Colors are the smiles of nature.
-- Leigh Hunt
The pace is picking up around here, with MDS&W looming on the horizon. Lots of dyeing getting done. Yesterday was merino lace, today is alpaca lace and single ply bombyx silk. Then, a few other yarns and LOTS of different combed top blends. And a few more fleeces, if they arrive in time.
A very large order of North Ronaldsey from the UK is trickling in these days. Yesterday I received three large bags, with more coming as the different colors become available. I love this sheep breed and its fiber so much. So interesting, and soft ... even the guard hairs are soft. The differences between colors is interesting, as well, because the cream is nearly solid, yet the gray has alot of color variation between the guard hairs and the under coat, and then the guard hairs are nearly indistinguishable in the dark brown as well. There is definitely a project in my future for some North Ronaldsey, with colorwork in the natural colors (I have five different colors these days ~ cream, light gray, dark gray, tan and dark brown ... that's enough for some good colorwork patterning).
Other than dyeing during the day, I've been working on another circular shawl, knitted in my silk/merino two ply yarn, Penelope. This yarn is simply fantastic for lace. I knitted a Forest Canopy Shawl with it last year, and after knitting the handspun Pi Shawl, I knew I wanted to knit another circular shawl and play with lace patterns, and the Penelope called me again. I ended up drawing a couple of different lace patterns myself, because I couldn't find what I was looking for in any of my resource books. I'm sure I haven't drawn anything new, since they are not that complicated, but it was fun to do anyway, and I'm enjoying the process of drawing charts and then knitting them, and then adjusting them and so on.
Hey, have you visited the Keep the Fleece site? I think this whole event is so cool. I've sponsored a category in the Natural Fiber Contest ~ Island Life. I've always loved all the different island sheep ~ their histories, the mystery surrounding who left them there and the reasons why they were left, how they've evolved to survive in new and often difficult environments, the uniqueness of their fibers ... so, as soon as I saw this category, I knew it was the one for me. :-D
Anyway, I'm looking forward to the International Day at Rhinebeck this year, too (still figuring out how to get my booth set up in time to participate as it's on Friday, which is my usual set up day).
Off to play with color.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Colors are the smiles of nature.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Friday, March 13, 2009
Iron rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity, and in cold weather becomes frozen, even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind.
-- Leonardo da Vinci
New fibers just arrived! And I am doing a jig, too ~ they turned out so well and I am just thrilled with them.
Rose/Pink Bluefaced Leicester. Hard to tell in the photo, but there is a very subtle color difference between the rose and the pink, which will create a soft variation in color when spun. This is a really quite soft bluefaced leicester fleece. I can't wait to sample it.
Charcoal/Slate Blue Hog Island. This is one of those breeds that is critically endangered. It's an historic breed, and most of the sheep are now found at Gunston Hall in Fairfax, VA, Mount Vernon in Arlington, VA and Historic Williamsburg, VA. I came into contact with the owner of the largest private flock, and purchased some white and brown fleece (brown is still in process). Not a "soft" fiber, there is considerable variation in fleece characteristics between sheep because there has been no selective breeding done (like most rare and endangered sheep; not a bad thing at all because if one wants homogenation, one can purchase merino. This just makes them that much more interesting). I think this fiber will do well spun long draw quite quickly, with loose twist so that it blooms and stays as soft as possible.
A wonderful Border Leicester / Bluefaced Leicester X fleece dyed pale pink and deep orange (though this is not really a great description of this color, it sort of defies adequate description), that's been blended with natural brown. I like this cross, and this is fleece from a farmer with really nice fleeces.
A 50% Gotland / 25% Border Leicester / 25% Corriedale X fleece dyed pear green and gold. This is another cool fleece from a farmer who crossbreeds for handspinning purposes. It feels really, really soft in its roving form and has lovely sheen. Can't wait to try it out.
Ok, now to go work on pricing them up (if I can tear myself away from spinning them Right.Now.).
On another note, I finished my stained glass window last night! Yeah!
