Cher 1 hour old
Cher as an adult
How do you even thank someone for doing something so incredible for you? You can't really. Roseann is a genius at knitting and spinning and I am just lucky enough to have her for a friend. If I haven't already made you bitterly jealous, see Roseann's post about the Cher Shawls here:
Permalink to Roseann's Blog Entry about Spinners Lace Shawls]
And, ..... Ta Dah!!!! ..... The Cher Shawl:
Link for the Fibertrends pattern of the Spinner's Lace Shawl:
Spinners Shawl Pattern
Don't look for me to ever attempt the above mentioned pattern. I did one lace project a few years ago and I'm still suffering from the post traumatic stress (lace weight version) to this day.
Speaking of moi, I have been spinning my metaphorical wheels a lot more than my actual spinning wheels lately - I've been switching from the PC to the Mac!
It's been at least 5 years since I owned a Mac computer, and that one was a G4, so the move from Windows XP to Mac OSX Snow Leopard has been pretty hard on an old gal like me. If any of you out there decide to get off the Windows treadmill as well, here is a tip that only took me TWO ENTIRE DAYS! to figure out:
The Mac will not join your Linksys wireless network until you change your router from WEP encryption to WPA encryption!
Figuring out that one saved me from stabbing myself to death with aluminum knitting needles. I was ON THE VERGE!
If you have no idea what I was talking about just now, you may be one of those lucky people whose children or husbands run your wireless home network.
I have never succeeded in passing this extremely annoying and thankless job off, and one of my biggest fears in life is that they'll still call me when I'm 80 years old and say, "Mom! my network is down." I'll be forced to grab my walker with the tennis balls on the legs, break out of my nursing home, and drive like Mr. Magoo over to their houses.
I am loving my MacBook though, and at least I managed to figure out how to create my own Widgets. One of the first I created was for Roseann's fabulous knitting and spinning blog, "Possessed to Knit." Here's a screen shot of the Roseann widget, dead center in my MacBook's screen:
Roseann produces so much gorgeous fibery art, so quickly, that you really do have to make an effort to stay current on what she's working on. The Widget helps.
Not that I have totally neglected my own fibery pursuits. After I finished spinning the 50% Suri / 50% Huacaya alpaca roving that I mentioned in a previous post,
handspun suri / huacaya alpaca yarn
I was a little burnt out on wheel spinning, so I decided to go back to the drop spindle for a while. My hand spindle spinning is not the most perfect, but that is actually the point of this whole effort. I was missing the days when I used to spin the uneven, kooky-looking, "designer" yarn that they sell for big bucks in the yarn stores.
Once you've spun up tons of fleece on your wheel, it actually becomes almost impossible not to keep producing the same boring, even yarns. This is especially true if you keep using the fleeces and fibers that you like the most and have the most practice at.
The drop spindle works on the same principle as the spinning wheel but, for me at least, it feels like a whole different activity. I have to try harder to keep the yarn even and I am quite happy that I don't always manage it.
I was also using a new fiber that I'd recently added to my fiber-addict stash. I had this amazing hand-dyed SeaCell / Merino roving that I'd bought from my spinner-girl friends at Shenanigans. I really should not even show you this next photo because the hand-dyed rovings these two girls make are like fiber person crack - horribly addictive - but here is my latest purchase from them:
I've been spinning it up on my Golding drop spindle which, in this photo, I have forced my dog to pose with. He can't spin, but he thinks that he can. At least, he likes to play with the spindle and the yarn. He tends to leave teeth marks on the drop spindles if left unattended - not a nice habit at all - so he is usually banned from playing with my fibery things.
If my warning about roving addiction has not dissuaded you, you can buy the rovings of the Shenanigans girls here:
Shenanigans Hand-Dyed Spinning Fibers
If, way back in the paragraph about the roving, you said, "SeaCell? What the hell?" or something similar, it is seaweed mixed with cellulose.
Hopefully, you all know what Merino is because, otherwise, why are you reading a fiber art blog?
Here is a partial description of the benefits of SeaCell, brazenly lifted from Paradise Fibers' website:
* Supports skin blood flow
* Stimulates skin cell regeneration
* Pleasant touch, comfortable feel
Seaweed is added as the active substance for a good reason. The fact that this marine plant is rich in various minerals, trace elements, carbohydrates, fats and vitamins, has been well-known since the times of Chinese medicine. Moreover, seaweed has been proved to protect the skin and exhibit anti-inflammatory properties...
Well, it's hard to be anti anti-inflammatory properties, but the real reason I like the SeaCell is that it lets the Merino act like Merino - so to speak - but it also makes the yarn a lot less hot. It's an excellent Florida fiber.
