My current work in progress:

1. pour moi, designed by Lori Versaci, knit from Wollmeise Merino DK in the "Stella Polaris" colorway on a 3.75 mm (U.S. size 5) needle.
2. Outlander MKAL Shawl, designed by Rachel Rodin, knit from Lornas Laces Shepherd Sport in the "Beauchamps" and "Fraser" colorways on a 3.75 mm (U.S. size 5) needle.
3. Myriad stealth projects.

An Open Letter

Dear Favorite Scottish Designer,

It’s been so long. Did you miss me? I missed you. I’m happy to be back!

Warmest Regards,
Wendy

I’ve got a new WIP — Kinsale, from Alice Starmore’s book Fishermen’s Sweaters.

The design called for an old Rowan yarn: “Wool and Cotton” — not to be confused with Rowan’s current offering “Wool Cotton.”

Here are the particulars on the old Rowan Wool and Cotton:

Fibre Content: 50% Superfine Botany Wool/50% Egyptian Cotton
Gauge: 28 st/4 inches on 3.25 mm (US 3)
Approx. 164 yds/50g ball

Here are the particulars on the current Rowan Wool Cotton:

Fibre Content: 50% Merino Wool/50% Cotton
Gauge: 5.5-6 sts/1in on US 5/6
Approx. 123 yds/50g ball

As it happens, I’ve got 20 balls of Rowan Wool Cotton, in the discontinued color “mango.”

Clearly, the Wool and Cotton is a finer gauge, but I did a gauge swatch on 2.5mm needles (US 1) of the Wool Cotton, and came up with the appropriate gauge for Kinsale. without it being stiff as a board. It makes quite a nice fabric, in fact.

So I cast on for Kinsale. And I’m using . . .

. . . wait for it . . .

STASH YARN!!!!

A rarity in the Wendyknits Universe!

So what if it’s only been in my stash for a few months? That matters not. The fact remains that the yarn was bought with no particular project in mind and I am now using it.

Alert the media.

For those of you unfamiliar with Kinsale, there’s a photo of it on the VirtualYarns site here. They are apparently selling the kit for it in Scottish Fleet — their 5-ply gansey wool. I think it would look killer in gansey wool, but I’m quite liking it in my Rowan Wool cotton.

Here’s the teeny bit I’ve got done so far.

kinsale013105 An Open Letter

It’ll take a bit more work before the pattern “pops.”

Why, Yes

lucy013105 An Open Letter

Lucy does have her own bathroom. I guess it’s about the same size as mine, but hers has more counter space. Mine, however, has a bathtub while hers has just a shower. She doesn’t seem to mind.

As for how it’s decorated: there’s a framed, autographed photo of Socks, President Clinton’s cat, hanging in Lucy’s bathroom. She doesn’t seem to mind that it was autographed for Izzy and her brothers, long before Miss Lucy was born.

socks013105 An Open Letter

Doesn’t every cat have one? I guess only the Demo-cats.

hahahahahahaha

Free Magic Spinning for You!

Man, you guys are weird! Well, some of you are. icon smile Free Magic Spinning for You!

I got some interesting entries, apart from the two I posted Friday (which came from Ian, of course, as at least one of you figured out). Lots of attempts to spin dryer lint, dust bunnies, and cotton balls were reported. As well as human hair spinning. There is a bunch of dog hair spinning going on, of various breeds, and cat hair spinning, even some hamster and guinea pig spinning. And even one instance each of horse hair spinning and buffalo spinning.

There were several that I could not choose between, so I picked at random.

Here are the weird spinning runners up: industrial waste, milkweed pod fluff, dogbane, and silk from ears of corn.

And the winning entry:

“Would you believe…fresh seaweed! Yep! It is true! When my kids were little we spent summers on Plum Island in Massachusetts. There is a wildlife sanctuary there where I would take them swimming. This very hairy seaweed washed in one morning and I attempted to spin it! Yech! I ruined the finish on my drop spindle but the stuff did spin! I brought it home, pinned the end of it on the edge of my deck and layed it out to dry! voila!! seaweed “twine” decoration for the deck!”

This entry was from Kate in Massachusetts. Thanks Kate! Your prize is a 10 ounce package of frozen spinach. Thaw it out, spin it, and ply it with your seaweed.

No, just kidding. Your real prize is this lovely handpainted merino/silk roving:

roving013005 Free Magic Spinning for You!

Please don’t ply it with seaweed. icon smile Free Magic Spinning for You!

My Amateur Spinning

There’s a bunch of spinning-related topics that come up in the comments that I’ve not addressed — like Navajo plying. Yup, I do know of it. In fact, for some reason, I knew about Navajo plying and how it was done long, long, long before I started spinning. Have I tried it? Nope. Am I likely to? I wouldn’t rule anything out, but no, not in the near future. Why not? Because.

Enlightening, no?

