Getting away

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Another fiber friends weekend has flashed past.  This time we met up halfway between the northern people and the southern people, at an Air BnB house in Olympia.  Tucked into a quiet little neighborhood we sewed and spun and knit and played with fiber.  Also, there was wine.  🙂

I cut out and sewed most of three more tunics based on the Dress No. 2 pattern.  I got as far as the neck bands before I broke the sewing machine needle on a misplaced pin and had to stop.  But look at this book card fabric I found!  Perfect for my job as a high school librarian.

Leslie 1 (50% of the group is named Leslie) brought her blending board and showed us how to make rolags, which you need if you want to spin in true woolen fashion.  And it makes it really easy to mix up colors and fiber types.  There is cotton, wool, angora, and alpaca in those sample rolls.

I added another big chunk to my 1×1 ribbed stash-eating scarf.  I’m holding three strands together for a marled effect.

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There was knitting in public, which greatly intrigued the wait staff at the Three Magnets Brewing Co. when we ventured out of the house in search of cold drinks on a very hot day.

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Look at all the handspun my friend Paige has created and accumulated! This is just the fraction I could fit in the photo.

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I tremendously enjoy each of these weekend getaways.  Like minded people laughing together, plus fiber.  How can that not be great?

 

Olympic gold finish

I’m awarding myself an unexpected gold medal because I did in fact finish my Knitting Olympics wrap before the extinguishing of the flame at the end of the closing ceremonies.  Of course, this was on NBC time, rather than the Korean peninsula time zone, but so was the casting on, so I’m counting it.

I owe my victory to two snow days and a late start, so thank you Canada for the cold front assist.

The blocking may have been a bit excessive – this thing stretches to the floor if I don’t double wrap it.  In some hazy future I will soak it again and reblock for width and reduced length, but for now, I’m just loving it.  I’m almost sad that spring is finally starting to show up because I won’t get to wear it for months and months.

Not sure why it then took me two weeks to get that finish posted, but life gets in the way.

I’ve moved on to another wrap, this one called Pralines.  I ripped it out three times in the early stages, twice because I didn’t like how I was managing carrying the light yarn up the edge, and the third time because I decided to change the contrast yarn altogether.  In stead of a greeny-blue yarn I dyed a while back with Olympic white left-overs , it is now the greeny-blue with a variegated lighter green.  Looks less like I’m knitting nautical wear.  If I had the brown yarn shown in the pattern, I’d have used that because I love the color combination, but I’m trying to knit from stash.

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Which, by the way, is totally my excuse for buying three new skeins of yarn at the Rose City Yarn crawl last weekend.  I needed the new yarns to go with three skeins I already had, so I could make some two color shawls I have my eye on.  can’t knit from stash if it doesn’t match!  None of my remaining sock yarns really went with each other.  So I was pretty much forced to buy more yarn, right?  (Oh, rationalization.  It makes for great shopping sprees.)

My friend Paige came down to spend the weekend, so there was much knitting and yarn shopping and making of bagels.

That last became a full family affair because the many stages of bagel making were so interesting.  Kneading and pulling, then broiling, boiling, and baking.  We had a great time, and then a fabulous bagel feast.

 

 

 

 

 

A scaled back OFFF

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A plan to spend the weekend at the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival in Canby was reduced to just Saturday afternoon.  One friend was ill, one on her way to illness and one was sent out of town on a business trip.

So it was just a couple hours with my friend Paige, but enjoyable still. We’ve been enough times that we pretty much have memorized the booth offerings from return vendors, but nothing makes fondling yarn and fiber and petting sheep get old.

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So much color everywhere!  And yet I managed to buy the plainest yarn and fiber I saw.

But, what it lacks in pigment it makes up in content – the yarn is yak and merino and silk, and the fiber has enough angora that it is going to get a wonderful halo when it is made into yarn.

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The barn where the sheep and goats wait to be judged is, as always, a highlight.

The wildly varying pelts always intrigue me.  So much variation in what are basically close cousins.

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All of those are sheep fleece, except the bunny in the middle of the top row.  It is hard to tell, but the brown tipped locks on the lower left were brown on the ends and then went through cream to become gray where it is newly growing out.  My sister pays huge amounts of money to get that many colors into her hair!

The colors llamas come in are also impressive.

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The angora rabbits are another favorite. Dust bunnies come to life.

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When we weren’t shopping or petting we watched the llama obstacle course trials – very dignified – and then the goats at their course as well – defiant and needing to be carried.

And then OFFF was done for another year.

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Coast and eclipse

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Summer vacation is ending and we are all in denial about it, except my husband who thinks it will be nice when other people in the house have to go to bed at a reasonable time and get up early. Mornings are a little lonely for him in the summer.

We are squeezing a few adventures in at the end.  My friend Paige invited us to the coast for a couple days (well, one day but then we just didn’t leave).  Beach walks and whale watching, ice cream and sea lions, knitting and puzzles – an excellent couple of days.

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I finished the I-cord binding on my Volt wrap at long last and cast on a simple pair of socks.  Simple once I got a handle on the tension.  The first attempt was way too loosely knit and made a floppy open fabric.  A failed attempt at finding a knitting store on the coast to buy smaller needles led to ripping it all out and cranking up the tightness on the same needles.  Not ideal but it worked out.

From the coast we headed inland to Salem, OR, for the eclipse.  We got there a couple of days early to hang out with my friend Cathy – friends since junior high! – and the other people who had also called her to request a bed in the path of totality.

Cathy and her husband are excellent hosts.  I may never need to eat again.  As an example, one of the nights we had five desserts to choose from.

