Sunday, November 27, 2005

Lack of blog posts does not indicate a lack of fiber pursuits....

Despite the holiday and ds being home from college, the knitting and spinning have continued here in Fiberewetopia. However, there have been days when the 'ewetopia' idea was a joke.

Take spinning as an example. Since I last posted we had a huge dip in temperatures, meaning that the central heat kicked on. There are two spinning projects going: the fine cormo on the Schacht and the blue wool blend on the Dundas. If you've spun for any length of time, you know that a traditional wooden spinning wheel needs TLC when the outdoor temperatures change. Attempts at spinning yarn consistent with what was done previously was impossible. So instead of actually continuing with the spinning projects, I tore down both wheels to lubricate and adjust them for winter household conditions.

Then the knitting. If you've followed this blog for awhile, you know that I started AS's Fulmar quite sometime ago...(January '04 maybe?...I'll have to check the archives....yep, Jan. 18, '04 gasp!.) I reworked the pattern to knit from the top down and for set-in sleeves. I've worked on this project in fits and starts. Now that the cold weather is back, it's moved back to the front burner. The body of the sweater is complete (except for neck ribbing) and the first sleeve, knit from the top down, is almost complete.

I tried the sweater on Wed. night and have been wrestling with the design ever since. I love the way the body of the sweater fits. I do not love the way the underarm of the sleeve fits. This has generated much thought on my part.

There are a number of factors at work here. The first being that most of the old AS patterns are made with drop shoulders and minimal upper body shaping. That worked well in the late 80's and early 90's because that was the style...big tops with big shoulder pads was the fashion silhouette. The silhouette now is much closer to the body and fitted (I still think most of the models look like 7th graders returning to school after a growth spurt!)

I did work out the body measurements carefully in re-designing the fit of my Fulmar, however when I worked the set-in sleeve I kept the original number of upper arm stitches. It appears I could get by with at least 28 less stitches, possibly 32. In addition, the armhole opening is larger than current fashion dictates.

Here's what I've decided: I'm going to leave the first sleeve as is for now as a record of what was done. On the second sleeve, I'm going to do something like a gusset to reduce the size of the armhole. (Picture a knitted crescent using short rows to raise the curve of the lower armhole.) Then I will again knit the sleeve from the top down, using short row sleeve cap shaping as described by Barbara Walker in Knitting from the Top, only this time there will be around 32 fewer stitches in the upper arm.

I've been keeping scrupulous notes on this sweater. I do like AS designs, and own a number of the books, but if I knit any more of the designs they need serious reworking in the upper body area.

The other thing I've been working on is moving my old blog files over to a new blogger address before closing the old site. Click on the link if you want to see short row sleeve cap tutorial It seems the photo's from the old blog appear over exposed here. Oh well...

If you're still reading're a champ. Most of the knitting books on the store shelves these days don't go into this kind of analytical thinking about fit and design. Too bad.

Friday, November 18, 2005


This is a 4"x4" swatch of alpaca lace yarn to make the Handspun Lace Cardigan in the summer '04 issue of Inknitters. My apologies for the overexposure of the picture. The yarn was the major purchase of our Wednesday road trip to Heritage Spinning & Weaving. I don't get there often since it's 47 miles across the Detroit metro area. This was the first that I've been there since Joan expanded the shop. She's done a great job of designing a store that's appealling to spinners, knitters, & weavers. My other purchases include the two Gossamer Webs books.

Dh has been away this week for deer hunting. Of course the high windstorm on Tuesday night tore some flashing off the garage roof and started rolling back the roofing material like a sardine can. So before heading off to PiYo class Wed. AM, I was lugging bricks up onto the garage roof to anchor down the corners.

Nan, whose husband is scheduled for surgery for colon cancer Dec. 2, went along. Two ladies in sore need of some retail therapy!!

I've also been rummaging around my stash more. Knitting guild's "garage sale" is in March, the the weaving guild's "Moth Market" is in I think I'll hold off on the ebay thing and see if I can de-stash a little at these events.

The looms are calling to me this week. The blue roving that I'm spinning would make a great stole combined with this Cherry Tree Hill yarn (my focusing abilities are really off today!...sorry):
Perhaps I can finish the spinning and warp the loom w/ the Cherry Tree Hill yarn before hubby gets home.

