Two Left Needles

Knitting, spinning and dyeing
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Seeing these twigs sticking out of electronic gadgetry tickles me.

Creamsicle T sleeve number two is done! Seams are sewn; there's just the weaving in of ends and the neckline to finish. Now that the sleeves are 2" narrower, I have plenty of yarn to knit that neckline. In fact, I could re-knit a whole gauge swatch! I happened across the blog post on negative ease that sparked knitting Creamsicle T smaller than directed. Interesting, no?

Thanks for your kind comments on the sleeve. I thought it looked pretty good but wasn't sure; a reality check helps. I think the finished sweater will look pretty good, but again, I'm not sure. Scott's not much help. First he said, "looks better than before." Well, yeah, but before was not so great. Then, "looks pretty even." Ha! That's his automatic response when I show him my spinning.

Meanwhile, my spinning do-dads arrived (3 bobins and a niddy noddy from The Fold), along with some Socks That Rock:

Socks That Rock
Xmas Rock and Sandstone

These were two of the last of her smaller skein size STR, and 20% off. How could I resist? Love the Sandstone. The photo doesn't do justice to the subtle colors. I wasn't sure what to expect with Xmas Rock, but I like it a lot more than the photo. One of these will become my Jaywalker socks.

Last week I also received some books from the Interweave Knits' Hurt Book Sale. They are only slightly dinged on a corner and were 50-75% off. Woohoo! I'll list them out tomorrow.

Stressed slacker knathlete

Picking a Knitting Olympics project is still kicking my ass. I flip flop every hour or so. "Doable but challenging" is, well, more than challenging for me to define right now. I can do this. I know I can. I'm feeling the pressure. Will I have something to cast on tomorrow night??

Thanks for the supportive posts the last few days, it is mucho appreciated.

After the blogging break last night I went back and decided, enough "playing", let's make something real. Well, actually, it was more like... Hmm, I'm out of random fiber and everything else is either handdyed or luxury... guess I have to make something real. Luxury we'll leave for another day. Who spins cashmere, yak or camel on their second run? Hmph. Ditto alpaca. That left undyed Finn and Corriedale, and some handdyeds (doesn't that word look weird? Wait, it sounds weird, too). After little thought I chose the handdyed superwash merino from Paradise Fibers (photo here), since I have 8 oz of it and it's enough to make something real with room for error. And it's purty. As I spun, I hummed classical tunes, just like the last time I spun on a Joy.

37: Superwash Winter Solstice

Socks. It will be socks. :)

Project: Part I

You'll have to see this in pieces. It's a lot to take in. Today we'll look at the "before":

Yarn Room
Upon entering the Yarn room: Chair o' handspun. Covered desk. Yarn on the floor.

Yarn Room
Turning slightly to the right: More yarn on the floor. Box o' fiber. Bins stacked high.

Yarn Room
Turning to the right: More yarn on the floor. Lotsa bins in wire shelves.

Common theme: lots of yarn on the floor. Lots of piles. No walking room, no room for a wheel.

Actually, common theme: Lots. O'. Yarn. Told you it was a lot to take in. In my "defense"... I've been knitting for 25 years... Hehehe, it's not like any of it is from when I was 8.

Coming soon: Part II - Construction.

I had a wonderful time in NC! Some of the highlights:

  • dyeing yarn with food coloring with my niece (photos to come), then
  • teaching her to spin on a spindle!
  • spending enough time with my nephew that he felt comfortable falling asleep in my arms and smiled widely whenever he saw me
  • drinking (too much) tequila and sake (no no, 2 separate nights) with my parents, sister and Scott (we all had never done tequila shots before, with salt and lime... technically still haven't, since we improvised and used citric acid)
  • going to my niece's school for lunch on her birthday, sitting in the cafeteria with all the kids and marveling at how many there were, how little they were, how chaotic it was and grinning like a kid myself
  • the slight change I felt in my family towards Scott: total acceptance into the family
  • feeling a little giddy realizing Scott and I were there as a married couple (hee hee)
  • seeing happy reactions to New Year's knit gifts (photos to come)!

