Spotsie’s contribution

A few years back I used up some of my not-so-soft alpaca yarn knitting wrist warmers which I then felted.  I called them my ‘manly man’ wrist warmers because they were far from delicate or feminine.  Their place was with the ice fishermen and hunters.  But I noticed the ladies were trying them on and buying them for themselves, so I made more in smaller sizes until I had used up all my old ‘strong’ yarn.  After they were gone, I still had people asking about them – wanting the felted wrist warmers, not the pretty soft ones I had for sale.

And so after shearing this year, I had 2 fleeces from Spotsie (this year’s and last year’s).  Now Spotsie will be 10 years old this fall and her fiber is pretty coarse, but I had it spun into worsted weight.

white yarn

Spotsie’s yarn

On my last big dyeing day, I dyed some of the yarn and dyed the remainder in a pot earlier this week.

pile of green yarn

Dyed green

Some is green, some light purple, some a light brown/gray.  2000 yards in all.

2 balls of yarn

Wound into balls

Then it is wound into balls.

6 knit wrist warmers

Knitting is done

The wrist warmers knit up quickly on the knitting machine.

2 pair of seamed wrist warmers

Seaming done

Seams are sewn, leaving the thumb hole.

5 pair felted

Felting done

After agitation in the hot suds of the wash machine and a few hours hanging outside to dry, I have 5 pair of light purple felted wrist warmers.

size comparison

Before and after felting

The size is reduced considerably in the felting process.  I should have 5 pair of the gray/brown and 6 pair of the green, for a total of 16 pair.  They will soon be available at craft show or farmer’s market!

Thank you, Spotsie, for providing just the fiber I needed for this project.

Amazing Shawl

I while back while at Anoka Fiber Works I met a gal who had purchased some white roving my shop space there.  She had spun the roving on a supported spindle and it was lovely.  I think the fiber was from my alpaca Carley.  The goal was to knit a shawl from the yarn.

shawl

Before blocking

And before I knew it, this spinner/knitter had finished a lovely shawl and sent me pictures of it.

shawl being blocked

Being blocked

Beautiful.

shawl after blocking

After blocking

Lovely.

close up of lace

Close up

Lace detail.

shawl being worn

Being worn

And looks great on!  An especially amazing project to complete by spinning on a spindle and knitting!  So proud to have contributed just a little!

Knitting Machine Camp 2014

Last week I went back to Rocking Horse Farm for 3 days of Knitting Machine Camp.  I’ve been doing this for years (last year, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008) and every year I learn new things and come home with a head full of ideas for projects.

Here are the highlights from this year.  Day One:

lace scarf

Lace scarf

I learned why I was not able to make a lacy scarf — I was not using the correct kind of stitch pattern.  I also learned how to draw patterns on the pattern sheets that my knitting machine can read.  I’m looking forward to knitting some scarves with my dyed alpaca lace weight yarn.

tree ornament

Two for one!

If you read the post from last year’s knitting camp, you saw that I knit a little Christmas tree ornament sweater with hopes of using it for a gift card holder.  You also read why that didn’t work out so well!  This year I think I hit on a workable design!  This started out as a pattern for a pocket doll.  I revamped it to hold a gift card.  And it only took a few hours to knit!  Since this prototype, I have thought of a couple ways to speed the process.  I’m really excited to start knitting these!

Day Two:

cape on doll

Short-row cape

I made several little capes – all doll sized.  I learned the technique of short row knitting and how to add or subtract from the amount of flare in the cape.  This will make great capes, bed jackets or wraps for folks in wheelchairs.

poncho on doll

Poncho

Sticking with the doll theme, I knit this poncho using a mock rib stitch – very simple by leaving every third needle out of work.  Then I learned a fun seaming method which shows off, rather than hides, a seam.

Day Three:

Thrummed knitting

Thrumming – right side

Above is little sample showing the outside of thrummed knitting.  This is a technique used to make super warm mittens or socks.  Short pieces of roving are knit into stitches at intervals across the rows.  This leaves a little /\ on the outside.

thrummed alpaca

Side view of thrumming

On the inside of the mitten, your hand is surrounded by soft alpaca fiber.  This will keep hands super warm and will eventually pack down and felt slightly – more so in socks than mittens.  While time consuming to do, the result is mittens that unparalleled in their warmth.  I hope to create a sample to use to take orders for these.

