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November 2005 - Posts

No, but my wrists are!

Blue Biffle Wristwarmers

Blue Biffle Wristwarmers
Started: 11/27/05
Finished: 11/28/05
Pattern: "Hand/Wrist Warmers" by Joelle Hoverson, Last Minute Knitted Gifts
Yarn: Handspun 2 ply Fleece Artist Blue Faced Leicester, just under 2 oz
Needles: #7
Notes: My first handspun, handknit project. Very cool. The two balls were spun at different times and thus were quite different. The second ball was a lighter weight and much more consistent. It made a slightly smaller wristwarmer so I added an extra row at the end before binding off.

I loves them. They also have a nice color gradation from dark at the wrist to light at the fingers. Because I split the roving lengthwise before spinning, the two balls are pretty close in colors; you could say they (more or less) match.

And now go gawk

There are plenty of spinners out there making amazing things. I'm still operating on a spindle so the goings is slow. But lookie here, Lisa Souza handdyes roving and yarn, and one of her customers sent her pictures of a WHOLE SWEATER that she spindled and knit. Let me say that again: a WHOLE SWEATER! On a spindle! Good golly miss molly, makes my jaw drop.

Back of Buttercup

The knitting is done on Buttercup! She just needs a good blocking because like so many Canadians, she just wants to curl (I learned this from the Yarn Harlot's readers). The color is off, but you can see the back in this photo. I see a bunch of faces and I want to draw in the mouths; what do you see?

Buttercup

So long, Cat's Paw Shawl. I wasn't ready for your lacy loveliness. You and your JaggerSpun mates are waiting for the perfect project, waiting to be useful. Perhaps one day, we'll meet again.

Cat's Paw Shawl
1/15/96 - 11/28/05

Farewell, Crocheted Shoulder Bag. I ran out of steam before I could finish you, and now I can't find you... I just don't crochet anymore, it's nothing personal. Though your cotton was tough on my fingers, you would have been a good, sturdy bag.

[MIA]
6/24/96 - 11/28/05

Auf Wiedersehen, Beige Moebius Shawl. You just weren't the right color for me. I couldn't find the right reversible pattern to make you sing. And I think I have a moebius curse, I haven't made a successful one yet.

Beige Moebius Shawl
'98 - 11/28/05

Goodbye, Colorful Checked (Striped) Pullover. What the hell was I thinking? I wanted to be adventurous with color, to break out of my boring single color garments, to be wild and free. I tried too hard. Ouch.

Colorful Checked (Striped) Pullover

Colorful Checked (Striped) Pullover Colorful Checked (Striped) Pullover

Colorful Checked (Striped) Pullover Colorful Checked (Striped) Pullover
11/15/97 - 11/28/05

Goodbye, Purple Rollneck. So long. Farewell. You were one of those ill-fated boyfriend sweaters, and though you're mostly done, you are fated to the frog pond. It's too bad, so many stockinette stitches later... you did keep my lap warm that winter. Goodbye.

Purple Rollneck Purple Rollneck
2/8/01 - 11/28/05

Week two:
Started with: 61
Abandoned: -5
Finished: -4
New: +2
Current Projects: 54!

I joined me a new knitalong over at Poor Miss Finch:

It's for a cute hat that she designed. First one will be a test run, and then I have the perfect recipient in mind!

Ahh, that's more like it!

The first time I spun some of the Winderwood Farms Wensleydale, it came out microscopic. That's what it wanted to be, so that's what I spun. But no way am I knitting that up. This time, I decided what I wanted it to be:

28: Winderwood Farms Wensleydale

Muahahahaha! To be plied.

She's checkered, she's done

Trimmed the fringe yesterday and she's now a done deal. No recipient in mind, just wanted to use the yarn. She's soft, and a quick knit. And for a handdyed cashmere blend, quite affordable!

Summer Rain Checkered Scarf

Summer Rain Checkered Scarf
Started:
7/30/05
Finished: 11/27/05
Pattern: my own
Yarn: Danette Taylor's 70% lambswool / 30% cashmere in Summer Rain, one 3.5 oz skein
Needles: #9
Notes: The dye came off on my hands and needles on this yarn. Same thing happened with another Summer Rain yarn, so it could be something specific to that colorway. Haven't had that problem with any of her other colorways, though. Also, the photo doesn't do the colors justice!

This yarn is crazy soft for only 30% cashmere. It's fluffy without bits fluffing off. The #9 needles give it good drape, but for a non-scarf item, I think 8's, or possibly 7's, would be more comfortable.

To knit:
Cast on 18 sts.
* k3p3 across x 4 rows
* p3k3 across x 4 rows
Repeat these 8 rows until desired length or out of yarn. Fringe.

Introducing... Buttercup

I mentioned her briefly one day, but I don't think her photo made it out. Here she be, in all her foot and a half glory:

Buttercup - in progress

Cashmere loverliness. I worked on her at the Knitsmithy yesterday. Lucky for me I didn't have to reknit everything, it's hard to follow three conversations and knit at the same time.

My own handspun

Muahahahaha. Think of that TV bit that followed X-Files episodes - "I made that". That's what runs through my head when I work on this:

Blue Biffle Wristwarmers

It's knit with yarn I spun! My first handspun handknit! It's Fleece Artist blue faced leicester, and the first half was spun much before the second half was spun and plied. This means the first wristwarmer is a little bulkier and the yarn less even and the twist not quite so nice. In the photo you can see the one on the right is just a little bit skinnier. But I don't care! It's soft, it's cozy, it's purty.

Blue Biffle Wristwarmers

Had me some Macallan 12 year whiskey last night. I get bouncy and happy when I drink. If I'm sad, I get VERY sad. If I'm not sad, I dance, laugh and sing. If I drink too much (that's about 3 drinks), I get sleepy and lie down on the kitchen floor.

Made it to the Knitsmithy today! Wore my Hourglass Sweater so if I can't get my act together to get a photo of it on me you can see it there in a few days. What fun seeing what everyone else is making! Met Alison of the blue blog and Dani of Knitting Sunshine. I'm almost over the strangeness of knowing so much about someone else and their knitting without having met them.

There were wild turkeys in the front yard this afternoon. I love seeing them wander around these parts. Seeing deer and fox is cool, but wild turkeys, that travel in packs and can fly, it just tickles me. Didn't know they fly?

