A Visit with Wild Fibers

Last week, my spinning meetup went on a field trip in Brooklyn to The YarnTree shop and got to meet with Linda Cortright, publisher and editor of Wild Fibers Magazine.   Linda spoke with us of “the stories behind the stories”.  The incredible photographs and her riveting storytelling was amazing to see.  She spoke of her trips to Kazikstan, India and the Himalayas.


Eric and I spent most of the weekend shooting new episodes since the Rhinebeck Epic is beginning to wear us down a bit.


It all started with a request on Ravelry

Before the holidays last year, I was reading the SpinCity Ravelry group and there was a post from Kathe requesting if anyone would be interested in spinning some Qiviut.
I thought how interesting that would be, why wouldn’t anyone want to spin Qiviut?

So I decided to go for it and volunteer to spin it.

It turns out that although Kathe was a knitter, she didn’t spin and her colleague Rebecca  who had picked up the Qiviut from the bushes while on a trip to Greenland didn’t knit!
So this was going to end up being the work of three people. Rebecca the fiber collector, CAT the spinner and Kathe the Knitter. 
There was no telling what could be knitted from this until I did the spinning, but Rebecca was willing to settle for even a headband or something small.

First thing was that I asked Rebecca if she could remove the guard hairs (thicker course hairs) from the Qiviut fluff.
This is a picture of the lump of fiber before Rebecca removed the guard hairs.


After that, Rebecca and I met in Columbus Circle and she gave me a bag full of the dehaired fluff which I washed and dried as pictured here:


I took the cleaned fiber (as seen on right below) and using my hand cards (cotton cards to be exact) and carded the fiber into rolags (as seen in the middle below)


I started spinning on my laceweight Golding (this stuff really wants to spin fine!)


I got to a spindle full and rolled it onto my makeshift bobbin (aka TP roll)


I haven’t decided yet whether to just make a 3 ply of Qiviut alone or add a strand of silk to add some strength and stretch the yardage a bit.
Any ideas from you all would be welcome!


After waiting for almost 6 weeks, my Louett Drum carder finally arrived from Paradise Fibers. Actually, it was drop shipped from Louett in New Jersey.


I love this new toy!  I have all these great ideas now on what kinds of fibers I want to blend together.

There are a couple of reasons to card. (either with a drum carder or hand cards)

  • If you are looking to blend colors to create a new color

  • to create a colorway with each color still retaining its original color but striped.
New Fiber Properties:

  •  have the final fiber take on the properties of both (i.e. blend wool with nylon to add stregnth)

  • Create an all together different texture than the original fibers.
Using a drum carder is much easier and faster than using hand cards and it also gives you many more options for blending since you have more control.

This was my first attempt at carding on my new Louett:

I took some Lama which I got at the 2006 Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival (Portia!) and blended it with Louett Chestnut Silk/Merino and some gold Angelina


What is pictured here was not the same ratio carded.  I used 3 parts Lama to 1 part Wool/Silk and only a pinch of the gold Angelina.

I carded each fiber separately first, then recarded them together to create this batt


My goal was to enhance the Lama’s ability to hold it’s shape by adding wool/silk and then to give it a little sparkle with the Angelina.

This is how it is spinning on my Golding:


I really love the resulting color.  Of course now I need to card all the fiber up the same way so that my project will all be consistant, but this was just my first experiment.

Catching up with completed projects

After about a month of knitting, I’ve managed to complete a few projects.
First, I finally finished the Fana Mittens.



In these pictures you can see the cashmere on the inside before I smoothed them all out.  These are great when it’s really cold out.
Pattern is from Folk Mittens and I used Patons Classic Wool on size 5 needles.

Next up was a telted hat for Paula, here I am modeling it:


I found this pattern online and I made it with 2 skeins of Cascade 220 held together on size 11 needles.

Then just a few days ago, I finally finished my Selbuvotter!


These still need to be blocked but I was so excited to finally complete them.
I made them with Knitpicks Palette on size 0 needles from the book Selbuvotter by Terri Shea

Fana anyone?


So after frogging the Fana Tuft Mittens from the book Folk Mittens  (Thanks Mom & Dad for the Christmas gift!) because they were too big, I managed to get the body of the first mitten done and the cuff of the second in only a few hours.  I altered the pattern to be more like the traditional Mitten pattern in the beginning of the book to size for Children’s size large.  This adjusted the cast on to 40 stitches and reduced the thumb gore to only increase 14 stitches over 14 rows.  I also altered the decreases at the top to do the 3 point instead of 4 point decreases.

Where you see the white “lice” are the stitches where the cashmere roving is attached to the mitten.  I think I may not have attached even amounts because the mitten is kind of bulging is some spots, but I’m playing it by ear.  The black yarn is holding the thumb stitches in preparation for picking up.  I’m going to finish the body of the second mitten before doing thumbs.

I also lined up the projects which I will be active on for a while, once I finish the Fana Tuft Mittens and the Selbuvotter:

Boundary Waters Shawl (Commute)
Gedifra Lordana Boucle Jacket (Home)
Angel Lace Shawl  (Spinning & Knitting) (Home)

Later today we’ll be have a Skype video session with Eric’s family upstate.  I hope this works because my neices grow up so fast, we’re missing a lot and the video is a way to keep up with how they’re all doing.

