Friday, April 29, 2011

All In One Day

Tomorrow is Connecticut Sheep, Wool and Fiber Festival.  This event marks the start of the spring festival season and is always a fun time. 

I'm busy packing and loading up the truck so that I can hit the road bright and early in the morning.

The weather this week has been unseasonably humid.  Drying yarn has been a slow process.  I still have a few skeins that need to be twisted and labeled.  There are always last minute details.

Unlike many of the other festivals Connecticut is a one day event.  It's a lot of work for one day, but I'm looking forward to it.  With any luck the weather will cooperate too.

We've had our fair share of gray days here. Perhaps that's why I'm drawn to this as my color inspiration for the week.

A splash of sunshine.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Clever Construction

I've been dyeing a little of this and a little of that in preparation for Connecticut Sheep and Wool Festival this coming Saturday.  There's always extra work right before an event.  While I was at it, I dyed a new colorway for a new sample.  What's one more pot of yarn?

The photo doesn't do this yarn justice.  The unnamed blue colorway has subtle hints of green in the mix.

In between pots of yarn I've been working on Corinne.  Row after row after row of garter stitch.  Garter stitch has such a soothing, calming rhythm.  It's a perfect balance to the flurry of dyeing activity.  Lest I be bored this pattern has a clever design element.

The sweater is worked in one piece from side to side.  The left front and sleeve are finished, and I'm about to embark on the back.  All this shaping is accomplished with a simple 8-row repeat.  I'm mesmerized, watching the sweater take shape before my very eyes.  And I'm obsessed.  The hard part is putting it down.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Hidden Danger

When I'm in the middle of a dyeing run, I'm usually quite focused. There are orders to fill, inventory to re-stock, new samples to plan for. I start by making a "to dye" list with the most urgent colorways at the top.  I work my way through the list, checking off each colorway when it's done.  It's an efficient system that works for me.

But there are hidden dangers to dyeing yarn.  Every once in a while I stray from that list.  I'll be thinking about various patterns while I'm dyeing - considering different yarn bases and color options. What would work, what wouldn't.  And then, in the blink of an eye, three things will come together - pattern, yarn and colorway.  Before I know what's happened, I'm prepping to dye yarn for myself.  Do I need a new project?  No, not really.  Do I have yarn in my stash waiting to be used?  Most definitely.

I can only attribute this sudden flurry of creative activity to the combination of wool and dye fumes.  Recently I had such an episode.

It left me with a sweater's worth of Marie.  I'm doing my best to recover by knitting it up.

It was a colorful, relaxed weekend with just the right mix of work and family time.  These chicks were here for a short visit.

They didn't stay long.  No, I didn't make them.  While I have loads of patience for untangling yarn, I don't have any for decorating baked goods.

And there were colored eggs.

Some subtle.

Some vibrant.

Shades of red.

Friday, April 22, 2011


This week I should have been doing many things, but instead I've been preoccupied with Octavia.  I simply could not put it down.  

Now it is off the needles.

It has been bathed.


And shaped just so.

I had planned to do a photo shoot outdoors; however, Mother Nature did not cooperate. 

The winds were so vicious I'm sure Octavia would have landed somewhere in the Berkshires.

This shawl was my on-the-go project.  The pattern isn't overly complicated but had enough going on to hold my interest. And a couple of times it challenged my ability to count.

Octavia is perfect for this time of year - a little something for those chilly spring days.  The yarn is Dirty Water DyeWorks Julia, colorway Lilac.  

When I first saw this pattern, I knew I wanted to use this yarn and this colorway.  Julia is a merino/tencel blend and has wonderful drape and sheen.  The Lilac colorway has subtle color shifts that don't conflict with the pattern.  The yarn and pattern complement each other nicely.

In spite of less than ideal weather I did manage to find my color inspiration for the week outside.

More purple.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Egg Edition

Over the years we've developed our own family traditions and rituals. Many of them coincide with the changes in seasons.  One of our favorites for spring is making felted eggs.  The other day we had an egg making session.

