sock porn for knitting voyeurs.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

color fiber festival and california red

I had a blast at the Color Fiber Festival this weekend, see?


That's the only photo I managed to take :) Karrie has set up a color fiber festival flickr group so you can check out the grounds, people, classes and fiber if this one doesn't do it for you ;)

It really was a fun time though, placing faces to (rav)names, spinning with a bunch of people instead of by myself, grinning cos I'm too shy to actually say hello, trying lots of new fibers thru Kristine and Maia's fiber tasting classes, buying lots of fiber... actually, I didn't buy anything (collective gasp)-- not because Pigeonroof Studios' booth was literally picked clean (no names ;)) but cos I blew my fiber budget this month out of the water with some 70/30 baby camel-tussah silk by A Verb for Keeping Warm already...

70/30 baby camel - silk, Succulent colorway (by way of Article Pract)

I'm glad for it though, and am half hoping Article Pract has more in stock next time I'm by cos I had a *blast* playing with the exotic fibers in Kristine's class and am dreaming of a three-ply of this one.

In the exotic fiber tasting, I tried splitting the fibers in half lengthwise and spinning 2 bobbins' worth of each. I then took them home and plied them together, and remembered how much I liked my Joy :) Worked well, and I even found a use for (some of) them...


ipod touch handknit sock

Who says I don't knit socks anymore? :)

My campbell's soup ipod sleeve has been looking worse for wear lately (totally my fault with hard use in a back pocket), and I just hate having handspun I can't use-- so a little sock was born. The fibers are from the top-- baby camel/silk, baby alpaca/silk, baby llama and baby alpaca, all available from A Verb for Keeping Warm. I didn't use the *cashmere* since the sleeve was long enough already, and worried it would be too soft for the choking I'll undoubtedly give it. I *so* did not want to like spinning cashmere, thought I needed a supported spindle to do so-- oy.

Maia's class on rare breeds was also interesting; I was thrilled to try some fibers I'd only read about as well as spin from several different fiber preps (top to roving to locks) all in one sitting... really neat and has me wanting to spin more from the lock more often. She did bring some California Red, which I have been meaning to share pics of myself since I bought a lamb's fleece awhile back.

The California Red is really neat-- a white to oatmeal colored fleece shot thru with red kemp fibers that give it a definite hint of red (though, isn't really red-red like I'd hoped). You can see the red hairs here on the underside/shorn end of a handful of unwashed fleece...


I bagged up the fleece in bunches using mesh lingerie bags and set them to scour in hot (but not running!) washing machines with Dawn, buoyed by the things I learned from my fleece day class at Deep Color Studio.



Now, the sheep was supposed to have been jacketed but had lots of burrs, filth, manure tags (poo!), and tips that had felted around VM... admittedly I was and am a bit bummed about that. I didn't know to try and open the tips up and get the vm out of them before washing, so now I've got a scoured fleece with tips that are matted with vm hiding inside. I've been a bit down about prep past scouring because of it; carding has to happen outside since so much junk is being picked out by hand and falling out of the carder that I don't want on my floors inside.

Just for fun, raw and scoured pics:

raw california red

scoured california red

Reminds me of the story in Alden Amos' Big Book of Handspinning where a customer refuses to pay for prepping a fleece she had brought in because they had washed all of that beautiful tomato soup color out :) It still has a nice overall color though.

I did a little handcarding and spinning with some of the washed fleece...

clockwise from top right: fiber on handcards, scoured fleece, california red rolags

woolen spun california red

...but most of it is sitting in a closet where I'm still mad at it :)

A lot was my fault I'm sure, but I'm taking more care now in knowing what I'm buying as well as in taking almost too much time pre-washing to get as much junk out and tips unstuck as possible. I've been on a fleece bender and have two more to share, but too long already :)

Til then!

