Sonoma Coast

Sonoma Coast

Saturday, November 7, 2015

My hometown Holiday bazaar.

I had fun selling my natural dyed handspun, a few shawls and other items at my local HEA Holiday bazaar.  I took my spinning wheel along, spun a bit, and made a lot of new friends...what a great day!  Thanks to all who came to say hello, and to those who wanted to take something home made by me. 
In gratitude, Babbs

Filemot shawl

Here is my finished Filemot shawl on display at The Yarn Studio in Casey, IL where I purchased the yarn, a merino-silk blend, Spud & Chloe Fine, in the Shitake colorway.  I loved making this once I got into the rhythm of the lace pattern, and was even able to work on it on a road trip to New York. 

The Yarn Studio loved it too, and shared it on their Instagram feed!

It's already packed away in a box for a very special person ;) 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Indigo socks

I seem to be on an indigo kick lately.  
These socks, made of sport-weight wool from the Sonoma coast (Bodega Pastures) that I dyed with indigo, took just over two months to complete.  See previous post for an explanation.  They are my own design which I made up on the fly, and I really do love them.  
These will keep my toes very warm in the upcoming colder months.  I worked them from the toe up, separately, until I reached the lace portion on the leg.  I then joined them, and worked them together on two long circular needles. 

Happy indigo toes!!!

Monday, August 17, 2015

An Alabama Chanin Handmade Wardrobe

My current obsession with creating all things Alabama Chanin has temporarily slowed down any  knitting progress.  I didn't see this obsession coming.  In fact, I bought a sewing machine recently, and right away bought a companion sewing book, Alabama Studio Sewing + Design.  I could have looked closer at the subtitle (A Guide to Hand-Sewing an Alabama Chanin Wardrobe) to realize that this book is all about sewing by hand, and there is nary a mention of a sewing machine anywhere among its beautiful pages.  Nonetheless, I picked up my needle and thread, dove straight in, and fell in love.
All of the patterns recommend using 100% Organic Jersey fabric which you can purchase from the Alabama Chanin store.  I need to hone my skills before cutting into something so special and pricey, and so I went to my local thrift store and bought several XXL men's t-shirts.  I used my seam ripper to cut them at the seams, and was able to harvest ample yardage to start on several small projects.  The first project is the Fitted Top, in navy blue jersey:

It was a joy to create.  The art of "slow sewing" is right up my alley.  

And the best part is, it fits!  And I love it!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Blues - Dyeing with Indigo and Woad

I recently attended The Fiber Event at the Putnam Co. Fairgrounds in Greencastle, IN, and there was so much fibery goodness in one place I could barely stand it.  Two large barns were filled with vendors of fleeces, roving, dye supplies, equipment, notions, buttons, combs, wheels, carders, etc.... I met so many new people, and learned a lot.  Various workshops related to spinning, weaving, knitting, and dyeing were offered, and I took a course about dyeing with indigo and woad.  Below are natural dyed yarn samples from the dye work of one of the instructors, Kathy Sparks.  The blues in the center were most relevant to our class.  Kathy taught the portion of the class on woad, a plant with a long history for making the color blue. 

Kathy dips a yarn sample in the woad vat.

The indigo portion of the workshop was taught by Gina Crowder of Across Generations.  Though I have dyed with indigo before, this was a great refresher course.  Working with indigo requires practice and more practice.  It is a dance with the weather, temperature, exposure to oxygen, and proper manipulation of the fibers being dyed.  I purchased some supplies from Gina's booth, and will continue to practice in my own little dye studio, with hopes of becoming more proficient in the years to come.  Below are the samples I dyed in the class.  Clockwise from top left: linen, silk, wool, and cotton.  Each sample was dipped three times in the indigo vat.  The linen swatch clearly took the most dye, and the wool took the least.  It should have been the opposite!   

Below are some samples of overdyeing with woad.  Initially, the samples were dyed with dandelion (flower heads), daffodils (flower heads), osage orange (wood chips), and fustic (wood chips).  The result was a rainbow of the yellow, blue, and green spectrum.  My favorite (not pictured) was sample dyed initially with lichens, then overdyed with woad creating a soft teal blue-green color. 

I had so much fun, and will definately be back next year!  

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Lace Stole

This ethereal lace stole was finished almost a year ago, and then packed away (for the move) and nearly forgotten!  Not to worry, it was packed away neatly in tissue paper, and will make many appearances this Spring.

Pattern specs:   

Unfortunately, I don't remember the specific yarn used, other than it was a lace-weight silk/alpaca blend, and it's beautiful.  The lace pattern was a breeze once repeated a few times, though at first it was a bit difficult to grasp.  The edging is a pattern I've worked before, but adding beads was completely new.  The beads are added both to look beautiful and to add weight to the edges and enhance the drape of the stole.  

Close-up of the beaded edging.  Each repeat contains five beads placed at the edge, over 200 beads in all.  Remember when I was working the beaded edging on an aiplane?  Now that takes dedication and courage!

Also, as you can see here, I use blocking wires to block my lace (and most other knitted projects).  They give me perfect results with minimal effort every time.   

This was a satisfying lace project, interesting enough to keep my focus and just difficult enough to push my limits and boost my confidence as a lace knitter.  And, of course, the result is quite satisfying!  I will enjoy wrapping this around my shoulders for years to come.   

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Spring Cleaning

Finally, I have begun the process of picking through two very special Tunis fleeces!  Last Sunday was sunny and beautiful, so I set them out on a tarp in the driveway and let the wind blow through them and the sun shine on them.  Of course, I had a couple of loyal helpers:

By Tuesday, my sweet man had built the perfect table for the process:

The top is a wooden frame with chicken wire stretched over it.  This way it's off the ground and more ventilated, and the debris can easily fall through.  Perfect. 

