Monday, March 3, 2014

braided colors of New Mexico

Encouraged by some kind fiber enthusiastic friends on Instagram I spent the Sunday afternoon handling fluff, taking pictures, indulging in colors, naming color ways and sorting wool. 
Which was a good thing, considering our heat system failed on us and the only current heat source is the fire place in the living room. *sigh*
So my Etsy shop has been updated with lots of colorful fluff, some of the last mystery pencil roving, a blend of all kinds of fiber from alpaca to yak (you never know exactly what you get, cause my New Mexican fiber mill doesn't tell me!) and my personal current favorite, Churro lamb, which is fluffy with a bit of fuzz and squishy and super soft. 

Thank you to all of you sweet folks who already took the chance and shopped! One of the braids named "Ice queen" will even be traveling to Norway!








Now if I could just go and snuggle up in the wool like Ike until the plumber comes…!


Happy Monday, friends!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Farmer Brown is done

It is a beautiful thing to watch your kids grow, but I am the first to admit how nice it is to leave certain little-kids-stuff behind (no, I will not get into diapers, tantrums and such).

However, one of the things I never get tired of are the picture books and we will never let them go either. Again so many good memories and so many of them we have read many many times. 

Let me introduce you to Farmer Brown, a definite favorite, which I have read countless times with my kids as well as for school classes, because it is a very educational journey from sheep to shawl. 

Farmer Brown shears his sheep and because the are really cold, they stalk him and their own wool from washing to spinning to dye pots. When finally he realizes that the sheep are following him, because they are freezing, he sits down to knit clothing for them, which from then on awaits them every year when shearing time comes.
A simple and sweet story by Teri Sloat with super cute pictures and it is even told in rhymes!



You know that this whole process is what I love so after careful consideration of the various options for my niece's mittens, I decided on this:


Kinda like Farmer Brown I gathered my mohair, carded, spun and knitted the mittens.



I already mailed them and they got there on time to go with my niece on a ski trip!


They are perfect. And very fuzzy!
Hope you are having a great weekend!

Friday, February 7, 2014

knitting with a fuzzy purpose

While I crank out a ton of fingerless gloves and other stuff every year to sell at the High Desert Studio Tour and whatever other event I attend, what delights me the most is knitting for my kids. 
One item that tops the list are wool mittens.
I admit that I didn't make any for my children when they were little (*gulp*), all to quickly was I convinced that "purchased in a store" meant "of higher quality and better warmth". 
Boy, was I wrong. 
I am not sure what convinced me, I guess at some point I must have made some and when the kids used them it was the total lightbulb effect. To this day I am so delighted by this wool-mitts-miracle, that I have to document it every chance I get ("hold on kids, I gotta take a picture real quick"):
Crusted with ice and snow, yet dry and warm on the inside






And then they end up in a wet sheep smelling bundle on the bathroom floor until they are dry for the  next time!


The lightbulb-moment-mittens and fingerless gloves are a favorite gift for my kids. They are a fast knit (except when you go overboard and make something like this out of lace weight hand spun…)..


And a lot of times you can use that odd left over ball of yarn and still get a pretty result.


Or you can quickly spin that unique special yarn because finally your son really likes something that you make. 


I have some yarn requirements though, it has to be somewhat fuzzy yarn or they are just not right!
Anything else is optional, like the little loops that can be used to attach the mitts to a coat.
Neat.


 While I gladly give away most outgrown clothes, I have to keep the gloves and mittens. They all tell a story, you know, like the single one, whose brother got lost on the subway in NYC last spring.


 Then out of the blue it hit me the other day - I have a nine year old niece in Germany, who has to walk to school every single day for HALF AN HOUR…at least! She is freezing, suffering, crying, hurting from frost bite, because she has no wool mitts!! I got frantic, pulled out the stash, pulled out the left overs, nothing! Oh what to do? I'm thinking "fuzzy fuzzy" until I remember the generous amount of mohair samples from Kid Hollow Farm, one of my favorite Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival vendor.
I got to work and finished a first beautiful colorful oh-so-fuzzy bat, that just begs to be spun into mitten perfect fuzzy yarn!


Never mind that later the same day I found this very fuzzy loveliness in a basket in my bedroom!


 I'm going to have a really hard time to choose! All I know at this point is that there will be lovely and very fuzzy warm mittens soon!
Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

new and old

While I may be whining about being done with the cold and ready for spring this sudden surprising relapse into winter finds me happy and excited. 
Our beautiful New Mexican desert is transformed into a winter wonderland! The clouds were chasing over the mountain, everything looked so fresh and bright and somehow full of promise! I guess you can call me a desert rat now  - after seven years in New Mexico! Moisture - be it snow or rain - promises growth and  flowers in the spring - soon!!




When I'm at home I rush through chores just to get them done quickly. Then I can allow myself to get back to knitting on my sweater. 
The body is done, pieces assembled and I managed a perfect neck binding. The first sleeve is halfway done, I'm getting there!