It's pretty clear I'm into the color blue right now...and lace knitting. There just seem to be phases we go through...I'm not sure there's an explanation beyond "one thing leads to another."
Meanwhile, I'm still spinning the mini-combed cormo and working on a couple of unfinished knitting projects (Fulmar and dh's brioche vest). Both of these projects have aged for a long time. (Well...they're not blue and they're not lace...duh!)

No pithy thoughts from here right now. Just slogging from thing to thing. Am helping with a Grief Workshop at our church tomorrow. Right before the holidays seemed like a good time to sponsor this event. Ds gets home from school on Tues. and has a repeat CAT scan on the spot on his lung the next day. Then I have a routine colonoscopy the Wed. after Thanksgiving. IMO, keeping busy is the best way to get through these two weeks.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Will's Gansey..

At last the toddler's gansey is finished and just needs to be mailed out. His second birthday is coming up in a couple of weeks.

I've established a pattern of knitting sweaters for my great nieces and nephews. Somehow, I just wasn't in the mood when Will was born, so his is arriving a bit late in his little life. Hope it fits.

I'm thinking of destashing via ebay. This comes about because the sheer volume of my stash is crippling me. There are a couple of sweater kits, that I know I wouldn't wear if I did knit them. Then there's the Jacob and some Columbia rovings...They would make great felted clogs and purses, but those just aren't my kind of spinning and knitting. These things were purchased when I wanted to try EVERYTHING in spinning and knitting. Now I'm a bit more centered and focused and these things just aren't in my zone.

I went through the wool closet last night and mentally ticked off the things to part with. Any thoughts on selling on ebay are appreciated. Thanks!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Share the Bounty Raffle Update...

Remember the lavender Peace Shawl and the blue Estonian scarf? They were raffled off last night at the church Share the Bounty Event. We earned enough $$ to provide 17 families in western Wayne County with a nice Christmas!!

The blue Estonian scarf went to Carol, a mother with 3 sons from 9th grade down to 3rd grade. I think she really deserves a little handknit lace in her life and am glad she got it.'s the one that makes me chuckle: This is who won the Peace Shawl...

To be fair, this is not a flattering picture of Russ. And I know that the Peace Shawl is going to his wife, who organizes the quilt program for the graduating high school seniors. He told me that the fact that I made the shawl made it extra special (aw..shucks...). So although I had hoped to win the shawl back for my friend, Mary (of the Fortune Moment message), it's going to a good home with another fiber lover. That's all that counts.

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Picture(s) of Procrastination:

There is much to be done which I do not feel like doing. Some has to do with housework. Other of it has to do with yardwork and flower gardens. And still more has to do with doing a 2006 budget for church when pledge amounts are on decline (matching the local economy) and we did not make the 2005 budget receipts.

When faced with this sort of thing, I find the best thing to do is bury my head in a cloud of least for a little while.

The following pictures are to show you how this yarn came to be. The fiber is Cormo from Sue Reuser.

I washed the wool in individual locks using the Fine Fleece Crockpot Wash method outlined on my old blog. The locks were washed sometime ago and have been patiently waiting while lined up and stuffed into a 2 gallon ziplock bag.

When I feel a bad case of "I don't wanna" coming on, I quickly grab the Forsythe mini-combs, a spray bottle of water, the bag of Cormo locks, a diz and a tiny crochet hook.

Next I grab a lock and check to find the tip end by holding the lock between my thumb and forefinger and rubbing them together. The lock will automatically "walk" between your fingers to the tip.

Then I load the butt end of the lock onto the comb and spritz it with water.

Taking the other comb into hand, I begin to swing through the mounted lock. First I swing straight down through the lock, until the wool stops transfering to the swinging comb. Then I start swinging the comb from side to side to transfer the wool back to the stationery comb.
When the wool has stopped transferring back to the stationery comb, I set aside the waste on the moving comb for a later felting project.

Then I take my diz (in this case the corner of a plastic milk jug w/ a hole pierced by a hot nail)and place the concave side toward the wool. I pull the wool into a point, and use a fine steel crochet hook to pull the point of wool through the hole in the diz. Then I begin to gently pull the wool from the comb to form a nice uniform top for spinning.
Once the diz gets near the stationery comb, and the resistance is high, I finish off the top and wind it into a little 'bird nest', winding from the butt end to the tip end. When I'm ready to spin, I pick up a 'bird nest' top and begin to spin from the tip.