BTW, if there are any other knitter/Skype folks out there, I’m letsknit2gether.

Making some progress in 2008

Happy New Year!


I started knitting these during Thanksgiving week, but then I put them aside to get work done on holiday gifts.  These are from the book Selbuvotter by Terri Shea.  I’ve done the cuff from Annemore #7, the hand from NHM #7 and I’ll do the thumb from NHM #9.  I’m knitting these using Knitpicks Palette.  I recently purchased some Norwegion yarn that I think I’ll use for the next pair since the Palette splits too much with these size 0 needles. 

It’s been a while since I’d done any stranded knitting so I didn’t really do well with these until 1/2 way up the first mitten.  I think I missed the first 2 M1 at the start of each side until later into the thumb gusset.  We’ll see how they come out.

The weather is supposed to get down into the teens tonight, only wish that I’d finished the mittens before tonght so that I could wear them!

I also started the FanaTuft mittens from Folk Mittens.  I’m using Pattons Classic wool in soft blue and white with Cashmere for the Tufts.  Tufts are the way you attach wool fiber or yarn as a way of adding a lining to the mitten.  I had to frog them and start over because they were coming out way too big.  I’ll post a picture when I make more progress. 

I’ve also been spinning more of the camel/silk, seen here in this photo on top


I’m swatching now to knit Evelyn Clarks Angel Lace Shawl.  This is spinning up to be a very fine laceweight.  I’m using my .90 oz Golding Psunami spindle.

2008 Knitting Resolutions

Now that the gifts have all been opened.  Here are pics of the remaining gifts which I made this Christmas:


These are a pair of socks for my Mom made with Cotton Cascade Fixation.  They were my first toe up socks.


This is a pair of Buffalo socks which I made for my Father-in-Law.   I created the pattern with sock wizard, again toe up.


I made one more pair of socks for my Sister-in-law, .  It’s the Milanese pattern from Magknits.com.  Another toe up pattern.  These were made with Tofuties yarn.

So now that the holidays are over, it’s time to look forward toward 2008.  If you recall, last year I set out with the resolution to Knit from my Stash until Rhinebeck

As a somewhat experienced knitter and collector of yarn, this wasn’t as difficult as I thought it might be except for the fact that I had just started spinning and every fiber seemed to be something I wanted when I wasn’t buying yarn. So now my fiber stash and spinning supplies are taking over for the yarn which I didn’t spend time buying. Had I known that I would only replace one vice with another, I probably wouldn’t have set out the year the way I did.

So this year, I’m trying something new. I’m putting down resolutions to “do” something instead of something“not do”.  Like “eat healthy” instead of “diet”.

Here is my starting list: 

  1. Knit for Charity from my stash.  One thing a month, whether a square for an afghan or a cap, etc.  It doesn’t matter as long as I create something for charity.

  2. Spin my stash and create yarns I would like to knit with.  Otherwise, donate or sell.

  3. Finish at least 2 UFOs in 2008 (not counting current WIPs), Not a very far reaching goal but I really want to finish my Icarus this summer and that Lopi sweater before it gets warm again.

  4. Knit for Birthdays and not get hung up about Christmas.  It spreads out the giving and knitting over time instead of mad rush for Christmas.  Plus, the gifts don’t have to only be winter things!

  5. Join more online knitting discussions to engage with other knitters and help others

  6. Get more in tune with LetsKnit2gether audience to promote and encourage knitting as an art form.

  7. Get episodes out more regularly.

What are yours?

Best Wishes to all for a Happy and healthy new year!

Spinning a Cobweb of Lace

From June until October this year, I spun my very first laceweight yarn on my Fricke e-spinner.  A lovely purple, green black blend.  Each single spun at 39wpi.  When plyed it , it was between lace and fingering weight. 
My estimate was 1227 yards when I decided to stoped, having completed spinning 8 oz of wool. 


Too much for a triangle and probably not enough for a square.  When I perused Ravelry for my queued shawls, I saw Lacefreaks completed Bouandary Waters Shawl and my mouth started watering over the thought of knitting this shawl with my stormy water colored yarn.  I even found beads to go so well with an Aurora Borialis finish for sparkle.

But I’d only spun 1227 yards and I was really tired of spinning it.  Spinning laceweight seems to go on and on forever…

Lacefreak reminded my “you can always spin more”.  I do have 8 oz more so if I can deal with going back to spinning, I’ll be able to finish it.

So I gave in and cast on.  I forgot how much I dislike starting a square shawl from the center.  The double points always slip out and I stupidly cast on while on the airplane headed to a conference in Las Vegas.  On top of that, I brought the wrong size crochet hook to slip the beads on.  So when it got the the point where I’d add the bead, I would tense up hoping that I wouldn’t break the yarn that I’d spent so much time spinning.  After a few hours, I neared the point that I needed to move to a circular.


