Friday, August 26, 2016

FO Friday: Sample Shawlette

Last weekend, I finished the sample shawl I was knitting for Bijou Basin Ranch:
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The Culebra Simple Shawlette was a pretty quick knit in Lhasa Wilderness yarn, especially once I got past the lace border. I think this photo does a pretty decent job of conveying just how long the finished shawlette is:
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I loved how this hand-dyed colorway knit up with virtually no pooling - it's Coastal Breeze, which is dyed for BBR by Lattes & Llamas. It will be on display in the Bijou Basin Ranch booth at various fiber events this fall, starting with my personal favorite, the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival next month!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

WIP Wednesday: Temptation at my Doorstep

I spent most of last weekend finishing up my sample shawl in Lhasa Wilderness (spoiler alert, that's this Friday's post!), and now I'm back to working on the WIPs I had in progress beforehand. The Finial Hat in Woolstok needed the most love - I'd abandoned it just after starting the cabled stitch pattern:
I also started - and finished! - the gusset shaping for the second Lightsaber Sock:
The handspun crochet blanket continues to grow, but I'm not so sure that a photo will help illustrate the point - it really looks like quite the pile o' yarn at this point, and I need to weave in the many, many yarn ends before going any further. So instead I will show off this photo of a lovely new book by Hunter Hammersen (Curls 2) which arrived on my doorstep yesterday and is tempting me to wind off a skein of yarn that's been in my stash for a bit:
That's it for this week - see you back here on Friday for the reveal of my finished sample shawl!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Spinning Inspiration: Blending Board Batts

A few issues ago, I read an article in Spin-Off which talked about using a blending board to make batts. It sounded interesting at the time, and I made a mental note to give it a try at a later date. A few weeks ago (or maybe a month? I can't keep track), I decided to break out the blending board and finally give this thing a try.
I had most of a 4oz braid of Cloudlover BFL which I wanted to use as my main base (a portion of that had been used to try out my 3-D printed Turkish Spindle from Turtlemade) to use with a Jar of Inspiration and some dyed fleece I bought on Etsy.
Before I put anything on the board, I tried to divide everything into three even piles so that each batt had enough similar fibers and colors to allow them to look good when plied together, but then added some unique additions to each one to also make each set a bit different. It wasn't terribly scientific - I don't think I measured a whole lot, save for the base fiber, and my approach for each of the 3 batts created was to load as much onto the blending board as possible. I also tried to make use of what fibers could be teased out beyond the dimension of the carding cloth on the board, hence creating a decent sized blanket of spinnable fiber.
Each of the resulting three batts became a single:
And here is what they look like plied together to create a nice bulky 89-yard 3-ply skein:
With Spinzilla on the horizon for fall, you can bet I'll be creating more batts to spin from! They're each to work from, and also easy to do ahead of time and then store - as much as I would like to predraft roving ahead of time, it can be a little tricky to store said fiber without making a mess. Batts and rolags are a nice option to have when making a Spinzilla strategy.

Speaking of Spinzilla, my team - Team Louet - has a title to defend! We'll be spinning to win once again this year, and spinner registration opens on Sept. 1 (if you were part of our winning team last year, I'll be emailing you shortly to give you a head's up on registering with us once again!).

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

WIP Wednesday: Staying on Task

I'm working on a sample for Bijou Basin Ranch right now, and it needs to be done by the end of this month - so I am practicing a little project monogamy for now. The yarn is a really pretty hand-dyed color of Lhasa Wilderness, and I'm using 2 skeins to knit the Culebra Simple Shawlette:
The lace border was definitely a pay-attention stitch pattern, but now that I am about to start the short row shaping and garter stitch, I think I'll be able to relax a little. It's a fun knit so far, and coming along pretty quickly, too.

My on-the-go-project has been the second light saber green sock, and I am getting close to the finish line - I just turned the heel!
I've also been working some more on my handspun crocheted blanket:
That's it for this week! I'm hoping to have an FO Friday project to share this week, but I'm not 100% certain that's going to be a thing....to be continued!

Friday, August 12, 2016

FO Friday: It Never Got Blocked

I knit this wee hat using some destash yarn simply because I wanted to make it...there was no baby in mind at the time of the cast on, and I just randomly chose a size to knit, hoping I would find a baby whose head it would fit at some point in the near future.

