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It’s so great to have another FO to blog about, and probably a shock to most of you that I’m posting so soon. Last post was knitting and now for spinning.

My wonderful friend Micki sent this lovely fiber to me as a “welcome to spinning” gift. I loved it when I saw it and loved it even more while I was spinning it.

hand dyed by: PigeonRoof Studios (etsy)
4.1 ounces corriedale
colorway: Dovecote

Spinning thin singles doesn’t seem to be a problem for me, so I did attempt to spin these singles a bit thicker, but staying consistent was more difficult than I thought it would be. Unfortunately there were some thin and thick spots throughout both bobbins of singles and I hoped plying would hide the flaws.

This is the first time I’ve spun yarn that when plied, gives a barberpole-like effect. If I would’ve known what I was doing, I probably could’ve split the fiber in a better way as to not have the same colored single occasionally end up plied together, but this is all a learning experience so it’s not like I’m disappointed. I think it looks pretty good for my fourth handspun skein of yarn.

After plying I checked the wpi (wraps per inch) and it was 18. After I washed, thwacked and hung the yarn to dry, it bloomed and ended up at 16 wpi.

2-ply sportweight
276 yards / 111 grams

Thus far, this is my favorite skein of handspun. I checked my Ravelry queue, and I think I’m going to make the Morning Surf Scarf featured in the current issue of Spin-Off magazine. I found another Raveler who knit the pattern in sport weight yarn casting on 26 sts with a size 3.25mm needle and only used 200 yards. I wonder if I cast on 36 sts if I’ll need more than the 276 yards that this skein has. Does anyone know how to calculate that or do I just jump right in and cross my fingers?

My latest yarn collecting came way by means of a contest. I don’t enter blog contests nearly as much as I used to, but this one caught my eye since it was for a skein of Wollemeise. I’ve repeatedly stalked The Loopy Ewe website during the “sneak-ups” to get my hands on some, but it’s all sold out by the time I get there. Thankfully Emma came to the rescue and put a skein of Wollmeise up as a prize for her blog contest and lucky me, I won.

yarn: Wollmeise Sockenwolle 80/20
colorway: Dani

There’s 574 yards in a 150 gm skein. Unbelievable! Thank you Emma for such a great prize

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Remember when Carole sent my that wonderful “welcome to spinning” package? Well, the welcome wagon has hit again and this time I received a package from Micki. I must confess I was half expecting to receive a package from her. She’d spun this beautiful pink, gold and white yarn and commented that she didn’t really like it. Of course I volunteered to take it off her hands and so she came up with a swap idea. If she sent me this yarn that she’d spun, then in the future I’d send her a skein of yarn I’d spun. It sounded like the perfect plan.

But when the package arrived, it was kind of fat. How could this only be one skein of yarn? Well, it wasn’t.

The first thing I found in the package was this beautiful fiber from Copperpot Woolies. It’s a fluffy and soft 4.2 ounces of merino and the colorway is called Beyond the Realm.

Merino Roving

Next came another stunning fiber from PigeonRoof Studios. It’s got amazing color variations and is 4.1 ounces of corriedale in a colorway called Dovecote.

Corriedale Roving

Last, and best of all, was Micki’s very own handspun, but this was not the handspun we’d agreed on for our swap. This handspun is made from fiber made at Crown Mountain Farms. This makes it especially precious because the Sock Hop Yarn from CMF is what started my interest in spinning. This is 360 yards of fingering weight 100% superwash merino (111 grams) in the colorway Good Vibrations.

Good Vibrations from Micki

Micki has only been spinning for about 6 months (if that) and this yarn is perfect. No, really it is. As soon as I can spin yarn that looks this good, then I’ll fulfill my end of the swap. Is a year or two too long? 😉

Good Vibrations from Micki

In knitting news, I actually have been knitting. Unfortunately, I’ve been sample knitting for designers so I’m unable to share any photos until the patterns are released.

