Posts Tagged ‘roving’

Pennsic Panic

I had pictures for you, and I left them uploaded at home and on Facebook, totally unreachable from work.

So, it is that magical time of year called Pennsic Prep at the Manor by the High Bridge. The only thing magical about it is how spending a week outdoors can motivate me to achieve efficiency levels not seen at any other time of the year.

I have sewn my heart out in the past 8 days. I have made a very nice early 12th century bliaut for Byram, two cyclases and a mantle for a new guy in our camp, ironed nearly 100 yards of clothing of my own, and taken in 8 or 9 dresses for myself. I also rolled and sewed an edge for my new wimple and will likely get to work on its matching veil sometime this week, or it will simply have to come with me to Pennsic and be a War Project.

Now I have been going to Pennsic for almost a decade and you would think I would know by now to start my Pennsic Prep about the middle of June, but it never fails that I don’t start until the middle of July, and then we shift gears from Pennsic Prep into Pennsic Panic. I hit the Pennsic Panic button over the weekend, but since finishing and delivering all the new garb, I have been able to dial it back a bit.

That means I shifted from sewing to painting. I am currently helping Byram get his new shield painted; a task I very much relished yesterday as I was wielding a paintbrush and not a needle. Once I hit the wall on painting, I cooked for 7; also an easy task as it did not involve tiny little stitches. After eating and getting the girl child in the bath, I indulged in spindle spinning and after that…playing stupid little computer games until the wee hours of the night. It was blissful to not have to be doing Pennsic projects.

My reprieve is temporary. Tonight, it is my greatest wish to cut out a piece of pre-gessoed canvas and line draw my heraldry on them, in hopes of getting it painted before I leave for Pennsic on Friday afternoon. I have been in the SCA a few month short of 10 years, and I have yet to own something bigger than 4×8 with my arms painted on it. It is high time the encampment I help fund, organize, run, and invest hours of man power (never mind emotional energy) into is decorated in some way with my colors.

In case are curious:
So Friday, at 5:01 p.m., I am out of here, out of Richmond, out of the MidAtlantic, and off to the western edge of Pennsylvania for a week of vacation with some 10,000 other SCAdians. Seeing as I am only going for Peace Week this year, I will not have any structured activities like I have in a normal year. No battles. No courts. No pre-planned bardics. I am not quite sure what I will do with my week, but I suspect much of it will be spent in a hammock with knitting in my hands.

I have been trying to come up with good Pennsic knitting projects. I plan to take the beer socks and hope to finish them at the War. I am also about half way done with the Peacock and Leaves scarf, and I have finally reunited yarn, needles, pattern, beads, and crochet hook, all in one place, so I can work on it again, but I am not entirely sure that using tiny beads and a tiny crochet hook that can easily be lost in camp is totally a good idea. There are a LOT of parts and pieces to knitting that particular project. I should take my Sienna Cardigan and finish it, but the idea of a wool sweater laying in my lap in my non-climate controlled environment does not seem like a good plan either.

More socks? I do need to rip back and start over my failed Jaywalker socks (when she says the pattern doesn’t have much give, she was NOT kidding). I decided to only knit the pattern from the ankle up, and even increasing from the 72 stitches in the foot to the 76 in the leg, the sock was too tight to pull over my heel, much less my poor mother’s, for whom the socks were intended. She has rheumatoid arthritis, so there is just no way I can knit that pattern large enough to accommodate her swollen and painful ankles. I am hunting for another really good looking pattern that looks amazing with a great self-striping yarn; something that is not just ribs or stockinette.

I intend to knit the Leyburn socks out of a relatively busy yarn I have for my Grandmother. Those could work.

The real problem is that I am not generally in a sock kind of mood. I am deeply in a lace mood. I have long planned to knit Haruni, which is a shawl named from the Tolkien elven language, which seems strangely appropriate given the adventure I am going on. I bought the appropriate yarn back in January. It is just a matter of collecting the needles, yarn, and fifteen page (!!!) pattern all into one place. No beads or anything to have to drag with me.

So many choices and so little time. Then, there is the question of do I pack my spinning wheel or not? There should be space. There will be gobs of delicious wool to buy in the Merchants. My spindle is definitely going, and since I have broken two spindles in the past year, I intend to purchase a new spindle from The Spanish Peacock. I never get to participate in the Tour de Fleece because it always falls in the middle of the aforementioned Pennsic Prep, but this year, I have at least tried to do a little spinning when not neck deep in various lengths of linen and wool fabric.

