"we're fools whether we knit or not, so we may's well knit"

- old southern saying

Monday, July 30, 2007

Bamboo Embossed Leaves

I had concerns about this yarn. After knitting the Tiger Monkeys in that strettttccchhy bouunnnnncy yarn, knitting with the Regia Bamboo was - well, different. Its "dead" feeling worried me that a lace pattern would be slack, dumpy, saggy...you know the happy words. So, I asked Socknitters, and sure enough, Suna in Texas had used this yarn for a lacy sock. And she loves 'em. Even though "someone" threw them in the washer with some bleedful jeans and saddened them. So, I put on my confident hat, and pushed on through the cuff and started the pattern. I love it! Lovely lovely lovely. The yarn is really nice to work with. Slides through the fingers. It's very very soft. And the resulting fabric (at this stage of the game) is very silky with bounce.

falling leaves start
embossed leaves

Pattern: "Embossed Leaves" by Mona Schmidt (Interweave Knits Winter 2005)
Yarn: Regia "Bamboo" in Jamaica from Patternworks
Needles: susanbates silvalume size 1 (2.25mm)

Tiger Monkeys Stalking the Wild Passion Fruit

As soon as those Tiger Monkeys were off the needles, they leapt off to stalk their prey. I caught up with them at the border. They were, apparently, climbing over the fence...managed to get themselves all tangled up in the passion fruit vines.

In the first picture, you see them frozen like deer in the headlights. Notice the tiger pattern...completely unplanned and unprovoked. I knit one sock after the next with utter disregard for symmetry. In the second pic, they seem to be making a run for it.

monkey tigers in passion 2
stalking their prey

monkey tigers in the passion fruit
making a break for it

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Tiger Monkeys

tiger monkeys

Cookie A writes a mean pattern, doesn't she? These socks practically knit themselves. Now, this yarn, ahem...here's the deal. I was shopping for sock yarn, handpainted stuff, handspun stuff, and I ran into a neat site - littleknits. Well, there was a sale goin on...and this yarn, skacel "Trampoline - stretch" was $3.50 a ball. What the heck, right? It's wool/nylon and a little bit of polyester. I looked at it and thought, "O well. I got a deal, that's for sure."

Well, I tell ya, this is some of the most pleasant knitting I've done in awhile. The yarn is totally stretchy and bouncy, but for me...a loose knitter, it's just GREAT. The tiger design of the yarn doesn't make the Monkey pattern pop, but, when stretched over a foot, the design is definitely cool.

Pattern: "Monkey" - by Cookie A (knitty - Winter '06)
Yarn: Skacel "Trampoline - Stretch" in Tiger
Needles: susan bates silvalume "0" (2mm)
Mood: giddy

Coreopsis and Gulf Coast Native Sheep

pot of coreopsis

fleece soaking in dyepot

Not wanting to lose the opportunity to dye more luscious orange wool, I cooked a half-pot of chopped up coreopsis and a half-pound or so of Gulf Coast fleece. The fleece had an alum/COT mordant. This time, the dye seemed yellower, so I left it overnight. The result? Really bright orange! Great stuff!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Weekend. And, an orange dyepot.

What a great weekend! Spent a festive afternoon at a farm down the road on Saturday, then came home a started knitting a Monkey out of skacel Tiger. This morning, Tom wanted to mow, so I picked about 15 or 20 coreopsis stems that were volunteers in the grass. These are wildflowers, the seeds of which were snitched from the side of the road last year. Someone, the county, I guess, plants wildflowers along the sides of the county roads. Phlox in spring. These little yellow flowers in the summer. If I had known what color I would get...I'd have picked an acre's worth!

little old coreopsis

I chopped the handful of flowers and stems, and covered them with water. We're talking about 2 inches of water in a pot. When I saw that the liquid in the dyepot was dark orange, I dug through my stash to find some mordanted roving or locks. I found a couple little pieces of alum mordanted roving. Didn't seem like a substantial offering to the dyepot. So, I washed a big gob of Gulf Coast fleece - about 6 oz, threw it into a pot with some alum, and soaked that for awhile while I simmered the mordanted rovings. The roving grabbed that dye but good. When I pulled it out for a rinse, I threw the Gulf Coast into the pot. I thought the dye solution was pretty well spent, but I got a nice apricot.

just dyed oranges
wet alum mordanted rovings and fleece dyed with coreopsis

dry alum mordanted rovings and fleece

My husband, who is so used to seeing me pull yellow fiber out of the dyepot, couldn't believe his eyes. He actually offered to go for a drive to see if we could find a field of these flowers. I took him up on that offer. Within 10 minutes, we filled a 5 gallon bucket!

I plan on overdyeing that apricot fleece, and mordanting some more. I'm lucky, I guess, that I love orange. Even my KA mixer and blender are orange. We're in gator territory here...and orange is one of those "appropriate" colors!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

ah geez - obsessed

Well, that ole Pandora's Box was opened when I started poking through my bags of fleece yesterday. Last night, after the fleece dried, I started carding. I've taken a couple of pictures to show how fine and springy Gulf Coast fleece can be. The first picture is a handcard loaded with crimpy locks. The second shows the handcards in position to begin carding. It was just too darn hard to take more pictures of the process. I really need that extra arm, sometimes.

loaded handcardddddddddddd


Picking through the fluff to get rid of any second cuts (which were few and far between...just the occasional little blob), and aligning the locks makes for nice rolags. In carding, the fibers are aligned, and rolled into a tube of fluff. It's important that this roll of fiber be consistent, so that the spinner (that would be me) can draw out fiber smoothly from which a thread can be spun.