Now if I could just convince the Shenanigans girls, Susan and Kimberly, that they need to start doing hand-dyed Alpaca / SeaCell blends. I've tried, but they want ME to pick out the alpaca fleece for them. I keep explaining the I am no longer in the business of BREEDING alpacas.
Know where we can score a white, crimpy, clean, 2-4 inch, inexpensive, alpaca fleece without driving to Maryland?
Below: random photos that I took at the Brevard County, Florida Agricultural Fair where I did a hand spinning demo. The Great Frederick Fair (my old county's fair) was a lot bigger, but THEY did not serve Gator, or feature small children in hamster balls for our entertainment.
socks knit by my friend Mary Beth
How cute they look, when they're trapped in large plastic balls!
But, enough of my silly sentimentality, I have a designer yarn to spin.
Thanks you again Roseann. You're the best.
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Well I had to leave a comment on the blog of my friend Roseann, "Possessed to Knit" about her Cher Alpaca Shawl This shawl was spun up from the fleece of the very first alpaca ever born on my farm so, of course, I need to see how the shawl turned out, and Roseann was taking her time showing the finished masterpiece. All of her spinning and knitting items are masterpieces. Soooo jealous!
You can see photos of Cher, herself, HERE:
Cher the alpaca
Meanwhile, back in Edgewater, Florida, I went to the estate sale of a handspinner.
That's right, EDGEWATER FLORIDA! See why I keep saying that Florida is (shockingly) Fibery?
I found out about this sale on the Ravelry forum "Florida Spinners." Since Edgewater is about 10 minutes from my house in Scottsmoor, I HAD to go - you know, to pay my respects to a fallen spinner and all that.
Not that I didn't do a wee bit of shopping whilst I was there.
I bought the following:
An old-fashioned niddy noddy that has a wooden peg holding the top piece on. When you pull the peg, the top slides down a couple of inches and, voila! your skein slips right off the niddy noddy without a fight. At least this is the theory.
It turned out that this niddy noddy had not been used in a very long time. The peg was stuck tight.
I got my husband to pull the peg while he said a lot of swear words and vented about my habit of buying things without trying them first.
Then I used a plastic crochet hook as a peg until I could repair the wooden niddy noddy peg. That method worked fine but did not look nearly as charming as the all-wood niddy noddy.
I also bought a huge skein of spun linen. This smelled so musty and awful that I washed it twice. I did notice, whilst washing, that this skein of thin linen didn't seem to be tied off very well.
I usually figure-8 tie the heck out of my skeins before I take them off the niddy noddy. This one seemed to be tied in only two places. But, being a little, Pollyanna optimist, I decided that the other handspinner (may she rest in alpaca fiber cloudy heaven) must have known what she was doing.
She owned TWO GREAT WHEELS! (and by great wheels, I do not mean marvelous wheels, of course but, rather, wheels that are very large and have no treadle.)
Well, suffice it to say that I got to the point where the musty smell was replaced by the most lovely, flaxy-linen smell ever, but the skein was not looking any better tied-off after 2 washings.
Here is what it looked like on the swift after it had been washed:
If you have never put one of your own hand spun skeins on a swift and carefully arranged the skein so that it is not turned under or twisted anywhere, you may not realize that a skein that is not tied-off well and arranged properly will quickly become an object of terrible torment to the spinner or would-be knitter.
No matter how much you try to unravel the yarn and roll it into a ball, the yarn keeps getting hung up every 2 inches or so. This is similar to what happens when an evil dog or cat (or toddler for that matter) gets a hold of your yarn, but all the more annoying because, theoretically, it was supposed to be tied-off properly so that it could not tangle.
There is no word I know of for this phenomena, so I call it
There is a special level of hell dedicated to Skein Wreck, where former spinners are made to unravel, overly large, poorly tied-off, very fine, badly twisted skeins. Just to make it more
agonizing, the skeins are always alpaca, cashmere or (Bombyx Mori) silk - nothing that you could feel happy about throwing away. Not that that is an option in skein wreck hell.
Being tortured with Valkyrie wool combs for all eternity would be a welcome relief compared to this.
So, I threw the skein out. Shocking, I know, but I did only pay 50cents for the entire thing, and, having experienced skein wreck before, I knew I would not keep my sanity if I continued trying to unravel it. My fiber friends were aghast!
I try to be charitable and pretend that this, now-passed-from-this-world, spinner might have spun and tied this linen skein before she really knew what she was doing, and just couldn't bear to throw it out.
Maybe she bought the Flax on a special trip somewhere.
She just didn't realize that the fates would be cutting her own thread quite so soon, and never intended for this skein wreck to be sold. I hope I'm right.
I wouldn't want her to be YOU-KNOW-WHERE now!
