Good use of a snowy day

The blizzard is keeping us indoors today, so I used the morning to finish off the Aran Sweater. It’s a heavy sweater, but the handspun merino makes for a smooth hand and the aran patterns are stretchy making for a really comfortable sweater that is quite warm.  Perfect for winter!

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Here the shoulders have been knit together, the neck band knitted and the sleeves attached.

 

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The sweater is inside out and pinned together for the sewing of the side seams.

 

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Sweater completely finished.

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The backlog of fleece is mostly spun!

It’s taken a few months, but I’ve finally caught up with the backlog of fleece in my cedar chest.  Everything is organized in plastic bags, and there is plenty for some good winter sweaters.  Yesterday I finished spinning the white fleece, and that I just have to finish plying.

White Fleece

Handspun wool

I haven’t posted here yet about my dabbling in “Origami Bonasi”; last fall I took a wonderful book out of the library, “Origami Ikebana”, and discovered techniques for creating oriental flower displays out of recycled paper and newspaper.  The techniques work well, and the results have been very satisfying.  I did several for holiday presents last year and this spring did some for birthday presents.  I’ve mostly done free standing little sculptures, but am thinking of trying some wall mounted ones next.  Right now I’m working on a small flower sculpture to sit on the vanity in our new bathroom.

Origami flowers

Flowers and leaves in progress

Yellow Bonsai

Completed sculpture; this was entered in the winter show at the Artists Guild

Origami ikebana

Spinning the Stash + my sewing machine is repaired

Like everyone else I accumulate! Fabric, knitting yarn, and most particularly fiber for spinning.  I see some and I buy it for it’s beautiful color or its wonderful feel and then I end up with a cedar chest filled to the brim.  This spring I decided to do something about that; my goal was to catch up on all the purchased top and roving that I’ve got in ‘stock’.  I knew if I didn’t get it spun into yarn there was little hope of using it.  I’ve almost caught up with the colored top and roving and am now spinning a white fleece that I bought a few years ago.  Photos are below of some of the wool, but there are a few more that I’ve not taken photos of.  Now I just have to get busy and plan some knitting projects.  What a good feeling!

I found a Viking dealer in Franklin, MA that does factory service and has a good repair person.  They took my Viking machine and said if they could find the parts they would try to repair it.  I was hoping and hoping they could do it, and a couple of weeks ago I got a call that they’d been successful.  We drove to pick it up and it’s working beautifully.  I’m beaming!  This sewing machine has made many many things for me over the years (even down jackets and a Frostline tent–remember those?); it’s great to think that I can start sewing again!!!

I guess I have my work cut out for me now; no excuse to not knit and sew up a storm!!!

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It’s a gradual process….

I’m continuing to catch up with my stash of unspun fiber.  I have a pound of blue-green merino top that I am working on right now.  I am almost done spinning the singles; the plying into yarn should go quickly after that.  I continue to love my Schacht spinning wheel which spins beautifully after many, many years of use.

Blue-green merino

I separate pieces of the roving into thinner strands for easier spinning.

 

Blue-green merino on wheel

Here are the singles being spun on the wheel.

 

I have a pound of Rose Quartz merino still to do (I have one pound already spun into yarn) as well as a pound of rose-pink merino. That will catch me up with my stash of purchased merino top.  I still have white wool to spin (several pounds of that) as well as some other speciality fiber.  But I’m at the point where I am starting to think about using these wools in projects.  I have an idea for a sweater for my mycologist husband that will have mushroom themed patterns. I have some photos that I’m going to translate into patterns and try them out in a hat first!

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One pound of rose quartz still to spin into knitting wool.

 

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One pound of rose pink merino, still to be spun.

 

Last topic for today is that after years and years of sewing with my trusty Viking sewing machine (a Husquvarna Viking 6440), I took it out to do some altering and it won’t sew.  The top thread breaks and the bobbin thread then just jams.  I tried all the adjustments I could think of (tensions, changing needles, bobbins, thread) and nothing worked.  Since the machine also needs a good lubrication after all these years, I took it to a local repair shop.  Well, they gave up on it and told me to find a dealer with a factory repair person.  I’m in the middle of trying to find someone who can repair the machine.  This machine has served me well for many years and I don’t want one of these new machines with all the electronic bells and whistles: I want a machine that does basic sewing very, very well, and the 6440 has done that for me for years. Wish me luck in getting this much loved machine back into operation.

Viking 6440

 

Beginning work on the llama fleeces

It’s a little cooler and less humid; this is incentive to start work on the llama fleece while it is still in good condition.  I tried carding  the raw fleece, but it was wildly dirty and filled with dust. Clouds of dust arose from the carder as I tried to work the fleece.  I guess I knew this wasn’t going to be the easiest project.

This week I dragged the fleece out on the deck and set up buckets of soapy Dawn water and two buckets of rinse water.  Gosh, was this fleece filthy: the dirtiest I’ve ever worked with.  My friend who gave me the fleece says the llamas like to roll in the dust after bathing in their pool!!!  It took hours, but the fleece is clean and drying in the sun out on the deck.  It’s still a little smelly, but it’s a lot cleaner.  Clean enough to card and spin (and the finished wool will get a thorough wash when it’s done).

It’s pretty fiber, well worth the trouble.

Washed grey llama

Washed grey llama

Washed brown llama

Washed brown llama

Swatch Cap and Alpaca

I’m still working away on the grey patterned sweater, and I decided to knit a matching cap to break the tedium… to have the satisfaction of something completed.  I used the general swatch cap pattern from Meg Swansen’s “Knitting with Two Colors” except that I substituted two of the patterns from the grey sweater and added a little band of purl stitch and color near the crown of the cap.    Here’s a photo of the completed cap before washing and blocking.  It’s a nice match for the sweater; I have one sleeve finished and the second sleeve started; it won’t be long before I can sew the sweater together, finish the neck and post the photo here!

Swatch Pattern Cap

Swatch Pattern Cap

I also finished spinning the ~7 ounces of black alpaca; I spun the singles fairly fine and then made a two ply yarn.  The yarn is soft and there is enough to use it as a contrast yarn in a two or three color sweater.  I am glad to be finished with it though: the wool was dirty and filled with bits of grass and hay and required lots of attention in spinning to get rid of most of what was left in the wool after carding.  It turned out nicely, though.

Black Alpaca two ply yarn

Black Alpaca two ply yarn

I’ll be spinning in my sleep

What an embarrassment of riches!  I’ve been given three more pounds of wool roving, beautiful stuff all ready to spin, by the art center.  The tan roving I will spin up directly into yarn.  The white wool and the white mohair I may experiment with some dyeing of the roving.  I haven’t done any wool dyeing in a number of years; one of my friends last night told me about a mushroom dyeing workshop that’s coming up nearby.  That might be fun to attend.  And I’ve always wanted to try ‘painting’ some roving; I ordered a book about that from the library system and will think of trying that.

Tan Wool

White Mohair

Mohair roving

White Wool

If that weren’t enough, an old friend who raises llamas (and saw that I was spinning alpaca) offered me some llama fiber from her spring shearing.  She sent an email yesterday saying it is on its way.  I can’t wait to see it and try spinning it.  She sent me photos of ‘Coco’ and ‘Debbie’, the llamas the fiber will be from.  As I said at the beginning of this post, what an embarrassment of riches!

Coco

Coco

Debbie the llama

Debbie

 

 

 

 

 

 

UPDATE:  Here’s the beautiful fiber from Coco and Debbie. I can’t wait to get started spinning!

Coco's Red-Brown and Debbie's Grey Fleece

Coco’s Red-Brown and Debbie’s Grey Fleece