Friday, December 24, 2010

Pattern Release- Eureka Valley Hat

Eureka Valley HatEureka Valley Hat

I designed this hat to match my Eureka Valley Mitts worked in the worsted weight version of this yarn. Really, it was just an excuse to work with the Chunky Mochi, which had been calling my name from the shelves for several months. It uses 2 balls, and works up in just a few hours. The pattern is available for $5 in my Ravelry pattern store or my Etsy shop.

Free Pattern Release- Snowflakes on Mulberries Hat (worsted weight)

Snowflakes on Mulberries, worstedSnowflakes on Mulberries, worsted weight
You may remember my free pattern for Silk Garden Lite, the Snowflakes on Mulberries Hat. Here it is-
Snowflakes on Mulberries Hat
Soon after finishing that project, I learned that Silk Garden Lite was being discontinued!
Earlier this fall, I fell in love with this lovely Halloween-y colorway of the worsted weight Silk Garden and I decided to rework the pattern for a heavier gauge. It works up super fast in 1 skein and the 6-fold symmetry of the decreases makes it just a little bit special. I tweaked the decrease rate, so there's no tendency toward looking nipple-y whether the hat is being worn or not. Ravelry pattern page here.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pumpkin Recipe Share Time!

So here's the recipe for the pumpkin bread pudding I made for the spinners. I used a mix of pumpkin and butternut squash puree made from veggie box contents. I used about half normal baguette from Whole Foods and half cranberry/currant baguette. That weekend, I also made this hazelnut pumpkin pie, which was ok but mostly the hazelnuts were distracting. I think it would have been better if the nut mixture was sweetened. I used the crust from this butternut squash pie recipe which is still the reigning champion. (Though this caramel pumpkin pie from Gourmet magazine is great if you have time for the extra steps.)

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

WIP- Effortless Cardigan + Show Me Your Posts Contest!

I'm working on this Effortless Cardigan (pattern by Hannah Fetig of Knitbot) in Misti Tonos Worsted (alpaca/wool blend). Here's what it looked like when I started writing this post like 3 weeks ago.

WIP- Effortless Cardigan

It's been a while since I made a long sleeve sweater in something other than fingering weight, so I thought it would go a little faster. Not so much. The huge fronts make this basically a sweater and a half. The yarn is so yummy, I'm really enjoying even the tedious parts. Since I took the first photo exactly 2 weeks ago, I've finished the body and started one of the sleeves.

Effortless Cardigan
Um... since I wrote that and took the 2nd photo, I've finished the whole thing! You can come visit it at Yarndogs starting at the end of the week. It's so warm and comfy and perfect!

So... I'm at least 6 months behind on my Ravelry friends' blogs. (Hint: If you post it to Facebook, I'll probably see it.) I want to see what everyone's been working on! I'm going to do a little contest. In the comments, post a link to the blog post about the FO you're proudest of from the last 6 months. In 1 week, I'll randomly draw a winner and you'll get a handspun supercoil necklace or custom dyed yarn or fiber.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Finished? Yarn- Zombie Swap Batt

I participated in the awesome Zombie Apocalypse Swap in the Phat Fiber Ravelry group earlier this month. The fibery portion of the package I received from Dawn of Dawning Dreams was this chunky art batt

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I spun it up into these singles-
Zombie Swap Batt Spun Up!

Not sure what I'm going to do with the yarn, but I'm sure it will be just perfect for something or other someday. :)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A New Kitten!

Kitten Carder
Did I trick you? The 2cats are still 2 and not 3. I'm talking about my brand new Kitten drum carder from Fancy Kitty!
I got the 120 cloth for fine fibers. The maker suggests that only people who are making batts of mostly angora or maybe suri alpaca need the 190 cloth.
I love it!
It's not hugely different from the Pat Green I was borrowing from Rachel, but it's more compact and I like that. There's a Ravelry group for the carders and the maker answers questions all the time. These blog posts from The Painted Tiger are incredibly helpful and drool-worthy.
I've made a few batts by now, and I can easily get at least 2.5oz of fiber using the brush to push the fibers down the teeth. I haven't been fastening the brush attachment in the down position, just pushing it down with my hand for a few turns now and then. This is one of the batts I made for the Phat Fiber October steampunk theme. It's a blend of merino, camel, and silk based on the character of Yashmeen Halfcourt from Thomas Pynchon's novel Against the Day.
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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Spinning WIP- Black Pearl Batts

I haven't been doing much other than dyeing and knitting samples lately, but I managed to finish 1 batt of this fiber (Black Pearl batts)from fellow Phattie By Rebekah With Love

The fiber content is Merino, carbonized bamboo, tussah silk, mulberry silk, firestar & angelina.
2.2 oz each batt
Going back to the Etsy listing to get the fiber content, I just realized she uses the same drum carder model that I just bought. She sets a pretty high standard- go check out her shop!
Halfway done!