The one thing I have been madly working on since returning from vacation is this beautiful stole designed by my friend Laura. I’m honored to once again be asked to test-knit it (or did I *tell* her I was test knitting it?), but it was until yesterday that I noticed this:

Dulcavina stole

When I put the two shawl ends together, one end of the shawl is much lighter in color than the other end. Obviously one skein of the Malabrigo got a lot more of the deep blue than the first skein I used. Drat. I’m not ripping back though. It’s going to be a design element.

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A few weeks ago, my wonderful friend Carole surprised me with a package of rovings and a sweet card welcoming me to the world of spinning. The roving I noticed immediately was this one:

Hand-Dyed Wool Roving

This is 100% Wool (label doesn’t say what kind of wool) from Knit One Spin Two. Although the natural BFL I showed in my last post was easy to spin, the bright green color of this roving could be seen clearly which makes it perfect for the beginning spinner. I know personally how much it helped me spin more consistent singles. I’ve only spun one bobbin of this and I think I may use it a practice to try Navajo Plying.

Bright Green Singles

Also included in the package was 4 ounces of this amazing merino/bamboo fiber hand dyed by Spunky Eclectic. The colorway is Walking on the Sun, and it’s even more beautiful in person. I haven’t spun it up yet, because I’m not sure how different spinning the bamboo fiber will be. I’d like to have a bit more practice with the BFL and Corriedale I have in my fiber stash so that I don’t waste a bit of this.

Merino / Bamboo fiber

Since the first day, I have been inspired by the stunning yarn that Micki has been spinning on her Lendrum wheel. She has been enabling helping me by making recommendations of where I can purchase beautiful rovings to spin. Within the matter of a few days, my doorstep was no longer being graced with packages filled with yarn, but with packages of rovings from Paradise Fibers, Wolly Treasures, and Crown Mountain Farms. I’ve already started spinning the fiber from Paradise Fibers, which is 4 ounces of this beautiful Ashland Bay merino top in the Forest colorway.

Merino Top fiber

Photos of the other rovings will be shared as I spin them, but for those of you who don’t want to wait, check out my Flickr Spinning Set.

I know it’s hard to tell, but lately there has been more knitting going on around here than spinning. The problem is, I can’t show you everything I’ve been knitting. The only project I can show you is the beautiful blue blob which is another test-knit for my friend Laura. The project doesn’t have a name quite yet, and there will be two other knitters joining in, but since I was waiting for my sample knit pattern to arrive, I cast on and knit this as quick as I could. I’m only halfway through the stole, not including the border, but I have to stop now and work on the sample knits so it will look like this for a few weeks I’m afraid. By the way, this is Malabrigo Lace yarn in Taureg, and it’s every bit as soft as the Malabrigo worsted in my stash. Do you know how tempting it is to knit lace undergarments in this?
(No Name)
The knitting items I can’t show you are my sample knits. I met the designer at TNNA and told her I’d be thrilled to test or sample knit for her and after some email correspondence that followed, she agreed to send me a sample to knit as a trial to see how well we worked together and more obviously how well I could or couldn’t knit. When she received the first sample knit she said she loved it and asked if I could do two more for her this month. I feel so flattered and lucky to have this opportunity, and it has given my “cute knitting hobby” some credibility with family and friends since now I’m being paid to sample knit. Unfortunately for you, there will be no photos until the designs have been released.

So currently I have two sock samples due by the end of this month and I’m trying to get them both finished before next Friday when I leave on vacation for 10 days. I’ve also made it to the next round of Sock Madness and the next round starts tonight. In fact the email with the pattern should be arriving in my inbox at anytime. Oh crap, that reminds me, I’ve got to go wind those skeins of yarn which might take a minute or two or twenty since this round is a pair of socks in laceweight yarn in two different colorways. Yikes! Don’t even get me started on how much house cleaning, vacation preparation, emails, and voice mails that are being neglected. Aren’t you surprised I found time to squeeze in another blog post so soon? I’m still in my pajamas though if that gives you any clue as to what got skipped today so that a blog post could be written. You’re all worth it.

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There’s so much to share with you regarding Stitches West, but I’m going to break it up into several posts so I don’t overload your systems with photos.