Here is what is on the spindle currently. Four ounces of this delicious merino in various shades of blue purchased from Jenya Loves who was awesome to work with. She even pardoned me when I thought I had submitted my payment late on a Friday afternoon and it apparently didn’t go through. She was very polite about it and understanding.

In only 4 days, I will be up at my summer “home” where the temperatures are running 15-20 degrees cooler than they have been here in the River City. I cannot wait. Pennsic is calling.



After the lows of the past week, I decided that recovery might come in the form of fiber over-indulgence.

I went to the Virginia Fall Fiber Festival early Saturday morning, where, sadly, I was cameraless. What a lovely way to spend a morning. I started with shopping. I went to get fiber, and I was not disappointed.

My first purchases were made at Misty Mountain Farm’s booth, where I picked up VERY reasonably priced 4 oz. rovings.

My next purchase was the major purchase of the weekend. Stony Mountain was there. This is a pretty well-known fiber store from Charlottesville, and I was looking forward to seeing their shop and I was not disappointed. They had the find of the day when I came across a set of Viking combs for $49! It is a standard set with a single row, nothing fancy, but good enough to get me started and I am excited to try them.

I went with the intent of buying a fleece as well, but I became intimidated by the sheer variety, range of colors, prices, and breeds. I now intend to educate myself and come back next year prepared to bring home a fleece.

I got to meet Gale of GalesArt, which you can find there at Etsy or over at The Loopy Ewe. I picked up my long-desired Proud Peacock roving, but it was a close call between Proud Peacock and Gumball, which was also very attractive. All of her work was very nice looking and of all the fibers I have brought home, it gets the most attention.

The last purchase was from Wild Hare Fiber called Citrus Tonic. It is greens and yellows and a hint of light blue in there and it was delivered to its intended receiver- my Mom. She seemed to like it; she liked the Lemongrass colorway from Blue Moon Fiber Arts. I don’t think I can do socks out of the three ounces I have, so I have to come up with something else. I could tell she was disappointed when I told her I couldn’t do socks.

Mental note to self- mom wants spring-green socks.

My only disappointment about the entire festival was that not a single merchant and not a single spinner there had a Kromski wheel. Of any model. At. All. This made me pause in my quest for a Kromski, since when you see most people at a fiber festival spinning on either Majacraft or Schact wheels, you have to wonder what makes these so popular; and if there isnt a SINGLE Kromski there, why was that? Must investigate this further.

After I had shopped myself broke, I went and looked at the competitions. I saw Ms. Ashley’s Moonlight Sonata shawl which made me jealous that I lacked the skill to make my own Moonlight Sonata shawl, but after seeing how pretty her shawl was, I think I will give it another shot with a heavier weight yarn.

I was thrilled to see a friend from the SCA had entered her stranded knit silk bag and won first place with it. It was quite pretty and Ms. Maggie was the person who inspired me to jump off and start knitting this time last year when she showed me a pair of handspun naalbinded socks she had made for an SCA event last October. Yay for her winning first place.

There was a stunning white circular shawl there too that made me want to get another circular shawl on the needles. I am thinking of doing either Rona or the very beautiful but somewhat scary Wedding Peacock shawl by MMario on Ravelry.

After oohing and ahhing over the beautiful hand knits and handspun skeins, I went and watched the sheep shearing demonstations, which was cool to see, and also made me rethink the idea I had this year of learning to shear sheep and doing it as a side-job to help fund my hobby. Shearing is not a hobby job. No way.

Then I watched the sheep dog trials which were phenomenal! I have never seen sheep dogs at work, but wow, it was cool to see. They are lightning fast and smarter that a few humans I know. Really, it was the most impressive display of animal behaviour I have seen before.

The rest of my Saturday was spent exploring the eastern end of the Virginia Piedmont; New Kent Winery in particular. Wow was their wine good. They had a red Meritage that blew me away, and in general, I am not a wine drinker and especially not a red wine drinker, so this was really special.

I finished the first Ruba’iyat mitten this morning. Need a little kitchner on my thumb and to weave in a couple more ends from the thumb, and it will be done.

No, no pictures today. Camera was left at home. One of these days, I promise you, I will get around to posting pictures again; hopefully all the neat stuff I picked up this weekend will make it up here shortly.

In the meantime, wash your hands, get your flu shots, and stay home if you feel poorly.

