One of the things that I find incredibly calming is to spin wool by hand. Did you know that hand-spinning has been around for 10,000 years? It makes sense when you think about it. Humans need clothes to cover our bodies in order to keep warm. It makes sense to get a few fleeces from a sheep before using that sheep for their meat and hide. So, in the absence of animal skins, we need textiles to make these clothes. String was necessary to weave textiles, and thus hand spinning was a necessary skill! This doesn't even take into account the usefulness of twisting fibers to create lengths of rope!Read More
No wheel? No problem.
When I first heard about tour de fleece, I shrugged it off as an event for spinners with expensive wheels and luxury fiber hookups. "I don't have time and I don't have the equipment," I thought to myself. Well, the first part of that statement may have been true but after picking up Respect the Spindle from my local library I began to think about my drop spindles differently. Perhaps a spindle isn't as quick or as efficient as a wheel, but it can certainly produce yarn, and beautiful yarn at that. Spindles are ancient and simple tools. Thinking of them in that context quickly made me fall in love with the idea or spinning tour de fleece on a drop spindle. I hastily joined my local spinning circle's tour de fleece Facebook group and set about tracking down some fiber to spin before the race commenced.
Getting the hang of it...literally.
When learning to use a drop spindle, you will quickly learn one way that the spindle gets its monicker. The thud of my spindle on the living room floor as my fiber broke time after time early this week was discouraging and annoying. Luckily I had a major motivator to improve my technique: dropping my spindle always wakes the baby up. A startled baby isn't good for anyone! One of the things I love about spinning (and simultaneously find so frustrating) is that there's only so far that reading can take you. You need to actually lay your hands on fiber and spin to learn. So I practiced and focused so singularly on my spindle each night that I'd find myself literally on the edge of my seat as I slowly lowered the spindle and increased my yardage, staying up far past my bedtime.
Spin, spin, knit
It's been a wonderful week of learning and I'm already so proud of the progress I've made. Not only have I learned a bit about spinning, but I've given myself a gift of hope. New skills can always be learned and with some tenacity and perseverance I can do the things that I've dreamt of. That's a mighty feeling.
So, week one is over and I'm now the proud owner of 100g of two-ply, handspun merino yarn. The colors scream Mardi Gras to me and aren't my normal palette. What would you knit? I'm considering Elizabeth Zimmermans mitred mittens but the softness of the yarn makes me want to knit a cowl! What to do?
This post has been a long time coming. Two years ago when I had my daughter and spent many wee hours of breastfeeding reading through the Archives over at SouleMama, I came across this beautiful sweater. I knew I had to make one and wasted no time in ordering some yarn from Knit Picks. At the time I didn't really know what characteristics made up a quality garment yarn so I ordered some Wool of the Andes, Knit Picks' workhorse wool yarn. I fudged my measurements because I was barely postpartum with my daughter, didn't do a gauge swatch, then proceeded to spend almost two years knitting this pattern. After spending six months on the lace collar I knew the yarn was going to be too itchy to be the cuddly sweater I was yearning for, but I just couldn't give up.
After two baths (one in lanolin and the other in hair conditioner) the sweater is wearably soft but still just itchy enough to make it a small relief to take off at the end of the day. I did take a nap in it the other day but I'm very pregnant and have a toddler so there was a healthy dose of exhaustion in that mix. Either way, I love the color, the fit is snug but functional, and the pattern is lovely. It also has the bonus of being incredibly warm and the perfect layering sweater in this very cold autumn we're having in Germany.
So, first sweater? Check! Onto something else!
My family and I went on a rather exciting trip last weekend up to The Netherlands. We saw the biggest tulips I've ever laid eyes on - many were taller than my toddler with blooms bigger than my hand! - a chilly North Sea beach, and more cyclists in one place than I could have imagined. Our trip was full of interesting sights like this Michael Jackson statue at a McDonald's in Best and a good deal of yarn bombing. Everything we saw was exciting, new, and memorable...especially on our trip to the yarn shop, Stephen + Penelope. First, let me advise you strongly against driving a car through Amsterdam. It's a bad idea. Oh, was that obvious to you? Well silly us thought we would save some of our precious time (we only had a little more than a day to see Holland) by driving into the city instead of taking the train for a little obligatory wool shopping. Time-saving was not what went down. Not only did it cost us 10 Euro to park for two hours, but we very nearly ended up at the bottom of a canal in a borrowed station wagon! Parallel parking a long car on a canal without a guardrail is mildly terrifying and I wasn't even the one driving. Eek! Once we parked it was time to meander through the picturesque bicycle-covered streets in search of Penelope Craft Shop. I may have squealed when I saw it. Sorry, not sorry. Even though the legendary Stephen West of West Knits wasn't there (he was in Germany! Ach, such luck that we would swap countries for the weekend) the shop was just wonderful. I got to see my first Madelinetosh in person (it's exquisite and vibrant and gorgeous) and meet the lovely lady behind A Pin A Day. Overall I was just happy to poke around in oh-so-much yarn and goodies. So what came home with me? I tried to be good but a few luxury skeins happened to hop into my basket. A skein of Madelinetosh, a skein of Malabrigo, four skeins of Icelandic Lett Lopi, some Wrapture wool wash, and two little patterns. Oh, and a shop bag! That one was suggested by Mr. Pickle who thought I had so many projects that another bag couldn't hurt. I love that man. Not many men I know would drive to Amsterdam, parallel park on a canal, and spend their only hour in the city at a yarn shop. That is love. I can't wait to show you what becomes of all these woolly goodies, but for now I have a pair of wool soakers with a deadline, and they're not going to knit themselves. Happy making!
Hello my lovelies. I hope you're having a fabulous weekend full of tea and crafting. I've been enjoying lots of time with Mr. Pickle and Toddler Pickle. Yesterday we went to our monthly flea market for some treasure hunting. The mister got some electronic doodads to fiddle with and the little one got a new book of German songs. I came home with a few tablecloths (one of which is destined to become a Mei Tai or Onbu), vintage buttons, a lovely little painting that looks so familiar, and a load of vintage linens that I'll be using for sewing projects this week. I'm very excited to show you what I'll be making, so please watch this space!
As I was stashing my new treasures away I started rifling through my WIP basket. The pile of yarn has been growing and when that happens I start to feel a little disconnected from what I'm making. The obvious solution to this problem was to drag my projects out into the sunlight and take some photos. My logic is that if I show you what I'm making I'll be accountable for finishing them!
On the hook I've got a granny square cowl from Knit Picks Chroma in Smoothie Fingering (a discontinued colorway) and some fuzzy fingerless gloves in a mix of vintage acrylic yarns. It's a bit too warm to think about working on any sort of gloves, which is unfortunate because I'm also knitting a pair of wristwarmers that were supposed to be a Christmas present last year (oops). Also on the needles is my Lonely Tree Shawl in double stranded Tosca Light and my Stripemania socks which are determined not to fall prey to SSS (Second Sock Syndrome)! Oh, and the pièce de résistance in crochet, my Lace Lux Maia Shawl. I have less than a week to finish, block, and string a set of pearls to match. Eek. Here's a little sneak peek....Happy Crafting!