Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Over Confidence Destroys

Well, It's been a week + 2 days since I began "spinning."  Progress has been slow, but steady - when I've had the time to spin.  I think I like it, but since learning to spin is a bucket list activity, I'm not sure that I will master it in the time I have left.
Feeling optimistic last week, after spinning up all the roving that I had in the house, I chose to purchase 8 ounces of Daffodil (think I blogged about that earlier) and on my day three of spinning (feeling what is in retrospect, overly confident) I really made a mess of it.  So after more than a few minutes of frustration, I walked away, leaving this mess!

The title of this should be "Learning Curves are Hell!"

Saturday (which would have been day 4 of spinning) I tried again.  Results were better but thumbs were sore from the work with drafting the yarn.    Here is a pic of the work done on day 4.

You can see some thick and some thinner pieces.  I'm told this is normal for the learning process.  But I'll call it "Fat & Skinny."

I knew the wheel was due back to the store today, so I immediately set about to finish up the remaining daffodil and white roving and then ply them together.  I guess this is day 5 or 6 or something like that.  Anyway,  the results were better today, thumbs sore as well.  My "skeins" are drying from the bath to "set the twist" but here is a pic of today's work.  I think these are more consistent in diameter, which is what is making my thumbs hurt!

Now, once the "skeins are dry, I'm off to knit them into something!  Can't wait to see what will happen with that!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Spin Class

Well, I finally went to a spin class on Saturday.  I'll bet you're thinking - hooray!  Exercise!  - but no it was a fiber spinning class.  I'm so excited to take the class.  I have had a drop spindle in my stash and some fiber in a bag - that I got at the same time - since 2002 - when I went to the Maryland Sheep and Wool festival.  It's been moved now for 3 times and I still hadn't done anything with it.  I was so afraid of the drop spindle and not being able to master it, that I didn't even try.

Hop to 2012 and this month's Yarn Along the Rockies Yarn Crawl.  It was 21 stores and 9 days.  I've never done anything like this before, but decided to use this time with no work to try it.  I loved every minute of it.  I went to all 21 stores, saw parts of Colorado that I would never have seen, signed up for a spinning class, petted a lot of yarn, added to my stash, bought a book on the drop spindle, and, at one store, thought the roving was too good to pass up, so I now had more roving in my stash.  Roving is wool (or other fiber) that has been conditioned and ready to spin.  I understand that "conditioned" means the sheep (or other animal) donated the fleece, it was washed, dried and combed so that all the fibers are aligned and ready to spin.   I thought the hard work had been done and I pictured myself doing drop spindle spinning sitting on my deck enjoying the beautiful fall that only Colorado can offer!
Snap out of it, the drop spindle is not my friend!  It was much harder - even with great pictures in the book I bought - than I ever thought.

I had signed up for a spinning class at the nearest fiber arts store, happily only about 5 miles from my home, Table Rock Llamas.  The shop worker said they had cancelled the last one due to not enough people.  I was the first to sign up and the class was only 8 days away from my sign up date, so what's the odds that it would fill up?  I resigned myself to the drop spindle and the fiber I had picked up along the Crawl.   Imagine my shock when the owner of the shop called on Thursday to tell me the class on Saturday was a "go!"

On Saturday morning, I gussied myself up for the class - and to be honest I was dreading every minute of it.  But, since the class would be canceled if I didn't attend - as they had only the minimum needed for the class, I felt I had to go.  I walked into the class room to see 3 spinning wheels set up and ready to go!  No backing out now.  I checked my courage and sat down at one.  I met the instructor, Sharon, of Woodlake Woolies.  She really knows her stuff with spinning, and teaches a lot of classes on spinning easy to difficult stuff.  I applaud her for patience since we had to learn to control our right hand, our left hand and both feet at the same time!

