Thursday, November 29, 2007

Lime & Violet!

We received some exciting news this week when we returned from our post-Thanksgiving trip to Crystal Cove - we were selected as an Etsy Site of the Day (ESotD) by Lime & Violet!! Click here to read their very nice write-up about us.

Lime & Violet featured shop

Many thanks to the good people at Lime & Violet for selecting us as an ESotD!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Escape to Crystal Cove

We had the best post-Thanksgiving trip ever this year. On Sunday after Thanksgiving, we packed up and headed down to Crystal Cove (a whopping 15 minute drive) for a two-day respite before diving back into our dissertations. Our cottage was just steps from the sand and had a spectacular northerly view up the coast. I thoroughly enjoyed sitting on the front porch with my knitting and watching the sandpipers flirting with the surf!

Crystal Cove Sunset

And best of all, my sweetie proposed during sunset of our last night there! Though I was completely surprised, I did manage to squeak out a "yes".

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Fun with Dye and Yarn

I've been having loads of fun playing with dye and one of my favorite yarns, corriedale thick-n-thin. I love this yarn because of its softness and loft, and also because it felts well. My latest colorways are Cornflower, Caribbean and Charcoal.

Corriedale Wool

Corriedale Wool

I recently put up a free pattern for an Asymmetrical Neck Cozy that uses one skein of the corriedale thick-n-thin in Periwinkle. I really like how warm the cozy keeps my neck without adding bulk to my jacket.

Asymmetrical Neck Cozy

I am also using some extra skeins of this yarn (plus one skein of my handspun) for Elizabeth Zimmermann's Adult Surprise Jacket. Her genius is evident from the very beginning of the pattern, though at first it is difficult to understand how the knitted amoeba is going to morph into a sweater. I am really excited about the day that I can cuddle up with this jacket against southern California's winter coastal chill.

EZ Adult Surprise Jacket

My corriedale thick-n-thin yarns are available in four colorways (Periwinkle, Cornflower, Caribbean and Charcoal) online through La Petite Knitterie.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Knitting Scouts: Fibonacci Handspun Sweater Vest

I have been eagerly awaiting the day that I could make this entry about my finished Fibonacci Handspun Sweater Vest. I have been working on this project since about March of this year. Originally I thought I would have it finished by mid-June, but life (and my dissertation research) happened, and June turned into November.

Fibonacci Handspun Sweater Vest

Fibonacci Handspun Sweater Vest

Fibonacci Handspun Sweater Vest

Not only does today mark the end of Fibonacci Handspun Sweater Vest knitting, but it also marks my earning a knitting scout badge. I am a devoted listener to Brenda Dayne's Cast On podcast. Her most recent series revolved around the theme of knitting scouts. As part of this series, Brenda made available numerous badges that listeners earn by tackling various knitting feats. A few weeks ago, my friend Emily was looking through the badges and came across one that she felt represented my vest project: The "I Will Crush You With My Math Prowess" badge. Recipients of this badge have "applied the principles of higher mathematics to knitting including, but not limited to hyperbolic planes, Fibonacci sequences, Klein bottles, Moebius strips, fractals and Flying Spaghetti Monster hats."

I Will Crush You With My Math Prowess

Here are some details about the vest project:

I adapted Amy Pryor's Dk Cardigan with Handspun pattern (available at La Petite Knitterie) to make this vest. I did knit sleeves, but because of a row gauge calculation error on my part, the sleeves did not fit the arm holes. Rather than rip out several hundred yards of handspun yarn and reknit the sleeves correctly, I decided that a vest was in my future.

The striping is based on the Fibonacci sequence with stripes ranging from 1 to 13 rows. I scrambled up the sequence a bit, so that the stripes appear to be random.

I spun all of the yarns in this vest from various fiber blends, including:

* Baby camel/merino
* Baby camel/tussah silk
* Baby Camel
* Cashmere
* Alpaca/red kid mohair
* Kid mohair/merino
* Shetland/alpaca/silk
* Bluefaced leicester
* Merino/bombyx silk/angora

The buttons on this vest were made for me by my sweetie from a walnut branch that I cut from my grandparent's garden this spring.

