Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Drum Carder Fun

Last night we all went to my new spinning pal R's house to play with her drum carder and her family. What a lovely evening!

Son had a blast turning the crank and watching various colors and textures come together. I had to laugh, though, when he rejected all the bright and sparkly stuff. He is his mother's son.... While he wasn't producing batts, he loved playing hide and seek as well as putting on puppet shows with R's young daughter.

Very generously, she gave me samples of several kinds of fiber, including a lot of merino, a silk cocoon, and this gorgeous part-cormo part-mohair with a bit of corriedale, some silk noils(?) and also little sparkles in it.

I spun some as singles this morning and I'm very pleased with how much more even my yarn is getting. The noils help camouflage some of the unevenness, too.

Thanks, R!

An early welcome for Project Spectrum June!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

My first yarn--and my son's!

Since setting up the wheel, I've tried to learn to spin. Just getting the rhythm of treadling has taken a little while. Remembering to feed in regularly is plenty for my hands. In order to avoid having to draft at the same time--which felt like patting my head, rubbing my belly, and tap dancing at the same time--I first tried spinning with pencil roving.

Then I plied the yarn, using the suggestion to ply with two different colors in order to see the amount of twist evenly. Although I'm not especially fond of marled yarn, when I make it myself it is much more appealing. I'm pretty pleased! Should I knit a hat? A little felted bag? Perhaps weave a little purse?

With my new-found confidence, I tried drafting a sample of who-knows-what wool that I acquired at the spinning class. Yikes! I won't subject you to more.

Meanwhile, to keep my 7yo son interested while I was trying to learn to spin (and because I really can't talk about much else right now anyway), I taught him everything I know. I figured he would enjoy treadling since he has really loved his bicycle recently.

What I did not expect is the beautiful yarn he would make. Gorgeous singles.

His yarn, cast on to the homemade needles. He's knitting a scarf with his yarn. Impressed?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A Spinning Wheel: Setting it up

A package for me!

A new home for my son??

Things to assemble.
11 am: "Can you go get the toolbox out of the basement?"
11:05: "Um...Can you decode these instructions?"


TA DA! Isn't it beautiful?

To be continued...

Monday, May 22, 2006


I just received a package from Julia at Moth Heaven. Terrific sheepy card.

I won her birthday-comment drawing last week and this gorgeous fiber is the spinning prize, so beautifully dyed Corriedale! I can't wait to spin it up.

Thanks, Julia!

The only problem is that I really don't know how to spin yet. When she asked us to label ourselves as either spinners or knitters, I was thinking, um, optimistically. new spinning wheel arrived the same day as the fiber! Details and pics soon!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Fiber Haiku

There once was a family who knit
who crafted some Japanese lit.
Their needles were bamboo;
Their poems haiku.
We hope you enjoy their wit.

Sheep to Shawl
Go! Shearing, carding
spinning, weaving: four hours
all in matching shirts

Cast on two hundred
Change colors every third row
Knit thirty rows, then bind off

Drive belt, spindle whorl
Bobbin, treadle, maiden bar,
The mother of all

I Love Ewe
Shetland, Merino
Jacob, Romney, Wensleydale
and Border Leicester

Sheep to Sweater
Shear, clean, card, dye, spin
Ply, skein, wind, cast on, knit, purl
Bind off, block, wear well

Catalogue Envy
Tri-loom, Squirrel-Cage Swift,
New Zealand Opossum Down,
Lantern Moon baskets

Anyone can Knit
(by Son, age 7)
I can knit and purl
I can make the spindle whorl
I am not a girl

Thursday, May 18, 2006

7yo's view of MDSW

Dictated by Son:

On Saturday, I went with my parents and my friend’s mother and baby sister to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. I’ve been to the festival before and was looking forward to the sheep dog demonstrations. There were a lot of booths with people selling things: yarn and wool, spindles, spinning wheels, knitting needles, and things they had made. My papa and I split up from my mother and her friend. My mother really wanted to buy a spinning wheel.

There were a lot of sheep! One of the first things I saw at the festival was a pen with a mother sheep and her lambs. The lambs were still nursing. There were many barns with many different kinds of sheep in pens. I wanted to find a Jacob sheep. Male Jacob sheep have two curly horns and two straight horns. I think they look fierce. We didn’t take pictures because Mama had our camera. After we found the Jacob sheep, we watched some sheep judging.

After that we walked along and came to a booth where people were playing music. I saw a bagpipe and asked about it. A man in the booth asked if I would like to hear him play a smaller set of bagpipes. He said if he played the large set it would disturb the other musicians. We walked a bit away from the booth and he took out his pipes and began playing. His pipes had two small drones that looked like thick wooden kaleidoscopes. He played a Scottish song and then “Mary had a Little Lamb.” I thanked him and said good-bye and we went to see the sheep dogs.