And from time to time, some of you have tried to lure me into the joys of dyeing. Gotta say, don’t see it happening, for purely practical reasons. Those purely practical reasons are:

It looks really, really messy and I am opposed to really really messy. Now those among you who have seen my home and/or office will collapse into gales of giggles reading that I am opposed to really really messy. What I have in my home and in my office is clutter, not mess, thank-you very much.

The other reason is closely related to the first. I live in a two-bedroom condo. Now it is a large two-bedroom condo, but I don’t have a room where I would be comfortable slopping dye around. (And believe me, if I were dyeing, I’d be a-slopping!) I’ve got a small kitchen and there’s not any extra room there. My bathroom is off-limits for such activities, and I’d like to keep the second bathroom in some minimum state of cleanliness. It is, after all, Lucy’s bathroom.

And Julie asked:
Ummm, so how did you know how to do what you did with the roving to get it to self-stripe? Was it instinct, or is there a manual somewhere that tells a person how to achieve the desired effect?

You can call it instinct, or you can call it dumb luck. Probably safer to call it dumb luck. It just seemed like the way it ought to be done. I don’t know if it’s the right way, but it worked for me, so I’m happy.

Mohair Scarf . . .

. . . is done.

scarf013005 Free Magic Spinning for You!

And I did some knitting on my handspun sweater.

sweater013005 Free Magic Spinning for You!

And Lucy did some relaxing.

013005 Free Magic Spinning for You!

It’s All About the Mohair

In the comments for yesterday’s entry, Jen asked:
The top photo of the scarf makes it look self-striping…is that something that the roving’s colorway was meant to do, did you spin it with the intent of making stripes or did the stripes just sort of happen as you knit it?

Yup, it’s self-striping. If you go back to my January 20 blog entry, you’ll see a photo of some of the roving draped over Katarina. It’s dyed in sections — is this space-dying? I dunno nuthin’ about dying.

Anyhow, what I did was this: I pulled all 8 ounces of the roving out and divided it into two equal pieces by pulling it apart at the center point. Then I took one half and divided it into reasonable lengths, being careful to keep them in order. Each length of roving I carefully split lengthwise into four pieces, and spun each piece separately, being careful to start each piece from the same end. I repeated with each length of roving until I had spun the first half, 4 ounces, which fits on one bobbin.

I repeated the process with the second bobbin, then plied the two bobbins together. Presto, change-o, self-striping yarn!

I really really like the way this scarf is turning out.

scarf012705 Its All About the Mohair

I stopped by Knit Happens briefly after work yesterday, where Holly and Cindy very kindly ooh-ed and aah-ed over the scarf in progress. And I got to see Cindy’s mohair scarf in progress, which she’s knitting from my handspun rainbow mohair. If I had half a brain, I would have thought to take a photo of it, but no. Cindy does have a photo of the start of it on her blog, in this entry. She’s made nice progress on it since then.

Lee Ann asked:
I’m curious: are you knitting with the mohair plied or as singles?

Plied. And just for you (even though you did outbid me on that fiber auction on eBay), an extreme close-up.

scarf012705a Its All About the Mohair

This mohair was a birthday gift to me from L-B, and she got it at Holly Spring Homespun. I looked on their website earlier today and don’t see any mohair roving just now, but I’m betting she’ll have it back again. I’ve got another bag of her mohair roving, this one in purples, pinks, and blues. Yum!

Big-Ass Mitten Report

It was cold and windy today, so I wore my big-ass mittens over gloves to work. I am pleased to report that they worked beautifully! My delicate little fingers remained nice and warm during my commute. Big-ass mittens, I salute thee!

Lucy doesn’t need any mittens to stay warm.

lucy012705 Its All About the Mohair

Contest

I’m getting some . . . um . . . interesting entries into my “what’s the most unusual thing you’ve ever attempted to spin” contest (see yesterday’s blog entry for details). But here are a couple that I bet none of you can top:

Dear Miss Blog Contest Lady:

I once intentionally ripped a hole in my gut with a rusty Swedish Army Knife, and spun all my intestines into a very lovely doily! Am I a winner?

(name withheld to protect the entrant)

See now, that’s unusual! Too bad the entrant disqualified himself by submitting a second entry, which, of course, was expressly forbidden in the contest rules. Here’s the second entry:

Okay, so how about this TRUE story.? Once while in the Delta Quadrant, we landed on a Class B planet and in a Glpleckh bar, drinking Bechl all night, we left around greclhbreak, and just happened to pass a Blubslyk store, and noticed a sale on Gaggh fiber. How could I resist? I brought it home, and spun it up into some perfectly lovely blubslyk yarn. It’s still in my stash room, but I plan to knit it into a Blaghh sweater real soon.

Ahem. No comment.

Spam-a-rama-ding-dong

I close my comments for the previous week’s blog entries every Sunday in my never-ending quest to battle spam. This morning I found seven spam trackback pings. Sigh. So I now close trackbacks for the previous week as well.

Jeez.

