Fascination With Colorwork

I have always had a fascination with colorwork knitting, especially the stranded knitting technique  found in  Fair Isle.   

Since I am waiting on my Shetland natural color fiber to arrive for spinning my yarn for the Sheep Heid hat, I have been exploring different colorwork methods and came across an awesome video by Felicia Lo of SweetGeorgia

This overview of colorwork knitting is an introduction to the Modern Colorwork Knitting course from the  School of SweetGeorgia but it really gives a great overview of colorwork knitting.  Felicia mentioned Andrea Rangels book, AlterKnit, for a great reference for more modern designs.  I think I may have to order a copy for my reference library.

“AlterKnit Stitch Dictionary takes an unexpected look at stranded colorwork with 200 new motifs. These non-traditional colorwork charts are perfect for the creative knitter looking to break away from the ordinary. Derived from graphic design elements, these fresh motifs include everything from geometric mountains, waves, and spirals to modern bikes, skulls, and sheep.”  - from the editor

Courtesy of Jennifer Steinglass
A year or so ago I really wanted to try a simple colorwork sweater and was drawn to Jennifer Steinglass’s design Arboreal .  

This design features on two colors of yarn and depending on the main color used, the leaf motif can really pop. I am seriously thinking about giving this sweater a go as I have the yarn for it in my stash and even though summer weather is starting to creep up upon us here in Arizona, I can take my time with this project.

I love top down seamless knitting and think this would really be a great design to try my hand at colorwork.

While exploring, I came across a used copy of The Celtic Collection by Alice Starmore.  This collection of designs is way above my current colorwork knitting capability but I could not pass up this beautiful book of stranded colorwork designs. I love all the work by Alice Starmore.  Her designs are always so beautiful and so inspiring, including her incredible cablework designs.  If you want to be inspired, check out her website, Virtual Yarns.

Do you enjoy colorwork knitting?  If so, do you prefer traditional colorwork design or a more modern design ?

Until next time, be creative.

Inspiring Women and A New Project, Colorwork

There are those in live life that influence you and then there are those that inspire.  My favorite poem was recently read my someone who inspires me both visually and verbally.  That someone is Lori Graham, also known as Lori Times Five on Instagram.  Lori recently posted a beautiful collection of her photos from recent trips meshed with gorgeous music and my all time favorite poem by Yeats, The Lake Isle of Innisfree. 

The Lake Isle of Innisfree by William Butler Yeats
I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree, And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made; Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee, And live alone in the bee-loud glade. 
 And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow, Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings; There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow, And evening full of the linnet’s wings. 
 I will arise and go now, for always night and day I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore; While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey, I hear it in the deep heart’s core.
Because of Lori’s posts on Instagram I have been visually transported to Ireland, Scotland, Shetland, Finland and Norway.  Her photos capture the pure essence and beauty of these countries, and the photos of people, sheep and knitting make me want to go to these places too and see through my eyes where my very own ancestors came from, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.  These places have always called to my heart and at times I feel the reason Kentucky pulls at my heart strings as in some ways the terrain often reminds me of Scotland.  Some day I will go to these places but meantime I can journey there through inspiring photos and books.

There is someone else who inspired me to learn new things, especially spinning.  Her name was Elseline and I met her online through Ravelry in a group hosted by Clara Parkes. 

Elseline was so incredibly talented and so very inspiring.  Her spinning was so beautiful, her weaving was phenomenal and her English paper piecing(fussy cutting ) was amazing.  She was an avid knitter who created gorgeous sweaters out of her own handspun and finished projects so fast I often found I couldn’t keep up.  She often reminded me she had much more time being retired than I did and to be patient, one day I would have loads of time to do all the things I loved.  

I lost my dear friend quite suddenly a few months after loosing my mom.  I learned so much from this woman.  I never met her but our friendship will always be remembered and treasured.  I often think we meet people in our journey through life for various reasons, to inspire and be inspired, to give and never take.  To simple touch lives in ways we may never fully understand or to even imagine the impact w might have on others.