Wild turkeys 9/30/05

Wild turkeys 9/30/05 Wild turkeys 9/30/05

The photos are from Sept. I am especially happy to see them after Thanksgiving.

Blocking Catharina Rose

gray la gran asked how I blocked the middle section. The pattern increases from one triangle to two and stays the same width while the rest of the shawl grows; it is bordered on each side by a line of yarn overs. I wanted those lines to be straight, so I left the blocking wires in for the whole shebang. While I measured some of the other parts, I eyeballed the rectangle, so it does look a little smaller towards the top, hehe.

Catharina Rose is done! She's my second shawl, my second faroese shawl, my first lace shawl, and my first blocked shawl. Here she is blocking:

Catharina Rose - blocking

And some close ups:

Catharina Rose - blocking

Catharina Rose - blocking

Catharina Rose - blocking

Catharina Rose
Started: 7/19/05
Finished: 11/26/05
Pattern: "Catharina" by Myrna Stahman, The Best of Knitter's Magazine: Shawls and Scarves
Yarn: Danette Taylor's lace merino in Bramble Rose, ~5 oz
Needles: #5
Notes: This was an easy knit. Because it's knit from the top down, you increase 8 stitches every other round; around 300 stitches, I was getting batty, took soooo long to finish 1 row! But, as with other monotony, I settled down, and the last few inches were no problem at all. Also, with Myrna's shawls, you cast on invisibly and then pick up and graft stitches shortly after, so you get the nice continuous seed stitch border that goes around most of the shawl and only 2 ends to sew in.

Blocking was time consuming and since it was my first blocked lace shawl, I really didn't know where to begin. The faroese shawls have a bit of shoulder shaping that helps the shawl sit on your shoulders, but that makes them a bit trickier to block. In the end, I started with the middle section, stretched it out good and tight, pinned the wing tips, and then stretched everything else 'til it was tight.

I love the colors in this pattern. When I chose the yarn I wasn't sure if the colors would obscure the lace, but after the first triangle I was pretty happy. The yarn on these needles was a good fit.

Pink Clapotis

With the Hourglass Sweater done, I turned my attention to the Pink Clapotis. Because I was worried about running out of yarn, I frogged several inches and settled on a narrower scarf.

Nope, it's not holiday knitting. Yes, I know, only a couple of dozen days to go, and plenty of projects left. Just. Can't. Do. It.

Pink Clapotis

Fun locks

Locks are fun. The colors are off, but you get the idea. No carding (don't own anything resembling carders), just fluff and go!

27: dyed locks 27: dyed locks

Okay, I wasn't going to post today, you know, take a post holiday break (no pun intended), but then I remembered I have 2 things to do:

  1. Thank you for the lovely comments about my spun yarn! It's very motivating and, well, makes me feel good.
  2. I mentioned in a previous post that I hadn't heard from Winderwood Farms and was not sure if I would order from them again. Well, I ended up contacting them through an eBay form as a last ditch effort, and heard back immediately. They never got my emails, and they've been swamped the last couple of weeks, which is why my order took longer to go out. Usually they ship out in a day or two. This totally jibes with what Noelle said. So, long story short, I so will order again!

The Hourglass Sweater is all done! The sidebar is updated. I'm down to 60 WIPs! I've got one more that just needs to be blocked and then I will have broken the 60's barrier. Wheeeeeeee!

Woke up to snow today:

Thanksgiving snow

We spent Thanksgiving with Gram. Hope everyone had a good day!

Saw Harry Potter last night at the Jordan's Furniture IMAX. Was cool to see it so big. There were moments during close ups that I realized, man, that head is 3 stories tall. Hehe.

Plied while waiting in line. By the way people were looking, you'd think this was not a common occurrence... Turned this (Winderwood Farms Corriedale):

26: Winderwood Farms Corriedale Cross

into this:

26: Winderwood Farms Corriedale Cross - plied

Just looking at it makes me queasy. The colors were just not meant to be combined this way. Oy. I know navajo plying would have been better but got optimistic. Now what? Is there an easy way to un-ply this?

To soothe the visual palette, here is some Winderwood Farms merino silk, which is quite soft.

25: Winderwood Farms merino-silk

We ate at Minado in Natick before the movie. Man, all you can eat sushi. Need I say more? I've never been to a Japanese food all you can eat buffet before. I LOVED it. Yummmm.

Most of the knitting on the Hourglass Sweater is done!

Hmm, scattered mind. Can you tell?

Goodbye, Wedding Afghan. Any project with "Wedding" in the name that has languished for more than 3 years just isn't meant to be. You were bold, you were beautiful, you would have taken too long to crochet. You were sadly replaced by another afghan; replaced, but never forgotten.

Wedding Afghan
7/6/96 - 11/21/05

Goodbye, Gold Cotton V-neck Sweater. Though you were begun in the late '90s, your name says it all. You were a child of the '80s, and that time has come and gone. You would have been cosy, and comfy, "but I see your true colors shining through".

Gold Cotton V-neck Sweater Gold Cotton V-neck Sweater
7/3/97 - 11/21/05

Farewell, Red Vest. It was a crush, a fancy. I'm just not a vest kinda girl. We didn't spend much time together but you were a luscious red, and so soft. Take care.

Red Vest
'98 - 11/21/05

First Sweater for Scott, it's so hard to say goodbye. You came home with me from Webs before I knew how particular Scott is. You were solid, but so heavy. You unraveled on me more than once. And when I didn't know how to handle you you became so clingy! I stuck through, I'm not a quitter; but no matter how I try, it's just not working out.

First Sweater for Scott
1/04 - 11/21/05

Striped Softy Hat, mea culpa. You were my first hat knit without a pattern, before I realized hats need negative ease. You're so soft and snuggly, without a hint of wool! Your colors are great and your texture so interesting. You will make a lovely scarf some day. Goodbye, Striped Softy Hat.

[Striped Softy Hat is MIA]

edited 11/26/05: found the bugger, he was hiding in the winter accessories bin! Don't let the picture fool you, he's enormous.

Striped Softy Hat
12/12/04 - 11/21/05

WIP Management Update

Week one:
Started with: 67
Abandoned: -5
Finished: -3
New: +2
Current Projects: 61!

Was all ready to do a WIP Management update, but it's raining, it's pouring, it's mucking up the lighting.

