Friday, April 27

A busy week

It's been a busy week. Too much going on to have time to post. This is my first chance to get on the computer since Wednesday afternoon.

Tuesday and Friday, I went to the chiropractor. This is the first time I've ever been to one. My back problems are flaring up again. It's time to deal with it. After the first treatment today, I'm aching. This is no different than the physical therapy I went through about 10 years ago. I dare not add up what this is going to cost. Our insurance plan doesn't cover it though they have negotiated a discount with the provider.

Wednesday, I visited my Majacraft dealer with my friend Elizabeth and her MIL. We stopped for lunch on the way back at the Old World Bakery in North Liberty, Indiana. I brought home a brand new Suzie wheel to try out. It's going back next week. I like my Little Gem much better than the Suzie. My search for a second wheel may have to wait until Michigan Fiber Fest in August.

As well as not liking the way the Suzie handled, I am not happy with the quality of the wheel. Has Majacraft's quality control slipped so badly in the two years since I purchased my Little Gem? The mother board on the Suzie was cracked clear across. (It wasn't my dealer's fault. This was the way it arrived. She was going to contact Majacraft about replacing the wheel.) I noticed a number of other things on the wheel that were badly finished. I would expect much better from a $620 price tag.

Thursday, I got new eyeglasses. Today I went back to get softer nosepads put on them. The hard ones on the frames dig my nose. It's so nice to be able to see well again. I love the frames! They're purple wire rims.

I'm not knitting much. The motion of knitting makes my back ache.

I did finish spinning the seafoam Shetland. I blogged about the first 2 ounce skein of 243 yards. The second 2 ounce skein measures 330 yards. It's laceweight! I love spinning Shetland!

After I finished that I started on a 4.5 ounce bag of mystery fiber I bought at Greencastle. It's dyed periwinkle blue and lime. It may be Corriedale and it's top not roving. It's kind of irregular and looks like it was slightly felted when it was dyed. No problem. I loosened it up, stripped it into lengths, and then predrafted it. I like the way it's spinning up.

I've found a few more triangle shawl pattern links. I hope to post about them soon. I'll also add them to the complete listing. Two of the shawl contest prize winners have contacted me to let me know they received the yarn I sent them.

Sunday, April 22

Seafoam Shetland

My spinning wheel is back in action again after a brief respite. I've spun 2 ounces of seafoam green Shetland in the past two days. One of the many fiber goodies I picked up last weekend at the Fiber Event in Greencastle. This Shetland is from The Kelleys of Windy Acres. I have 2 more ounces of the seafoam green and 4 ounces of lavender yet to spin. The carded roving looked a little shaggy but is spinning up very well. It definitely has a right and wrong end to spin from. You can see from the picture how fine it's coming out---2 ounces/243 yards. Click on the picture for a closer view.

I was too impatient to wait until I had 2 bobbins of singles finished before I plied it. I tried out a trick my friend Jess uses. Tape a cardboard core or paper over the spindle of a ball winder. Wind the single from the bobbin onto the ball winder. Then using both the outside and inside ends of the ball, ply as usual. The cardboard core keeps it from tangling as you ply. I had one loose piece that gave me a little trouble, but otherwise this worked quite well.

I'm beginning to seriously consider buying a bigger wheel than my Little Gem, maybe even a production wheel. I never thought I'd want more than one wheel and wondered why some spinners have a dozen wheels. I'm learning. Sometime this week, I will drive down to my Majacraft dealer at Winterhaven Fiber Farm to see what wheels she has to offer. Jenny told me I could bring one home to try out for a couple of weeks. They're expensive enough you want to make sure it's what you want before you lay out that much cash.

At first hubby was shocked when I told him I wanted another spinning wheel. Once he got over the initial shock, he began to understand that wheels, as any tool, are suited to different jobs. He finally got it. Today he told me he'll buy me a new wheel as an anniversary present. Isn't that sweet? He's a keeper. It'll be 15 years in May since we married. It just keeps getting better and better.

Thursday, April 19

Playing hooky

Someone wrote and asked what I've been up to this week. I've been shopping for supplies and making orifice hooks for spinning wheels. Why, you might ask?

We had a wheel shower for a member of my fiber arts group last night. When someone gets their first spinning wheel, we gift them with a basket full of fiber and other spinning goodies. It was Aubrey's turn last night. She learned to spindle spin about a year ago. Last week, she purchased a handpainted Ashford traditional wheel. It's a beaut! She's already spun and plied two gorgeous skeins of yarn since she got her wheel. She's bonded.