I regret that I did not join her in knitting a Sheep Heid hat out of handspun as we both bought Shetland samplers in natural colors and spun together and thought it would be fun to have almost matching hats.  As I sit here today reminiscing,  I am thinking about casting on my first colorwork project, a Sheep Heid Hat to honor the memory of my sweet friend Els.  It’s also small way for me to get back to my “roots”, dream of traveling to the Shetland Isles and Scotland, and a way to use my own finished  handspun that I spun with my dear friend.   I will have to order a bit more Shetland wool to spin so that I will have what is need for this awesome hat and I can’t wait!

Courtesy of KDDandco - Kate Davies
This tam features jolly sheep around the brim, and horned rams atop the crown. It uses all 9 sheepy shades of Shetland Supreme jumper weight, showcasing the variety of fleece colours in this marvelous yarn.  The tam takes about 190 yards in total, and you’ll need 25 yards or less of each of the 9 shades of Shetland Supreme. - Kate Davies

Once my hat is finished, I will be casting on Harriet’s Head Band, which is not only simple and beautiful, but the pattern proceeds supports a wonderful cause.  For more information on the MRI Makers Project, please visit them online here.

Courtesy of the MRI Makers

Thank you so much for letting me share with you today.  I hope in some small way I have inspired you to remember treasured memories and to do what you love.

Until next time, be creative.

Learning to Adapt

Sometimes in life you have to learn to adapt to your surroundings.  Adapting has been a huge challenge for me because I love wool and live in a very hot climate.  I have been pondering many things since my last post and have been trying to think about how I can still enjoy all the aspects of wool while living in a desert.

Life is what you make it. So why not make it a beautiful one full of happiness and joy.      - Anurag Prakash Ray

One thing I have come to realize is that no matter where you live, you can still learn to enjoy (adapt) what you love the most even if it means that you might only have a small window of time in a season to be able to totally immerse yourself into all the aspects of something you truly are head over in heels in love with.  For me, that’s wool.

I know that some day my husband and I will be able to move to the area and climate that we want, but meanwhile I will continue to  be learn to adapt to my current surroundings.  After all we have been back here in Arizona for 12 years and I am still working with some form of wool everyday.  I guess in a small way I have already learned to adapt to my surroundings.  I wear hats and mitts in the cooler times of the year, as well as cardigans and sweaters.  I know that bulky is totally out of the question but lighter handknits can be worn much longer.  

This year I really want to learn to weave so that I can use my stash of heavy wools for a wall hanging.  I may even try spinning for weaving projects too!  

So the long story short .... don’t ever give up what you love the most.  Learn to adapt and make it work!!

I came across photos taken back in 2008 from the very first Southwest Fiber Festival in Arizona.  I am so sad that they didn’t continue with the festivals but I truly enjoyed this one as my interest in spinning was peaked.

2008 - My photo taken at the first Southwest Fiber Fest in Amado AZ
Yep, that’s me .... my how I’ve changed 

Awesome music was provided too by a local Mariachi group
The following year we went to a fiber festival up in Flagstaff.  This one, like the one in Amado, was very small but over the years has really grown.  I was hoping this year I would be able to attend but just found out it has been canceled this year.  

Trying to pet the alpaca

My parents learning about Alpaca fiber 

Churro Sheep

Until next time, be creative!

Sunday Musings: Finished Handspun and a Day of Reflection

I truly feel that Sunday is by far the best day of the week.  It’s the day that I prepare meals for the upcoming week, bake banana bread or other sweet breads and simply rest.  It’s a day that my husband and I always look forward too as we talk about our future, and what we hope to accomplish.  

After twelve years of being back in Arizona we have come to the conclusion we are calling the “Valley of the Sun” home.  For the longest time we have been unsettled about living here because we felt that we belonged back in Kentucky.  For some reason Kentucky just felt like home but after many conversations, much stress and heavy hearts we finally have realized God brought us back here for a reason and it’s a good reason, to help our aging parents and to enjoy the shear beauty of our state.  