Instead, here is the Winderwood Farms blue faced leicester navajo plied:

23: Winderwood Farms Blue Faced Leicester - navajo plied

The colors just pop! I am always amazed at how different it looks after plying. (Before plying)

Warning: non-knitting content ahead

I've been very sad lately. I thought of a few things that might be contributing:

  • Feeling cooped up and disconnected from people because I'm home job searching
  • Going to the MIT Dramashop reunion and getting nostalgic and heartbroken that it is so much harder to keep in touch with people and do theatre outside of school
  • Seeing Gram not doing so well
  • Feeling restricted on starting new projects because I'm trying to get my WIP count down

I didn't love MIT, except for theatre. I went there excited and saucer-eyed, happy to find some place where I fit in, where being smart, even book smart, was not a liability. I really flailed trying to find something I enjoyed, something I loved. Some place to fit in, belong. Until theatre.

The faculty there are amazing. They care so much. About theatre, about their students, about the journey, and helping you along the way. Midway into my junior year I took a leave of absence, and they were the reason I came back to MIT. It was so wonderful to see them, and to know that they still care.

It's done, it's done! Here she is blocking:

Multidirectional Silk Scarf - blocking

I used blocking wires on just the silk boucle portion, since I liked the garter part just fine and didn't want it to stretch out. Gave it a good steaming and then let sit to cool.

Multidirectional Silk Scarf

Very cool.

She competes with Seaweed Love as my new favorite scarf!

The blocking took care of the buckling middle and the bulging ends. I would still use 4 rows on the half diagonal diamonds in future because of stitch count, but it's good to know the bulging goes away. I think the boucle holds a firmer edge than the Regal Silk. In the pattern photo it sags just a bit.

Multidirectional Silk Scarf
Started: 11/5/05
Finished: 11/20/05
Pattern: Multidirectional Silk Scarf by Iris Scheirer, Magknits.com
Yarn: Danette Taylor's silk boucle (~2.3 oz) and 50/50 cashmere/merino (3.5 oz), both in Bramble Rose
Needles: #8
Notes: See above and yesterday's post.
The cashmere/merino has nice spring and is lovely to knit.

Comments

Thanks, Noelle, for your comment about Winderwood Farm. I like their rovings and hope I can figure out the email and delivery delay problems. The package smelled smoky, but the rovings themselves, sealed in their baggies, had a different smell, could have been vinegar as you mentioned. I have heard of packages getting a smoky smell en route with the USPS.

Gram

Yesterday was Gram's birthday. We brought Chinese and chocolates. What more can a birthday girl want? Oh yes, watches with replaced batteries. Check!

I had her try on mostly done sock one. Too tight! To frog pond we go.

10 Things about Gram

  • She had the blackest hair in Neponset.
  • She could out-skate her brothers.
  • She had 7 or 8 brothers and sisters and took care of most of them. She has 1 daughter.
  • Gram retired from Gillette after 41 years as a chemist.
  • They wanted her to go to Europe to help but she refused; she doesn't like flying.
  • Gram loved to shop at The Christmas Tree Shop; I always expected to see her in the next commercial.
  • She has a sweet tooth the size of New England; she always leaves room for dessert.
  • Gram crocheted dozens of afghans for family and friends.
  • When Scott was younger and lived nearer to her, he would come home to chicken dinners hanging from his door.
  • She welcomed me from day one and is one of the sweetest spitfires I know.

Happy Birthday, Gram!

The knitting's all done on the Multidirectional Silk Scarf from Magknits.com. I have one problem, and one comment.

Notice the buckling? In the silk part?

Multidirectional Silk Scarf

That's the silk boucle not wanting to behave like an icelandic silk. I'm hoping a good stretched pinning and steaming will take care of that.

And the comment:

Multidirectional Silk Scarf

Notice the ends. One bulges out more than the other. I think there is a small problem with the pattern in Step 3, diagonal half diamonds. The first half diamond I followed the pattern and used and ended with 7 stitches over the 5 rows (that's the lower scarf end in the photo). It didn't seem right; the pattern is in multiples of 6, so I should have used and ended up with 6, not 7. But, what do I know, I figured I'd just trust the pattern.

Sure enough, I got to the end and was supposed to knit 6 but only had 5 stitches left. Yep, that's a problem. So I knit 5, and in the second diagonal half diamond, only knit 4 rows. That's the upper scarf end in the photo.

So, in conclusion, the diagonal half diamonds, if knit over 4 rows and using 6 stitches, would work out stitch-wise and give you a nicer looking end.

Also, this pattern is not fun to frog, and the boucle even less so. Otherwise, I might have maybe considered going back and redoing; then again, once I got to the end it was 39 triangles later, and each one took me a good 5-10 minutes... so yeah, chalk it up to experience.

Would I knit one again? Hmm, probably not. Too much turning every 1-5 stitches. On the plus side, it was a good excuse to learn to knit backwards. On the plus plus side, I LOVE the way the scarf looks. The colors coordinate nicely, and it feels and looks beautiful. It was worth doing once and learning the multidirectional stuff. 

Comments

Amanda asked about the cashmere blend I bought from Mini Mills. Their website is not great; I dug around and found a page on their fibers. It doesn't list the blend I bought, though. When I was there on honeymoon they said I could email them (or call) to order more. They were very friendly, just not high tech. In fact, we had trouble finding any internet access on The Island and just gave up and enjoyed quieter country living.

PumpkinMama asked about navajo plying. I've done it before, but since it's on a spindle, it's parking and slow goings. There is a video of it (on a wheel) at The Joy of Handspinning. If you've crocheted, think of it as making chains with really big loops.

It finally arrived! My Winderwood Farms handdyed roving:

Winderwood Farms handdyed roving - in bags

ahhh, they can breathe:

Winderwood Farms handdyed rovings Winderwood Farms handdyed roving

They are (clockwise from top left): corriedale cross, merino/tussah silk, blue faced leicester, and merino; the blue/green in the second pic is wensleydale. 4 oz of each.

(The wensleydale is in its own photo because somehow I missed it, then emailed Winderwood Farms, then on a whim checked the bag again, found it, and ran back to my desk to email Winderwood Farms again. I think in my excitement, I upturned the bag, let fall what fell and the wensleydale was shy and didn't come tumbling out.)