It'll be a lace or fingering-ish 2ply for a triangular lace shawl, most likely. I'm really looking forward to making more time for designing soon (I hope!). I have a few garments sort of stalled out at the grading stage, but I hope to need test knitters soon.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lambtown Details

Come see me (Out of Step Dyeworks / Amy Klimt Designs) at booth 17 in Madden Hall at Lambtown in Dixon this Saturday!
The Dixon May Fair Grounds, 655 South 1st St., Dixon, on Saturday, October 2, 2010, from 9 A.M. to 9 P.M. Admission is just $2.00 for adults. Children 6 - 13 $1.00 and kids 5 and under are free.

Dixon is up Interstate 80, most of the way to Sacramento

View Larger Map


I'll have a lot of really great new luxury fibers, plus lots of zombie yarn and fiber back in stock. I'll be debuting a new self-striping MCN colorway for Halloween-
Every Day is Halloween

Here's a couple of samples I've made for the festival, in addition to the turquoise/black/purple socks (well, sock and a half!).
A Curly Purly Soaker in my BFL Aran (colorway Too Hot to Hoot)

my Almost as Soft as Ziva Scarf in my Merino Aran (colorway Ziva, of course!) with black Kidsilk Haze.
Ziva Scarf

WIP Roundup: Knitting Edition

I'm having second sock syndrome pretty bad, haha.
Here's a sock in my self-striping MCN in the Celephais colorway. It's my basic self-striping sock pattern, which I give out with yarn purchase and was also on the Phat Fiber secret site. (My August yarn samples were self-striping.)
Self-striping Sock
The yarn switched from black to turquoise right as I was ready to graft the toe. I was too lazy to hunt down a yard of black yarn. :P
I was also too lazy to check the pattern when I marked the heel placement and ended up doing the heel on 50% of stitches instead of 60% :(
There's enough stretch that it fits fine. I'll do the 2nd one with 60% then decide if I want to go back and fix the first one.
I need this sock for a sample at Lambtown next month. I also want to make up a sample in my aran weight BFL yarn. I'm thinking soakers.

(Pre)Felted Clog(Pre)Felted Clog

Here's the first felted clog of a pair I'm making for Bryan. It's the Fiber Trends clog pattern and I'm using Lamb's Pride Worsted held double. I have some notes on needle use and technique on the Ravelry project page.
I didn't do the "bumper" because I plan on adding a suede sole.
Bryan hates wearing shoes and prefers the slip on variety when he has to wear shoes.
FYI- Lamb's Pride is still on sale at Yarndogs, but it's going pretty fast. That's what motivated me to finally make some clogs!

Princess Animal Opening

I was too busy in the days leading up to the Princess Animal opening to really promote it, but here's the scoop after the fact!
It's a yarn shop in the back of Serendipity, a card shop at 803 Valencia in San Francisco.
Shortly before the opening, Kathy contacted me about carrying my yarns.
Here's some snippets of photos I took the other day. Full set here.


There's an exclusive self-striping colorway in the works, and I've adapted my double knit potholder pattern to feature the shop's tiara logo-
Princess Animal PotholderPrincess Animal Potholder
This'll be offered as a class soon. I'm already in the neighborhood on Mondays, so it should work out perfect!
Speaking of the neighborhood, I am completely and utterly in love with Bombay Ice Creamery. Mango rose, yummmm!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Is This Real Life?

I have a bit of a headache that's slowed me down long enough to blog!
I've been dyeing like mad for a wholesale order (more details on that tomorrow) and going to tons of shows.

The future holds dyeing like mad for Lambtown and rocking out with my new ska band, haha. I just got 30 lbs of undyed fiber, mostly amazing luxury blends.

Not much knitting happening except for a ribbed hat I whipped up in Silk Garden and still chugging along on the self-striping socks in my yarn. I realized last night that I guessed wrong when I marked the heel stitches without the pattern in front of me. Last time I used 60% of the stitches for the heel instead of 50%. I'll probably leave it, at least until after I use it as a sample at Lambtown!

Bryan's birthday was about a week ago. I made him an Energy Dome cake.
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I bought him a Scooba and he ran it for the first time yesterday. The cats are pretty curious about it, but haven't gone for a ride yet.

