We won at the ABR Fall Fest!

We won again!

You know, I really like entering fiber competitions. I wouldn't have predicted it, as I'm not an overly competitive person, but really, I do like fiber competitions. I like the "grade sheet" that you get back from the judge - telling you where you can improve.

Grace and I entered items in the latest ABR Fall Festival (that's Alpaca Breeders of the Rockies), and we won 3 first place ribbons, and I also won "People's Choice" for one of my entries! Wha Hoo! The award for People's Choice is a ribbon *and* this - ... but, I get ahead of myself.

Grace entered her three ply alpaca skein, you saw it here, and you read about it here, and here. She won first place again! Way to go, Grace!

I entered this tiny skein - I spun this out of an alpaca-silk mix which is sooooooooo delightful that it practically spins itself! In order to enter, the skein has to be 50 yards - this skein measures 55 yards, believe it or not. It's so tiny! I can't wait to spin the rest!

I used a teeny, jewel spindle -
and I used my favorite method of spinning, Tammy Rizzo's Navajo Ply on the Fly.

As an aside - the case for this product makes a perfect spindle case! I have plenty enough room for an ounce or more of fiber and spindles. I can drop it into my knitting bag without getting fluff all over everything. I wish that we could just buy these cases without having to damage our knees, first. Have you ever wanted to put a sticky note on such a product which reads, "So sorry about your knee. If you have no interest in re-using the case, then please call me because I'd like to have it." Imagine all of the cool packages we could obtain in this way? Sorry - I digress.

Back to the topic, heh heh heh. I won first place *and* people's choice for this little skein. I'm really happy to win people's choice, as it comes with a real prize - a gift subscription to any Interweave magazine. Last year, I won two people's choice awards, so I asked for Spin-Off and Knitter's. This year - which to ask for? Decisions... maybe I'll get Piecework?

I also entered my big honkin' alpaca doiley, and it won first place, too. It was my "summer project" and every time I look at it, I have so many nice memories. It took me practically the whole summer to complete, and I dragged it around with me to so many places.

Mostly, I knitted it here, on the bench that my darling husband built for me. This was such a nice way to start the day - with my coffee, on my bench, listening to the birds, knitting and knitting.

I also knitted at the HARP - and at the Fourth of July fireworks celebration - Just *thinking* about this doiley triggers a particular memory - oh, this was just TOO CUTE. See, my darling daughters are also jugglers, and as we were waiting for dark, and the fireworks to begin, I knitted and they juggled.

This little boy was entranced. He couldn't stop staring! After a while, he showed us HIS tricks!
Look! No Hands! What a cutie! My daughters insist that it was their juggling which threw him into a fit of showing off, but you and I both know that it was the knitting.

Here is the doiley, pinned out to block. You might look at it and say, "doiley" but I look at it and say, Summer Memories...

Grace's Chullo Hat


Grace got this hat kit (from Knitpicks) and jumped right in. Never mind that she'd never done any colorwork before, never mind that *I* haven't done any color work before - she simply loved this pattern and couldn't wait to get started.

It took her about a week from start to finish.

She didn't like the way the applied I-cord was written in the pattern, so she figured out a different way of doing it. (Please, disregard the un-worked-in ends - these were taken care of after the pix were taken. oops)
This was a "choose your own adventure" sort of pattern, and according to Grace, it was fun to work.

It came out great, don't you think?

Emma's "Jayne Hat"

My 13yo daughter designed and knitted this hat - it's a Jayne Hat, which is from a television program called Firefly.

In the television program, Jayne Cobb's mother knits a hat and sends it to him. It's a pretty goofy hat - not very well knitted, and made out of some rather garish colors. Jayne exclaims, "Pretty Cunnin', doncha think?" So, my daughter refers to this as her Cunnin' hat.

It's supposed to have the strings hanging - this is not a failure-to-work-in-the-ends, heh heh heh.

"Man walks down the street, wearing a hat like that, you know he ain't afraid of anything!"

Long Live Jayne!

Anastasia's socks are delivered!

Today, I drove down to my friend's house, and visited with her mother in law, Anastasia, aka Annie. 

Anastasia is in her mid 80's.  She grew up on a sheep ranch, and she married a sheep rancher, so she continued with sheep.  Her sheep days ended in 1972 with the last 4 suffolk sheep on their ranch.  These are the sheep which were shorn, and whose wool my friend showed to me in the barn, and which I took home and washed and spun and knitted the socks.

Annie is trememdously homesick and nostalgic for her days as a sheep rancher...

So, first, I showed Annie a hearty handful of old skanky wool, which she immediately recognized and said that there's more in yet a different out-building on the ranch.  (Yay!) She immediately offered me all the wool I wanted because she's an unbelievably nice lady.