The ingredients for this project are wool roving, dish soap, a bucket of hot water and a towel or two.

Start with the wool.

Draft the fibers by pulling them apart and separating them.  Wrap them around your hand to form a loose ball of fiber.

It's time for a bath.

Squirt dish soap on the wad of wool and submerge it in the hot water. Make sure the wool is thoroughly wet.

Now it's time to get to work.

Place the wet, soggy wad of wool in your hands and roll it back and forth to form a more compressed ball of wool.  The more you roll the wool, the better.  The combination of hot water, soap and agitation will cause the fibers to lock and felt.

Take a break and look at your wool.

Use your fingers to shape the ball and make it egg-shaped.  Repeat the agitation to make a firm egg.

If you want a larger egg or want to add more colors, simply draft more wool, wrap it around the egg and repeat the water and agitation steps. Gently rinse your finished egg under cold water and let it air dry.

Eggs come in all shapes, sizes and colors.  It's fun to experiment.

They are beautiful by themselves.

I usually have one or two rolling around on my desk.

Or put them all together for a colorful display.

It's a great way to brighten a gray spring day.

When my kids were little, we would spend hours and hours making felted eggs.  It's a fun, creative, tactile activity.  While we don't spend as much time making felted eggs any more, it's still a wonderful way to mark the season.  And I find that once I get started, I can't stop. There are so many color combinations to explore.

In fact I've decided that I have to make a few more today.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The Crawl

This past weekend was The Great Rhody Yarn Crawl.  For three days knitters descended on participating yarn stores in Rhode Island.  The yarn stores offered various sales, promotions and giveaways.  They also collected donations for the Rhode Island Community Food Bank. Knitters turned out in droves.

The schedule for Sunday included an Indie Fiber Arts Marketplace at Slater Mill.

The location for the marketplace was ideal.

Cotton manufacturing started at Slater Mill during the Industrial Revolution.  The buildings and grounds have been restored and include a museum, education center and community studio space.

Where there is a mill, there is water.

The setting on the Blackstone River is gorgeous.

Local fiber artists gather at Slater Mill.

They have a very active fiber arts community.

The museum has displays and equipment from the days when the mill was operating.

There aren't any smiles on the faces of these mill workers - probably a sign of the times.

The marketplace opened at noon on Sunday.

Dirty Water DyeWorks was one of the vendors.

In addition to the vendors the open space on the second floor included plenty of room for people to sit, knit and spin.  There was also a book signing by Ysolda Teague.

Over the weekend crawlers collected passport stamps from each yarn store they visited.  On Sunday they redeemed their stamps for raffle tickets at the marketplace.  The highlight of the afternoon was the drawing for the prizes.

Beautiful baskets loaded with goodies.

I had a delightful time making new connections and seeing familiar faces.  It was encouraging to see a fiber arts community that is so strong, enthusiastic and supportive.  The organizers did a fantastic job, the location was picturesque and the weather was perfect. Thanks to everyone who made this such an enjoyable event!

Today in Massachusetts we are celebrating Patriot's Day.  This holiday marks the opening battle of the American Revolution and is celebrated with reenactments and parades.  It is also Marathon Monday, the running of the Boston Marathon.  In keeping with tradition the Red Sox will play a morning game at Fenway Park.  After a weekend of work, I'll gladly take a Monday holiday.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Finally Friday

This has been one of those weeks that I thought would never end. Usually when there are extra things on my schedule, the time flies. Not so this week.  By the time Wednesday rolled around I felt like I was on a vicious merry-o-round where time was suspended, and I was trapped doing the same thing over and over.  Today I jumped off that merry-go-round, and it's finally Friday.

I'm wrapping up the week with a pair of finished socks.

The pattern is Jeck, a simple ribbed pattern enhanced with a slip stitch.

The yarn is Dirty Water DyeWorks Lucia, colorway Berry Patch.

