Two Left Needles

Knitting, spinning and dyeing
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February 2007 - Posts

Warning: photo heavy post

Spunky Eclectic

At the end of December I took advantage of Spunky Eclectic's 99 cent shipping sale and ordered me some yummies:

Spunky Eclectic Superwash Merino in Toronto
Superwash Merino in Toronto; how could I not buy fiber named after my hometown???

Spunky Eclectic Merino in Boogie Woogie
Merino in Boogie Woogie

Spunky Eclectic BFL in Kites
Blue Faced Leicester in Kites

Some months ago I lamented that there were some handdyed fibers that I really wanted to try, including Hello Yarn, Spunky Eclectic, and Lisa Souza. After posting, I realized that, instead of lamenting, I should just save up my budget money and get some! Since then I've picked up some of Adrian's merino/silk, and now Amy's stuff -- 2 down, 1 to go!

At Spa I spun up 4 oz of the Kites BFL and plied when I got home. While pre-drafting, the colors looked much softer and more muted than in the dyed top, but when you compare the fiber to the handspun, they translate well. I love spinning BFL, soft and bouncy with a nice hand. The yarn feels the same:

Spunky Eclectic - 2-ply
Yummy! Wish you could feel it.

I spun with the intention of making socks and I'm curious to see how it stripes. 304 yards should be plenty for me.

Crosspatch Creations

In January I finished spinning up the two Crosspatch Creations batts I bought at Rhinebeck. Here they are post-wash:

Crosspatch Creations - 2-ply
286 yards

Crosspatch Creations - 2-ply
342 yards

I used tepid water because of the silk content, but there was still some dye run-off in the red-magenta skein in both the wash and rinse. I'm not sure if it affected the final colors/look, however.

These were fun to spin, a break from much of the "spinning for consistency" I do. I did try to have an overall consistent "core", while allowing the lumps and bumps to form as they would. To be honest, I did limit the size of the lumps and tried to distribute the bumps so they weren't all in a row. It wasn't all willy-nilly. But that doesn't surprise you.

For a yarn of this type, the proof is really in the knitting, don't you think? You don't know what you have until you knit it up. Wouldn't the red-magenta handspun make a nice hat?

The batts were fairly easy to spin from, as well. I pulled off strips and did a little pre-drafting before spinning. The lumps and bumps occasionally got separated out from the rest of the fibers, but for the most part, they stayed fairly well distributed.

Next up, Calico Cat!

Calico Cat was last seen as singles on new WooLee Winder bobbins back in December. (You can see the dyed fiber here.) Now it's yarn!

Calico Cat - 2-ply

I ran into a problem with my WooLee Winder. For some reason, the twist was not translating from the last hook onto the bobbin! Very frustrating and confusing. There was plenty of twist in the yarn going to the last hook, but between the last hook and the bobbin, there was only half as much twist. I couldn't see why this should be! Of course, I didn't realize this until I had finished spinning almost 8 oz and started plying. In the end, I pulled off what I had already plied and ran it through again to add more twist; and for the unplied portion, once I had the amount of twist I wanted, I super-quickly let it jump onto the bobbin so that it sailed past that last hook. Not so fun, and not good for consistency, but more twist.

In the process, I realized the singles had also been spun with less twist than I expected, so the resultant yarn, as a whole, was not what I had envisioned. Not as bouncy or "tight". Also, much less consistent and a little overplied to compensate. Still, the yarn is soft, and I do love the colors:

Calico Cat - 2-ply

Calico Cat - 2-ply

Calico Cat - 2-ply

The jumbo skein is 5.7 oz and 536 yards, which is more than would have fit on a regular Schacht bobbin! I have a second, smaller skein which is 1.5 oz and 142 yards. No plans for it yet.