Friday, April 25, 2008

etsy friday

I'm having a hard time accepting it's Friday! Maybe today's etsy friday theme will peek thru and get me dressed and believing :)

Ribs and Seeds sock pattern by Alyson Johnson (, available at
(pic by theyoyo, used w. permission)

As much a knitting funk as I've been in lately, I was seriously enamored of the Ribs and Seeds pattern when I saw it on Alyson's blog... enough to buy it immediately and even knit it. Well, part of one anyways! I used some yarn Alyson had dyed and overdyed, cos I'm trying to create a tear in our temporal universe :)

Knitnpurlzen (or, zen yarn garden) has found a really great designer for their yarns in Alyson-- she has several, all of which are great. Ribs and Seeds speaks to me though, speaks to the purl side loving part of me. It looks great in the semisolid purple I'm using, but would also look really interesting in a non-jarring handpaint (something that isn't too much to obscure the texture, but would let the purl side show off the handpainted beauty.)

Another speaks to me, obvious:

Hand embroidered card by

Tentacles? Hand stitching on a notecard? Typewritten alphabet lesson?

Could it be any better?! :) No, and Tulip + Panda is a great seller to work with-- I saw this card in the sold items (I always look) and asked for a similar one, and yay! She said yes. :) I couldn't help but pick this one up as well...

Hand embroidered card by

How great is it that the envelopes match? And that the cards themselves have so much texture apart from the stitching? :) My new favorite is this one, though... I think it is way awesome.

I always think everything is awesome, but can you blame me when there's stuff like this to be found?

Lamb fingerpuppets by

I have had Cynic the Lamb's etsy feed in my rss reader for ages, and even though I never put my big girl panties on and bought the bat I loveloveloved, I finally have some softie love to quench my ogling and stop me from stalking Maritza's sotosofties blog :)

I'm a dork for thinking the puppets are in love. More for telling you so.

...and because I am incorrigible and use neat and tidy things as a bulwark against the chaos, today's etsy pick of the day is from Alyson's shop where she's begun selling a line of handdyed yarns like this one (and the one I bought before)...

Kentucky Porch Swing-- Superwash merino sport yarn by
(pic by theyoyo, used w. permission)

Love. And I totally don't like green that much.

The base yarn theyoyo is using is high quality, tight twist and totally suitable for socks and the like (I've used it before in several incarnations myself). While she has sport in stock right now, I have it on good authority that she'll be adding sock weight to her lineup soon so add her feed to your reader if you dig her colors and want to be the first in the know :)

Have a good weekend all! If you're in the Bay Area, come out to the Color Fiber Festival in Berkeley on Saturday!! Even if you don't spin (and don't want to take a free drop spindling class!) there will be vendors with yarn and fiber and knitting supplies, weaving on a mini loom classes, and even knitting instruction going on. There's room in all the fiber tastings still available, or just come and hang out with your knitting. See you there!!

Monday, April 21, 2008

closely knit, love letter in yarn

I was lucky enough to snag a place at Article Pract's yarn tasting this month*. Christina chose a fun theme featuring some yarns from the book Closely Knit, and invited the book's author Hannah Fettig to join us for the fun :) Hannah is really sweet and we all had a good time petting samples as well as talking about how she came to write a book... the idea behind it is patterns for people you'd want to knit for-- babies, daughters and mothers, men in our lives, etc.

Overall I was too busy touching the samples to take pics of the knits (you can browse at amazon though), and I'm too chicken to take pics of *people* so managed this sly one of Hannah's seat instead :) I saw the intarsia kangaroo baby vest and was SO RUDE to actually turn it inside out to look at the finishing as Hannah sat next to me!! (It was as nice on the outside as the in.) I did manage one pic...

"Vintage Knee Socks" in 2 strands of Alpaca with a Twist Fino (I think?) from the 'daughters' chapter

You can also see a bit of the spread for the yarn tasting-- 8 different yarns in sample sized skeins, and snacks/drinks provided by xtina. The Fibre Company, where Hannah used to work and which has many yarns featured in Closely Knit, was also kind enough to send along larger sized sample skeins of their Khroma yarn (50/50 wool-alpaca) for all of us, very nice :) I used mine and the pattern Hannah gave us for a heart pin from the book to make a heart...


...looks like heathery fox faces :) I finished the knitting at Article Pract-- these go SO FAST! We spent half of the time chatting and goggling over the Closely Knit samples (really, really nice things) and I didn't think I'd actually finish one. Then I got it in my head to use each sample yarn for a heart-- making a bunch of different ones.


