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?

Yarn Crawl part 2

Yesterday I covered the first 6 stops on my adventure participating in the Portland Yarn Crawl, today you get to hear about the last 6. This should be a shorter post since as the day went on I had to move faster through the shops… believe it or not there is such a thing as wool-overload and by the end of the day I definitely had it.

Stop 7: Make One in Milwaukie, OR (yes Wisconsinite friends out here they spell it with ie instead of ee, it drove me nuts the whole first year I was here.) The yarn selection here was extremely picked over by the time I got here (around 3:00) I don’t know how the managed to get through the whole weekend unless they were rationing their stock.

Make One does happen to be one of the stores that was chosen by Knit Picks to carry the Knit Picks needles–apparently KP is testing out having their needles carried by LYSs. This is awesome! I often feel like I want more cables or a certain needle tip size but don’t want to pay for shipping on such a small order. I got nickle-plated tips in size 7 and 8 and more 24″ cords. I also picked up the KP needle sizer. No pictures of those, go to the KP site if you really need to see what their needles look like. (I am not responsible for any money you spend if you click that link.)

Stop 8: Pico Accuardi Dye Works. This isn’t actually a shop in the strictest sense. It’s the studio where two local dyers create amazing hand-dyed yarn and roving which they sell on consignment through other local shops. For the crawl they opened up the studio (and offered 20% off everything purchased there) for knitters to come see their workspace. I bought this roving.

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It had no label (that freshly dyed!) so I can’t tell you what it’s officially called. I’ve been calling in Blueberry because that’s what it reminds me of. It’s 4 oz. of 100% Blue Faced Leicester roving. It’s so fluffy! Sometimes roving comes all squished down and dense from the dying process that you have to fluff it up and pre-draft a bit before it’s easy to spin. This feels like I can pop it on the wheel and begin.

Stop 9: Knit/Purl. I don’t love Knit Purl. They carry some good lines (they have the Brooklyn Tweed Shelter!) but it’s in the Pearl District (which is sort of a fancy boutique-y neighborhood near downtown Portland) and I usually feel like my smaller purchases are frowned on–like I should always be buying $100s in yarn. Really, I would if I could, but you don’t need to ask me “Is this all for today?” while looking down your nose at my single skein of sock yarn, then rolling your eyes when I say yes. It’s a yarn crawl for goodness sake! I went to twelve shops! How much do you want me to spend in your shop before you are nice to me?! Here’s the offending single skein.

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It’s Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in colorway Grove. It’s that scummy yellow-green-brown that I seem to have been obsessed with on Friday. Lest you think I’m nuts, this one is more green, the Smooshy from yesterday is more yellow and the Eco + from yesterday doesn’t have the “scum” quality… that makes them all completely different.

(You might be thinking: Why if you know you don’t like Knit/Purl and they have *&^$%# customer service, did you go there and spend money? The raffle baskets that’s why. I wanted my shot at a giant basket stuffed full of yarn-y goodness. As for why I spent the money, it IS a yarn store. When you walk in it’s full of yarn. The desire to have the yarn competes mightily with the desire to shun the business. It’s hard for me to feel bitter around that much wool. It’s only after leaving the shop that the rudeness hits me and I realize that, while it is full of yarn, I don’t like those people and can get equally good yarn elsewhere. I figure I won’t be back till next year’s yarn crawl so it’s not like I’m the one keeping them open.)

Stop 10: Urban Fiber Arts. This is the only shop (that I’ve found) with a truly GOOD selection of spinning materials. They also carry yarn–really nice yarn–but I love them for the spinning selection. I got some fiber. This is the last of my fiber purchases from the day. I spin even more slowly than I knit so this should hold me for quite a while.

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This is Black Trillium Fibre Studio Blue Faced Leicester Roving. The colorway is called Emerald City. If you know of my obsession with the Wizard of Oz, you know that once I saw the name of the color I could not resist it. I’ve never actually spun with BFL (though my collection is growing) I basically went from Targhee to a Merino/Silk blend and a Merino/Yak blend. It will be interesting trying to go back to a long-staple fiber.

Stop 11: Dublin Bay Knitting Company. This store has a lot of luscious fibers and lots of good crisp rustic wool that makes you feel like you should be knitting ski sweaters or a gansey. It’s not the most budget friendly shop though, you’re pretty much looking at laying down over $100 for a bigger project (there is NOTHING wrong with this, I would do it all the time if I could, I just can’t… pout.) I did manage to find these though:

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That’s Frog Tree Merino Worsted. The first one is colorway Charcoal, the second is Teddy. This is a single-ply merino. I’m thinking it will make good hats (I have a man who loves beanies) or fingerless mitts for me. Most of my yarn tends to be very colorful so adding some neutrals to the mix is a good thing.

Stop 12: For Yarn’s Sake. I love this shop. I go here all the time. It’s dangerous that it is literally right down the road from me. The customer services was a bit dodgy at first (I think I get more bad service than most people because I am young and sometimes wear a big hoop nose ring… maybe some people think that makes me look unknitterly… I think this is Portland and I look way more conservative that many local crafters. The shop is in Beaverton though, so maybe they don’t get the full brunt of the eclectic Portland crowd.) Now that I’ve been going there for quite a while they know me and are great. They always check in on what I’m working on, ask me what I’m planning, and remember what I said I was working on the last time I was there.

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This is Nashua’s Best Foot Forward sock yarn. The color is called summer sunset. It’s from the color line designed by Kristin Nicholas. It looks nice and fallish, totally appropriate for knit socks. I showed Ryan and he said “ew” and threw the ball. I think you have to have a certain personality type to like pea green.