It's nice to get the fleeces out and begin the process of cleaning them!

Big Charcoal Cowl

I finished this cowl last November, and it has been a permanent fixture around my neck and shoulders since.  The pattern, "Keep it Casual Cowl," comes from the book Creative Knitting Presents, Fall 2014: Wraps Capelets & Cowls.  My sweet man brought the book home to me when I was grieving the passing of a dear friend in California.  The simplicity of the pattern was just what I needed, and knitting it soothed my spirit and gently coaxed my mind from grief and sorrow.
I used some yarn I had on hand, Cascade Yarns Rustic, a singles blend of wool and linen, which is very similar to what the pattern calls for.  The lower edge is cast on, and then the cowl grows upward from there.  I found the cast on too tight, making it difficult to pull down over my shoulders.  After wearing it for a few weeks, I performed a tedious surgery to fix this problem.  I snipped a single stitch a few rows above the cast on edge, unraveled an entire row, re-knit the bottom edge, and then finished with a very loose bind off. The result is perfect.  If I make this again (likely), I will do a provisional cast on, then come back at the end and do a loose bind off. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Farmhouse Shawl

Apparently I have an addiction for making (and wearing) shawls, and if there exists a cure for this affliction I want nothing to do with it!  Shawls are the perfect layering piece for all seasons and especially the transition of seasons. They can be worn many ways, and with almost any outfit.  Therefore, as I see it, the only reasonable thing to do is to keep making more of them.  

The most recent addition to my collection is the lovely Farmhouse Shawl, by cabinfour.  Made with exactly 3 skeins of Berroco Ultra Alpaca (50% wool, 50% alpaca), it's a bit luxurious for what I intend to use it for.  It will most likely be worn at home, in the mornings while walking through the garden, and for cool mornings and evenings sitting on the porch with my sweet love.  If we had chickens, I would wear this while gathering the eggs.  I'll do chores wearing this shawl.  You get the idea... when not on my shoulders, this shawl will likely be found right by the back door, ready to grab and throw on.  The yarn for this shawl was originally purchased to make a complicated cabled sweater (Ondawa from the Brooklyn Tweed Fall 14 collection), but I needed a mindless, easy project and this was just what I had in mind.  The cabled sweater is still on my wish list, but it'll have to wait.


Thursday, March 5, 2015

February Spinning.

Here are the fruits of my spinning labor in February.  This isn't all of it, but most (there are still a few singles waiting on bobbins to be plied).  And I don't plan on slowing down any time soon.  My goal is to spin the rest of the wool I brought from California before Spring.  This wool came from my coastal community, from the sheep of Stillwater Cove Ranch).  The sheep are a mix of Romney and California Red, and the wool has been lovely to work with, and provided a great opportunity to practice and hone my skills as a spinner.

The skeins on the left are natural, un-dyed.  On the right are my experiments of dyeing with Black Walnut.  The lighter shade in the middle was dyed as roving, and the darker shade on the right was dyed as a spun singles which I later plied.  What a difference, as the spun singles took much more of the dye and turned a much deeper shade of brown.  The marled one in the middle was a fun experiment of plying one strand of the natural un-dyed with one strand of the Walnut-dyed singles.    

The spinning resumes today, as I am still (happily) snowed in...     

Monday, March 2, 2015

Winter Citron

This is my latest shawl, Citron.  I used almost all of one skein of Meadow, by The Fibre Co., a lace-weight blend of 40% Merino Wool, 25% Baby Llama, 20% Silk, 15% Linen, in the Cornflower colorway.  It was a fun and easy knit, started on a 14 hour road trip to Florida, and finished while watching a House of Cards marathon.  This will be a great shawl to have around my shoulders this Spring, but for now it's not getting much wear as we're buried beneath 7-8" of snow.  It is definately still winter here in the Midwest!

The husky is clearly in her element, and loving her first Midwestern winter.

A Cold Winter Day's Spin.

I have been spinning and spinning.... These last few weeks of winter have had me wanting to do nothing but stay inside, drink tea, listen to podcasts, and spin to my heart's content.  And so I've done little else.  I went for a whole week without even knitting anything.  Only spinning, and thinking about spinning, and plotting what I will spin when the weather warms enough to wash the fleeces I have waiting to be spun.   
I've learned a lot, and my skills are greatly improving.  Here is a two-ply on the bobbin.  It is fairly even, balanced, and uniform.  The end result is still somewhere between a worsted and bulky weight.
This basket is filled with the results of hours and hours of spinning bliss.  What will I make with it all?  I'll ponder the answer to that while I go spin some more.....

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Latest Lace

This yarn was dyed and given to me by my talented and lovely indie dyer friend, Heidi Iversen of H-Luv and HIJK.  I started to make socks with it, but the yarn was too special to wear on my feet.  It was dyed with very special indigo grown in California.  
So the sock was unraveled, and this lacy cowl materialized 48 hrs later after a marathon of watching House of Cards.  It's the Appia cowl pattern from Craftsy.  I love it, and may never take it off... 

Here is the sock moments before it was unraveled:

It was a great sock, actually.  It fit perfectly, was accented nicely with grey alpaca on the toe and heel portion, and materialized from a simple pattern I made up in my head.  But again, in the end, the yarn was just too special to wear hidden on my feet under shoes, and had to be liberated and showcased around my neck.  I am quite pleased with my decision.   RIP wonderful sock.