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Almost Fully Vested

We’ve been havin’ some crazy weather here.

3 inches of rain in the last week.

Snow for three days straight.

Today the snow stopped, meltoff began, then we lost power for about 6 hours.

This is the end of March in the lovely and hospitable Pacific Northwest (?)

But hey, you don’t need electricity to knit (or spin for that matter), so a little powered-down time can sometimes be a good thing!

The vest is coming along
sweater vest almost done 3-08 sharpened

The only thing I have left to do is to continue the cable from the front around the back of the neckline. I’ll graft the two sides together at the center back.
vest shoulder close 3-08

I’ve shaped the back neckline a little wider than the front, and connected front and back using the three needle bind-off, except for the last 7 stiches on each side that will carry the cable around the edge.
vest neckline before finishing 3-08 edited

And I am much relieved to know that it actually fits! I always get nervous knitting things from the bottom up, because it’s so hard to get a sense of the fit until you’re almost done. Gotta trust the measurements. But this seems to have turned out alright. Better than alright, even.

Pretty good.

Pretty,, pretty ,,, pretty good. (anyone who gets the reference wins a prize)

Best Laid Plans

This week has been tough. Syd has been sick as, well,, a dog (go figure) and it’s only now that I really feel like he’s out of the woods. Poor little bugger. But he’s back to eating and licking himself and itching like the little allergy-dog I know and love, so I think we’re good.

Anyway, I had entered some spinning/knitting items in our staff Arts and Crafts fair at work, but then never had a chance to photograph the stuff while it was on display, so here is one of the thingees at home after the fact-
yarn basket2

It’s a basket stuffed with a dozen of my favorite handspuns- showing off different natural wool colors. I think it’s kind of neat to be able to look at a skein and know what sheep it came from. I’m pretty sure that these are all single-sheep skeins. (kind of like single-malt scotch?)

Anyway, while the natural colored fibers were at the fair, I brought out the uptown fancy-schmancy merino/silk for a quick knit. Here is the seafoam scarf-
seafoam scarf on cello
seafoam scarf close

It is amazingly soft and squishy (garter stitch), with just enough openness to give it some visual interest. I highly recommend it. It would be especially nice knit lengthwise in a yarn with gradual color shifts that would really draw attention to the undulating stitch pattern.

And speaking of gradual color changes, I’ve also been using the Viking Combs to blend some dyed fleece I have in the stash- and here is the result-
combed blue-green single

I do so love those blues and greens- and the nice smooth transitions in the color.

(This is what it looked like before steaming)
blue green single before steaming-rev1

Eeks! Is that wool, or Syd barf?

Ok. Enough for now.

Denise out.

It’s raining combs!

Well, wouldn’t you know, as soon as I am able to get my hands on one set of combs, another one appears! And here I’ve been waiting for going on three months to use some. Too funny.

I am a very lucky girl to be surrounded by such a generous bunch of fiber folks.

These combs that I’m playing with now have been kindly loaned to me by Julie, a fellow spinner. They are double row Indigo Hound Viking Combs.
Indigo Hound Viking Combs

These guys aren’t as big and heavy as the John Meck English Combs, and they can be used with one in each hand, working one across the other, but they come with a little table clamp that you can use to hold one down while you’re dizzing off it, or I suppose you could use the clamp to work with one stationary like the other set. However, it’s not nearly as beefy a set-up. I suspect you wouldn’t want to put the little table clamp under a lot of pressure.

I do like these guys. They would probably work really well for most fleeces- liberating and veg and short bits (second cuts, anyone?) and giving you a nice smooth, silky top to play with. Can be a good upper-body workout, too- but do be careful, and don’t go nuts swingin’ those babies around. They are mighty sharp!

Though I’ve been truly captivated by the combs of late, I have managed to make some significant progress on the sweater project. However, the sweater is part of a “process” piece that I entered in the arts and crafts show at work, so I’m unable to photograph it right at the moment. (The show opens Monday. Perhaps I’ll go and take some photos then.)

But, since I have no sweater to work on until Friday, and it is truly a scary thing to not have a knitting project somewhere nearby, I am casting on again.
Instant Gratification project

This is the Merino/Silk that I bought just after Christmas as an instant gratification spinning project. Now it is the instant gratification knitting project. It will be a Seafoam Scarf, knit lengthwise. Simple. Elegant. Sorta like this one. That’s the plan, anyway. Let just hope there is enough of it to make a respectable sized scarf.

Stay tuned.

Combin’ Fool

Yesterday I went to a SpinDrifters meeting in Bellingham, and picked up some English combs that the group was kind enough to loan to me. I’ve been dying to have some combs since I saw Susan Forsyth demonstrate their usefulness at the SpinDrifters’ First Annual Spin-In last fall!

So here they are (BTW-these are not Forsyth combs- they have the name “John A Meck” on the case:
English Combs

Scary, eh?

Yeah, I thought so too. Brought them home and I was half inclined to just leave them in t their nice wooden case where they couldn’t hurt anybody. These guys are amazingly sharp, and the longest tines are about 6.5″ long.

But I also knew that they are probably the only thing that would help me tame the Lincoln fleece that I have had in my stash for about a year and a half. I bought this wool at the NW Washington fair in 2006, when I was just getting into this whole business, and was looking for fleece where ever I could find it. It is beautiful and silky- silver and gunmetal colored, with champagne tips. But it is somewhat matted at the skin, and there is veg about an inch from the tips that binds it all up. Early on I processed a small amount of this by pulling it apart by hand and then brushing the heck out of it with a flick carder,, but I’d since given up in this method and put it aside to deal with later.

Now it is later. And I have the right tools at my disposal. So here we go!

Here is the wool we’re starting with:

washed lincoln

And here we go with combing it out into something I can spin!
english comb in table bracket

First I pulled the locks apart a little by hand, because they were really bound up, and I don’t want to go using excessive force and somehow damaging these wonderful combs I’ve borrowed. Then I placed on of the combs in it’s holder, clamped to a table.

comb loaded with lincoln wool

Then I lashed on a few locks and worked from left to right, transferring the wool to the hand-held comb.
combs after the fisrt pass

Notice the waste left on the clamped comb. That has a lot of matted stuff behind it that just wouldn’t let loose. You don’t want to spin that anyway, so don’t feel bad about tossing it!

After a few passes, everything seemed pretty well sorted out, so with the wool back on the table comb, it’s time get out the diz and make a top, or sliver, or whatever you want to call it. (Completely off topic: In case you’re ever playing Scrabble and need to get rid of a Z, don’t try “diz”. It’s not in the dictionary. At least not mine. Maybe I just need a newer edition?)
dizzing top from comb

Isn’t this amazing? Beautiful silky lincoln top from matted locks. Sure you’re gong to loose quite a bit to waste- but a lincoln is a big sheep. Lots of wool to spare. No worries.
lincoln top and washed locks

And always remember to put the big scary combs back in their case when you’re done. One wrong move with these guys could do a lot of damage.

English Combs in case

(Those are more little combed wool muffins in the background. Aren’t they adorable?)