Here you can see a few rolags. They're consistent, and the fiber will be easy to draw.


Finally, the end product...8 1/2 ounces of rolags. Doesn't look like socks, does it? But, this is at least a couple pairs.


All morning, I make X's and O's and -'s on a piece of graph paper. Drove my husband nuts, I tell ya. I'm working out a sock pattern just for this wool. I'm inclined to leave this batch natural, and just create a design that will show off both yarn and fabric pattern. What good stuff! Thanks to Margrett at Running Moon Farm for this fleece!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Scouring Day

A couple of days ago, the University of Florida dispersed their flock of Gulf Coast Native Sheep (GCNI). Fortunately, a few farms got the word, and purchased them. These sheep are "heritage" sheep. Brought to this continent by the Spanish in the 1700's and let go wild, the breed became acclimatized to the Southeast. These sheep are famous for their resistance to parasites, pleasant diposition, and conformation. It's fortunate that the farms who picked up the UF flock are passionate about preserving the breed. One of these days, we would like to care for a small flock. Until then, I'll be working with Gulf Coast fleece from farms down the road apiece.

I haven't spun any sock weight GCNI yet. So, I dug through the studio, and there - AH! A box of Adelina (cream colored) from Running Moon Farm. AND a bit of Amber (wonderful dark grey/brown). Dirty. Ready to jump in the tub. And here we have a day with no rain. 100 degrees. Higher in the sun. Alrighty!

So, I grabbed enough of Adelina for a couple pairs of socks. Here's a picture of unscoured (dirty) fleece:

Dirty GCNI

This washed up GREAT! Now, I have 8 1/2 ounces of lovely creamy fluff. Margrett from Running Moon Farm confirms that her husband loves his Gulf Coast socks. So...now, to dye or not to dye? This is clean Adelina:


Back to the dirty fleece...I had that bag of Amber all over the bed, and up jumped Artie to check out the doin's. At first, she wanted nothing to do with the stuff, but then...then she got a whiff. Here's a pic of my 13 year old Artie with her new mom, Amber:

dirty gcni and artie kneading 2

And just for comparison...here's some dirty Border Leicester. This is my standard sock making wool. But, not this week. It's a longwool breed, nice gloss, silky but spins up with a nice halo. I made a pair of Baudelaires au naturel last year. I've never received as many compliments as I do when I wear those socks.

dirty border leicester

Tonight, what's it gonna be? Carding and spinning? Or knitting with some "storebought" yarn? Hm. We shall see.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Puncheon Floor

Sheep. Fleece. Combs and cards. Needles - alright, pointy sticks. And socks. And sweaters. Light dancing across a naturally dyed skein. Fabrics knitted of twisted wooly fibers. That's what this blog is all about.

The heat of summer is stifling. A/C, however, is making the summer doldrums tolerable. Projects that were neglected in the late spring, when the windows were still open, letting warm humid air fill our space, are being picked up again. Those skeins of wool, of sock yarn, especially, bought in those "can-not possibly spin" days, are smiling up at me every time I walk through the studio. I'm joining KAL's. On top of designing my own socks and yarns. It's time to get knitting, and spinning, again.

This coming Saturday, Miss Pat from down the road apiece, is coming to a potluck at a local CSA, and bringing 6 fleeces - Gulf Coast Natives at that. I'm up to my ears in fleece, around here. So, I will, with all the self-control I can muster, be petting and passing up the temptation. I'll be giving a spinning lesson to the hostess, who won one of my spindles at a chili cookoff a couple weeks ago.

Yarns are what I spin. And I use natural dyes, from my gardens, from my fields, to dip and paint them. Socks, are my favorite little things to make. It's an odd day that I buy "other peoples' yarns." But, a month or so ago, I went el-kabong and bought a sweet little assortment. They are really wonderful. What an understatement.

anne2 Low

Schaefer - Anne in two unbelievable colorways. I want to eat these, for Pete's sake. When I saw these obese skeins, I thought...ooooh, enough for husband socks. Now, though...oh man...my selfish side wants 'em both for me.

earth tones2 - low

And this pile of delicious stuff! Clockwise, from left: Dove's Roost Border Leicester with Merino slubs in a Chocolate Chip dyed with sumac, skacel Trampoline Stretch in Tiger, Dove's Roost Border Leicester 2-ply in Cantaloupe from annatto seeds (not as pale as the photo), and a fat singles dyed a warm Gold with onion skins, and finally OnLine Sierra - a forest green, cocoa, and grey yarn. Not all socks, but darn yummy!

HA2 & Navajo Low

Here it's Henry's Attic merino space dyed with KA and a soft blue acid dye, and more Dove's Roost, navajo plied corriedale.

FA2 Low

Finally, lookit lookit lookit! This is over the top, don't you think? Fleece Artist merino in Rainforest. Too gorgeous for its own good.

So, that's it. First post. Baseline. Bottom line. Tip of the iceberg. Solid footing. Welcome to the puncheon floor.