Two Left Needles

Knitting, spinning and dyeing
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I don't believe it, but maybe you will:

Lagoon 2-ply

That's Lagoon, all plied up. See that little blue tag on the right?

Lagoon 2-ply

Yeah, that one. 925. Yards. Of laceweight 2-ply. That's a mile of singles! No wonder it took so long to ply. (And it did. Take a Long. Time.) I still don't believe it.

Lagoon 2-ply

And when I took it off the niddy noddy? 3.5 oz.

Lagoon 2-ply

Not my best plying job (it's quite a bit harder for me when the singles are so thin), but it'll do, and it sure is soft and bouncy. Once it's washed it'll fluff up even more, I'm sure, just as the sample did.

Speaking of sample, here's another sample, pre-wash. See how twisted up it is? The singles lost quite a bit of twist energy sitting around on the bobbins. When I put how much twist I thought was needed when plying (based on my memory of how I spun the singles; no sample card, unfortunately), this is how it came out:

Lagoon 2-ply sample - pre-wash

I had to go through the usual washing/setting process (soak in warm water with some Eucalan; squeeze out excess water; whack against the tub and hang to dry) to see how the final yarn behaved. Time consuming, but necessary.

Now... any suggestions for a 925 yard shawl? Something that takes advantage of the slight striping of handspun? Something I can finish before the end of March for Twisted Knitters? ;)

Melanie asked if the cormo/alpaca I was spinning was neppy. Yup, it is. Not too bad, but they're there:

Foxhill Farm cormo/alpaca

It's hard to get a good picture so you can see it, but there are at least 3 neppy points in the above - the white dot, the little bit of clumpy white above it, and some more clumpy white above and to its right.

They're not big clumps, but they definitely stand out when spinning laceweight singles. Or if you're going for consistency. Some neps work themselves out in the spinning, but most have to be picked it out as I go, and I end up with a little pile of neps after each session. Not what I generally like to do, but I've made my peace with it.

There's a little bit of knitting going on. Some Clapotis progress:

Clapotis - in progress
almost 2 full balls of Noro Silk Garden Lite

Clapotis was started because I needed something simpler than neck shaping on Trellis to work on during my gestational diabetes test. (I have yet to finish Trellis.) But the bits of hay and fiber that inevitably fall into my lap while knitting mean I don't really want to work on it while I'm at home, where it might trigger a reaction in Scott.

So....... I pulled out some Tess silk/merino I bought last fall:

Tess merino/silk

and started a second shawl version of Sand River:

Chocolate River

It's dangerous, don't you think? I mean, the whole starting a new project because of some problem with the current project... Not a good trend. Trying to get my WIPs under control over the last 15 months has made me startitis-averse, so much so that... well, it is 6 weeks to my due date, and no baby sweater in sight!

To remedy the situation, I've started a swatch with some Debbie Bliss Cotton DK and picked out a (super) simple DB cardigan pattern. It's about the only infant-sized pattern I could find for Cotton DK; most of the really cute ones are in wool-cotton or cashmerino, which are finer gauge yarns. I had no idea Cotton DK was... well, duh, so much heavier. It seems like DK cotton is much heavier than DK wool. (Or is it just me?)

I took a lot of projects to Montreal. Well, more accurately, a lot of yarn. And needles. I brought Sand River:

Sand River - in progress

and worked on it in the car. A lot less than expected.

You know how I said it was a 6 hour drive to Montreal? Well, I thought I'd have 6 hours to knit. Each way. That's a lot!

Until you take into account the time that I'd be driving. Or sleeping. Or too hot to knit. Yep. I'd say I knit a good hour in the car. Maybe two. And not at all the rest of the trip.

Still, Sand River was almost done Sunday night:

Sand River - in progress

and magically completed Monday night!

Sand River - almost done!

I thought I still had a good foot to knit, but then I tried it on and it was good to go. And I was at the end of a repeat, too, so all I had to do was tink back a row and cast off. Nice. Just need to block her out.

With all that knitting I thought I'd have time for, at the last minute I wound that rambouillet/silk on my yarnwinder and threw it into my bag with the 3 skeins of sock yarn (that I didn't use). I had a pattern picked out and 4 different needles to test out the gauge.

rambouillet/silk - ready to go

Of course... I forgot the pattern.

It's just as well, it was better to finish knitting Sand River before starting the shawl:

rambouillet/silk shawl - in progress

The pattern is "A Beginner's Triangle" from A Gathering of Lace. I'm still thinking up a name for the project. Any suggestions?

I'm really enjoying knitting with this yarn. It feels really good and I think it's working nicely with the pattern. Which is hard to tell without a contrasting background or slight blocking. But trust me. Er, trust Scott. He's been reassuring me.

