Thursday, May 28, 2009

Knitting Connections

Last evening at my knitting circle (aka 'Purls of Wisdom') there were two new members. We are always happy to expand our merry group and welcomed them with open arms and smiling faces. As the conversations swirled, one of the new members looked at me and said, "I know you from somewhere". I had been thinking the same about her. She then said, "A B&B in Connecticut". I exclaimed, "Under Mountain Inn". Yes, saith she. Seems we (DH & I) had spent a lovely long weekend with this new member of Purls, her husband and mutual friends at this inn over 14 years ago. She had also worked in the same company as my DH many years ago, as had her DH. Talk about coincidence's. We were thrilled to re-connect. And it was knitting that made it happen!

Still knitting on the 'two-at-a-time-toe-up-on-one-circular-needle' that I intend to send my great-niece for her 10th birthday next month. It is a really fun pattern (Double Bubble) to knit and the yarn is perfect for my GN, but I really have to spend a lot more time knitting over the next couple of days to complete them in time for her birthday...and I don't have much time over the next couple of days to do just that. I must become a faster knitter...or stop doing so many other things...not! Perhaps one could comment that if I spent less time 'blogging' and more time knitting then I would be further along on the socks...and one would be correct!

Also still carding and spinning the gorgeous silver Border Leicester...have 22-ounces spun but not plied with many, many, many, many more ounces to go. And then we start on the white Dorset and Border Leicester. And that will also coincide with our (friend, DH & me) foray into dyeing with natural dye stuffs...Yeah! Am very excited about that. Other news...on Monday I am to have my first 'lace-knitting' lesson from a Purls of Wisdom friend. Oh, yes...I WILL master those dreaded YOs!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My Spinning Places

Since I have three spinning wheels and a very small house, I have set up spinning places in 3 rooms. My favorite spot is in what I call my parlor...a very English is upstairs and is where I have made a retreat for myself. My office is just off this room so everything is very convenient. It is a space to read, knit, listen to music, sew, watch my sports programs (Go Yankees!) on a little TV and, now, it is a place to spin. The Louet S51...a delightful little at home in this space. My spinning chair is an antique Victorian balloon back chair...I so enjoy being surrounded by history. That is some of the carded Border Leicester in the basket at the foot of the wheel.
The view from the windows is of our wooded property and when I sit and spin at this time of the year I look out on the fully leafed-out trees and hear the many bird songs. The sun rises through the side window and early morning is my favorite spinning time and where I enjoy a cup of my favorite Irish Breakfast blend tea. In the distance I can hear the local trains; a sound I have always found peaceful and comforting. Spending time in this space is an antidote to the stress and chaos of the life beyond my is my centering place.

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Saga of the Penllyn Socks

The saga of the Penllyn Socks (from Wildhorse Farm Designs) continues. Last fall, I offered to knit my cousin (she of Lladyhawk Llamas & Lavender) a pair of socks, she happily said Thank You and chose the Penllyn pattern (one of my favorites) and the yarn (from my statsh, also one of my favorites) she wanted me to I happily began to knit and the first sock turned out smashingly well (IMHO) and I began the second. Well the 10-row pattern repeat is so much fun to knit that I kept knitting it for 5 extra rows. This is not a pattern stitch you want to frog, so I decided to make this the first sock of a pair for me. Again, I was having so much fun knitting this pattern that I forgot to stop and the foot is too long for me and not long enough for my DC (dear cousin). That means I have two FIRST socks...only one of which fits any one I know!) and no second socks. Now I had to find more of the yarn because I did not have enough to make the second sock for my DC. Luckily I located the exaxt same yarn on the web, ordered it and now I have two FIRST socks and 2 more skeins of yarn to make two SECOND socks...but now I don't feel like knitting this pattern again because I have so many other socks I want to knit. This has all taken since last September! I am a slow knitter but I did knit and spin lots of other stuff during these 10 months I have been dealing with the 'Saga of the Penllyn Socks'.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Still Picking, Carding and Spinning

Another day at peaceful "Davenport Pines" and another day spent picking, carding and then spinning more of the Border Leicester...a total of 14 ounces finished...are you kidding me? I have spent the last 3 weeks of my life doing this and I only have 14-ounces of singles...not even plied...yarn to show for it!! And how many POUNDS of fleece do we still have to pick, card and spin...don't even ask. However, the singles are gorgeous (if I do say so myself) and they have been moved to two storage bobbins to let the 'spin settle' before they are plied. We just purchased two (we never do things simply) flickers and I am looking to decide which tensioned Lazy Kate I will purchase because plying is the part I find most stressful. It is so nice that DH gets just as involved in all of this as I do and it is also great to have a knitting friend...the one responsible for the fleeces in the first do all of the washing and hand-carding the Dorset. We are hoping to be knitting with this GLORIOUS :-) (Leicester) yarn by winter! We are just not saying which winter...Ha!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Fleece Factory

When we do something, we do not step lightly...instead we dive in with both feet, a couple of legs and both arms. Thus continues our fleece adventures. A knitting friend has a neighbor who raises Border Collies and, of course, needs to also own sheep to train them with. Friend talks to neighbor; neighbor says sheep are being sheared and I will just dispose of the fleece; friend says, "Oh, no!"; neighbor says do you want the fleece?; friend says "Of course!" and I will share it...and that is how we became part owners of six (yes, 6) 32-gallon garbage bags full of fleece in the grease! Granted, it is VERY nice fleece...Border Leicester and Dorset. The Leicester is especially beautiful with nice locks, nice crimp, very long staple length and exceptional colors...silver, shades of grey and golden tips...see photo. When it comes off the carder it looks like a 'fall of luscious hair'.

It spins beautifully although, as expected, since it is Leicester, the yarn is not lofty but feels quite 'sturdy'. The colors show up beautifully in the singles and I am looking forward to seeing the plied yarn.

The dorset is white with more crimp and shorter staple but cards up to a fluffy white cloud. This also spins up nicely and, since the staple length is shorter than the Leicester, I find it easier to spin. My friend is still washing...I think she has 2 more bags to go and we are still carding and I don't want to think about how much more fleece we have before us to card...I am thankful that we bought a drum carder but I wish it was electric! We never expected to turn into a Fleece Factory here at Davenport Pines.

The saga continues with said friend visiting the exhibit on fashioning felt at the Cooper Hewitt Museum in NYC ( ) and deciding that next we now have to learn to felt fleece and, of course, learning to dye the white (some is Dorset and some is Border Leicester) with natural dyes is also on the agenda. It is a never-ending story of 'Truth, Justice and the American Way'...or something.