Madrona

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I just finished a great getaway weekend with my friends.  I met up with two of them at an Airbnb apartment in Tacoma, WA, and we spent all of Saturday and much of Sunday  with the fiber crowd at the Madrona Fiber Arts winter retreat.  The retreat offers loads of classes on spinning, knitting, weaving and other fiber craft, and a marketplace that isn’t overwhelming in size while still managing to be absolute temptation.

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The Murano hotel is right next to the Glass Museum, so it is filled with examples of art in different glass techniques, including very retreat appropriate representations of knitted glass.

Even the bathrooms had pretty glass.  And I had my brush with knitting greatness when I was washing my hands next to the Yarn Harlot.

I’ve taken classes in the past, but this time I just wanted to hang out with my girlfriends and catch up and knit and spin and shop the vendors.

And that definitely happened!

Lots of window shopping and yarn and fiber fondling in the marketplace.  Really bright colors everywhere.  Beads and blown glass needles and luxury fibers in abundance.

I spent a lot of time in the Churchmouse booth.  I really want to knit a sweater they had on display, but I couldn’t decide on a color – I like the dark jewel tones, but lighter is really better for showing off cables.

In the end I decided to mull it over a while.  2200 yards is a lot of yarn – I need to get the color right.

I was fairly restrained in my shopping overall. Reminding myself that I had just reviewed the 27 pounds of fiber I already have was a necessary bucket of cold water when I started to pile up the possible spinning purchases.  And my stash is definitely not hurting for yarn either.  I brought three works in progress for this weekend because I couldn’t decide which I would want to work on, and I have more waiting, half finished, in the wings.  So only one braid of fiber  (but yak/silk/merino – yum!) and some notions.  Self control wins one.

When we weren’t shopping, we met up with other friends as they came and went to their classes, and sat in the rotunda, watching craft demonstrations, knitting, and meeting new people.  There were also great meals in nearby restaurants. (Oh, how I’ve missed Indian food! There are no good Indian restaurants anywhere near my house.)

In the evening there was chocolate and wine and spinning back at the apartment.  A really great weekend.

And, a shout out to my husband, who took the kids out and about all weekend and didn’t utter a word of complaint that I was missing both our anniversary and Valentine’s Day.  He even had a bouquet of tulips and a box of chocolates delivered to the apartment!  I married so well.

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Two steps backward

I started a new at-home knitting project (not to be confused with my at-work knitting project) but didn’t get very far before I realized that I had messed up the increase pattern completely.  I was doing the repeats from my last project instead of my current one.  Sigh.  I ripped it all out and started over.

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The yarn is Tosh Merino Light, my all time favorite yarn.  It glows in every colorway and this picture does it absolutely no justice.  These two color ways are Ink and Betty Draper’s Blues.  The pattern, now that I’m actually knitting it instead of just thinking I am, is In a Word.

Starting out right in 2016

A belated happy New Year to everyone!  We were away at our wifi-less cabin for a few days.  We came back today in the midst of both holiday traffic and a sudden unexpected winter blast of snow and freezing rain.  My district has already declared tomorrow a snow day!  To the despair of my sons, their district is so far opening on time.  My joy at the possibility of a childless day at home is deep.  🙂

It has been a smorgasbord of crafts during the beginning of 2016.  I got started in the quilting of my older son’s night sky quilt, warped a scarf on the rigid heddle loom, and dug out the cotton for some kitchen knitting.

My basement floor no longer has room to pin a quilt after my sister dropped off a piano this summer, so we went last week to her school where she organized her classroom and I pinned a couple of quilts.

My knees and fingers were only good for two quilts worth of pins, plus my boys’ patience ran out at that point.  But that gives me a start on the pile of tops.

The kitchen wash cloths were looking pretty grungy, so I pulled out my cones of cotton and made a few more in simple seed stitch patterns.  They are a little uneven but that’s not very important in a cloth destined for scrubbing around oven burners, and they tighten up when they are washed.

I also packed the loom and warped it for a scarf while we were at the cabin.