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This bit of magic is Fleece Artists Peter Rabbit in colorway Ivory. It’s exactly as fluffy and amazing and squishably soft as it looks. I made the fatal mistake of brushing past this on my way to the sock yarn and as soon as it touched my bare arm it was over. I picked it up and didn’t put it down. I had a hard time handing it over so that it could be rung up… what if the sales lady felt it and decided not to give it back? She did. Now it’s mine and I have to puzzle over just the right project for it. It has to be perfect.

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The best for last. (It was really hard to decide if this beat the Peter Rabbit, but I think it does by the tiniest photo-finish-type margin.) This is String Theory Caper Sock in color Tavikki. I just finished my Damson (I will blog it soon) out of this yarn in a different colorway. This yarn is amazing to work with. It has amazing stitch definition. It’s sproingy and wonderful in that way that only wool is. It’s super soft from the merino/cashmere. The colors are so rich and deep. It smells good. It blocks amazingly. In shawl-form it drapes amazingly.

I would compose a love letter to this yarn if I wasn’t afraid someone would have me locked up. (Also, it might start some insane conservative vitriol about how if we go around allowing gay marriage, the next thing you know, crazies in Portland will be demanding to marry their yarn and we don’t want to start down such a slippery slope… I am related to many of these whacked people, I know how they reason. Better not to give them any ammunition.)

Fiber Adventures

Way back when Sock Summit came to Portland I decided that I wanted to learn to spin. Student loan budgets being what they are, I decided to learn on a drop spindle. I bought the spindle and some fiber that looked pretty.

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I didn’t get to far with it though… I had a hard time getting a hang of drafting while the spindle was spinning and was getting frustrated. I later learned that Targhee (that’s what the fiber was) is knowing for being trickier to draft and isn’t the best “learning” fiber. I set it aside for a long time and pretty much gave up on spinning.

Then in August I got the idea into my head that I would tie up all my loose end projects. I got the spinning back out to finish it. Something clicked this time, and I blew through all the fiber and wanted more.

The end result is certainly not perfect, but it was quite fun to make.

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This is 3 0z. (I used one oz to make thrummed mittens) of 100% Targhee wool. It ranges it weight from super bulky in places down to light fingering in others.

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The color is much more like the top photos, a happy pink rather than the muted coral of the last picture.

At that point I pretty much decided that I was hooked on spinning and I jumped into the deep end and bought this:

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That is a Babe Fiber Arts Fiber Starter Double Treadle Spinning Wheel. I bought it on eBay. It is made of PVC pipe and a wheelchair wheel. It is perfect for me. Cheap, easy to use and maintain, and pretty near indestructible. The cats have not been able to do any perceptible damage even though they are completely obsessed with the wheel. The wheel came with 8 oz of mystery wool fiber which I promptly spun up. It’s way over-spun in some places and pretty thick and thin but it was great fun to make. I’m sure I’ll just knit something to felt that way it won’t show. I’ve been stashing fiber ever since.

Last weekend was the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival and I somehow managed to convince Ryan that it would be a good idea to take time away from our law school studies to drive an hour over to Canby and spend the whole afternoon looking at yarn and fiber. I think Ryan was expecting a few tables with a few piles of yarn on them since he still has a hard time believed that there are actually people in this world that get super excited over yarn and fiber. It was glorious. Every building of the Canby fairgrounds was packed with booths and the entire lawn/picnic area was covered with outside booths as well. There was easily 250 vendors present. I walked away with a fantastic new fiber stash and, this is the most amazing part, I only spent $75! Yeah for local products!

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These are each 4 oz of 70% Merino and 30% Tussah Silk. The top picture is colorway Sea Mist and the bottom picture is colorway Red. This fiber is fantastic. I’ve heard the phrase “drafts like butter” bandied about on the Ravelry forums but with my Targhee experience I never really believed it… until now.

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This is only my second wheel-spun project and it’s so even. It’s drafting down to almost lace weight. I don’t know if I’ll ply it or just work with it as a single, it’s spinning so evenly it would work well as a single and I would have more yardage. I love the subtlety of this color. “Mist” is the perfect word for it.

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This is 4 oz of 70% Merino 30% Tencel blend. The picture makes it look like its silver and that’s because it is. Yeah, that’s right, SILVER yarn. I don’t know how the dye looks so metallic, but it’s wonderful.

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This is dyed by the same woman. It’s 4 oz of 70% Merino 30% Yak. That’s right, Yak. It’s wonderful. It’s harder to draft than the Merino/Silk but easier than the Targhee was. It’s on my spindle now. I don’t have a picture of it because it lives at Ryan’s house so that I have a project to work on when I’m there. Ryan seems to understand that having something for me to work on at his place is necessary for keeping me sane.

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This is 8 oz of 60% alpaca 40% wool. It’s super soft and I love the earthy colors. This will be interesting to spin since I’ve never spun from a bat before, only roving.

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These are 4 oz each of Blue Faced Leicester. They were $5 each. Amazing deal. I love the colors. They will make something fun to wear during the bleak Portland winters

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This is so shiny it’s impossible to get a picture of it. It’s the softest thing I’ve ever felt in my life. It’s 2 oz of pure silk. I don’t think I’ll be able to get any real yardage out of it, so I don’t know what I’ll do with it, but it’s worth it just to feel the fiber.

I haven’t really done much knitting. I’ve finished one project since my last post… (and I can’t even show it to you since it was a test knit and the pattern hasn’t been released yet.) I have several projects that will only take an hour or two to finish but I can’t bring myself to do the boring bits like weaving in ends, sewing on buttons, ribbing, etc. Hopefully, I’ll get something off the needles this week that I can show you.