Another Snowy Day …

February 26, 2010


As much as I love a day off, I must admit I’m getting a bit tired of the snow days. Why don’t we ever get a day off for too much sun?

Anyway, I finished spinning this from the Woolbearers’ handy-dyed merino roving:


And what did you do on your day home?


Swiftly spinning …

February 20, 2010

… the spinning swift spins on.


This beauty is a Hornshaw Swift, handcrafted by woodworker Tim Hornshaw in Holland, Michigan and available via his Web site at:

I had a second-hand umbrella swift that always seemed a little dry. I was winding sock yarn and the dowel where the top of the swift attaches suddenly snapped. Suddenly for me, but it had probably been getting ready to do this and I just hadn’t noticed. I was able to reattach with some duct tape, but this was clearly only a temporary fix. So, what to do?

About this same time, someone posted a thread on Ravelry about the wonderful swift they had just bought. I checked the link and – Wow! – were they ever pretty. I waffled for about a week, thinking I could keep the mended umbrella swift working. This thought lasted until I went to wind yarn again.

First thing the next morning, I logged on and order the Hornshaw in cherry. It arrived 3 days later. In addition to the lovely light coloring and elegantly turned arms and pegs, it has an incredibly sturdy base. You just open up the swift, put it on a flat surface, and it is not going anywhere! The no-skid feet are truly no-skid, not even a wobble.


I took an architecture class once where the professor elaborated on how something needs to be useful AND beautiful in order to be considered really well-built. I would say the Hornshaw Swift meets the requirements!

The Finished Hat

February 15, 2010

I am notorious for not finishing projects. Hence, this blog has proven a boon in at least one respect. I am encourage, nay, shamed, into finishing projects as quickly as I start them, lest my readers discover what a true procrastinator I am.

This morning, the Musconetcong Mountain Hat was dry, so I steamed the earflaps flat and cut a lining material. How the hat is finished is purely up to the individual. In this case, I wanted to line the earflaps and put in a band that covers from the tops of the earflaps across the forehead.

I used a paisley with browns and purples. This is an old R.J.R. Textiles print called “Oxford,” long out of print. But I salted away as many yards as I could find and have used it over the years for linings and trim.

It is a great neutral, despite the colors and busy pattern. It just goes with everything. I cut a bias strip and two pieces slightly larger than the earflaps and sewed them in by hand.


I made a button loop out of the original yarn.

I found a funky button in my tin of vintage buttons. It is bakelite plastic, made to look like an antler button. As it had a bit of purple tinge, it looked great against the purple and orange surface of the hat. Add on the button, and voila!

Unbuttoned, Kat in the hat!



Now, gee whiz, if I can make these darned things, you’d think I would’ve had one during all the recent snow events! Guess I will have to make another one for me; this one is promised.

The pattern is The Musconetcong Mountain Hat pattern

If anyone makes one, please send me photos! I’d love to see how others personalize this basic pattern!

The Musconetcong Mountain Hat

February 14, 2010

After mentioning the Musconetcong Mountain Hat in a previous post, a friend e-mailed to say, “Okay, smartass, the photo was so small, I couldn’t figure out what you were talking about.” So, here is John in his Musconetcong Mountain Hat:


There really is a Musconetcong Mountain, by the way. It is the highest elevation in New Jersey at 955 feet. Hey, what did you expect, the Canadian Rockies? This is New Jersey — beach, sand, Pine Barrens? Not really known for our rugged terrain, you know. But winter on the Musconetcong Mountain can be fearsome windy and cold, so anyone hiking there would need a heavy duty wool hat.

And, for those, now clamoring for one of their own, I am writing up the pattern and will have it posted soon. I invented this pattern several years ago, which was about the last time I ever made one. It took a little figuring out, but I believe I have the right formula.

The best yarn for these is handspun longwool. I love spinning with Lincoln and Cotswold, and when you felt with these breeds, the yarn blooms in a lovely halo. John’s hat was made from natural color Cotswold with two darker stripes of Romney. You can use other wools, but will get a flatter surface. The halo effect gives you not only a softer surface, but seems to shed water and snow better.

I used the Lincoln twist yarn featured in an earlier post. The Lincolns came from Cory Simpson of Cory’s Lincoln Longwools in Montana. These are absolutely the nicest, cleanest Lincoln fleeces I’ve ever used and heartily recommend him for Lincoln wool. The twist was a mix of purple, orange, and lavender processed by Lynn Snell of Spinderella’s. The batch that I spun seem to show orange as the predominant color.


