Rose City Yarn Crawl!

Last weekend was the Rose City Yarn Crawl. If you are not lucky enough to live in a city that has a yarn crawl, its much like you’re basic pub crawl. You hop from shop to shop and taste a bit at each one. In Portland, they really go all out. Fifteen shops participated. Each shop offered a free pattern with purchase designed by the shop. The patterns are now available here. Most had trunk shows featuring local dyers, spinners, shawl pin and stitch marker makers, etc. There was a Mystery-knit-along and Mystery-crochet-along leading up to the crawl, and at each shop you could enter to win a prize basket. If you visit all 15 shops during the crawl, you get entered to win the grand prize!

Passports

 

Those are my mother and I’s finished “Passports” proving that we made it to all 15 shops. No prize baskets for either of us, but it was a lot of fun. The crawl is four days long, Thursday – Sunday, but because I was working we did the whole thing over the weekend. In past years there has been even more shops participating, but a few have closed down. Here is the upclose shot if you live in the PDX area and want to see all the shops in the area.

Passport

 

We collected all the free patterns and not a small amount of yarn. I also got a shawl pin, some project bags, stitch markers, and some purchased patterns. I haven’t had the time to take individual photos yet, but here is a photo of the haul all together.

Yarn Crawl

 

I want to cast on something new so badly! I’m still trying really hard to wrap up my lingering WIPs though, so I’m hoping my willpower holds out just a little bit longer. I put a new sweater on the blocking mat this afternoon (I’ll show you next post!) and if I can get two more projects complete I’ll feel good about casting on something new. I’ve been able to take my WIPs from 14 down to 6, and I’m trying really hard not to let it balloon up again. But with this pile of awesome looking up at me, how can I not!

Spinning at Ryan’s

I have some roving and a drop spindle that I keep at Ryan’s for times when he’s busy, or I’m waiting for him to finish his Starcraft game, or other down time. Here’s how much I’ve got:

The fiber is merino/yak from Abstract Fibers. This is spinning up very slowly since I only work on it for 5 – 10 minutes at a time. I don’t have any plans for the finished yarn. Just like to have something to work on around all the time. Averts the problem of me having to guess if I need to bring anything over with me.

Edit: Oops, looks like the post from my iPad did not get the photo uploaded correctly.  I think I’ve fixed it, hope you guys can see it now.

Alpaca Silk

This alpaca/silk I finished spinning the other day is finally dry, measured, and skeined up.  I ended up with about 270 yards of mostly fingering-weight yarn.

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I say “mostly fingering” because there are a few spots where it’s more of a sport weight, but they’re actually pretty few and far between.  I was amazed at how consistently I was able to spin this fiber.
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The fiber is from Abstract Fiber and it created a heavenly soft yarn.  My only complaint is that something about their dyeing/prep process seems to pack down the fibers pretty tightly so that there is a lot of pre-drafting needed to fluff up the fiber so it’s spinnable.  The colorway is Mt. Hood Rose and the fiber is 70% alpaca, 30% silk.  My LYS has chosen the Rustling Leaves Beret as the February knit-a-long and I think I will see how it looks in this yarn.  I’m hoping the yarn is a solid enough color that it doesn’t obscure the pattern.

What next?

Since I finished the alpaca/silk that I had been working on on my wheel, I need to pick what my next wheel project will be.  The trouble is I’m torn.  I have so much lovely fiber that I feel like I want to spin ALL of it.  Right NOW.  So I’m asking you.  What should I spin next?

First up, I have this luscious 100% Tussah Silk top that I got at sock summit in July.  It’s from Teresa Ruch Designs.  The color is so vibrant and it’s so soft that when I touch it I feel like my hands must be covered in sandpaper.  The only downside is that I’ve never spun 100% silk before so there may be a steep learning curve.