Very slow internet access and plenty of auntie duties kept me away from the blog and much email. Bloglines shows 533 new posts to read. Meh.

When I got home, 3 packages on my doorstep! From Wild String (quick shipping and excellent service) during their 50% off sale:

Wild Strings sale - yarn 
South West Trading Company's Bamboo in Fiery Red and Tequila, Oasis (soy silk) in Passion, Infinity (soy silk, same weight/yardage as the Artisan Lace) in white; 1 skein of Artisan Lace in Wedgewood; Cherry Tree Hill Super Sock in Moody Blues.

The photo doesn't do the colors justice, the red is a deep, rich red, and the Artisan Lace is really lovely. I've wanted to try bamboo yarn for a while now but couldn't justify the cost. Half off and holiday money does wonders in the justification department! Also:

Wild Strings sale - patterns
Oat Couture's Bistro Shirt, which I've been wanting for a while, and Fiber Trends' Pacific Northwest Shawl; plus some free patterns to go with the SWTC yarn.

From a knittyboard swap with awesome swappee glccafar2:

Spin Off magazines
Spin Off magazines     yes, we'll let the silence speak for itself

Extras
And some extras. :)

And from Amazon.com, purchased using gift certificates (read: free!):

Knitting books
Wrap Style, Oddball Knitting, and The Knitting Experience : Book 3: Color

I gots lots of reading materials now, and lots of new yarns to dream with and fondle.

I was sick for most of the NC trip, I think I caught something in one of the airports on the way down. Burning sore throat, sinus congestion, aches, general icky feeling. Scott got sick too, poor kid. I was mostly recovered for my first day of work today. Still, a looong day, after being home for weeks. This will take getting used to. But, it's good to be earning and learning. I'm afraid the job will get in the way of blogging, though. For one thing, photos: early morning light is kinda crappy. For another, less time and less brain. For those who were wondering how I found time to do it all, now you know: no job, no kids.

Thanks for the comments while I was away, particularly tips on plying and wheel selecting. I also received a couple of comments/emails from people who don't feel so bad about their WIP list after seeing mine. To this I say: Hurrah! You know I realize there are limits; that's where the whole WIP Management thing comes in. But, there are enough things to feel bad about.

I debated showing it all, since I'd only be documenting my stash enhancing, uh, addiction. (Yes, the first step is admitting your problem.) Then I thought, what the hell. So here it is!

Webs Sale - 501 Tweed
Filatura di Crosa 501 Tweed; only 10 balls so maybe a small sweater

Webs Sale - Debbie Bliss wool/cotton
Debbie Bliss wool/cotton in dark and light blue; one of these will become some kind of cabled sweater from one of her books. I keep buying her books but not her yarns; maybe for once I won't have to make endless calculations and adjustments?? (Please?)

Webs Sale - Rowunspun 4 ply
Rowan Rowanspun 4ply in Pumpkin, I think; it's bright, n'est ce pas? It's also thin, and I don't know if 10 balls x 25g is enough for anything? I was thinking that little cardi from Interweave Knits sometime in the last year or so, but maybe it wasn't 4ply...

Webs Sale - misc
Knit One Crochet Two Creme Brulee: superwash for baby things, hard to go wrong at $20 for 10 balls
Sparkly non-gauge-changing carryalong thread for knitting and spinning fun
Cascade Fixation for the wool-allergic hubby

Webs Sale - silk Webs Sale - silk closeup
Silk for the Sweater Scott Will Wear and Love, Dammit; to be knit with 2 strands

Spinning Wheel thoughts

Based on suggestions on Knitter's Review Forums, I'll try out both wheels again and then decide. Give them each another go, a fair shake, a run for their money, and any other cliche you can think of. I've waited this long, may as well make a decision I feel comfortable with.

Socky progress

Speaking of waiting, while at the doctor's office last week I got through another couple of repeats:

Grey Cabled Sock - sock 2

And a little Drugstore Cowboy (what a classic) last night got me through the last couple of cables:

Grey Cabled Sock - sock 2

Just some toe shaping and ends weaving to go!