I emailed Nathan at WooLee Winder a couple of times about the problem, but then saw on one of the lists I'm on that he's been pretty busy, and calling is the way to go. I described the problem, and he was as boggled as I was. In the end, he said to try it again without the WW and if that eliminated the problem, to send it back to him. He was really nice about it. I think I'll give it one more go on the WW and then off the WW to make sure. I dunno, I feel bad just sending it back. At the same time, I want it to work! Hehe. The only problem is, when I'm home with my Schacht, I don't want to spin on the Joy. ;)


Last up, some Corriedale 2-ply:

Corriedale - 2-ply

It fluffed up quite a bit after washing and whacking.

I bought this Corriedale from someone reducing their stash about a year ago, and wasn't crazy about it. It had some short pieces in there that caused bumps in my singles, and it didn't draft nicely. It was so long ago, though, that I'm not sure how much pre-drafting I did. But I imagine that the top had become compressed over time.

Anyway, it was another case of, "what do I have to lose?" I ran it through the carder, which took out some of the longer, coarser hairs/fibers, as well as some of the short pieces and a little VM. It also made a nice airy preparation that was easy to spin from. There were still some bumps because of the shorter pieces, but it wasn't as bad. It was a good way to revive the fiber. I still have about a pound of it, but I'm not a big fan of spinning natural colored fiber. :P

Clapotis progress

I've added a few rows here and there to the Silk Garden Lite Clapotis:

Clapotis - in progress

Clapotis - in progress

After knitting, I end up with bits and bobs of hay on my lap. Not crazy about that. But I'm still loving the colors. I'm almost done with the first skein and the first section of the pattern, which means it should be pretty easy to ballpark when to end the sharf/scawl. I'm still optimistic that this will be the one Clapotis I do finish.


Thanks for your kind words about Gram. I wish it could be easier, but it can't. It's Life.

On a brighter note, the doctor's appointment went fine, and I gained -- wait for it -- 7 pounds. In 2 weeks. Holy crap! And I was worried I might not gain 1 pound!!! It's a bit scary, that I can bulk up that fast. In addition to eating more, I added ice cream into my daily diet. Now that I know what it takes, I can back off some of the food and ice cream and eat a more comfortable amount.

[To be fair, my stomach was fairly empty before the last appointment; I could have easily added 2 pounds, between food and water. Today, I made sure to eat a good breakfast (and Ben & Jerry's ice cream; I love me some Cherry Garcia) and drink puh-lenty of fluids before the weigh-in. So really, we're talking about 5 pounds in 2 weeks. (Which still seems like a lot...)]

That's what I've been lately (and tired). I been napping all evening, conked out. I hope I can sleep tonight.

We went to see Gram yesterday and she's in rough shape. She didn't look like herself and, as it's been lately, it was hard to figure out what she's talking about. A few weeks ago it became evident she didn't know my name. She's forgotten Scott's name as well. She still knows who we are. It's really hard to see her like this.

Reminds me of an ex's grandmother, who also had Alzheimer's. His mother said to me, I wish you could see her the way she was, she was always so elegant and careful with her dress. She said, she is a shadow of her former self. It was hard to understand, since I didn't know her before the Alzheimer's. But I understand now. I can imagine what she might have been like, because I know what Gram was like. And how she is now.

She's been falling so she's been moved to a new place so she can be watched and cared for more closely. It's hard to accept that it's the best place for her because each time she moves, I see her losing more freedoms, or living in a place that seems "less nice" than the last place. She seems to be okay there, though. Adjusting and being sociable. And she asks about the baby every time we're there, which is good. I put my hands on my belly and tell her I'm still cooking. I look forward to bringing the little goober with us in a couple of short months (!). I wonder how Gram will react?

We've been hit with more snow, but without the ice, it's not much to speak of.


On a sunny day, it makes a nice background for newly washed handspun:

Freshly washed handspun

Hiding in the back (leftmost) is the Spunky Eclectic BFL (turquoise/purple) I spun at Spa. I'll have a better photo tomorrow. 

I haven't done much for Project Spectrum yet, so here's my token photo:

Winter sky

I think I'll spin up something in the appropriate colors (blue/white/gray) next month.

And for Twisted Knitters:

Lagoon - all spun up!

Yep, I finished the second bobbin of Lagoon! They rest on my wristwarmers, knit from, naturally, handspun. To protect against the snow.