I made this sherbet with some melons from the veggie box. I did something similar with strawberries, but I think I didn't use enough milk. It's way icier than the melon.
http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/000365.html

I made sausage balls for the Pacific Siamese Rescue picnic. I met the couple who adopted one of Rocky and Ziva's littermates (Lena, the black cat in this photo) along with one of their foster brothers (Lionel).
http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Sausage-Balls-2/Detail.aspx

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I made these vegan snickerdoodle cupcakes to take to the Command Center for the Angel & Robot Show. They turned out totally amazing.
http://www.chow.com/recipes/11910-vegan-snickerdoodle-cupcakes

Friday, August 06, 2010

FO x 2: Baby Surprise Jackets

I've been wanting to knit the ubiquitous Baby Surprise Jacket for some time, but never really had a good occasion. I've been really interested since Candace finished hers in Dream in Color Classy a couple of months ago. The shop carries the newer individual pattern with baby/child/adult sizing, counts for different gauges, and line-by-line instructions.

One of Bryan's old friends came out to interview at Google a few weeks ago (he got an offer and took it! yay!)and asked me about commissioning a hand knit gift for a new baby in the family. Perfect!

BSJ #1

Ravelry details here.
I picked Claudia Hand Painted Sport in the Oops! colorway. It turned out so great! The yarn was fabulous to work with. I'd used Claudia fingering weight before and loved it, but the sport is so springy and round with the added 3rd ply. It's a variegated and not striping yarn, but the color runs are long enough to make the changes in the direction of the knitting stand out.

Then I realized that a couple in the same circle of friends is expecting a baby of their very own and we'd probably be seeing them soon. Oops! Gotta make one for them, too!



I went with the Little Red Wagon colorway for this one. I cranked it out in 2 days. I like making things for other people because I don't have to agonize over the color choice. If I don't like it in the finished object, I never have to see it again!

I had another great veggie box dinner tonight. I finally feel caught up after being out of town for a few days.
I made my old standby turkey meatloaf from a Betty Crocker Cooking for Two cookbook
I've had for years. That used onions & carrots.
I made some simple glazed carrots with the remaining carrots, and mashed potatoes with parsley root.
Tomorrow I plan on making agua fresca and/or sherbet with the melons and strawberries I still have.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

FO: Handspun Coil Necklace



I made this necklace from a tiny portion of the milk protein fiber supercoils I spun from Beesybee fiber. Post with photos of the fiber and singles here.
I really love it and I'm wearing it a lot. It goes well with a lot of pink and purple shirts I wear to work. I think I need to get some kind of stone or charm to hang from it to counter the weight of the clasp so it won't end up in the front all the time.



I got the clasps at Natural Expressions in Los Gatos for about $2.50 each. They separate and clasp magnetically, so the necklace could be worn with the strands twisted together or hanging straight. I say "could" because after some time in the twisted position, it has a tendency to want to stay that way. The clasp has 3 holes on each side. This necklace uses 4 strands. I was going to do 6, but I got tired and went to bed. I've been wearing it with 4 and I think I'll leave it that way.

I used beads to kind of keep the coils in place and cover some of the knotting. I tucked the ends of the core under the coils and cut them. The tails worked their way out almost immediately, so I need to leave them a lot longer and maybe even use a drop of glue.
I have a lot of materials left over, so I can make a necklace for anyone who wants one. I need to test my tying skills before I attempt to sell any.

I think I am getting better at judging twist for supercoils, but wearing the necklace with strands twisted around each other provides another chance to tweak the twist. You can also take out twist in each section you cut from the skein before tying it to the clasps.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

FO: Taiyo Top


Yarn: Noro Taiyo
Needles: US 8
Body Plan: sleeveless drop-shoulder, no shaping below the neckline/shoulders, knit flat and seamed

Ravelry details and more photos here.
It was my intention to blog throughout the design process, but I accidentally finished the sweater in a week and a half! I think it's still long and wide-necked enough to hint at 80s styles without looking dated. I wanted to keep the neckline practical and fuss-free to wear to work, so I measured bra strap distance and added 2 inches to allow for an inch of ribbing on either side.

I took Deborah Newton's awesome advice from Designing Knitwear and used a string to decide on a depth and general shape for the neckline. Trying to figure out the exact rate of shaping was driving me nuts. After staring at several reference books, I finally got out some knitter's graph paper, marked the width and depth, and sketched in the curves until I thought it looked ok. This turned out to be a perfectly fine way to do things. For the back neck depth and shoulder shaping depth, I just used about an inch. I shaped the shoulder with short rows in 3 chunks, and used a 3 needle bind off to seam the shoulders. I'll probably never do a stairstep bind off again. I had been worried about getting visible wedges from the short row shaping in self-striping yarn, but the number of rows was really trivial.

