Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fall Projects

I have been working on a few different projects this fall, including a crocheted baby blanket, a handwoven scarf, and a set of handwoven towels.

Crocheted Granny Square Baby Blanket

Crocheted Granny Square Baby Blanket

I used some of my handpainted superwash merino/bamboo/nylon blend fingering weight sock yarn for the baby blanket. This yarn is really soft and squishy, and will be perfect for a newborn baby to cuddle up in. My friend Lori (Capistrano Fiber Arts Studio) designed this pattern.

Handwoven Silk Pinwheel Scarf

Handwoven Silk Pinwheel Scarf

The pinwheel scarf was made using a pinwheel twill draft on my 8-shaft Ashford table loom. The yarns are both 20/2 spun silk. The pink yarn is one that I handdyed, and the white yarn is the natural color of the bombyx silk. I was inspired to weave this after reading this article on Weavezine.

Handwoven Waffle-Weave Towels

Handwoven Waffle-Weave Towels

This was my first time weaving with cotton, and also my first time weaving towels. I really like the idea of waffle-weave, and decided to try it out after reading an article in the September/October 2009 issue of Handwoven Magazine. The yarns are all 8/2 unmercerized cotton purchased from Lunatic Fringe Yarns.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Summer Fiber Fun

I have been away from my blog for most of the summer, but fortunately, now I am back in the blog groove and ready to fill you in on some of my summer fiber adventures.

I am very fortunate to be able to share a brief video interview conducted at Black Sheep Gathering by my spinning friend Jeri and her husband, Eduard. This was the first time that I had ever been interviewed on camera about fiber, and I must say that Jeri and Eduard put me at ease. Thanks so much Jeri and Eduard!

At the end of July I became a weaver. I purchased a gently used 24 inch Ashford 8 shaft table loom. I warped the loom the very first day, and I haven't stopped since. So far, I am pretty obsessed with twill. I just think that twill is such a beautiful fabric!

My first project - a sampler scarf made with handdyed mohair/wool yarn:
First weaving project - a sampler of twills

Plain weave scarf made with handdyed merino wool yarn:
Second weaving project - merino scarf

Huck lace scarf made with superwash bluefaced leicester sock yarn. Warp is undyed, weft is handpainted:
Third weaving project - huck lace scarf

In August, my friend, Lori , gave me some undyed and handpainted 2P bombyx silk cord and handpainted 20/2 bombyx silk so that I could try my hand at weaving with fine threads. It was such a delight to smell and feel the silk while I was weaving. And, of course, I used a block twill pattern.

Fibonacci Twill Plaid Silk Scarf

I have now taken to weaving baby blankets because it seems as if everyone I know is pregnant. I am using a wonderful organic cotton boucle yarn in a variety of lovely natural colors that are appropriate for girls or boys.

Organic Cotton Boucle Baby Blanket

For my next projects, I am planning to weave another silk twill scarf as a gift for a friend. I bought some 20/2 silk the other week, and have dyed it up in greens, blues and pinks. Also, I am planning to make a felted scarf with handspun. What fun!

Much of my knitting time has been replaced by weaving time, but I have managed to finish a pair of socks for myself, and I have made substantial progress on a pair of socks for my sweetie. For my socks, I used my new superwash bluefaced leicester sock yarn handpainted in shades of blue and purple.

BFL socks

I have several other knitting projects in the works, and I am hoping to work on them more this fall and winter.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Days 7 and 8: Homeward Bound

We had a very smooth two-day trip home from Black Sheep Gathering. We stopped at Hendrick's Park in Eugene before leaving town. A few Rhododendrons were still in bloom, and the park was very green and lush. While we were at Hendrick's Park, we saw a peahen hopping through the grass with her babies in tow.


Mt. Shasta was breathtaking on the way home as well. The Pacific Northwest native and geologist in me has been missing the splendor of the Cascade Mountain Range since I have moved to southern California in 2001. This is evidenced by the large number of Mt. Shasta pictures that I took on this trip.

Mt. Shasta

Mt. Shasta

Lori and I enjoyed driving through the agriculture in the Central Valley of California. We especially were taken with all of the sunflowers that were blooming. There were literally hundreds of acres of sunflowers along the side of the road. I imagine that the impressionist painters would have been thrilled by such a scene.


