Tuesday, October 9, 2007

More cuteness

I always look wistfully at people who own large fiber-producing animals. Why is a mystery, 'cause I know what a pain they can be. But one of my little wishes in life is to get a bit of our back acreage cleared and get a tiny barn put up so I could have a couple of sheep or maybe a llama. (And pigs. Must have pigs. But that's a different story.) We've been fitfully progressing toward that goal for quite some time now, but it's slow going and is still probably a year away at the most wildly optimistic estimate.

Many people amongst my circle of aquaintances have their own fiber flock. In my spinning guild, there are people who raise alpacas, llamas, Shetlands, Icelandics, CVMs, and I may be missing a few breeds of beasties. So it's not like I can't find really great handspinning fleece - southern Vermont is filthy with it.

Me, I have no large fiberish critters. But I do have a goodly herd of these:
There ought to be laws against this horrifying level of cuteness.

She, or perhaps he - it's sometimes hard to tell the boys from the girls at this young age - is a lilac tort German hybrid angora, about two months old. I have lots of these beasts. Lots. My adult female bun surprised me with a litter and now the place is crawling with baby buns. They're like tribbles. (Do we all remember tribbles? For those who have no idea what I'm talking about, it's probably the most famous, and funniest, Star Trek episode ever. A classic of the genre.)
Here's another one, a black tort. Girl, I think. Or not. If it gets any sweeter we'll all be in diabetic shock.

Slowly, I was accumulating enough angora from my adult buns to spin into my own version of a Bohus. Been working on that for six months now, and figured it would take at least another half year, maybe more, to accumulate the necessary number of ounces. Suddenly I find myself in possession of enough buns to open a yarn factory. When these guys get big, I will be awash in angora. Which is not a terrible problem to have, I guess ;-)

Yet another one. I can't tolerate such cuteness so early in the morning.

Some of them will be staying here, some will be going to Rhinebeck to hopefully find new homes. I find myself slightly over-bunned at the moment

The particulars, for rabbit wonks: The litter is high-percentage German hybrid. I have two chocolate torts, a fawn, a lilac tort, a black tort, a cream and two whites. Not all will be going to Rhinebeck - I haven't made the final decision on whom to keep yet. Mama bun is a choc. tort, an excellent wooler with very dense, non-matting fiber. Daddy bun is cream, very interesting color genetics, and is a big dude. If you're interested in any of these babies, either contact me directly, or look for Katie of Smith Family Farms, Charlotte, Vermont, at Rhinebeck. She will have these babies with her.

One thing about hand-harvested and handspun angora is that it is infinitely superior to commercial angora yarns. Commercial equipment is hard on Angora fiber. The very delicate individual strands break under the stress of the equipment. Generally, once the fiber gets shredded by the equipment, the staple length is only around an inch. Which doesn't leave very much to get caught up in the yarn twist. So, since a lot of it isn't very well secured in the first place, a lot sheds off. It's generally not so bad with blends (Solveig's Bohus yarn, for instance, is fabulous) but that's more a function of there not being so much angora to shed than it is any improvement in the commercial spinning process.

With hand-harvested and handspun fiber, the staple length is more like 2-5 inches. Enough of it gets caught up so that not much sheds. You still get the cloudlike softness, you still get the angora halo - but little or no shedding. Lesson: If you're going to wear pure bunny, make sure it's handspun bun. Or be prepared to buy stock in companies that make those sticky lint-roller things.

So what's a girl to do with so much angora? I amuse myself by contemplating visions of Me as 50s Sweater Girl. You've seen the pictures - Grace Kelly in form-fitting pastel angora, a Glamazon from head to toe.

Unfortunately there are several problems associated with that little snippet of dream, the least of which is that I don't look good in pastels. Let's not even talk about the fact that I haven't had the figure to get away with that for many a year. We need not discuss it. Just leave me to my little fantasies, OK?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Danger, severe cuteness

Still life, Cat in Bowl.

Don't be fooled by what looks like a gentle, kind wee beastie. She's merely taking a break from her vicious homicidal mass-murdering days of blood and glory. You wouldn't believe the recent body count. She leaves grisly little tokens for us on the front deck - a spleen here, a foreleg there. I have to watch my step every time I leave the house.
Recently I was interested to discover three, count 'em three, tails on the steps. Nothing else. Just tails. What am I to infer from this? Is it a gift, or a warning? Am I to believe she regards us in a benevolent light... or should I be grateful that she is not just a wee bit bigger?
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Susanna Hansson is da bomb

She really is. If you ever get a chance to take one of her classes, do it. Trust me. You will not regret it.

The Mittens of Rovaniemi class was mind-blowing. Eleven tiny balls of yarn, intarsia in the round, fiendishly wee little needles - how much fun can one girl have? The technique was amazingly simple, once you get the hang of it. As in many things, it's all in the prep work. Of course, get that mucked up and it's a world of hurt on so very many levels...

According to her I am now one of, oh, fiftyish people in the Americas who know how to do this:
Ho ho. I always wanted to be one of the cool kids.

The Bohus class was fantastic as well. I lust to make this:

If we were interested in strict telling of truth here, there aren't many Bohus garments I'd pass on making. I really won't be content with my life until I have at least one of every kit Solveg offers (solsilke.se). There are some colorways I probably wouldn't WEAR all that much, but as art, there's not a single one that's not worth making.