When I started these socks, I purposely selected a color that was out of my comfort zone.  This colorway has shades of pink with flecks of purple.  While Berry Patch is a color I would not normally wear, I must admit it has grown on me.  It will be fun to have a splash of pink on my feet.

My current lace project, Octavia, continues to grow.

This yarn is Dirty Water DyeWorks Julia, colorway Lilac.  This is another color that I wouldn't normally choose, but I'm forcing myself to expand my horizons.  While it doesn't look like much yet, there are tiny violets emerging as I work my way up to over 230 stitches.

This Sunday I will be vending at the marketplace for The Great Rhody Yarn Crawl.  There is so much energy and excitement surrounding this event.  It's bound to be a lot of fun.  If you're in the area, check out the list of participants and activities.

This week I noticed tiny bursts of color in the outside world.  The first colors of spring are so striking against the earth tones of winter. These tiny, little blooms are my color inspiration for the week.

Shades of purplish blue.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

As Predicted

I'm in the midst of dyeing, restocking inventory for this next round of events and festivals.  In between pots I've managed to sample new colors on a new yarn base.

I see a lot of fun possibilities.

As I predicted the other day, I did start a new project.

There was no point in resisting.

And there was no point in feeling guilty about abandoning the sock in progress.

The second sock is complete except for the toe.  My next prediction? I'll be wearing a new pair of socks in no time.

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Power Of Community

Community.  I think a lot about community.  Not just the geographical area I live in, but the groups that I belong to.

One of Merriam-Webster's definitions for community is "a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society."  I'm involved with several communities that reflect my lifestyle, values and interests.  It's natural for people to seek out others who share the same interests - everything from sports to crafts to politics to religion. 

Some communities are designed to be social networks and exist for people who share a common interest.  Most knitting groups probably fall in this category.  Other communities are meant to bring about change.  People who are passionate about a particular cause come together and work to bring about a desired result.  Political campaigns are one example.  Some days I think I should be more active with communities that are working for change, striving to make the world a better place.

And then over the weekend I read an update on the Great American Afghan Raffle that XRX held to raise money for their employee, Sue, to help pay for medical expenses.  People bought raffle tickets for a chance to win the Great American Afghan that is pictured in the book by the same name.  This afghan is a beautiful piece of work with rich colors, textures and designs.  I was thrilled to learn that the raffle raised more than $11,000 for Sue.  I was moved to tears when I read that the winner, Angela, has given the afghan to Sue so that she may have it with her during cancer treatment.

I know that knitters can be very generous and supportive.  I've seen that in my own knitting community and the knitting community at large.  This raffle is just another example of the good that people can accomplish when they unite behind a cause.  The power of knitters, the power of community.

On the needles . . . my Jeck socks are coming right along.  As I've been working down the foot toward the toe, I can't help but think about my next project.  Plotting and planning is half the fun.

I took a short break from the sock - enough time for some winding. This new project is sitting on my desk, tempting me to cast-on.  I have to cast-on just a few stitches.  And then, since there won't be too many stitches, I'll have to knit just a few rows.  One thing leads to another, and I've started my way down that slippery slope. Whom am I kidding?  I'm not going to put up much of a fight.  It's safe to say I will cast-on before the end of the day.   

Friday, April 8, 2011

Time For Dyeing

The work never stops.  After a busy week with far too many appointments and meetings, I'm looking forward to the weekend and uninterrupted time for dyeing. Time for the dyeing I didn't get done during the week.  I'm not deluding myself into thinking that I will catch up on all the dyeing, but I'm ready to tackle my long list.

For those of you in the area I should mention The Great Rhody Yarn Crawl which is coming up next weekend, April 15-17.  I've recently spoken with several local people who hadn't heard of this event, so I want to be sure to get the word out.  Several yarn stores in Rhode Island have banded together to sponsor the yarn crawl.  There will be specials in each yarn store, goodies and a raffle on Sunday. Each store is also collecting food items for the Rhode Island Community Food Bank.