I used the new book Knitwear Design Workshop to sanity-check my shaping and math. It has promise to be an extremely useful book, but it was a little difficult for me to navigate. The first several chapters are detailed information and example calculations for several basic construction styles, then has separate chapters on alternate necklines, collars, sleeves, etc. at the back. I had to do a lot of flipping back and forth. The Deborah Newton book is a little less about the math (though it has plenty of info) and more about aspects of fit and how to make decisions about them. It has a ton of tips and suggestions that she learned the hard way.

I also looked at Knitting in the Old Way. It had example schematics with percentages for many different neckline styles. I thought this was perfect, and would be really easy to use. When I used the percentages, I got some pretty nonsensical results. The chapter I was in didn't exactly say percentage of what. I thought it was referring to the stitch count all the way around the bust, as in EZ percentage systems and earlier chapters in the same book. Now I think perhaps it was referring to percentage of cross-back width.

In fact, that was a recurring problem with several reference books because I didn't have a cross-back width. As a sleeveless drop-shoulder garment, there was no armhole shaping at all. It was silly of me to try to go by guidelines anyway, but I have a habit of wanting to do things the "right" way. Going by measurements is always the best, and I already extolled the benefits for using a string to experiment with necklines.

I kept an eye on the stripes to make sure they mostly lined up on the front and back. I made sure that the new ball I attached for one side of the neck matched the color sequence on the other side of the neck. I didn't worry about the stripes in that area being twice the depth of the stripes on the back of the garment. It was such a small depth that it isn't really noticeable.

In retrospect, I might make the back narrower than the front or put vertical darts on either side of the back waist, but I'm fine with it as it is. I wanted something comfortable and modest for work that was also simple to knit. I used a slightly loose gauge to get some drape so it wouldn't look too boxy.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

CSA Box Recipes for Summer

Here's some of the stuff I've been doing with the Two Small Farms CSA box this summer. No photos for the most part. Too tasty to wait!
In general, I do a lot of stir-fry, often with Trader Joe's beef Bulgogi. When I get way behind, I do soup in the slow cooker.


Lori's peaches/CSA strawberries- preserves
This is the same recipe Pam used with her girls. I used about 4 cups sugar because I had less peaches than it called for. I didn't add any pectin. I don't do canning, and I like to have a really chunky, oozy result to put on toast or desserts.
http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1923,154171-246195,00.html

Lori's peaches- peach ice cream
This recipe is for a giant ice cream maker. I halved it and left chunks in the puree. I added a dash of nutmeg too.
http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/peach-ice-cream/Detail.aspx


Walla Walla onions, tomatoes, lettuce, scallions- cast iron burgers from Cooking Light
This is one of my favorite things to make. I use the Semifreddi's buns from Lunardi's that probably have more fat in them than the burger. They're worth it, though.
http://find.myrecipes.com/recipes/recipefinder.dyn?action=displayRecipe&recipe_id=1911266

Tomatoes & basil- tomato sauce
I cooked and milled the tomatoes and basil ahead of time, then seasoned this with salt, sugar, oregano, and lemon salt when I reheated it to serve with pasta.
http://mariquita.com/recipes/tomatosauceessay.html

Cabbage- Kalua pork
I love Hawaiian fast food!
http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/kalua-pig-in-a-slow-cooker/Detail.aspx
http://www.inspired2cook.com/2009/09/30/hawaiian-macaroni-salad/

Avocados- avocado pie
The bacon avocados from the box seem to be naturally a lot more stringy than Hass avocados. The moisture content may also be different because the pie didn't set up. I froze it, and then it was pretty awesome!
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/avocado-pie-recipe/index.html

Thursday, July 15, 2010

July Phat Fiber Samples!

July's Phat Fiber theme is Seaweed, Ships, and Scallywags!
I sent in some Merino/bamboo top in Kraken and 50/50 Merino/silk sock yarn in Dagon.



Here's what the full size items look like-


All of these are in the shop now except for Merino/bamboo top in Dagon. I am saving the last one until boxes arrive, but I will dye some in other fibers tomorrow. My source of this particular Merino/bamboo top has dried up, but I am happy to start a waiting list for when my new shiny fiber bases arrive.