New Year's travel

I'm heading to NC for New Year's, family fun and my last week of freedom before starting my new job. I'm looking forward to it! Both seeing them, and starting my job, actually. I've had my fun (knitting! spinning! sleeping in!), I've had my pain (job hunting... no yarn money...), I'm ready to to learn, earn, help, create, and otherwise be a productive member of society again. And family-wise, well, the older I get, the more I cherish what feels like ever more limited time with them. My nephew (6 mo!) is sitting on his own and ready to start crawling; my niece (almost 7!) is reading chapter books and a cool kid besides. They grow so fast, and i'm so far! My plans: introduce my niece to the wonders of dyeing yarn with food coloring; make my nephew giggle and smile; make my sister laugh and feel she can neglect her kids for at least a few hours here and there.

I'll prepare some posts ahead of time, but I probably won't be able to blog regularly until I get back.

And last... WIP Management

I'm officially putting any WIP Management updates on hold until January. Wait, that's next week...

Holiday knitting put me in a jumble and I'm not yet recovered. I did find it interesting that all projects begun post-WIP Management are currently complete. That's a first! I'm down from 67 to 42 projects (to be honest, I still can't see how I can have that many, but Excel spreadsheets do not lie), with 17 completed, 15 abandoned, and 7 new. I'm not feeling the creative soup joy from starting new projects (new project high, so much better than new car smell), but I have been getting some creative joices going designing (Buttercup and Ribbed Wristwarmers (which I'm renaming yet again)), and a good amount of satisfaction when they're done.

It's been a different kind of knitting, more goal oriented and focused. Not very Gemini, but a good learning experience. Balance, beginning and finishing. Letting go of projects that no longer inspire or that I've outgrown. Putting in that extra bit of effort to finish up an almost complete item, transforming it from an idea, good intentions, 22% perspiration, to something that can be used, gifted, warm some heart or spirit. In the last 6 weeks, I've been extra careful to start only necessary holiday gift projects, and that will have to change.

For the record, my original goal of 18-24 projects was set with a 6 month timeline. I think I'm well ahead of schedule. It won't do to coast; WIPs won't knit themselves! But I think it'll be a little more lowkey from here.

Week six:
Started with: 43
Abandoned: -0
Finished: -2
New: +1
(Number of projects I wanted to start: 3)
Current Projects: 42!
WIP list

Bought a little yarn at Webs' Year End sale:

Webs' Winter Sale

What a zoo. So much yarn, so little time. And by time, I mean "lifetime". I already have enough yarn for this lifetime (big time SABLE*), I guess I'm working on the Next One. Apparently, the Next One prefers luxury yarns and veers away from mohair, angora and over-novelties. Perhaps the Next One is developing allergies? Or is more sensitive to the hubby that has allergies...

We were in line for over an hour. And by "we" I mean Scott. I was busy browsing (what? what??) and trying to convince him that he would look good in Berroco Denim Silk. It was a nice color, really it was. The specks of light blue -- well, you wouldn't be able to see them from an armslength away. Well, I wouldn't. Then again, I'm practically blind... Needless to say, I was not convincing.

Novelty yarns were in (over-)abundance. When you've got big time SABLE, you have to be discriminating with the novelties. By the time you get around to knitting it, the novelty will have worn off. Know what I mean? No? Check eBay.

This lot is not high on luxury, though there is some silk in there for Scott. Still living down my personal worst knitted item for Scott and desperate to prove I can do better. And since he's allergic to wool (that's a whole other topic) and has a very limited palette of acceptable colors, he's very hard to knit for. You will be hearing more about this silk. And my tortured relationship to it.

And then the wheels. There were 3 floor models available for trial: DT Folding Lendrum, ST Louet S10 and ST Ashford Elizabeth. Couldn't try the latter, something was not right with the treadle. The S10 was actually really nice for a single treadle. Smooth and good momentum on the wheel. The one I tried at The Fiber Loft must have needed oil.