By the time I have a basketful like this, I'm either ready to get to work. Or, I find a new way to writing a blog entry.
Happy weekend!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Kindness of Strangers....

This morning a friend called to tell me about a young family she visited on Wednesday. She began the story with her personal connection to this family. About 3 years ago she had some work done on her home including some carpeting. Of all the people who came in and worked on their home, there was this one young man who stood out to her. He paid meticulous attention to detail, took special care with his work, and there was just something about him that drew her attention.

As she continued with the details, the story began to sound familiar. I had read this story in the newspaper. I invite you to read the story of this young family here: Duane's story

This is a family who needs a miracle. If you would like to be part of their miracle, there's contact information in the article on how you can do that. I called his Mom this AM, and my check is in the mail.

On a lighter note:
Look who's hanging around our house today:

It looks like Halloween must have done this little guy in!! Just look at those cute little feet!! He's hanging right above the door that goes into our garage.
We took down the bat house when the Ash trees were removed about 2 months ago. Looks like the bat house needs to go back up again.

Fiber content: Last night I spun a few of the minicombed rovings of the Cormo last night. I have a project in mind, but must wait until the bobbin is filled and some sampling is done before revealing the details. And I almost finished the first sleeve of the toddler gansey last night while watching CSI.

For the record: I've been asked to share details of a copyrighted pattern in the comments. The pattern is not my own, therefore it is not mine to share. From time to time, I create a pattern of my own which I'm glad to share via my blog. But I will not violate copyright law.

Happy weekend!!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Thought for the day:
Sometimes, just sometimes, we all need that reminder. The reminder that life is too short to waste, and too precious to leave to routine.
I don't know the origins of this statement...but it sure makes me feel better about wanting to do nothing but go out and play for the past 2 weeks!


Originally uploaded by vmusselm.

This is the completed Flower Basket Shawl. The pattern is by Evelyn Clark (publ. by Fiber Trends & Interweave Knits Fall '04.) The yarn is Alpaca With A Twist - Fino: 70% baby alpaca, 30% silk. (Nice stuff at a fair price, I would use it again.)

Note how the breeze catches a plays with the shawl. This, my pretty, is why we prefer shawls to poncho's.

A lace shawl moves with you, catches the subtleties of movement and enhances the form with grace and style.

A poncho, on the otherhand, is like a sandwich board. It makes one look like an immutable force and immoveable object. The poncho says: "Frumpy!"

I am at an age where Frumpy waits right outside my door, ready to pounce at the slightest fashion infraction. I don't need poncho's.

However...I do need more lace....scarves, shawls, stoles...sigh....

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


I think I've used that heading before, however it is happening again. Yesterday and today it feels like I'm back in my own skin. For the last year, it's been extremely difficult to find some sort of equilibrium with my use of time and accomplishing what I want to do as well as what must be done.

A large part of it is/was my attitude.....finding tons of ways to procrastinate on doing the things that had to be done, and which I just dreaded starting. The computer is a great tool for procrastination (as if you didn't're probably procrastinating by reading this right now, aren't you?)

There are more details in the circumstances to my attitude, but taking the time to write them here is simply more procrastination. prove that I'm resurfacing: The Flower Basket Shawl is completed and is blocked and drying as I type. Then I spent last evening combing Cormo locks with the Forsythe minicombs in preparation for returning to the laceweight Cormo spinning. That half filled bobbin has been sitting on the Schacht way too long. It felt so good to be back in the "spinning saddle".

In addition to finishing the shawl, I found some inexpensive substitutes for stainless steel blocking wires. First I found 36" long 1/8" diameter brass rods at Home Depot ($2.15 @)which I brought home and polished for the top edge of the shawl. Then dh provided 16" long Simpson Strong Tie Insulation Supports which are made of a coated "springy" (their term) steel. These worked great for the angled edges of the shawl: much easier than T-pins for every point and cheap too!! (Cheap because dh had a box of 100 in his stash....there are definite advantages to having a mate where there are reciprocal rights on one another's stash!) Perhaps a picture of that tomorrow...
Meanwhile I leave you to gaze up at the wonderful autumn colors...