Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Color, color, more color!

OK, I'm really busy, but as promised, here is the Fleece Artist shipment:

We've got lots of Merino sock, along with some Sea Wool, BFL Sock, Casbah and Cashlana fingering weight yarns. Lots of Sea Silk and some of the new Double Sea Silk - a DK weight.

There will, of course, be cashmere. At least a dozen skeins of 4 ply, which comes with a hat pattern and some of the 12 ply, too. I'm working on adapting the Calorimetry pattern for the 12 ply. We've got some new Perl Grey kits - the Lu vest, the Baby Wrapper jacket, some Betsy bucket hats and Toto totebags. And both the Garter Stitch jackets from Fleece Artist and the new Sea Angel jacket from Hand Maiden - this last one is knit from one strand of Sea Silk and one strand of Angel Hair mohair - a heavenly fabric!

I apologize for what is really Shameless Commerce - lots of pretty yarn you could buy... but I'm also sharing the excitement, yes? It really is like Christmas when I open the boxes from Fleece Artist in particular. So all this will be in our Peace Weavers booth at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival this weekend!

I really love the Suri Blue laceweight, and this dandelion colorway in particular - I may have to appropriate some for my own stash.

There is spinnign fiber - Merino and Blue Face leicester sliver and a new spinning fiber, Tussah Sea sliver. It is 65% Seacell /35% silk - seacell is a lyocell rayon (like Tencel) with some seaweed content. Rayon is a man made natural fiber - that always sounds like such a contradiction in terms! Rayon was developed as an alternative to silk, and is fiber extruded from a slurry of wood pulp, but there are many similar fibers being produced today with various base components, like bamboo or soy fiber.

It's pretty stuff - I spun up a little to give it a try. I'm mostly a wool spinner, and I will happily spin almost any fiber blended with wool, but I don't spin much silk. I had trouble getting a really fine thread with this slippery stuff - it got too thin and broke easily - but when I shifted to spinning a thicker single it behaved beautifully. I'm planning on a 2 ply - I promise to show off the finished yarn!

Another new yarn for Peace Weavers this year - Jojoland. I have loved their yarn from the first time I saw it at Stitches in Baltimore 3 years ago, and my current favorite socks are knit from Jojoland Melody. I ordered some Melody, some Melody Superwash, some Harmony laceweight wool and one color of the DK weight Rhythm.

I've been busily pricing yarn & puppets, and making lists. My sister Carolyn flies in with her friend Evelyn today and we will load the vans on Thursday evening and try to get an early start Friday morning to drive up to the Howard County Fairgrounds to set up the booth. Carolyn reminded me that last year we were among the last vendors to leave on Friday night, and I am determined to have a more reasonable schedule this year.

I'll let you know how that works out...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

In Which I Eat Crow

First, the last of the daffodils - along with some of those apple blossoms.

On the Faery Ring front, I heard back from Mary Scott Huff, and the missing back cables were corrected in a revised pattern she posted in February. I really thought I had downloaded this updated version, but clearly, I did not. I blame menopausal miasma, which has made my previously wonderful memory into a chutes and ladders game.

Mea culpa - it was all my own mistake! So I will complain less as I fix it...

Meanwhile...the puppets are here!

I think the best part about unpacking Folkmanis puppets is the way they all look so glad to see you!

New this year - an Australian Shepherd and a Floppy Bunny.

These usually sell like hotcakes at Maryland Sheep & Wool.

And they are so much fun to play with between customers.

Did you know that the Wooly Mammoth is a fiber animal?

See you soon!

Next post: Fleece Artist & Hand Maiden color wallow...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Faery Ring Fiasco!

First, the promised apple blossoms!

I had a rough weekend. Well, OK, the weather was positively stunning, and once I got off work Saturday afternoon there were some very good parts but then I had a serious knitting setback.

I have been knitting away for the past month or two on two sweaters that I hoped to have ready to show in my Peace Weavers booth at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival. I am quite confident that Kim will be completed in time.

My Faery Ring, however, is going in the wrong direction!

Here is what the back looked like on Saturday afternoon. I decided that I should add shoulder shaping and I sent the designer a message on ravelry about it on Friday. On Saturday I charted out the short rows and then went to check ravelry for a reply. I had no messages, so I had a look at the other six Faery Rings in progress, and on laureole's project notes I found a note that she discovered that there were 6 cables missing from the pattern for the back. She wrote the designer on March 26th, who confirmed the error.