It was instinctive to put my feet on the peddles and begin peddling.  The problems arose when I put some fiber in my hands and was actually going to spin yarn.  After 4 hours of tension (both the wheel's and my tension), twisting, drafting and plying with 2 different types of fiber, I had this:

Can you believe it?  Then I was hooked.  Having no wheel at home, but all that fiber from 2002 and the Yarn Crawl, wasn't enough for me.  I bought 8 ounces of what the shop owner called "sheep" since it was wool, but from different breeds of sheep.  I also bought 8 ounces of white merino and rented a wheel for 1 week.
Sunday came and went without any spinning.  Then I had to spin on Monday, so here is what I did on day 1 of my new career!
This is a combination of the Yarn Crawl fiber (dark brown) and the "sheep" plied together after spinning.  So, since I was hooked, I also spun up the 2002 fiber which was blue, but showed up as grey in the next picture.
One day 2 of spinning, I finished the Yarn Crawl fiber - red/black, and the remainder of the 8 ounces of  "sheep" and took both the "sheep" white and blue to Table Rock Llamas hoping they had a large enough bobbin that I could ply the white and blue together.  Not so, I purchased 8 more ounces of Merino in a color called Daffodil and borrowed an empty bobbin.  So here is what I did on day 2 of spinning.  I'm pretty proud of these.  Consistency is getting better and I'm hoping to move on to the merino soon.  I have about 50 yards of the red/white and the same for the blue/white.  It is more of a bulky weight yarn.

I'm on a quest to learn to spin finer and finer yarn, but today is Wednesday and the wheel is due back on Saturday!  Gotta get spinning!

Monday, April 30, 2012


I often find that knitting connects me.   Knitting connects me to the person who designed and created the pattern I'm using.  If I'm doing some "designing" (in quotes 'cause I'm not a real designer) it connects me to Barbara Walker and her great treasuries of stitches.  If I'm using hand painted yarn, I'm connected to the person who created the wonderful colorway.

I'm always connected to my past when knitting, to my mother and grandmother, who taught me to knit (and some basic crochet stitches).  I learned to form the stitches, follow the pattern, shape the pieces and finish the garment from watching what they had to show me.  In those days (1950 - 60 era) almost every girl learned these skills.   My Mother is the "nana" of Nana's Needles.

 To stay connected to my past, I have saved my mother's old knitting books and needles. It is with great pride that I hang these in my home, appropriately enough in my "sewing and knitting room".  These are such treasures and I'm so glad they all survived so I can own them.
My Mothers Knitting Books and her plastic needles

Yesterday I was connected to myself with knitting.  It is strange that you can re-connect with your own past through knitting, but I did.  In the early and mid 1960's I was in nursing school and due to a midlife  baby for my mother, I had a 3 year old sister at home.  For Christmas one year, I bought yarn and knit the cutest sweater and skirt for her.  It was knit in a blue yarn, probably sport weight and wool.  The skirt was pleated and the sweater was a top down raglan with a cabled yoke.  I sat in my dorm room and knit this in my spare time.  I remember it as if I just knit it yesterday.   When my parents died in the 1990s and we were cleaning out the house I actually found the sweater and skirt + the directions to knit them.  Not being into knitting at the time, I unfortunately threw both in the trash.    

Back to yesterday... I was knitting a pattern on US 4s which called for K3tog at times, which can be very hard to do without sharp points and firm needles.  The bamboos and the acrylics were not getting the job done, so I went hunting in my knitting supplies and look what I found.  A whole set of aluminum size 4 doublepoints!  You can tell from the package that these must be old.  I wonder what I paid for them in the mid 1960s.   

US size 4 Princess Aluminum Knitting Needles

I immediately remembered using these to knit the sleeves of my toddler sister's blue top down raglan sweater.  What a find!  Imagine these needles have been moved from North Carolina to Louisiana to Tennessee to Missouri to Kansas and now in Colorado.  I was thrilled to find them, and guess what? They worked perfectly for the knitting plus they connected me to my younger self, simpler times and days gone by.  I wish everyone could have such connections!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Do You Still Knit?

There are many things in life that we try and let it fall by the wayside.  There may be a million excuses for not continuing.   Get too busy, lose interest, have something that takes it's place?  Who knows why, but our obsessions sometimes wax and wane.  I've been thinking a lot about blogging lately.  Not sure why, but in looking back at blogs saw that this one has really fallen by the wayside.  So, I think I'll start blogging again.  If nothing else just to give my hands a rest from almost constant knitting.  

Do you still knit?  Has that fallen by the wayside as well?  If anything,  I've become more obsessed with it.  It is my constant companion, in my bedroom, in my den, in the hotel, on the plane, while I watch TV, while I read a book, while I listen to music, while I listen to podcasts.  You name it, I knit.    I find about the only times I don't knit is in the movie theater (although I could garter stitch through that, but the butter on the popcorn would stain the yarn!)  and while I drive.