All purchases from my Etsy shop in July qualify you to enter the contest on the Phat Fiber Ravelry group. I'll post the link to the thread when it starts.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

WIP- Taiyo Summer Vest/Tunic/Something-or-other



So, I've been on a bit of a neon kick lately. See here and here for inspirations. I impulse-bought these 8 skeins of Noro Taiyo at work last week. I decided I needed something brainless to knit on and a finished garment that I could actually wear in the summer. It's not the thinnest yarn (heavy worsted), but I like it a lot. I'd probably be wearing it most at work (which has a/c) and in the evenings, anyway. I can't stand 100% cotton, but Taiyo is great. It's like a much softer version of Silk Garden. It's 40% cotton, 30% silk, 15% wool, and 15% nylon.

Unfortunately the mindless knitting is about to come to an end, though I'm extending it by putting the front on hold and working the back to the same point. It's getting close to time to decide on neck and shoulder shaping. The original idea was to do a simple tee sort of like this one but without the cowl.

I've since decided to go with a somewhat oversized 80's look since I'm knitting with neon yarn and a somewhat thick yarn. I'm pretty sure I'm set on a fairly long length, and the bottom ribbing is made to be the same width as the garment instead of pulling in. I haven't done any shaping in the body.

I decided to work it flat and seam it because I don't want the stripes to be thinner and I think the structure that seams give would be nice to help keep the garment from stretching. That means I should be as careful as possible to make the stripes match front and back. One of the skeins on the front had 1 notorious Noro knot that didn't seem to affect the color sequence. The first skein of the back so far has had 1 knot that drastically changed the color sequence. I had to go digging in the skein to find the right spot to continue. Another good reason for buying extra yarn when it's Noro.

My plan is to skip any armhole shaping and pick up in ribbing around the arm. This is how my Catronia vest is made, and I really like it. It results in a sort of baby cap sleeve. Catronia has shoulder shaping, so I should probably do some here as well. Not a big deal, but I have to decide the most attractive way to do it. Short rows and a 3 needle bind off are appealing, but I have to be careful not to create wedges with the stripes. I have boatloads of extra yarn and it's not all that many short rows, so I should be able to pull it off.

I'm still trying to figure out the neckline. Something off-the-shoulder or close to it would be the literal interpretation. An actual traditional boatneck where you knit lots of ribbing and sew it up wouldn't work with the drop shoulder "sleeves." It would result in ribbing dropping down over the shoulder and being connected to the armhole ribbing.
The remaining options are a wide and shallow squared off neck or a wide and shallow scoop neck. I think the wide and shallow scoop neck wins.

While grabbing links for this post, I noticed that Ravelry is releasing a new search feature and every pattern needs to be reclassified. I'm about to go do all of my designs. Starting in a few days, they are going to ask everyone for help and you will be eligible for prizes if you help classify designs that aren't your own that still need it. Details here.

PS- I've finished the handspun pillow panel. I just bought a 20" pillow to use with it. Now I have to decide how to make the rest of the pillow. Does anyone have any experience sewing handknits to fabric pillowcases? It seems like a bad idea to me. My new default idea is to knit a back panel in black Manos del Uruguay. It would either be on the bias like the front or center-out with square increases.

Tour de Fleece (sort of)- Finished Targhee Supercoils


I'm not really much for rules, but I tried to get some spinning done over the long weekend. I finished plying all the Targhee supercoils.



I had 3 bobbins of singles and could fit about half a bobbin of singles on the plying bobbin after plying, so I had lots of chances to play with the singles twist. I was happiest with the results when I added a fairly high amount of twist. I did weight the skeins during drying, but with only 1 plastic coat hanger*. The skein I made from singles with moderate added twist seemed to need it least. Most of the time, the coils looked too loose at a point where the yarn seemed to be close to being balanced.

The strands you see above were made with singles with an almost horizontal singles twist. I thought that would make the most sense in terms of physically being a balanced yarn, but it was harder to work with. (The common problem of keeping enough tension on a thin spot of a high-twist single.) The skein still twisted around itself quite a bit when skeined off the bobbin, so I'm not sure if it really achieved the goal. The result is firm coils that would work for jewelry that might see a bit of wear. It is a littler harsher in spots than a typical knitting yarn.

Janice asked me what I'm going to do with them, and I'm still leaning towards making the strands into necklaces. I need to look for findings. I like this necklace. It looks like it can be work with the strands loose or twisted together.

* Normally I am against weighting skeins at all, but that is for applications like knitting where bias is a possibility and unwanted. I knew this yarn would be used as an accent (as in a scribble lace scarf) or used as individual strands.

Thank You!

