Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cranking Out of 2011

Another year is coming to a close in a couple days.  If you read my blog entry from last New Year's, you know that I no longer make resolutions.  There's a reason for that.   I don't need anything else to fail at!

So, it gives me great pleasure to show some progress on the antique circular sock knitting machine that I purchased...ahem....three or four years ago!   

In my defense, the manual is a bad photocopy of the instructions from around 1930-40.  Apparently, if you lived during those times, you would have had a neighbour who had one that could show you how to thread the thing!  The lady that I bought this from had not used the equipment.

I dug out the parts and took advantage of the extra day off work plus the good nature of my family to make this yesterday's project.

The key point that I've learned is that you first need to make some netting to hold your weights.  And before that, my handy hubby had to come up with a device to help with the casting on of the thread.  Thank goodness for helped us get to this point.
At the right end, you see what the netting looks like.  It is made with every other needle installed.  The rest is knit with every needle installed.  I used some 2/8 cotton that I had in my weaving stash, so the knit isn't tight like it would be with sock yarn.  We put a knot in the end to hold the weight which kept the tension.  The whole thing went well until we tried to join some real sock yarn to this.

Our next task will be to produce a simple tube with sock yarn.  There's a few steps to learn before a real sock with emerge from this contraption. 

Don't look for an update on this anytime soon.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!  2012 - can you believe it?

Friday, December 23, 2011

Peace and Joy

Well, Christmas is almost here.  Shiny coloured things all around!

This is the last bit of yarn painting that I did...probably the last of the year.  Interesting that these two skeins were painted using the same three colours: burgundy, olive and golden ochre.  The one you see on the left had the dyed applied with distinct colour repeats and little overlap.  On the skein shown on the right, I applied the dyes randomly throughout the skein and the colours mixed quite freely.

On a cool crisp day, the hayloft is one of my favourite places.  I'm not sure what it is about the hayloft that is so comforting.  Perhaps it is the peace in knowing that my alpacas will have enough to eat until spring pasture time.  It could be the quiet stillness and isolation of the hayloft is a good place for reflection.  It might be that the hayloft is a drawback in history, that the skeleton of this post and beam barn reflects decades of honest, hard work by farm families.  Our full hay loft is the result of the labour of two farm families - one who produced the hay and ours that put it up.


It doesn't matter to the herd that they eat the same hay from fall to spring...every new bale that gets brought out gets the same reaction.  It's like throwing candies into the middle of a kindergarten class.


I Wish You Peace and Joy at Christmas and always.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Miracles Happen: An Update

I was thinking of someone the other day, when I was reminded of the theme of my post from last Christmas, called Miracles Happen.
So I reread it.

Here's an update...

The young man in the hospital beat incredible odds and a dismal prognosis.  He came home.

The soldier whose last tour in Afghanistan ended just before last Christmas is expecting my friend's first grandchild!

My friend who spent last Christmas worried about her diagnosis was told that the cancer treatments worked.

And the weight that was on my shoulders is lightened by others.  There are angels among us.

Sometimes, miracles happen.

I still Believe.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December Trials...

The snow has finally arrived!  Oh,'s pretty.

 But why couldn't it just fall on the lawn and not the driveway?

Last week was a fun week of white-knuckle ice, then deep snow, frozen mounds of slush on the highway.  (Note to self:  if I'm worried about getting out of the driveway, I should perhaps stay home.)

Winter has arrived and, if history repeats itself, it will stay for 5 months.  I better get used to it.
It's time for me to look in the mirror and say "Suck it up, buttercup". 

Here's my latest handspun, handpainted, homegrown baby alpaca yarn on my umbrella swift.

The handpainting or handdying process makes a mess of the skein organization, so usually I will wind the skein from the swift to either a ball winder or a skein winder.  In this case, I needed to put the skein on the skein winder in order to measure the yarn.

I was lucky to buy this old skein winder off of a friend who salvages old fibre arts equipment, fixes it and resells.  Along with the swift, it's a valuable tool of my craft.  While my skein is on the skein winder, I can figure out how much yarn I have in my skein and from their determine how it compares to yarn standards in terms of yards per pound or meters per 100g skein. (yes, I have a metric to imperial conversion calculator!)  This is important to know if it will suit a weaving or knitting project, and whether I will have enough to complete the project.  

These are my two newest skeins. 

I can usually achieve a nice balanced handspun yarn.  This latest spinning project was a challenge.  I was using up some wonderfully soft cria fleece that unfortunately had a lot of second cuts from shearing and VM (vegetable matter like hay and twiggy things) in it.  I wouldn't sell that fleece because of that but the fibre itself was way too lovely to throw out (after all, my little cria spent a whole year growing it).  When you start with 'problem' fleece, even with careful preparation, it's hard to end up with rovings that just glide through your hands at the spinning wheel.  While spinning, I had to keep stopping to pick out clumps of crud.  Then, I decided to use my electric spinner, which I am still getting used to, to ply it.  I ended up with yarn that almost has the appearance of a boucle yarn...not what I planned but I think it will still create two shawls or large scarves for a couple of people that I love.  I'm excited to start those knitting projects.