But I was really there to try the Folding Lendrum. And boy, did it disappoint. At first. Treadling was like treading water. I suck at treading water; I'm sluggish and feel like I'm not far from drowning. Then there was that awful squeeeeeak. It was easy enough to use, and when oiled, why, it treadled great! And away went that squeak! You were thinking oil, weren't you? Yep, you were right. Oiled, it ran nicely. I made yarn for 5, 10 minutes, and it felt pretty good. But I didn't get that joy feeling that the Ashford Joy gave me (I kid you not). I didn't hum classical music. I didn't feel like experimenting.

Thing is, I don't know if it had to do with some other fixable funkiness, like oiling a joint. I don't know if it just doesn't sing to me like the Ashford Joy. How do I decide?

I went to Webs hoping for more clarity, and instead, I'm in a pea soup fog (did you ever play Game of Life?). What should I do?

* SABLE - Stash Amassed Beyond Life Expectancy

I'm so excited - look what came home with me today:

Schacht hi-lo spindle

That's a Schacht hi-lo spindle and she spins fast, she does. Sigh. My second spindle. She shall help me a-ply my pile o' stuffs. Mebbe even spin heavier than fingering and sport weights. 

I picked her up at Mind's Eye Yarns in Cambridge. Lucy demonstrated spinning from the fold and getting a good spin by rolling down the thigh. Wheeeeee! She also showed how to get a wicked fast spin by flicking with the feet. Man oh man. Between the faster, heavier spindle, spinning from the fold, and picking up speed on the spin, a whole new horizon just opened up for me. I had read about the fold and thigh thing but couldn't visual the latter or think of a reason to try the former. While I was gazing longingly at her merino/silk top, it suddenly occurred to me that maybe I could spin my merino/silk top from the fold. Might make it much more spinnable! It was so finicky I was waiting to get a wheel before going back to it. Enter demo and childish glee.

I could barely contain myself on the (long) drive home. And here I am, telling you about it rather than practicing. Laters!

PS: In the interests of full disclosure, I also picked up these:

My first Spin-Off magazines

PPS: I had a dye fest last night using food coloring. Tonight's goodies preempts the chronicling; details tomorrow.

First, let me tell you how it used to work: I see yarn, I buy yarn; I see patterns, I buy patterns. Very simple. Very expensive.

And then we got a house. And a mortgage. And joined finances...

Here's how it works now:

Every month (except when I don't have a job, which is now), we get a bit of "mad money" which we can use for anything we want. What do I want? Yarn! Patterns! And now, Fiber! Spinning Wheel! And dyes!

Ahem, getting sidetracked.

The mad money goes into our personal Budgets, from which we justify personal unnecessary expenses (though I think it's harsh to call yarn unnecessary). We also have a "gifts budget", sort of. That is, we buy gifts for certain occasions, like New Year's, birthdays, thank you's, that kind of thing. (Why yes, it's just like you!) Except, because I often knit gifts, and we would have bought gifts, and gifts I knit came from yarn out of my mad money -- breathe -- when I complete gifts, I get reimbursed and get to add back money to my Budget.

It's an interesting arrangement. I don't buy yarn for "ideas" anymore... err, not so much. I try to knit from stash. I end up knitting many more gifts than I would have. Don't get me wrong -- I don't make gifts for "financial/yarn gain" only, it's just another incentive. And apparently, it's a pretty good one when it comes to finishing gifts on time. Because there's always something else I want. And I can't have it unless I finish something, more specifically, a gift. Or when the new month rolls around. (I also make gifts "just because" that don't get reimbursed. And I do a lot of "just because" knitting to try a yarn or pattern.)

It also means I don't buy many books, and hardly any CDs or DVDs. And with holiday knits, I get a bit more to spend!

All this to explain what came in the mail this week, and how precious it is to me right now! I will be slim on the Budget for a while... but it's a good thing. It's tough with so many sales going on (must. resist. sale.) but I'll do my best.

Paradise Fibers superwash merino Paradise Fibers Space-dyed BFL yarn

From Rachel at Paradise Fibers: 8 oz of lovely handpainted superwash merino in Winter Solstice, and space-dyed blue faced leicester yarn in Herb Garden and Bordeaux from their bargains page. I also ordered the handpainted roving color card. My first superwash roving, most likely to become socks!