A huge thank you to everybody who came out to the Oakland Fiber Festival. It was amazing!
The sunlight really showed off my bamboo blend and silk blend yarns, which was totally great. It also gave me a dorky clog tan.


Rachael Herron was signing books a few feet from my booth. When she finished the project she was working on, she started a toe-up sock in one of my self-striping yarns. I had to sneak away from the booth every so often to feel it. Love that MCN! I get to start a sample of my own soon because I messed up the dye job on a skein of the purple/black/turquoise. I'm going to be doing a few new self-striping colorways soon, especially "guy-friendly" ones.

My first yarn customer ever, Ana, posted to Ravelry (and Flickr) an adorable clutch she knit in my aran weight Merino. It's the first FO I've seen in my yarn! Squee!

ETA- Janice is spinning up some of my Merino/bamboo top for the Tour de Fleece!

Friday, June 25, 2010

My First Batt! Plus a New Handspun WIP & Spindle Pr0n

Here's how it started-
So many Phat Fiber* contributors create the most amazing drumcarded batts. Some of the first few that come to mind are Knitty and Color, Bohemia Fibers, and Lampyridae. I've been drooling over them since I joined the Ravelry group and started following the shop update thread. It got me really curious to see just how much effort goes into making them and what the process is like. I thought I'd try to make it to noblograchel's house sometime this summer and take a look at her carder. Well, Rachel came to the spin-in at my house this weekend and brought her Pat Green carder (not to be confused with the country singer Pat Green who went to my high school)! I get to play with it for a month!

One of May's Phat Fiber samples was from a co-op of artists and included 3 coordinating puffs of fiber. I carded them into this little batt and am beyond thrilled!


You can't really see the silky bits in that photo, but they are so gorgeous in person.

Here's the bias knit pillow panel that I started in the singles I spun from the Crafty Scientist batts. Bryan's response was, "Is that going to be in our house??" It's a little out of the ordinary for me, but I secretly love thick and thin bulky singles, aka "beginner yarn." It's fun to feel all the crazy textures and bits of stuff as they pop up in the yarn.
It's like, "O, hai, big piece of ribbon! I remember you!"





I received the spindle I mentioned ordering from Spindle Designs. It came from Israel, so it took a little while. it's just under 1 oz and has a lovely shimmery purple wood-grain style design. It came with a sample of local wool, so I had to start messing with it right away. It is just the right weight for relatively fine spinning, and I think it will work great for holding the core for the wrap and roll method of making supercoils.



*So, I know I talk about Phat Fiber a lot, but it is a really cool group. There are so many indie fiber artists out there that I wouldn't even know where to start shopping. In the Ravelry group, I feel like I get to know everybody's personality and style. When I get a contributor's box, I get to see their work firsthand. Coming up with samples that fit the month's themes is a great creative exercise and it is so neat to see how everyone interprets it a little bit differently. Everyone is super friendly and encouraging, and we all support each other. If any of you want to know what it is like to contribute, buy a box, or just stalk us a little, I recommend joining the Ravelry group.

Getting Ready for Oakland Fiber Fest

Rocky and Ziva have been helping me plan my booth setup. It never ceases to amaze me how much cats love elevated horizontal surfaces, especially if covered in fabric.



Cash box is ready to go. Now I have to go into the actual bank and get actual cash. So weird. I haven't been inside a bank in years.



Now for the really exciting part. I got these awesome handmade stitch markers from Decor Noir, and will be giving away 1 marker of your choice with purchase of yarn or fiber. (While supplies last, duh.) There's coffins, assorted bloody eyeballs, brains, and really awesome yarn monster eyeballs. These are the full size markers that fit up to a US 10 needle.

Oakland Fiber Festival Details

What you need to know-
Oakland Fiber & Textile Festival
Sunday, June 27, 2010, 10am to 4pm
Facebook event page here.

There's going to be a lot of alpaca farms represented there. Alpaca and llama are lovely to spin, if you haven't tried them yet. Rachael Herron is going to be signing her novel How to Knit a Love Song. Felt the Sun will have some great hand felted garments and accessories, and there will be a few local guilds there.

