction to the rug I finished right before Christmas. It is called "Expect Good Things" and the pattern is by Brenda Beerhorst.  I first saw this pattern on Brenda's website, Kinship in Wool and Color, and fell in love with it.  I loved the sweet little birds and I expecially loved the message--that good things--small or large--will always come your way. 
Anyway, a few years back I started working on this rug.  My first decision--should I make the birds robins or blue birds?  I love robins.  They are the first sign of spring and they are always a most welcome sight after our long, grey winters. But blue birds.....well really....who can resist blue birds.  Certainly not me!  And so blue birds it was.

Next, came the color selection.  I have no art background, so while I am doing my best to learn more about color theory, I pretty much have to fly by the seat of my pants in this area.  I did know I wanted my birds to have a more turquoise feel to them rather than a baby blue.  So I picked out a piece of over-dyed wool in a light aqua and found a lovely piece of a very dark turqoise that I used for an accent color throughout the rug. 
Now for the other colors.  I'm trying really hard to be bolder in my color selection.  Because I'm not sure of myself, I tend to pick more boring muted colors and, as a result I feel that my rugs were looking bland and muddy.  I was determined that was not going to happen this time.  I knew that to really make things pop you should use a color's complement--in this case the complementary color to blue is orange.  Not my favorite color, but I found some orangey-red wools that I really liked and went for it.

I found and dyed some wools for the leaves in a range of green/blues.  And my background wool was this really neat brown/black plaid with small strips of blue running through it.  It was perfect in that it just tied everything together.

As I said, I've worked on this rug for the past few years.  Sometimes I was possessed and worked on it every waking minute.  Sometimes life just got in the way and it sat neglected in the corner of the living room.  When we were selling the house and moving, it had to be packed away and I couldn't even think about it.  I worked on it when I was happy and when I was sad and depressed.  I worked on it when was in pain.  I guess, you could say that there is a lot of my life hooked into this rug. 
Right now it is hanging on the wall in my living room.  I love the bright, rich colors, especially in the midst of our grey Michigan winter. I love the sweet little birds. And, most of all,  I love its hopeful and warm message.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Dyeing Roving: The So-Not-A-Tutorial; Part 2

Alrighty then.  We've put the dye on the roving and now we need to put heat on it to set the dye.  Today I'm going to try steaming it in a pot on the stove. 
Take the plastic wrap and bring both sides up over the roving, scrunching the two sides to make a seam down the middle.  Then wrap that baby up just like a little burrito.
I looks a little gross at this point, but hang in all works out in the end.
I used a large roasting pan.  To keep the roving out of the water, I placed a small colendar in the bottom of the pan.  You could also use a steamer or even bend a wire clothes hanger to hold the roving.  I added just enough water to the pan to barely touch the bottom of the colander.
I placed the roving in the pan and covered the pot with a lid.
Then I brought the water to a slow boil and let the steam penetrate the roving.  I let it steam for about 30 minutes.  At the end of the 30 minutes,  I turned off the heat and let the roving cool to room temperature.  When it is cool, I rinsed the roving in room temperature water until the water ran clear.  Remember to handle the fiber gently so that is doesn't felt.
At this point, I remove the excess water by givng a spin in the washing machine.  Just set it on the last spin cycle.  Don't take through a whole wash.
Now I let it dry and voila.....
Here it is drying and this is what it looks like once I braided it....

And here it is spun.....
So what did I learn?  First, I would use fewer colors--maybe three-- and I would leave some white space in between the dyed areas.  This would let the dyes run into each other.  I also need to learn more about how to measure dye and how to control the intensity of the color.  This turned out darker than I have envisioned.  But all in all not too bad for a first attempt.