I personally will miss many aspects of Kentucky but I can honestly say that I will
not miss the humidity, the rain, the cold and the many days of dreary weather with no sunshine.  I need sunny blue skies and warmth, and so does my husband.  I am at peace with our decision and I am rather excited because deep down I simply could not bare the thought of moving and starting all over again.  I am content and happy with my home, and where we live, and I am so happy my husband and I have finally made a decision about our future.

This decision has sparked a great many things in us, one is re-doing our backyard.  I am so excited about what we plan to do and can’t wait to get started!!  We have so many plans for our home and look forward to making these plans become a reality.

Now for the finished handspun....

I finished plying my beautiful Falkland Wool in the color Corduroys and Boots.  This fiber was a sheer joy to spin and even though I didn’t achieve the yardage hope for, I absolutely loved the results!

Fiber:  100% Falkland 
Dyer:  Three Waters Farm
Color:  Corduroys and Boots 
Ply:     Two ply
Yardage:  260 yards
Weight:  Fingering to heavy fingering

I am now searching for a pattern that I can using this handspun for and thinking either a cowlette or a shawlette. 

I hope your weekend has been good and that you have been able to enjoy your Sunday.

Until next time, be creative!

Friday Finish... A Pair of Energized Handspun Mitts!

I finished my Blenheim Rose Mitts !  

Since I knew I wouldn’t have enough of my birthday handspun for the stripes, I decided to make the body of my mitts in my Gotland and the cuffs, thumb edge and top edge in my birthday handspun.   I truly love how they turned out but did notice something about how the knitted fabric looked, which I will talk about it a minute.

I took a look in my button stash, and found a pair of round silver buttons that worked perfectly for finishing off my cuffs.

Recap of handspun used:
Gotland Yardage:  65 yards, 2-plied
Birthday Handspun Yardage:  65 yards, n-plied

I keep all my bits of leftover yarns, especially my handspun, in this vintage glass jar.  These bits are always great to use for small weaving projects.

What I noticed about the knitted fabric ...

One thing I noticed while knitting with my Gotland was how much twist and energy still remained in the yarn.  I find this fascinating as it was spun two years ago and has been in my stash as a completed hank of yarn.  This ‘energy’ and twist can cause your knitted stitches to look a little slanted or even twisted.

I have read many articles about how energized yarns can effect the way finished knitted fabrics can look.  My finished mitts for example look “slanted”, which is due to the energy still left in the yarn.

When we speak of using energized yarns, we are generally talking about singles that have not been "finished" with moisture and heat. Plying tends to balance the energy in the singles that are plied together, and finishing removes the energy, whereas a fresh singles will always tend to twist to one side or the other. Because an energized yarn twists, fabric made with it will also tend to twist. - Interweave, March 2011
Some spinners intentionally create ‘energized’ yarns as the yarn can add a dimensional look to the knitted fabric.  Amy Tyler recently wrote a post on the Spin-Off Blog that gives great tips for knitting with energized yarns. There’s also a Spin-Off workshop taught by Kathryn Alexander.... here’s an overview ⬇️

From the website: In Spinning Energized Yarns, Kathryn Alexander will show you how to really liven up your yarns with brilliant handspun knits. As an expert of spinning high energy yarns, Kathryn will show you how to control your yarns to achieve the texture effects you desire. By adding twists to your yarn, you'll be able to introduce energy into your spins that will give you crisp, textured surfaces in your knitted work. - Long Thread Media 
I am seriously thinking about taking this online class as I find the concept of using energized yarn truly interesting, especially how such yarns can change the whole look of a knitted fabric.  

Until next time, be creative.

This Week In My Knitting Basket ... One Too Many WIPs !

Do you ever find yourself in a knitting dilemma?  Well maybe not quite in a
dilemma, but maybe more like getting so involved with other “fibery goodness” that you forget about projects that you’ve already started.  Sound familiar ?  Well this is me in a nutshell.

I have been so absorbed by my spinning adventures lately that I seem to have forgotten about my knitting projects, especially one project I started a month or so ago, a pair of cabled toe up socks.  I seem to go in phases ... knitting, crocheting, spinning and then back around again.  I become so focused on certain things that I forget about items that need finishing.