FBS

Only happy news allowed this week.

Happy thing 1: The humidifier works great. In a week it's brought our basement humidity down from the upper 60's to a comfortable 50. I spent a couple of hours sweeping, reorganizing, designating for trash and recycling. We still have a ways to go, but it's a good start.

Happy thing 2: I plied 4.2 oz of the rambouillet/silk last night, it came out to 520 yards. 520 yards!

Rambouillet/silk 2 ply

That's a lot of freaking yardage!

Rambouillet/silk 2 ply

The singles sat on the bobbin for a while and I haven't set it yet so it's still kinky.

Rambouillet/silk 2 ply

With 5.4 oz left to ply, that's more than enough for a nice shawl. It'll be my first handspun shawl. Any suggestions?

Happy thing 3: I joined the Northeast Handspinners Assocation and am signing up to attend The Gathering this fall. I doubt I'll get any of my first choice workshops, but it'll be fun to go. I hope they're not full!

Happy thing 4: I nearly forgot - I'm signed up for a dye workshop this weekend! Wheeee! It's taught by Linda Whiting, the same person that did the dye workshop for Erin, Cheryl and co. I'm looking forward to it.

Okay. Let me show you the shawl and get that out of the way. Tomorrow I want to start showing you the silk samples I've been playing with. Fun fun.

FBS

FBS
Started:
5/20/06
Finished: 7/21/06
Pattern: Flower Basket Shawl by Evelyn Clark, Interweave Knits Fall 2004
Yarn: Hand Maiden's Sea Silk in Rose Garden
Needles: #7
Notes: I loooooove love love this yarn. Love it. Love. It. It's soft, has incredible drape, that awesome silk sheen, the colors are gorgeous, it photographs like a mo-fo in the sunlight, man, what more can you want? The pattern shows nicely, it feels good wearing it, it was nice to knit with. Do you really want me to go on? Lovely lovely stuff. AND, I'm so glad I got it at half off. Just one more thing to love about it. ;)

I was worried that I'd run out of yarn. I did run out. Rather than frog back and lose a whole bunch of yards, I decided to throw the dice and try to maximize the shawl size and yarn use. I ended up casting off in pattern on row 9 of the edging. I could have used about 20-30" more yarn to get a looser cast off, but I'm happy with the end result:

FBS

It blocked bigger than I expected. After completing only 6 of the 7 main pattern repeats I thought I'd have a smaller shawlette, but the finished wingspan is ~54" and it's ~27" high, same as the pattern specs. Good stuff. On my 5'2" frame, it's a perfect fit. If you want a larger shawl, you'll definitely need a second skein.

FBS

Obligatory window shot:

FBS

Last night I heard noises in the bushes outside the window, so I sent Scott to investigate. Turns out it was a skunk. For some reason, we thought it was a good idea to take its photo. We crept up on it but it shuffled off. Not fast, but fast enough. Do you see it?

skunk under the trunk

No? That bright spot under the car, that's it's eye. Thank goodness it didn't spray us.

FBS

It was close.

I knit the remainder of the row and had almost 2' extra yarn from my marked off thirds. Good start. I cast off the next half row and came up against the next marker. Not a good sign. By simple logic, I should be short 2' before finishing. 20 stitches before the end, despite your good thoughts and my wishful thinking, and just as I had calculated, I ran out.

I really wanted to keep the row, as it was the final decrease round and helped flesh out the edging. Plus, I was already leaving out 3 rows of the pattern. So instead of frogging back, I decided to cheat first.

Starting at the beginning of the row, I tightened up the stitches, one by one, all the way across, so that I had just enough to cast off. And by just enough, I mean a 2" tail to sew in. It took a long time, a lot longer than frogging and re-doing the row (twice) would have. But I wanted to be sure I didn't tighten up too much.

Unblocked, it looks okay:

FBS - edging

But blocked, it definitely doesn't have the scalloped edges of the original pattern.

FBS - not-so-scalloped edge

I know, can you believe it? I went ahead and blocked it! This is a record. Truly.

Look, it's a 2 board project!

FBS - blocking

The white board was something I built in my early twenties (egads, that's more than 10 years ago), out of foam core, thin black sticky tape-like stuff, and covered with that plastic sheety sticky stuff you put on shelves:

handmade blocking board, 10 years of loyal service

I spent a lot of time making the lines straight. Obviously, back in the day I was low on funds and high on time.

Look at all those holes, I'm surprised it lasted as long as it has.

FBS - blocking

White blocking board, you have served me well.