Then, I showed her some of the same wool, which I had washed, and she exclaimed that she had done the same thing in 1972 - she had washed some of the wool, dried it, and made the wreath on her kitchen wall, and that the 2 bells on the wreath were from her last sheep.  (She also said that at one time, they had 700+ sheep, 300+ of which all wore bells!  Imagine how wonderful that must have sounded!!!  She told a great story about the bells.  Seeing the bells on that wreath made a tear come to my eye.  Imagine - over 300 belled sheep, pouring out of the barn on a winter morning!)

Next, I pulled out my trusty drop spindle and showed her that I spun the wool on a drop spindle, and I pulled out a skein of yarn to show her the yarn.  Actually, the skein was a 2 ply which I decided wouldn't work for the socks, but still, it told the story.  She held the skein with wonder.

Finally, I pulled out the socks and said, "And, I knitted these socks for YOU, with the wool from your sheep!"  

Oh Me Oh My, I'll never forget the look on her face.  She threw her arms out wide and exclaimed, "For me?" 

She absolutely loves her socks!  She said that she's going to hang them on her wall, and I insisted that she must wear her socks, that this is the whole point!  I think I'm going to knit a tiny pair, have them shadow box framed so that she can hang those on her wall, and wear the wearable pair.

We had a lovely, long conversation about her life with sheep, and her various experiences with her husband and her son and their sheep ranch.  What a great day.

Anyway, I just wanted to share this story.  I'm pleased.

Edited on March 14 to add - 
You might like to read a little more of the history of Anastasia's socks.  

Anastasia's Socks are Finished!

Remember when I told you about finding wool in a barn - wool which was shorn from the sheep, way back in 1972? Well, that project is finished!

Please welcome Anastasia's socks into the world. I'm thrilled with myself!

Close up view of the front -

- and the back -

- and the upper edge of the front -

- and the upper edge of the back.
(I have no idea why these last two uploaded rotated. They are properly oriented in my computer... annoying...)

I used a hugely modified version of Nancy Bush's "Chalet Socks" from the book, Folk Socks. I liked the basic pattern, but my stitch gauge was vastly different from the one needed for the Chalet Sock. Also, I wanted to knit the socks toe-up, and I didn't want to use twisted stitches because I was afraid that the socks wouldn't stretch enough with the twisted stitches, so I basically had to graph the stitch pattern over again.

I knit them toe up, and I decided to use that Genius Cat Bordhi's advice and knit an afterthought leg! What a concept! *smack forehead* Of course! Why not!

Ladies and Gentlemen - try this. It really works well. Once you wrap your brain around the idea, it really makes sense. Here are the photos -
- knit from toe up - increase for toe, knit straight for the foot, decrease for the heel.
- kitchener the heel shut if you make the heel like I did - the exact opposite (almost) of the toe. You could do a 6 point decrease and cinch it shut, like the point of a hat, if you prefer.
- thread the needles in through the appropriate rows of stitches
- closer view
- snip the stitch and pick the row out
- ready to knit the leg.

This project represents many firsts for me.

For the first time, ever, I washed wool - wait, that doesn't sound right, I've been washing wool all of my life. What I mean is that I washed it straight off of the sheep's back, and this was not as much work as I had feared, actually.

For the first time, ever, I brushed, and carded, and combed and teased locks of wool, because up to now, I'd only used roving. I even made rolags! (I'll tell you more about how I made fake rolags in a future post.)

For the first time, ever, I spun from a rolag. Let me tell you something, this is a wonderful thing! I REALLY like my little rolags!

For the first time, ever, I knitted traveling stitches, and you want to know something - it's easy peasy. I love traveling stitches and will certainly do lots more. Actually, this is a lie, now that I think about it, as the Spider's legs are traveling stitches..... OK, so this is the first time I've done any sort of patterning with traveling stitches, and I really like it!!!

For the first time, ever, I ran out of yarn towards the end of a project and said to myself, "Oh my, I've run out. Let me spin some more!" I spun for about 15-20 minutes, and got back to my knitting, and completed the socks. Ha!

For the first time, ever, I knitted two socks off of one ball of yarn. Oh, I've done it this way before by winding enough yarn for each sock into its own ball, but this time, I pulled from the inside and from the outside at the same time, and I saved my sanity by employing this one simple trick - rather than pull both in the same direction, and therefore, ending up with a twined mess, I simply pulled in either direction.

Most importantly, for the first time, ever, I knitted something out of my hand spun yarn. I think I'm hooked! Time to dig out those skeins and get knitting!!!