An Unworthy Spinner

Last night, the girl went to bed after a particularly “Two” kind of evening, and I settled down for some computer-free time, knitting and watching the Biggest Loser (a show I both hate and love). I picked up my Faroese shawl that I had been so smugly working on all day; I say smugly because I was so proud of the fact that I had learned the pattern well enough that I could anticipate my next row without pulling the pattern out of the bag.

Now, what would I have lost by pulling that pattern out of the same bag I was pulling the actual knitting out of? Nothing, of course. But I was smug, and I knit two rows without glancing at the pattern.

Later, I get home and settle in for knitting and pull the pattern out because I think I am on the row where we begin the point of our first set of large diamonds and I need to know some numbers. You can see where this is going right?

It only takes me half a second to realize the row I was working on earlier in the day should have started the large diamond motif, and that despite my smug sureness, the diamond motif actually did begin BEFORE the final zigzag motif is complete. I blew right on by the first point of my 8 large diamonds.

Queue much grumbling and kicking myself in the imaginary pants. Also queue the tinking of 678 stitches. I know how many because I counted. I wanted to know exactly how much the effort of NOT pulling the pattern out had cost me. I set about tinking half last night, the other half this morning, and reknitting those two rows this afternoon.

I have a mug that says “H if for Hardwon Humility.” It was meant to be a constant reminder to me that every time, in any aspect of my life, when I get too cocky, God sees fit to send me some more hard won humility. Interestingly enough, I stopped using it and went back to my old Rosie the Riveter mug (it holds more coffee and that’s important!) about a week ago. Coincidence? One mug reminds me not to get overconfident, and the other one cries “We Can Do It!”

The rest of my evening was spent working on more stitch markers. Here is the haul from last night:

They aren’t on Etsy yet, but they will be soon (today maybe). My favorite of the batch, the set that might not get offered up, is the set at the top; 5 multicolored moonstone beads. I bought those moonstones several years ago to make a rosary from form myself. They were NOT cheap. Their colors ranged from the milky white associated most often with moonstone to peach and silver. They have that gorgeous iridescence you want in moonstone, and I love them. Sadly, they are poorly drilled out and my 22 gauge wires won’t fit through most of them. Of the 50 some beads I purchased, these five were the only ones so far I have successfully strung on anything. I cannot tell you how sad it made me not to be able to use them as I originally planned.

Moving forward; I have an interesting problem that the spinners out there will probably be able to relate to. I went to visit FiberOptic’s Etsy page, and she had a one-off braid of roving for sale that so enchanted me, that before I knew it, I was PayPal-ing her my mortgage money. You’ll never guess what color it is. (Okay, you probably will.)
It’s not just blue though. Its gray and black, and blue, and almost even some white in there.
FiberOptic Roving

I also desperately want roving in her Superstition and Badlands colourways. I am being very good though because I am going to the Virginia Fall Fiber Festival in 10 days and after that, I hope to see Feeling Sheepish at War of the Wings in Elkins, NC.

Besides, I have to figure out what to do with this 4 ounces of superwash Merino bluey goodness.

What would you spin up from 4 ounces of superwash? Socks seem like the obvious answer, but I am hesitant. Is 4 ounces enough? I have also never spun superwash before, and I anticipate it being slippery, and my yarn will likely not be consistent enough to make good sock yarn. Plus, if I did socks out of it, I would want to keep the colors together with chain plying, which I am famously bad at still and would probably not have enough wool for the yardage necessary.

I could do a hat or a scarf out of it, but…I don’t know. It isn’t telling me what it wants to be. I don’t want it to be lace. I don’t like variegated or self-striping lace. I love the look of “barber pole” style handspun, but I haven’t seen that knitted up into anything too often to see the ultimate result.

The idea struck me yesterday that it could become mittens, and in looking for mittens, I found Hansa, which appeal to me on several levels. In this case, I would need two colors of yarn of course. I have that pewter gray yarn I have been spinning from the Ashland Bay roving, but I am not sure what would happen by mixing a superwash with a very feltable yarn, but it would be cool to do a mitten and hat set from the two.

