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This RingSurf Site is owned by The Patchwork Butterfly

I wasn't born with wings, so I'm trying to make my own
Tuesday, March 20, 2007  

I have finally recovered from missing ONE WHOLE HOUR of sleep last week (life is so rough sometimes) but I am now high on spring, which appears to maybe. finally. be here. So for once, I am not a great big giant grump when I am writing a blog entry (I think the fact that I usually blog on Sunday nights, staring down the barrel of a work week, doesn't help with the grumpy posts, either). Anyway, it's absolutley glorious here today, so I'm gonna keep this short so that I can go enjoy some weather!

I got the yarn samples from last week all knit up:

And now I'm working on the great debate of which direction I want to go with this next project. The swatch on the left corresponds to the yarn on the left in the last post. I knit it first and I was absolutely thrilled with it when it was first knit. I loved the colors, the subtlety, everything. It wasn't brown like I had feared and I pretty much felt like I didn't need to knit the other because this was clearly the winner. But, I had done the work to spin the other, so I figured I might as well knit it up. The sample on the right is alright, and if I have enough fiber after spinning for a shawl, I might spin up some yarn just like this for a scarf. It is very pretty, but just too bright for me for a big ol' shawl. But now the sample on the left looks kind of dull. This picture is a pretty good representation of the colors close up, but the further you move away from the swatch, the more it visually blends to brown. And I don't want a brown shawl. I have plenty of brown fiber to use when I do want a brown shawl. I want a pretty, subtle shawl of many (delicate) colors. So now I'm torn. I loved the left swatch when it was all by it's lonesome, can I learn to love it again? Is there a compromise?

I'm going to go ahead and spin and knit one more sample with one ply prepared like the sample on the right and one ply prepared like the sample on the left, and I'll see if I can come up with something in between the two that isn't all bold and stripey, but that also doesn't fade to brown from 3 feet away. Wish me luck! And as always, any advice from people who know more than me is more than welcome. I need help, here, people.

Happy spring!

Sunday, March 11, 2007  

I just want to start out by saying that I hate springing forward! The extra daylight in the evenings is nice, but I really miss that extra hour of sleep!

In spite of the missed hour, though, I've had a very nice weekend. Dye Day: Part Deux was fun and I'm (fairly) happy with the results. Please see the results here to the right, in all their drowned cat, non fluffed glory :-) First, I dyed a quarter ounce of silk in a pretty violet color for a carding experiment. Early on in my spinning days, I bought a lovely roving that was white with hints of violet blended it, along with some irridescent purple angelina. It really had a gorgeous look to it, but it was made from romney and mohair, which I don't personally find condusive to frog-hair type spinning. It just turned out far too rough to my tastes when spun gossamer weight. I ended up gifting a spinning friend with it, minus a sample for me to try to replicate one day. Hopefully, that day has come. My drum carding skills leave something to be desired, but I really want to learn. So, I'm going to blend this violet silk with some white wool/silk and the pretty angelina. Hopefully I'll come close to the roving of my dreams :-) Next in line is some wool/silk that I painted hoping to replicate the "It Takes Two" colorway of Sock Hop roving from Crown Mountain Fibers. I love the Sock Hop colorways, and I think Teyani does a brilliant job, but I dislike superwash wool, and they won't do special orders in another fiber. So, that leaves nothing but to be a big ol' copy cat. I'm not totally happy with this one, the pinks came out brighter than I wanted and I'm not sure there's enough white, but (say it with me now) I'll have to spin it to really know the whole story. Last is wool/silk in a (badly done) Iris colorway. My mom had irises in her garden when I was growing up and I always loved them. I wanted to do a colorway reminiscent of those irises, with purples, violets, yellows and white. I like this roving for what it is, but it did not come out the way I planned. This may sound weird, but this makes me think more of pansies than irises. I was hoping for something more subtle, with more pale purples and not so many bold, saturated purples. Again, I'll spin a sample to be sure, but I think I'll have to try this one again.

I'm a little frustrated with the dyeing, but this is only my second time around, so I know I need to give it time. It would be one thing if I was dyeing fiber to sell and it didn't come out the way I planned, because it would be SOMEONE's cup of tea, and they'd be happy with it. But I'm dyeing these for me, and I have something in mind, and it's frustrating to not get what I was hoping for. It's not that I dislike anything that I've dyed so far, but I still want the rovings that only exist in my head (so far). I know that practice makes perfect and I'll get there one day, but I'm being very Veruca Salt about it. I want it now! Ah, the perfectionist (and spoiled princess) rears her ugly (but perfectly coifed) head.

While I'm on the subject of my dye experiments, I've been sampling the "Claudia" colorway I dyed last time around. I'm thinking that I may use this fiber for my next big project because I love it and I'm really excited about it, and I don't want to let it sit around unused until I've got more dyeing experience under my belt and realize how much I screwed it up :-) I tried spinning it up two different ways, and each has aspects that I like, so I'll have to knit the samples to choose a winner.