All three days were filled with good food, conversations with new and old friends and lots of tips and tricks to use in future knitting projects.  It is a treat to have three days to concentrate on knitting.  Now to put all those ideas into real projects!  Where should I start?

Drawing a blank?

I’ve knit a few sock blanks from my new sock yarn.  Do you know what sock blanks are?  Have you tried them?  Do you like them?

Sock blanks are a rectangular piece of knitting using 2 strands of white (or very light) sock yarn.  This rectangle is then hand dyed or painted in any way – the more intricate the better.  After drying, the rectangle is unraveled with each strand being wound into its own ball.  The result is 2 balls of identical yarn to knit into 2 matching socks. Perfectly matched socks every time!  No muss, no fuss!

sock blank

Sock blank

Here’s why I think my sock blanks are really great!

  • They are made from my 95% alpaca / 5% nylon sock yarn
  • There is 300 yards of yarn, 150 yd per sock
  • They are knit in the rib stitch, not stockinette, so they lay flat for dyeing
  • The rib stitch is loose, so dye will soak through and dye evenly
  • The rib stitch is loose, so unraveling will be easy
  • They have ample ‘scrap’ yarn on the end to start unraveling so you can easily find the ends
  • And… ( I think this is very cool)
loop at beginning

Bonus!

At the beginning, which will be the last to be unraveled, is a loop.  If you are making socks, just snip your 2 balls of yarn apart.  But if you would like to make a very uniquely dyed scarf, you can knit one ball from the center, the other from the outside of the ball and your scarf will be mirrored from end to end.  THAT is one of a kind!

Are you ready to try sock blanks?  I would love to see your results!

Big day dyeing

I managed to sneak in a really big day of dyeing when we had a rare dry and warm day a week or so ago.  I dyed 60 skeins in one day.   I had 4 dye pots going most of the time.

yarn drying

Sock yarn

By the end of the day, I had my drying rack filled with yarn that had been dyed, rinsed, washed, rinsed, and in a vinegar bath for a final color set.

drying rack, side 2

Lace and Royal Baby

The rack had to come inside to finish drying, some was still dripping, but I was thrilled with my accomplishment.

Now it is all re-skeined and looking very pretty.  All ready to go to out on the town!

sock yarn

Sock yarn

This is my sock yarn.  It is 95% alpaca, 5% nylon, 300 yards, $25 each.   It will still felt, so will make great felted mittens as well as socks or hats or scarves.  The nylon will give it more durability.  The skeins in the photo are stacked 2 deep except the 2 skeins are on the far right.

super soft yarn

Royal Baby yarn

This is my super soft yarn, under 20 microns, royal baby 100% alpaca, 300 yards, $25 each.  You need to feel this to believe it!  Great for anything you want next to your skin!  Again, the skeins are 2 deep, so there is 600 yards of most colors.

lace yarn

Lace weight yarn

And lastly, this is my lace weight yarn, 100% alpaca, 300 yard skeins, $18.  Perfect for shawls or scarves.

A few skeins have already be spoken for, but the remainder will be going to Llama Magic and Fiber Friends festival on May 10 – 11 and then on to Shepherd’s Harvest on May 17 – 18.  I look forward to seeing all my fiber family at these events.

Another sewing project

A while back I got a bunch of fabric through my local freecycle network.  All that fabric gave me ideas and courage to try sewing a few things – like the rug bucket.   Yesterday I finished an even bigger project.  I usually use 2 folding tables at craft shows that I cover with white table cloths.  I’ve always liked the table coverings that fit around the tables and reach the floor on all four sides to hide the tote bins, etc, that I stash under the tables.

I found a HUGE piece of pink fabric – it had to be 8 – 10 yards – and I started cutting.

table covered

Table covered

And I started pinning and sewing.

each side lifts up

Easy storage

I made each side a separate piece so it would be easy to slide and hide things under the table.

farm name banner

Add a banner

Then I remembered the paper proofs from the printer who printed my banner that goes on my canopy.  I covered both sides of the paper with clear contact paper.

banner on covering

Complete!

For now, I just used clear packing tape to tape the name banner to the fabric.  This gives me the ability to remove the banner if I need to wash the coverings.  Plus, I really haven’t figured the best way to attach the banner to the fabric.  Ideas welcome!

I now have new, good-looking coverings for both my craft show tables.  They will be making their debut this Saturday, April 12, at the Big Lake High School for the Sherburne County Master Gardeners Garden Expo.  I hope you will come see me there and get in the spring spirit with a little shopping!

