It's been a busy winter....

Posted this to the Fiber Arts Blog at the Times Union this morning, and since I haven't posted anything here in a while, it seemed like a fitting thing to repeat here.

Hello, my name is Aaron and I am a knitter and spinner...

Oh wait, you probably already knew that. It seems like forever since I’ve posted so I feel a bit like a newcomer and that I need to introduce myself. But I do apologize for my absence the last few weeks. I knew that my decision to return to school and pursue a degree, even just part time, would mean cutting into a lot of other things. When I have a class going, it involves a good deal of reading, writing papers, and working on various assignments which cuts into the time I would normally spend writing about more interesting stuff like knitting or spinning. Now that my most recent class is done, and until my next class starts (and I do need to find out about that), I’m back on the blog!

So, how is everyone enjoying winter? (yes, that’s a serious question) We’ve definitely got a good amount of snow now, and some people have told me I’m partially to blame for that. With each storm that’s been forecast I’ve sort of taunted Mother Nature and Old Man Winter with Facebook status updates that usually end with “bring it on”, and they’ve certainly brought it!

But that’s okay. I don’t really mind the snow, and since it’s too cold and/or snowy to go out, I can get a lot of other things done. In fact, I think I've hit my fibery projects with a good amount of energy and focus that I don’t seem to be able to find when I’m not in the middle of a class and I have more free time on my hands.

I FINALLY finished up my Wine Country sweater that I started in September after I had finished another class. All of the primary knitting had been done since early December. It just took me a while to muster up the motivation to seam it together.

This is made with Bartlett’s 2 ply worsted which is one of my favorite yarns. It’s not particularly soft but it’s thick and extremely warm and the wool is sourced from local sheep farms and spun right here in the USA! Check out their Inside The Mill page and watch the videos of the carding machine, the mule spinner, and the plying and skeining operations. Fascinating!

The only knitting projects I started (and finished) since mid-December are three hats. One is a felted hat that I made for my friend Judi who writes for the Holistic Health blog.

Another is from the Norweigan Handknits book that I made for another friend (that I met thru Judi) who has an Alpaca farm near Chicago. The yarn came from his alpacas, and matches the Mitten Day mittens that I made for him from the same book, and the same yarn.

The third hat was a test knit for Kyle Kunnecke called Cure which is available on Ravelry. There's a variation also available featuring pink ribbons and titled Cause.

I’ve been quite busy on both of my spinning wheels too. I had completed the actual spinning and plying on some of these before winter and before class. It was only in the last couple of months that I had the opportunity to "finish" them (wash and thwack) and take pictures. The red/fawn is from Spunky Eclectic, the multi-colored yarn is from Mosaic Moon, the black is baby alpaca from Ideuma Creek, and the purple/gold is from Spinners Hill.

Having more than one wheel means I can keep multiple spinning projects going too. There’s almost as much spinning WIP’s as knitting WIP’s. Below is llama from Teri Conroy of Wunsapana Farm and the Farmlife blog, some sample fiber that I got at the Men’s Knitting Retreat, and purple rambouillet from A Touch Of Twist.

I’ve even tried needle felting, and managed to create a cute little likeness of a sheep. He now sits on my desk at work to keep me company. Isn’t he cute?

Having so much stuff to keep my busy makes the time sort of fly right by. I suppose that’s my trick for making it through winter with some amount of sanity left. We’re already well into February now, and spring is on its way. The groundhog even said so this year!

So what’s everyone else working on? How are you making it through this cold and snowy winter?


ronhuber's picture

Lovely sweater and hats. The cables on the sweater are magnificent. I, too, like working with Bartlett's wool.

Aaronknits's picture

Thank you! The Bartlett's really blooms quite nicely after a good wash, does't it? I have yet to get the stuff to actually felt. But that blooming of the yarn changed my intentions for this sweater. I had intended for it to be for me. I like my sweaters oversized, and this fit really well before washing. After washing though, it was different and just didn't look right. I asked my friend Vince to try it on. He's taller than me and has a bigger frame. It fit him like it was made for him so I took that as a sign and happily gave it to him. I can always make another for me!

WillyG's picture

Aaron, great stuff! Really great! You really put out impressive work, and I'm so proud of you.

I'm loving the winter so far, despite the occasional bout of extra nastiness, such as tonight's biting wind. And I am without a car! I just love wrapping myself in lots of wool, and am grateful for the better knitted gear this year. Just today, I wore a knitted hat, sweater vest, scarf, and addition to my hooded jacket and a thrift-shop sweater. Undressing is a big ordeal, but it really does the trick! If the wind keeps up, I may need two layers of mittens, though!

I agree with you on the draw of knitting and spinning in this weather! Riding the bus only adds to the fun, as I get more built-in knitting time, especially if I take the multi-hour trek to the city.

Aaronknits's picture

It can't be said enough...layers, layers, layers! I still want to make a pair of wool longies from EZ's Knitters Almanac. There were times this winter that they really would have helped.

Thanks so much for the Mosaic Moon fiber. I'm still unsure how to make the best use of all that glorious color. It speaks to me quite often and quite loudly, but in a language I need to become a lot more familiar with first. I need to make sure I can do it justice.

QueerJoe's picture

Could you split the roving down the middle and make singles that would be approximately even in color lengths?

Could you make singles that kept most of the colors distinct and then ply it with a neutral solid (like a gray)?

Could you spin singles that kept most of the colors distinct and the Navajo ply them to keep them relatively distinct?

I love all the ways of working with gloriously colored roving. The Navajo plying is the only one I haven't tried of the three I suggested.

Aaronknits's picture

For the Mosaic Moon, I split the roving in two, then spun each from the opposite end to purposely mix the colors when they were plied, and I purposely spun them thicker which is really difficult when you're used to spinning fine singles. It really is beautiful stuff and I couldn't be happier with how it came out.

I have yet to try that Navajo plying stuff too. Still lots to learn!

WillyG's picture

You're very welcome. I just (finally) finished plying a yarn! Woot. I'm planning to use it for a stockinette cowl from Stephen West's second book. Using great colors is such a challenge! I hope mine knits up well...

WillyG's picture

Just a brainstorm on knitting options... how much yardage to you have? I'm thinking mittens or fingerless mitts, or a cowl or hat. Or an accent in a sweater???

Similar to one of the plying suggestions Joe gave, I wonder if you could frame the Mosaic Moon with a black/grey or other neutral color yarn. You could consider something that intersperses rows of the alternate color. I have found this to dramatically change the way a yarn reads.
For instance, a blue-green colorway I used looked most like a strange camo by itself, but using grey in patterns that used stripes and slipped stitches really let the yarn glow.

You certainly have been busy and all of it is absolutely gorgeous. I love the sweater and the fair isle hat. We have had a very cold and rainy winter so I, too, have been able to get more knitting time in.

Aaronknits's picture

One of our local news stations calls that perfect knitting weather!

SKHolt's picture

Aaron, great job on the felted hat. Love it!

Aaronknits's picture

Thanks Stan. That's a Fiber Trends pattern called Winter in the City that was another great investment. I've made half a dozen or so of those now. I used Cascade Eco-duo (50/50 wool/alpaca) on this one. I'd never used it before, and it felted beautifully.

Joe-in Wyoming's picture

Nice work, Aaron. Everything is quite inspiring. I don't like winter but don't hold agrudge against those who do. -- Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

Books, knitting, cats, fountain pens...Life is Good.

mr.cullen's picture

Nice work. Lovely colors in your spun yarns. The sheep is very cute indeed. He hopefully will inspire and guide you through your great work.