All went smoothly until I looked for the stick shuttle to start actually weaving and realized I hadn’t packed one.  I made one out of folded cardboard but it wasn’t very stable and bent a lot, making it a very slow process.  But now we are home and the shuttles are at hand so it will move faster.

 

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I used a Crazy Zauberball yarn for the warp – it has long bi-colored color changes creating stripes.  The weft is a green lace weight alpaca yarn (Misti alpaca) doubled.  Still trying to use up stash yarns, though I have to admit the Zauberball is a fairly recent purchase.

So a lot of different crafts to start out the year.  Starting as I mean to go on!

Ironically, spinning wasn’t one of them, though that is on the top of my crafting resolution list – to spin more regularly in 2016.  I love it when I’m doing it, but have just not turned to the wheel very often.

My resolution list is shortish and project based. More spinning.  Doing more home improvement sewing like runners for bureaus, covers for the living room chairs, and wall hangings for a few bare walls.  I’m also going to finally refinish the dining room tabletop and stain the unfinished dresser.  And a biggie – have the kitchen remodeled! The only really personal improvement is to establish a regular walking routine.  I need more movement.

Now that I reread that list, it isn’t very short.  But I have a whole year to accomplish it all, and I think it is doable.

I hope everyone is having a happy, safe, and fiber filled start to the new year.

 

 

 

A few finishes

While we were pretty busy over the holiday, I did get some time in on a couple of projects.

I finished my most recent triangle scarf: Drachenfels. I followed the pattern pretty much exactly except for the gauge and one part near the end where I didn’t read the pattern closely enough and left out a stripe.  It is a good pattern to use small or partial skeins and could easily be modified to any size, types of yarn, or stripe pattern

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I also made myself a tote for work as I’m tired of juggling my lunch bag, purse, and knitting bag through the parking lot.  I think the alphabet fabric is perfect for working in a school.

I didn’t really have a pattern, though I looked at a few tote tutorials just to remind myself of the steps before I started.

I quilted the outer fabric first in one big piece and then cut it to size.  I used the outer panels as the pattern for the lining pieces.  I covered cotton straps with black canvas to make them sturdy, put an outer pocket between the straps and two inner pockets also lined with canvas for sturdiness.  It turned out just like the picture in my head, which doesn’t always happen!

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Warm stitches

I started a new knitting project this week.

The pattern is called Drachenfels, by Melanie Berg, and it is a simple knit, increasing on one edge while decreasing on the other, creating a sideways triangle.  I just have to remember not to do the decrease every 6th row, and other than that it is pretty mindless knitting, so I can keep reading or talking or watching TV or all of those in various combinations while it grows.

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Three yarns are all really different from each other in texture and content.  The dark cone yarn is a marked two ply wool in two different browns.  The dirty white coned yarn is a raw silk, very nubby and splitty.  The golden brown is Madeline Tosh merino light, a soft luminous yarn – Tosh merino light is one of my all time favorites to knit with.

I’m trying hard to knit from my stash, both as a money saver (though I just spend it all on fabric instead, so it is net neutral in the long run) and to reduce the sheer volume of stuff in my craft storage.  These three yarns wouldn’t normally go into the same project, but it seems to be working so far.

I was a knitter long before I started quilting, and though larger blocks of time are usually given to quilting, the portability of knitting can’t be replaced.  If I sit too long without having needles in my hands my fingers get itchy.

We also got our tree up this week, so I can knit in the glow of the colorful lights, with the Hanukkiah candles also adding in their flickers.

Those are my sons, post decorating the tree, and pre-redecorating it after the cat tried to climb it and pulled the whole thing over.  Sigh for my Swarovski snowflake ornaments.   We also went with two Hanukkiahs this year as it cuts down on the candle lighting arguments.

 

Stars and mittens

I’ve made a little more progress on the nine patch wonky stars, sewing more stars and cutting more squares.

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I really need to clean the threads off my design wall!

I also got up the first holiday decoration.  We celebrate both Hannukah and Christmas, and today I put up the mitten advent calendar (is it still a calendar if it doesn’t have numbers?). About three years ago, I knit 24 little mittens out of handspun and strung them on a braided cord.  Each year I fill them with little candies and my sons pick a different mitten each day to open until Christmas Eve.