Now that we are home it is time to get back to spinning, knitting, and washing fleeces.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Days 4, 5 & 6: Black Sheep Gathering

Though we were very busy in the booth for most of the gathering, I did have a chance to walk around to the other booths during the Black Sheep Gathering. I had such a great time talking to spinners and knitters about their projects, and admiring at all of the beautiful handmade bling that they were wearing.

I also had a great time walking through the barns and checking out all of the wonderful sheep and goats on display. I found them to be quite photogenic. The following photos show a Wensleydale sheep, Jacob sheep, Bluefaced Leicester sheep, and baby Angora goats, respectively.

Wensleydale sheep

Jacob Sheep

Bluefaced Leicester Sheep

Baby Angora Goats

On Saturday night, Lori, Karen, Margie and I went to the "Spinner's Lead" competition. Each spinner was sporting their handspun and knitted/crocheted/felted garments while leading a sheep, goat, or bunny. When possible, the garment was constructed from the fiber of the animal they were leading. I have never seen anything like this before, and I found the entire event to be quite a hoot! Trish from Tanglewood Fiber Creations was the MC. Here is a snippet that highlights the goings-on at this event.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Day 3: Set up for Black Sheep Gathering

Lori and I took a morning walk, had a quick lunch, and then headed to the Lane County Fairgrounds to set up our booth. We worked for several hours, and in the end we were very pleased with how our booth looked. These photos show the evolution of the booth space from start to finish.

Booth view

Booth view


Booth view

Booth view

Booth view

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Day 2: Ashland to Eugene, OR

This morning we went to a cute little yarn shop in Ashland (Websters - before hitting the north road again. We also stopped by a handmade soap shop (Emz Blendz - where I purchased two bars of soap and a lip balm. The entire shop smelled like herbs and it was difficult to pick just two bars.

Ashland is famous for its Shakespeare festival, and for its Lithia water, which is dispensed in a special fountain downtown. The water is said to contain "sodium, calcium, iron, bicarbonate, and other healthful minerals." We did notice a couple of people filling up their water bottles in this fountain. Lori and I opted not to sample the water, in part because of its strong sulfur odor.

Lithia Water

Next to the Lithia water fountain, there was another fountain, which presumably contains non-Lithia water. I think this may be the most regal water fountain that I have seen.

Ashland, Oregon

We made it to Eugene this afternoon. The weather is fantastic! Lori and I went for an afternoon walk to one of the local yarn shops (Soft Horizons Fibre). Now we are settling in for some evening knitting.

Eugene view

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Day 1: OC to Ashland, OR

We made it all the way to Ashland, Oregon today thanks to our early start and Lori's excellent driving. We really enjoyed the scenery, especially Mt. Shasta.

Mt. Shasta

Mt. Shasta

We ate dinner at a charming vegetarian place in Ashland called Pangea. The food really hit the spot.We are back in our room now and are about to enjoy some knitting.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Black Sheep Gathering Here We Come!

I went to Lori's ( and today to drop off my yarns and rovings in preparation for our early morning departure tomorrow.  We are both really excited for the trip!  I was in awe of all of the beautiful yarns and spinning fibers that she dyed for the Black Sheep Gathering.  Her work is amazing!

Last evening I finished knitting a Baby Surprise Jacket (a la Elizabeth Zimmermann) using six colorways of my organic merino yarn (sea grass, midnight, dusk, pink clouds, geode, and cherry blossom) and two colorways of my handspun yarn (calypso and tourmaline).  I finished the jacket with three pale pink thumbprint buttons handcrafted by my friend, Barbara.  We will have the BSJ on display in our booth at the Black Sheep Gathering.

Hope to see you there!


EZ Baby Surprise Jacket

Friday, June 12, 2009

5 Days and Counting

The main purpose of this post is to test my mobile blogging capacities. I won't be bringing my laptop to the Black Sheep Gathering, so I will have to rely on my cell phone and iPod touch. I hope it works!

So far today I have skeined 5 pounds of yarn. This evening I will finish up the labeling on the last of the yarns and rovings. Yay!

Friday, June 5, 2009

More Dyeing for Black Sheep Gathering

I have been spending each afternoon playing with dye and fiber in preparation for the Black Sheep Gathering (June 19-21 in Eugene, Oregon).  Here is a quick snapshot of some of the recent bluefaced leicester rovings.