It took longer to spin than I liked, and the slightly-felted-sometimes-very-felted-ness was not so pleasing. But I chugged along, and careful pre-drafting did wonders. In my head I kept a spinning deadline of February, so that I can spend March doing the knitting. That really motivated me to finish spinning.

I'm not looking forward to plying, though. I ply by sight and this stuff is pretty thin. And, there's a lot of yards of it. I'll have to buckkle down and do it this week.

On the bobbin now is cormo/alpaca from Foxhill Farm, purchased at MDSW. I'm spinning it finer than the Lagoon, if you can imagine. Gorgeous stuff, but talk about taking longer to spin... I feel like I'm hardly making progress.

Tomorrow is our next doctor's appointment. Running through my head: "I must have gained at least a pound. I must have gained at least a pound."

Here's the thing I didn't get about Spa last year.

Last year I had been spinning only a few short months before I went to Spa. I heard people talking about how much they looked forward to it because it was in the cold dark days between fiber festival seasons. For me, it was my first spinning event and I was thrilled for the experience.

And then I went to MDSW and NHSW in the Spring, and Rhinebeck in the fall. Then nothing. For months.

Unless you're incredibly lucky and have ready access to a variety of fibers locally, fiber festivals are your best opportunities to see/buy fleeces and fiber in their many forms. Between October and May, you're bumming.

Unless you get to go to Spa. Or a Spa-like event.

There aren't that many vendors, but they have nice stuff; and better than the vendors is the comraderie, and being surrounded by like-minded lovers of the fluff.

I got it this year. Definitely.

As for purchases, I tried to be judicious. I tried to resist yarn and stick to fiber. My one exception:

Ball and Skein laceweight merino/silk

Judy's beautifully dyed laceweight merino/silk. Just one skein, for something small, because I wanted to have her colors near me.

At Spunky Eclectic, some irresistable merino/silk in The New Black and Thunderstorm:

Spunky Eclectic merino/silk in The New Black

Spunky Eclectic merino/silk in Thunderstorm

And from Indigo Moon Farm (soon to close), the last 3 oz of their light blue merino/alpaca/silk roving, which looks very like what Laurie got:

Indigo Moon merino/alpaca/silk

That's not all I walked away with, though.

Cheryl brought my prize for winning her contest, lovely alpaca/silk that I wonder if Scott can tolerate:


Something lacy for him, don't you think? (ha! as if.)

And some sock yarn I won as door prize:

Spa Door Prize!

I know, I'm shocked, too. I won two prizes? Within weeks? Two??? And one of them was a random drawing, too. Shocking. As next Saturday is Fabric Place's Spring Knitters Breakfast, I'm thinking either:

  • My luck is changing, I'm sure to win something!
  • I've used up all my good luck, it's another year of nothing!

Half full? Half empty? Only time will tell.

Spa was, in a word, wonderful. But we're never satisfied with just a word, are we?

Here are a few highlights:

Anne met me at my house and had the dubious honor of being the second (fiber loving) person to see my yarn room. She didn't fall over from shock, a good sign. (There was plenty to pad her fall, if it did happen...) We talked shop for a while, and throughout the weekend - spinning, fiber, carding, wheels. As Anne says, we're geeks and we're happy that way!

Erin came by for a few hours Saturday and I got to hold PumpkinGirl! She's a sweetie, she is. Very easy going, relaxed, content, alert. She was a real joy to hold. At first I was a little nervous, having mostly only held my niece and nephew, and not knowing if she'd be okay with me. But we got along fine and dandy (Laurie has a photo here!). Naturally I couldn't help but think that it wouldn't be long before I'd be holding my own.

Living the quiet life, we don't see many people outside of work. It therefore tickled me pink to have so many people smiling at my belly and telling me how cute I looked pregnant. How could I not keep smiling?

I spun on Marcy's Alden Amos wheel. And drooled. And promptly made Anne go spin on it too. We're smitten. We're scheming.

