Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Here are my finished mittens, handknit, handspun, from raw Alpaca fleece. Casting on another pair as I watch the ball drop tonight from Times Square! Of course, I will be cozy and warm in my Colorado family room under a blankie with a glass of red wine to keep me warmer!
Waving bye-bye to 2009!

Happy New Year and a Healthy, Prosperous and Fibery 2010 to All!!!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My First Fiber Club

I have been eying several of the clubs out there and hadn't joined any, but always looked at what was available. Several are for yarn, several for indie dyed fiber, several for natural fibers. One this week caught my eye, probably because I just finished spinning and have begun knitting the raw alpaca fiber I purchased this fall. (Finished the first Mitten and working on the matching one!)

So, I signed up for 3 months of the Naked Fiber Club by BadFaerie. This will give me 3 shipments of raw fleece weighing in at 8 oz each starting in January, which I will then wash, card, and spin. I won't know what fiber it will be (sheep, alpaca, mohair) until it arrives, but that is the best part of this kind of club- the surprise. It will give me more experience with different raw fibers without investing in a whole fleece. Not. There. Yet!

A gift to myself, because I deserve it. One that will keep on giving.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Knitting with handspun Alpaca

I have had a heckuva time planning a project for my Alpaca yarn. I finished spinning it up, and plying it, but it is thinner than I thought it would be.
I believe it is heavy fingering or sport now, even held double (that is 4 individual plies). First, I thought a scarf and I tried a few ideas, settling on a 3X3 rib pattern, but it was eating the yarn like there is no tomorrow. I started out with 10 oz of raw fleece, and I'll be damned if more than 3 months of washing, carding and spinning would go into a single project for someone who might never appreciate the effort that went into it. I turned to mittens, but couldn't find a pattern for the gauge I was getting, and knitting with size 9 double points was awkward at best for pattern work. I then decided to get out long size 7 needles, and use another pattern for basic construction, and now I am knitting plain mittens using the magic loop method.

The fabric created is nice and I should be able to get a few pairs out of my yarn. Since Alpaca is warmer than wool, these should be nice for family members in cold climates. I have til February to complete a couple of pairs, so I think this is doable. The second pair I may knit as fingerless mittens for more dexterity. To be continued.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

More about the Bench!

After talking to my friend, who is pretty knowledgeable about antiques and old furniture, I was encouraged to do some research about the bench from the previous post. I looked up Limbert Furniture and Van Raalte Craftsmen from the stamp inside the drawer and came up with this listing on ebay. This is the exact same vanity that is in Mom's basement that used to match the bench before Grandma had it painted ivory in the 1960's when she moved to Florida. According to Mom, mahogany furniture was just a no-no in Florida.

And the following information was found in a genealogy website looking for info on Van Raalte:

"Van Raalte was a salesman and later head of the Limbert Furniture company from 1916 to at least 1927. He was so influential within the company that in the mid-1920s the company's furniture mark was redesigned to read "Limbert Furniture by Van Raalte Craftsmen." The Limbert company, which started out in Grand Rapids, was moved to Holland in 1906 where it continued to make furniture under the Limbert name until 1944. This company's furniture was extremely popular in the early 20th century and is still sought after by collectors of fine furniture designs in the Arts andCrafts and Colonial Revival styles."

Isn't the Internet wonderful!

edited to add 4/12/2010:   The  ebay listing and the photo are no longer available.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I get to keep the bench

When I was helping Mom get rid of the remaining furniture in her house, I turned to Craigslist for help. In the first week, I sold a bedroom set and the bench to the vanity which Mom used in the basement as a sewing storage area.

I realized after I had a positive response, and I brought the bench to my house to await the check being mailed and pickup, that I had, in fact, photographed the rear of the bench. It was lovely as it was. BUT, when I turned it around, I saw that there was a drawer in the bench, but was missing the pull. The next time I was at Mom's house, I emptied the drawers of the vanity, since I had had several inquiries about it as well, and lo and behold, I found the pull for the bench.

I attached it when I got home, hoping to find some family treasure long hidden in the drawer, but there was only about 40 years of dust there. The stamped label of the manufacturer was at the back of the drawer.

Mom had recovered this bench in blue wide wale corduroy to match the decor in her house in Connecticut, before she moved to Colorado, and I hadn't paid any more attention to it.

Again, once it was at my house, I gently lifted this fabric, where a few of the nail heads were missing and found this:

This was probably the fabric from my Grandmother's house. And there's more:

And more still:

This was the original fabric and from the looks of the way the nail heads are rough, there was probably a braiding which bordered the fabric. The bottom fabric is fragile and parchment-like after all these years. My guess is that this bench (and the vanity that it came with) date back to the late 1930's in my Grandmother's house once my Grandfather's delicatessen was a going business and the woes of the Depression were easing for the family.

Can you tell that I became quite fond of this piece in my house? I was hoping that the purchaser from Craigslist would flake out and never send the check, but sure enough on Friday the check came. I cashed it right away, and waited to hear from him (he lives in Telluride, and would have to find someone to pick up the bench for him). I was fully prepared to follow through on the transaction, because I am an honorable person and a deal is a deal.