Of course, I had to play immediately:

23: Winderwood Farms Blue Faced Leicester

This is half the blue faced leicester. It was nowhere as soft as the Fleece Artist BFL, but easy to spin. I plan to navajo ply to preserve the color shifts; also, if just plied, I figured the red and green would "cancel each other out" and result in murky looking stuff.

24: Winderwood Farms Wensleydale

And this is the wensleydale. My first time spinning with it, and somehow it wanted to become this thread like stuff. I begin to see what the more experienced spinners mean; you spin finer and finer and then spin some bulky to prove to yourself that you still can.

The Wensleydale has a long staple and you can see the wave in the fiber. It's more coarse; I have no idea what I'm going to do with "thread", even when it's plied. Then again, I haven't made anything with anything I've spun yet... I was planning to try socks with one of these batches. Would the merino stand up to sock wearing? It is very soft and plush, would it just pill or felt?

On a side note

The colors are much more vibrant than the photos on eBay. But... it was a week before these were shipped out, and they smell a little funny. I don't know if it's something from the dyeing process. Also I emailed them a couple of times to find out why it took so long to ship and I haven't heard back. So would I order again? I don't know...

ETA: Would definitely order from them again.

I was so pleased to finish the Black Fluffy Thing and the Vintage Unvelvet and cross them off my WIP list! Down to 65! (AND, cross off 2 gifts as well.) But then, I realized that the Multidirectional Silk Scarf I started last week never made it onto my WIP list, so I had to add it in. Up to 66. And then, I started a new project, a scarf for a New Year's gift... So, back to 67. Hahaha. You see how this works? This holiday and gift knitting thing is going to throw a monkey wrench into the whole WIP Management thing.

Vintage Unvelvet

Vintage Unvelvet
Started: 11/3/05
Finished: 11/16/05
Pattern: "Vintage Velvet" by Lisa Daniels, Scarf Style
Yarn: Mini Mills 75% cashmere / 25% merino, one 4 oz skein
Needles: #8
Notes: The Vintage Unvelvet was mostly a joy to knit. The pattern really bothered me for the first, oh, 3 feet. There is just enough difference between the front and the back that I have to look several times each row to make sure I'm putting the knits and purls in the right place. Can't watch TV, can't read blogs. But, the last foot and a third I got over it. Maybe it was the crappy late night TV... I really like the way it looks; this yarn shows off the pattern much better than the Touch Me. The cashmere blend is extremely soft (that's where the "joy to knit" comes in), but might deposit bits of cashmere fluff on unsuspecting fleece... haha, not the sheep kind of fleece, silly. I'm still not crazy about the color, and I hope the recipient doesn't mind it too much... But if so, I'll consider dyeing it. Not with Kool Aid. Not this year.

Black Fluffy Thing

Black Fluffy Thing
Started: 11/10/05
Finished: 11/16/05
Pattern: my own
Yarn: Zegna Baruffa Mousse, tripled
Needles: #10
Notes: The pattern was kept simple because anything more would get lost in the black and boucle. And while the pattern irritated me (mostly because I couldn't see it), the last foot and a half didn't bother me at all. Maybe it was the home stretch. Maybe it was burned onto my brain. Maybe it was the extra light from pulling the floor lamp closer to me. The scarf grew a bit in the wash (almost 6"), and the fringe got a little ratty (gave it a trim). But it did get softer! I wasn't crazy about the yarn, but that could have been the needle size as well. But since it got softer with a wash, I may skein and wash before using next time. May as well try, I have pounds of it left.

Well, I thought the Contact Me form was fixed, but looks like it wasn't. Sorry to anyone that has tried to contact me. I replaced the form with my email address, just replace the usual "at" and "dot" and delete spaces. Thanks!

Done with the knitting, just need to weave in ends, add some fringe, and give it a gentle bath. Bought the yarn on eBay and it's supposed to fluff out and get softer with washing.

Black Fluffy Thing - almost done!

Black and fuzzy are a difficult photo combo. It looks a little washed out here, but you can see the checkerboard pattern.

In other knitting news

Knit the body to the armpits on the Hourglass Sweater:

Hourglass Sweater - body

and started on a sleeve. I'm using 2 circular needles and I actually cast on for both sleeves at the same time, finally had an 'A-HA!' moment on how to do it without transferring any stitches. But, while 2 circs and 2 sets of knitted items may work well for socks, it's way too confusing and complicating for sleeves. Every time I switched needles I had to follow the cord to find the other end of the needle. Too much work. 2 circs work nicely for one sleeve, however.

Hourglass Sweater - sleeve

And as I previously mentioned, I did try the body on once I hit the armpits and it looks like a nice fit. Likely will need to wear a t-shirt underneath, though. As I figured.

It was a plying kinda day

As promised, here is how the Kool Aid dyed roving looks plied:

21: Kool Aid dyed merino - plied

and a close up:

21: Kool Aid dyed merino - plied

Doesn't it look kinda tweedy?

I look at it, squeeze it, turn it over and over, and can't believe I made it. I dyed it, spun it, plied it. It was just some (nicely prepared) wool before I played. Now it's interesting yarn. (Granted, only 1 oz. Work with me here.)

Here is the plied Fleece Artist Blue Faced Leicester, also from yesterday's post, though with the harsh early morning lighti you can't tell the colors as well:

22: Fleece Artist Blue Faced Leicester - plied

And here is some older spun wool that I finally got around to plying (the fifth thing I ever spun!). Before:

5: White Coopworth

And after:

5: White Coopworth - larger, plied 5: White Coopworth - smaller, plied

Dey curly! Haven't been set yet. Came out much bulkier than I expected. The top one barely fit on my spindle. It's white Coopworth and now I want to dye it! Muahahahaha... It has a very crisp texture, unlike the merino and BFL I've been using lately. I generally prefer soft wools, but my horizons are expanding.

Gram's sock is doing well:

Gram's sock - heel turned

I think I will knit another coupla inches then put it on string (so she can try it on) and start the second sock.

Meanwhile, I finally spun up the Kool Aid dyed roving. Not at all how I expected it to turn out, but I kinda like it:

21: Kool Aid dyed merino

For all my restraint, I think I put too much red in there after all. Or, too regularly. Plied it looks so different, almost like a tweed. Will have a pic for you tomorrow.

I also spun up the other half of the blue Fleece Artist Blue Faced Leicester.