I love how it turned out; can't wait to get it up in the window opening. Now I get to start working on the next one ... which will be a window to fit in the half-circle window over our front door.
In the meantime, I've been spinning and knitting lots of little samples of all the different fibers I now have, trying to get caught up after not having done this for a while. It's been great fun, and interesting. These rare breed fibers really do vary from sheep to sheep, so it's always something new.
My favorites right now are still the ones that have long been my favorites ... the dark brown North Ronaldsey, which is really incredibly soft (ok, my favorites are all the North Ronaldsey colors), and the Manx Loaghtan. One surprise is the dark brown Jacob, which is really quite wonderful (my daughter didn't think it was soft enough, but for Jacob it is pretty darn soft, and an interesting tweed of dark brown and light gray and just, well, really cool.
Off to start pricing, and then packing and organizing for the Homespun Yarn Party this Sunday.
Sunday, March 01, 2009
The sun, with all those plants revolving around it and dependent upon it, can still ripen a bunch of grapes as if it had nothing else in the universe to do.
My Pi Shawl is (almost) finished. Just need to block it .... here are some progress photos anyway:
Although I thought I'd have way more than I needed, I ran out of yarn. Obviously not planned so well. So, instead of the knitted-on lace edging I was going to do (different from the one in EZ's pattern because I wasn't really crazy about that one), I did a crocheted edging, which doesn't show in any of the photos because it needs to be blocked.
I'm not in love with the way it ends. But for now, I'm leaving it because I want to wear it while it's still cold outside. Maybe this spring I'll rip back the last row of diamonds and knit a lace edging from there. Except two rows of diamonds doesn't thrill me, either (it lacks the symmetry from how the three rows are centered and balanced). So, we'll see.
But for now, I'm happy it's finished and wearable. And heavy and warm, just like I wanted it. This is a Serious Shawl, not a whispery lightweight one. Horse Girl is using it as a blanket right now (I hope I can get it back!)
This past Friday night we had dinner at The Inn at Little Washington. We've lived near this place for years and years and years (either as weekend visitors or full-timers). We've trick-or-treated there, and sung Christmas Carols there. But I never really thought we'd ever dine there. It's outrageously expensive.
Brett recently did a favor for one of his clients here in Rappahannock, and didn't charge him for it (it was a favor, after all). So, this wonderful client gave us a gift certificate for dinner at The Inn. Coupled with the special deal The Inn has for Rapp Co locals right now, it was now within our reach to go. Now I understand what all the hype is about; why it's got 5 Michelin Stars and has been voted the Best Restaurant in America. It's amazing.
Brett and I, with my brother Tom and and his wife Kristen. A fun party!
This is how our evening started off, with a personalized menu for each of us:
Each course was amazing in its artistry and taste. I won't post photos of everything ~ the oyster slurpies (awesome), the lobster and rabbit and lamb, the raw tuna (the most incredible I've ever tasted, anywhere, ever), everyone else's amazing desserts (although like I GEEK I did take photos of everything) ... but here is my dessert, which I just loved ~ A Painter's Palette of Sorbet:
We had wonderful wine with dinner (they have the hugest, most unbelievable wine list ~ literally hundreds and hundreds of different wines, and a sommelier who can describe each and every one, and 80,000 bottles on site!). All the people who work there are such professionals. We ended up being there over 3 hours, but it didn't feel that long at all. Nothing was rushed, every course was perfect, but at the same time we never felt abandoned either.
Anyway. It was a wonderful, unforgettable evening. Someday I'd like to go again! :-D
And, because I am such an ubelievable Dog Geek and luvvvvv my doggie ... some recent photos of Phoenix with his favorite toy (which I am constantly fishing out from under furniture for him):
Seriously, how can you look at that face and not want to get down on the floor and hug him? He's so darn cute I can never be mad at him for long (even though he still does plenty of Bad Puppy Things around here).
Now to decide: do I start a new project (of which there are many planned), or go finish one of the two UFO's that are in process right now ...