I also bought some wonderful hand spun yarns in white and multi-colored purple. These I bought already wound in balls, so I skeined them on the niddy noddy and washed them before I ended up by winding them into balls again.
Here is a photo of most of my purchases lined up together:
My favorite purchase at the hand spinner's estate sale might just be the little booklet about all of the different, historical spinning wheels bought at the Ulster Museum for 3 shillings and 6 pence.
Yes, I am a spinning history nerd - and not in the cloakroom about it either!
If you are wondering why I could not resist the plastic toy spinning wheel in the above photo, so am I. There's just something so retro-cute about it. I doesn't really spin though.
This week's alpaca e-mail:
You're invited to join our brand new Herd Sire directory, which will be available as an online resource, as well as in print form. The online
directory will be free to view by anyone, and the printed copy will carry a small fee to cover printing and postage costs.
We are past the planning stage and in the design stage of the herd sire directory, so we are offering a discount for those that sign up now. The special price will be $50/yr. per alpaca. After this promotion ends, the price will be $75/yr per alpaca. The directory will be updated once a year. Blah Blah, etc., etc.
Under subject line: "Help!"
I have several Alpacas 13 to be exact and in the market for more . I am having a problem with finding a site that would be interested in coming
out to shear my Alpacas and buying the wool .Do you know of a site or a place that I can call to help me sale my wool .Thanks
Yeah, where IS that "site" that just calls YOU up and says, "We want to come shear your alpacas for you, then buy your fleece from you. when's good for you?"
So, at the risk of repeating myself -AGAIN- I sell a DVD that teaches alpaca owners how to shear their own alpacas. If you want one, you can get it here:
Alpaca Shearing (and care) DVD
I don't maintain a directory of shearers, nor do I find buyers for YOUR product. Maybe the people who want you to advertise in their herdsire (stud) directory can help you. THEY must still be in the alpaca breeding business.
Or, maybe the person you bought your first 13 alpacas from can help you. Unlike me, THEY are also in the alpaca breeding business.
Sorry to be so mean, but saying it nicely, over and over and over, wasn't working.
Entirely gratuitous photo of an armadillo in my yard:
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People, you are just making this WAY too easy for me. It's like you're Dorothy and I'm the Wicked Witch of Alpaca Fleece Oz and you keep walking up to my Flying Monkeys and asking them for a lift to my Castle!
Despite having been very Wicked and Cranky with you, in telling you that YOU are responsible for educating YOURSELF about your own Alpaca Fleece from YOUR OWN Alpacas,
Alpaca Fleece Reality Check
And pretty much all over MY WEBSITE and this blog, you continue to imagine that I am Glinda the Good Witch of the Alpaca Fleece Oz and send me e-mails like this one (an actual e-mail I received this week):
Subject: alpaca fiber
On Saturday, March 6, 2010, 09:51 PM, NAME REMOVED
I'm interested in selling our raw fier (sic) from our farm we have anywhere from 60-70 animals at the farm at one time,so as now we have built up quite a bit of extra fiber,u have all colors but are now breeding for grey,and black.if u could contact me that would be great
NAME AND PHONE NUMBER REMOVED
So now I wave my wand over you while you click your shiny, red shoes together and what? Return you to the time when movies were black and white?, make munchkins show up at your alpaca farm and sort your fiber for you? magically buy all your alpaca fleece from you sight unseen?
Oops! My wand seems to be broken.
Uh Oh, Here it comes... my bicycle is getting lifted up in the tornado and I feel myself going all green-skinned and pointy-hatted, My Pretty. I am putting on my alpaca blend socks in the Wicked Witch colorway.
WHY do you own 60 - 70 alpacas and have NO PLAN for what to do with the END PRODUCT of your alpacas????!!!!
And, did the "BREEDER" you bought your initial alpacas from tell you that they don't use their alpaca fleece, but you bought from them anyway??!!
See, Dorothy DID steal those shoes from My sister, and WHY SHOULD she be allowed to keep them just because she's CUTER than me and can sing like nobody's business?
Or, put in more black and white terms, Auntie Em and Uncle Henry didn't set up their farm and then expect someone else (that they did not even know!) to make a market for their pigs, and/or sell the pigs for them, while they just kept breeding pigs and never even ate one of their own, or knew how to slaughter it.
I'm sorry to be the Wicked Witch but someone has to say it!
And, no, I won't be calling you. I sell an Alpaca Care DVD that tells you how to shear your alpacas, and bag up your fleece, and take care of your alpacas. If you want one, you can call or e-mail me.
I don't sell other people's alpaca fleeces. Sorry. If I want to buy one, I have plenty of hand spinning, fiber artist, alpaca breeder, friends from whom I can buy one.