Latest official info and complete vendor list-

Come join us at the
Oakland Fiber & Textile Festival
Sunday, June 27, 2010, 10am to 4pm
Splash Pad Park
Together with Lou Grantham, from San Francisco Fiber, we are sponsoring this very first
Oakland Fiber & Textile Festival, a free festival open to the public with lots of educational fun for the whole family. Vendors will be offering everything from raw fleece and luxury yarns to fabrics, fiber demonstrations, and make-and-take tables, for carding, crochet, felting, quilting, sewing, spinning, and weaving--any fiber enthusiast's dream come true!
For more information check out the event at:

Oaklandfiberfest

Vendors at the

Oakland Fiber & Textile Festival


**AAUW**

www.aauw-op.com


**Alpacas All Around**

www.alpacasallaround.com


**Artfibers**

www.artfibers.com

www.yarntasting.com


**Black Diamond Alpacas**

www.bdalpacas.com


**Civic Arts Education**

www.arts-ed.org


**Double Diamond Alpacas**

800-604-1824


**East Bay Heritage Quilters**

www.ebhq.org


**Felt the Sun**

www.feltthesun.com


**Lacy Knitters Guild**

www.lacyknitters.org


**Macedo's Mini Acre**

www.macedosminiacre.com


**Men Who Crochet**

hooker-bear.com


**MKGSFBA**

(Machine Knitters Guild San Francisco Bay Area)

www.mkgsfba.org


**Out of Step Dyeworks by Amy Klimt Designs**

www.amyklimt.com

Ravelry designer page: http://www.ravelry.com/designers/amy-klimt

Ravely yarnie page: http://www.ravelry.com/yarns/brands/out-of-step-dyeworks


**Pan's Garden Yarns**.

www.pansgardenyarns.com


**Piedmont Fabric**

www.piedmontfabric.com


**Piedmont Yarn & Apparel**

www.piedmontyarn.com


**Ranch of the Oaks**

www.ranchoftheoaks.com


**San Francisco Fiber**

www.sffiber.com


**Wonderland Dyeworks by Elissavet Livitsanos**

www.wonderlanddyeworks.etsy.com

Book signing with:
Rachael Herron with her new book:
"Knitting a Love Song"
&
Peggy Osterkamp with her new book:
"Weaving for Beginners"
More detailed information about the vendors can be found on the oaklandfiberfest.com or the vendor's individual websites

Besides the vendors there will be several fiber demonstration areas and make-and-take tables with carding, crochet, felting, knitting, quilting, sewing, spinning, and weaving.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Yarns in Progress- Targhee and milk protein supercoils

I hosted spinning at my house for the first time on Saturday! Thanks for the company and goodies, everybody! Bryan ate some of the lemon cake Lori brought when I was at work on Sunday, and he said Rocky knocked the package off the coffee table to try to get some. My cat is a lemon cake fiend! Bryan also says he wants me to host more often so we'll keep the house clean.

In the first 2 hours(!), I spun up 4oz of this Targhee roving in the Twilight colorway from Abstract Fiber that I bought at Stitches this year. Here's the thick and thin bulky singles I ended up with. Apologies for the quick-and-dirty indoor photo.



Then I started work on this milk protein fiber from fellow Phat Fiber contributor Patricia of Beesybee.


I crammed all 4 oz of singles onto this bobbin-



I decided not to worry too much about what the finished yarn is going to be and just spin the singles consistently at the width that seemed most natural. I considered a 2 ply, but I think I'll probably try a supercoil first! I want to preserve the separation of colors, but I don't want to knit something from the singles. I think I may want to wear the supercoil yarn as a necklace.

Last post, I mentioned I was confused about how much twist to put in the singles for supercoil yarns. A Spin-Off article by Jacey Boggs from Winter 2009 said you want it pretty overspun to give yourself a better chance at accomplishing all the plying steps without adding too much plying twist. This makes sense to me. That article talked about using handspun "high-twist laceweight singles" or millspun laceweight as the core and didn't use any method to take plying twist out of the core. It seems to me that there would be a pretty big difference in result based on whether a high twist singles or millspun balanced yarn were used for the core. It all makes more sense to me if the core is high twist too. I like how Jacey's yarns use an attractive core and let it show, especially to anchor the floofy parts. All of the yarns shown in the article use a thick-and-thin singles. That's what I tried with my first attempt, and that's what I want to do with the Targhee. I have some laceweight silk singles that I may dye to go with it.

The Spin-Off article from Spring 2008 that describes Sarah Anderson's wrap and roll method said you wanted the singles to be lightly twisted. The yarns pictured in it have a core made of crochet cotton that is completely covered by the singles yarn. There is no anchoring of wraps. The singles are more even and thinner. I like this look as well, and that's what the milk fiber yarn will be more similar to.

Both methods claimed to result in an approximately balanced yarn. I have not seen a satisfactory explanation of how this physically occurs. In my typical understanding of balance, you want the individual fibers to run along the axis of the yarn. For a supercoil, the singles would have to have an extreme amount of twist- basically horizontal. I think that would be a very harsh yarn.