Anyway, I'll see how the shawl looks off the pins and wires and see if it's missing something. (I suspect it will.) If it does, I'll frog back a row or 3 and come up with plan B.

PS:  The yarn is Hand Maiden Sea Silk. Lovely stuff. I bought it half off at a yarn closing sale and resisted buying a second skein because of the price, and dyelot worries. I think it's fabulous for FBS or shawls in general, but if you want a full sized one, get 2 skeins.

I've been playing with silk on the wheel but I don't have a post ready yet. Instead, I'll show you an almost done FBS:

FBS - almost done!

Are you shocked? Knitting content?? Hehehe.

Man, I love taking photos of this yarn in the sunlight. Love love love it. But what's that at the top of the photo?

Why, all the yarn that's left:

FBS - not much yarn left...

As you can see, I'm mid-row on the wrong side. I guesstimated that I had enough yarn to finish the row and then one more after that. Maybe. I'm sure you've heard, it takes about 3 times the width of a piece to knit one row. Problem here, it's on circulars and I'm mid-row, so I'm not quite sure what a width is. Hence, maybe.

It might be just enough, or not quite enough. Either way, it's close. Of course, when you take into account bind off rows take more yarn... I could be screwed, right?

But I prefer to stay optimistic. And, I want to start another project. And I'm already at my limit of 24. Heh. One way or another, it'll work out.

Here's my view at lunch, and the (green) bench where I've been taking photos:

lunchroom with a view

I particularly enjoyed this view in the winter to chase away (stave off?) the winter blues. A dose of sunshine in winter goes a long way.

Is this enough to finish the edging of FBS??

FBS - in progress

When I said my posting would be spotty, I didn't mean non-existent. Hehe.

The conference was actually quite good. It was Microsoft's TechEd, and a LOT bigger than I expected. There were 10,000-12,000 attendees, another ~3,000 Microsoft employees and ~2,000 vendors. Yeah, a lot of people.

The exhibit hall was immense:

TechEd - exhibit hall TechEd - exhibit hallTechEd - exhibit hall TechEd - exhibit hall

with lots of giveaways to be had. I walked away with 10 tshirts, a bunch of pens, a yoyo, 2 flashlight, some squishy lego like pieces, blah blah blah. Typical conference loot, eh?

The food hall was also immense, here's 2/3 of it:

TechEd - food hall

When they opened for lunch the words "cattle call" came to mind: mindlessly following the masses towards food lines. The food: not so hot, in all senses. On the first day I walked for 5 minutes after getting my food, looking for a friendly place to sit, preferably with women, preferably with people still eating... I was near the other end of the hall before I ran out of options and sat down at a table that matched neither criteria. And had an interesting time nonetheless. One of the people at the table was from Turkey, another from Dubai. The next couple of days I didn't search so hard, met an interesting person from Australia who started up their own business and who made me want to buy a video iPod (he showed me the cutest videos of his kids singing itsy bitsy spider; I showed him my knitting).

Besides the sessions/lectures/workshops throughout the day, Microsoft folks were on hand at Technical Learning Centers to answer questions, show demos, etc. They wore identifying blue shirts:

TechEd - TLC
look at all 'em blue shirts

I sat down with a Business Intelligence guy to talk about the reports I'm setting up at work and got great guidance on what to change, how to improve. That made my day. (I also laughed at myself trying to explain to him what I'm doing. I'm used to "dumbing down" the geek speak and hardly ever talk to peers so I can't actually do the geeky geek speak.)

They also had hands-on labs where you could walk through tutorials of various technologies:

TechEd - hands-on labs

It wasn't just a developers conference, it was all things Microsoft, from servers, networks and connectivity to data, websites, web services, applications, Office, and so on. A broad audience. There were over a thousand sessions, and then informal presentations that were not listed online, so it was hard to wade through and find the ones that were most relevant. A bit overwhelming. But I did sit in on some excellent sessions and walked away with good tips and a glimpse of what the future will hold. Some cool stuff.

Oh yeah. The building was huge:

TechEd - location

so walking from session to session was quite a chore. It took me until Friday to get oriented. And then it was all over. Figures, eh?

My new summer shoes performed well under all the stress:

new shoes
happy shoes

It was a little weird seeing so much Microsoft everywhere. Although all my programming is with Microsoft technologies, I have mixed feelings about The Empire. I prefer Firefox to IE, google to MSN... But I can't see building websites with anything but ASP.NET now. It makes it way too easy to build complex data-driven websites.

Hey, you want to know one of the funniest parts of the conference? With a roughly 10:1 men to women ratio, the women's bathrooms were always empty and the men's had lines. Ha! HA!