22: Fleece Artist Blue Faced Leicester

It's purty. I had problems with it last time, and now I think it's because it was a little felted. I spent several minutes prepping this half and did a lot better. Methinks I may be bandying spinning jargon about, but that's my assessment.

Still waiting on that roving... the one downside to online shopping (besides the whole color issue) -- for all its instant gratification, much patience is required.

First of all, thanks for the nice comments about my spun yarn and Gram! And Danette, no way I will exceed your dyeing skills. :)

WIP Management

I've been heading in this direction lately, but now it's official: I need to get my WIPs under control! Here's what I put together yesterday:

"One of the side effects of blogging and reading other people's blogs is taking a new look at how I knit. I am a Gemini, and it shows. Besides mountains of yarn, I have mountains of WIPs going back years!

I have resolved to get this mountain down to a "manageable" size, and to that end, will keep a list here of all projects and status. Manageable for now means 18-24 projects (!), which I think will effectively half my current WIP list. Sad sad sad. Once I meet this goal, I may reduce even further! (Or not.)

Projects will either be completed, put on the list for completion, or else abandoned. New projects may be started, but not with abandon (haha).

Wish me luck!"

and here's my oh-so-scary project list. 67 projects! 67! How... shocking, and embarassing, and ridiculous, and hysterical! I can already see a few that can be abandoned, and a few that just need buttons. 67 is a lot more than I was expecting, but it's time to clean up the list and the WIP pile. Think I can do it?

I'll try to do an update every week or two, and keep a running balance in the sidebar. Any words of encouragement, or outright laughter, are welcome. You can encourage me or chide me into whipping my WIPs into shape!

Gram went to the hospital yesterday. She had hit her head and didn't tell anyone, then started getting dizzy. We usually go to visit her on Sundays, this time we chased her down in the hospital (we didn't know when we left).

It's hard to see her like that. I think anyone looks more fragile in a johnny. But for someone who is always dressed and ready to go out, whether or not she actually does go out, all the more so. Me, I'll stay in my pajamas (my grubbies) if I'm not going anywhere. I think it's a generational thing.

I showed her my progress on her socks. Now that it's beginning to look like a sock and she can see how the colors are coming out, she likes it. I'll admit, it gives me more motivation to get them done.

Gram used to crochet blankets/afghans and take kitchen towels and crochet a "handle" on the end so they could be hung on hooks and ovens. We've got a bunch of her afghans and towels here (and we ain't giving them up). Before she met my mom or sister, she sent me with a couple of towels when I went to visit them; they Loved them. She stopped crocheting a couple of years ago: tough on the hands and eyes. These will be her first handknit socks. Maybe the first of many.

And I just can't hide it! I know I know I know I know --

A couple of days ago I spun this:

17: more Northern Mist

and was very pleased with the evenness and how fine a yarn I was getting.

And then, yesterday, I spun this:

20: Coopworth 2 ply - to be plied

which I plied to make this:

20: Coopworth 2 ply

and I am so very proud! It is my best batch yet, and I did it without parking, without cursing or even breaking a sweat! I was relaxed and having fun. Here is another photo:

20: Coopworth 2 ply

and one last one, to give you an idea of the weight:

20: Coopworth 2 ply

It's the last of my white Coopworth that I bought on my honeymoon. I'm slowly using up that stash, but guess what came in the mail:

Finn wool

That's 2.5 lbs of Finn; and here's 8 oz of Corriedale (both of which I've never spun before):

Corriedale wool

and 4 oz of merino-silk:

Silk/Merino fiber

When your unit of measure moves from ounces to pounds, from skein to sweater quantities, you know you've hit that next level. And I have. Oh how I have.

This stash was purchased from al_spinner on the Knitter's Review Forums. I have another box due to arrive soon, handdyed fiber from Winderwood Farm on eBay. Can't wait!

My Contact form was not working until today. If you sent me a message using that form, I never received it so please send again!

Yesterday was a day of knitting penance. Or torture. Or both.

I knit another foot on the Black Fluffy Thing. It's a simple pattern, but just complicated enough that I can't watch TV or read blogs while knitting. Maybe if it wasn't knit with 3 strands of fuzzy black loopy, maybe if I could actually see the pattern without inspecting, maybe then I could. It's 2 feet long now. 3 more to go. I figure one foot a day should do it, just enough to be painful but not enough to actually go insane. This one needs to be sent out asap.

On the plus side, Scott approved the black color!

Next I knit another foot on the Vintage Unvelvet. Lovely cashmere softness. 3 feet now, 2 to go. As I was putting it down (with great relief and pride at my fortitude), I noticed the ball of yarn looked smallish. In a panic I weighed it. 1.25 oz left. 4 oz in the ball. 3 feet complete. My equations in Excel tell me I will have enough yarn for 52.36 inches, or just more than 4' 4". Is this enough? Enough scarf, I mean? For a man? (Oh, the agony. I had to choose a cabled pattern, didn't I. Just had to. When I knew I only had one ball.) The scarf that Grumperina just knit for her dad was 53" plus a bit of fringe, and it was specially requested at that length. So there is hope...

On the plus side, what I do have looks really nice! (And I really do enjoy knitting with this yarn; the pressure is beginning to spoil that, must be careful.)

Last, I knit some more of Gram's sock.

Gram's socks - 1st sock

I don't know why I'm not knitting it faster. I'm just not enjoying it. It's Fleece Artist sock yarn,

Fleece Artist sock yarn

beautiful blues and purples, soft. (The one unphotographed Canadian souvenir.) Maybe the needles feel small for the yarn. Maybe I'm bored of stockinette socks after knitting 3 pair just like it. It's hard to say. But her birthday is coming up, so I'll have to work on that fortitude thing and suck it up.

After all that, it was ME ME ME time. I resisted the urge to start a new project and picked up a dusty Hourglass Sweater that I started in March (I was pleased to find I had only started it this year; some of my dusty WIPs are much, much older).

Hourglass Sweater - body

I was about 9" in when I stopped; if I remember correctly, I was worried about a bulky hemmed bottom, and about the softness of the yarn. It's Tragelly's Silk Blend singles in Desert Shadow; it's got wool and silk, and it's fairly soft, but is it Cash Iroha next-to-the-skin soft? Not sure...