What?!? I looked at the pattern photograph and then the pattern page listing the sequence of charts. Damn! (OK, that's not what I really said, but you get the idea.) There should have been 3 more cables on either side of the cable section of the back - less seed stitch, more cables. It looks much better with those extra cables.

And don't I wish I had known about this on March 26th?

Wait a minute - Why didn't I know about it on March 26th?
Why didn't the designer contact each of the ravelers knitting this project?
Why didn't she post a correction on the pattern page?
Why didn't she identify this free pattern from the beginning as
Has Not Been Test Knitted, Knitter Beware!

More bad words.
I sent a message to the designer, in which I tried to be polite but pissed.
I complained to my husband.
I complained to the Fiber Traditions list.
I felt a little better. I considered my options and the likely results.

1) Do nothing = be dissatisfied.
2) Frog the entire body to the beginning of the body cables = hang myself out of frustration, using the resulting yarn mess.
3) Frog just the back to the armhole decreases & then unravel the 16 stitches that should have been cabled = possible eventual satisfaction.

I slept on it and Sunday morning came up with:
4) Unravel the 16 stitches and re-knit them as cables = slow but steady redemption.

So that's what I did. Behold, a damn lot of frogging:

It's an ugly sight, I know. Shocking, really.

The next thing was to pick up the 16 stitches with a spare needle

And then I began working each row.

The trick is to work across the row with as normal tension as you can manage, given that you're knitting with a closed loop of yarn. And then, transfer each stitch from the left to the right needle, pulling firmly to equalize the tension across the row. I had more slack on the left side of the correction at first, but I worked at closing that gap and it got better.

Here is about half of one side done - this took two hours.

But here you can see what's left to do on this side. And then there is the other side, so the whole repair will take about 8 hours.


On the bright side,more inventory has been arriving for MS&W. I got the Faroe Island wool in and it smells so sheepy! Primitive and beautiful. I'm trying to decide what kind of sample to knit. There are 3 weights of yarn in singles, 2 ply and 3 ply,

and there are 5 natural sheep colors.

I have two books of Faroe knitting -

a book of traditional shawls

and a book of colorwork patterns. And as I dig through my library I'm finding bits of information about Faroe knitting in other books.

But I don't really have time to play with this now. I will see what I have left after Maryland and plan some projects, like knitted felted slippers, a lace shawl and maybe a sweater.

Tomorrow - the puppets!

Friday, April 17, 2009

It's in the Mail

All kinds of things have been arriving at our house lately. Inventory for the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, which is always very exciting. And the other day, I got a small packet from Latvia- with knitted chickens! A hen and a rooster. These were made by Ruuta's grandmother. You can see her with them on ravelry, here.

There are a lot of chickens around the place. My sister Annie & I have been sending them to each other for many years now. The new fowl will join the home flock for now, but may fly up to Vermont someday, if I can bear to part with them.

I'm also thinking about knitting some chickens - I got a pattern and some yarn at Webs when we were in Northampton last month.

And then Peace Fleece came out with a new kit - Chicken Egg Covers! Chickens are everywhere.

I got some cute tape measures and some Wool Pets needle felting kits that will be in my Peace Weavers booth at Maryland Sheep & Wool, and there will be lots of Peace Fleece yarn and hand dyed Fleece Artist and Hand Maiden yarns.

New for Peace Weavers this year, we will have some natural colored wool yarns from the Faroe Islands, and some of the beautiful Jojoland sock & lace weight yarns. I'll post photos of these when they arrive!

I am knitting as fast as I can, hoping to have two new sweater models to show - Perl Grey's Kim done in Fleece Artist River, an aran weight yarn of alpaca, silk & merino. I am in love with this wonderful bluey color, called Twlight. This sweater is coming along well, with only one more sleeve to finish and then maybe some added length at the hem.

I'm also working on a Faery Ring in Peace Fleece worsted in this gorgeous color, Sheplova Mushroom. The fronts are done and the back is very close to being finished, but then I've got 2 sleeves to knit and the hood! Hopefully I'll get some good knitting time in over the next two weekends.
I'm going to add some shoulder slope to the front & back shoulders with short rows, and I may fiddle with the sleeves, depending on how time flies.
Have a great weekend - we finally have some lovely warm & sunny weather here in Virginia, after weeks of chilly damp. We don't have a central heating in our house, so the transitional seasons can be chilly. If we're home in the evenings we will sometimes light a fire in the woodstove, but often we get home late and just jump into bed. It will be nice to open up the house, air it out and be warm, too!

p.s. The apple blossoms and coming!