So what do I have besides my socks to finish ?  

Well, I still have my gradient lace scarf and my fingerless mitts.  I love the scarf as it’s very mindless knitting with a very simple pattern that you can memorize quite easily.  I am almost finished with my first mitt and because I was rather paranoid about not having enough of my birthday finished handspun, I already have the cuff completed for the second mitt, so this project should finish up quickly.  I also want to concentrate on my socks so that they end up in my sock drawer soon because I am super anxious to dive into my copy of Laine Magazines 52 Weeks of Socks .  Speaking of Laine Magazine ... did you hear that they are working on a new book, 52 Weeks of Shawls ?  I do have to say I’m very excited about this book too.

I am resisting the urge to cast on a shawl, a sweater and a cardigan.  I may not be able to resist too much longer though because I really want to knit as much as I’m wanting to spin right now.

So what do I want to cast on ?

For the shawl, I really want to cast on Harwick by Taiga Hilliard.  I love this simple design and think it would be perfect for handspun.

Photo Courtesy of Taiga Hilliard Designs
Harwick is a classic shawl with a lace center. Written using worsted but can this be easily adjustable to any weight and size.
Yarn – Madelintosh Tosh Merino Light
Needle – 6 us (4.00 mm) or what you need to get gauge
Gauge – 18.0 stitches = 4 inches
Yardage – 400 yards
For the pullover,  I want to cast on a fun summer sweater, Seven Sisters Top , used for a Knit A Long for Blue Sky Fibers.  I am seriously considering buying the yarn for this project, but may end up stash diving too.

Courtesy of Blue Sky Fibers
A loose-fitting summer top knit in Printed Cotton makes this the perfect versatile piece. Wear alone in hot weather or under a jacket on a cooler day. The special printed technique of this yarn provides a beautiful mosaic look.
For the cardigan, I want to cast on the Throwback Cardigan by Andrea Mowry.  I bought this pattern shortly after Andrea published it and have wanted to make ever since.  I already have the yarn in my stash for it and plan to use some of my handspun too.  After seeing finished photos on Instagram of her Throwback Sweater, I know I will have to make that one as well.

Courtesy of Andrea Mowry
This sweater was inspired by my childhood and weekends spent in northern Michigan on the sand dunes. It is my favorite cardigan for layering and keeping warm all Autumn and Winter long! This sweater is worked flat from the top down, seamlessly, except for the sleeves which are knit in the round.
So before I start going on a slight cast on frenzy, I hope to finish the three projects I have on my needles right now.

What’s on your needles or hooks ?

Do you ever find yourself wanting to cast on everything in sight ?

Until next time, be creative.

Five Days of Grey ....An Intentional Spinning Project

Five Days of Grey - Paradise Fibers Carefully blending and carding different percentages of black and white fibers to create unique grey tones. Perfect for 3D needle felting, wet felting and spinning.  The fibers have been spread into a web (but not in parallel lines as in combed wool). The web is condensed into a continuous untwisted strand of fibers called a sliver. Carded fibres are generally used for producing woolen yarn and perfect to use for needle felting.

I love grey.  It can be cold looking but at the same time give the feeling of warmth.  I am very excited about spinning my five days of grey as this project is 100% intentional spinning with the plans of a striped shawl.  

I will be making Grain by Tin Can Knits, a design that is quite simple but perfect for this handspun project.  

Courtesy of Tin Can Knits
Two intentional spinning projects going on, a first for me but I am quite excited about both endeavors.  Going forward I want to try to spin for projects in mind and not just to be spinning.  We’ll see how good I am at doing this... smiling as I write this because I know myself way too well!

Until next time, be creative. 

Spinning Mojo...It’s Back!

I have totally rekindled my love of spinning and I’m so thrilled my mojo is back!  For me spinning, like knitting, soothes my soul.  Spinning is so meditative, and so very calming.  When I spin, I feel the every day stress of life being lifted away and replaced by joy.  It’s my time to talk to God and sort things out, and quite often I find myself just zoning out to enjoy the simple rhythm of spinning.
I believe that the yarn we spin is capable of mending the broken warp and woof of our life! ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Yesterday I decided to bring out my Ashford Traveller that I rescued last June and make sure that she was cleaned, dusted, oiled, and adjusted.  After several goes, I finally got her “fine tuned” and she is spinning like a dream.

