Tag Archives: yarn

Taking a deep breath

Ready to ply
Ready to ply

For many reasons. First of all, the summer is a little more than half over, from my teacher point of view, and there is so much I want to accomplish, and so many people I would like to spend a little time with. And the biggest reason I have had to stop and take a deep breath is that I have been trying for 7 months to get my NJ teacher’s deferred pension going. With very little success!

Needless to say, things are very different from when my husband filed for retirement in 2001 in NJ. At that time everything was done on paper, with people talking you through it on the phone, and now, there is a mire of a website to navigate, with very little help on the phone to be had (well, I hung in there at one point and was on “hold” for 1.5 hours). State bureaucracies are all pretty complicated, and in a state with the the population of NJ, I guess it’s more complicated than most. And I imagine that the workers at the pensions bureau have a lot on their plates, too much to do, and not enough staff to handle the volume.

In the last few weeks I have been contacted directly by a very lovely person at the Pensions division, and it’s been a huge help. Hopefully I am coming to the end of the paper trail nightmare. But on Wednesday when I received two letters requesting information that I had already provided, in two different formats, my frustration level soared. So on Thursday I declared a Wallow Day. Worked on cheese and did a lot of spinning, had a Harry Potter movie marathon going in the background, interrupted by some time spent with the goaties, interrupted by fruitless phone calls. Yesterday I did a few errands and popped in to work to get caught up a little and also spend some time with colleagues. For a bonus, I got a phone call from my NJ school district telling me they have sent their end of the documentation to the pension people (or the documentation that they can put their hands on, 13 years later!). Yay!  And then I continued spinning our new lovely roving (Coopworth/alpaca). I think I may be ready to do some plying today. I think my blood pressure is probably back to normal now, and it’s a beautiful day!

Fibery week

Silver Coopworth roving
Silver Coopworth roving
White Coopworth/Beigey Alpaca roving
White Coopworth/Beigey Alpaca roving

In addition to our lovely, fiber-filled weekend on the island, I have had a very fiber-filled week at home as well. Early in the week it was quite a surprise when I received an email from our fiber mill that part of the order I had sent in early in June, was finished. I can’t even say how surprised I was, and the next day two boxes arrived. Roving made up of white Coopworth fleece that had been mixed with some beigey alpaca from my husband’s cousin in North Jersey. It is much more beautiful than I even imagined!

Silver and brown Coopworth yarn, sport weight
Silver and brown Coopworth yarn, sport weight

But that is not even where it ended. All of the fleeces came back this past week. Part in roving, part in sport weight yarn. Wow. So now we have the white/beige roving; beautiful silvery-grey roving; silver sport weight yarn, and dark brown sport weight yarn. It’s amazing. Next job is to get to the washing of all the skeins. And then finding folks who want to share in some of the bounty!

Traveling Woman shawl
Traveling Woman shawl

On the knitting side of the week, I have gotten a tad farther on the Traveling Woman shawl that I started on Vinalhaven (using our farm sock wool that I dyed), and for some easier, social knitting, I began another Hitchhiker shawl with some Crazy Zauberball yarn. It’s very colorful and fun to work with.

New Hitchhiker shawl in progress
New Hitchhiker shawl in progress

More Fiber Retreat fiber

Carded fleece that I am planning on plying with the silk/camel
Carded fleece that I am planning on plying with the silk/camel

Well, two days of IT training in Brunswick and one day in Rockland have left me pretty beat.  Today was a rainy one so it didn’t feel bad being inside. Lots of good and exciting stuff there, and it definitely has me more excited about the new school year than usual!

Spun silk/camel blend
Spun silk/camel blend

But, back to our fibery pursuits on the retreat last week!  We all had our separate projects, both knitting and spinning.  I accomplished an amazing amount of spinning, 4 oz of a silk/camel blend that I got from The Fold quite awhile ago now.  I have been planning on plying that with the fleece that I have been carding up from long ago (a Corriedale hogget fleece).  I am in love with the colors, all of them natural.  The fleece is a pinky/beige and the silk/camel is a white and beigey mix.  The photos probably don’t convey the real colors (I am not a great photographer, either).  These are not typical fibers for me, they are much more a ‘luxury’ type of spinning than I usually do (and much thinner than I usually spin).  I am very hopeful that I will be able to get more finished on this project before school begins again.

Shawl in progress
Shawl in progress

I also am continuing to knit on my shawl project, the High Plains Drifter pattern, out of our farm’s sock weight yarn (our sheep’s wool mixed with a little bit of a friend’s mohair).  I actually got quite a bit finished on our retreat, at least half of a 220 yard skein, and at least a quarter of the second 220 yard skein.  I am loving it, and it’s such an easy knit, not too much to keep track of, that I can take it with me places I would not take something a little more complicated.  This meant that when I got up at 5 a.m. and went outside with my first cup of coffee to admire the view and the sun coming up, I didn’t have to strain my brain to get some knitting done!

