Monday, November 9, 2009

Bramblewooding along

I love vests. I love to wear vests. Usually, they're cardigan style, but I'm trying something new. Perhaps knitting one that will actually fit could be in my cards.

I selected Bramblewood from the Fall 2009 issue of Knotions(

I love knitting cables, but since the cable pattern is only 26 stitches, and only worked once on the front, once on the back, its a pretty quick knit. I'm using yarn from the stash, Butternut Woolens Sock Yarn in Dusty Grape. This sock yarn is much heavier than most sock yarns I've used- it really feels like knitting with a worsted. I'm using 7s to get gauge, and my hands hurt after an hour or so. I like the yarn, solid, practical, and it sure as hell won't pill! I'm actually close to my six inches below the armhole, where I start a bit of shaping- but this photo was taken not long after I joined everybody together.
I only have one problem. My neckline doesn't look anything like it's supposed to. I have feeling I know what I did, but quite honestly, I'm not sure I mind the way it is shaped. We'll see. At least it fits so far!

Monday, October 26, 2009

asleep at the wheel?

I cannot believe it's been so long since I've posted here. It's not like I haven't been doing the fiber thing, I have. I suppose I've been distracted by great weather, house projects, work, and life. I'll try to catch up by recording some of my fiber activities. Probably most current first, easier to remember.

I've just sent off a package to afghans for Afghans(I should get a link on the sidebar, remember that). They requested garments for kids, so I tried to crank out a few. A little pullover vest, made from a bright yellow/orange singles, naturally dyed in Mexico, given to me by a good friend who was there. The free pattern wasn't really my first or second or third choice, but it was a quick knit, no seaming really, and that's what I needed. Hmm, I can't seem to find it, I'll add later. remember! The teal colored vest is one of my earlier handspuns, Rambouillet/mohair blend, very soft, but hairy. Also a free pattern, "Tryst" from Classic Elite. It's supposed to be a cropped vest, and I think it will be cute on someone who needs to be warm this winter. Finally, I have a larger vest I made for someone, it turned out WAAAY too small, and I decided to donate it as well. It will be put to much better use in Afghanistan than by someone here who really doesn't need another warm garment. Pattern is from Cheryl Oberle's "Folk Vests", and is called "Stone Walls". Yarn used is Black Water Abbey Worsted. Very nice to work with, but not as soft as I would have liked.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Overwhelmed with color

Yes, I believe I am overwhelmed- with color- it's spring here in Montana, and there's so much happening outside in the yard! Every day, something new opens, or is almost open so you can see what's to come. I love this time of year. I can't help but flash back one year, when it was difficult to enjoy spring- but at the same time- it helped me get through each day and the chemo.

Well, that's behind me, and inside, is a riot of hues to overwhelm me as well. First, I joined Tactile Fiber Arts'(see sidebar) new Fiber Club, and the first shipment arrived recently. Its 2 twists of naturally dyed Finn; the solid yellow is pure weld, and the painted twist is weld, quebracho red, and indigo. If I can find the photo, I'll add one that shows them out in the yard with the rock tulips.....

In the meantime, here's more Tactile; this is some of their wonderful Wensleydale, color Kelp.
I purchased 4 oz at Stitches West, and spun my first 3 ply, getting 225 yards at 17 wpi. What will I do with it? Just pet it, for now.

Guess I haven't been knitting much, but I am working on a project, which I'll take some shots of and show it later. Right now I'm in spinning mode. I'm taking two classes in June, and I'd really like to feel more comfortable with the new wheel before then. I took the Little Gem with me to CA earlier this month to hang out with my mom for M's day. My first time taking it on a plane, and it travelled quite well- even in the very tiny overheads that Horizon uses between here and Seattle! I took some very new fiber with me that I purchased "cold" from etsy shop bricolagable. It's naturally dyed Falklands, and I'm really happy with it. Nice preparation and the colors are rich and well distributed. This is the first of the two colors I bought, Cranberry Clot. Check out Lauren's shop and her dye work. And, eyeball her great labels- she uses the color strips from paint stores!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Clun Forest, Falkland, and more

When the most recent issue of Spin-off arrived, I was immediately drawn to the Clun Forest project by Carol Huebscher Rhoades. I had also admired the Cloisters pattern that Sarah Swett used in her sweater project(Fall 08 issue), and I just happened to have about 150 yards of Falklands available.