I deep stashed dived and brought out one of my coveted fibers, PigeonRoof Studios Merino, Bamboo Silk Blend. This fiber is so scrumptious and it is spinning up quite lovely.  

I am very proud of myself too as I am spinning very thin, so I am hopeful that I will have enough yardage after I chain ply for a hat.  I am so happy that I finally got my wheel in ship shape order and that she is spinning like a champ.

What are you working on this week?

Until next time, be creative!

Happy Easter

1 Corinthians 16:14
"Let everything you do be done in love."

Spinning Catch Up and A New Cast On

Happy Saturday everyone!  I truly hope your Easter weekend is off to a good start.  I started my weekend yesterday as I was blessed to have Good Friday off (holiday for me).  I spent the majority of my day spinning and finished one bobbin of my Three Waters Farm Falkland in the color Corduroys and Boots. 

I absolutely love how it turned out and I am hopeful that this bobbin, along with the second bobbin I will be starting today, will give me enough yardage for a small shawl. My plan is to create a two-ply yarn with a goal of at least 300 yards (fingers crossed).

Side note: Maintenance is a very important part of keeping your wheels in good working order.  I noticed a slight wobble when I was spinning on my Ashford Traditional yesterday.  So after I finished spinning my first bobbin, I tightened up all the areas with my allen wrench and gave her a good oiling.  I also wiped her down to remove any leftover fiber and dust.  The Woolery is a great a source for tips and videos for wheel maintenance.
 For some reason the spinning bug has really grabbed ahold of me, which is a good thing, right ?  Even though I plan on finishing my Three Waters Farm Falkland over the weekend, I also plan to start spinning my other color of Abundant Earth Fiber Signature Blend in Skylight.  I want to start my Hap Cowl !!

Meanwhile .....

I am casting on my Blenheim Roses mitts today and I am super excited about using my recently completed handspun for this project.  I love this pattern and I’m so happy I kept my copy of the Spin-Off Magazine it was published in.

Until next time, be creative!

Friday Finish ... Handspun Goodness

I finished another spinning project this week and while I didn’t achieve the yardage I hoped for, I still love it!  I just have to say, again, I really do love the Signature Blend from Abundant Earth Fiber and I truly hope they don’t stop making it.

65 Yards
Chain Plied
Color: Citron

I truly love this fiber and can’t wait to start knitting with my finished handspun!  The next color in line to spin is Skylight, located at the bottom right of the photo below.

Oh how I do love spinning!
It’s so soothing to my soul and it gives me such joy.

I also came across a new blog, well new to me, called The Craft Sessions .  I find this blog to be very inspiring and I especially loved the post “Stash Less”, a list of all posts stemming from Felicias original 2014 post, Stash Less - A Challenge .  I have been learning over the years to try not to stash as much yarn and fiber as I once did, but still have trouble with compulsive buying at times.
“I created The Craft Sessions to provide a space for crafters to come together, whether that togetherness is online or at our retreat; to share ideas, to learn from, and be inspired by one another.” - Felicia Semple
Stay well my friends and until next time, be creative!

Sunday Musings: Baking and Spinning, My Two Favorite Things!

Sunday of late has been a day of rest, relaxation and a day of preparing food for the up coming week.  Today was no different.  I started the morning by making breakfast burritos for the week and by making two loaves of Honey Applesauce Cake.

This was the first time making this recipe and I highly recommend it!  It’s moist and so delicious.  My hubby told me that he definitely loves it and hopes I make it often. The recipe is super easy and I pretty much had everything in my pantry for it.  One loaf will go in the fridge and the other in the freezer.

I also chain plied my Abundant Earth Fiber in the color Forage.  I am so happy that I ended up with 65 yards, which gives me a 140 yards total for my intentional spinning project. I seem to be consistent with my spinning lately as I seem to be average this amount of yardage on 2 oz of fiber.