A felted stitch marker on my high plains drifter shawl
A felted stitch marker on my high plains drifter shawl

All of our fiber friends had wonderful projects going, and one of our fiber group, Kelley, also brought all of her beading materials and taught us to make felted stitch markers.  They were a lot of fun!  And I already am using most of the markers that I made.  They are lightweight and really easy to use.  Plus, they are rather beautiful.

One other fiber pursuit that I do not have any photographic evidence of is that our friend Chris taught us all how to do the Magic Loop method of knitting in the round.  I have thought that it was a giant mystery, but now I can visualize the process.  The next mitt or sock that I make will be using the Magic Loop. Great stuff!

And so our fiber retreat really was a huge success.  I know that I didn’t want to get off the ferry and get back into everyday life, but it certainly is a wonderful bunch of memories that I will certainly enjoy for quite some time. And there is always next summer’s retreat to begin planning!

Mitts

A much-needed knitted item is finally off the needles.  I have been spinning some of our beautiful dark brown roving recently.  It’s making lovely and very lustrous yarn.  I had a 99 yard skein that I decided would make nice fingerless mitts for chore time.  I began them on Sunday and finished them this afternoon.  They are not beautiful, but I think they will be warm and functional.  We have had a few cold mornings so far and I have managed without gloves, but I think those days are numbered!

Bean’s fingerless mitts

A Good yarn

3-ply sock yarn drying

Awhile ago I had some 3-ply sock yarn spun up.  Some lovely silver mohair went with the silver and white Coopworth/Border Leicester fleeces to the mill, and what came back is really beautiful.  I have been knitting with some of it, and I have some that’s natural color, but I also have been dyeing up a storm.

I had a lot of fun, mixing and painting quite a few skeins.  It wasn’t a great couple of days weather-wise, so I moved the operation indoors.  It was lovely to get many of the skeins washed, and the rest of them painted.  My only trouble is that each one that comes out of the steamer is more beautiful than the last, and I covet them all!

Painted skeins are dry

Rainy weekend activity

Felted dryer balls

It was quite the rain.  Inches of it, in fact.  As my hip is still not doing that well, and my doctor definitely told me to take it easy, so I had a great time reading and making these:  dryer balls!  I had not a clue about them until very recently when our friend Kris (who also owns Coopworth sheep) showed us the ones that she sells.  Apparently they are very popular!

I am always seeking ways to keep chemicals out of our lives, and this definitely fits into that plan.  Felted wool balls that are used in the dryer instead of a dryer sheet.  Add a pin into the ball, and it helps keep down the static as well.  I had begun making some of the them a few weeks ago and I thought that I would use this as a way to stash bust some bags of roving and bits of yarn that I knew I would never use for a project.

Preparing the roving/yarn balls for the washing machine

Making the balls of roving or yarn, or a combination of both, and then popping them into a stocking and throwing them into the washer with a load of laundry is a very easy way to make any type of felt ball.  Then they are thrown into the dryer in the stocking.  After that you can run them through the laundry again if the felting is not fulled enough, or just keep them for the dryer.  As I was winding the roving at the start, I sprinkled a few drops of lavender essential oil on it.  So they smell really wonderful as well as being a helpful aid in the laundry :*)

Humidity falls and dyeing re-commences

We have been counting the days and hours until the hot and humid weather was due to break.  July tends to bring more humid and hot weather around here, so I try not to complain as it is my long-awaited summer break!  But waking up this past two mornings has been such a pleasure… 45 or 50 degrees, breezy and dry.  Yesterday I had every intention of setting up the dye pot and doing some skein dyeing, but of course fate intervened and I ended up spending the morning cleaning out a major portion of the refrigerator.  Big sigh.  Big spill!

Skeining on the niddy-noddy

Today was different, however.  I finally did get a few skeins painted and steamed.  4 of the skeins are our newest yarn, our 3-ply sock weight Ruit Farm wool and mohair.

Painted skeins

They are the gold and green hanks on the left.  The other skeins I dyed are sport weight, 100% Ruit Farm wool.  I really need to visit our friends at Hatchtown Farm and borrow the use of their electric skein-winder, but since I couldn’t get away today I skeined by hand on my 2-yard niddy-noddy.  Basic, but fine!  It was great to get something accomplished, and now maybe I can get a start on one of my new knitting projects!

Knitalong in process

Happy piggie girls

Really!  I have been picking away at my knitalong project for months.  Most of the spinning group folk have finished theirs, but Pam and I are poking along.   I dyed the worsted wool in shades of blue and purples and am really enjoying working with it.  The pattern is a top-down cardigan by Pure and Simple patterns.  Not rocket science here, but as I am not a small person, I am doing the largest size which means the most increases for the shoulders and sleeves, so every other row gets two stitches longer.  But I am almost there!  I am determined to get the 6 rows finished tonight, but I am already tired and close to bed, so maybe by midday tomorrow I can claim the accomplishment!

 

On another front, our piggie girls are doing really well and very happy with their digs.

Bonbel’s girls having a rest after playtime this afternoon

And all of our goatie girls have been let loose, so they are out having a great time in the paddock.