My Falklands came from (guess where)A Verb for Keeping Warm's Wooly Wonders Fiber Club, dyed very muted shades of green(The Silent Underground). This was my attempt to bust through my wall of spinning fine- and I managed to get about 10wpi in a 2 ply. The Clun Forest cap calls for 130 yds of a 3 ply at 10 wpi, so I figured I was safe. Turns out I was more than safe! I still have 55 yards left! I did start out with size 7, not 8, then switched to to 6 for the lace. I have a small head, so it fits just perfectly. I love the simplicity of the hat, but the lace border adds a nice touch.

I think this is the season for busting through walls, fiber wise. I'm now working on my first three ply. I'm spinning it on my newish Majacraft Little Gem, and it's four ounces of some gorgeous naturally dyed Wensleydale, color "Kelp", from Tactile Fiber Arts. I'm on the last bobbin, so photos will come soon, I hope.

Finally, I want to add a photo of my new basket; I purchased it a few weeks ago in Western Washington, where we took a much needed vacation, and visited friends in the Skagit Valley. The basket is made by a hugely talented woman named Katherine Lewis, who, with her husband, grows 40 varieties of willow that she uses for her craft. AMAZING. We visited her at the farm, where she sells her work when she's not at a limited number of markets. You can see her work at I plan on using my basket to hold some fiber, duh!

I believe it's called a "garden" basket on her website, but here it will definately be a "fiber" basket. The photo doesn't show it well, but the main color is actually green, and the brown trim looks just fantastic. Love love love it. The day we were visiting the farm I realized it was exactly one year to the day that I was diagnosed with cancer, so I decided I needed a present. Damn fine one, I think.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Quiet- but not still

Yup it's been quiet here, but I've been busy. Knitting life has settled down after all those berets; I've moved on to other projects. Spinning and knitting, but first, a smaller project, another jewel from Spindlicity.

This is from the Spring 06 issue, and it's "Smoke Ring" by Kathy Hinckley. I've looked and re-looked at cowls for the past number of years, but never made one. She suggests a yarn with a wpi of 14-16, and I had just the thing in the stash, 300 yards of a lovely Merino/Kid I spun more than a year ago. I don't know where it originates from since it was given to me by a friend who bought it at Black Sheep Gathering in Eugene. It works quite well. Soft, drapey, maybe a tad too halo-y for around the face, but so what.

I also started a top down cardigan for my friend C, who also got the Ropes and Picots Cardi. This is another unknown yarn, since she passed it over to me with no wrapper/labels and doesn't recall. It's a fairly substantial tweedy single, so I'm keeping it simple. Kind of boring, too much stockinette, but one of those good mindless projects. All that's left is most of both sleeves, and the last 3-4 inches of the body. I'm heading to Washington and will be seeing her so she can try it on, and I can finish it up.

I've been spinning a bit on my new Majacraft Little Gem- it was a gift from family for "finishing chemo", which was months ago. It just took me a while to decide what I wanted, then order it! I love it, but its been an adjustment since I have been spinning on a single treadle Ashford. My first full project on it(spinning and plying) was 2 oz of Wolf Creek Cashmere/Tussah in the color Bronze. I loved it unspun, and I did enjoy spinning it- but I underplyed it horribly, and will have to run it through again. Check it out:

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Someone better stop me....

Hello. My name is Martha and I.can't.stop.knitting.berets. First the blue one, for myself. Here it is finished.

Then, I had to make one for KC's birthday out of handspun also; she loves BFL and pink, so I used some Verb for Keeping Warm Vermillion in the stash.

Another March birthday on the horizon, so hmm, what should I make my Oregon buddy? Hey, how about a Love Beret? I just happened to have some lovely Alpaca/Merino Sock from The Natural Dye Studio, that was leftover from a Swallowtail shawl. Perfect, with that nice little halo. Janel, I can't stop!

And yes, I'm working on another one, this time with some leftover Lorna's Laces sock yarn for someone who likes dark purple.....

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Lovin' the "Love Beret"

Well, the mitts got set aside(and are actually getting frogged-more on that later) for a new project using some handspun from the stash. We're still having some cold spells here, and I'm getting tired of my V. Avery beret, as much as I like it. The new issue of has a great pattern from Janel Laidman, the "Because of Love" Beret. Janel, I love your "Love" Beret!

It only took 119 yards of A Verb for Keeping Warm Merino, in the shade "Nightengale". It's 12 wpi, and I knit it right up on #5 Clover circs. I have take a shot of the finished and blocked beret, but for now, here it is in progress. I followed her suggestion of blocking it on a dinner plate- fantastic idea!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

V's Wine and Roses mitts

I've made these a few times previously, but for some reason these are taking some time. I love the yarn, it's Shibui Sock from the stash. One of it's attributes I adore is the nice tight twist; but I'm wondering if it was a poor choice for these mitts. Perhaps a softer yarn would have been better. I wanted them to wear well, and I thought she'd like the color. Anyway, I'm nearly done with the first one, just have to do the thumb now.