She left with a big smile on her face and an overflowing basketful of colorful spinning fiber plus other goodies. (Bet she couldn't wait to get home to start spinning! LOL!) I gave her several balls of spinning fiber, a 2 bobbin lazy Kate, first choice of 14 orifice hooks, and a name tag for her hook made from a bit of silk ribbon threaded through beads spelling out her name. I sold a few more hooks to friends. My Little Gem has a delta orifice and doesn't need a hook to thread it.

The hooks are made from 18 gauge silver colored wire and glass tear drop beads in purple, green, blue, and a topazy color. The beads have highlights in them like opals. I'm not sure what the turquoise barrel beads are made of.

I mailed the four yarn prizes today to the winners of my triangle shawl contest. Beth, Cindy, Jody, and Andrea, watch your mailboxes. They should arrive in a few days. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 15

Triangle shawls galore!

Click Triangle Shawl Master List to go to the updated list with all 314 pattern links or look in the sidebar of my blog for the link.

The contest is over! There were 152 patterns submitted for my triangle shawl contest.

The four prize winners are:
  1. Cindy Bertram
  2. Andrea Lum
  3. Beth Parrott
  4. Jody Ziegler
I'll be contacting you for your mailing address. Watch your email box!

Fiber loot!

It's been a whirlwind couple of days.

Thursday night we went to see the Celtic Woman in concert. Our seats were much better this time and we could really see the performers. It was so much fun! The concert was wonderful! Our seat mates were a major surprise---it was Liz and her sister, Becka!

Friday morning we headed south for the Fiber Event in Greencastle, Indiana. This is my second year to attend this event. Through it I've found a lot of good local and regional fiber producers. I get their business cards so I can contact them between fiber festivals if I want more of their fiber.

We arrived early Friday afternoon. The sun was shining and it was fairly warm. It was so welcome after all the gloomy, cold, and snowy days we've had. Later in the afternoon it began to cloud up and the temperature dropped. I'm so glad we decided to go on Friday. The weather was cold, wet, and miserable yesterday.

Jess and I were having so much fun shopping we totally forgot to take any pictures. Hubby carried our purchases and ferried bags to the car. Though I got halfway through the first building before I bought anything. But once I started...look out!

Here are pics of some of what I bought. This should hold me until Michigan Fiber Fest in August (and then some!). The first picture shows a lot of the wool spinning fiber. As you can see, I bought a lot of purples, lavenders, and lilacs. Can you tell it's my favorite color? A lot of it is Shetland, which I love to spin. The bag on the far right is a merino/tussah silk blend. I usually buy 8 ounces or less. Several, like this one, I had to buy a pound bag because they wouldn't split it up. I'm sure I'll find someone to share it with. LOL!

The second picture is all silk, except for the one on the lower left. It's a superwash/tencel blend. The two hanks of roving next to it on the right are hand dyed silk from Robin Edmundson, a very talented Indiana dyer. Above it are 2 clamshells of silk roving in shades of pink (one a very hot pink). I seem to have gone silk happy.

Some I didn't take pictures of because it wouldn't photograph well. A cream colored Shetland (which I may dye), a wonderful cream Corridale and silk that is like a cloud, and a pound bag from Zeilingers of cream wool top streaked with subtle colors.

Oh, I did buy a 2-1/2 lb Shetland lambswool fleece. I dropped it off for processing at the Wooly Knob booth. Jess and I are going to split it. Jamie said it should be about 2 months before I get it back. While I had the chance, I told him my fiber arts group is interested in touring their fiber mill. He responded to let him know when we want to visit.

On Saturday, Hubby and I stopped at Stitches & Scones in Westfield, Indiana on the way home. I highly recommend a trip to this shop if you are in the Indianapolis area. Both the selection and the service are wonderful! Their free scones are delicious too! As well as all the yarns and patterns they carry, they also stock a fair bit of spinning fiber. I scored these 2 bundles of Lorna's Laces in Flame and Sherbet plus 2 braids of Fleece Artist merino in Mermaid.

My fiber budget is not just badly bent, but truly broken!

Thursday, April 12

This is not amusing...

It was not amusing to wake up to snow on the ground again on Wednesday morning. Mother Nature seems to be confused. It is spring but we continue to get cold, snowy, winter weather. Yesterday, we got 4 inches of heavy, wet snow. It came down so hard I couldn't see across the street. I really hope this is the last of the really cold weather. My poor daffodils have bit the dust. I fear for the fruit trees and all the other things that budded in the warm weather we had several weeks ago. Just before dusk yesterday, my husband called me to look out the window. There were four deer in our backyard at our birdfeeder looking for something to eat. I took several pictures through the window. Here's one of them. Look carefully and you'll see the 4 deer.

