Handspun Shawl – Lady Magdalene

Lady Magdalene Put to Pasture

This is freshly completed Lady Magdalene (design by Kimberly DelaCruz) knit during a Ravelry KAL in the Parts of Craziness group. Rather than using a laceweight or fingering yarn, I used a handspun Border Leicester singles that I had spindlespun last summer. The yarn knit into a fuzzy, almost mohair-looking, textile. This piece was roughly pinned out, but not yet washed and blocked. Still the design is fairly apparent. Here’s another picture…

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Hatting it Up

Funky Hat in Border Leicester and Alpaca/CVM

Inspired by Ray’s Hat, which spontaneously burst from my needles a few weeks back, I wanted to knit a hat that had plush warmth, weight, and a flat top. HA! Okay. That wasn’t hard at all. Here’s the five-sided top of a Funky Hat knit from a super-bulky 2-ply Border Leicester yarn. The breeder of these BL sheep sent me samples of her CVM fleece. I bought the softest, darkest fiber…one that wasn’t actually for sale – but was an example of her finest fleece. Fortunately, the shepherd was as overcommitted as I am, and she let “Gracie” come home to me.  The very dark CVM was blended with black alpaca (ply #1) and plied with a thick and thin Border Leicester single. This “beginner’s mind” yarn “outlines” this hat in more ways that one. This hat is a paean to all that shepherd love at Pheasantfield Farm in Chestertown, Maryland.

Here’s another view…not the greatest picture…I can’t get that lovely outside light, because, well, I’m a wimp. It is too cold for me to be staging hat photos, today.

A bit too soft-focus, but you get the idea.

This morning, I knit another hat using this model. It has a “fur” yarn integrated in the band, and the crown is six-sided. It’s vermilion. You’ll have to wait til tomorrow for a picture. Sorry.

A pdf of the pattern will be available for sale on etsy in a day or two. I want comments back from my testers before it’s released.

Spinning Winter Yarns

Gulf Coast Native Thick & Thin with Natural Dyes

This is a skein of extra special EXtra soft GC Native yarn. An ounce and a half and 46 yards. Outrageous.

Purple Ruffles Basil meets Mohair Blend

We had an outstanding year in the basil garden. I grew both Genovese for the farmers markets and for our own pesto cravings, and Purple Ruffles Basil for dyeing. I sold some of the purple basil plants, and kicked myself after I found out what a great dye it makes.

This is a 2 1/2 oz, 74 yd skein of Mohair/Wool blend handspun. The locks were dyed with Purple Ruffles in an acid bath. This is a heavy lustrous yummy yarn. This skein screams “HAT.”

I found, quite by accident, that a pH shift makes for interesting changes to the color. This steely gray shifts right over to a dark celery green with an alkaline rinse.

A Funky Hat Yarn

Kinda gorgeous, n’est-ce pas? This is 4 1/2 oz and somewhat over 200 yd of Gulf Coast Native/Mohair blend. This was spun from a handpainted handpulled roving, plied with natural brown and cream GC fleece. This cbp is destined for at least one more hat…tho this ball of yarn is definitely big enough for 2 hats.

I’m out of hat kits, and figure that after knitting one more hat (O the Holiday Season!), the 2nd half will go into a funky hat kit. I have a new pattern that is pretty exciting…a spin-off of Ray’s Hat. This yarn would be stellar. Then again…a 1 x 1 ribbed elfish hat would be outrageous, too.

Gulf Coast meets Marigold

Here is a 3 1/2 oz/174 yd skein of natural brown GCNI and cream GC singles, flecked with marigold. A big soft hearty skein. I find myself not putting it in my etsy store, not taking it to the farmers market. I love this skein of wool.

Fleece Study – Navajo Churro

This began as 3 1/2 – 4 oz of raw Navajo Churro that I received as part of a fleece study. I spun this yarn in the grease. What a lot of grease. This would be the perfect fleece with which to start an FSM (fermented suint) project.

The final clean yarn weighs in at a bit over 1 1/2 oz and 200 yd. This is a soft yet hairy fingering weight yarn. Ooo La Laaaaaa!

Florida Buttercup Meets GC Ewe

This dye job was a complete surprise. About a month ago, the fields were just full of masses of a tall weed with teeny yellow blossoms. The golden fields were too pretty to cut. At the end of their blooming, I decided to throw some in a dye pot to see what would happen. This intense cinnabar green is what happened. A dusky yellow verging on green. Oh Yum!