V is my sil, and she spends a lot of time at her home office computer. She and my brother live in N. Florida, in an old house, and when we were there recently, she mentioned how cold her hands get. I hope these help, but I better get my butt in gear and finish them up, or they'll sit til next winter. I'm knitting them up with some Inox 2s- I've given up on bamboo for small needles, I constantly break them!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Finishing the Finn

Whew, I've been working on this for quite a while. This is from A Verb for Keeping Warm Fiber Club, Finn Equilibrium. I'd never spun Finn before, and since I'm not exactly a pink person, I was hesitant to start. It arrived in two strips of roving, one peachy pink, the other a blueish grey. It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to try, and I wasn't sure I would like anything. But, I have to say, Kristine has done it again. On first look, I'm kind of not liking the combo, then, as it winds onto the bobbins, it wins me over. Once I plied it all, I was totally sucked in. I'm quite curious now to see how it knits up.

I had just read an article in the recent Spin Off on blending colors while you draft- and since I don't YET have any carders, I decided to give it a shot. I divided each color in half. The first half of the fiber was blended and drafted in a very spontaneous manner. I pulled snippets of one, then more of another, and drafted them up, then spun 'em up. That first bobbin had an overall look of being bluer. The second half was drafted with relatively equal amounts of each color. I just divided the peachy into strips, the blue-grey into strips, and drafted one of each together.

I had one bobbin of each, then plied the two together.

My spinning buddy Kristin, who is also in the Club, spun her Finn first, and reported that it really plumps up. SO, I soaked it all except one little skein, and once it was dry, took a comparison shot. The top strand is right off the bobbin, the lower is the finished Finn. Amazing! Like one of those sponges you buy flat, then as you get it wet, it changes dimensions in a wondrous way.
Anyway, I'm not sure what I'll do with this Finn, but I'm liking it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

more twistin'

Ok, I forgot to add this to the earlier post. Here's the back, while I was working on it. I've got the sleeves, the back, and am getting ready to get started on one of the fronts.
One of the problems is, this yarn is a single. Worked up on the size 4 needles, the fabric seems to be fairly straight. I do like the picots, but those twisted stitches that form the "Ropes" kill my hands. After 3 or 4 hours of twistin', I really do want to shout ENOUGH ALREADY!!!! But they do look nice....

Twists and Shouts

Before the new year, I began a project for a friend. She's an ex-knitter(I know, hard to imagine) and really wanted a black cardigan. She also had yarn in her ancient stash that she really liked, and thought it would work. I found the Ropes and Picots Cardigan, by Laura Grutzeck, in Interweave Knits Winter 2008. I'd give you the link to Ravelry, but I'm still a techno-dolt, and don't know how to do that. Well anyway, the recommended yarn is Rowan Scottish Tweek DK, and while her black tweedy stuff is a single, I got gauge, and she liked how the swatch looked. If you recognize the mystery yarn, please let me know. I am kind of curious.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Daily Fiber is more than a dietary issue

Ok, so last year I had grand intentions to try and document my obsession with fiber. When I see that February posting, it's hard to fathom how much has happened since then. Shortly after posting about my new sweater love, I was diagnosed with cancer. Speedy surgery, hospital stay, a few weeks to recover, then months of chemo. After all that, the climb out of the hole I found myself in... Enough of that, and now, on to the Good Stuff.

One of the ways I made myself feel better was a Visit to the Stash. I was a pretty new spinner, and yes, at the 08 Stitches West, had picked up some lovely little bundles to spin from Tactile Fiber Arts, A Verb for Keeping Warm, and Toots LeBlanc. I couldn't spin for a while since I had abdominal surgery, so I just admired the gorgeous colors, smelled the fiber, you know the game. After a couple chemo treatments, I couldn't knit easily due to the neuropathy in my hands, so I admired some of the yarn stash, waiting for the right project. It all made me feel so much better, even if the relief was temporary.

At some point I needed a fix, and decided to dive in. I screwed up a lot of projects, frogged em, and started another. My attention span was short, which gave me a good excuse to continue on that path for a while. As my hands improved, I started spinning. I truly believe the spinning helped me to find a calm, peaceful place that I sorely needed.

Well, anyway, I'm going to try and start this all over again, and see where it takes me. I've got some FOs to write about and some photos to post, along with some WIP. Back soon.