Um, you can see pretty clearly that my mattress stitch improved over the course of seaming the hearts :) The yarn tastings always open my eyes to new yarns I've never considered... I fell for Noro Silver Thaw before, and really really love the Fibre Company Babe yarn now. (I've labelled the hearts to yarn here.)

Since each heart takes SO little yarn, I used the leftovers to stuff the hearts for finishing. (I didn't stuff the Kid Silk Haze heart... very very nice and open on US 5's.) When I was doing it, I thought that something like this, a simple fast heart, would be a good addition to giving of handknits... I send 'butterflies' of extra yarn with handknits so they can be repaired, but who knows if they're held onto. If you made a heart and stuffed it with whole lengths of yarn to give with handknits, the recipient would be less likely to lose it. Even having to open the heart for the yarn wouldn't be a big deal-- for REALS these things knit up quickly and take up no yarn at all. :)

The pattern's meant to be made into a pin, but wouldn't it be fun to make a bunch to hang off of a mini xmas tree? As a wreath? Stuffed with lavender or cedar shavings and hidden among the stash? ...and don't get me started on valentine's day :)

I originally wanted to use the hearts as add-ons when spinning, but my Matchless has a "regular" 3/8's orifice and not a delta, these hearts weren't fitting thru. (I think Intertwined has a method that may work... prolly will try that later.) I decided instead to make a little yarn love letter out of them, knitting up an "envelope" as well.

Handspun naturally dyed Polwarth, fiber from A Verb for Keeping Warm

My envelope ended up looking more like a clutch with the button, but I wanted it to stay closed :) Originally, I was going to knit a flat rectangle with a tapered tip and seam up the sides for an envelope, but wanted it to be 3D like the hearts. Then I thought about knitting top down in the round, but I wanted to add the "flap" on without seaming or picking up sts for a ridge... so I decided to knit a rectangle bottom in seed st, bind off and pick up around-- knit circularly in stst for the front and back, and in seed st for the sides. The flap was seed st as well.

I pinched and seamed the sides together to get them to have that triangular look-- if I had thought it out I would have decreased for actual triangles :) This way gives me more room inside though...


I couldn't help but make a polwarth heart too, same yarn as the handspun "envelope." I just loved this color when Kristine gave it to me-- dyed with organic correopsis harvested from their garden, and overdyed with indigo, it looks like spring to me :) Article Pract is carrying this colorway as well as the whole back ceiling wall full of fiber and yarn from aVfKW-- I regret not getting a pic of this, maybe Mike has one? (BTW, have you listened to the YKnit podcast yet?! I'm such a fan.)

I just realized that I hadn't photographed my last yarn tasting's FO... another kerchief made from the yarn tasting-- this last-last time was Colinette...


I waited too long and now forget which yarns are which :) I do know I saved that beautiful gold colored Tao for the part of the kerchief at my forehead, didn't use the jitterbug since I have a huge bag of sockweight scraps I save for a rainy stranded knitting day, and I used the super fine Parisienne as a carryalong when knitting the entire kerchief for a really pretty halo effect tying the whole thing together.


The kerchiefs are a bit odd I know, but I honestly wear mine a LOT-- they keep my ears and head warm, are super simple and take little yarn, and I like the way they look on me 69x more than hats.

Another plus of stopping into your local yarn store, aside from the classes, company, and local yarns? I snagged a copy of Poems of Color; I'm 99% sure it's gone out of print. I remember holding a copy of Norsk Strikkedesign when I met Jenny and Nicole at AP a while back, should have bought it then knowing it was going OOP :) Live and learn!

Til then :)

*there's an article pract flickr group now, as well as the articlepract ravelry group too :)

Friday, April 18, 2008

etsy friday

Naturally dyed Polwarth from
(purchased at Article Pract in Oakland, CA)

No, I didn't buy this from A Verb for Keeping Warm's etsy storefront, or even the more robust site... but from my favorite LYS Article Pract :) When xtina told the Article Pract yahoo group she was stocking aVfKW last month, I jetted in and picked these up like, almost immediately. The idea of 2oz putups in fiber has really grown on me-- I often think that spindling spinners may not want 4oz of fiber at one go (assuming it takes longer to spindle spin fiber than wheel spin it and how quickly I get bored of projects the longer I look at them), and also that I need more than 4oz for a larger accessory project but 8oz is almost "too much"... six is the new black ;)

Another perk about article pract's mailing list on yahoo (or, the AP ravelry group for that matter)? Finding out about the staff picks for the month... 20% off select items, and this month includes A Verb for Keeping Warm's polwarth spinning fiber.