I felt like sewing

For some reason, I got the itch to do a little sewing today.  And since I remembered an idea I had after my last craft show, I got to work.

bucket and fabric

Materials

I found a clean 5 gallon bucket and a piece of black fabric that had been a yard long, but had a chunk cut out of it.

With a little measuring, sizing, piecing together and sewing, I was ready to try it on for size.

fabric lined bucket

Lined bucket

I even put a fabric bottom in my bucket cover.  Then I added the real reason I needed this.

Rugs in a bucket

Rugs in a bucket

I added the sign and, voila’, I have a new display for my rugs at craft shows. These are the last of my alpaca rugs.  There are not enough left to bring my rug rack to shows, but they need a way to stand out.

And speaking of shows, my next craft show is April 12, 8 AM – 3 PM.  It is the Sherburne County Master Gardeners Garden Expo in Big Lake.  Hope to see you there.

More felted vases

Last month I made my first attempts at felting around glass vases.  I didn’t think they were too bad for a first try, although the square one didn’t make me very happy.

Yesterday and today I continued my journey and am getting much better at creating a pattern for the resist that is closer to the correct size.

I dyed the tall one from last month.   The spiky top made me think of flames, so I used Kool-Aid to complete the fiery look.

orange red vase

Vase on fire

The color is more vivid in real life.  It is about 7.5 inches tall and 3 inches in diameter at the widest point.  The shape of this vase allows the vase to slide out of the alpaca felt covering.

gray with blue stripe vase

Tall and gray

This one is made with gray alpaca fiber with a band of blue dyed around it. It’s about 9.5 inches tall and 3.5 inches in diameter.

white with purple stripes

Curvy

This one’s about 7 inches tall, 4.5 inches in diameter at the widest point. While wet, I sprinkled grape Kool-Aid powder around this one and then squirted vinegar on the powder.  The blue dye ran out of the purple dye for the two-tone effect.  Quite unexpected and unique.

black and white felted vase

Black and white

For this one I used both black and white fiber, no dyeing involved.  It’s about 6 inches tall, 3 inches in diameter.

green and purple felt

Meet in the middle

This one is also made with alpaca fiber that was dyed before it was felted.  It is 8 inches tall and 5 inches in diameter at the widest point.

Since they all have glass inside, they can be used for fresh flowers.  Or they can hold a silk flower arrangement, pencils on your desk or knitting needles.  You can put a battery operated candle in them or just admire them on their own.  I’m planning to take these five vases to Gumball Collective in Minneapolis where they will be for sale.  I can’t wait to see how they are accepted there.

5 vases

The group!

So what do you think?   I would love to hear your thoughts.

Dyeing roving again

Last fall, I wrote about my first attempts to dye alpaca roving.   Ever since, I’ve been wanting to dye more roving.  And I finally got to it.

undyed roving

Chained roving

I weighed out one ounce of alpaca roving and starting with the ends held together, I chained the roving.  Each of the above chains are about four feet long.  Then following the methods I had used last fall, I dyed each chain.

roving in pan

Ready for the roaster

And here they are:

3 chains of dyed roving

Dyed roving

From light turquoise to dark, another from pale pink to lavender, the last from bright sunshine to florescent green!

roving again

Another view

These are now for sale at Anoka Fiber Works, $5/ per one ounce chain. Ready to spin or blend on a blending board.

I think I’ll try dyeing some fawn roving next.

Cuffs, at last!

How long have I been writing, talking, thinking about making boot cuffs?   I’m sure you’re as tired of ‘all talk and no action’ as I am.  But I really have been making progress.  I made a couple designs I didn’t like, one I liked okay and then this!

blue boot cuff

Boot Cuff Success

I wanted something simple, so I could reproduce and make enough for craft shows and markets.  But I wanted something unique about them, too.  I finally hit upon an idea that also satisfied my biggest problem with machine knitting.

When knit on a flat bed machine, most things are knit… well, flat!  And that means a seam is needed for a boot cuff.  I wanted my boot-cuff wearers to have the option of pulled up or folded over their boot.   But how to hide a seam?

violet boot cuffs

Cuffs in violet

The answer?  Don’t hide it, make it a feature!  I’m using an afghan latch stitch.  It looks the same on both sides and makes a lovely open lattice panel that is definitely worth showing off.

I have 2 pair (dark green and purple) for sale at Anoka Fiber Works ($25 / pr) and these 2 pair which will go in my online store.

I would love to hear what you think of them.