Blue Ridge Silk Works alpaca Blue Ridge Silk Works alpaca

From Christina at Blue Ridge Silk Works: handdyed alpaca in Pasha and Las Vegas (14 oz total). Hmm, colors look familiar? Reds and Blue/Greens, my weaknesses!

Both were friendly and quick to ship!

I stopped in at Woolcott & Co while I was "in town" yesterday. Yep, that's the one in Harvard Square. Picked up Ella Rae's book #1,

Ella Rae Designs

the one with the t-shirt sweater I've seen around. Well, that's the long sleeve version.

Ella Rae Designs Ella Rae Designs

And next to it, another sweater in the style I'm suddenly covetous of.

This was courtesy of a gift certificate from a trade. Free book!

While I was wandering (which describes my state of mind, not physical movements, that store is tiny), I heard spinning talk. My ears perked. I mosied over and was delighted to find 3 spinners chatting about starting up a spinning group at Woolcott. A bit far for me, but Paula (one of the three) asked if I had heard of the Boston Area Spinners and Dyers. I had seen their outdated website and figured they were defunct. Not so! They meet once a month in Sudbury, which is a bit far for Paula, but doable for me. There are something like 60 members, with about 20 showing up each week. Wahoo! Spindling with spinners! 20 questions with spinners! Oohing and aahing over spun yarn with spinners! (Can you tell I'm excited?)

Man, I don't miss driving in Harvard Square.

Self-regulation

When I eat too much sugar or salt, I get bumps on my tongue. For sweets, it's midway up; for salty, on the tip. I don't know if it's the tastebuds gone cuckoo, but it hurts and its sucks. It keeps me from eating more sweet or salty for a while. Anyone else get this?

I bring this up because I started getting the first tinglings in the middle of my tongue after eating french fries with ketchup. When I was a kid we'd have "my fire is bigger than your fire!" ketchup contests along with our "my french fry is bigger than your french fry!" competitions. Somewhere in high school I learned how much sugar is in ketchup and reduced ketchup intake drastically. Lately, I've been using just a little bit more here and there, but see, the tingles, that's my body's way of saying, "Yo, back away from the ketchup." Bizarre, isn't it?

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.

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!

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.

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...

Went to my first Knitsmiths knitting group, which happened to be a yarn swap. Look what I walked away with:

Knitsmiths swap goodies

Just think: it's less than what I brought. Crazy, hunh?

From top:
Jaegar Odessa in silver grey with sparklies, which may become a shawl
Patons Cotton dk in lilac and white, mebbe a baby sweater
Cascade 220 in a nice red, to play
Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride in yellow, will probably end up in a felted slipper
Manos Cotton Stria in white and roses, to play
Rowan Rowanspun dk, to play
Brown Sheep Nature Spun in various bright colors, either a felted project (fishies?) or a sweater for my niece

I get so freaked out being in a large group of new people, esp when they all know each other. But they were very friendly and there's always the knitting to focus on. Besides the Yarn Harlot's book tour stop in Acton, MA earlier this year, this is the largest group of knitters I've been around. The main difference is that I actually talked to some of them. I bet some of them were at that event, too.

It was fun to see what everyone else was working on. I wonder how many knitted pieces were in the room? For each knitter, a different preference, for colors, texture, pattern, technique. And I suppose that's what makes a yarn swap work -- what someone doesn't like, won't use, can't stand, someone else will love, be inspired, pet. You drop off your dirty laundry and pick up someone else's clean. Playing dress up with your stash.

Here's what I worked on:

Modular afghan-in-progress

It's gonna be an afghan, one of my guilt projects. The basic pattern is from Colinette's Ab Fab Afghan. The yarn, color and placement are mine. Can you see the sparklies? I added a purple sparkly carry along yarn with the mohair for a few rows, I luvs it. I finished most of the 3rd diamond today; after the 3rd, each additional diamond is built from stitches picked up from previous diamonds.