We left the house Thursday morning and drove from Southern California to Northern California. We were lucky enough to be staying at the Santa Clara Hyatt Regency hotel which is attached to the Santa Clara Convention Center where the Stitches classes and shopping are. The hotel is very nice as are the rooms, but it seems like they tried to make everything a little bit contemporary which made for poor room functionality.

Hyatt Hotel Room

The bathroom had a wonderful shower curtain rod that bowed out so that you felt like you had more space in the shower, but the sink in the bathroom had the faucet mounted to the left of the sink which turned out to be very awkward to use.

Hyatt Regency bathroom

After getting settled into our room, I went to the hotel lobby to meet up with a Laura and a few friends from the Anaheim Hills Knit Night on Mondays, so that we could attend the Ravelry meet-up together. Actually if it weren’t for Ravelry, there would not be a Monday knit night with these incredible women. It was interesting to see so many Ravelry users in one room, and I loved finally seeing Jess and Casey in person (from obviously a distance).

Jess & Casey

The only downside to the event was the cash bar. Obviously nobody told catering that knitters do indeed drink, and so there was only one small bar with one bartender. There was a continuous line for that bar for at least an hour. I felt so sorry for the bartender. After the Ravelry meet-up I met my husband at the hotel sushi bar for a bite to eat to fortify myself for the 3 hour shopping spree I was about to participate in. The area was crowded, understaffed, and slow as mud, but luckily the sushi was quite good. We finished dinner just in time to race to the market area to meet up with friends.

Most everyone was stopping at the Raverly booth first to pick up their Passports (more detail on that in a future post), but hubby went there for me as I raced to the Blue Moon fiber Arts booth. I grabbed a lot of skeins of lightweight sock yarn as I made my way through the mass of knitters in the booth. Since the purchase line was really long hubby waited in line for me while I figured out what I wanted. I think there were 7 skeins of yarn in my hands when I met up with him, but when I saw there will Mill Ends for about $7 less a skein than the regular skeins, I dumped most of the yarn I had and grabbed 3 skeins of it. I handed hubby enough money to make the purchase for me, and then told him I’d meet him at the next booth. Do I have the perfect husband or what?

Socks That Rock (Stitches West)

I ended up with 3 skeins of Socks That Rock Mill Ends (1 skein of lightweight and 2 skeins of mediumweight), and 1 skein of Socks That Rock Silkie in Valkyrie. I just noticed yesterday that the Blue Moon logo is backwards on the labels and there are no colorways written on them so who knows what they are. I guess I’ll just call them gorgeous!

Next, I was off to Purlescence Yarns to purchase the Tulip Baby Cardigan kit. It was a bit more money than I’d normally spend on a baby cardigan, but I believe I’ll be using the pattern over and over again since there never seems to be a shortage of women having babies.

Tulip Baby Cardigan Kit

My final purchase for the evening was at Chameleon Colorworks for a skein of her beautiful Bambino yarn. I first saw her hand-dyed yarn at TNNA and instantly fell in love with the Twinkle Toes, Bambino and Evolution yarns. The Loopy Ewe just added the Bambino and Evolution yarns to her store today, so I suggest you get over there and pick some up. Believe me, you won’t regret it.

Bambino (Briar Rose)

The market was open for 3 hours, but frankly after only getting 3 1/2 hours of sleep the night before, I was too exhausted to continue on and wanted to rest up for my class with Cat Bordhi. I think I fell asleep the moment my head hit the pillow.

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My Ten

I would like to share with you the beautiful knitting project I completed Saturday morning, but I can’t. My grandkids spent the weekend with us and now today DH and I are both sick. The little one’s snotty nose looked innocent enough, but obviously he got the minor runny nose and gave us the rest of it … sore throat, headache, body aches, etc. So instead of a FO, I’m sharing with you my Garden Party Shawl “blob”.

Garden Party

I’m sure most of you have seen this award floating around blog-land, but the most amazing thing has happened. I not only received the “You Make My Day” award, but I received it four times. I’m floating on cloud 9 so I won’t be back for awhile.

You Make My Day

My first award came from Hasbu at Hasbu’s Hideaway. Not only does she take the time to write her posts in both Finnish and English, but her beautiful handknits seem to fly off her needles.