I just don’t know how to proceed, and before now, 4 ounces always seemed like plenty of wool, but today, I am feeling stingy of those precious fibers. I need to sample it a bit; try it as a fluffy two ply, a tight 3 ply with the colors preserved, and maybe a fine fingering weight type. Then I think to myself, this roving is far too pretty to spin. It is too soft. Too lovely. I am too unskilled. I have nothing to knit it into. I am unworthy of this fiber…

What is an unworthy spinner to do? I have an idea…stop and smell the last roses of the year and worry about it all later. Meet Don Juan, who is unequivocably not blue.
Don Juan

Oh, For the Love of Merino

I have discovered that a spinning wheel is a lot like my truck. My right foot on the pedal makes it go. Fiber would be my gasoline (without it, what’s the point?) Yarn makes the flywheel turn with the right amount of tension and speed (like a transmission). And guess what. Just like my truck, my wheel needs oil to function properly. Fortunately, unlike my truck which would blow a head gasket and cost me a new vehicle without oil, I only lost two nights and a bit of roving to a lack of oil on the wheel.

I am spinning more lately with the wheel than I ever have, so I didn’t think to oil it as frequently as it needed. Once properly lubricated, I flew through some fluff last night.

Except, now I have a problem that only I could have: I am getting better at spinning on a wheel.

When I started the Swallowtail shawl, I was using yarn that I had attempted to achieve laceweight with, and gotten fingering weight with some lace-like sections (also, some DK sections too!). Due to my desire to have a larger shawl than the pattern creates and my less than consistent yarn, I went ahead and used US8 needles to knit the shawl on. The gauge looked nice, larger than the pattern, but in range, and I was pleased with the consistency of the “leaves” and the laciness of the work so far.

Well, I have spun and spun and spun. Last night, I spun up two small skeins and I was so pleased with the results.

(The one on the right is soaking wet and therefore a bit darker than the mostly dry skein on the left.)

Once I joined the new yarn in this morning, I realized the simultaneous joy of knowing I have improved a lot and the pain of having knit quite a bit with less-than-great yarn and the dramatic difference between my efforts.

The top strand is my earlier attempt and the bottom strand is last night’s work.

To be honest, this is a little upsetting. Okay, a lot upsetting. The “leaves” in my pattern are losing some of their definition. They are too holey. I don’t know if I could drop down a size in needles without a major impact on the overall shape of the shawl (though I am sincerely less concerned about it being large enough anymore, I do not want 50 rows of knitting to look dramatically larger than the remaining 100 some rows). I don’t really want to hold the yarn double because that would be a bit too thick, and it would use up too much yarn anyway (I only had about 7 ounces of the roving left when I started spinning for this shawl). Sadly, I cannot get a good picture of the shawl to demonstrate my concern.

I simply do not know what to do. I think my first step is going to be to knit a full six-row repeat. I only have half a repeat’s worth of new yarn knitted in. I will complete a full repeat, which at this point, will be 10 leaves wide, and then run a waste piece of yarn through the live stitches, and test block what I have. Blocking never lies, but lace usually does. I will get a really good idea of what it will look like at that point. Six more rows will not kill me and if I have to rip back and start over, I will try and do so using only my sincerely improved yarn and drop the needles down to the appropriate size.

How sad is it that I am kicking myself for getting better at this now instead of AFTER I spun all my yarn for the shawl?

Gnawed Upon

Work has eaten me alive. Not much time to post and I am sorry for it.

Swallowtail is growing.



Pretty beads. Pretty city in the background.

Summer may be in her final weeks, but you wouldn’t know it. Its hot.


I have a tiny ball of maybe 8-10 yards left of hand-spun Swallowtail yarn left. I tried and tried to spin Sunday night and last night and lost a lot of yarn to breakage and underspun lumps. I figured I was too stressed and tired to spin. Then I had the brilliant thought that I hadn’t oiled Ms. Louet in a few go-rounds and she was overdue. Spinning commenced, but it was 11:30 and I simply spun up what I had predrafted and had not destroyed in bouts of under-lubricated spinning.

For the record, the spinner was well-lubricated. I was drinking Jefferson’s Reserve Oak Barrel Stout, and I adore that beer. You have to since it is roughly $11 for a FOUR pack. I figured if I was so stressed, a little beer would help. It didn’t, but my blood pressure stopped spiking every time the yarn went *twang*.

I hope to achieve some spinning tonight. I promised Mom Chinese for dinner (since we ordered Chinese after she went to bed on Sunday night without so much as asking if she would want some shrimp fried rice; guilt is a powerful force in my life, but I am Catholic after all), and I want Grace to have some time in the pool too. Maybe I can spin on the deck while she plays in the pool, provided I can keep her little fingers out of the flywheel and her hand out of the balancing hole on the wheel. I have nightmares of an emergency room trip and a little pink cast on a broken little wrist….


