Nikki's Notebook

My journey as a fiction writer and a place for my projects, writing and otherwise.

Posts Tagged ‘merino

Knitting ferns

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It’s been rainy here, but I’ve noticed that on the dreary days, the greens on the trail look much greener.

I love ferns. My mom brought me some from her garden after she thinned them out. I love the lush, soft look a stand of ferns has. We had a cabin for awhile in northwestern Wisconsin when I was younger. A footpath went the river that divided our property from the neighbor’s. Along part of the path was a stand of evergreen trees, and underneath the whole forest floor was covered by ferns. I used to think of that little section of woods as the fairytale forest, because it had such a magical feel.

At Shepherd’s Harvest, I accidentally bought some worsted weight yarn that I thought was sock yarn to knit some socks for Chris. But since it’s not sock yarn, I ended up designing something else with it! I was delighted, flipping through one of my stitch dictionaries, to find a fern lace pattern.

And here’s my first attempt at a cowl:

That was the first version of the cowl. Then I had to rip it out because it was too big/I wouldn’t have enough yarn to finish it. Then I had to rip it out to fix tweaks in the pattern. Then I had to rip it out to fix tweaks I’d created by fixing the first tweaks. Finally I settled on something and I’m making progress.

Yarn is MacKintosh Yarns Skye Worsted in the Evergreen colorway.


Written by nikkinbird

June 20, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Beautiful handspun yarn – if I do say so myself.

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The fruits of the past week’s spinning adventures:

I’m quite pleased with how this yarn turned out, and now I’m itching to spin from some more hand dyed rovings. This is hand dyed merino top from HoneyGold Acres. I purchased it at the Shepherd’s Harvest Sheep and Wool Festival. The tag on the fiber doesn’t list a website, but it does have an email: A quick google search also gave me a listing on if you want to know more about them – HoneyGold Acres. I was very pleased with this wool and excited to be able to purchase from other fiber folks in my state.

The red roving was the only one I remembered to take a picture of before spinning, and even then I’d already unrolled it a bit. Here’s the “before” picture of the red/orange.

Though I haven’t been back at the wheel all that long, I feel like I’m getting better at spinning. I’m learning how to better tweak my wheel so that it works the way I need it to work, and I’m figuring out new methods for making the most out of my wool. For example, in the past, I would just tear off a chunk and spin until the bobbin looked full enough, then spin another bobbin to about the same amount. This is fine, except then I would end up with one really big skein and one smaller skein from the same 4 oz of fiber. This is what happened with the blue/purple yarn pictured. With the green, I started out by dividing the roving in two, then dividing those two halves in two so that I would have two even skeins. I used my digital scale to weigh each one to make sure all the chunks of roving were about the same amount. Now I’m not wasting so much fiber.

Overall, I’m glad to be spinning again and hope to keep learning more. I may even see a second wheel in my future…maybe.

Written by nikkinbird

June 5, 2011 at 6:10 pm

Spinning tricks: spinning wheel mat and drying handspun yarn.

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It’s a delightfully rainy and stormy day here in Duluth, MN. Chris is out of town working so I’m left to entertain myself. I wanted to get out of the house, so I’m at Dunn Bros enjoying a latte. Yum! I’ve been spinning this weekend, and wanted to share a couple of tricks that I use when I spin.

On Saturday, I brought out my spinning wheel for the first time in almost a year. Since we’ve moved I kept putting off getting rubber feet to keep it from sliding on our hardwood floors. I tried some rubber feet Chris had bought for something else, little bubble-like things, but they kept sliding off because they weren’t sticky enough. I thought of getting a bath rug with a grippy bottom, but thought the wheel would slide across the carpet, too. Then, I thought of the perfect thing:

It’s grippy contact paper from the kitchen cleaning aisle at Target.

Another trick I thought I would share is how I weight the yarn when I dry it. I must be getting better at spinning, because my plied yarn seemed fairly balanced and not twisty this time, but I still hung it the way I usually do. I put one end of the wound skein around the top of a hanger. I used to put a soup can or other heavy can through the bottom loop, but recently have started hanging another hanger in the bottom to weight the skein. To make the hanger heavy enough, I put a folded towel on it. This way, the water that drips from the bottom of the skein drips onto the towel instead of the floor as it dries.

Puppy News
Gru is getting along just wonderfully at our house, and we couldn’t have asked for a better dog. The other night, when I went to Target to get my spinning wheel mat material, I brought Gru. Little did I know, I was driving straight into a thunderstorm. I could see it in the distance when I parked the car, and by the time I got out of the store it was right over us. I came back to no dog in the back of my wagon – he’d climbed over the seats and was huddled in a ball in the driver’s seat! He’s afraid of thunder, lightning, and, by association, camera flashes.

When Chris is gone, Gru sleeps on the bed with me, and he woke me up with a nose in the face this morning to let me know there was more thunder. Every time there was a boom or a flash, he paced nervously around the bed. Finally, in search of a small space to curl up in, he jumped from the bed to the top of his kennel.

Here he is looking very sad, trying to be in a small space between the wall and the clothes hamper:

I had to pick him up and put him back on the bed, and I finally got him to lay down by petting him. He’s gotten better about storms since we first discovered his fear. The first time we figured it out was because he woke us up by scrabbling under the bed. Now, he comes to us to be comforted, and will just lay on the floor as close to us as possible while making sad faces.

Hat: complete with pom pom and tassels

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So I couldn’t stand it. I ripped back the hat to before I started the decreases and reknit it so it would be longer. And guess what? I love it now! I also added some i-cord ties hanging from the earflaps with tassels on the end and a pom pom on the top. The pom pom really makes the hat, I gotta tell you. See?


I covered my face because I was getting sick of trying to get a good shot that made my face look good AND had a good view of the pom pom.

Here’s one where I look OK, you just can’t see the full glory of the pom pom.


I’ve started on making the copy of this hat for Chris. I still need to block my hat, but I hurriedly wove in ends and made a pom pom this morning so we could go on a walk by Lake Superior. It’s been too long since I’ve been on the lakewalk, even though it’s winter.

Written by nikkinbird

March 6, 2011 at 11:53 pm

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