Friday, August 31, 2012

Grant Hart's Exciting News!

I found this press release when I logged on to Facebook this morning. Best news ever! Grant has been working so hard on this album; now it won't be too much longer before we all get to hear it!

"To Whom It May Concern;

"After six months of negotiation I have reached an agreement with a successful worldwide independent record label. It is the only label that I even considered to be appropriate for my double concept album called "The Argument." An announcement from the label will be coming along soon.

"I will let on that this label has a bit in common with Chuck Berry's label and the label who put out Dion and the Belmonts. On the surface it may seem like a game, but there is a face behind the name. Hint, hint.

"Looking forward, Grant Hart."

For the most current information regarding concert schedules, streaming audio, and a nice selection of videos, check out Grant's page on ReverbNation.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

It was a challenge!

I love most of Stephen West's patterns. I am not alone. So, when this summer's Mystery Knit Along was announced, I bought the new pattern and chose my yarns. The shawl promised to be a beauty. With a carefree "ha-ha-ha" in the face of fate, I chose two yarns that were truly one of a kind and commenced knitting. One was a hand-painted yarn from a fellow Phat Fiber vendor, and one was my own handspun. I thought I had more than enough yardage, and knitted confidently through clues 1, 2, and 3, but when I hit clue 4...

Oh, it was one of those moments when a knitter's heart doesn't just sink. It plummets down through the center of your being, rips through the soles of your feet, and crashes through the floor beneath you.

The unthinkable had happened. I had run seriously short of yarn with only one "wing" and a few rows of the second completed.

Rip it all out and start with new yarns in repeatable colorways so I could buy more if I needed it? Oh, heavens forefend! That might make SENSE!

No, no, no! I will finish THIS shawl, in THESE colors,

A complementary third color and some stripe modifications, and a crocheted edging around the entire shawl in that third color, and voila! I does not look as odd as I feared it might.

Here's a close-up shot of the second "wing" with its modification. Not bad, eh?

And here's the shawl in its entirety. REALLY not bad. Not bad at all. I will wear this proudly!

Thank you for another great challenge, Stephen West! Plain and simple, sir: you rock!

Monday, August 27, 2012

New Fun Stuff!

I have some really cool new spinning fibers in the shop now. Mostly, they are (non-superwash) Merino and firestar combos, so nothing terribly unusual about the fiber content, but the colors are a whole 'nother story!

I spent part of the weekend spindle-spinning samples of the Sultan's Treasures. They really are pretty, and a dream to spin! I think I need to try and dye some more of these, since the Amethyst and Ruby colors sold out completely within a day or two of being listed! I still have plenty of Blue Tourmaline and Emerald, but this was a very small run. While I will be able to approximate the colors in future, I will never be able to duplicate them exactly. So if you like them, don't wait! When these are gone, they're gone.

The Sultan's Treasures -- Blue Tourmaline --
Kettle dyed Merino & firestar

The Sultan's Treasures -- Emerald --
Kettle dyed Merino & firestar 

Khadijah 2 -- Merino & dyed firestar

The Seventh Veil 2 -- Merino & dyed firestar

Walk on the Wild Side -- Merino, "mystery wool," & firestar

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Handspun Hats

I have been playing around with these colors in the last couple of weeks. All the colors were hand blended on my drum carder, and some of the fibers in them were also hand dyed by me. The dark brown/black color is Merino, and I started with a bag of raw fleece, which I washed, combed out lock by lock, spun, and plied.
The hats and colors all have a common theme, but are intended as a surprise for Someone, so I can't say much more than that. I am pleased with the way these have come out, and I have enough yarn to make at least one more -- possibly two! -- in slightly different styles. Theme and variations, if you will, so Someone will have a choice when the proper time comes.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Welcome to the Musical Temper Tantrum!

It has been a long day. I need to go drum now. Maybe "nothing, nothing, nothing" is the wrong answer to "what do I want" and "what will make me happy." Hmmmm...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ah, the Songs of my Youth!

I have always loved this tune!
In the early 1980s, this WAS Providence!
(Rhode Island, that is.)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Unusual Spinning Requests

I don't get too many requests for hand spun yarn, ordinary OR unusual. A lot of work goes into it, and few people want to pay the price for that. But I spin a lot, and many people know this. It's a pleasant activity which keeps me out of trouble, and also keeps my stress level down.

A few days ago, I received a query from a dear friend, asking if I could spin cat fur. Since I know someone who did accomplish this, I said I thought it was possible, but knowing the cat fur in question is from a short-haired cat, I said it would have to be blended with wool. Even then, I'm not sure it will work with short fur, but I'm willing to give it a try and see what happens.

As recently as five years ago, I would have had to flat out refuse, no matter how badly I might have wanted to do this labor of love for my friend. I spent most of my life being violently allergic to cats, to the point of having to take lots of preventive medication before even visiting a house where cats resided. When visiting my sister for a long weekend, we would have to spend a number of hours OUT of her house every day, just so I could breathe during the hours we spent IN the house. Sinuses, asthma -- basically, my whole respiratory system would go bonkers, and I would do my best to pretend I really didn't feel as miserable as it appeared.

But I did feel miserable, and it could get pretty horrible at times.

Almost three years ago, my daughter brought home a stray cat, and we all fell in love with him. I figured we wouldn't be able to keep him, but thought we could give it a try. And -- surprise, surprise! -- I am older,  and my body chemistry has changed significantly. The most notable change (besides hot flashes) is that I have outgrown my cat allergy. We have had our cat all this time, and neither my sinuses nor my asthma have been affected. To me, this is nothing short of a miracle.

OK, so I still take the same old precautions, like thoroughly washing my hands with soap and water after touching the cat, but so far, so good. No hint of a problem.

I realize I may be pushing the limit with my friend's cat fur, but if worse comes to worse, I'll wear a mask if necessary. But I think blending the fur with some good, rustic wool, such as Coopworth, Cotswold, or Romney will help cut down on the fly-away nature of short, slippery cat fur, and prevent me from inhaling it as I work.

I must confess, I'm intrigued by the possibilities, and hopeful that I can do the job well. After the spinning is done, my next mission is to knit a hoodie from the yarn.

I've met the kitty from whom the fur will come, and am now remembering watching him, his brother, and his mom go scampering around in the dark of distant back yard, chasing a laser...