Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The spinning mojo is fine

I haven't been knitting much recently but my spinning is definitely not experiencing the loss of mojo. This upcoming weekend I'm going to a class in Indiana being taught by Judith MacKenzie McCuin and Nancy Bush about spinning and knitting Estonian lace. In preparation for the class, I've been working on finishing projects and cleaning off spindles and bobbins.

The first thing I finished was a bamboo/wool blend I bought at A Wool Gathering fiber festival in Yellow Springs, OH late last fall. The roving was from Creatively Dyed Yarns. I absolutely fell in love with her roving braids and ended up buying three different 4 oz. ones, each with a different, interesting fiber combination. This one was 50% bamboo and 50% wool. Another was 70% wool and 30% seacell. The third was 40% wool, 20% silk and 20% milk protein. Choosing a color (and not blowing my budget all in one booth) was so hard.

bamboo wool roving
I enjoyed spinning the bamboo mix up and it ended up being very fine.

spinning bamboo wool
To keep the color changes together, I navajo plied it. But I hate to say it, now the colors underwhelm me. Sure, I like them but they don't have the same beauty as the roving braid did.

bamboo wool yarn
I'm not actually sure what I'm going to do with this yarn. I definitely don't have enough for socks unless I was doing an anklet sock or some other short sock. Maybe another Morning surf scarf? The obsession with that pattern hasn't diminished yet. The bamboo and wool might make for a perfect summer scarf for work. Hmmm, I'll have to think.

My next spinning project has been on the spindle since July 08. I guess in the grand scheme of things that isn't that long of a time. I started spinning a silk cap for my challenge day during Tour de Fleece 08.

silk roving
The silk cap was purchased at Maryland Sheep and Wool 08 as well as the spindle I was spinning it on. I'm pretty proud to have something from last May already spun up.

silk on spindle
I have absolutely NO idea what to do with this silk. It is definitely lumpy and bumpy with thick and thin areas. Spinning the silk from the cap was definitely a learning experience. I'm definitely going to have to try it again soon.

Next up, one of my goals for April was to finish spinning up some of the dark brown shetland fleece I've been processing. I showed you guys some pictures of working with it a while ago.

combing mocha shetland
I spun it up to a laceweight/light fingering weight. Did I measure the WPI? Of course not!

mocha shetland yarn
I started knitting with it almost as soon as the yarn was dry. I bought Nancy Bush's book about Estonian lace (huh, I wonder why) and really loved some of the shawls in there. Miralda caught my eye so I threw the yarn on the swift and wound it up. So far I'm enjoying the pattern but discovered some issues: a) The cast on number is off by +2, b) some of the charts are wrong and c) I really should swatch before I start a project. Take a look at Interweave's errata page or ravelry's page before you start.

Miralda shawl
Instead of swatching, I started the project with US 7s and merrily knitted the first two knit rows. Then I got to the lace and decided that it looked stupid. I also didn't know about the 2 extra stitches until I was reaching the end of the first lace row and realized that the charts and my numbers weren't going to match up. I decided to fudge that and just rip back to the center stitch, k2tog on one side and k2tog on the other side of that center stitch. After I was finished with that first lace row, I switched needle tips and kept going with US 6s. I'm being very blase about this shawl! But then again, I really didn't want to cast on the 300+ stitches again.

I've started combing the tan shetland fleece I got at the same time as the dark brown one. This fleece is from a whether (a gelded male sheep) and has an extremely long staple. He must be a large boy because the fleece is 7 pounds. I'm really enjoying working with this one. Before washing it in hot water, I let the fleece soak overnight in cold water. That got almost everything out and, when I washed it in hot water to get all of the lanolin out, the water was almost clear in the first soaking.
tan shetland
Those bookish ones of you might know about the annual Edible Book Festival. This festival is held around April Fool's Day each year since 1999. The premise is that you create an edible creation that illustrates a book, book title, or literary pun. The "books" can be anywhere from complex to simple (as an example I put together three cups of tea for the book...wait for it... Three Cups of Tea). It is so much fun seeing how different people look at books and come up with fantastic edible creations.

Last year at this time I was doing my practicum (aka library internship) at Denison University where they hold an Edible Books Festival each April 1st. My inspiration book was Pompeii by Robert Harris. My edible book was a red velvet layer cake in the shape of a volcano. At the top, I put a shot glass half full of unset red jello and lemon juice. When the judges came around, I added baking soda to the mix and *boom* we had lava coursing down the volcano. (Can you tell I really enjoyed making that cake?) I won the Best in Show and got a trophy and everything!

This year, I wasn't able to get time off to go to the event but I still wanted to make a book. I originally thought of doing the book Sushi for Beginners by Marian Keyes because it would be simple and my parents wouldn't have to worry about transporting anything complicated to the library. Then I flipped through the book, Hello, Cupcake! , and it was all over. If you've never seen this book, it is a fabulous cupcake decorating book. The authors of it really make you feel like you can make all of the designs in the book. They have one example in the animal section for a flock/swarm of monarch butterflies. Well, you can just see what happened, can't you?

monarch picture
I had noticed the day before that some of the grocery stores had melting chocolate in all sorts of different colors out for Easter. When I saw the chocolate monarchs in Hello, Cupcake, I knew I had my book.

After a few mishaps (who knew you couldn't add liquid food coloring to melted chocolate?) and broken wings, I had a whole bunch of different wing sizes. I decided to make all of the wings and antennae the night before and to put everything together the morning of the event.

putting wings on the butterflies
Those brown dots are mounds of chocolate that set the wings on with frosting and more melted chocolate. They helped to prop the wings up and look like the butterflies were fluttering. I'm acutally surprised how quickly everything came together. Once I did a couple of sets of wings, everything was much easier. The same was true of putting the butterflies together. Once you did a few, it was simple. Well, some people might say my version of simple is a little skewed.

finished butterflies
Dad took my cupcake platter over before the festival/tea was to begin. I managed to get over to the library over my lunch break and got to see the other edible books in person. Everyone was so creative! If you would like to see the other entries, follow this link. Here are a couple of my favorites:

dead sea scrollsThe "sand" is actually raw sugar and the scrolls are made out of phyllo dough

3 little pigs overview
3 little pigs wolfAren't they cute?! The artichoke is a wolf!

And my absolute favorite. . .
piggie pie overview
piggie pie closeupIsn't that funny?! I love the tail. It makes me laugh hysterially.

I had to run back to work before the judging and passed Dad on my way out. He stayed for the judging and eating (who wouldn't?!). The sly guy didn't call me to tell me anything about the results. He was out on an ambulance run when I came home before riding and then was at a meeting until 9:30. It turns out that I had won. . .


. . . Best in Show!

**Eta: I'm glad I didn't do Sushi for Beginners because it turns out another person did that exact book. She made her "sushi" out of rice krispie treats, fruit roll-ups and candy fish. Her's turned out so much better than mine would have. Every time I look at the picture I crave sushi!