Seeing Erin and Cheryl again was really cool because they're who I spent my first Spa with last year. I was remarking to Cheryl how much has changed in the last year, and how many more people we know! What an amazing year it's been.

Spending more time with people I've met, like Carole, Blogless Sharon, Judy, and Kim was wonderful; and meeting new folks, like Laurie, Cassie and Martita, was cool. Meeting someone face to face puts a different perspective on their blog, don't you think?

The Little Goober was very quiet from Thursday through Saturday: Thursday was massive cleaning; Friday was the drive up and early Spa mayhem; Saturday was regular Spa mayhem. Saturday night we got back to our hotel early and chilled out, and The Little Goober started dancing around again. I missed her. It was nice to have some quiet time and feel her moving around again.

At my last appointment, I had lost a pound. My doctor said I'm still on track, but she wants to see me gain weight at the next appointment (in 2 weeks!). (I tried all weekend to eat some ice cream, I'm sure Anne and Kate were getting sick of me mentioning it at every meal.) I ate SO MUCH this weekend (compared to usual) and definitely came home bigger. Even Scott, who resists my regular "don't you think I've grown again?" queries, was surprised when he saw me, and said, "my what a belly you have there." Let's hope the scales agree!

Those are just a few highlights; I couldn't possibly tell you much more than to say, Get thee to Spa next year! I did buy a few nice things, naturally. ;) I'll show them tomorrow.

Spa 2007

Spa 2007 Spa 2007

I took woefully few photos at Spa this weekend (New England Textile Arts annual weekend of fiber fun and relaxation). I was too busy having a good time! It was really wonderful to see old friends and make new ones.

I'm not up for a Spa post just yet, so I'll catch you up on a couple of things.

The night before Spa, not only did I finish Scott's Re-Grow sweater, I also blocked Diamond in the Rough:

Diamond in the Rough - blocking

Of course, I don't have any photos of me wearing it. Yet. Maybe this weekend?

Scott is SO happy with his sweater. The almost 2 years it sat partly done, he didn't have a favorite sweater. And now he has a favorite sweater again! It felt really good to be able to give thim that. I don't think he took it off all weekend. Good thing I was in Portland and didn't have to smell him. ;)

I finished off 2 oz of the Lagoon superfine merino:

Lagoon - halfway there!

and have started on bobbin #2. The second half seems to be more felted so it may be slower goings. But I'm determined to get this spun up (hopefully?) by the end of February so I can be knitting it into something during March before Twisted Knitters is over.

Did I mention I started a new project? It really pained me to do it. I never would have imagined starting a new project to be so ... conflicting! In the past, I would regularly get itchy for a new project and cast on 3 or 4 new projects in a day! That, my friends, is how I wound up with 67 WIP's in the first place. Now that I'm trying to control startitis and manage the number of WIP's, adding a new project without finishing an existing project doesn't feel right. I don't recognize myself.

I planned to start it soon anyway, and a 3 hour gestational diabetes test was the catalyst. I got to a sticky point on Trellis during the first hour and had to abandon that ship. Instead, I cast on for Clapotis with Noro Silk Garden Lite:

Clapotis - started!

I love this colorway. There are some purty greens and blues to come.

This is the 3rd Clapotis I've started; this time, I'm using a yarn I picked out specifically for this project, so I'm hopeful I'll actually finish this one. I like the lighter weight of the Silk Garden Lite for this project. And did I mention I love the colors?

PS  The diabetes test came out totally normal. It was a bit of a scare, though. On the 1 hour diabetes screen the week before, I got a very high score and was quite worried.

Our supposed Nor'easter ended up being as much ice as snow:


It doesn't look like much, but it's heavy and icy and coming down fast. I hope we're able to get out of our driveway tomorrow.

I've hit third trimester tiredness. Over the weekend, despite getting lots of sleep, I felt like I needed a nap every 2 hours. I got a good amount of sleep last night and woke up refreshed minutes before my alarm went off, but by the time I got to work, I was ready for a nap. Hmph. I don't like going to bed early.