In other news, this is how I've been spending the week:

Some is on its way to Not Just Yarn, some is going to Etsy when I can motivate myself to get it posted, and some is going to Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. I donated four skeins for her to use as prizes for the Knitters Without Borders drawing, so if you see something that looks like one of these on yarnharlot.com, that might be me ;-)

Someone asked what my Etsy name is, so for those interested, here you go: whitebirchfiberarts. See you there ;-)

Friday, September 28, 2007

Blah day

Saturday and Sunday are the Susanna Hansson classes down at Webs. I am a mite perturbed. One of the classes requires a piddling little twenty minutes of pre-class homework. Not a problem... but it needs to be done in Cascade 220, color 8010 (off white)... which has proven unavailable at all four of the LYSs within an hours' drive.

It is indeed annoying. This is an ubiquitous yarn, one of the most common elements in the known fiber universe. Isn't it some kind of licensing requirement to have scads in stock? I'm quite sure there is a regulation buried deep in the bowels of some massive federal agency that says if you own a yarn store, you must carry Cascade 220.

I'm going to have to improvise. Which puts a crimp in my plan to behave myself. I was at least hoping to enter the class fully prepared.

I had planned on disguising myself as Teacher's Pet, Good Student, maybe even Potential Honor Roll. No doubt I would have revealed my true self in short order - that disguise would not have held for long - but still. Leave me my little fantasies, OK?

I must now fume and figure out what to do.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Bad blogger. Just bad.

I've been a bad blogger. Sorry. Lots of stuff going on. First, the important news:
Forest Darkness, finished! O, frabjouous day! The totally craptastic picture I took does not convey how fabulous this sweater is. I believe once it gets cold I will put it on and wear it every day for the rest of my life. For those interested, I actually finished it a couple of weeks ago, and though I can't prove it I believe the day I bound off WAS the hottest day of summer. Always a wonderment to finish a three or so month project and then be unable to wear it for more than 30 seconds. Yeesh.

Of course I immediately cast on for not one, not two, not even three, but four new sweaters. No. 1 is this: a Kauni Turkish cardigan. Stitch pattern pilfered, then adapted from one found in the incredible sock book "Fancy Feet" by Anna Zilboorg. No overall pattern; just using my own wit and low cunning.

Detail of the Turkish cardigan. I am using Kauni yarn in the EP and EK colorways. Incredible stuff. My nonexistant photography skill does not convey the richness of the colors in these yarns.
Sweater No. 2: Blue Shimmer, in progress. It's just a baby. I didn't cast on for Bohus No. 2 immediately - kinda needed a break from Bohussing. Now that I'm started, I wonder why I waited ;-)

Sweaters No. 3 and 4 didn't want to be photographed. Sigh. No. 3 is a Dale in more or less the Lake Placid 1932 pattern, though not in any of the suggested colorways, and modified somewhat. No. 4 is something I'm calling the Tree Sweater. Truly faking it on this one. No pattern whatsoever. Using Green Mountain Spinnery's Green Mountain Green so it will be a hefty sort when it's done.

Quick bits of other news: The Beth Brown-Reinsel class was absolutely fantastic. I am now a steeking fool. Better than the class is that Beth decided to move to Vermont! And she's here! I feel like Mick Jagger moved in next door.

We're building a chicken palace. This has been taking up a lot of time. Rotten beasts had best appreciate it or it will be the crock pot for each and every one of the little hussies. At the same time I am refinishing a table that I've been meaning to fool with for, oh, three or four years. It's stripped; next step is to pick out paint and get that slapped on before the snow flies.

There's more, much more, but I hear the car coming up the driveway and I'm sure that means I'm going to need to give up the computer to hubby in a minute, so this'll have to do for the moment.

Friday, August 17, 2007


The steek class is this weekend. Pass the Scotch, please.

Spent all day yesterday dyeing a new batch of yarn for Susan. I wanted to dye a bunch more, so I'd have a little reserve for surprise Susan orders, some to put on Etsy and some to take to another LYS that has expressed interest in carrying it, but I've been having issues with my supplier. As in, the base yarn I use is constantly on back order. Grrrr.

I put in a gi-normous order a week or so ago but they can't tell me if it will be available next week or next month. Or six months from now. This is irritating. I'd switch suppliers, but the base yarn is soooo nice... soft, springy, bouncy, elastic, but with a high twist so it wears well. It truly is a Most Excellent Sock Yarn.

I haven't found an equivalent, and there's no way I'd be happy with using something lesser, so I guess I'll just have to grit my teeth and wait.

I reserve the right to whine and complain bitterly.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Pretty pictures

Forest Darkness, in progress...

Detail shot of the yoke...
Blue Shimmer kit...
and Wild Apple.

This would all be sooooo much further along if I wasn't such a slow knitter. It would also be further along if I didn't have the attention span of a gnat. I knit an inch or so on the Bo, then wander off and spin or dye (or sometimes, under protest, do things that indicate that I have some smallish life outside of fiber).

It is possible Bohus No. 1 will be done by mid to late August. Anyone want to take bets on the exact day? Before you do, check the Farmers' Almanac. My guess is, I'll finish it on the nastiest, hottest, most stinking humid day of the entire year. 'Cause there's nothing quite like finishing a marathon project and then being unable to bear wearing it for more than 30 seconds ;-)