For the sample on the right, I used the direct route. I pulled a thin piece of roving off and drafted it out, then spun it up worsted and plied two singles together. For the sample on the left, I pulled a thin piece of roving off, broke it in half, put the two strips side by side and drafted them out together. I then spun the "blended" roving worsted and plied two singles together. So, on the right there could be up to two colors together at any one place, and on the left there could be up to four colors together at any one place. Unknit, I like the sample on the left better, because I love all the bits of color popping through, but I think it may be too muddy once it is knit up. I think that the right sample will look best when knit. It shows the colors well, but not in an obnoxiously striped way (I hope). The proof will be in the puddin' though. I'll be picking my patterns and sample knitting this week so I can determine whether this is the roving I want for my next project, and if so, how I want to spin it. I love planning new projects! Too bad I'm not as good at finishing as I am at starting.

Sunday, March 04, 2007  

I think the time has finally come to tell the tale of my poor, poor BFL. I mentioned a fibery disaster in an earlier post and never got around to elaborating on that. Well, two weeks ago, I went to my parents' house for the usual Sunday dinner. I brought my wheel and my BFL with me so that I could do some spinning. I had been making good progress on the BFL, even though I was pretty much "over" the project. It's still lovely fiber, etc., I was just getting tired of working on it. I usually enjoy planning and starting projects more than I enjoy following through on them. But anyway... I actually ended up being so busy mixing dye that I never even got around to spinning. When I got home from dinner, I was feeling pretty pooped, so I decided to do a bit of blog reading before I did all my responsible stuff - put away laundry, etc. When I came out of the computer room, I found the carnage. Oh, the humanity. The kitten had gotten into my spinning bag, pulled out the BFL batt and spread the 13 grams left over my ENTIRE LIVING ROOM. There were bits o' fluff everywhere. She still had a big chunk of it with her, and she was rolling on her back in it. She was a very happy kitten. Until she saw me, that is. When she saw me, she hopped off the wool she was rolling in and flattened herself to the ground, as though I might mistake her for a piece of wool and then she wouldn't be in trouble. That's the part that really got me - that she KNEW what she was doing was wrong. I understand that I'm the human, I have to be responsible for my stuff and not expect her little pea brain to comprehend what she's doing, but she KNEW she'd be in trouble for playing with my roving and she did it anyway. The little booger! And in case you're wondering, I did let her live.

At this point, though, the batt had been sufficiently shredded and tangled that I could no longer spin the fiber "as is." If I wanted to use the fiber at all, I'd have to recard it, but if I did that I'd lose the color sequence, and that had been an important part of how I'd envisioned this yarn. I was so irked over the whole thing that I put it on hold. I had two options, but I wasn't completely happy with either of them, so I just couldn't choose. First, I could try to salvage the project by trying to find the same spot in another of the BFL batts in my stash. The problem with that was that, I was already "eh" about the project when el destructo worked her magic, and now I was even more frustrated toward it. Plus, I wasn't sure if I'd hit the exact same spot in the next batt, so my color sequences might be messed up anyway. The other option was to just ply the singles I already had and give up on this iteration of the project, and maybe start over with another batt one day when I got over the trauma :-) Of course, when I finally decided to soldier on and try to salvage the project by using a different batt, I found that all the batts I had were different enough from the one I had been using to mess up my color sequence, anyway. I took this as a sign to just quit while I was ahead. I chain plied the singles I had spun and called it a day. There are 315 yards, enough for a pretty little lace scarf. I don't think I'll knit it up for awhile, so for now it's just something pretty to sit on my desk and pet.
Now that that project is resolved, I think I'm ready to start another big project. Another project on the scale of "the shawl." I have an idea for a design of a faroese shawl that I'm excited about, but I want to use a certain fiber for it that I don't feel like spinning right now. So, I think the faroese will have to wait a bit. I may start doing some charting and test knitting for it, just to capture the idea before it floats away, but it's not feeling like the project right now. I'm not really sure what direction I want to go with the next project, though. Since I already designed a square shawl, I want to try a different shape. I love the look of stoles, but not how they look on me. Maybe a circular shawl? I don't know at this point.

In preparation for my next big project, I've been trying to wrap up the odds and ends on my bobbins, a bit of spring cleaning in the spinning department. Everything is off of the bobbins but the blue-purple-gold hand dyed wool/silk and the solid blue wool/silk I planned on plying together. Before I went any further with that, I decided to do a small plied sample to make sure the two worked well together. No use plying up a bunch of blue singles for no reason. I'm glad to say that I'm absolutley thrilled with the way these two fibers look plied. Together, they make an almost glowing ultra-violet yarn. Of course, now that I know I lovelovelove it, I'm sure I won't end up with enough yarn to actually make anything! I'll just have to figure something out, though, because I definitely like this too much to do nothing with it. I might have to try replicating the colorway during my next dye experiment. I'm all set to go for another dye day next Saturday. I mixed up all the dyes for two colorways today, so I have a good jump on preparations. I'm really excited to give dyeing another try. I have so much spinning stash that I feel like it's silly to buy any more, but I don't mind making more! Eventually, I'll have to get around to some carding experiments, too. I'm tired of being frustrated when I find some fiber that has the colors I love, but is too rough for my uses. Since I spin so fine, I have to use very fine fibers or my yarn feels like steel wool. I want to get to the point where I can replicate (in fine fibers) rovings, batts, etc., that looks fabulous, but doesn't feel fabulous. I'm going to have to live a LONG time if I intend to get around to doing everything I want to in the fiber arts. I guess I'll just have to cross my fingers that I win that $340 million in the Mega Millions on Tuesday! Me and everybody else, right?

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