But you didn't come here to hear about Microsoft. You're here for the fibery stuff, right? :)

That many sessions means much progress was made on FBS:

FBS - in progress

She's almost done!

I also started a sock using Pink Panther to see what the striping looked like. This method leads to splotchy transitions between stripes.

Pink Panther socks

The first pink stripe was the most mucked up one, so it's rather spotty. Even with my mucked up pink band, I think it's still a cool effect. I think it would be easier and less stressful to have color transitions that don't need to be so distinct, like gradual color shifts or color blending.

Oh yeah. On the last day of the conference I saw this:

TechEd - exhibit hall

and was actually sad.

FBS is growing:

FBS - in progress

Supposedly, seasilk carries some kind of vitamin E health benefit that can be absorbed through the skin through wearing. I don't know if I'm just a skeptic, cynical or jaded, but it seems... well, farfetched is too strong a word, but you get what I mean. There's a part of me that's open to it, though. The part that believes in aliens and magic and telekinesis (even if I will never be able to knit by thought)*. Hey, if it works, that's great, I'm all for it. And if I have to believe for it to work, then I suppose much of it will be lost on me.

Whether or not it heals or restores, it does feel wonderful flowing through my fingers. I'm enjoying the fabric that's being created, the play of colors, the drape and stitch definition. Every few inches I stop to stretch it out over my lap to admire the emerging pattern.

* How many of you tried to move things as a kid?? Or more importantly, how many of you succeeded???

Enablers all! Hehe. My eye is on a Patrick Green Fancicard, which is even more expensive than the Fricke/Strauch I had been looking at. My reasoning: I'd prefer to buy one carder that will last me a good long while. I'm afraid that if I got a Louet I will want to upgrade too soon. I'd like to card in silk with merino, cashmere, alpaca, yak... and the Fancicard is supposedly very good at handling the exotics. Gotta save those pennies. I might be picking up some part time programming work, though. And my birthday is around the corner (2 weeks!) so if I have any discipline (not likely) I might be able to put a few bucks towards one.

The sun is out today (yay!!!) so I took a few pictures.

At the spin-in last week I spun my sunfires blue faced leicester:

Sunfires

The plan is to navajo ply and possibly make socks.

Progress on Honeymoon Cami is slow because I can't knit while spinning:

Honeymoon Cami - in progress

I added a few inches at The Fabric Place Knit Club last night.

Last night I also wanted to start the Flower Basket Shawl with this:

Hand Maiden Silk/Seacell

but forgot to wind it before leaving home. Doh. It's Hand Maiden silk/seacell, and it has a lovely soft hand with nice shine. I bought it (and a coupla other goodies) half off at a yarn store closing sale a few weeks ago. Skeined up it looks like:

Hand Maiden Silk/Seacell

I love seeing the transformation from skein to ball to knitted item in handpainted yarns.

The beginnings of FBS:

Flower Basket Shawl - started

I'm hoping that this one skein will be enough (~550 yards) but I think a shawlette would be fine, too.

Off to a wedding!

So the wheel thing. I was starting to think mebbe I should just get the Folding Lendrum. People are so attached to theirs, love the flexibility, the fact that it's made in Canada (I made that up). I started thinking that maybe I should just get the Lendrum. Finding someplace to try it and the Joy will mean a long drive... somewhere. But then the trusty Knitters Review spinners snapped me back to, and I'm back to probably Joy, but trying both to be sure.

Which means a drive somewhere.

Me: So, honey, feel like taking a long drive this weekend so I can try out a couple wheels?
Hubby: Sure, oh yeah, definitely, where we going?
Me: [musses his hair, what a good guy]
Hubby: You didn't answer my question, where we going?
Me: Oh, I don't know yet.
Hubby: Is it going to be far?
Me: [thinks] How far is too far?
Hubby: London-Wul [in New Brunswick, Canada; we're outside Boston]
Me: [chuckles] So anything closer is not too far?
Hubby: Yup.
Me: [chuckles]
Hubby: Does this mean we're making more than one stop?
Me: I hope not.

I loves my hubby.

Special Mayonnaise

I've been looking for a particular mayonnaise for a long time and was so excited when I found it. It wasn't on sale but I bought it anyway. It could have cost double and I would still have bought it.

At my last job, I love love LOVED the mayonnaise in the packets they had in the cafeteria. After I stopped eating in the cafeteria and started brown bagging, every time I was near the cafeteria, say if I'd forgotten my lunch, I'd secretively snatch a dozen packets, casually stuff them in my pockets or bag, and stockpile them in my desk drawer. Every day, turkey sandwiches with special mayonnaise. And every shopping trip, I despaired that I could never find it in the grocery store.