Here's a so-so picture of the to-be-felted slippers for my niece:

Felted Slippers - prefelted

The dark purple is not so flat. Maybe my camera, daylight and I will cavort tomorrow.

The yarn is Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky; I added nylon eyelash handdyed by Danette Taylor for the cuff. Think she'll like it? (She's 6.)

I finished knitting the silk merino scarf last night, just need to block it out and sew in the ends. I was hoping to wear it to the swap, but then realized it would need to be blocked anyway. I was thinking steam blocking, maybe 1/2 the length at a time. It's so soooft.

Silk merino scarf - unblocked

Finally took some photos of the yarn I bought honeymooning in Atlantic Canada. I was pretty reserved buying yarn since I spent most of my money on fiber. And in case you don't believe me, I'll have to admit that the Fleece Artist silk boucle was actually a gift from Scott out of his vacation budget. Bad bad Monica...

Souvenirs from Atlantic Canada

The first (top) is singles wool from Cottage Craft in St. Andrews by-the-Sea, New Brunswick. They had tons of handmade sweaters there, beautiful cabling and colorwork. It's a cottage industry (hence the name?) - the sweaters are made by dozens of knitters in (mostly?) New Brunswick that work out of their homes. Cottage Craft also sells their yarn; it reminds me of Briggs & Little, and not the kind of yarn I knit with much these days, so I only bought one skein to try out. Hmm, I didn't get a solo shot. It's a nice rich brown; I plan to make a scarf.

There was another yarn shop in St. Andrews by-the-Sea: Cricket Cove (I think that's the website; it says they're in Black's Harbor so I was a bit confused - but pleased - when I found them in St. Andrews by-the-Sea). A lovely shop, lots of Fleece Artist. It was my first yarn shop so I decided to wait before spending all my money. I ended up going broke before I made it back.

Next stop: London-Wul, where Heidi taught me to spin

Thank you, Heidi!

I bought a spindle and fiber, and then picked up some more fiber the next day before heading to PEI. On the way home I stopped by again to show Heidi what I had spun, and to buy some Fleece Artist sock yarn for Gram (Scott's grandmother). Forgot to take a picture of it, though... There were a few ladies happily spinning and knitting. After I showed them my yarn:

Heidi: Why aren't you spinning? Go get your spindle!

Me: Uh... okay!

I was soooo nervous and excited. My first time spinning in public! In front of experienced spinners! What would they think? Would I be too nervous to spin well? Would I be all two left spindles??

My palms did sweat a bit and I could only half-listen to the conversation for the first 10-20 minutes and I think my hands were a little shaky. But no one laughed, or stared, or shook their head in disbelief. So I relaxed, and started to enjoy it. Of course, my state of shock precluded remembering any names, but they were a friendly lot and the lady spinning from dyed silk hanky gave me some to try out. I left wishing I lived closer to London-Wul!

Next stop, PEI. The Fleece Artist silk boucle was purchased at Great Northern Knitters in Charlottetown, PEI and is luscious luscious luscious and the colors rich and loverly! I don't think the attached V-neck pattern will flatter me so I'll have to hunt around for another. They had a good selection of Fleece Artist that was hard to resist.

Fleece Artist silk boucle

The next three skeins are from Belfast Mini Mill in Belfast, PEI. I purchased a good bit of luxury fiber there as well. They give tours of their mini mill, where you get to see how their yarns are made! Since I had just learned to spin, it was especially cool.

This is their quiviut/merino a 2 ply sport weight, and my first quiviut! It will become my warm snuggly scarf:

Mini Mills Quiviut / Merino

and their "Northern Mist" quiviut/alpaca/merino blend, a 3-ply worsted:

Mini Mills

and their cashmere/merino blend, a 3-ply bulky worsted:

Mini Mills Cashmere / Merino

Hmm, they all look alike. So much so that I couldn't tell from the pictures which one was the Northern Mist, and which one was the cashmere/merino. I had already wound the skeins into balls. I can tell by touch... I think I got it right.

