Monday, November 24, 2008

Spinning along

I have never been much of a joiner. In fact, I'm downright unsociable in many ways. However, sometimes I can't resist following the crowd. Case in point: the second All Spun Up spin along. I had such a lovely time spinning up the fiber in the first round that I absolutely could not miss the second. This time the fiber was superfine merino, and the colorway perfectly captures the beauty of autumn.

asu sal2 fiber
Naturally I signed up for a double dose (8 oz.), and I planned to spin it up as 3 ply (because apparently that's the only trick in my bag these days). However, a number of the SAL participants were Navajo plying theirs, and I was charmed by the results they were getting. What's a girl to do? Spin it up both ways, of course.

asu sal2 3p strands
3 ply
458 yards
119 grams

asu sal2 np strands
Navajo (chain) plied
388 yards
120 grams

asu sal2 swirls
Since I had no immediate plans for the yarn, it didn't bother me in the least that the skeins would not match. What does have me perplexed is the difference in yardages. I thought I had spun the singles at the same thickness, but clearly I did not. Oh well. It's all a learning experience.

Thanks to all who left comments and sent emails full of good birthday wishes. It was a lovely birthday. The Professor surprised me with a wonderful fiber-related gift.

skein winder
I have a skein winder at last! This one is the 2-yard manual version from Crazy Monkey. It's quite sturdy and thoughtfully designed. The only thing it's lacking is a rotation counter, but the Professor has procured one for me. What a nice man he is. Of course, it may be that he simply was tired of listening to me curse at my niddy noddy.

There are still a few hours left to enter my birthday giveaway! See the previous post.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A palindromic age

Today is my 33rd birthday. Somehow I think that 33 must be an auspicious age, although I don't have a rational explanation for why I feel that way. Birthdays that are also palindromes just seem special. Good things are bound to happen. After all, I met the Professor when I was 22, and as it happens, he met me when he was 33. See what I mean? Good things. (Those of you who really know me may be wondering where this optimism is coming from. Again, I can't explain it.)

Anyway, I have always been of the opinion that it is far more fun to give than to receive, so I have some birthday gifts for you all—three birthday gifts, to be exact. Apropos, no? And since I believe in giving 'til it hurts, I have chosen three extra-special gifts.

cmf swm cw1 swirl
First up is a skein of my handspun 3 ply fingering weight yarn. The fiber is Crown Mountain Farms superwash merino in the "Crocodile Walk" colorway. The skein weighs 118 grams (4.125 oz.) and is 420 yards. I hope the shades of green and russet will appeal to a wide range of tastes.

500 stitches
Next is a brand new (unused, that is) Japanese stitch dictionary. This one contains 500 different stitch patterns. If you've never perused a Japanese stitch book, you're in for a treat. There's lots of scope for the imagination in this between these pages. The book is in Japanese, but every stitch pattern is charted, so knitters of all linguistic bacgrounds should be able to use it.

wollmeise veilchen
Last, and certainly not least, is a skein of Wollmeise 100% superwash merino sock yarn in "Veilchen" (the strong/dark version). Yes, I'm breaking into my precious but neglected stash of Wollmeise. (Let it not be said that I won't sacrifice for all of you!) You can't really tell from the photo, but there's a rich, vibrant purple in addition to the deep blue.

That's it—three prizes for three winners. Now, I really can't decide what should be first, second, and third prize, so I'm leaving it up to you. To enter, just leave a comment on this post listing your first, second, and third choice for prizes. I'll randomly select three entries. The first winner selected will get his or her first choice of prize. The second winner selected will receive the highest remaining prize in her/his ranking. The third winner will get, well, whatever is left; however, the last prize may well be that person's first or second ranking.

Got it? I'll leave the contest open until midnight (Central Standard Time) next Monday, November 24, and I'll announce the winners shortly thereafter. Anyone with a mailing address on Planet Earth is welcome to enter. Oh, but only one entry per person, please. Thanks, everyone! I'm off in search of birthday cake...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Just Kid 'n Ewe

Last weekend five of us from the Sisters of the Wool made our way down to Boerne, Texas (north of San Antonio) for the Kid 'N Ewe fiber festival. Considering the name of the festival, alpacas seemed to be overrepresented.

Cuervo (left) and Masquerade (right)

These cuties were at the festival two of the three days we were there. This was the only shot I managed to get with both of them in the frame. Cuervo seemed to be a little stressed out about all the people and the unusual surroundings, so he kept making a sweet little humming noise. I just wanted to hug him and take him home with me. Oh, and did you know how dangerous alpacas are?

alpaca caution
It's true. They will.

The only other livestock we saw were the cashmere goats. (Alas, I got no photos of them.)
We happened upon the barn in the middle of judging, and the judge was kind enough to turn the event into a sort of workshop about what qualities they look for in the animals.

The folks form Wyatt Spinning Wheels were at the festival. Here's one of Bill Wyatt's apprentices demonstrating their Great Wheel. It was really mesmerizing to watch.

ww great wheel
I was hesitant to sit down at one of the Wyatt wheels myself since I was fairly certain I would want one if I tried it. It wasn't until the second day that I couldn't resist any longer, and I parked myself in front of his Pegasus wheel. Oh my, I really have no words. OK, I do have one word: love! I may have put my name on the 2-year waiting list for one. Sigh.

As far as my yarn and fiber purchases, I think I was reasonably restrained. (Hey, I can hear all of you snorting.)

jojo melody swirl
Jojoland Melody superwash yarn and Swirl Shawl pattern

plain & fancy
Plain & Fancy Texas wool singles yarns, sport and fingering weights

brooks farm
Brooks Farm Primero, Acero, and Mas Acero

tia fiber
Cibolo Creek prepared alpaca fiber

This alpaca fiber was the softest I came across at the festival, and I love the light fawn color. It came from a Huacaya female named Tapatia (or "Tia" for short). We talked to Suzanne, the owner, for several minutes, and she was kind enough to show us adorable photos of Tia. Suzanne was so enthusiastic about Tia and her fiber that she was practically bubbling. How could I not buy some? I plan to spin it up into laceweight and knit myself a stole from it. It'll be the perfect souvenir of a glorious weekend.