Trellis is taking a backseat to resurrected Re-Grow. Scott's been missing his sweater and has been reminding me more and more lately to get back to it. He's already missed 2 winter seasons with it, and he'll do his damnedest not to miss a third.

The sweater needed sleeves lengthened. Do they look like they need lengthening?

Re-Grow - in progress

Nope, technically not. But he likes his sleeves long.

The second attempt (blogged about in November 2005) produced the right length, but didn't work overall because the original ribbing and bind-off were too tight. This time I frogged the original sleeve back a few inches, reknit it looser, and then picked up stitches to knit the extra length. It looks better than this:

Re-Grow - in progress

but you get the idea.

Once the first sleeve was done, it was easy enough to rinse-repeat on the second. And it was done! Or so I thought. Once Scott tried it on, he wanted the bottom extended in the same way:

Re-Grow - in progress

That's a lot more stitches. I've been chugging away. He wants to wear it Friday. We'll see.

For Maryse:

Doncha love my outfit

It was surprisingly difficult to get a reasonable photo given:

  • I was alone using the 10 second timer
  • I had one flat surface available to me
  • It was much higher than what I wanted to capture so I had to balance the camera on the camera strap to angle it down
  • I'm big and round and not so flexible anymore

I think Maryse's friend would cringe. Or cry.

Here's a closeup of the sock so you can see the many clashing colors:

Doncha love my outfit

Oh happy socks, how you make me smile and my ankles itch.

Trellis sleeves are progressing:

Trellis - sleeves

But the yarn balls are naughty and in need of restraint:

yarn support
wearing a yarn bra

Thanks for the nice comments on the shawl! It feels totally weird because, hehe, I knit most of it thinking I might be the only that liked it. But I'll take it.

I think we've established that I'm in many ways a geek. It should therefore come as no surprise that Scott is one too.

Most of us are content to buy PC's that come assembled, that only require you to push a button to hear bleeps and blips. Not Scott. He scours the 'net for information, carefully picks his parts in line with his budget (he saves his monthly budget for big upgrades, while I fritter mine away on fiber and yarn) and to maximize his gaming experience. He's been saving for a while, and now has a new toy!






I could try to rattle off specs, but let's just say, he's pretty happy with it. He especially likes the glow:

Ooooooh, aaaaaah

Me, I'm happy he's happy. And, I get his hand-me-down parts, so I'll have my own upgrade soon, too!

In knitting news...

After unexpectedly finishing the knitting on the shawl, I had no knitting lined up. Still jacked up on my UFO Resurrection kick, I picked up Trellis, last seen in August.

I hope that post is incorrect and what's pictured are the fronts, as I'm currently knitting the sleeves and don't remember having knit them before...

It didn't take long for me to remember why I left this knit in the dust. The yarn. Not wool. Rowan All Seasons Cotton, which, while nice, has no wool. I like wool. I don't like no-wool.

But, I'm persevering. The fronts are pretty much done:

Trellis - fronts

12 UFO's to knock out this year; this one will be my March project.

For Beth:

Diamond in the Rough - in progress

And again:

Diamond in the Rough - in progress

I love the subtle striping.

It's narrower than I expected, but blocking will take care of that. I'm not sure how much I want to block, probably just enough to make the pattern read. It's plenty big already, so no need to be aggressive.

There were 3 balls of yarn, and when switching to a new ball, I simply knit the two together for a few stitches, instead of doing a russian join. I figured the silk content might not felt so well. And I was lazy. I plan to either leave-as-is-and-snip-the-extra, or do-minor-weaving-in-of-ends post-blocking.

I weighed the shawl to determine when to begin decreasing. Good thing I went slightly conservative because this is all that's left:

Diamond in the Rough - in progress

There is one row with an unusual stitch that I just couldn't remember between sittings. Each time, I'd have to "think think think think think" and reverse engineer the stitch, only to forget it 1 or 2 weeks later. When I picked up the shawl again a couple of weeks ago, naturally I had forgotten again; after spending half an hour figuring it out again, I admitted how ridiculous the situation was. In lieu of carrying around a copy of the pattern, I tagged my shawl with the instructions:

Diamond in the Rough - in progress

And naturally, because I finished it in one breath, I didn't need it! The tag idea is super-handy, though, and I plan to use it. Again.

