Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Knitting Across the Country

Goodness me, it's been a long few weeks. While I've certainly enjoyed traveling, it wasn't always conducive to getting lots of knitting done. So I'm very happy to be home and definitely looking forward to writing up a blog post about my knitting next week. But this week you get to hear about all of the knitters I met on my travels to Ohio and Seattle!

Most of the people I met up with are members of the Harry Potter Knit/Crochet House Cup on Ravelry, who suggested meeting up once they found out I would be in their area of the country. That's how I met akasha111182 in Ohio and pertela and rchrispy in Seattle. Even though I had never met any of them in person before, our common love of knitting and our shared experience of being the House Cup made for lots of fun.

The other knitter I got to see in Seattle is actually the fiance of one of my husband's college fraternity brothers. We see each other about once per year when another brother gets married, but in the meantime I keep up with her on her blog. That's the two of us above, having fun in the photobooth at the wedding we attended this past weekend (photo courtesy of Hopefully, someone else will get married next summer so I can see her in person again!

Mostly, I just want to say thank you for all of my knitting friends for brightening up my travels. With the addition of my local House Cup ladies, doviejay and isisonearth, I truly appreciate being part of a community of knitters who are willing to act as my Seattle tour guide, inform me of the best Ohio yarn shops, or just gab about yarn. Thanks for your generosity, your warmth, and the fun times!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Spinning My Wheels

I just got back from spending the past week in Ohio with my folks and have enough time at home to catch my breath before I head out to a wedding in Seattle this weekend. Luckily, I didn't finish either of the two knitting projects I packed for the Ohio trip, so I will have something to work on during the plane rides.

I did, however, finish spinning and plying the fiber I packed. These two skeins are entirely spindle-spun and were even Navajo-plied on my spindle, the first time I've produced skeins using that plying technique. Navajo-plying is also called chain-plying as you basically make a crochet chain with long loops, resulting in a three-ply yarn. The outcome of this technique is short, solid-color sections in the skein, which is different than what you get with your usual two-ply yarn.

And even though I spun up all the fiber I took to Ohio, somehow I managed to come home with a whole trash bag full of roving! The photo above is really just the tip of the iceberg, as I have over 1.5 pounds of this Romney/Mohair blend--enough for an entire sweater. My mother split half of a fleece with a friend, and not being a big spinner, was generous enough to give me half of her lot. I really do have the best mother in the world.

So between all of this fiber and the stuff I got at the Alpaca Festival, I guess I need to get spinning!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Slightly Better Than A Staycation

I'm currently in Ohio this week, taking a pseudo-vacation while my laboratory is shut down for renovations. It's only a pseudo-vacation because, when I am not spending time with my parents, I'll be writing up a portion of my PhD thesis. Still, it's nice to have a change of pace and a change of scenery.

I also plan to get lots of knitting done when I am at home. Like most knitters, I always find the balance between packing enough and packing too much a difficult one. Though, considering my mother is an all-star weaver (see that best of show ribbon from the Ohio State Fair in the top right of the photo below? yep, all-star) maybe I should not worry about not packing enough yarn. I'm totally jealous of her stash.

My knitting projects that did make the cut include: a bunch of yarn for baby items (I have so many pregnant friends it's not even funny), some fiber for spinning, plus a spare skein for the mandatory Ysolda project. The portability of the spindle was a major reason it got packed, but after using it for a while I remembered how nice it is to spin this way. I expect it will travel with me more in the future.

In the meantime, between the writing and the knitting, I'm hoping to see some of the local sights. I've already been to a great yarn shop, hit up Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream, and explored the local bike paths. With plans to attend a minor league baseball game and the weaver's guild meeting this weekend with my mother, it promises to be a very nice visit indeed!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

May Flowers

I'm an avid reader of the crafting (and little-bit-of-everything-else) blog Not Martha, and while it provides a steady stream of inspiring tutorials and links, I don't usually feel compelled to make the crafts the author talks about on her blog. That was, until she posted about her design tutorial for making a felt dahlia brooch. The project immediately shot to the top of my to-make list.

The flower itself is cut out of one sheet of felt with all of the little petals glued onto a felt-and-cardboard base. I decided to needlefelt everything together based upon the supplies I had on hand. The tutorial translated very well to needlefelting, but I do have some pointers:

* Cut the round base (to needlefelt your petals onto) to be 2.5 inches across. I skipped the cardboard altogether.
* Roll up the petals and felt them slightly before attaching them to the base. This helps preserve the integrity of the base by not overworking it.
* I still used glue to attach the center part of the flower to the front.
* A backing really helps hide the residual felting fuzz and make the flower look finished. You can either glue the backing on or hand stitch it.

I opted to affix my dahlia to a headband instead of a brooch so that I could wear it in my hair. Since my headband had small teeth along the inside, I simply sewed on the flower using a little embroidery floss and completely skipped the glue.

I'm very glad that I invested the few hours it took to put everything together because I really love the finished object. It will be the perfect thing to wear to a wedding I am attending later this month!