What I said about the silk boucle -- times three. Well, the "luscious" part. Yummers! But I wish the colors were a little more... non-beige.

On to Nova Scotia. Visited Lismore Sheep Farm but the owners were out and it was raining so I didn't get a tour or learn about the sheep. The woman in the shop (Jeanine?) was very friendly and we talked about spinning. Their yarns are like the Briggs & Little so I didn't get any (see reason above), but I bought a braid of Fleece Artist blue faced leicester.

Last is a small ball of Fleece Artist sock yarn I bought at LK Yarns in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Fleece Artist sock yarn

Woah, lots of yarn. They had a basket of Fleece Artist sock yarn mill ends and I wanted to buy it all. I restrained myself and picked out one (sob) but also grabbed a couple of Fleece Artist blue faced leicester "braids" (here's one of them spun up).

And that was it.

Sigh. Good times, good times.

NB: In case you think I'm obsessive... I have wanted to see Fleece Artist yarns up close in person ever since I found their website earlier this year. When we decided to honeymoon in Canada, I checked the Fleece Artist website and made a list of all the shops near our proposed route. (Doesn't everyone plan yarn shop stops into their vacations?) This was a biased Fleece Artist trip. :)

I was "in town" (Boston) yesterday afternoon, so I figured I'd stop by Mind's Eye Yarns before heading home. Lucy, the proprietress (is that the right word?) pointed out the Ashland Joy, parked it in front of me and gave me the keys! Wheeee! After I got used to the "patting your head and rubbing your stomach" sensation of doing so many things at once, I relaxed and realized I was making yarn. And man, I was making it so much faster and easier! Gotta get me one of dem wheels.

I liked the double treadle. Tried the other line she carries (Schacht?), which was a single treadle, and did not like the feel so much. I think I'm a double treadle kinda gal.

I was going to buy some roving but I'm really into the handdyeds right now, and without a wheel I don't want to get the ... what are they called ... the combed silky kinds. Rather get roving. So, picked up some white merino roving and decided to give a go at Koolaid dyeing.

What I realized: 4 oz of roving is a heck of a lot!! This from a spindle spinner who purchased a bunch of 50g bags, one 4 oz bag of merino-silk, and a few 2 oz bags of luxury fibers. Well, maybe 4 oz to any spindle spinner is a lot... but for me, getting through a 50g bag is an accomplishment! Can't imagine buying POUNDS of fiber... but it will happen soon enough.

Shutter happy

Took some more photos of the yarn I've spun. They're on flickr and you can see them here. I'm getting much better at the manual focus thing, but I sure could use some lessons in photography. Some natural light in this house would help, too! I like having bright rooms and workspaces, but Scott (the new hubby) is very photosensitive and is prone to migraines. We compromise, so neither of us is quite happy, hehe.

The house is surrounded by trees and the placement of windows is not the best, AND we tend to sleep in and miss the best sunlight. So I guess I have a few barriers to taking great photos...

I love the photos on Felicia's blog, sweet georgia. Besides the nice light and things being in focus, her composition is really nice too.

Back to the horse and buggy...

Tried my hand at tussah silk last night, HATED IT. Maybe I need experience, or a wheel, but man, how do you draft consistently??? Or at all??? I suffered through about 10 yards of it and then gave it up. When I get a wheel or a lot more experience, I'll try again.

13: Tussah Silk

I sought solace in some unknown dyed wool in blue and teal. I had tried it before (my second spun thing ever), with a tight twist, blending the two colors, but this time I spun each separately with minimal twist. I like how it came out, kinda like an icelandic.

14: Handdyed wool

It spun up pretty fast, so I switched to the merino silk blend, which was also my fourth ever spun thing. Amazing what some experience will do for you. My yarn is much more consistent and it goes a lot faster! :)

15: Merino silk

So... what does one do with lots of small amounts of handspun yarns?????

The luscious scarf

Made a little progress on the silk-merino scarf, just took a pic, losing light so it's a bit dark. I'm wondering how long a scarf I can get with the 1 ball. Any bets?

IMG_3037-sq-600x600

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