How many days left in April? :)

Not enough to finish this, even though I keep reaching for it...
Superwash BFL, 2nd fiber club offering by

I never ever thought I would join a sock or fiber or yarn club-- I think I'm too picky. Honestly though I'm chomping at the bit to re-enroll with Carol's Black Bunny Fiber Club... 8 oz of fiber, everyone gets the same fiber but a different colorway, billing isn't all at once at the beginning but staggered, and I haven't been disappointed even slightly yet. (I'm sure I won't be next month either... Carol gave us a sneak peek of next month's fiber and I'm already stalking the mailman.)

She too has moved her store from etsy to a main storefront at Black Bunny Fibers (but I knew about her fibers thru her etsy store first)... maybe etsy every-other Fridays will soon morph into etsyandindependentstorefront every-other Fridays :)

Carol's graciously offered to open up the fiber club to another second roster of membership, so you can read more if you want in.

And since it feels like an all-fiber day...

Needlefelted wool notecard by

shop is full of paper and fabric delights-- from gocco to save the dates to fabric stitched cards, a really nice range that works together as a whole. I'm really digging the 3D of this card though... I think it'll be one, when received but not yet opened, that will be interest piquing. Even more than usual :)

Were you waiting for my etsy pick of the day? I think it'd make an awesome bsj...

Worsted weight merino by - MiddleEarthKnitter yarns
(Pic by cazza, used with permission)

Cairi's right, it would make a beautiful Clapotis, but I thought of the baby surprise jacket even before I read the description of the yarn :) I am always even more drawn to MiddleEarthKnitter yarns, since they're based in the Scottish Highlands and I admit to thinking that that's just rad in general :)

Have a good one, I did :)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

gesundheit. (or, auf wiedersehen magknits)

I can say that, right?

I took three years of high school German, sitting behind the boy with the light eyes I held a smoldering torch for and had no idea how to talk to when he actually *called me* one summer vacation sweating in the desert, but really all I can remember is the bit about the stone in the shoe from ms. x and 'ich liebe dich'. Isn't that really all we remember in the end, anyways?

Anyways. :)

Gesundheit from Magknits June 2006, archived here
Handspun 2-ply worsted, spun from commercial merino by Ashland Bay-- "grape harvest"
US 7 40" KnitPicks Harmony, magic loop
Started and finished April 1, 2008

A little bit of a wink and a nod to my barefoot and pregnant stay at home mommery, a casting glance towards my grandmother who was amigurumi before there was a word for covering toilet paper rolls and renuzit air fresheners with anthropomorphic crochet... but really a personal joke that pleases me still to no end :) I actually and truthfully came bounding home happy one day, determined to find a tissue box pattern to make... and how thrilled was I that this one is exactly what I was looking for without having to teach myself how to crochet?

I say the pattern is archived, since well... Magknits is gone. Like, no more pattern archives. You can find the Gesundheit pattern here thanks to the wayback machine (which has been getting quite a knitterly workout the past week!!) and if your curiosity leans to the morbid like mine, you can read more about the seed of Magknits' disappearance here, as well as the echo afterwards. Maybe Carol will put the pattern up somewhere, it really is a good one if you're like me and have a burning need to cover a kleenex box with yarn.


Even though most of the fiber I spin and buy is handdyed, this merino from Ashland Bay is just beautiful with streaks of blue and gold and others running thru the base purple. I spun it ages ago and don't know the yardage, but spun up about 4 oz and have half of it left after the tissue box was done. I bought the first 4 oz at a show but bought 4 more from Susan's Spinning Bunny (excellent service)... enough for a matching purple scarf that will undoubtedly make me laugh and think of the empty kleenex box if I were to wear it :)

Not that kind of weather though... instead, the kind to go outside and card wool I scoured and has been waiting for me too long. Til then, soon but not enough!