Just So You Know

The Grape Arbor Shawl was draped over my office chair just long enough to be photographed. I only brought it to work long enough to photograph it in natural light, then it went back in a bag, and back home.

It’s not that I don’t trust my coworkers . . .

Okay. what am I up to now? Not a whole lot.

I did start knitting a scarf, using a simple eyelet pattern, from my handspun “Autumn Afternoon” mohair. I’m really liking it so far! This was my commuter knitting today, and I got a fair bit done.

scarf012605 Just So You Know

And a close-up, sans kitty head:

scarf012605a Just So You Know

I’ve also got a good part of the back of the sweater I started from my handspun Corriedale, though I’ve not worked on it since Sunday. I really ought to get back to it and make some progress. It’s a fast knit.

corrie012605 Just So You Know

That is, if I actually knit on it.

But to be honest, what I’m really yearning towards is more lace. It’s been several years since my last “lace period” so I guess I’m due. Hmmmmmmm, shall I go with a pattern or shall I design my own? How lazy am I feeling?

Clearly, I need to give this dilemma some thought.

But at least Lucy seems to approve of my WIPs.

Some Questions From the Comments

Julia asked where I buy my fiber. The answer is: almost exclusively online, and most of the time from eBay sellers.

Sally asked whether the edging on my shawl was knitted on or knitted separately and sewn on. Sally, your guess was correct — it is knitted on.

Laura asked me if I ever use a drop spindle, now that I’ve moved to wheel spinning. The answer is . . . uh . . . no. My spindles have not been used since I got my wheels. Well, except for the teaching-Kristine-to-spin incident at the end of December.

And Timothy asked:
Btw, will you keep your hair to spin into human hair yarn? icon smile Just So You Know

The answer is:

“Eeeeek! NO!”

Which leads me to a question for you spinners: what is the most unusual thing you have ever spun? Intentionally, that is.

Hey, lets make this a contest. Send your answers to my Official Contest Email Address by 4:00pm EST, Friday, January 28, 2005. The person whose answer is deemed by moi to be the weirdest, most bizarre, and/or most creative, will win a fabulous prize.

Please, only one entry per person.

Vee Haf Vays of Making You Spin

About my spinning, Jenny asked:
If you haven’t answered this before, did you learn from a class, a book, or some other way. What would you recommend a beginner spinner?

I haven’t really answered this question before — I’ve just sorta been documenting it as I go along.

My friend L-B showed me how to use a drop spindle in November 2004. After two weeks of drop spindling, I bought my first wheel, Katarina, a Kromski Minstrel. I got my second wheel, Lenny the Lendrum, on December 23rd.

Apart from looking at the 5 minutes on the Kromski video that dealt with spinning (most of the video consisted of instructions for assembling the wheel, and no, I didn’t watch it — I’m a rebel), I’ve had no instructions in wheel spinning.

That said, I think beginners could benefit from spinning classes. Heck, I’m a beginner and I’m sure I could benefit from spinning classes. But that would involve some sort of proactive behavior on my part, now wouldn’t it?

But my philosophy remains that it’s not like I’m doing brain surgery without lessons. What’s the worst that can happen? I’ll leave some poor roving brain-dead.

As you can see, it’s a very good thing indeed that I am not a brain surgeon.

What Have We Here?

mittens012505 Vee Haf Vays of Making You Spin

This would be a pair of Big-Ass Mittens.

I made these bad boys big enough to fit over a glove. (And Kathy offered up that suggestion in my comments after I had started this endeavor. Great minds think alike.) That way, when it’s mercilessly cold, I can wear gloves with mittens over them. When I need to do something that requires digital dexterity, for example, using my subway farecard, I can whip off the big-ass mitten, keep the glove on, and nimbly execute my farecard transaction whilst keeping my dainty paws more or less warm.

Am I not clever? No, please do not answer that.

Of course, the weather forecast for tomorrow is for above-freezing temperatures.

I am following, more or less, the mitten pattern in Ann Budd’s most excellent book The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns.

More Grape Arbor Shawl Photos

grapearbor012505 Vee Haf Vays of Making You Spin

grapearbor012505a Vee Haf Vays of Making You Spin

Because some of you asked.

Hair Report

(Those of you who have thoughtfully emailed me or left comments elsewhere to say that you are “creeped out” by my hair updates, kindly avert your eyes.)

Becky asked in a comment the other day how long I plan to grow my hair.

I am this close (holding thumb and forefinger about a quarter of an inch apart) to getting a haircut. I thought about doing some chopping myself.

See, I’ve got this one bottom layer in the back that is longer than the rest, and it needs to come off. I’ve been known to perform surgery on my hair in situations like this in the past. I haven’t screwed anything up. Yet.

(Still, it’s a good thing I’m not a brain surgeon.)

But no, I am not planning on mutilating my hair myself. I today made an appointment for a haircut. On February 17th. At noon.

Send good hair vibes.

lucy012505 Vee Haf Vays of Making You Spin