April 13, 2015

Winter finally is moving on. The garden is again coming to life with daffodils following in the witch hazel’s wake. April is usually good for one snowstorm, so we’ll see if we can get by without. In any event, spring is here and, as much as I love working with wool, I am so ready for something lighter!

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Well, okay, it is 49% wool. But 51% silk! This is two skeins of Noro Kogarashi I have marinating in my stash. It is not a yarn I typically would buy, but when The Woolly Lamb in Pennington, NJ, closed, the sales were too good to resist. Two skeins came home with me and promptly went into Tupperware to wait. I knew I had the perfect fit when I found this pattern:

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This is “Lichen” by designer Larissa Brown and my hat’s off to Larissa because this is one of the most interesting, deceptive, simple patterns I’ve come across. You start out (at least I did!) thinking it is going to be complicated. You cast on and, after a few rows, think “I didn’t do this right.” Then you get into the increases and bind-offs that make the levels and you go “Ah!.” Just count your row, count your yarn-overs, count your bind-offs. Level by level, you step down and around in a spiral until you run out of yarn.

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The yardage on the Noro was perfect; I think I had about a 15 inch section left. Long enough that the cast-on end is on my left shoulder, and after two wraps around, the cast-off end is on my right.

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Add a shawl pin picked up at Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, and I’m ready to go.

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This, to me, was one of the most fascinating pieces I’ve knitted.

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It goes around and around.

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And the colors lay perfectly within the stitches.

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At the widest point, it is only about 10 inches wide, but 5 or 6 feet long.

Love it! I plan on wearing it for long walks on the boardwalk in the evenings this summer. Carefully arrayed or quickly tossed on, it looks smashing no matter how you wear it!

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April 4, 2015

With Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival looming on the horizon, it seemed a good idea to make some headway spinning up a fleece I bought at last year’s event. It is a lovely moorit Finnsheep fleece that went through only the most basic of preps. I gave it a hot water rinse that took off what little surface grime there was but left most of the lanolin.

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Rather than send it out to be roved, I am using my favorite method: dog combs.

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These are possibly the cheapest pieces of fiber equipment you will ever come across. I have a set of large Indigo Hound combs and a set of Viking mini combs and, frankly, they scare me to use them because they are so sharp. I’m always afraid that the cats will abruptly jump up when I’m using them and impale themselves. But the dog combs have blunt tines and you can use either the wide-set teeth or the close-set. For my purposes, they work great. I hold a lock by the cut end, flick open the tip, then turn it around and flick the cut end. Works great.

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The only adjustment I had to make in spinning this was to make the final strand a 3-ply. There was far more variation in the fleece color than first met the eye. The first skeins were 2-ply and, when knitted into gloves and caps, had too much of a color change from place to place. The remedy was to make a 3-ply strand that distributed the colorations better throughout.

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These skeins are about 250 yards each, and there is still plenty of fleece in the basket! I will try to make headway on it, spin it down, and justify another one at this year’s MSWF.