While I was rummaging through some drawers the other day, I found this small hooked piece, a zippered pouch, which I had finished some time last fall.





I am so pleased with how it turned out, but I must confess, the hand stitching annoyed the heck out of me.
The hooking part was really fun - a managable size and just letting go with various materials and enjoying the play with colors.



 I had dyed the red and purplish grey for the backgrounds and the rest is a mix of strips, yarns and various fabrics, whatever I found that worked together! 
If you have never worked with other materials in your rugs - I can highly recommend it!

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to the fireplace! Be well, friends!

Friday, January 24, 2014

the call

Picture paperdag, all warm and cozy in a comfy chair, while it's cold and not cozy at all outside. 
I was happily working on this new sweater and I can hardly put it down, cause this yarn is just so soft and lovely to work with and the fabric I'm creating feels so yummy and looks so pretty.


All is well and then it happened. The call. 
I resisted until today, when I opened the teak chest which holds this. Tosh Merino from NYC.


Sigh.


Right next to it the Araucania from Eureka, which I had almost forgotten. Almost. 


Another sigh.



Some touching and petting and contemplating happened. Before I could take a closer look at the gorgeous ball of alpaca in the lower left corner I closed the chest (can you see it? Pink and purple!). 
Now I wonder how long it will take until I give in and cast on with the Tosh Merino. Or maybe the Araucania after all? Oh wait, or will it be the super soft alpaca?
Life is tough. 


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

On knitting. Again

While finishing the Drifting cardigan this loveliness was already calling me.


I had purchased five of these generous skeins, dyed by Plain&Fancy Sheep&Wool Co. at the Taos Wool Festival in 2012, plenty for a sweater. 
I decided to go without a pattern and to make this up, copying the fitting of a favorite shirt of mine.
There was swatching, measuring, calculating, sketching, more calculating. Then I re-calculated  (*sigh*, yes, way too much math, if you ask me), I cast on and voila!


 I hope that it will all come together, because this sure looks pretty! New Mexico colors, I think!


 As I went through my pictures I stumbled upon these from Christmas. There are always some hand knitted gifts like the dark blue and purple cowl that I made for my mom using some supersoft Malabrigo merino yarn from a yarn store in Hawaii. 
While it sure looks lovely, never mind me and my knits, cause I'm an old pro - here comes the exciting part...


What really means the world is a gift that my daughter gave her Oma. Because this girl started knitting just last year! 
It was really for the longest time just a piece of knitted fabric, that she kept working on to practice her new skill until just a week before Christmas. That's when she decided that she had to turn this thing into a Cowl/Neckwarmer/Miniscarf - capitalized, yes! - for Oma. With the obsession of a determined mind she went to work and finished the second half of the scarf just in time and she did it all by herself, even casting off! I only contributed by sewing on the button for closure - the girl had to sleep at some point!


That she chose to give her first ever knitted piece to her Oma meant so much to me, because, you know, that's where it comes from! The art, the knowledge, the wisdom of the working hands, it comes from the generations before us, from the women, who preserved it for us, the daughters and grand daughters.
Oma was a lucky woman this Christmas, but in fact we all are.

Monday, January 20, 2014

On Knitting and such

Time flies when you're having fun, gulp. I will try to ignore the date on the last post and pretend I've kept you up with the happenings in the sheep's studio. Shall we?!

Now that this is settled I want to wish you all a Happy New Year! Yes, that is still okay, after all it's not February. Yet. Maybe I'll look back just a tiny bit into the past year, too.

2013 held a lot of knitting. I had a love-hate relationship with this cardigan, such fine yarn, so soft, such a perfect color for me, but sooo many stitches that tested my patience. I just finished it, sigh.


I made stuff for friends, f.ex. this alpaca cowl that went to my dear friend Ulrike in Virginia.


As usual I bought too much yarn. 
I got this lovely cotton ribbon yarn in a tiny store in the town where I was born in Germany. I loved working with it so much and the gradual color changes look so pretty, that I bought another color way: pink-orange! I'll keep you posted.


Then there was Christmas knitting and I made two of these hats for my nieces in Germany.



I have sewed pencil pouches. Lots of them. Sixty maybe or even more. Seriously! 
They are real popular in my daughter's grade and she has sold quite a bunch right out of her backpack!


One of my personal highlights was the first time ever participation in a Fiber Festival! In November I went to Silver City, NM with two friends, where we sold as ZiaWoolz! Lots of dyed wools, yarns, knitted garments and materials for rug hookers and we had a blast!


We as a family ended the year with a family trip and took my mom who was visiting. 
Death Valley, ghost towns and New Year's in Las Vegas with lots of yummy food, it was great!








 Now Oma is back in Germany, we are back to school and normal life. 
A year with many unknown adventures lies ahead of us. 
I am looking forward to more knitting, spinning, rug hooking, dyeing, traveling and never boring family times!  And I can't wait to find out about your adventures, too!