When I talked to him on Sunday night, I told him about the drawer and the layers of family history, and how I had grown fond of the piece. He didn't hesitate a bit and offered to cancel the transaction to keep this special piece in my family. I was stunned that he was being so kind and understood what I was feeling. A full refund is on the way back to him and now I get to keep the bench. So Santa, if you know Chris in Telluride, make sure you leave him some extra goodies in his stocking this year.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Wheel Disaster

My very portable and well traveled Minstrel (by car) was returning home from our holiday spinning Meetup group when I accidentally grabbed the cap where the distaff would go and the wheel dropped a bit. The flyer with the bobbin still on it flew to the concrete garage floor and the edges of both sizes of the whorl are cracked and ready to snap off. :-(

The first thing I did was email Tim at New Voyager to inquire about replacement parts, and the second thing I did was to glue on the distaff cap!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Perfect Chanukah Gifts

Can you think of a more perfect winter holiday gift than handknit socks, and in one case, hand spun and hand knit socks (upper right)? If Chanukah had only come a week earlier, while the temps were below and near zero, I would have been even more of a hero to my good friends. It gave me just as much pleasure to give these as to craft them....maybe even more. Enjoy, my friends!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My Adventures with Craigslist

Here is one response to one of my Craigslist ads. I am trying to help out Mom with the remaining furniture in her house and I have had some luck so far, but this email just made me laugh. Would anyone really fall for such an obvious scam as this:

"Thanks for the mail , i'm okay with the price , and i am comfortable
with the pictures i saw. I will be making the payment via cashier's
check,so i will need your full name that will be on the check and your
full address with your phone # where you can easily receive the
package via courier and i will arrange for the pickup myself.
NOTE ....And also the payment i will be sending will be in excess
inwhich you will give to the cargo company when they contact you for
the pickup.All you need to do is to faithfully deduct your own money
as soon as you have the cash athand and send the remaining to the
cargo company through WesternUnion Money Transfer for them to come for
the pickup.please get back to me if you are okay with this and i will
implore you to remove the ads off craigslist because i really want to
purchase this asap.

Honestly, this is word for word the entire signature, no identification, no phone number. Where are they writing from? Nigeria?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Happy Chanukah!

The Dreidel song as you have never heard it before!

Thanks to Mason-Dixon Knitting for bringing this to my attention.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

2 Gifts, done!

Finished is the wool cowl made from the rest of the Schoppel Wolle Pur yarn from the hat I made for Preston.
It is warm and toasty and perfect to wear under a coat when you don't want long scarf ends hanging or dragging, slammed in the car door for the whole ride home from the supermarket. Ask me how I know.......

And here is another finished pair of plain socks in fancy yarn. The yarn is Paton's Kroy stripes and again, they became fraternal twins, as the stripes progressed in the opposite directions. Resting in the snow,
they should remind you how cozy it is to wear handknit socks as the snow flies, and the thermostat is turned down. Those who think knitting socks is crazy, have never worn handknit socks in the winter, so here is my advice to you: Befriend your sock knitting friends and beg for hand knit won't be sorry. Or better yet, learn how yourself.

Monday, December 7, 2009

NYC Stamp of Approval

Anything handknit, handmade, or odd is always suspect when sent to friends and family in NY. The hat I made for Preston fits that description, but tonight I heard that there were compliments galore when he and my daughter, Amanda, went to the opening of Race by David Mamet. They were lucky enough to get tickets from a friend, got all gussied up and saw lots of stars: Woody Allen, Joan Rivers, Al Sharpton, etc. But I digress. The play and the Hat were a hit.
And when Preston walked in front of one of the paparazzi, he was photographed. But that photo won't make any papers, he assures me. Ahhhh. Fame is nice, but fleeting.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

2 projects: one skein of yarn

Tis the season.....for one skein knits. When Amanda arrived from New York, she came bearing a gift. It was a skein of Schoppel wolle Pur, in shades of black, blue and green, purchased at Annie's which is just around the corner from my brother's apartment on the upper East side.. It is interesting because it is a single ply, slightly felted, and the ombre colors do not repeat in any way.
And then she reminded me that I had promised to make a hat for Preston, her main squeeze, so the gift had a preplanned destiny.

I looked for patterns and decided on the Irish Hiking Hat (bulky)
and began knitting it up. I forgot how fast hats develop, so in a couple of days, it was done, blocked and ready to return to the Big Apple. The finished hat looks different from each angle because of the way the colors knit up.

I added the beanie top and knit more rows before starting the decreases, since several comments mentioned that the hat was not deep enough. What do you think?

With the rest of the skein, I am making a cowl with a very simple pattern: on a multiple of 10:
row 1: knit 5, purl 5
row 2: knit 1, purl 1.

I learned this at Knit Night the other night and will keep knitting until the yarn runs out.