Thursday, June 26, 2008

Projects from Done to Far Out


Three skeins of a very soft Icelandic lamb blended with bits of red and charcoal mohair. The sheep was one of our early acquisitions, an Icelandic lamb named "Cream". She was a wild thing as a lamb, and never calmed down. I got one shearing from her, a lovely flowing typical Icelandic fleece with very soft undercoat. I processed the fleece myself, on a (then new) drum carder gift from DH. :-) The batts sat for three (?) years while I decided what to do with them. Finally, I decided to spin them up in a Lopi style single, but 2 ply it for balance. They're very low twist and it caused some drift when I was plying. My intention is to knit mittens, perhaps, then felt them.

Almost Done.

This is the Bird in Hand knit-along that started with the Shetland Sheep Group. I'm not sure anyone actually finished their pair of mittens - mine are ALMOST done. :-) They're knitted with handspun Shetland. The white is from my flock - Daisy and Daphne with some of Acclaim's alpaca fleece blended in. The variegated red-brown is some kool-aid dyed roving that I bought before we had Shetland sheep. It is wondrous, soft and clean stuff. I just 2 plied it and didn't intentionally keep the colors distinct. You can see the subtle variation, especially on the left hand mitten. Even though my gauge is usually spot on, and I only knit these a couple months apart, the left hand mitten is larger than the right. **sigh** More fulling/felting is in order. I hope I can size them without losing the pattern definition. This was a challenging knit. No pattern row repeats. Each one is different. I got most of Mitten Two done in the car on the way to and from BSG.

Just Started.

At Shepherds' Extravaganza this year, Sharon Hayden of Bel Tine Farm (who does custom mill spinning) had these eye-catching skeins of Cotswold yarn for sale! I'd been eyeing the Farmhouse rug in Knitter's Stash for a while, and this yarn jumped out at me as being perfect for the project - lustrous, strong and lively colors! All of the colors were there except for the sky blue and forest green. I had those dyes at home, so bought extra white and dyed them myself. :-)

You can see I haven't gotten far on the project, but it will go quickly once I sit down and just do it. It is an intarsia project, so I've wound each skein on a ball winder and put it inside a ziploc baggie to keep them contained. So far, it's working.


Fair Isle is one of my favorite knits. I just love the natural colors in Fair Isle patterns. This is another pattern from the Knitter's Stash book (one of my favorite knitting books, along with Homespun, Handknit). I include it in the photo as an example, because what I've really been doing is gathering a spectrum of natural colors from my Shetlands and blending them with similar colors of Alpaca in an 80:20 ratio.

All of these samples are from our flock, gathered over the last 4 years. I now have 14 different sheep's worth of roving in the Shetland/Alpaca blend plus four 100% Shetlands. There are 4 distinct shades of brown, white, black, and two distinct shades of grey, with additional more subtle "sheep lot" variations. This is one of EverRanch Farm's products - natural colors of
Shetland blended with Alpaca specially for Fair Isle spinning/knitting.

Gathering this spectrum of natural colors has been a dream of mine since 2003. I just picked up roving at BSG to complete the spectrum, dark brown and light fawn. I don't even have a specific project in mind, though gloves or mittens are high on my list. Sweater... dare I even write that??? DH already has his order in for one of those. :-)

Of course, there are more UFO's stashed hither and yon. Someday, I'll feature more of them.

- Franna


Michelle said...

You probably don't need it, but the moderator (and designer) of the Traditional Knitting Yahoo list ( is doing a Fair Isle workshop on the list in August. I'm trying to decide if I dare tackle it!

Becky Utecht said...

Oh Franna, I'm glad to hear that someone else's Bird in the Hand Mittens came out in two different gauges. My right BIH mitten is smaller than the left. I must have relaxed more the second time around and loosened up my tension. I decided to make two more mittens to match the two I've got. Needless to say, I haven't gotten too far with that. LOL! You're right, they are a challenging knit. Good luck with your fulling and felting.

Franna said...

Thanks, Michelle. I joined! I need another project. heh.

I fulled the mits this morning, then tried to block out the remaining difference. We'll see how well that works! Good luck with your "second" pair, Becky.

- Franna