Wednesday, February 28, 2007


This happy girl is wearing a sweater that's a hybrid -- a little of this, a little of that, combined into something new.

The yarn is 2 strands of burgundy cotton reclaimed from a Goodwill sweater, as shown on the Neauveau Fiber Arts tutorial, combined with 1 strand of variegated tencel from Webs. The pattern stitch is the broken lace rib from Paige's Stitchionary, with picot edges learned from Purlwise.
I used Jackie Fee's Sweater Workshop to calculate the important pattern numbers. The sleeves were knit in the round and bound off at the top. The body was worked in the round with steeks for the sleeves and front, as learned from Philosopher's Wool and additional info from See Eunny Knit because I wasn't sure if the slick cotton/tencel would be okay for a steek. It is. :-)

This sweater packs up small, so it came with me as the traveling project in Paris-Belgium-Amsterdam-Luxembourg. The steeks were cut while I was in the middle of a room full of happy knitters and spinners at Spa weekend in Maine.

(As an aside, I was hanging with newbie spinaholic Bart when I cut the steeks and now can find his smiling mug all over the internet. Doug is the guy who is standing in that picture. He is one of Bart's mentors. Doug's friend, Laura, is one of the kind people who helped untangle Jesse's yarn. Each one, teach one...and the beat goes on.)

Edited paragraph above to reflect that Laura and Doug are friends, not a married couple. Oops -- sorry, Laura and Doug!

Anyway, hybrid, yeah. I suppose all handknits and all other handmade projects are hybrids, blends of experience and techniques and resources and references all pulled together to form something new and different, but this one seems even more so for me because I think it's the first sweater I've made up really from scratch. I chose every single element, right down to the yarn combination, and it all came together and it fits (this year only, I think -- the Goob is growing fast!) and looks good and was a really satisfying knit and, best of all, she loves it.

Monday, February 26, 2007

of frit and fair isle

Day 2 of Scott's glassblowing workshop exceeded expectations. He made three blown sphere Christmas ornaments and can't wait to get back to Lorenz Studios to pick them up. (They needed to cool in the kiln and weren't ready to come home yesterday.) He came home bubbling with stories and excitement and clearly had a stellar time with Larry, his assistants, and the other beginner glassblowers.

I spent a good chunk of the weekend working on my fair isle sweater. I'm almost done with the sleeves. I'm still feeling wishy-washy about the color scheme and the sleeves are wider than they need to be and I'm not quite sure if I like the overall design (there are purl rows that cause the whole thing to appear pulled in, in waves, but I think they'll settle down with a good blocking), but I do so enjoy the whole fair isle technique that I just keep knitting away on it and loving the process.

I worked on my cardigan of Scott's handspun at a Saturday afternoon-into-evening knitfest. It's a simple stockinette knit, perfect for making progress while chatting with friends. It's bulky, though, so it won't make a good traveling project. I made a swatch for a lacy sweater that I thought would be good to take on vacation, but it didn't turn out as I had hoped, so I'll continue to keep my eyes open for the project(s) that will undoubtedly be set aside while we watch the sunset from Santorini. ooh...aah...

Sunday, February 25, 2007

hot shop, cold weekend

Scott is midway through a weekend-long glassblowing workshop and couldn't be happier with how it's going. Registration was through Brookfield Craft Center and the glassblowing is taking place at Larry Livolsi's farm/studio. Larry's a trip, the environment is electrifying, and Scott is walking on clouds about the whole thing. He is psyched about the glass egg he made yesterday and looking forward to blown glass ball Christmas ornaments today. I can't wait to see what he makes!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

fluff metamorphosis

This is the yarn Scott made on Saturday from fiber fluff brought from home:

This is how the back end of my car looked midway through the weekend in Maine:

This is the pretty yarn that resulted from Scott spinning some of that bag of fluff in the top left corner of the trunk picture:

This is Jesse's first bobbin spun from the same cloud of fluff:

And this is the spinning wheel he's in the process of building from K'nex.

It's modeled after a Majacraft Little Gem. You can read more about it at Jesse's new blog, The Builder Blog, where we'll display more of his creations as we get around to taking pictures and videos of them in action. Our Rube Goldberg machine will be posted there next week!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Spa Knit and Spin 2007

We spent last weekend in Portland, Maine, at the New England Textile Artists' Fifth Annual Spa Knit and Spin. We've been home for a couple of days now and while I was working, I've been trying to figure out exactly what was my favorite part of this fantastic mini-vacation.