***PS!! Bay Area? Have you heard about the Color Fiber Festival in Berkeley on April 26th? FREE drop spinning classes, fiber sampling classes for the cost of materials, handheld loom weaving classes and even a learn to knit session! Oh, and a gaggle of local fiber dyers and artists to rub elbows with and buy wares from. I'll be there taking some fiber tasting classes and just to hang out and knit and spin in the sun, so yay for sweet bay area weather and hope to see you there :)***

Monday, April 14, 2008

spinning catchup

It feels like I have a backlog of things to share, mainly spinning since... well, bitten again and all :) Something old but awesome, merino-bamboo that's going into my 'I have no idea what to do with this' pile:


Handspun 2-ply 60-40 merino-bamboo, approx 250 yd/4oz
fiber from Wolf Creek Wools (who has an etsy site! i didn't know :))
purchased from Sweet Grass Wool at Stitches West 2008

Shiny, but really really pretty. It looks *so* similar to the fiber, which is usually not the case. Like this one, looking nothing like I expected:

Handspun 2-ply, dk weight superwash wool, approx 290 yd/112g
fiber from -- "diadem"

I thought, given the amount of white in the fiber, the resulting yarn would be mainly white with flashes of color. Instead, there is a lot of white but it is evenly dispersed across the plies and really ties all of the colors together-- much more colorful than I had thought possible. The deep red purple turned into a much more true purple hue, and there were blues I didn't even really notice the first time :) Even closeups don't capture all the colors and how they play out unexpectedly...


It's why I love dyeing fiber so much, the surprise that still awaits two, three steps ahead.

The fiber type wasn't described in the listing, and it may not be known to the seller... but I have to say it was really a nice choice and different than the superwash merino I'm used to. This fiber really wanted to stay together, stick to itself-- not that it was gummy, but that it didn't want to fall apart at the mere borrowed suggestion. It wasn't as soft as merino, but has a really crisp feel and the resulting yarn still has loft and bounce in the skein... I think it'd be a good choice for spinners wanting to spin a superwash sock or fine gauge yarn but who have a hard time with the slippiness of superwashed merino.

(fwiw, this skein is for sale in my etsy shop.)

...and since I never think far enough ahead to take pics of what's on the wheel now-- something new. :) This weekend I started with a 4 oz bag of Crosspatch Creations Triple Play roving after Amelia reminded me the next issue of the Rhyme Times fiber sampler is shipping soon (eee!), a wool/viscose/silk noil blend in "Edgar Allen."

Straight out of the bag, quite compressed.

I drafted out the roving, and new colors came out as well as the lovely silk noil that was hiding...


It's mainly a dark red, purple and black mix... the noil really sets the colors off though. I decided to not to try and spin this too finely like I did with the eggplant Signature Blend colorway I purchased from the bellwether-- I was looking for something a little more instant gratification, and maybe a yarn to add to that growing pile of unproject-ed yarn :)

In progress.

Maybe an ounce into it, planning a 2-ply (as usual!) :) Fun-fun, but wouldn't you know... I'm not spinning right now, but knitting.

Hearts upon hearts upon hearts.

Til then...

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

spinning merino seacell batts

I was pretty anxious to see how the handpulled rovings from my long stripe batts would spin up, so I spun the 4 oz on Monday and Tuesday and hoped they'd be dry today for pics :)

Superwash merino - seacell 2 ply from carded batts pulled into roving
approx 4 oz, 250 yd
"Indian Summer"

I was a little nervous about the color-- I knew separately I liked the colors, and I thought they'd look good together in a yarn, but pulled into the ribboned roving I wasn't too sure. I'm pleased with the outcome though... the colors are spoton to what I had hoped they would be.

I also worried that the yarn would be too even in terms of color-- that the pulled roving would result in a yarn that had each color evenly represented, and that it would be kind of boring. It didn't work out that way, maybe because I didn't pull the roving down to the point I wouldn't have to draft at all when spinning (if the colors were even in the roving and I didn't have to draft any more, I'm sure the colors would look more even than they do...) and also maybe because I didn't use proper pulls all the way thru when prepping the roving.


Several times I "broke" one of the stripes by not pulling evenly, so that the roving would have none or too much of the color in it. That wasn't so bad-- the only real drawback I found to my lacking prep skills (and they weren't *that* bad, really) was that I could have "chunks" of color ends in my hand from where I had pulled a strip of color apart and the end would be thicker and wasn't drafted as easily because it was an "end" piece of color.