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Next option is the mind boggling roving from Abstract Fiber that I got at the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival.  It’s 50% merino and 50% tencel.  The colorway is called “silver” and the reason I say that this is mind boggling is that it actually “looks” silver.  I didn’t know it was possible to give fiber a metallic look… at least not until I saw this for the first time.  It’s not as soft as the 100% silk, but still very soft.  The only downside is that I’ve worked with Abstract Fibers before and while their colors are absolutely amazing something about their prep or their dyeing makes the roving really packed tight so it takes a lot of extra prep to “re-fluff” to the point where it’s easily spinnable.
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Last but not least is some good hearty 100% BFL that I got on the Portland Yarn Crawl.  (If you can’t tell, there are a lot of yarn/fiber related events in the Portland area.  It gets expensive.)  This is from Black Trillium Fiber Studio and the colorway is called Emerald City.  I have never spun with this particular dyers roving, but BFL is one of my go-to fibers for hours of simple mindless spinning enjoyment.  It is the least temperamental fiber I’ve found.  I curse way less at BFL than any other fiber.  The only downside here is that, while BFL is amazing fiber to work with from the simplicity standpoint, it lacks some of the sexiness of silk, merino, and other wonderful butter-in-your-hands luxury fibers.
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Your votes will decide.  What do you think I should start next?

More spinning

It’s been kind of a major weekend of spinning for me.  For those of you not in law school, this is how it works.  Your whole grade is determined by your score on the final exam.  There are no mid-terms, essays, or anything else for the 13 weeks of the semester, just general reading homework and class leading up to one big test.  While this makes the last third of the semester absolute hell, it actually means that the first several weeks of the semester are kind of relaxed (at least I’ve never begun preparing before the half-way mark–too likely to forget before the test comes.)  I’ve taken the relatively relaxing beginning of the semester to get lots of fun fiber stuff done (in anticipation of the later hell that will keep me from the fiber.)

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For Christmas, my mom gave me this yummy soft alpaca merino blend.  Turns out there is an alpaca farm not far from where she works and she stopped by to investigate.  She picked me up this naturally colored fiber along with two lighter shades as well.  My mom also got me the drop spindle for me for my birthday.  It’s the Knit Picks Turkish spindle.  The quality of the spindle is only so-so.  Clearly an example of “you get what you pay for.”
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I spin a drop spindle by flicking the shaft between my fingers (sort of like you would as if you were snapping.)  This particular spindle doesn’t work well with my method because the arms don’t fit very snuggly around the shaft.  This means that sometimes the shaft spins but the arms don’t.  Now that I have more fiber wrapped around the arms, it seems to prevent this problem, but it was a real pain when I was first starting.  I only have about 2 ounces, so my plan is to try to spin this as a stable single to maximize yardage.  We’ll see if it works…

Satisfaction

I was patient and waited until this evening to ply my singles from yesterday.  However, I got a comment from someone on Google+ saying that she never waits to ply, she just fills a bobbin then uses her ball winder to make a center pull ball and plies from both ends.  Anyone else tried this?  Anyone ply without waiting overnight?  How much of a difference does it make?  My finished yarn on the bobbin:

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This color is near impossible to photograph well.  At least for my mediocre photography skills.  The fiber is 70% alpaca 30% silk.  It started out looking like this:
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Spinning muted the color changes quite a bit, but there are a few places where pink barberpoles around the cream.  I managed to spin pretty darn consistently, after dividing the roving into two halves and spinning the singles and then plying them this is all that was left on my “fuller” bobbin:
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After plying, I used my swift to skein up the yarn so that it could be washed.  I don’t bother to use the niddy noddy at this stage because the length will change with washing and hanging anyway.
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Then I drop the whole thing in the sink with some wool wash.  I just picked up this tester-sized bottle of Eucalan and I love it.  It’s grapefruit scented, but not overpoweringly so, just enough to be pleasant.  For $4 it was a great way to see if I liked the scent.  I used less than 1/10 of the bottle, so it’s a pretty good value.  (Especially compared to the $10 per bottle of SOAK testers.)
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The fiber is Abstract Fiber Alpaca Silk  in colorway Mt. Hood Rose.  It appears to be available on the website, but they don’t have a picture.  I got mine at For Yarns Sake.  I let you know the final yardage and weight once it’s fully dry.

New Pattern

The Sylvan Cowl pattern that I showed you guys earlier this month is not available on Ravelry for $2.00.

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It’s an infinity cowl that can be wrapped twice around the head as show above or worn as one long loop, more like a scarf.  I originally created the pattern because I didn’t know what to do with some sport weight handspun I’ve had for months.  The yarn was extremely soft so I knew I wanted it around my neck, but the heathered tweedy color made it look very rustic.  I couldn’t find a pattern that was both interesting to knit and worked with the yarn.  I tried lace but the delicate look of the lace didn’t seem right with the hearty look of the yarn.  This was my solution.  It’s interesting enough to knit since you’re changing what you’re doing every few rounds, but the pattern doesn’t overpower the yarn.