Of course I should have been working on Holiday gift projects.  I decided before leaving on this trip that I was going to be gifting whatever I got done and not worry about finishing something for everyone.  All in all, I did well.  I got 5 gifts completed.

Here’s two that were already opened, so I’m not giving anything away:

IMG_0411 (2)IMG_0420

The socks are a plain stockinette stitch knit with Opal Tiger stripe which I made for my sister.  I thought these were adorable and plan to make a pair for myself.  The “pet” sweater was from Men who Knit and the Dogs that Love them.  I made it with some leftover Lion Brand Homespun.  This was a special request from my sister for her cat Juliet.  Do cat’s really wear sweaters?  I doubt it.

As the others get opened, I’ll post them here.  Otherwise, they’re posted on ravelry.

Happy Holidays to all!!!

Best laid plans …

Well here is is, the first weekend after Thanksgiving when I panic about what I planned on making for gifts for the holidays.

I’ve got two gifts fairly complete (except for weaving in ends), two underway (both greater than 50% done) and seven planned to still do.  I think I’m going to have to face the truth now before it gets too late:


I just have to get real now.  My apologies to family and friends who are monitoring this blog, but only a few of you are getting hand-made gifts this year.  For those of you who wanted one, speak up now.

I got too caught up this year in knitting and stuff for the show and now I’ve realized there’s only weeks left for Holiday knitting.  I will not subject myself to another year of panic before the holidays.  So, I will trim seven down to three.

Then of course my Sock Hop club kit from  Spinning Bunny showed up to tempt me …


Its called the Aurora Boreallis Sock which is a beautiful hand dyed Cashgora/Merina blend sport weight with a metallic thread that you knit with the sock yarn. It’s luscious.


And of course, I’m still working on upgrading and moving the website…….

p.s, these last two shots were done by holding my laptop camera close to my hand.  Just an experiment that might prove useful when I need to take pictures of myself wearing something.

I’m supposed to be working on upgrading the website, but …

I’m on vacation this week.  I really needed the break from work and travel so it’s certainly a nice change not to be getting up at 5:30 a.m every morning.

I set this time aside to work on upgrading the website, writing scripts, promotional stuff etc.  However, I really hate debugging CSS and I’m sitting in my library surrounding by yarn, fiber and spindles and I keep finding myself completely destracted.
The first thing that got me started was that on Friday, my Indian Charkha arrived all packaged very nicely with the postage from India handwritten on the cloth wrapping.


After carefully undoing every stitch of the hand stitched cloth wrapping, thinking that I could actually save this, I got out the scissors, cut it up the side and removed it from the box.


The ebay seller had already replaced the cotton rope drive band with a rubber one which is great because I’d planned to do that anyway.  First thing I did after opening was to watch two DVDs which I bought to show me how to put the thing together and how to begin spinning with it. (Elaine Benfatto’s Charkha Spinning Tips & Techniques, and Spinning Cotton on the Charkha with Eileen Hallman both purchased at The Woolery)

It took me a couple of days on and off to watch the videos and then a little while to actually sit down and try it out for myself. When I finally got things going, I took some organic cotton and tried it out.


I filled up two spindles with some uneven but tightly spun cotton.  I’ll ply it later when I have some time.  While I was doing this fiber, I kept thinking to myself that this would be great for the remaining Bison fiber I have which is an extremely short staple down fiber. So I gave it a try and it worked really fast.  I filled up another spindle in just under 5 minutes.  so I ran it off onto my substitute bobbin (aka TP roll)


It’s much softer than what I did with the Golding spindle since on the Charkha you spin long draw which creates a woolen yarn as opposed to what I did on the spindle using short draw (see prior entry for picks of buffalo spun on Golding spindle)

If all that wasn’t enough, I’ve had some Barefoot Blend (Superwash, Mohair and Nylon blend) from Paradise Fibers sitting on a bobbin which I have been waiting to try Navajo plying with.  It’s a handpainted fiber with pretty long color changes and I thought it would be cool to try out Navajo plying to retain the colors in the fiber in a 3ply yarn.  I plyed it on my Fricke e-spinner after first trying with commercial yarn and adjusting the tension etc..

The other yarn pictured here (on the top) is a camel/silk blend which I’ve been spinning and just love..


I’ve also been working on some luxurious Mongolian Cashmere and Mulberry Silk, gorgeous!


and some lovely bamboo


Should you think that I’ve been neglecting my knitting, I would like to show you a little something which I am working on:


This is a Selbuvotter (that’s a norwegion mitten) which I am doing with KnitPicks Palette and the pattern(s) are from Selbuvotter:A Biography of a Knitting Tradition by Terri Shea. I got this at NeedleArtsBookShop.
 I’ve combined the cuff from Annemor #7, the hand from NHM #7 and I’m going to do the thumb from NHM #9.  I’m making them on size 0 needles for two reasons: I’m a loose knitter and I have really small hands.  So these are a child’s large or a women’s small.

All my other knitting is for Christmas gifts so you won’t see any of these on my blog.  If you’re interested, check my WIPs on Ravelry.

Well, now I guess I’ll get back to debugging CSS and restoring the mySQL database from one blog to the new one…….