On Sunday afternoon there will a marketplace at Slater Mill, and Ysolda Teague will be on hand for a book signing.  Dirty Water DyeWorks will be one of the marketplace vendors.  The grand prize raffle will be held on Sunday afternoon at Slater Mill.  Visit the website and Ravelry group for more details.

Speaking of raffles today is the final day to enter the XRX raffle to raise money for their employee, Sue, who is battling ovarian cancer. The deadline to enter is today at 5:00 CDT.

We've had our share of April showers.  When we had a dry day this week, I made the most of it.  There isn't much in the way of spring color.

This babbling brook will be a reduced to a trickle by summer, but right now it's full of cold, refreshing water.

I found one quiet pool of water that provided a clear view beneath the surface and my color inspiration for the week.

Glistening earth tones.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Spring Cleaning

We've been doing a bit of spring cleaning around here.  I'm not a fanatic about keeping a clean house.  While my house isn't picture perfect, there is a basic level of cleanliness.  Life is far too short to spend an inordinate amount of time cleaning.

Spring cleaning is a good excuse to sift and sort, do some deep cleaning, get rid of things that we don't need.  It's an exhausting, dusty process that I dread but feel good about in the end.  Recycle, rearrange, reorganize, make better use of space.  The challenge now is to maintain this level of organization and tidiness.

Another benefit of spring cleaning is that I collected all of my unfinished knitting projects into one basket.

Mittens waiting for thumbs, socks in search of mates, a pair of felted slippers in progress.  I have a feeling there should be more than just one basket - that I'm missing something.  There must be in-progress knitting hiding in a closet or tucked away on a shelf.  I could swear I have more projects to finish, but for now I'll deal with this basket.  It's more manageable to have it all in one place.

The downside to all of this cleaning is that my other work has piled up.

Literally.  It's time to start winding.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Patience Is A Virtue

I consider myself a fairly patient person, and I think I've acquired more patience over the years.  Raising children is a good exercise in patience.  I don't blow up at the drop of a hat.  If things aren't going quite right, I'm ready to take time and make adjustments. Be flexible, take a deep breath, go with the flow.  

However, I've discovered that I'm not always so patient when it comes to getting a new DyeWorks project underway.  There have been a couple of new projects brewing for a while now.  Some decisions have been made - that's always the first step.  Now I'm waiting for the pieces to come together.  Little things like waiting on a yarn delivery and then dyeing it all up.  So while I was ready to get to work on all of this last week, I find myself waiting.  And waiting is trying my patience. When it comes to these projects, I feel I have the patience of a strong willed 2-year-old.

Over the weekend I did to myself what I did with my kids when they were 2 years old.  I distracted myself with a walk to the park. 

I took my knitting along for company.  The day was a bit windy and not all that warm, but it took my mind off all the other work I wanted to be doing - and couldn't.

And there was a bonus.

My first sighting of crocuses.

The winner of the Change Of Seasons Contest is Carolyn.  Carolyn, I can't locate any contact information for you.  Please contact me using the "About Me" link in the sidebar and claim your prize.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Tower Mill Shawl

The other day I finished Tower Mill Shawl.  It's been a crazy busy week with not many opportunities to take photos, so the shawl spent a day with me running errands.

I managed to squeeze in a couple of photos between stops.

This shawl is a cozy, versatile wrap.  It's perfect to wear out.  Or stay in and snuggle up with a good book.

The yarn is Dirty Water DyeWorks Marie, colorway Pea Pod.  Marie has a bit of cashmere which makes for a smooth, soft knit.  I can't seem to get enough of this yarn and will have to plan another project with it.

Here's a peek at my latest sock.

I was planning to make a simple ribbed sock, but then I stumbled across Jeck.  Jeck uses a modified rib - a little something to keep it interesting.

Today is the last day for the Change Of Seasons Contest.  There's still time.  Leave a comment and enter to win.

This week I was outside looking for colorful signs of spring.  All I found were the remnants of winter.  I know that the crocuses have popped, but I have yet to see one.  My color inspiration for this week is tightly wrapped and hidden.

Buds waiting to burst.