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This is Knitgeneering’s test knit version of the pattern.  I think she made it so beautiful.  Her yarn is exactly the type this pattern was made for.
 
Every few rounds there is something different going on–garter stitch, stockinette stitch, eyelet panels.  Even though it’s knit in sport weight it goes very quickly.  Mine only took about two afternoons.  You can get it through Ravelry as linked at the beginning of the post, or you can buy it here but clicking on the design tab up top and click on the “buy now” button.  Hope you like it!
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Sylvan Cowl

I’ve had some handspun that I finished several months ago burning a hole in my stash for quite a while.  The fiber was a merino silk blend heathered with misty grey, blue, and gold.  The finished yarn was very heathered and had a “rustic”look to it.  While the color gave it a rustic feel, the fiber blend made the yarn buttery soft and I knew I wanted it up by my face to snuggle in when it’s cold outside.

I could not find the right pattern.  Lace didn’t seem to go well with the rustic look of the yarn.  Too much texture, like cables, took away from the beauty of the yarn itself.  Plain stockinette was too boring.  I decided to play around and invent my own pattern.  Here was my solution.

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I call it Sylvan Cowl.  It’s an infinity scarf that can be worn long as pictured above or wrapped around the head twice for a snug fit up around the neck.
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It’s a mixture of simple textures and simple eyelets that is just enough to give some interest to the project but allows the yarn to do its thing and show off its inherent beauty.  I want to make another one in a tweed yarn, I think it would be perfect.
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Currently the pattern is being test knit.  When testing is done, I’ll have the pattern for sale on Ravelry and here on the Designs tab.  The pattern takes about 250 yards of sport weight yarn and US 7 needles.  If you are interested in test-knitting for me, shoot me an email before January 12 and I’ll send you the pattern for free so long as you can get my your feedback by the 16th.
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SIP (Spinning In Progress)

You know you are falling behind on your blogging when you non-knitting boyfriend notices that you haven’t posted in a while.  (Thanks for the kick in the butt Ry! Love you!)  It’s been a solid three weeks since I’ve posted anything.  Partially it’s because I don’t have anything finished and my favorite posts are showing off finished things.  Partially it’s because the weather has been horrible… 5 straight days of rain… and there’s been no sunlight to take pictures in.  My apartment is destroyed and I don’t want you all to see the mess.  Really, I’m thinking of you all.  It’s bad.

I’ve been very uncommitted to any one project lately so all my projects have some progress but not lots.  Mostly I’m trying to get some market bags done for my mom’s birthday present (her birthday is December 21.)  I’ve got some socks going for working on at sock hour at the yarn shop.  A sweater that I started as part of an October knit-a-long and am only about half done with.  Socks that I can’t work on at sock hour so only get attention when I’m on the bus.  A cabled pullover in bulky yarn that I love but don’t focus on too much because every time I do I feel guilty I’m not working on gift knitting.  Granny squares for an afghan that I sometimes have interest in.

There are some other things I need to cast on as gifts, but I think I’ll keep them a secret for now.  But I don’t want to talk about any of that right now.  Right now, I want to show you my current spinning project.

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That is 2 oz. of Alpaca/Silk from Abstract Fibers in colorway Mount Hood Rose.  This luscious fiber is 70% alpaca 30% silk.  I’ve spun it to a lace weight but I’m planning on spinning another 2 oz. and plying it so that I get a fingering weight.  I’m hoping for enough yardage for a triangle shawl–they make the best winter scarves because they cover the whole gap in my coat, not just up by my throat.

Spinning this was a bit hard to adjust to.  I’ve never worked with alpaca before or any other really long-stapled fiber and I wasn’t used to drafting with my finger so far apart.  Once I finally figured it out and got in my rhythm it spins so smoothly and it can be drafted down to almost nothing.

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The yarn is not as garish as the photos make it look.  The sheen from the silk and alpaca make it hard to photograph.  Especially in the bad lighting the weather has left us with here in Portland.  Don’t expect good pictures on the blog again until June… grumble rain grumble grumble