Writing that out, it makes no sense :) It also wasn't that big of a deal, I am really happy with how the yarn turned out :)


Pulling the roving out was my first whole-skein experience with "pre drafted" roving... I am the world's laziest (insert here) and when I spin I usually just shake out a compressed roving and spin from the entirety. I realize, spinning this drafted fiber, how much faster I could spin as it was prepped and I didn't have to stop and start as much. I need to gain a little more confidence in drafting it even more finely... the yarn turned out thicker than I had aimed for, but I'm glad to have tried this and am trying it again ("predrafting") with a handdyed top right now.


I purposely took these photos in full sunlight to give you an idea of the shine of the seacell... it looks shiner than I think it really is in ambient light. I don't really like "shiny" yarns, but this one isn't really one that I think of as shiny since I usually can't get past the drapy quality of shiny yarn and this one doesn't have that limp feel. I could definitely use it for some thick socks, or maybe save it for my future giant handspun blanket from yarns without a country project.


Either way, I like it a lot and even though I said I was going to take a break from dyeing and carding, I'm definitely going to do some more sw merino-seacell dyeing and carding as happy as I am with this yarn :)

Til then, miss you!

Monday, April 07, 2008

long stripe batts pulled into roving

Picture heavy :)

So when I first bought Color in Spinning, I read the first third (dealing with color theory and handpainting rovings) and shelved it-- I didn't have a drumcarder or combs so the processes Deb Menz wrote about for color blending using these tools didn't appeal to me. It was quite a nice surprise reopening this book and finding so many different starting points to jump from with my drumcarder... here's just one I tried this weekend.

Goal: Make a handpulled roving from long striped batts, with four evenly divided colors in the width of the fiber.

Ingredients: 4 - 1 oz precarded, solid color batts in brown, gunmetal, warm and cool orange, drumcarder. Fiber: 70/30 superwash merino - seacell.

2 - 1/2 oz 70/30 sw merino - seacell...

...split into halfsies...

...each drafted into thin strips.

Creating stripes, 1/4 of the drumcarder's width + a bit more for overlap

Drum loaded with long-striped batt

2 - 1 oz long striped batts

Another 2 - 1 oz long stripe batts

More striping. This is the order I combined them in. I laid one batt flat, laid one more on top...

...and made fiber jellyrolls.

Then using the instructions in Color in Spinning (they're good and I don't feel comfortable relating all the steps), I pulled the two long striped batts out into roving. (pay no attention to the rack behind the curtain.)

My first pulls (and esp. towards the ends of the batts) didn't result in an even ribboned roving that had each color equally present, but more practice made the results better. I also am not opposed to varying colors in the final yarn, so it will be interesting to see how much I actually "dislike" the uneven color pull sections.

Finally (nighttime = flash!), 2 oz of handpulled roving from my long stripe batts. Color in Spinning recommends pulling to pencil width, but I've not spun from pencil roving before and I don't know if the width is the compressed fiber's width or not... so it is what it is :)

And as if all that fiber prep and carding wasn't enough...

IMG_9297 IMG_9295
IMG_9254 IMG_9262
...I updated my etsy shop with some sock spinning batts in superwash merino/seacell as well.

The batts in the shop are not the long stripe ones, but thin layer batts-- four colors each, evenly dispersed across the entire width of the batt. (As always, more and bigger pics accompany each item's listing.) My long stripe batts weren't as stable as I'd have liked for sale, and I don't know if there would be any real interest in them (since for me, I've always torn strips off of batts to spin, and maybe most would just be tearing solid chunks of color and what's the point of that?) They'd also be more expensive since they took me forever to make! :)

The thin layer batts can be pulled as well though as above, or strip torn and spun. Each should be enough for spinning into socks, or whatever :) I want to practice later with pulling thin layer batts myself... both pulling them from a 1 oz/non-stacked batts and a stack of 2 to see how the colors pull out. Should be interesting, but for now I'm going to be spinning the ribboned roving and give the poor carder a rest!

Til then, miss you!

Subscribe Now: Feed Icon

I Took The Handmade Pledge!