Here’s the start of something good…I’m thinking a fine 2-ply would be just the ticket. And what’s left will get spun into some bulky wacky hat yarn!

Hello Fall, Goodbye Coreopsis

coreopsis103

My stand of coreopsis was reduced to 3 or 4 spindly, hacked up plants around the terra cotta chicken fountain. The hennys did a pretty good job of dismembering said stand. So, I was reduced to trolling the county roads. My very own personal county road, also called 232, was loaded with the 3rd blooming 2 weeks ago. I had not had time all summer long to even pull over and snip some blossoms. So, this was it. I made sure I had a big ol trash bag with me whenever I went out. And finally, I said to myself, “Today’s the day.”

I set out for the feed store, expecting to see masses of yellow flowers, but when I turned out onto the road, all I saw was new mown grass. A mile later…5 miles later…8 miles later, there was a tractor, mowing ’em down. I turned onto 27. Tractors mowing everywhere. It was one of those early fall days, you felt you could be outside, I guess. I got the feed. Not a flower in sight. Decided to take an alternate route home. And there, by the bottling plant near the springs, OH HA! The Last of the Coreopsis.

So there you go. I mordanted a variety of fiber…some of Holly’s hoggett fleece from last April’s shearing, some fine GCNI from a sheep in Dry Creek, Louisiana, some Border Leicester from Maryland. Then I made a dyepot with half of those coreopsis. The result…not intense oranges, but milder, softer shades. I’m totally delighted with the “overdye” effect on the gray GCNI. I want to wear THAT.

greencotton

Here’s a close up, sans flash, of this season’s green cotton. We had quite a time with cotton this year. Permitted by the state, boll weevil trap planted in the garden by the Division of Plant Industry, and inspected by Wayne every three weeks this summer.

This is our 2nd year of growing cotton. We planted only green. I selected bolls with the darkest fiber, and was pleased with the outcome. Most of the cotton is medium green. Last year’s batch was all over the green spectrum…but mostly very very pale.

beauberryssm

These are beautyberries. An entirely different color.  Pretty intense. I’ve been cutting stems and making wild bouquets with goldenrod. For years. Well, this year, I heard tell of a jelly made from beautyberry. Lenore, daring wench that she is, went first. She found “the mother lode” on her 10 acres. She was so daring she even added wine. Well. I tasted her jelly. I tasted the berries. I knew I had to make some.

Lenore the Enabler showed up at the farmers market with a big fat bag of berries. Almost enough for the “recipe.” On one of Smitty’s morning sojourns, I picked enough to make enough jelly for the Western World. I didn’t add wine. Just berries, pectin, and sugar.

beautyberrysm

Here you go. Five half-pints of jelly. Scarlet jelly. Now, how did that happen? The violet berries produced an amber colored juice. When the pectin hit…instant color change! I’d never used pectin before, so I didn’t know what to expect. The jelly set right up…ka-boom! Heck in a handbasket, it’s just like store-bought. Except it tastes herbal, wild, and like nothing that Publix would ever carry. Yum.

Thanks Lenore!

Oh…and the recipe…should anyone out there care to dare:

1 1/2 qts beautyberries
2 qts water
1 pkt pectin
4 1/2 c sugar

Start a boiling water canner rolling. Prepare 5 1/2 pt jars, lids, and bands.

Rinse and pick over berries. Ditch the stems. Cover the berries with the water. Bring to a boil…let boil for 20 minutes. Mash the berries a bit. Strain.

Use 3 c of the berry juice. (You’ll have another 3 c left to refrigerate to make more at a later date.) Bring the juice to a boil. Whisk in an envelope of pectin. (I used Ball brand.) As it boils, whisk in the sugar (all at once) and bring a 2nd boil. Let it boil hard for a minute.

Remove from heat. Skim off the “stuff” on top. Pour into sterilized 1/2 pt jars with 1/4″ headspace. Process for 10 minutes.

A Summer Wool, Anyone?

5-5-summer-bump

Gulf Coast Sock Yarn Blend

Here’s a 4 oz knob of a blend of GC, bamboo, and, I think, silk. This was a gift from a gal who is trying very hard to move to this area. She was attempting to come up with a sock yarn for Florida using her wool. I am finding it easier to spin than knit. And, boy, do I need to get knitting. It has been hotter than the hinges of hell…and I’ve been finishing a big oak dais outside, wearing a rubber mask, and boy oh boy…am I a miserable beech when I’m sweating to death. So…I haven’t started the knitting projects.