Until today.

Kraft

Happy happy happy!!

Until... I opened the kitchen drawer to look at my last packet... and realized... it's not the same.

This is the special mayonnaise:

Heinz

Heinz. Not Kraft. Rats.

Knitting

Kiri ... is a little bigger:

Kiri - in progress

And I've also picked up Fair Isle Mittens, my oldest current WIP from back in '95:

Fair Isle Mittens - in progress

You can see why I couldn't just abandon it! Knit using #2 needles and JaggerSpun heathered 2/18 yarns in my own color combos; this is probably my earliest attempts at my own color work. It's slow goings, and I'll probably switch to using 2 circ's instead of the bamboo dpn's.

In bizarre news

I got like 20 calls today from some guy in Iran. He wouldn't stop calling. He didn't speak much English, he kept telling me his name, I think he even said "I love you" at one point. I was patient at first, trying to tell him "wrong number", then "please don't call" then "stop calling" then just hanging up as soon as it rang. He asked my name, which I wouldn't give. Dude, why are you calling me and then asking my name? Why do you keep calling me after I keep hanging up on you? WTF??? I checked the phone number on google to find out he was in Iran, more google searching to learn he speaks Farsi, yet more to find a few phrases. I tried "Na Farsi" (no Farsi) which only encouraged him. I tried "Goodbye. No Farsi. Goodbye." The phrase list was useless, only friendly touristy phrases like "hello," "what is your name," "peace be with you". They didn't list "stop calling me, "leave me alone," "what the ***". In the end I shut off my phone and gave up. WTF???

I'm battling serious startitis. Last night I was roaming, from yarn room to living room to computer room and back, trying to match yarn to pattern for a new sweater or top, knitting swatches. I really want to make a Bistro Shirt, but I probably won't be able to wear a sleeveless top for a while. I really want to use the Bamboo or Oasis I just bought, but those are probably going to be summer tops as well, maybe a ChicKami and Picovoli. I'm looking at some Jaegar sweaters, and then there's the sweater I've wanted to make combining these yarns:

Danette Taylor yarns for a sweater

While pondering all this, and catching up on some blog reading, I saw Adrian's finished Kiri, and noticed she had made hers out of Koigu KPPPM. I had been thinking about making a Kiri or Birch for a while, you know, hop on the bandwagon, and had secured 3 balls of Kid Silk Haze in a swap a few months back. Somehow the timing never seemed right. And, while the Yarn Harlot's been known to call it Kid Silk Crack for its addictive qualities, others have been less than impressed with the knitting experience, so I've been wary. I wondered what yarn from stash I could use.

And then this happened:

Kiri - in progress

That's the beginnings of Kiri using the KSH. It all happened so fast, I can't explain it. I think it started with, "Let's just see..."

The first few rows I wasn't sure about the combo. Thin yarn, big needles. But as the pattern emerged, I could hear the inner voice saying, "I like, I like." And the soft and silky flow through my fingers, mmmm, nice. It's still early; anything can happen. I hope it gets knit, though. It'll be beautiful. (At the same time, I know it would have to be gifted; Scott would get shivers just looking at it, and I mean the heebie jeebie kind, not the good kind.) 

Some finished items

Grey Cabled Socks Grey Cabled Socks

Grey Cabled Socks
Started:
12/96
Finished: 1/6/06
Pattern: Stahl Socka booklet #6, pattern #23
Yarn: Stahl Socka 50 in color #9444
Needles: #2
Notes: These only took me 9 years to finish, not too bad, hahahahaha. The first sock was finished 7/24/97. It was on the tight side, so I didn't start the second. I finally started the second sock a few years later, but was getting a very different gauge, so I dropped it. Last month, as part of my WIP Management efforts, I picked it up again and finally finished the pair. The second one is even tighter than the first, but once they're on, it's not noticeable. They're snug and warm, I've been wearing them all day, and I love looking at them. Well, I haven't looked at them much, but I love knowing that they look wonderful with their cabley goodness.

 

My Birthday Scarf

My Birthday Scarf
Started:
9/29/05
Finished: 1/6/06
Pattern: my own: c.o. 38 sts. 2x2 ribs ad nauseum.
Yarn: Danette Taylor 4 ply cashmere in Calypso, just over 3 oz
Needles: #5
Notes: I bought this cashmere as my birthday present to myself, but it took a while to make it to the needles, and then just as long to knit. 2x2 rib is not fun, but on the plus side, this yarn is so very soft and luscious, it's as soft as angora without the bits of fluff escaping, without the allergic reaction. If I were to do it again, I would probably add a few more stitches to make it just a bit wider. Otherwise, I love it.

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