And, your little dog too!
(Thanks to Cheer7780 for this Witch Icon!)
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Would I have access to a proper selection of knitting yarns? alpaca, wool-whose sheepy parents are identified by breed, silks, bamboo, organic cotton, linen, hair of the Mo?
Would there be other hand spinners with whom to obsess about rovings, slivers, batts, carders, combs, wheels and poorly twisted singles?
Would there be SERIOUS knitters? - the kind who are unashamed of their calling as goddesses of yarn creation and wouldn't think of buying yarn at WalMart or refusing to knit a pattern just because it required the dreaded STEEK?
Luckily for me, the answer to all of these is, Yes, yes, yes!
Florida is surprisingly fibery! In (shameful) fact, I am one of the least talented Florida knitters I know. Thank the goddess, Frigg, that I am a pretty decent hand spinner!
I have an entire posse of cool, tart, witty, knitty BFFs right in, nearby, Titusville Florida. Check out the photos from our last "Magic Ball" yarn exchange.
Yes, these ARE my girlfriends so, if they make a weird, unattractive face in one of the photos, of course I will not show it!
and, at little "smoothing" from Photoshop never hurts either.
The wonderful toys that came inside of MY Magic Ball. The adorable Snow scene square on left is a measuring tape.
Bonnie's magic yarn ball looks like a giant, ugly pickle.
How's THAT for recycling? A knitting needle bracelet! Aluminum needles for knitting are SO not comfortable for grannies OR young, hip gals!
Ever had to grind your teeth and mutter certain swear words because you read YET ANOTHER headline like,
Knitting, it's not just for grandma anymore!
You know, people who think that knitting and spinning still looks like this:
****see note at bottom
Here's my answer:
Hey dumb would-be-writer dude or mod gal who's too cool to knit, Knitting never WAS just a grandma thing!
Hand spinners were called "spinsters" because they were too smart to settle for Mr. Not-even-passably-attractive. They, wisely, chose spinning instead. The women who invented the Aran Fisherman's Cable designs were gals who were trying to dress their family and make a living, not grannies in polyester with nothing to do but knit and watch Judge Judy.
Not that I am hatin' on grandma. I hope to be one someday and I plan to wear whatever ugly thing feels comfortable. Some people might say I already do. But, I digress.
So here's to MY local knitting posse.
My favorite, knitting-related tatoo on one of our members:
Links to blogs by members of my local knitting posse:
http://web.me.com/bonniebakes/Bonnies_B ... /Blog.html
And, gratuitously, this photo of the self-proclaimed "Queen of Koigu" acting up in a shocking manner at the Magic Yarn Ball exchange.:
This year, we've even had winter in Florida! It's been the coldest winter since 1958 in nearby Daytona Beach. We've even had something resembling snow, which I mentioned in my previous post.
That being the case, we knitters are pretty much the only Floridians not walking around miserable and whiny because we're trying to stay warm wearing cotton.
Yes, right here in America, there are still people who don't understand that cotton is not a proper fiber for winter clothing.
Having mentioned the Calorimetries made for my sister, a friend and myself in my last post, I am sad to report that MY Calorimetry was quickly snatched up by a visiting relative. That is one of the really annoying things about living in Florida; visiting friends and family always assume that THEY need your hand-knit winter garments more than you do.
OK, to be fair, they DID have 4 FEET of snow this winter in Mt. Airy, where I had my alpaca farm. Not sorry I missed THAT.
So now I will be forced to knit another Calorimetry for MOI. Luckily, I have one of the yarns from MY magic ball, just waiting:
Araucania "Limari Multicolor" 70 %Merino, 20% Alpaca, 10% silk, hand-dyed bulky. Can't wait to get started!
Florida - Fibery, Alpaca-Friendly and Fine!
****PS. If you are wondering about the granny-knitting and spinning illustrations used above,
I recently fixed a friend's computer (Not that I KNOW how to do that, so please, Don't call me!)
She inherited this computer from a distant relative. It also had an external hard drive that came with it. She did not want the hard drive; something I find unimaginable. So I took it off her hands.
On the drive I found gay porn and many, old movie posters. Most of the posters, I dumped, but I kept the two above as well as a signed, photograph of my favorite, classic movie-star, Olivia DeHavilland.
Hopefully, I will not be sued by Warner Brothers or whoever made the movie "Mortal Storm" where Nazis threaten the Bavarian granny whilst she winds a yarn ball off of Margaret O'Brien's hands.
Maybe it's time to make a movie about cool, young spinners and knitters. I think I know where we can get a script.
Coming soon - Diary of a Frenzied Fiber Queen - my life as an alpaca breeder otherwise known as Kate's diary.
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