Hmm... Now that I've spelled it all out, is this such a good idea? To keep knitting? Invest hours and hours on something I may not quite like or wear?

Enh, I've done worse.

Okay, I'll temper that. I'll knit to the armpits and then slip it off the needles and try it on.

My first knitalong!

Can you feel it? The holiday knitting pressure? I'm feeling it. That's why I joined my first knitalong:

The Who Wouldn't Love A Handknitted Gift?! Along, aka Knit Some Holiday Cheer.

Alison is running this one; she has instructions on her blog for signing up, so come join us! Let the madness end.

Started a new scarf yesterday (what? why ya lookin' at me like that?):

Fluffy Black Thing

It's a thank you gift that I need to finish soon.

Guys are tough to knit for, especially when it's supposed to be a surprise and you don't know them that well. Of course, asking Scott for help doesn't make it any better, his "acceptable color" palette is limited so most yarn suggestions were nixed immediately. Black is safe. Isn't it? Not fun to knit with, especially with 3 strands of microscopic boucle. It's not like I need to see the pattern as I work. But it's safe, right? Right?

In more colorful news, I Kool Aid dyed another ounce of merino:

Dyeing Fiber

Yup, that's more of the "dot" effect I was going for the first time before I got carried away watching the fiber absorb the dye. Great red, eh? Roarin' Raspberry Cranberry; looks blood red mixed up so I had a good feeling about the red it would produce. Wanted to add another color in but don't like any of the colors I have. Allison used Crystal Lite to dye her son's hat yarn, so I'll have to branch out. Who knows, I may end up getting (gasp) non-drink mix dyes before long.

Spent the last couple of days in a Career Directions workshop presented by Workforce Central Career Center. They used the Holland method to map out what "type" you are, and what "type" your job or workplace is. Like any similar method, gives you a different way to look at what your interests, skills and values are, and a way to find jobs that match up to them.

At least, that's what I took from it. It was useful in the first part, ie, a different way to look at what I'm good at, what I'm interested in, etc. But not so useful in finding jobs that match up with the "results". For any that know the method, my profile is A(rtistic), S(ocial), and C(onventional)/I(nvestigative). A and S are pretty straightforward to imagine. The C has to do with things like routine, number crunching, attention to detail, etc. I'm very good at it, but not so interested in it; it clashes with my A side (and no, there is no "B" side). The I has to do with analytical, curiosity, someone who needs to see to believe, etc.

For kicks, some of the jobs my combination suggest are:
- dictionary editor
- pyschiatrist
- singing messenger
- dance therapist
- heating and refrigeration inspector
- librarian
- nurse

Quite a range, eh? Anyway, it was an interesting workshop and I'm glad I went.

Knitting FO's

Scarves, unless draped artistically on a chair or worn, do not look like much of finished object. That is, the blocking pic just isn't enough. To me, at least. So, here are the last 3 scarves I've worked on/finished.

Silky Soft Confection (does it need fringe?):

Silky Soft Confection

Balloon Silk Scarf (the funny face is because it's so short):

Balloon Silk Scarf

and Seaweed Love (which was named because I thought the colorway was Seaweed, but actually is Purple Haze):

Seaweed Love

Specs, in case you're interested:

All yarns are by Danette Taylor.

Silky Soft Confection
Started: 3/31/05
Finished: 11/7/05
Pattern: my own, modified version of feather and fan
Yarn: silk merino in Violets (I think) and nylon eyelash in...?
Needles: #8
Notes: Not my colors (came in a grab bag) but was a lot of fun to knit and to work out the pattern; very soft; cast on lengthwise so next go around I would make it a little longer.

Balloon Silk Scarf
Started: 4/28/05
Finished: 10/25/05
Pattern: Interlocking Balloons by Shirley Paden in Scarf Style; modified to use only 1 repeat
Yarn: icelandic silk in Azaleas, 1 ball
Needles: #6
Notes: Loved knitting with the silk; ran out of yarn, would prefer a much longer length; next time would block into curves instead of points. A fun experiment (hmm, 1 ball of silk, what can I do with this?).

Seaweed Love
Started: 10/22/05
Finished: 11/8/05
Pattern: my own, but based on a scarf I saw in London-Wul
Yarn: silk merino in Purple Haze, 1 ball
Needles: #11
Notes: Love the silk merino, LOVE it. Nice drape. Would have added another half ball if I had it.

The results (from my first dyeing experience) are in! Here is the dried dyed top (or is it dyed dried top?):

Dyeing Fiber - finished

I had been sooo patient letting it dry that I couldn't wait to spin it up (click to see the larger version, looks better):

19: Kool Aid dyed merino

Here it is on my water bottle, ready for plying (ignore the in-need-of-manicure nail):

19: Kool Aid dyed merino

And my first ever by-my-hand dyed 2-ply yarn:

19: Kool Aid dyed merino

I'm so thrilled! It came out better than I expected. The red was actually very pink, and there was much blending of blue and pink, which created a vague purple. There is more blue than pink overall, though I used more pink Kool Aid. I liked the areas with bits of white peeking out so I will play with that effect more in the future. Not what I expected, but pretty cool. It's only 1 oz, so not enough for anything, really. But a good experiment.

I blended info from The Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook (love this book now that I spin), and the Knitty article on Kool Aid dyeing.

Other notes: My twist when spinning was pretty uneven. I wasn't paying much attention to twist, just spun as fast and evenly (thickness) as I could to see how it would look.

Also, the merino is quite soft; my first time spinning with merino. I see more merino in my future.

Oh yeah, yesterday marked month 1 of my spinning adventures.

In knitting news...

In my attempts to whittle my overextended WIP list, I picked up this hat:

Manos Pompom Hat

Can you believe it, it only needed a tassel and a couple of ends woven in. I didn't want the pouffy pompom, but I didn't know how to get what I wanted. I couldn't even think of the word "tassel" yesterday when I was searching the Internet for photos.

The hat is knit with Manos and I winged the pattern. I didn't even take notes; I think I made it in '04. It was my first winged hat, so it came out too big for me (forgot that it would stretch). Fits my sister, though, lucky her!

The Kool Aid dyed fiber looked so much better revived by a gentle Eucalan wash. Spurred on by the possibilities, I prepared some more Kool Aid which I bought today.