The Light Of Day

Courtney’s memorial service was this weekend. I would like to say I left feeling comforted and at peace with her loss but this is not the case. Still, I spent some lovely time with Ann and Les, dear friends from South Carolina, who were able to delight in Grace’s growth, and spend some nice one-on-one time with my husband in the form of 10+ hours in the car.

I discovered that riding in the back with Grace meant I could knit without much in the way of car-sickness. I also discovered that I cannot count the tiny graph of my Faroese lace chart while tooling down the highway at 70 MPH either, though not before I had knit about 150 incorrectly counted stitches. The mistake was easy to correct, but I opted to wait until we were at our destination. Instead, I added a couple of inches to the Lager sock.

Once we reached a stop, I added a few more rows to the Faroese shawl, that I am now calling Diamonds in the Sky at Night. Thanks to the awesome Triangular Shawl calculator found on Rose-Kim’s blog, I can see how much progress I have made. Unfortunately, I obsessively check how much progress I have made with the end of each two rows. When knitting from the bottom up, I find it amazing how much progress you can make in only a couple of rows, even though your shawl looks like a nice long ribbon at that point. At only 18 rows in, I am right at 18% complete.

Sorry for the crappy picture. The yarn just does not photograph well.

Now, the hand-spun Swallowtail Shawl is already 35 rows in, and less than 10% complete.

Again, sorry for the crappy picture.

I started the beads 2 repeats from the top to help prevent hair from getting tangled in the beads. Green beads are going along the spine, and then the coffee/amber/black beads are going at the base (the SK2P stitch) of each leaf. I want the shawl to be heavy on the beads but I am having trouble finding good places to put them. Right now, I am using the crochet hook method, which is okay except my handspun yarn is not always consistently fine enough to easily slip the 6/0 beads onto, but once I get to the Lily of the Valley section, I might string the beads in advance like I did with Shipwreck and knit them into the some of the yarn overs.

I am still debating about whether to go with the nupps or replace the nupps with a bead. I have looked at the results of the beads and I do not always like the beaded alternative to the nupps. I think the bead really has to contrast or the effect is totally lost. But I could probably use the green beads from the spine of the shawl and get the nice contrast and further tie the green in with the browns, golds, and blacks of the shawl. While it is not as obvious in the yarn, in the roving, it was very obvious that green was a major component of the blended color.


I have some spinning to do tonight since I have a tiny little ball of yarn left. I tried to spin last night, but I kept snapping the delicate yarn; I guess I was too stressed to spin.

I really think it is going to be lovely.

So Darn Clever

I promised pictures, but sadly, the Red Hot Roving positively refuses to photograph well.

It is not quite so…bright. Even spun, it photographs poorly:

Taken indoors under fluorescent lighting, it shows up a little truer.


I feel so darn clever when I look at that scarf, even if I don’t particularly like the way it is turning out.

How ever clever I may have felt with spinning and knitting the scarf, I doubled the pleasure of being clever last night when I sat down and mastered Judy’s Magic Cast On.

It looks tricky, fasure. I mean, that Knitty article was 5 printed pages, and there were something like 10 steps on paper, but you know what? It is ridiculously simple, and I am in love with it, which is good since I had to re-do it 3 times last night. But still, it was all in the name of knitting new socks for my Beloved and therefore, totally worth the redos.


That is Oktoberfest Sock kit from the Tsock Tsarina. The yarn is of course from Holiday Yarns, hand dyed, and feels absolutely delicious.

Socks from the toe-up! The idea used to give me shivers all because the methods I knew required a provisional cast on, which, I am just going to be honest here, I hate. The Tsarina’s kit even calls for the provisionally cast on short row toe, which I am sure is just as uncomplicated as Judy’s Magic Cast on, but not having to find waste yarn and a crochet hook made me happy, so I adjusted accordingly.

I was just tickled pink last night to see the results of the magic cast on. No kitchner stitch. No risk of my lousy kitchner leaving holes for dear Byram’s toes to blow holes through. No crappy looking toe. Just a seamless toe that with no evidence of being cast on anywhere.


So, how is this for a weird new world for me: I am knitting a shawl from the bottom up. I am knitting socks from the toe up. I am spinning and knitting a scarf that has to be ready by Friday, which I haven’t touched since yesterday morning because I am too enamoured with knitting things upside-down to want to work on it.

And all the while, I am looking at Etsy and drooling over stuff like this gorgeous, rainbow-dyed roving that I absolutely want to spin into something beautiful. It really is a shame I am broke.

Or is it?