The yarn was double-plied; a finished strand was 12 wraps per inch. I used a size 10 needle to get a nice, loose texture. When knitted, the hat looked like this:


Hey, who turned out the lights!

One way to remedy this. I filled the top-loading washer with hot water, added a small amount of soap, and about a cup of vinegar should the dye decide to try and run. After one regular agitation cycle, the fiber showed signs of beginning to full. By halfway through the second round of agitation, it had felted beautifully so I pulled it, rinsed it, and stretched in on the hat form.

Much better fit this time around:


The texture is nice and fuzzy now, too, the halo having bloomed out during felting.

I will figure out how I want to finish this off and post the final product along with the pattern.

Again with the snow!

February 11, 2010

John kept saying we should go to Quebec for the ice carnival and I feel like we did. Yesterday was a nightmare: it sleeted, it rained, it snowed, it iced, the wind blew, trees came down, power lines came down. In the end, we had another 18 inches of snow added to what remained from Saturday’s storm. And the icing on the snow was the last minute sleet that sort of sealed everything in a sheet of ice.

At least, my wonderful employer decided it was not worth risking the employee’s lives on the road and they closed for the second day in a row.

First, we have the obligatory snow photos, which ironically also have some knitting projects. First, John relaxing after a hard morning shoveling:


No, he wanted everyone to think he shoveled that pile. That is at the end of our street where the plows left it. But John did get a chance to wear his original Musconetcong Mountain Hat. The Musconetcong Mountain Hat is knitted of handspun gray Cotswold with two dark gray Romney stripes. It has ear flaps. Once knitted, the hat is felted into a sort of tight helmet. The Cotswold is great to felt because it blooms out in a lovely halo. Felted, it is a tight, soft fabric that sheds the water and is extremely warm.

And, yes, there really is a Musconetcong Mountain. It is the highest point in New Jersey, which is not saying a lot for a mountain!

Here I am with the ancestral mansion, Barataria:


You can’t see the scarf well, but it is my favorite entrelac scarf and is the same pattern as the one I have posted in my Ravelry file of projects.

Once shoveling was out of the way, there was nothing to do but spin. I worked on the green Merino from Woolbearers which turned into a lovely mix of pale green with pink, yellow, and darker green mottling:


Plied, it really mixes the colors. As I was spinning this, I was envisioning a project and decided it would be socks.

Not just any socks. I recently found two great books by designer Janel Laidman: The Eclectic Sole and The Enchanted Sole. Absolutely gorgeous sock patterns, like, gorgeous. You can visit her site at the Rustling Leaf Press:

Her patterns feature socks with fairy tale, historic legend, and mythology themes. Several of them are named for characters or places in The Lord of the Rings. I kept envisioning the Rivendell Socks while spinning the green merino and believe I have found a perfect match.

And just to gild the lily a bit, here is skein of Romney, spun from roving I obtained at the 2009 Garden State Sheep Breeders show from someone’s stash reduction. This was a warming spinning project for a cold, snowy day!

Snow, snow, go away …

February 10, 2010

Okay, so I woke up to about 8 inches of slush outside and more coming down. The snow of last Saturday had melted down slightly, but was still in abundance. Last night around 9:00 PM, it started snowing again or, more specifically, what the Weather Service refers to as “a wintry mix.” This means snow, rain, sleet, ice, and any other type of precipitation, all mixed in together.

The State of New Jersey is officially closed for the day, so John is home. My employer closed for the day, so I am home. The snow of last night was only the opening blast. It is in the process of switching directions, the temperature is dropping, and the treetops rocking in the wind. Blizzard warnings are posted for the state. Nothing to do but stay inside with the fiber stash!

But wait!  All is not lost!  When I went outside to fill the bird feeders, look what I found lurking in the slush beside the front steps:


A snowdrop! A living, green thing amid all the slush! Spring is coming, we just need to wait out the snow!

In the meantime, this is the spinning for the day:


This is Merino roving from Woolbearers in Mount Holly, New Jersey, . The owner, Myra, demures when I call her the dyemaster, but she is far better at it than I am. I love the earthy colors in this and am thinking socks at this point.

One sock, blue sock, two sock, new sock!

February 8, 2010

The blue tweed handspun socks are done. I know, it’s not like no one else ever knitted a pair of socks before. But these are special because they are going back to the farmer who raised the wool. And I was pleased that I finally got a nice blue color, as I am not the most expert dye person out there. And Spinderella’s did such a nice job with the thrums and there were lots of color bits popping through.


Heavy wool socks for cold Maine mornings!