I'll probably won't have time to post again until Sunday. We're off to see the Celtic Women in concert tonight. Then it will be up early tomorrow to go the Fiber Event in Greencastle, Indiana. Time to stock up on spinning fiber! I hope to get my new camera going so I can bring back pics for my blog. I've been a little lazy getting up to speed on it. The new camera has lots more bells and whistles than my last camera. Trying to plow my way through the instruction booklet has been a bit of work. I don't understand why they can't write these things to say do this and do this to take a picture and learn the other bits as you go along.

Contest Update: Now up to 145 triangular shawl patterns. Contest ends at midnight on Sunday night. I'll announce the 4 prize winners on Monday. Keep sending those pattern names in!

Tuesday, April 10

New Contest Prize!

The triangle shawl pattern contest is now up to 129 patterns. There's still time to enter if you'd like a chance to win some yarn. Click here to find the details on the contest, what the prizes are, and where to email submissions. Entries posted as comments on my blog do not count.

I picked out a skein of Liz's hand dyed sock yarn as an additional contest prize. This is a 440 yard skein of fingering weight merino wool. Liz calls the colorway "Skittles." It has been dyed with purple, blues, pinks, and yellows. This yarn is not just good for socks. Another friend, Elizabeth, knit the cutest baby sweater out of one skein of this yarn. Or there is enough to make a small shawl.

Also in the picture is the latest sock in pink Opal sock yarn. It's really pretty! I ripped it back and tried a different bind off at the cuff. This time I tried Peggy's Stretchy Bind-off for Toe-Up Socks. It doesn't look as ruffly as some of the stretchy bind offs I've tried and has a lot more stretch. (One note: I didn't have to go up a needle size to get this to work.) The other bind-off I'd been using was a little tight in the cuff. On the next pair of socks I may try the crochet bind-off in the Queen Kahuna Crazy Toes and Heels Socks book.

I went stash diving yesterday for yarn for a baby sweater. Last week I found out my cousin, Kim, is having a baby in May. I wish someone had told me sooner. I pulled out my pattern for a hooded baby sweater and cast on with some Bernat Softee Baby in Chiffon Print (white with flecks of purple, yellow, blue, and green). The little sweater is knit top down in one piece. So far I've finished the hood and ribbing at the neck.

The prayer shawl has been successfully delivered. The gift brought a smile and lifted spirits to someone who is having a difficult time. I'm so glad she liked it and that it made her feel a little better. It will remind her every time she wears it that others care about her. A gift of this sort has love in the stitches and provides a warm hug when it's worn.

Monday, April 9

Easter clearance sales

Don't forget to hit the Easter clearance sales today. It's a good time to pick up Easter Egg dye to use to dye wool yarn. I went to Joann Fabrics this morning and got the last 5 boxes at 29 cents a box (70% off). Each one has 6 dye tablets in it. Then I went over to Target to see what they had at 50% off. Watch your labels as some of their packages only have 3 or 4 tablets in them. I bought two boxes for 75 cents each that have 9 color tablets in them! They're the Dudley's Easter Egg Decorating Kit in the green box. The normal colors in these kits are blue, green, yellow, orange, pink or purple. Not this one! It has blue, TEAL, green, yellow, orange, BROWN, STRAWBERRY, pink, and purple.

I pulled out the Shetland scarf that has been stalled because of other projects. I wound the yarn into a center pull ball so I can start the other end of the scarf. This pattern is one you have to knit the ends separately and graft one of them on so that the pattern runs the same direction when you wear it.

I've started a new pair of socks with some Opal Magic sock yarn in pink. It's a beauty! I have one sock done except for the bind off. It's too tight and I have to do it again. I found a new method I'm going to try out. The Opal yarn is definitely a little bit thinner than the Regia and other brands I've knit with.

I buy my sock yarn online at Little Knits. Sue has a good selection of sock yarn, including Opal. Some of it's on sale for $7.50 and $8.75 for a 462 yard skein (enough to make a pair of socks. Check out the Skacel Trampoline Stretch sock yarn in Tiger for $3.50 a skein (2 balls makes a pair of socks). Even though I didn't need to buy any more sock yarn, the 50% off lured me into purchasing some more. I order my sock yarn online as none of our local stores carry more than a handful of skeins.

While I was there I also ordered a skein of Lane Borgosesia Cashwool. It's 100% extrafine merino laceweight put up in 1,460 yard skeins. I bought a skein of purple to try out plus a couple of Jade Sapphire shawl patterns---A Girl's Best Friend and the Crystalline Shawl. Both are gorgeous! The Crystalline Shawl takes 700 yards of yarn. I'm seriously considering making it up in the peachy pink Corriedale/tencel I spun recently. I just happen to have about 716 yards of it! LOL!

Contest update: There are now 129 triangular shawl, scarf, shawlette, etc. patterns on the list. You have through next Sunday to enter to win some yarn. I'm going to add a fourth yarn prize. Watch for a pic soon!