Was it the knitters, spinners, crocheters, needleworkers, felters, and fiber artists of all kinds filling every nook and cranny of the Doubletree Inn for 2-3 days? Was it the informality that encouraged beginners to folks with advanced skills to mingle and share and just have a good time together, exploring their chosen fiber art and perhaps dabbling in some new ones? Was it that two strangers enthusiastically volunteered to untangle Jesse's ball of yarn so he could continue on his first knitting project, or the way the male spinners (Scott, Bart, Doug, Lars, and eventually Jesse) bonded as a jovial group within a group? Or the way somebody could plop down at any time to ask all about your current project or to get some help with a skill, and you could do the same with anybody else there, so everybody had something to offer and everybody had something to learn?

Maybe it was the vendors. No doubt about it: this was was a top notch group of vendors assembled for the weekend. Our trunk was overflowing with spinning fibers and yarn. Leah was given the gift of a beautiful shawl clasp from Leslie Wind...just because. We won a Friendz Blendz Hexi-Hat kit from Friends' Folly Farm and a most spectacular bag of merino for spinning from Sereknity. Leah says it looks like strawberries and peaches. I think it looks like a bouquet of deep red roses with pale peach accents. Our friends won goodies too, including a pound of fiber. Definite highlights included chatting with Jackie Fee, who wrote The Sweater Workshop, and her equally pleasant daughter, who sought Leah's opinion on spinning wheels for kids; Scott going nuts at the the Grafton Fibers booth (as expected); and pawing more handpainted rovings at Friends' Folly Farm (where he just about wiped them out of one colorway so they threw in the remaining few ounces and the sample skein as well). Or buying a traditional hooked rug kit from J. Conner Hooked Rugs and having Janet then spend over an hour teaching Emma and Leah how it's done. Or the folks from Circles, who were enthusiastic enough about the stitch markers we were giving away (over 50 of them!) that they asked Scott to make more to sell at their knitting salon in Jamaica Plain.

Yeah, I liked all of that, but more too. There was the live music and the vibrant storytelling. There was the swimming and the spa services and the fun meals. There were the free shuttles to area yarn stores and brochures for upcoming events and area guilds. There was charity knitting and fundraising. There was a fashion show, in which Leah modeled the hat, poncho, and slippers she knit, enjoying a strut down the runway with Emma, who was also wearing her own handknit beret, as well as a poncho by her aunt and slippers by her mom. And then there was the free cake to go with the cider that Jesse enjoyed throughout the weekend.

But above all, there was laughter and learning, history and handcrafts, community and camaraderie. It was the kind of weekend where the whole was waayyyy greater than the sum of the parts.

(You see those spinnerguys up there? They had so much fun spinning together that they've decided they need to learn to knit so they'll have a reason to spin more yarn. And Jesse's just about ready to ply the bobbins he's been spinning lately too, but there will be a little delay because he's also working on creating an electric spinning wheel made out of K'nex. :-)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

blogging the goob

The Santa Fe Sheep, our Spinning Supervisor, has been a busy little sheepie lately, keeping an eye on Scott's fun with wool and also watching Leah spin up a batt from Grafton Fibers.

Like everybody else, the Sheep can't resist patting the soft Corriedale and giving Leah some encouragement about her spinning lately. There's one more batt to go before we decide what this yarn will become, but I have a feeling it'll be used in some sort of Fair Isle design because...

The Goobergirl likes colorwork! Here is her first Fair Isle project, the Madison's Hat pattern, made as part of her participation in Fair Isle February. It's alpaca and a mohair/merino blend, so super soft and fuzzy and oh so warm -- perfect for wearing while we shoveled the driveway today. She has already decided that she needs a coordinating pair of mittens and I have a Sankow's Beaver Brook Farm thrummed mittens kit in the stash, so maybe we'll each do a pair (mine with the kit, hers with the variegated yarn from her hat and roving from the spinning stash).

We spent a little while yesterday morning sorting through that spinning stash. Oh, there are some treasures in there, still waiting to be spun up or wet felted, but Scott already informed me that it's not nearly enough for him and Leah to share. They're planning to enhance the stash and spin their hearts out by the pool (Jesse's destination) at Spa Knit and Spin this weekend.

p.s. Make sure to go to Fair Isle February because a certain somebody came in here after I finished this post and whined that it looks like there's a series of mistakes in the top variegated row in the picture above. What really happened is that the variegated yarn just gets very dark green there and you can see the contrast in real life, but it does look like a mistake in the picture. Anyway, she made me go outside with her for another photo shoot and I posted a diff. picture on Fair Isle February. :-)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

wrap and twist

Scott finally got plying. I've been telling him for a year that he's not putting enough twist in when he plies his yarns, and showing him examples of the barberpole stripey goodness I'd like him to aim for, but he didn't seem to understand, or didn't believe that this is the goal, or just didn't quite know how to make it happen. But in the past couple of weeks, he got it.