BFL rovings

The colorways are Olympia, Glass Beach, and Mediterranean (from left to right).

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Black Sheep Gathering

Over the past month I have been busy dyeing up some yarns and rovings for the Black Sheep Gathering.  I am delighted to be joining my friend Lori Lawson ( and in her booth this year.  We will be in booths 49 and 50.  We hope to see you at the Lane County Fairgrounds in Eugene, Oregon June 19th - 21st!

I will be bringing an assortment of my handpainted rovings in lovely fiber blends including bluefaced leicester and alpaca/merino/tussah silk.  I will also be bringing my organic superfine merino wool and organic cotton/bamboo yarns in a number of new colorways.  Here is a sample of some of my recent handpaints:

Acres of rovings

One of the other things that I have been busily working on is a bootie pattern that calls for handspun yarn.  We will be selling this pattern and others in our booth, and we will also have some kits that include the bootie pattern and some of Lori's beautiful handspun yarn.  Here is a teaser:

Handspun baby bootie

If you aren't able to make it to BSG this year, I will restocking my Etsy shop ( with lots of new colorways shortly after we return from Eugene.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

knit.1 magazine

The "celery" colorway of our handdyed organic cotton/bamboo yarn is featured in the Spring/Summer issue of knit.1 magazine, which hit newsstands on May 5. Check out Friends of the Earth on page 13. This yarn is available for purchase through our Etsy shop (

knit.1 magazine - Spring/Summer 2009

Friday, March 6, 2009

Knitting Lessons

My friend, Misa, visited this week from Japan.  She brought with her many special Japanese gifts, including two great knitting books.  The garments included in these books are very inspirational, especially the garment shaping and stitch patterns that are used.  I know that I will take advantage of many of these features in my own design process.

During her trip, we set aside some time for a knitting lesson.  Teaching Misa how to knit was great fun!  She was a very quick study, and within an hour she was knitting and purling!  At the end of her stay she was still excited about knitting (this is always a good sign), so I sent her home with the swatch that she had been creating on a circular needle.

M & M Knitting Lessons

Teaching Misa to knit reminded me of my experiences in high school math class (have I mentioned that I love math?). Mr Wallace, our math teacher, loved to assign story-problem worksheets that were written in French.  When we would groan about how difficult it was to solve math problems in another language, he would say, "math is the same in every language."  I now feel that the same can be said for knitting.  With Misa, our lesson mostly involved practicing the movements of the knit and purl stitches, and studying the fabric that resulted from using these stitches independently or in tandem.  With this understanding (and without much knowledge of the English terminology for these maneuvers), she began to create a scarf-like swatch that included alternating bands of garter stitch and stockinette stitch. I am in awe of how quickly she caught on, and I think that she is going to be an excellent knitter!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Top-down Raglan - Finished!

I finished my top-down raglan sweater early this afternoon.  At the end of every project, I am overcome with feelings of elation as I weave in and snip the final yarn ends.  This project was no exception.  And I could hardly wait to wear it, so I gave it a quick steam with the iron and put it on the bed to cool and rest.  I am wearing it now, and it is just wonderful!  It hope that I never tire of the exquisite feeling of handspun and handknitted wool goodness.

Handspun Top-down Raglan Sweater

Knitting a sweater from the top down was a new experience for me, and I think I will be knitting the vast majority of my future sweater projects this way.  It is just so logical.  Though I really can't stand slipping my knitting onto waste thread in order to check the fit, I found myself giving in to this necessity every couple of inches.  As a result the sweater fits me very well.