Fibonacci Handspun Sweater Vest

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

SoCal Handweavers Guild Weaving and Fiber Festival

My friend, Emily, and I ventured to Torrance on Sunday for the annual Southern California Handweavers' Guild Weaving and Fiber Festival (WeFF). We arrived a bit early and were the second and third people in line when the show opened at 10:00! We really enjoyed looking around at all of the yummy yarns, spinning fibers, drop spindles, books, etc. One of my favorite exhibits featured the art of Vincent Van Gogh translated into spinning, knitting, and weaving. A woven wrap inspired by Van Gogh's "haystacks" was just lovely. Notice how the proportions of color match those in the painting. (Note: I apologize for the poor quality of these photos - I didn't bring my "real" camera, and so had to use my camera phone.)

Van Gogh

Another of my favorites was a woven pillow inspired by Van Gogh's "irises". Just wonderful!

Van Gogh

Emily and I exercised astronomical levels of self-restraint and managed to stay at the show for four hours and only purchase one item (A book: "Dyeing Wool and Other Protein Fibers: An Introduction to Acid Dyes" by Susan Rex). I am certain that I heard the yarns in my stash let out a collective sigh of relief when I arrived home with no new neighbors for them. You see, they are already experiencing some of the negative effects of crowding, and do not appreciate the lack of breathing room!

This fiber festival also marked the debut of Blarney Yarn niddy noddies. A friend of ours, Lori Lawson of Capistrano Fiber Arts Studio, featured our niddy noddies in her booth at the show. Our niddy noddies are handturned from hardwoods, including walnut, oak, maple, cherry and mahogany, without using automated means of reproduction. The arms are made out of maple. Each one is unique. We are really excited about the reception that they received!

Niddy Noddy

Niddy Noddy

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Ravelry! I got in!

This is just a quick post to let you know that yesterday I finally made it to the top of the wait list for beta testers on I was so excited to see the invitation in my email inbox, and naturally, I immediately began to set up my notebook and organize my needle stash in their handy chart.

If you are lucky enough to already be a Raveler, you can find me in the people search under blarneyyarn. If you are still waiting, or haven't yet signed up, I think that the needle/hook organizer alone is worth the wait. I found a couple of circular needles that I had long ago forgotten!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Merino/Silk/Angora Roving and Handspun Coasters

It is been a busy couple of weeks around the Blarney Yarn household. We celebrated my birthday just over two weeks ago. I had a really great day! This was due, in part, to the thoughfulness of my sweetie. He took me to dinner and made me a cake (yellow cake with milk chocolate and dark chololate frosting!). He also gave me some wonderful fiber-related gifts, including one set of ebony Lantern Moon size 1 sock needles, an ebony Lantern Moon size 5, 24 inch circular needle, and "Luxury Knitting, The Ultimate Guide to Exquisite Yarns: Cashmere, Merino, Silk" by Linda Morse of String Yarns.

During the early part of October, a friend of mine from Washington, D.C. came to town for a few days during which she defended her dissertation. She passed with flying colors, and is now a Ph.D.! Her birthday is also in October, and I wanted to make her something using my handspun yarns. She works in an office with cubicles, and I thought it might be nice is she had some color to brighten her days. I decided to make two coasters, one using knitting and a fair isle pattern from "Beautiful Knitting Patterns" by Gisela Klopper, and one using a crocheted granny square pattern. The resulting coasters are pictured below. I will be sending these off to her this week.

Handspun Coasters

Last week, I played around with dyeing some of my favorite fibers, including a delicious blend of 50% superfine merino / 30% bombyx silk / 20% angora. When you look at this fiber in the sunlight the silk sparkles like little diamonds. The merino gives loft to the spun yarn, and the angora gives your knitted or crocheted object a gentle halo. I dyed the fiber in my "Marbled Blush and Burgundy" colorway, which includes shades of red and brown. I left sections of the rovings undyed, which I feel results in handspun yarn that is gentle, yet sophisticated. These rovings are available online exclusively at La Petite Knitterie.