Ravelry.com has been a place to post pictures of projects - my name there is Nannyknitter and anyone can see that I've posted several projects over the years.  I didn't post pics of Christmas presents so there were even more projects.

I'm especially proud of The Twelve Scarves of Christmas - a scarf for each of the 12 days of Christmas.  These aren't literal interpretations (except the Five Golden Rings) and some even have feathers!   Check them out - the patterns are for sale there.  Some patterns sold at first, but I'm not planning to retire on that income! LOL  The patterns are also on Patternfish.com.   Look for the designs of Nancy Totten at both websites.

The Twelve Scarves of Christmas 

After a lot of work and not much return on the patterns, I decided to knit an endless loop scarf using the scroll pattern.  I called this Waves of Grain Loop and put it on Ravelry.com for FREE.  It has had 400+ downloads so far!  Maybe that is the way to go.  People always like something for FREE, right?

My Waves of Grain Loop - doubled as a cowl

I've become obsessed with Downton Abbey on PBS this year.   I downloaded season 1 and season 2 to my iPad and find the episodes to be great fun while flying (which I still do every week- although I am semi-retired).  I believe in combining passions, when possible, so am working on a new project, which I will call The Abbey Collection of Scarves, Shawls and Wraps.  The patterns for Mista Bates, Anna, Lord Grantham and Sybil are fixed in my head and will be knit soon.  Look for this collection on Ravelry.com with more added as others are completed.   It is so fun to be knitting (what I think will  be a part of the collection) while watching the episodes!  The acting is wonderful and the story lines are fantastic.  Luv, Luv, Luv Downton Abbey.  Can't wait for season 3 which will include Shirley MacLaine as the American "grand mama."

So rambling aside for the day and hands rested, will return to my knitting.  Hope you are still knitting as well.

Friday, February 22, 2008

TaDa! Too

Well, Once I saw the wrap coming to an end I wanted another project. I was in love with the Katarina Cardigan http://www.cocoknits.com/knit/garments/sweaters/katarina.html I wanted to knit one for myself -who knows why, I certainly don't need it, but you know how that goes. We knit because we can, right? I went to Twist, my LYS and began hunting for yarn. I found that the pattern calls for a dk weight yarn, but at 4 stitches per inch. I didn't think that would happen, so I used Silk Garden Bulky in color B. It gave me the gague and I think looks great. Here is the finished sweater/jacket: The actual colors are more jewel tone and actually brighter than the picture. It was a fun sweater to knit and now I'm looking for another yarn so I can knit it again! I like the way the sleeves knit, cast on with provisional cast-on then knit down after finishing the sweater! This way the sleeves are the right length! Neat idea, huh?

Next project is the Sampler Afghan from Melissa Leapman's book, Cables Untangled. Here is a picture of it from a fellow Ravelry knitter. It will be a long undertaking, but knits in strips and blocks so that it will travel easily. I'm only on my second strip at present and hope to finish it by next year! I'm using Berroco Comfort in light blue.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Ta Da!

Finished! I didn't work on the Borris Wrap for about 3 weeks due to travel for work. When I picked it up this morning, I was surprised to find that so little remained to be done, so I finished it while watching morning TV. Here is how it looks:

I can't wait to wear it and think it will look great with a black suit for work! The circle is actually a shawl pin that I got at Stitches Midwest from Gita Maria, web site http://www.gitamaria.com/ She had an awesome booth at Stitches and everything was beautiful - enameled silver work! I chose this one to go with the wrap.

I'm now knitting on the Katarina Cardigan - pattern found via Ravelry - using Noro Silk Garden chunky - it's going fast and hopefully will be finished by the weekend. I'll post if I'm finished. Next project for me will be the Sampler Afghan in Melissa Leapman's book, Cables Untangled. Can't wait to start is as it is done in squares and panels so it should make a good project to take with me out of town next week.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Irish knit

When I was at Stitches Midwest in August, I saw the Borris Wrap by Maggiknits - who has wonderful Irish knits designs. I bought the kit, but hadn't done very much with it til this week. I finally started it, the pattern is a bit challenging, but the pictures in the book (which came with the kit) make it easier to follow the written pattern.

I think it is a work of art! The pics are in the blue colors, but I chose the black and red!
Anyway, here is my progress!