The Santa Fe Sheep gives Scott's first 3-ply a nod of approval. Two slightly different skeins, both with good twist.

Me? I've been playing with beads and twisting wire, making stitch markers for the Spa Knit and Spin in Maine this weekend. These teensy projects are quite addicting. I'm hoping to make many more before we head north and then have fun giving them all away at random.

Only a few more inches until the first sleeve of my Philosopher's Wool sweater will be finished! I wasn't too psyched about how the color scheme was working up, but I like it more now that it's further along and the colors are more balanced.

Couldn't find just the right colors in our button box, so I stopped in at a store to buy buttons for Leah's cardigan yesterday. Man, it's hard to decide from all the options. I found some that I think will work well, but they're nothing exotic or anything, just some pearly plastic discs, and they cost nearly $10, which is about as much as I paid for the entire sweater's worth of yarn -- sheesh! I've been thinking of asking Scott to start making glass buttons anyway, so this is just another reason why I think he should go for it. Luckily, he agrees. :-)
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Monday, February 12, 2007

fair isle february

psst...we're over at Fair Isle February.

Come on over to see Leah's work in progress...

and my own obsession du jour...

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

warm wool, winter fun

The past week has been filled with ice skating (in rink and on pond), making Valentine's cards for the Children's Hospital, ice fishing, snow angels, sledding, sleepovers, planetarium/observatory coolness, good books, knitting, and lots of friends. In between it all, Scott's been bitten by the spinning bug again. He finished spinning all the roving we had for my cardigan in progress.

Then he dove into a really fun blend that we got while in Lancaster County, PA, last spring. You can't see it in the picture, but there's the tiniest bit of purple shimmery Angelina fiber blended in with all those fairy-like fresh springtime colors. I wonder what it'll become eventually.

I'm doing some extra work at one of my offices 2 days/wk from now until we leave for Greece, but I've finished the sleeves of my cardigan and started the body of that sweater yesterday (while in the office - yahoo!), and made a bunch of progress on Leah's sweater over the weekend. The change of plan from ruffle to picot was easy because the whole thing was done with a provisional cast-on. Only things left to do on that are to sew the sleeves in place, knit the button bands, and cut the steeks. There's also a bunch of fair isle knitting going on here and we have just about enough to be worth snapping some pictures, so that'll come soon.
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Saturday, February 03, 2007

progress but no proof

I've been doing quite a bit of working in offices this week, so that means I've also been doing quite a bit of knitting. ;-) But I gots nothin' to show you.

See, I'm thiiis close to finishing Leah's sweater. The shoulder seams have been finished with a 3-needle bind-off. I tested a machine-sewn steek on a swatch because I was unsure how that would work with this slick cotton and tencel. All good there. It was chugging along beautifully and I even bound off the sleeves. But then -- SCREECH -- HALT! -- then it occurred to me that the little ruffly edging I had imagined all along might not be very flattering across her midsection and it might be a pain in the butt to have fluffy ruffles at the wrists. So I changed the plan to a picot edge...because lately I'm all about the picot edge. But the picot edge is not as long as the ruffle-in-my-imagination was, so now the sleeves are too short. So I un-bound-off (?) the sleeves and am in the process of making them longer. I'll figure out how to handle the length of the sweater's body later.

Then there's my cardigan knit from Scott's handspun. I'm almost done with the second sleeve and still super duper happy with this whole thing. The yarn itself has a lot going on, so I chose to knit it in simple stockinette. Fast and fun, but not worth a picture because it looks pretty much like the last picture, except the sleeve is longer and now there are two of them. Given the abundance of work- and play-time in our lives lately, I'm pretty psyched with the two weeks, two sleeves rate of progress.

Oh, hey, lookie who's on the Philosopher's Wool Picture Yourself Here page! I've, uh, been in touch with them a little bit lately and finally got around to sending in the pic of my finished Tradition sweater.

Meanwhile, Leah has cast on for her first stranded knitting (two colors, one held in each hand) project. By the end of today, I think there will be enough done to snap a picture.

And by the end of this weekend, there's a mighty fine possibility that the one person in this family who has not used knitting needles will finally succumb to the allure and be assimilated by the knitborg. Better yet, he asked for it. heh heh...