Marbled Blush and Burgandy Merino/Silk/Angora Roving

In other news, I am almost to the front of the line to be a beta-tester on (only 100 people in front of me now)! I might even receive my invitation today! I am really excited to join this community of knitters and crocheters around the world.

Friday, October 12, 2007

An introduction

As the title of this blog suggests, I am a dyer, spinner, and knitter. From time to time, I am also a crocheter. I like to work on multiple knitting and crochet projects at the same time to ensure that I always have simple projects that are portable, and more complicated projects that are best kept at home.

Earlier this year, La Petite Knitterie started to carry my handspun yarns. I am thrilled to have the opportunity share my creations with other fiber enthusiasts. Here is a taste of some of my handspun yarns:

A plethora of handspun yarns

Another dose of handspun yarns

More handspun yarns

When I am not spinning yarn, I can often be found tending to a dyepot. I use many different dyeing methods including handpainting and kettle dyeing. Last weekend, I kettle dyed these bluefaced leicester rovings in beautiful shades of apricot, orchid, lavender, and blue-green. If you like what you see, check out our Etsy shop.

BFL - Random Watercolors I

BFL - Random Watercolors II

BFL - Random Watercolors III

I am currently knitting a handspun vest (pattern by Amy Pryor), three pairs of socks (using my handdyed yarns), and a handspun hat (pattern by Lynne Vogel).

Hanspun vest

For the handspun vest, I decided to use a scrambled Fibonacci sequence to determine the number of rows per color. The handspun in this sweater includes many different natural color and dyed fibers, including bluefaced leicester, shetland, alpaca, kid mohair, angora, tussah silk, bombyx silk, and baby camel. Some of the dyed fibers in this sweater I purchased as rovings from Lori Lawson of Capistrano Fiber Arts Studio, and some of the rovings I dyed myself. I am really happy with the results, though I am not looking forward to weaving in all of the ends (I estimate there are about 200!). This project started as a sweater, and actually there are matching sleeves in my project bag, but a miscalculation of the row gauge has necessitated the conversion of the sweater to a vest. I just couldn't muster the courage to rip out the beautiful sleeves. And this is saying something, because I enjoy frogging projects that aren't working out properly for one reason or another. I am still thinking about what to do with the sleeves (they are truly breathtaking). Stay tuned for updates.

Emperor purple brocade sock

I am so excited about this sock for a couple of reasons. 1) I love the yarn. I dyed this superwash bluefaced leicester sock yarn using the hot pour method with dye colors ranging from orchid pink to dark purple. I am still pleasantly surprised with the results. 2) I love the way that the brocade stitch pattern is easy to work, and provides a subtle bumpy texture on the top of the sock. I can't wait to sport these with my Doc Martens around town. Also, this pattern with eventually be available in our Etsy shop.

Pumpkin spice fir cone sock

I am knitting this sock out of a very soft and buttery superfine alpaca yarn that I dyed in "Pumpkin Spice". The yarn is subtley variegated, which adds depth to the fir cone pattern. I have already started the second sock, and am hoping to finish them before I journey to Washington state to visit my family over the holidays. I know I will appreciate the warm goodness of alpaca on my perpetually cold feet! I am in the process of writing the pattern for this sock. It will soon be available in our Etsy shop.

Self-striping sock

This sock is the result of my first experiment with dyeing self-stiping yarn. After I read about dyeing self-striping sock yarns in Spin-Off magazine last year, my sweetie made me a warping board that is easily adjustable for me to try the process. And the best part is that I only used food coloring to dye the superwash merino yarn.

Handspun entrelac hat

In January of this year, I took an entrelac workshop from Lynne Vogel at La Petite Knitterie. It was a really great day filled with knitting and laughter. I picked up this pattern from Lynne, and am really glad that I did. I love entrelac! Anyway, I am using my handspun yarns for this hat. All of the yarns are natural colors of fibers including cashmere, bombyx silk, baby camel, tussah silk, angora, and merino.

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Welcome to our blog!

We are in the process of compiling our most recent knitting and spinning projects in photographs now, but we expect that this well be up and running by Halloween 2007. Check back for updates!