I'll probably do a little more reading, watching, and sampling. If I need a little more or less twist in my singles, I can run them through the wheel again.

videos of wrap and roll method-
video 1
video 2

ps- I started the pillow panel from the crazy Crafty Scientist batt yarn today and it looks great! I'll try to get photos tomorrow in between trying out possible booth setups for Sunday. I'm halfway done if I want a 14" pillow.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Finished Yarns- Kiss My 80's Lips + Amy's First Supercoil

I bought a couple of Crafty Scientist Lab Batts at Stitches West 2009. That brings me to 4/7 of 2009's fiber purchases used up and 2/5 of 2010's. I was inspired to spin these batts last week by my newfound love for supercoils (more on that in a moment). I figured the chunky batts would force me to spin a thick-and-thin yarn. I hadn't done anything except sock or lace yarn for years! The resulting yarn was a great weight and consistency for coils, but the fiber content made it a bit too hairy for defined coils. I'm going to use it as a single and knit it into something decorative like a pillowcase (or more likely just a front panel). I'm thinking I'll knit it on the bias to make it as large as possible. The yarn is 6oz total and I forgot the yardage, but it was around 150 or 200.

The colorway is Kiss My 80's Lips and the fiber content is-
banana fiber, sari silk, horsehair silk, silk noil, silk hankie, Merino, Cotswold locks, Corriedale, border Leicester cross, alpaca, llama, angelina

So, I have been in awe of the gorgeous supercoil yarns spun by fellow Phat Fiber contributor Jessie, aka StashEnhancement. She makes fiber tools, buttons, and jewelry from coins.


I took this 34 yard skein of think and thin singles yarn, which was one of my very first handspun yarns (Nov 2006!) and turned it into this-



4 yards of supercoil yarn with crochet cotton as the core. I am thrilled that it looks anything like what I was trying to accomplish. It's definitely not anywhere close to a balanced skein, though. I attempted to do the wrap and roll method, where you load the core onto a spindle and twist it in the opposite direction of plying during plying. This should leave the core with the same amount of twist it had to begin with. I I had trouble with having to stop and start the spindle to wind off more core to use and the amount of tension put on the core by my heavy spindle. It seemed that there was so much weight on the core that I just kept adding more and more plying twist and more and more coils to the same length of core. I bought myself a spindle from fellow Phat Fiber contributor Galia of Spindle Designs. This one she just listed is to die for!

I'm a little confused about how much twist to put in the singles, but I'll save that for the next post.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Merlon Cowl Revisited

Today I'm going to go through a bit of my design process for the Merlon Cowl.


This design started when I opened up a bag of Rowan Lima at the shop. It's one of those yarns that you can't put down. It is soooo soft and buttery. I bought 2 balls with the vague plan to make some sort of cowl. Something that soft *needs* to be worn around the neck.

A huge shortcut in the stitch pattern choosing phase fell into my lap with the arrival of Rowan's Lima Collection book. True to Rowan style, it featured many heavily cabled sweaters. The loveliness of the cabled fabric came as a surprise to me. Lima has an icord-like construction instead of a traditional ply. The yarn is very round, which is very desirable for cables, but I thought the construction would detract from that kind of stitch pattern. As you can see from the designs in the book, that is not the case.

From that point, I had a few stitch patterns from a Japanese stitch dictionary that had caught my eye. I thought it was a good idea to combine cables and mesh because alpaca can be very warm.



The first stitch pattern I tried was too cluttered, with too many stitches in the mesh pattern.
There wasn't enough contrast between the cable and the mesh. I made sure each cable had a yo on either side and tried back to back decreases. It was still cluttered, so I cleaned up the mess with a centered double decrease. I wasn't thrilled with the look of that, so I switched to a sk2p double decrease. I was then forced to admit that the small cables weren't really a match for the fuzziness of the yarn.



I started with another pattern from the dictionary. I obviously hadn't learned from my mistakes because this one also had multiple stitches between the cables and eyelets. First I got rid of the intervening knit stitch on either side of the columns of cables, then the inside purl stitch. These patterns also used a centered decrease. I changed that to a left-slanting double decrease and I liked the results.

My first try for the edging was double crochet, because it has a very similar look to a left slanting double decrease. The crochet had a tendency to bias, so I came up with a simple eyelet edging that could be knit in the same piece as the main body. I'd seen some similar edgings used effectively on other cowls. Although the eyelets in the edging aren't that open and don't match the decreases in the main body, the final choice makes the piece easier to work and doesn't require crochet knowledge.