The next award came from Judy at Persistent Illusion. Everything Judy knits is amazing, and I tend to need to hide my credit card when I see her latest “yarn collecting” endeavors, but I especially love that she invented my favorite cast-on (Judy’s Magic Cast-On) and I find it quite interesting that she’s from my hometown.

The third award came from Micki at A Thing For String. She has always enchanted me with her knitting, but just recently she started spinning and you’d never know she was a beginner. It looks better than some professional yarns I’ve purchased.

My most recent award came from Angelika at Knit Wiz. Although she teases me with her secret knitting projects for KnitPicks, I still love to hear about her adventures in knitting, motherhood, and admire her for being a military wife.

All of these women definitely make my day, and so I’m flattered to know that I make theirs too! Thank you. The official rules of this award are: Give the award to 10 people whose blogs bring you happiness and inspiration and make you feel happy about blogland. Let them know by posting a comment on their blog so they can pass it on. Beware you may get the award several times.

Since I received 4 awards, that means I get to choose 40 blogs .. right? No? There are most definitely more than 10 blogs that make my day, so I’m using a random number generator. Pathetic? Well if you all weren’t so wonderful, this wouldn’t be so difficult.

In no particular order:

The A.D.D. Knitter Her knitting is fantastic, but I love her wit. I rarely read a post without giggling or smiling.

Pats Knitting & Quilting Socks, shawls, hats, gloves, sweaters, etc. She knits it all and makes it look so beautifully easy.

ByFlutter She is a beautiful writer who inspires me to continue to better myself.

Tiennie Knits Just seeing her completed knitting makes me want to be a better knitter (and photographer).

Sknitty She has been my saving grace for dealing with FMS, but she also knits such beautiful things for herself, that it inspires me to do the same.

Musings of a (mostly) Self-Taught Knitter She writes some of the most clever posts I’ve ever seen in blog-land.

Fiber Dreams A talented designer, beautiful knitter, and a true friend. Just knowing her makes my world a better place.

Carole Knits She shares herself, her knitting, and her family so openly, that I almost feel like she’s a long-distance friend.

Knit/Wit There’s a lot I like about her blog, but I especially appreciate that she specifically shares what she does and doesn’t like about the yarn and patterns she knits.

Yarn It – I’m inspired by her knitting, and amazed at how she ever finds the time to knit, blog, raise 4 kids, and go back to school for her nursing degree.

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Designer spotlight

This was going to be a post about my adventures at TNNA in Long Beach, but it makes no sense telling you what I saw at this tradeshow, without first explaining why I was there. For those of you who are unfamiliar with TNNA, it is the National NeedleArts Association which is a trade association for professionals in knitting, needlework, and stitching. Each year they have two trade shows for members and it is huge! For our purposes, I’ll only discuss the knitting side of things. If you are a yarn store owner, a TNNA tradeshow is the perfect venue to go check out what’s new in the industry, place orders with vendors, meet designers, etc.

So lets get back to why I was there. My dear friend Laura is a very talented designer and a member of TNNA. She graciously asked me to attend with her so she could meet with yarn companies, show them her patterns, and hopefully gather enough interest from them to possibly design some patterns in their yarn. It’s really a win/win situation.
One of the items I was wearing on the 2nd day we attended was a pair of socks that she designed that I failed to post about when I finished them in November. I’m going to remedy that problem right now because this is a pattern I definitely would like to show off!
Pattern: Candy Wrappers by Laura Patterson of Fiber Dreams

Yarn: Socks that Rock Lightweight in Rose Quartz
Needles: 24″ circular 2.25 mm (US 1) and 2.5 mm (US 1.5)

Modifications: I cast on with the 2.25 mm needles to work the ribbing and then switched to the 2.5 mm needles to knit the rest of the sock. I didn’t do this because of any problem wit
h the pattern, but because I was too lazy to swatch & realized when I completed the ribbing that I better go up a bit in needle size if these were going to fit.
I also added an extra 1/2 repeat of the pattern on the leg because I’m somewhat strange and always like my socks a bit longer than any pattern I’ve ever knit. It seemed like a good idea at the time until I figured out that I had to shift my stitches on the needles to work the heel flap in the pattern stitch. It took some math skills on my part to make it work, but I think I executed it fine.
Notes: The cabling technique in this pattern is beautiful and very unique and something I’ve never ran across before. I was unable to figure out how to do it without a cable needle, but when I knit this pattern again, my goal is to figure it out. That is, unless someone does it for me first, which would be wonderful.

