Friday, March 30, 2012

In Which I Card My Walnut-dyed Alpaca

Remember when I dyed alpaca with walnuts this past autumn? I carded up a couple rolags at the time, but had other projects that I needed to work on. So this projects was set aside, though I was hoping to get to it over the winter. Obviously that did not happen. But thinking back on it, I really wouldn't want to be carding in the house. Even though I washed it and dyed it, there is still veggie matter and a little bit of dirt that falls out. Not to mention stray fiber that blows hither and yon. 

 Two weeks ago during our spell of beautiful weather I carded fiber on two different afternoons and ended up with approximately 30 rolags. Because I was working from fiber that had been dyed at two different times I had different shades of alpaca. My first dye batch is darker, see the above photo on the left. The second batch is lighter. I was taking fiber from both bags and carding it, and also some just from one bag or the other. I figured once its carded, spun, plied, and knit it will look beautiful, despite the differences in the colors of the fiber.

 I'm looking forward to spinning this fiber, but I am trying to wait until I have made more of a dent in my dyed fiber. At the moment two pounds seems like a lot to card! 

I'm also spinning from a sample grab bag of assorted fiber that I picked up at a fiber festival last summer. The only problem with the grab bag is that I have no idea what sort of fiber I am spinning! I can take a guess at it, but its just really a stab in the dark.
This fiber is soft-ish, a nice heathered blue/grey. It spins well, we'll see how it plies.

This yarn is rough feeling. I carded the fiber together with some angora. It helped soften it up some, but it is still quite scratchy for next-to-the-skin wear. Although I only have about 70 yards of a fingering weight, so I can't make anything substantial with this yarn alone! I'm just setting the skein aside and deciding later what to do with it. 
If you have any thoughts or ideas I'd love to hear them!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Spring Is HERE!!!

Lilac Bush budding

Creek under the road


Autumn Joy Sedum



Tiger Lily

Not only is it officially spring here, but we have been having some amazing weather and everything is way ahead for this time of the year. It has been simply amazing. It's like we skipped over spring for a week and had summer! Temperature-wise things are calming down now, but the weather is still very lovely. The distant tree lines have a misty green haze over them as the leaves unfurl. All the flowering trees are in full bloom, and all told, it is quite the astonishing display of spring we are having. 
As I travel I've been enjoying watching how the scenery has been changing over the last couple of weeks. Everything has gone from a spring-is-on-the-way look, to a full blown display of greenery and flowers.

But with all the early growth comes the worry that perhaps a hard frost, or even late snow storm, will arrive and damage the crops. We are praying that the nights stay mild and that the fruit trees survive until warm weather is here to stay.

I must go get ready for the evening church service. It was lovely stopping in here, if only for a short time to say "hello"! Next time I blog I'll have to share a few updates on the little bit of spinning and knitting I've been doing recently. Until then......take care, my friends!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Photos from Mid-February

Around mid-February while out feeding the alpacas I snapped some photos in the fading sunlight. The scenery. The barn door. And of the boys of course. They are such fun to photograph.

I'm coming along beautifully on my Tibetan Stole. Lately I've been galavanting around so much that i have not had as much time to fit in knitting or spinning. But this is how far my stole was a month ago. Since then it has grown by a chart repeat or so. 
Two and a half days a week I'm helping a dear friend who is recovering from a bout with cancer. She has several little ones, including a 4 month old baby, and needs a little extra help around the house right now.
Its been a joy and a blessing to spend time with them and be able to help her out at this time.

Cheerio for now!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Scottish Highland Knits

A couple of weeks ago I purchased Scottish Highland Knits from the used book section of our bookstore. I had been browsing the bookstore a few weeks previously and saw it, but couldn't quite make up my mind whether I should by it or not. To my surprise when I came back later, there it was! It was only $7.oo, but i still stood there and dithered back and forth trying to make up my mind whether to buy it or not. I thumbed through it and realized that I liked all the patterns in the book, save one. When you consider that just one pdf of a knitting pattern could sell for the same amount, well, it seemed like a good deal. Not to mention that the book itself is quite well-laid out and beautiful. More on that later.

But first let me show you the first project I am planning on making out of Scottish Highland Knits. These are the Felted Slippers by Catherine Tough. I have some handspun wool & llama yarn that I am hoping works for the pattern. The yarn that it originally calls for is Rowan Scottish Tweed DK. My yarn is a worsted weight. But the way the pattern works is you knit the general shape of the slipper, felt the knitted fabric, and then use the templates to cut out the exact shapes needed for the slipper. So I'm pretty sure I can make this yarn work. We'll see. I haven't started the project yet, other then winding one skein into a center-pull ball.
I have a few other projects I need to get out of the way first. And with spring just days away I don't anticipate that I'll need these slippers very much until this coming autumn. So its not a pressing thing that needs to get done soon. Just something I'd like to make up and have ready for cold weather. We have wood floors in our home and with the wind that whips over the fields around our hill it sure gets chilly at times.

Patchwork Throw
Here are some other projects from the book I would really like to make.

Doesn't that look so cozy?

Cabled Blanket Coat
I think this sweater looks simply scrumptious! So warm, cable-y, and perfect for layering during those brisk autumn days. I think this would look amazing in handspun yarn. Hmm, maybe I'll have to keep my eyes peeled for some appropriate fiber while I'm out and about at fiber festivals this summer.

Fair Isle Socks

Tie Shrug: by Wendy Baker
I think this around-the-shoulder shrug looks so cozy. Its perfect for curling up in the evenings by the fire with a good book. Or some knitting. It would also wear nicely to church or out and about as well.

Wrap Cardigan: by Sarah Dallas
The lace pattern is open and quite dainty, while the fabric of the cardigan seems to be substantial enough to keep one warm on a cool spring day. I also love the dainty touch the crocheted edging adds to it.

Not only does the book have great patterns, it is also a visual treat of beautiful scenery, textures, and gorgeous knitting photos.

I hope you've enjoyed this short little review of Scottish Highland Knits. I look forward to sharing the projects with you as I make them! 

I'm at my brother and sister-in-law's house today. We are having a big family shindig here later this afternoon. The house is sparkly, the food is prepped and we are now enjoying the sunshine, and the fact that we can have a few windows open letting in fresh air! 
 Lord-willing I'll be back here soon. Until next time, may you have a lovely day!