I was hoping for a nice red, green, purple and yellow. I started with the first three, since I already had a yellow prepared. I added the Kool Aid to some plastic containers. But... the crystals didn't look right, the red didn't look red, the purple didn't look purple, and the green was all sorts of colors... I thought, what do I know about Kool Aid? I added some water to each and was stunned. The green was actually green, pretty much the exact shade I wanted. But the red was blue, and the purple was red.

I checked the packages. Go ahead, you'll want to click for the larger version. Read the fine print.

Kool Aid tricks

The names should have given it away. Changin' Cherry? Grape Illusion? And did you see the Lemon Ice that I didn't prepare? "Snowflake white powder, Polar White Drink". Yeah. A dyers nightmare! Good for the Emperor, not good for me.

And I thought I was doing well not buying the one that said "Invisible" on it.

I've been wanting to try out Kool Aid dyeing for a while now. Finally gave it a go!

This is a soft merino roving/top, about 1 oz. See how soft and fluffy? (You can click on the photos to see more detail.)

Dyeing fiber - merino

I added enough water to fully cover and let soak for at least an hour while we prepared and ate dinner. It felt weird squishing it, not at all as I expected. Like there was a sheath around it.

Dyeing fiber - soaking

When I was ready to dye, I poured out the excess water and placed the fiber on a garbage bag.

I had pre-mixed a few Kool Aid packets in small jars, each with 2 tablespoons of water. The blue is Blue Moon Berry. The red is Solar Strawberry StarFruit and Soarin' Strawberry Lemonade (they looked pretty close so I used them more or less together). I used a small child's medicine dosing syringe and went at it. Probably used too much for what I was trying to do, I was actually hoping for a more dot-like effect, but got carried away.

Dyeing fiber - with dye

Yep, Kool Aid does dye.

Dyeing fiber - dyed fingers

I zapped in the microwave for 2 minutes x 3. Between each zapping I took a paper towel and dabbed to see if the dyes came off.

Dyeing fiber - cooked

It looks so... mangy. I imagine sheep do when they're soaked to the bone. Dogs do...

Now that it's done, I'm guessing the colors will bleed while I'm spinning and end up a murky brown. Maybe more blocks of color would work better. Or sticking with the dots, smaller and more separated. Well, we'll see. It'll be an adventure!

It's cooling; it's hard to be patient, I want to do something with it!

Seaweed Love blocking

Seaweed Love - blocking

Lookie what came in the mail -- stitchmarkers and soap from soapfibergal! They're from a trade on The Knitty Coffeeshop. I couldn't wait to use them. Look how purty! And they match the yarn perfectly.

Bead Stitch Markers

The soap smells wonderful. Thank you, soapfibergal!

Soap

What's that thing with the stitchmarkers, you ask? Yep, that's right, new project. I couldn't help myself. A friend was having trouble with the Multidirectional Silk Scarf on Magknits so I did a swatch to see what was going on, and well, this is what happened:

Multidirectional Silk Scarf - in progress

Me loves the colors, but I'm worried about how it will look in the end. The garter borders are knit in cashmere/wool from Danette Taylor, and the multidirectional part is her silk boucle. The original pattern calls for Artyarns Regal Silk, which is much slinkier. Here it is up close:

Multidirectional Silk Scarf - closeup

You can sorta make out the square that I just knit. Because it's boucle it doesn't have the same give, so... well, we'll see.

I took the plunge and steam blocked the Silky Soft Confection. Fingers are crossed.

Silky Soft Confection - blocking

The cashmere scarf is now about a foot long. Below is the back, which looks a little different from the front. The pattern is Vintage Velvet from Scarf Style. The original is knit with Muench's Touch Me, hence the "velvet"; but since mine is so very not velvet, I'm calling mine Vintage Unvelvet. Original, eh?

Vintage Unvelvet - in progress

And finally, I did some spinning! The brown is coopworth 2-ply. Worked on my long draw and non-parking techniques. It's a worsted to bulky weight, which was tough to do on my spindle (it's too light; good for finer yarns, though). Mebbe time to shop around for a second spindle. Any suggestions?

18: Brown coopworth 2-ply

The bottom skein is the Northern Mist quiviut/alpaca/merino blend that I spun the other day. I wound it around a small water bottle, and then put the ball around my wrist and plied it that way. Of course, it wasn't until it was all wound that I realized an empty water bottle would be easier...

I had seen a photo of something like this somewhere and thought I'd try it out. I like this method much better than the over-the-shoulders method. The ends don't twist around each other so much and I have much more control drawing them out. On the down side, it does take longer to wind. There's probably a way to incorporate the yarnwinder, maybe add something to the cone to increase the diameter...

Before I met Scott he hardly ever wore sweaters. He couldn't find any he liked. He's allergic to wool (that's a whole other topic right there). But he LIKES sweaters. In fact, he likes the look of certain wool sweaters, especially tweedy wool sweaters. He likes roll necks and sleeves. He likes slouchy sweaters; if necessary he will (attempt to) buy a sweater two sizes too big to achieve that look. He likes ... subdued colors.

When he finds a sweater he LIKES, Hurrah! Hurrah!

So when I found him the most special sweater -- light grey tweedy look with roll neck and cuffs, casual, roomy, and not a jot of wool -- I was excited for him. He didn't pick it up because it looked like wool. What a find! And next to it, sweater number two: dark blue/grey tweedy look with wide ribs, casual, roomy.

The sweaters received much care, wear, attention. They made him happy. But, sadly, his sweaters don't have a long shelf life. They shrink. This is a cause of great sadness.

My first knitters tip: don't put it in the dryer. That helped.

My second knitters tip: stretch it out when it's wet. That helped some more.

But when these failed and the most special sweater was too short to wear, it was a dark day indeed.

But wait! I'm a knitter! I'm (sorta) fearless! I just read about recycling sweaters!

We made a plan. Sweater number two took one for the team.

Sweater number two - recycled

And the most special sweater was gonna get a graft. Extensions, if you will. A "regrow".

Except it was almost summer and who wants to work on a fall sweater in the summer???

Ahem.

Time passed.

Here are the beginnings of the "regrow":

Regrow - in progress

With right side facing, I picked up stitch for stitch all around the cuff. Here's the inside:

Regrow - in progress

It seems a smooth transition (no pun intended). And when I unroll the cuff, you can see a slight puckering at the pick up point, which I hope will remain hidden in the roll.