Saturday, April 7

Triangle shawls: updates

I've had some feedback on my earlier post on different ways to knit triangle shawls. I've updated it to includes links to patterns made using a particular method. Some are free patterns and some are purchased. Thanks, Joan S for your very helpful comments. :-)

Contest entries are now up to 122 triangle shawl patterns. I have to admit that a couple of them are more like half circle shawls. That's not far off from a triangle with the point blunted.

The Spring 2007 issue of Knitter's Magazine is out. It has a gorgeous lace triangle shawl called Spring Garden on page 44. has recently posted a couple of new triangle shawls too. Woo-hoo!

Friday, April 6

Prayer shawl finished

The prayer shawl is finished and ready to be delivered. Last night, I bound it off and blocked it before I went to bed. This version of the Forest Canopy shawl was made with 440 yards of yarn and 14 pattern repeats before the edging. Definitely a much larger shawl than a 350 yard skein of Mountain Colors Weavers Wool.

Entries for the triangle shawl pattern contest are now up to 93. If it gets to 100, I'll sweeten the pot with another yarn prize---either a 440 yard skein of handdyed sock yarn or a skein of my handspun big enough to knit one of the shawls on the list. Check out my March 27 post to find out how to enter. Stay tuned...

Wednesday, April 4

Triangle shawls - let me count the ways... (updated)

How many ways can you shape a triangle shawl? In running this shawl contest, I've discovered there are many ways to accomplish this.

Bottom up
1) Cast on a bazillion stitches and decrease 1 stitch on each edge (every other row) until down to 3 stitches and bind off---Red Hat Lady Shawl
2) Cast on a few stitches, increase 1 stitch on each edge EOR until the size you want and bind off---Crystal Cove, Simple Triangle, Thrift Shop Shawl
3) Cast on a bazillion stitches and decrease 1 stitch on either side of the center stitch and at each edge EOR (every other row) until down to 3 stitches and bind off---Papillion, Spanish Dancer

Top down
1) Cast on 3 stitches and increase 1 stitch at each edge plus 1 stitch on either side of the center stitch EOR until the size you want and bind off---Comfort Shawl, Easy Garter Stitch Shawl
2) Cast on a bazillion stitches and decrease 1 stitch at each edge EOR (every other row) until down to 3 stitches and bind off---Shoulder Shawl

Cast on a few stitches and increase 1 stitch on only one edge EOR until the size you want, then start decreasing EOR until down to a few stitches and bind off---Drop Stitch Twist Shawl

Cast on a bazillion stitches and do a 2 stitch decrease in the center ever so many rows until just a few left and bind off---Mitered Squares Shawl

Multiple triangles
1) Knit 3 triangles and seam them together in an L shape---Loop de Loop, Sheer One Piece Shawl
2) Knit 2 big triangles. Cast on 3 stitches and increase on one edge EOR until big enough. Make another to match. Seam them together with the knitting running in different directions---Twin Peaks Shawl

Half square
If you have a square shawl pattern that's knit from the center out, you may be able to knit half of it as a triangle shawl.

Have I missed any? Let me know and I'll add it to the list.

The triangle shawl contest entries are now up to 81 patterns. There's still time to enter.

Tuesday, April 3

New handspun

My wheel has been really whizzing lately. I finished spinning and plying 2 different fibers yesterday. Here they are all skeined, washed, and ready to go.

The top skein is white and pink Shetland from my friend, Norma. She lives in North Carolina where she raises Shetland sheep and crafts well-balanced drop spindles. This fiber was Shetland locks she washed and combed. She dyed the pink ones too. Norma "roos" her sheep instead of shearing them. I alternated spinning a white lock and a pink lock. I plyed it with the rest of the peach rayon thread from the Corriedale project. Final result: about 2 ounces of fiber/346 yards/a little thinner than fingering weight yarn.

Wait a minute. If I used up that entire spool of rayon thread, that means I've spun over 1,000 yards of yarn in the last week or so! Woo-hoo!

The bottom skein is the blue green merino from a couple of posts back. The colors in the yarn are a lot more muted than they were in the roving. It's pretty, but not what I was hoping it would be. Just goes to show that you can't tell what the yarn will look like from the roving. 3 ounces of fiber/278 yards/2 ply fingering to a little heavier.

The Forest Canopy shawl is coming along. I hope to get it finished and blocked in the next few days. The weather is going down the tubes here in northern Indiana. Our wood pellet stove will be turned on shortly and run for several days to help heat our house. It will be a good time to dry a shawl or skein of yarn overnight. Otherwise, it can take several days to dry.

Triangle shawl patterns submitted 77
Names entered in the drawing 28

You still have time to enter. Click here to get the details. Contest runs thru April 15, 2007.