I have spent so much time in the last four months just working on house. Climbing ladders, trimming trees, scraping, painting, climbing chairs, neck craned to paint ceilings, on my hands and knees scrubbing floors, baseboards, putting in tile, rolling out carpets, I found it quite difficult to squeeze in exercise or art. The exercise part was covered by 12 hour days and exhausted falling into bed, waking only to begin again. And when all of that was done, packing what was left after my daughter left, and then unpacking in my new single room abode. How simple this room is. I look around and it is like the inside of me, in a very materialistic way, my favorite drawings, only my favorite books, my favorite elephants, my favorite photos done by my childhood neighbor, the counted cross stitch tigers. Hanging here on the doorknob is the Navajo sheep wool, a rough textured cream and soft oily grey, that I spun and plied after my trip to Arizona three years ago. It is greasy with lanolin as I wrap it over my feet, holding my legs out when my feet start to hurt from resting them on the edge of the tall bed with storage drawers underneath. Next the first roving I ever bought with my Mom, a mixture of bamboo, silk and lambs wool, green like spring trees mixed with wool I bought from a lovely woman I met at a craft show, the wool of the Finnsheep, so soft and so lovely. I prepare myself for tangles, it sat too long on the niddy noddy and then too long on the back of a chair, then too long on a towel hook in the bathroom after I washed it. But my method for winding wool alone works beautifully and with care and attention it is soon wound into a fat ball. I contemplate some hippy poncho, or a throw blanket with squares of my hand spun wools. When I am done I spin a fiber bought at a flintknapping festival this summer, where I met a woman with Firefly Farm, the wool is a lovely pygora and cornedale mix. A similar green, but a totally different feel. And when I have wound that last of it onto the spool, I dig out the fine black alpaca I bought last winter from a woman I work with.
I play it off like I haven’t been creative at all, but I have been. I have been knitting like crazy for the last two months. I almost made a whole sweater before I tore it all out and am going to start again. I have made socks, mittens, and a hat. Today my knitting pal and I went to visit my co-worker’s alpaca farm. It was delightful to see the animals, which are stunningly gorgeous with their giant liquid eyes, long eyelashes and thick soft wool. We loved the Peruvian made articles of clothing that she had for sale in her shop. She told us that the business they have done with them has greatly improved the cost of living for the whole village, that just rocks! But in the end it was the yarn for both of us and the roving for me that drew me in. She chose a marbled dark and light grey yarn, and I chose a gorgeous, luxuriously soft black yarn for new mittens for me. Both of my mittens are worn enough to have big holes in them, and I realized today that my green mittens are probably 5 years old! The purple ones less so, but they are not my favorites, they have never fit quite right. I also bought a small bag of black roving also so soft it is indescribable. It was a good day for the long drive and we both came away happy with our little purchases.
I love knitting color patterns into socks. I use these lovely size 3 bamboo needles from the Clover company. The variegated yarn is from Hot Socks Sockenwolle, and the other yarn, I have no idea but it is good quality yarn store sock yarn. I used a pattern book from Philosopher’s Wool to create some of the patterns but the checkerboard pattern is one I love to incorporate into my designs, whether they are are wool or if it is just printed fabric in my animals. I personally cannot stand “check” designs in clothing but love to see it added to a pattern. I just discovered a remaining ball of green that I though I had had when making these socks, but couldn’t find. It was of course right on top of the other yarns in the sock yarn drawer. Alas the socks are happy being purple with that accent of yellow, white and the variegated. I have another pair of these socks and they are warm and comfy. One thing I do with all of my wool socks is double knit the toe. I do this by knitting two yarns at the same time, knitting alternating stitches which carries the yarn between each stitch thus creating a smooth inner surface and this striped outer pattern. I knit it for one inch before beginning my decreases which makes for a good long toe surface. I think it looks pretty, but in the end, in snow country it is all about the warmth.
I discovered a new store yesterday, Holiday Yarns. I was at a quilt store here in town and the woman gave me a card for a new store in one of the disintegrating malls. I went in yesterday and have discovered a new treasure, she sells hand dyed yarns, socks, bats, looms, spinning wheels and sheep oriented buttons, pins etc.. I bought a small ball of alpaca rovings just to try it out. I also purchased four oz. of what she calls “Build a Bat”. For 6$ an ounce you pick out fibers of your choice with wool as the main fiber, and while you are shopping she cards it on a drum carder and gives you your bat of mixed fibers. I picked some gorgeous undyed soy silk and some banana fibers to mix in. I now have two gorgeous soft luxiourious bats of moss green rovings. I spun off all of my hot pink rovings just so I could try out my green, oh it is so lovely to work with.
So I have been dutifully working to knit off many projects from needles. I had run out of needles onto which to add new projects so I vowed to no longer start any projects until I had finished EVERYTHING I had started. Ha. Ha. Ha. Since then I had to rip off a purse from one set of needles to knit a sweater for Olive (see previous post) I started a skirt after ripping out a cotton silk blend in a lovely purple that was the most awful sweater ever, looked HORRENDOUS on me. I also started a pair of green, teal, blue and yellow wool socks. But today I finished a wool vest for Morgan and now have exactly four more rows to knit on a linen sweater I started three (or was it four?) years ago. But then I had to go to a yarn store with my Mom and had to buy yarn to knit an afghan for a coworker who is getting married, and yarn to make a 2 baby sweaters to sell at the Plowshares Festival next year. Oh and did I mention the afghan book and the baby sweater books I had to purchase because I cannot make up my own patterns without a baby to measure and I am afghan clueless. Sweaters for the daughter or me, a hat, socks, mittens, fingerless gloves yes. Baby sweaters and afghans not so much. But after this no holds barred. I came home and immediately started knitting. I have a baby sweater to finish and a bag I will never finish and that purse to stick back on the needles and finish. Then afghan and baby sweaters here I come. Oh I cannot wait. Did I mention that my hemp satchel is full of yarn oh over flowing, and my little settee, and the cupboard and the shelves and the little mini cart. Oh forget it. I LOVE YARN!!!!!
I love the smell of my rovings, that particular sheep smell. When I spin with it and later as I knit with it. I breathe in through my nose and the smell is like fresh baked bread in that it is almost intoxicating. I try knitting a sweater for a stuffed animal with my first attempt at drop spindle, then the thinner more springy second attempt. I look at my first attempt on the spinning wheel, Bad Acid, and am doubtful anyone would buy anything made of such ugly yarn. I am spinning the Raspberry Sherbert, its twist more regular and less springy, the weight more regular. I can go for quite some time now without having to rethread it. There is a deep satisfaction in making my own yarn.
Oh the possibilities, evening bags, fronds of deep sea plants swaying in the tides, glittering faerie hair, the list goes on. I really wanted to make cute little evening bags out of it, but I also see that much can be done with the little scraps. I think my Mom the art quilter extraordinaire and my Connie crazy quilting queen might see the possibilities too. I think I will have to share.