Not to soon after finishing the hat, I found that baby! And unfortunately, I didn't even get a chance to block the hat, much less properly photograph it. So here is the one I took on the fly before I gifted it to its forever home. It's not my favorite photo, but it'll have to do:
Pattern: Wee Hat from New Guy by Kate Oates
Yarns: Traveling Rhinos Merino, O-Wool Organic Merino 2-ply and Wonderland Yarns Merino from one of their Mini-Skein packs.
Project page here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

WIP Wednesday: The Home Stretch

I am just a million ends and a few buttons away from having 2 finished baby sweaters! How did that happen?!
I've been able to avoid starting new projects because I am awaiting some yarn that is being held hostage by USPS currently - boo - which is pretty annoying, since it's for a sample that I need to finish by the end of this month. Ah, the Chicago postal service. They seem to have sixth sense for these things. Anyway, in the interim, I'm just trying to focus on finishing the projects that I have on the needles so that there is less distraction once the yarn finally shows up. To that end, I've been working more on the lightsaber-green socks:
And also picked this hat project back up which I started about a week and a half ago and then promptly ignored:

I'm still pretty enamoured with the handspun crocheted blanket, too - I think it's grown about an inch or so since last week:
That's it for this week! I have another quick FO project to share with you this Friday, see you then!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Convergence 2016

Every 2 years, the Handweavers Guild of America (HGA) holds Convergence at a different location in the US - and for this year, it happened to be taking place in Milwaukee, WI, which is just a hop, skip and a jump from Chicago. It also happened to coincide with Stitches Midwest in Schaumburg, IL; rather than going to both, I opted to attend the event that I've never been to that is technically further away from where I live, but much less of a horrific drive, if you ask me (or anyone who lives in Chicago proper - are you taking notes, Stitches Midwest organizers who are definitely not reading this blog??).

Anyway, my pal Lauren and I roadtripped to Milwaukee on Saturday to check out the Convergence marketplace and see some old friends - we both have spun on Team Louet for Spinzilla for the past 3 years, so of course we had to say hello to Dave from Louet:
L-R: Dave, Lauren, and Me. Gotta love convention center lighting.
The marketplace was small but had a nice selection of vendors. My main goal was to leave without adding any more yarn or fiber to my stash, and unbelievably, I succeeded (more on that in a sec). That's not to say there wasn't temptation - I think I have just gotten better about losing my mind and buying all the the things at such events. Also, I'm saving the blowout for Wisconsin Sheep & Wool next month.
The Convergence 2016 Marketplace
There were some really cool things on display, both on the show floor, and in a separate exhibit area. One example would be the Digital Weaving Norway booth, which had some amazing woven tapestry portraits:
The one pictured above (and all of the many others on display in the booth) were all created with a pneumatic computerized loom which was fascinating to watch. I probably should have taken a video of the process since there was someone doing a demo, but naturally I didn't think to at the time. One day I'll learn!

Schacht held a shuttle race earlier in the week which featured creatively decorated shuttles - these were the "People's Choice" awards on display in the HGA booth:
They also had some really interesting exhibits featuring art pieces and garments created by fiber artists. I took photos of a few of my favorites:
Shoal by Donna Kallner
Dragons and Winds by Sally Anaya
The Tao of Cats by Tien Chiu
There were also a few pieces which require a few photos to get a real sense of them if you aren't viewing them in person. This one won the first place award; from far away, it looks like it's all one piece, right?
Lossy Format #1 by Hallie Meltzer
But here it is close-up - it's composted entirely of crocheted "pixels," a fiber arts version of Chuck Close!
I also thought that this was interesting - again, from far away it's really tough to see what's actually going on:
L'heure Bleue by Deanna Deeds
It looks one-dimensional, right? But once you get closer, you see that's not the case:
Honestly, I think I liked the exhibit a little more than the marketplace, but I'm glad I was able to check out both. And, speaking of the marketplace, here are the 3 things that came home with me (along with some New Glarus beer of course - when in Wisconsin!):
After many years of admiring the handmade baskets that Susan Preuss has had for sale at various regional events I've attended, I finally bought myself a small spinning wheel basket for my Ladybug. I am so tired of hunting around for my orifice hook, which has a habit of disappearing right when I need it!

I also wanted to pick up some dyestuffs for some experiments and tutorials to share on this blog later this summer/early fall, and when I spied this small bag of "Instant Indigo" in the Eugene Textile Center booth, I was intrigued. I am definitely thinking of an ikat/indigo dye experiment.

My first purchase at the show was this pair of sheep socks in the HGA booth - they are really thick and I am sure they will be warm for the winter time! I couldn't resist adding to my fun/silly sock collection.

I'm glad I got the chance to go to my first-ever Convergence; I'm not sure where the next one will be in 2018, but maybe next time it's near Chicago I can take a class!