Archive for June 2010

Handspun Horseshoe Cap

June 27, 2010

This quarter’s issue of Spin-off magazine featured many readers’ realizations of the Horseshoe Cap by Janet Wray, the pattern for which was featured in a 2009 issue, and is available for free on the Spin-off website. I thought I’d try making one with my latest hand spun. I started with this 80/20 Corriedale/Tencel pin drafted roving that I got from Fibers-4-Ewe at the SPA Knit-and-Spin:

Here is one skein of the yarn I ended up with:

I think the Tencel makes the yarn much shinier than 100% wool would be. It was pretty nice to work with. Pin drafted roving is very easy to spin compared to my hand-carded, gnarly Romney rolags. Here is the finished hat:

This was my first foray into anything approaching “lacey” knitting, meaning the first pattern I’ve worked that had any yarn-overs at all. It’s pretty fun. I’d say I’m still a cable man first and foremost, but lace is interesting, too. I can make up cables and know how they will look without writing anything down, but I think it would take a lot of practice to create any lace designs without making a chart. The holes in this pattern would show up more clearly in a smoother, less fuzzy yarn, but I think it looks alright.

The singles spinning took maybe two evenings. I did all the plying while watching an episode of Bones on Hulu, and the hat knitting took a couple hours at the Seacoast Irish Fest, a crafty-Thursday lunch hour at work, and the first hour of my flight to Colorado–pretty quick.  I asked Beth if I looked like The Edge when I wore it, but she said, “No.”

Pool Party in the Garden

June 27, 2010

but only slugs are invited.

Beth and I were both gone for a week (she to counsel music theater camp in Maine, and I to go to a space physics meeting in Colorado), and unfortunately some nogoodnik slugs invited themselves to our garden. They have been eating our bean and tomato leaves. Fortunately, I have a solution in the form of my Canadian friend, John Labatt. Hopefully, I’ll have some dead drunk slugs in the AM.  The pea pods, however, have not been molested by any pests; they are ready to eat, and are delicious! None of them have even made it indoors for eating.

SPA Knit and Spin weekend

June 20, 2010

A couple of months ago Beth and I went to the New England Textile Association’s SPA Knit and Spin Weeekend in Freeport, Maine (home of L.L Bean). This was the first fiber arts festival we ever went to, and I realized I never blogged about it. I just finished spinning some of the fiber that I got there, and noticed some pictures I took back then, so I thought I’d do a post on it.

That weekend we had a terrible wind storm in New England, and hundreds of thousands of people in NH (including us) went for three or four days with no power. It got cold in the house, and dark. We solved the dark problem at least:

and you can see, that I didn’t even get cranky until the power had been gone for a few days:

Sorry, it’s pretty hard to focus by candle light while taking a picture of yourself. Fortunately, Freeport (about a two hour trip north) had power. So the festival was much more comfortable. Here are a few things we saw. First some cool old Canadian spinning wheels:

Those were at the Merlin Tree booth. Merlin Tree is a small, Vermont based spinning wheel manufacturer. The kilted wheel maker demonstrated one of the old wheels:

We tried out one of the very portable wheels that he’s invented, called The Hitchhiker.

It was pretty nice, and well designed for portability. I had a hard time getting used to double treadling on the double wheel, but they come in single treadle form, too. Another cool thing they had at that booth was a cup holder that can mount onto a wheel for easy access to a beverage while spinning. You can get them at this etsy site.

One stand was selling cashmere, but $35/ounce was too rich for my blood. I wonder if most people know that cashmere comes from goats:

There were also a few alpaca vendors, and one of the vendors at the Full Moon Alpaca’s booth actually gave us two big, 2-gallon sized bags of “alpaca necks” (hair from the neck), which I guess is the less desirable part of the fleece. She had a price marked on the bags, but as soon as we asked about the bags and what “necks” meant, she said we could just have them as she didn’t want to take them home! Lucky us. We got a bag of black and a bag of white. Beth has spun some pure alpaca yarn, and I did some 50/50 Romney/Alpaca spinning.

I also got some hand painted roving from Fibers 4 Ewe Custom Fiber Mill of Putnam, CT:

This roving is 80% Corriedale wool / 20% tencel, a shiny plant derived fiber. I’ve already spun it and am knitting it up now, but I’ll save that for another post.

A Tour of Our Garden

June 19, 2010

We planted our first garden this year (well, first garden together). Our apartment in downtown Dover, NH is the most urban place I have ever lived. This is saying basically nothing since I grew up in suburban Ohio, and went to college in Amish country and to a grad school whose motto is “A voice crying out in the wilderness,” but still it’s urban for me.  I live about 100 yards from the railroad tracks (400 from the Amtrak station), and have deadbeat neighbors who yell at their kids and dogs and each other all the time. They might actually communicate with each other more than many suburban neighbors do, now that I think about it, but I digress.

Fortunately, we do have some space to grow stuff. It’s 3 feet by 12 feet at the end of our driveway, but it seems to be quite fertile.

We are growing snap peas, purple, green, and yellow string beans, french breakfast radishes, lettuce, carrots, cucumbers (for salads and for pickling), Chinese eggplant, onions, tomatoes, and marigolds. The peas have just flowered:

According to the seed pouch, these peaks can grow without support, but they don’t look that way to me. So I  staked them today. Peas behave almost like animals, wrapping their tentacles around climbable objects in very little time.

I’m pretty amazed at how they do that. I’d like to know how it works. Coincidentally, there was just a story on NPR that mentioned how Gregor Mendel had sent his notes on pea genetics to Charles Darwin, but Darwin never read them. It’s sort of amazing that someone figured out evolution at the same time that someone started to figure out genetics, but the evolutionist knew nothing about the genetics.

The tomatoes have also recently bloomed:

The tops of the delicious French breakfast radishes are starting to emerge:

I like these radishes sliced thin and mixed together with some cream cheese, quark, or butter and spread on a thick slice of brown bread. I also took some eye-candy of the lettuce. I don’t know what kind of lettuce this is. It came up on it’s own from lettuce that went to seed in our neighbor’s garden last year.

Cabled Coozie

June 6, 2010

I just racked a batch of amber ale last week, and pitched yeast on five gallons of peach cider this week. All this home brewing inspired me when I was trying to decide on something quick to knit. This knit beer coozie fit the bill perfectly. I think most knitters could finish one of these while watching a longish movie. I might make a six pack of these in different colors. They can be like those wine glass markers, but these will also keep drinks cold.

I have to say, I had always thought that cozies of all sorts were stupid, and that I would never knit one. Why would I want a fitted, knitted covering for my tea pot or my toaster? Well, I still think toaster cozies are an utterly stupid waste of time and fiber, and possibly also a potential fire hazard, but we drink a lot of tea, and a tea cozy really does keep the pot of tea hot for a much longer time. Keeping beer cold is at least as noble a pursuit as keeping tea hot. Additionally, the word “coozie”, is infinitely funnier and more tacky sounding than the lame word, “cozy.”

Hopefully I’ll get a couple thermometers and see exactly how much longer a beer stays cold inside a cabled, merino wool beer coozie. If so, I’ll definitely post the results. Maybe I’ll compare with a standard foam coozie as well.

The pattern is King’s Cozy by Karrie Weaver. The yarn is some worsted weight Paton’s Classic Merino, leftover from my “Ben” sweater, which is also similarly cabled and therefore matches the coozie too well for the two to ever be seen together.

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