Oh, and one other decoration today – we’ve started to put up icicles and snowflakes in the school library for the winter decorations, and included this book tree/mountain that my office mate created.  We’re going to cut out little skiers and snowboarders to put on it.

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Crafting at the coast

This weekend was a long planned crafting weekend at the cabin.  A lot didn’t go as planned.  My husband’s new job erupted with emergencies, meaning he had to work late on Friday and on Saturday.  Luckily, Grandma stepped in to kid watch.  Then my sister got sick and couldn’t drive up on Friday with me.  Sort of creepy to arrive after dark at the cabin lot – no street lights there!  One of the two friends who was arriving Saturday also got sick, so our retreat of four became a retreat of two.

But it was very crafty anyway!  I finished my silk mohair shawl, despite running out of yarn half way through the edging chart.  It goes on the blocking pile (with too many others – must do a lot of blocking soon!)

Mohair silk Nypon shawl

There was a lot of spinning, Paige on her Ashford Joy, me on my Kromski Sonata wheel.

Spinning at cabin image I finished the last of a green and blue merino I’ve been spinning occasionally. I’m trying to relearn spinning thicker singles after years of spinning thinner and thinner yarns. This one was going to be a two ply, but I decided I wanted to blend the colors more and have a bulkier yarn, so I sent each two ply through again adding lots of extra twist, and then plied the two together to end up with a four ply crepe yarn. I love the texture and look of the resulting yarn!image image I started a new pile of green polwarth and silk yarn next, again trying for thicker singles.  There are actually two different dye jobs in that pile, one with a lot more variation in shades, but the plan is to ply them together.  Still sticking with the green theme of my recent yarn work, obviously.

Paige’s yarn had a green tint as well, but a lot of other colors too.  I really envy the huge bobbins on her wheel.

Paige spinning at cabin

There was other knitting in addition to my shawl.  Paige continues to work on her socks of many colors:

Paige's socks of many colors

Paige's sock yarn

And I started a simple pair of garter stitch slippers with some leftover handspun, though I haven’t quite figured out how this rectangle is going to become a foot shaped slipper.  I’m going on faith and following the row by row directions.

Knit slippers

When not spinning or knitting socks, Paige also worked on fingerless mittens that she sells, along with the socks, at a holiday craft fair.

Paige's mitten in progress

There was also pizza, and catching up on family and friend news, and quilting talk, and a lot of needed sleep, and generally a really good time bookmarked (pun alert) by a weird but engrossing audio book that I listened to in the cars during the hours there and back.  If you aren’t squeamish, I can highly recommend Stiff by Mary Roach, the history of cadavers.

I’m back home now, in the storm of chaos we call bedtime, happy to be back with my family, but also really ready to get the next fiber retreat on the calendar.

A green theme

Maybe because briefly the rains came back before the heat deepened again, but I’ve been on a bit of a green kick the last week or two.

The trees for the Night Sky quilt are coming along slowly, with pieces coming together in weird partial seam combinations when I have a minute to add to it.

Night sky trees in progress

The process is a messy one!

Green tree scraps

Green tree scraps

There was also a burst of knitting when I wasn’t somewhere that sewing was possible.  And without intending it, all of it green.

I finished one home spun cowl –

Handspun cowl - green

Started another –

Handspun cowl 2 a green

And then when I left that cowl in progress at school, I started a third.

Green cowl with combined lace

The first two are knit from the same fiber spun two different ways.  Cowl #1 is a two ply.  I had planned on making it very wide, but it turned out that what I thought were additional skeins were the same hand dyed fiber, but I’d spun it into a three ply yarn.  So those two skeins became a new cowl.

The third cowl I’m combining yarn.  I have a lot of lace and light fingering weight yarns from my obsessive lace knitting days, so I’ve decided that I’ll combine various skeins to make the bulkier knitting projects I’m in the mood for now.

After all these are finished I’ll need a burst of fuchsia or lemon yellow to recover from all the green!