Regrow - in progress

My first pick up attempt was a few rows below, where the ribbing ends, and was done with wrong side facing. Besides the puckering, the roll no longer rolled, just sorta folded over; and since it was picked up wrong side facing (what was I thinking?), it wasn't a smooth transition. This time, I looked at where the natural roll occurred and picked up a row or so higher.

Holiday knitting

Here be a new scarf I started using the cashmere/merino yarn I picked up at Mini Mills in PEI.

Vintage Unvelvet - in progress

The scarf is for... a man. That's all I'm gonna say.

I finished knitting the second Gatsby sleeve! Torture by twisty yarn. Trying to decide what to do about all that lanolin. Wash and block? Or just block and keep the lanolin? No photo because it looks just like the first. At least, I hope it does.

Started spinning up the Northern Mist roving from Belfast Mini Mills. It's 1/3 each of quiviut, alpaca, merino. I was saving it for when I'm a little more experienced, but I figured the alpaca and merino would give it a longer staple and make it easier. It did.

17: Northern Mist (quiviut/alpaca/merino)

It spins up pretty easily, feels nice in the hands, and the yarn on the spindle is so pettable. I spun with enough twist to make a 2-ply and maybe a nice (small) lace scarf will come out of it.

Comments

In the comments, Jane says:
Gorgeous blog! And, you have a real eye for colour. The scene on your opening page looks so much like the Annapolis Valley near my home in Nova Scotia. Where are you other than virtually?

Thanks so much! I've always thought of myself as color impaired. Only in the last year or so have I gone boldly where I have been too chicken to go before: mixing colors and yarns in unspecified ways, letting my instinct guide me. My first steps were to buy handdyed yarns that I love - colors are already there, just have to make something with it. I slowly started mixing yarns and colors here and there. I have a ways to go before I'm truly comfortable with it, but it is exciting. Unlike you! You're VERY comfortable with colors and playing. It's inspirational.

The photo was taken on Prince Edward Island on our honeymoon. We didn't make it to the Annapolis Valley this run but hope to take another trip out that way soon. We LOVED PEI. Love love LOVED it. This photo though, we were driving from Charlottetown to the Belfast Mini Mills, and stopped to check the air. Behind the gas stand was that gorgeous view. When I was putting together my blog, I thought of the colors I love. Whenever I see handdyed yarns (or any yarns, for that matter) I always go for the reds and the blues. Always. Then I thought of this photo. Perfect.

Hubby and I live in Holliston, MA, about an hour's drive to Boston (durned traffic). Nice and quiet, lots of trees and breathing room.

Wheee, thanks, Celia! I agree, need some more spinning going on. By the way, I like your WIP icons. Congrats on your 150 posts!

Last night I spun some more Fleece Artist Blue Faced Leicester. Had to fluff it up a good bit, and even then, it didn't draft nicely. Felt like I had forgotten how to do it. I wasn't too concerned, took the opportunity to try different drafting methods to see if I could find a way to make it work. Had fun experimenting.

Wound on my yarn winder and then used the ends to ply. Had a good bit of trouble until I remembered that Heidi told me to put an end over each shoulder. Brilliant! Still had troubles, and at one point thought, "shoulder shmoulder, I'll just keep an end on each side of my waist". Hah. Didn't work at all.

16: Fleece Artist Blue Faced Leicester

I like the colors, sometimes barber pole, sometimes solid. Will try to stretch the roving lengthwise on the second half, see if that helps with the drafting.

I wound what I had spun of the blue merino/silk. It (gasp) broke while I was winding around my trusty shoebox. Right around where I ended the first sitting and picked up on the second. Hehe, will have to be more careful next time I spin after a break.

15: Merino silk

It's so soft and purty.

No! More!

On a side note, I think I've been using a lot of exclamations in my posts. That will stop. No more sounding like a giddy knitter who just started a blog. Man that's uncool.

Haha. Tough beans. I AM a giddy knitter who just started a blog! Muahahahahaha!

I went a little crazy this year and bought a LOT of Danette Taylor's handdyed yarns. The problem has been figuring out what to make with it all.

I had some silk-merino and nylon eyelash in similar bright not-me colors, so I thought I'd play and see what I could come up with. Here's the result (back and front):

Silky Soft Confection - unblocked

I call it Silky Soft Confection, and it is VERY silky soft. It's a modified version of the usual fan and wave (or whatever it's called). I had twice as much silk-merino yardage-wise, and I also didn't want the silk-merino to get lost in the nylon eyelash 'cuz then what would be the point of using silk-merino? Plus I wanted to maintain a little textural interest but also keep it subtle. And, wanted to maximize number of knit rows (vs purl). 

I'm happy with how it turned out overall. The only thing bothering me and keeping this from being a FO is the bind-off edge. See at the center of the picture, how it looks kinda ... flat and straight? And at the top and bottom of the picture, it's nice and wavy?

I was thinking of undoing the cast on edge, picking up the stitches and then binding off so they'd match. But then they'd both be ... flat and straight. Not the effect I want. Will a good blocking take care of this?

Gatsby Pullover Sleeve

In other news, I finished the first sleeve of the Gatsby Pullover:

Gatsby Pullover - finished sleeve!

And may I say, Wow, what a pain.

It was the whole yarn twisting thing. I mickey moused a setup that allowed the cone to rotate and therefore introduce less twist in the unwinding, but it hardly helped. It's the cone itself. Too much twist. I can totally see why I lost interest in this project.

Worse, I'm thinking the fabric created by this yarn and this needle size is a good deal heavier than the yarn used in the pattern. I'm worried about the ease factor. (And, I think the sleeve may be a bit too long. And I knit 1/2" less than the pattern called for, too.)

Meanwhile, I started the second sleeve and am around where I was when I lost interest last time. Which means I have a whole sleeve to go. Lovely.

My Birthday Scarf

Last, I leave you with a photo of My Birthday Scarf. This was my birthday gift to myself this year: 2 skeins of sport weight cashmere handdyed by, you guessed it, Danette Taylor. This is the Calypso colorway. I loves it. The colors are great and the yarn is soooo soft. Even for cashmere. The 2x2 rib, while interesting enough the first 12" or so, is now, well, not so interesting. I add a few rows here and there when I can (stand to) and hope to be done before it gets really cold.

My Birthday Scarf - in progress My Birthday Scarf - closeup