I don’t recall ever knitting this type of toe decrease before, especially since I usually knit all my socks toe-up, but it’s so pretty I felt it needed its own close-up. At TNNA I got compliments left and right every time someone saw these. In fact, the VP of Brown Sheep Company was practically gushing over them and said if they weren’t on my feet she’d steal them. The glint in her eye at one point led me to believe that she may indeed be serious.

As can be the case with some patterns, you have to be careful as to what yarn type and colorway you choose, so that the stitch pattern doesn’t get “lost”. I think this skein of Socks That Rock showed off the pattern very well, and I was very lucky to win this skein in a blog contest awhile ago from Tiennie Knits.
The pattern is written top-down (cuff to toe), on dpn’s, but I found it extremely easy to modify it for two circular needles. Dare I say that it would be just as easy using the Magic Loop?
Now if this fabulous sock isn’t enough of a designer spotlight, I’ll tease you a bit here by showing you her current design that I’m test-knitting. It’s called the Garden Party Shawl, and with all the beautiful flower and leaf motifs, I can definitely see why. Some of you may remember her last design, Pacific Islands, which can be knit into a shawl or a scarf. It got quite a bit of attention when Wendy Johnson (Wendy Knits) test-knit it for Laura, and the pattern went flying out of Laura’s online store. I suspect the Garden Party Shawl will too … once it’s available.

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I’m actually leaving it up to Laura to write about our driving adventures to see the Yarn Harlot on Saturday, but I’ll give you the quickie-version.

I live approximately 30 miles south of Los Angeles and for those of you who’ve been to California before, I only live about 8 miles north of Disneyland. I now understand why I live closer to the latter … it’s easier to get there!

Not only did we run into some unexpected traffic (although with Los Angeles, why was I thinking there *wouldn’t* be traffic?), but we also thought we had missed our exit, and tried to create our own route which led to its own adventures through Chinatown and such. Luckily, the Yarn Gods must have been smiling on us, because we eventually ended up in a parking garage that we thought might be *close* to our destination and as we exited the garage, you’ll never believe what was directly across the street from us … the Los Angeles Central Public Library. The exact location we were looking for. Now, I won’t bore you with the details of trying to go home, but let me just say… never a dull moment.

As anyone who has ever written a blog post has stated, attending a Yarn Harlot event is definitely worth the drive, the time, the babysitting expense, whatever. Yes, her books are funny, but listening to her speak made me think I was at the Improv watching a stand-up comedy routine. People around me had tears streaming down there face because they were laughing so hard! The only thing missing were the hot looking waiters serving drinks!

I met a lot of wonderful knitters and it was also real treat to finally get to meet Jillian who not only frequently leaves me some very nice comments here at my little ol’ blog, but has been a huge help and support in helping me cope and understand fibromyalgia.

I must definitely give a HUGE thanks to Lynda, who let Laura & I join her group so we could get in to see the Yarn Harlot on Saturday. I was on the first page of the waiting list, but when Lynda offered her few extra tickets to join her group, I jumped at the chance. If you want to read and see all the wonderful photos of the Harlots visit to Los Angeles, the Lynda has a wonderful blog post about it. She even has a photo of me (YIKES)

And where is the photo of me with the Harlot? Hmmmm…. I was so damn excited just to meet her and have her sign my books, that I completely forgot. I’d blame it on blond roots, except at my age, they are gray now. And the most pathetic thing? The camera was hanging from my wrist! I got photos of Laura with her, but none of me. I did however, remember to take a photo of my California State dishcloth that I made for her, and she photographed me with it, which you can see on her blog post.

So what’s it like to be on the Yarn Harlot’s blog? Absolutely Surreal!!

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