And the eclipse!  Words are inadequate!  It was beyond amazing.  We all settled in on their deck up in the hills above the city and watched the very first sliver of moon crossing onto the sun’s face.  It gradually got colder, and the light weirder, and the sun beams through the leaf shadows all turned to crescents. So did the little points of light shining through my straw sun hat.  The sun through our eclipse glasses was a molten orange, but the totality itself, when we could look without the filters, was drained of color – a white flaring ring around a black featureless hole in a black sky.  The diamond ring effect as the sun reemerged was spectacular.

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Those aren’t my eclipse photos in these pics – the boys and hat crescents are mine – but they look exactly like what we saw.  Nothing like anything else I’ve ever experienced.  It was truly a thrill to see.

Worth every minute of the five hours it took to get home afterwards on what is normally a one and a half hour drive.  Eclipse traffic also lived up to its hype.

And I made good progress on the beach/eclipse socks:

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Spinning with friends

I spent a lot of time on my spinning wheels over the past days, starting with the weekend.  My friends from Seattle were back in town and four of us went to the Aurora Handspinning Guild’s spin-in day.

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There were a lot of people, most industriously spinning, some more focused on the fiber shopping possibilities.  It made me excited to rejoin a spinning guild.  I used to belong to the Snohomish guild before we moved to Oregon, and now that we are moving again I hope to join a guild near the new house.  I spin so much more when I’m with other people – on my own I tend to turn to sewing instead.

The next day we got together at Leslie 2’s house.  You couldn’t ask for a more relaxing spinning setting.

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The weather was PNW spring crazy, sunny on one side of the house and hailing on the other.

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The Leslies spent much of the day organizing fiber.  Leslie 2 hauled out every bin and bag of raw and processed fiber she had, and she and Leslie 1 went through every bit of it. There were piles to take to the processor, to donate, to process herself, and to dye.

They also washed some of the fleece to see whether it was going to be worth keeping.  The sun came out long enough to put some out to dry at least a bit.

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The bins were sorted logically and repacked and we were all very impressed with both her progress and the size of her stash!  She loves to buy fleeces, some of which she cleans and cards on her own, and some of which she sends to small mills to be made into spin ready fiber.

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I had my finish for the week, this bobbin of a very spring green merino.  I’m not sure what I will ply it with – something will come along.

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I’m now working on some subdued rainbow humbug BFL fiber I dyed in January.  Its plying partner is also up in the air.

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I don’t know why I don’t spin more on my own.  I used to do it constantly.  Somehow I need to get back to the regular habit if I’m going to meet my six pounds goal in 2017.

 

 

We interrupt the silence to bring you a smidgeon of crafting news

Life has gotten a bit crazy lately.  We’ve spent a lot of our non-working/sleeping time house hunting, and now we are in the throes of house buying, with all the paper gathering and emails and phone calls that entails.  In the meantime, the kids still needed to eat and have clean clothes and get to track and Cub scouts and who knows what.  Some balls have been dropped, and getting anything crafty done has been one of those balls.

But I did abandon my responsibilities last weekend for another trip to join my fibery friends.  We rented a place through AirBnB and raced off through the rain storms to catch the ferry to Anderson Island for the weekend.

 

There was a lot of spinning on my part.  I finished the blue two ply yarn in the pic below, and filled another bobbin with the third single I needed to make another yarn.  I also worked on the I-cord edging on my Volt wrap.

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There was also a lot of learning.  Paige taught us all how to do two color brioche knitting, and Leslie 2 was quick enough at it to knit a shoulder wrap/cowl thing.

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We also learned it takes a great deal of junk food (and pineapple cider) to fuel so much creative effort.

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It was hard to leave and go back to the real world.  But we had a satisfying pile of progress to show for it.

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Saga of the Christmas wedding blanket

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The centerpiece of our recently completed finishing weekend was Seattle Leslie’s blanket.

Or rather, her sister-in-law’s partial blanket.  Intended as a wedding present for a son, it was handed to Leslie as a pile of red, green and cream rectangles after Leslie made the strategic error of saying she’d finish it up when her sister-in-law hit a time crunch.

So Seattle Leslie’s big goal for the weekend was to get all those squares sewn together.  And hey, Portland Leslie and Paige like (don’t hate) seaming.  So while I spun and embroidered, the three of them sewed many rectangles together.  Some of those rectangles were rather rough, and the sizes were more “identical” than identical, but they plowed through, and the blanket grew.

So did the doubts about the back and edges.  They just did not look good, and no one was happy about it as an intended-to-be-cherished wedding gift.

Which is when we came up with the idea to add a fabric backing, to treat it as a quilt and hide all those uneven edges and knots and yarn ends in the middle of a yarn and flannel sandwich.

Leslie and I hit the nearest fabric store Saturday evening, where I promptly freaked out at the thought of paying $15 a yard for flannel – it isn’t woven with real gold thread! it’s freaking flannel! – and dragged her to JoAnn’s where the magic of sales and phone coupons turned the $75 price for backing at the first store into $18.

And it was a lovely soft and cuddly flannel after its trip through the washer and dryer for pre-shrinking.

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We seamed to get a wide enough piece, then spread it out on the floor for pinning and folding.  We cut it about two inches wider all around, then folded in the fabric edge and folded that over the blanket edge.

I zig-zag stitched all around to anchor the binding, and we all took turns knotting yarn through the intersections of knit rectangles to finish it off.

Leslie was so happy to have it done and without having to crochet edges or worry about the back.  We were all pretty happy with the finished blanket, and I am pretty sure I’m going to make one of my own someday.