At the edge of the festival, there was a big ring with gravel and no grass. There was a wooden fence around the ring. While we were waiting for the show to begin, we ate our lunches. I noticed that there were three dogs in the ring. One was sitting near the fence and two by the sheep trailer. When the show started, the shepherds let the sheep out of the trailer and into the ring. In the ring there were some fences with gates and a pen set up. The shepherds and the dogs steered the sheep into the places where they wanted them. Sometimes it was really tricky. The person who was talking said that the sheep didn’t want to go into the pen because they thought the next step was into the freezer. It took the dog a long time to get the sheep to go into the pen, but eventually it did. The announcer said that the best sheep dogs are Border Collies. All three of the dogs we saw were Border Collies. One of the dogs was named Shep and another was Aggie. One of the shepherds was named Joe.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

It's Not Easy Knitting Green

A little green for Lolly:

I've knit about 50 inches on the linen shawl. Still another 18 inches or so to go. The linen yarn on my grandmother's slippery needles makes my hands hurt after just a few rows, so it is slow going.

The pieces of the cardigan are all finished. Now: block, knit button band, sew in sleeves, sew on buttons, and seam! All things I really do not know how to do properly....

Hence, a new sock. No green. No difficulties.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Son's Knitting Project

My 7yo son has been knitting a shawl for his stuffed friend. He made a triangle by starting each row with a "K1, YO" then knitting until the end of the row. Here is his handiwork:

Thursday, May 11, 2006


I can't wait for it to arrive!

Of course, we are having house guests for a week so I may not get to play much. On top of that, I vowed to finish the book chapter before I spend any significant time with the wheel.

But, but...YIPPEE!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


What is this I see on the bathroom cabinet?

Look a little closer:

Why, of course! It is the beginnings of my 7yo son's yarn stash! (Even I had not thought of keeping yarn in the bathroom. Brilliant.)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

MDSW, pt. 2

What a wonderful day we had at the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival! All the colors and textures of booth after booth blew me away.

I bought one of the fleeces--a romney--and am looking forward to washing and carding it with 7yo Son.

Right now the fleece is sitting patiently (but expectantly) in the back room while I dream about which one of THESE to order:

At the festival I tried out a couple of wheels and, after looking around a bit, I decided that a Kromski Symphony is going to get a place of honor somewhere in our tiny house. I'm off to clean up the piles of papers and books everywhere so I can figure out where that place will be....

Monday, May 08, 2006

MDSW, pt. 1: On the Hoof

Regal sheep:

Not so regal sheep:

Jacob sheep, my favorite, with all those horns:



Kids making music

Friday, May 05, 2006

Project Spectrum: May

Here is one of my May Project Spectrum projects.

I've finished the back, both fronts, and one sleeve of the Must Have Cardigan. Seems like Lolly's green month is the time to finish it!

Second sleeve, here I come. Anybody want to coach me through a button band?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

K1, R1 (Knit One, Read One), Pt. 3

Beyond Stitch and Bitch: Reflections on Knitting and Life by Afi-Odelia Scruggs was a wonderful surprise. This short book of essays is beautifully written. Although it is published by a press specializing in the kind of "inspirational" books that often leave me cold, this one left me wanting more. It is a combination of practical and insightful.

In one essay ("Yarn Shops I Have Known and Loved"), Scruggs looks at how knitting has allowed her and others to cross traditional boundaries of class and race. She argues that the act of knitting encourages stangers from seemingly different worlds to meet and the shared craft allows them to communicate desite different background.

In another essay, she provides a pattern inspired by Mali cloth dying patterns. Although Africa really has no knitting tradition, the author uses motifs and colors from the culture to inspire some fascinating knitting. (Although it contains a couple of patterns, this book is not a pattern book. A great new resource for more African-inspired patterns is Knitting Out of Africa: Inspired Sweater Designs.)

Although I am easily turned off by anything explicitly spiritual, this book treads on that ground yet draws me closer. One essay, "Sometimes Knitters Are So Lucky," ends with this imagining of God contemplating the wonders of creation just as knitters contemplate their finished works: "Did She pour so much of Herself into the work that the creation merged with Her before becoming complete and whole? What did She feel when She considered what She had done? I believe She stepped back, surprised by the beauty She had somehow forged. She picked it up and turned it backward and forward, looking for Her imprint. Satisfied that She’d done Her best, a calm pride settled in Her heart before She blessed all She had made and lay down to rest."

The last two essays are especially intriguing. The title essay discusses the revolutionary potential of knitting as an activist’s tool for everything from consciousness raising to peaceful protest. The final essay, "Redemption," examines the stitchery program at a corrections facility. Knitting for the inmates becomes a way to acknowledge the debt we all have to society and begin to repay it, "one stitch at a time," as they make everything from toys to afghans and donate them to local charities. Scruggs refers to the Victorian idea of needlework as a moral teacher and points out that this project both accepts the tenets of an earlier era and turns them on their head.

I highly recommend this book and look forward to future works from Scruggs.

From All Over!

I've enjoyed so much looking at this blog's statistics and seeing where all the visitors have come from. Readers are from all over the US (Alaska, Hawaii, Florida, Maine...and everywhere else, including the rural town where I grew up) and Canada (Vancouver to Newfoundland), from all the great knitting and sheep-raising countries such as Estonia, Latvia, Norway, Finland, UK, Scotland, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, from Mexico, Peru and Chile, from Japan and Taiwan, from Israel, from Turkey, from South Africa. (Anybody know knitters in Antartica? That would round out the continent count.) Amazing how small the world is becoming.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

New Favorite

Ah--a beer for me!


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