Your support was truly overwhelming and totally unexpected. The whole thing took me by surprise.

Just to clear up a few things:

  • I did read about the group back when and saw that several non-snark posts were unlocked. These tended to be "praise" type posts. Because the one linking to mine was locked, I guessed that mine was not such a one.
  • The group did not "leave a trail" on purpose. I would imagine that many people either do not have access to their website stats, do not understand them, or do not bother to check. I'm a geek, so I do check.

Okay, that out of the way:

I received comments from the folks who actually linked to me, and they unlocked the post. As it happens, it was a constructive discussion of the effects of different yarns on patterns in A Gathering of Lace and Folk Shawls. And, what was said about me:

Monica at Two Left Needles even made A Beginner's Triangle look exciting, but she hand-spun and dyed that yarn, so she's got an advantage.

Yeah. Not so snarky. Quite the opposite, in fact.

So, yeah, that spun my head a bit.

I truly appreciate everyone's support and the kind words that were said. (Also, it's been so nice to see people de-lurking recently! Hello!) You really cheered me up, enough that I finished knitting the shawl this weekend! (I know! Whoddathunk???) And, I appreciate the folks from the knitting_snark group for clearing up the misunderstanding. It did make me feel better, and I feel, well, almost foolish for all the wasted energy. I can't believe I stopped knitting the shawl over this!

Of course, it's all 20/20 hindsight. I hope, should something like this happen again, I'll just laugh it off.

But here's my suggestion to anyone in a secret snarky group:

If you're going to snark in secret, cover your tracks better. Instead of clicking links to people's websites, simply copy and paste the URL into your browser and hit enter. That way, no one will ever know! And what we don't know, won't hurt us.

And that's all I'm going to say about that. Onwards!

And now for something completely different

The little goober has switched from kicking and hopping, to wedging herself against some side or sides of me. I'll feel pressure and when I put my hand at the pressure point(s), I can feel what might be her head, her shoulders, her butt, just under the surface. She's favoring my right side, and I usually feel 3 pressure points: on the right side even with the belly button (my flattie), below and to the right of the flattie, and just to the left of the flattie.

It's not altogether comfortable.

She's also started hitting organs. Also not so comfortable.

I am officially entering the not-so-comfortable phase. I am finding that, with more sleep (and I do need more sleep), I am much more amused and much less irritated by the new phase.

It felt really good to pick up Norwegian Hat after 9 months and finish it! Actually, re-start and finish it, if you want to get technical... and actually, if we're getting technical, it is technically done, but may possibly be re-finished to fix the fit. But who's getting technical???

For my February UFO Resurrection project, I picked up the sad and lonely handspun shawl that was started (and dropped) last August:

handspun shawl - in progress

While I really like the yarn (soft 2-ply rambouillet/silk handspun), and I think it works well with the pattern to make a cosy everyday shawl, it was kinda boring to knit. Not only that, because I'm working wing to wing, the rows get longer and longer and ...

The other reason I neglected it was because my website traffic stats showed that it was being looked at by a group of snarky knitters. And that really upset me.

It seems silly to be so thin-skinned about it, especially when I don't know what was said. But at the time it really bothered me that there was a group of people gathered in secret with the intent of ridiculing other people's knits. It's so easy to criticize, mock and laugh at others' creations, and so much harder to do the creating. Just as it's so much more work to create a blog post, but only takes a moment to leave a harsh comment on someone else's.

I suppose it wouldn't have bothered me so much if I knew what was being said and who was saying it. Maybe I would have agreed with some of the points. But to do it in secret while leaving a "traffic trail" so I knew I was being targeted ... not so cool.

Anyway, I got over it.

I made a lot of progress in the last week, especially during a day-long Microsoft event:

Diamond in the Rough - in progress

and now that I've hit the widest point and have started decreasing, it's going fairly quickly! My goal is to have it finished in time for Spa.