Saturday, October 23, 2010

Keeping Fiber in My Life

Cowl, "in the snood," in progress.
The urge to knit always seems to hit me in autumn, and this year has been no exception.  None have been large, complicated patterns, instead they are small, easily finished pieces.  I'm still busy staining my log home, and weather is about to turn against me.  I haven't had the time or energy for weaving, though I will be back at that soon.  As a way to keep fibers in my life, I turned to knitting pieces easily picked up and put down

The photo above is a cowl in progress, "in the snood,"  pp. 88-89 in "Cowlgirls."  It's an easy pattern, repeating six rows on size 9 needles.  It can be worn as a cowl, or pulled up over your head.  I'll be learning to knit I-Cord, a good excuse to pull the Elizabeth Zimmerman books off my shelves again.

Handspun wool, plied with a fine 2 ply wool.
I'm loving the idea of cowls since the older I get, the more I notice my neck seems cold!  I ran across this handspun I'd done awhile back, thinking I might try it in my sock machine some day when feeling brave.  Now, though, I'm hoping there will be enough yarn for a handspun, handknit cowl.  I have no idea how many yards there are here, or what size needles I'll need, so sampling is in order.

Handspun, handknit pillow, nearing completion.
Awhile back on this blog there was a photo of this pillow, still in progress but nearing completion.  This is knit with handspun, and was created in the moment, random blocks of garter and stockinette stitch.  I had seen a photo of a pillow closed with buttons, so I extended the back enough to fold over, and crocheted front and back together.  Handmade, "textured" pottery buttons were ordered from an artist in Austrailia.  The pillow definitely needs blocking, and I've been considering trying to felt it just a bit.  Then I will somehow add the buttons and hopefully have a pillow form this will fit.  Otherwise, I'll be making a muslin pillow for the inside.  I haven't yet been terribly successful in getting a photo to show the texture and blocks, but will try again when it is finished.

Winter hat, nearing completion.
I'll be spending more time outdoors this winter, hauling wood from the woodshed to the porch, for my woodburning range in the kitchen.  Naturally, I need a handknit hat to wear, and as my winter jacket is a chocolate brown, I picked up this slightly tweedy yarn and a basic hat pattern.  It's ready to take off the needles and make a yarn pom-pom or some kind of finish.

Handcarded wool rolags, ready to spin.
Occasionally during the evening, while watching a movie or program, I'll handcard more fleece that was washed this past summer.  I set these handcarded rolags high up on a shelf to keep the cats out of them, and have more on a shelf down in the weaving studio.  I am SO looking forward to spinning this up, but there is a lot more carding to do first.

Clearly, when the staining of my log home ends, because I am finished or forced to stop because of weather, I need to take a day or two and finish up these knitting projects.  There are at three sweaters, in various stages, awaiting my attention.  Good winter knitting!          

Monday, October 18, 2010

New Library Additions

As I wrote at the end of the prevous post, I'm feeling more than a little fiber deprived at this point, while working on staining my home.  After spending a good deal of each day outside working on the house, I'm tending to fall asleep the moment I sit down. 

I solved my need for a fiber fix by checking out KnitPicks most recent book sale and ordering a DVD and two knitting books, the better to enjoy the upcoming winter.

I love Rita Buchanan's "How I Spin" (2 DVD set), learned a number of new things from it, and being more than a little visual, appreciated the wool comb demonstration along with everything else on it.  They left me wanting MORE, much more, and I hope Rita and Interweave Press will bring us more of Rita and her work.

I've been noticing cowls in a couple of recent knitting magazines along with a free pattern courtesy of a Takhi ad that came to my Inbox.  My winter jacket has a short stand-up collar, which I like, but my neck is often cold, so when I saw the book "Cowlgirls," I had to order it.  There are several I hope to knit, and now need to look into specific yarns, though I'm thinking a couple of them in handspun would be especially nice.

The third book, "Norwegian Patterns for Knitting," was a must have due to my Norwegian heritage and memories of Mungnal, mother of one of my dad's cousins, who told me long ago that she had knit over 100 Norwegian sweaters.  How I wish she were here now to teach me.  This book is likely beyond my current knitting skills, but when the time is right, and the urge becomes an obsession, I'll try one of these beautiful sweaters.  Meanwhile, I can dream!

Necessary Time Off

My log home, last stained Summer 2007.
My log home was last washed and stained during Summer 2007.  Wind, rain, and snow take their toll on logs, and means temporarily settng fibers aside again, and taking care of my home, not only because it is needed, but in preparation of putting it up for sale in the spring.

Lakeside porch, time to clean out between boards.
 First, I needed to clean dust, seeds, pine needles, leaves out from between the porch boards, using a putty knife and whisk broom.  50 boards meant 48 spaces to clean out which took some time in September.  Yes, that is my wool washing area further down.

Before cleaning,...
Dirt, pollen, pine needles, leaves, and birdseed caught in the gaps between boards, and needing to be cleaned out before stain is applied.

and after cleaning!

A rental "lift" was used...  
to reach the second story areas, both because I refuse to go that high on a shaky ladder, and to save time.

                 Second story area newly stained.
I'm very thankful for the help of Lanny, husband of a friend Nancy, for his bringing the lift over and giving up nearly three days of his time off so we could stain the east, north, and west sides of my home.   Thank you, Lanny, you were a blessing!

Before & After
Prior to staining, every log was scrubbed, one at a time using a bucket, cleaner, and brush, then rinsed three times, then allowed to dry at least three days before staining began.  Above, the lower log cleaned, upper log freshly stained. 

On October 13, 2009,...

we had snow,...
hence the sense of urgency to get this big project finished, as I'm doing the rest of the house alone.  It is exhausting, and it seems I am either working on it or sleeping.  

At this point, I am feeling VERY FIBER DEPRIVED, so stay tuned, hopefully, it won't be too much longer and I'll be back in the weaving studio.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Lake Country Weavers

The Lake Country Weavers had their biennial Sale & Demonstration this past Saturday, October 2nd, held at the UCC Church in Eagle River, WI, during Cranberry Fest weekend.  I managed to snap some photos before the first shuttle bus arrived.  Members had their work for sale and various fiber arts were demonstrated.

Carol Stone, of Presque Isle, WI, weaving on a 4 shaft table loom.

Vicki Reuling, of Three Lakes, WI, demonstrating on a rigid heddle loom.

Navajo weaving demonstration.

Mary Jackl, of Phelps, WI, spent the day spinning.

The church pews were completely covered with Mary Jackl's rag rugs.

More of Mary Jackl's rag rugs.
Mary Jackl, What-a-View Farm, Phelps, WI, is a very productive rag rug weaver, having over 300 of her rugs for sale at her home studio/shop.  She also spins beautiful beaded yarns and makes felted hats.

Cassandra Nass preparing for a needle-felting demonstration.
Cassandra and Norm Nass, of Land O'Lakes, WI, raise angora goats.  Cassandra's specializes in spinning and needle-felting.  Her needle-felted sheep are very popular.

Ellie Lapp, of Land O'Lakes, WI, does beautiful rug-hooking.

Ellie brought a display of her work.

Janice Zindel, Shuttle Works Studio, at the 1908 Gearhart sock machine.

I was demo'ing the sock machine, but was so intent on getting photographs of the other guild members, I never got a photo of my setup.  This is a sock machine demo from last September.  A lot of people did enjoy watching the sock machine and asking questions.  It was a very enjoyable day!