the year in yarn

All of these images can be found on my Instagram!

It seems like the MOST cliche thing you could possibly say in a year end wrap up post, but I can't believe 2015 is over. It went by SO fast, and yet at the same time I can't believe that I made some of these things this year, not last year. One of the most special things about all of the things that I've created this year, they fit so seamlessly into my life, so comfortably into my wardrobe, it feels like I've had them forever.

More than ever, I've fallen in love with fiber arts this year. I knit my first sweater, started spinning my own yarn, started my handmade business, and really engaged in my local and virtual fiber friends. I finally found a knitting group that I love! I travelled to Asheville (twice!), returned to Rhinebeck, and knit so many beautiful pieces. I checked off all of the things on my Knit Years Resolutions for this year, which feels so good!

I get a little teary with gratefulness writing all of this out. I can definitely be hard on myself, choosing to see all the ways that I need to improve and grow, and don't spend too much time celebrating all the wonderful things that happen. And these were just the fiber-related things! This year the hubs and I also moved to a house, celebrated our first year of marriage, took trips all over the Southeast & Mexico, started the last year of medical school, passed the final part of medical board exams, and adopted our two sweet kitties who we can't imagine life without. 

This week is still a vacation week for me (hallelujah), and I'm really focusing and challenging myself with some big goals for 2016. So check back for that before the week is through. My family were so incredibly generous with me this Christmas, and I can't wait to get back to our house and set up all of the improvements to my studio/guest room! 

I hope everyone who reads this little blog of mine has had a wonderful holiday, full of love and family and hope. I'm blessed that you choose to spend some of your time here. 

natural dyes: mushrooms take 1

Last week I had an unexpected opportunity from a farm nearby, and I came to be the owner of some aged shitake mushrooms. They were past the point that they could be eaten, which would have definitely been my first choice (mushrooms forever), so I thought I'd finallytry my hand at some natural dyeing. Home they came and in the dye pot they went. 

I didn't use a mordant, but did soak the yarn (Moeke yarns Elena) in hot water before dropping in the dye pot. I boiled the mushrooms for about an hour and the water turned this really lovely mahogany color that the photographs didn't quite capture. I was so excited! I put the yarn in the pot at about 170 degrees for around 45 minutes, swirling occasionally, and then let the yarn sit in the pot overnight with the heat off and the lid on. 

My results were less than stellar, to be sure. The yarn basically didn't change color from its original shade, which was crazy with the water color being such a deep brown. It seemed like it had gone down a shade or so towards brown, but it turned out that was just the color change from the wool being wet. Ha! 

The next day I went to my public library and picked out about 6 books on natural dyeing, so I think my future attempts will go much better. This was just a shot-in-the-dark, I-randomly-decided-to-do-this sort of activity (and I have frozen some additional mushrooms to try again later), so I'm not too disappointed. Sometimes it's just fun to try new things and see where it will take you. 

Spinning in color

Continuing in my recent trend of working with LOTS of color this summer, I worked on a couple of spinning projects this past week that were filled with bright color changes, soft fiber, and all around just a great time. 

I first found Melissa of Hey Lady Hey months ago via the Woolful podcast (really, my source for every fiber goodness ever) and just made my first purchase this past week. I'm so sad it took me this long! The fiber pictured above is Targhee dyed in a colorway called "Flower Power". The picture doesn't totally portray its range of colors: pinks and orange and lots of green and blue. I used my drop spindle (my only far) and plied together 2 oz each. My spindle was SO full towards the end, it kept breaking and I had to use a bit more twist just to keep it together! I'm really happy I didn't cave and spin two skeins, though, it is so big and squishy and feels like a real accomplishment! I measure about 8 WPI so an aran/bulky weight for sure, about 100 yards. 

My second project was a spontaneous decision coming off the high of finishing Flower Power - while it was drying I launched immediately into this project. The fiber here is BFL which Melissa kindly sent me because she knew I was practicing my drafting! She is the sweetest! Amazingly, despite the long staple length, this fiber was SO soft. Is there anything else you could want?? Every time I finished one of the little batts it felt like another mini project done - so fun! This was her "Hodgepodge Fiber Kit" which you can still find on her website, but I wouldn't wait! Her fiber is one of a kind and goes fast. 

This project was about 2 oz of fiber so I imagine it will be for something small, or as an accent to a bigger piece, and I spun it as a stand-alone single. I soaked it and attached a weight as it was drying to help set some of the extra twist I got in it, and am pretty happy with how I spun it!

One element I'm really still working on in my spinning is consistency. On some level, I love the charming thick and thin nature of handspun yarn, and my drafting is getting much more consistent, but I find that the longer I spin, the more the thickness of my singles increases as I go. I've been reading all sorts of spinning books recently and am hoping to pick up some tips on how to avoid this, any experience from readers would be much appreciated!

These are the only two projects in my Handspun section on Ravelry, but I have no doubt it's just going to grow from here. I've already ordered some new top - BFL and silk blend I am going to try to spin into some sock yarn - on request from a certain husband and crazy sock lover. ;)

Happy week!

Another sheep related post


Hi hello hey there. 

The closer that the holidays get the shorter the days seem. Does anyone else tend to feel that way? Lots of knitting in my life, not so much picture taking because the sun has been setting at 4:30 PM. Wut. 

Anyhoo, last night the hubs and I were hanging out, browsing iTunes U, which has lots of great resources for post-college individuals like myself, and found a course from the University of Glasgow about, wait for it - "Hand Knitted Textiles and Economies of Craft in Scotland". It includes lessons on the history of sheep farming in the highlands, Shetland wool production, Shetland lace and a few other topics on Shetland history, all which were recorded during a seminar in 2012 at the University of Glasgow. In addition to getting caught up on the newest and Woolful podcasts, my super nerdy side is very excited to dig into that resource. 

There were a few other courses I was looking at as well that were non-knitting related, but thought I would share that with the world in case anyone else was interested in learning more about Shetland's knitting and textile history. 

Hope your Wednesday is just wonderful!