I have started spinning my Three Waters Farm Falkland in the color “Corduroys and Boots”.  I decided to use my Ashford Traditional for this spinning project and also I am trying a new technique called Cross-Lacing, which I knew I had to try after reading a recent article by Emonie Hopkins on the Spin-Off blog, Cross-Lacing: Learn to Control Your Wheels Uptake.  Like Emonie, I treadle fast and sometimes to my own demise.  When I treadle to fast I can over twist or simple watch my fiber become too thin causing it to break and glide right out of my hand.  

Cross-lacing allows you to slow down your uptake; it’s a tension aid that gives you more control. With cross-lacing, the twist has to travel a bit farther between the bobbin and the fiber supply. You can have your twist travel a short or long distance depending on the amount tension you need. You do this by zigzagging your yarn across your flyer, and you adjust the amount of tension by increasing or decreasing the number of hooks you zigzag it through.” - Emonieiesha Hopkins, March 30, 2020, Spin-Off
This technique really works and I am so glad that I tried it!  I am trying my best to spin as thin as I can to be able to get enough yardage when plied for mitts and a headband.... fingers crossed.
I am loving these colors!!

I also started spinning my stash of Abundant Earth Fiber Signature Blend in the color Citron. Since it has been so nice the last few days, I decided to take my wheel outside to spin to enjoy a little quiet time on the patio.  Like my finished color Forage above, this too is part of my intentional spinning project. The color is so bright and cheerful, like a little pop of spring in my hand.  I am hoping for at least 70 yards when plied, fingers crossed for this spinning project too!

I hope wherever you are that you are enjoying doing something you absolutely love. Please be safe and always remember God is with us during this time of trouble.

But I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. - Psalm 59:16

Until next time, be creative. 

Friday Finish and Something New

I am so happy about my finished skein of handspun ... 65 yards and definitely perfect for a pair of Blenheim Roses Mitts.  I am mixing this skein with a skein of handspun Gotland that I spun up a couple of years ago (was it really that long ago 😳) during a breed study hosted by Sherrill of The 1764 Shepherdess

I think this will be a great combination 

I have started spinning a bump of Abundant Earth Fibers Signature Blend in the color Forage.  I still can’t say enough about this fiber.  I love it, especially the rustic feel and nature of it, still reminds  me of Jamiesons Shetland.  This finished handspun will be destined for the intentional spinning project  that I started July 2018 .... talk about procrastination!  

I am using my Schacht Ladybug for this spinning project.  I love all my Schacht wheels, but think the Ladybug might be my favorite.

I have also added to my stash and just received this gorgeous BFL and Nylon blend from Greenwood FiberWorks called Paper Roses.  This fiber is for socks, which is my intent.  Wish me luck as I still haven’t managed to spin for socks yet.  I love Carolyns fiber and if you haven’t tried her hand dyed loveliness, I highly recommend her shop.

As we continue to stay home we are all finding things to do or catch up on.  For me, I am truly enjoying my spinning again, as well as knitting.  I have been baking and cooking more, and since I work from home my wonderful husband has been doing the necessary shopping for me.  I have only been out to the store a handful of times and still find it strange, and even still a bit surreal.  Much needed items are starting to slowly fill back up on shelves and people are less inclined to buy more than they need (well where I’ve been at least).  

For the most part streets are quiet, which for Phoenix that is just plain weird, and parks are dead (shut down until further notice).  Our little subdivision park is closed but we can still take walks, which I have been doing every morning with our fur baby Cody.  He’s so happy that no one is out because it means he can run and play without his leash.  It makes my heart burst with joy to see him play and at times I can’t believe he’s 10 years old.

Until next time, be safe and be creative!

Wordless Wednesday: Handspun Love

65 yards of sport weight 3-ply handspun and I am in love!  This handspun yarn is so soft and so lovely that I can’t wait to to knit with it.  I am thinking another pair of Blenheim Roses Mitts may be a new cast on soon!

Until next time, be creative!