I am off to scheme about my next sweater.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Oscar Knitting

I have been working on a top-down raglan sweater with my handspun yarns over the past couple of weeks.  I was inspired to knit a top-down raglan after taking Stefanie Japel's workshop at TNNA last month.  I spent the bulk of last afternoon and evening watching the Academy Awards and working on this sweater.  I can't think of a better way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Lichen and Wine Yarn

The yarns that I am using for this project have been on a long journey (see my January 2008 post about some of the yarns I am including).  I originally cast on for a Fair Isle vest on March 1, 2008.  I didn’t like how it was turning out, so I frogged it and began to knit a top-down poncho-like garment on March 6, 2008.  During March 2008, I worked this garment until I was about 4 inches from the cast-off edge, and then I put it aside so that I could focus on preparations for my April 2008 wedding.  In early February 2009, I found this project in the bottom of my WIP pile and decided to finish it.  So I did.  And then I tried it on.  The poncho was lovely, but it was clearly much too large for me.  There was another fatal flaw: the entire garment, including the bottom edge, was worked in stockinette stitch, causing the poncho to roll severely toward my neck.  After thirty minutes of wearing it, it had morphed from a lovely poncho to a very large and heavy necklace.

I was quite discouraged at this point, so I put the garment down for a few days.  During this time I spoke with my good friend, Emily, who convinced me that I must make something worthy of the handspun yarn.  At this point I was able to muster the courage to rip out the poncho, and immediately cast on for the top-down raglan sweater.  Fortunately, this effort has been a success so far!

Top-down raglan sweater

Top-down raglan sweater

Top-down raglan

Top-down raglan close-up

Friday, February 20, 2009

Spinning at Common Threads

Lori, Karen, Margie and I made the pilgrimage today to Common Threads in Encinitas for some spinning fun.  There was a great turn out - nine ladies in all.  As always, we had a great time sharing spinning stories and knitting adventures.

Before all spinning journeys, I search through my entire spinning stash with the hope of identifying the perfect spinning project for the day.  As I was searching through my stash this morning, I was overcome with indecision about what colors and fibers to bring.  After a few minutes of hemming and hawing, I just grabbed a few different things and off I went.  I ended up spinning a 80% superfine merino/20% tussah silk blend in a colorway that I call "Tourmaline."

Tourmaline - merino/silk

I spun this yarn using the fractal striping method that Janel Laidman described in the Summer 2007 issue of Spin-Off Magazine.  I am really pleased with the look and hand of the final yarn, and I can hardly wait to start knitting with it.

Tourmaline Handspun

Monday, February 2, 2009

Spinning Workshop with Janel Laidman

On January 31, a group of us spinners got together at Lori's house for a workshop led by Janel Laidman on how to get the most out of your handpainted rovings.  During the workshop we learned several techniques for splitting handpainted rovings prior to spinning in order to reduce the stripy look.  All of the rovings we used were handpainted by Lori, who has an amazing color sense.  We spun for about 5 hours, and in the end everyone had some very beautiful yarns to take home with them.


I have already decided that my yarns are destined to become Lynne Vogel's Starry Night Scarf.  I purchased the pattern from her Etsy shop back in December, and have been wanting to cast on since then.


Sunday, January 25, 2009

TNNA 2009

My sweetie and I were fortunate enough to make it to TNNA's winter show in San Diego last weekend.  In the words of Anne of Green Gables, there was plenty of "scope for the imagination" to be had by most.

 San Diego

We attended "Sample It" on Friday night, which was a great opportunity to see new products by some of our favorite fiber industry folks.  The best part was that you could buy samples of these items.  I snatched up a Flat Feet kit from Conjoined Creations in a wonderful pink and purple colorway.  This kit was very smartly designed and even included a copy of their latest pattern book and double pointed needles so that I could start knitting immediately.

 Conjoined Creations - Flat Feet Kit

I also picked up a sample kit from Eucalan, my favorite wool wash company.  They have a couple of neat new products out, including lint remover sheets (perfect for the hand spinner) and single use wipes for those knitwear + food accidents on-the-go.

Eucalan Kit

 On Saturday morning, I attended a class on "Designing Sweaters that Fit" by Stefanie Japel, author of Fitted Knits and Glam Knits.  The focus of the class was on taking your own measurements and using them to design a top-down raglan sweater that fits your proportions perfectly.  This class was very useful, and certainly inspired me to start knitting sweaters from the top.  Thanks, Stefanie!

San Diego Convention Center

 After my class on Saturday morning, my sweetie and I walked around the marketplace.  We stopped by so many great exhibitor booths.  A few of our favorites were Interweave Press, Fiber Fiend, One World Button Supply Co., Bijou Basin Ranch, Hand Jive, Lantern Moon, and Tanglewood Fiber Creations.  We really had such a great time and we have already marked our calendar for next year!