Two Left Needles

Knitting, spinning and dyeing
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My March UFO Resurrection project was Trellis. Last summer I had finished the back and barely started the fronts before losing momentum. I picked it up again at the beginning of February and quickly finished the fronts and most of the sleeves before again losing momentum and getting distracted by Scott's Re-Grow, finishing Diamond in the Rough for Spa, spinning Lagoon for Twisted Knitters, and getting my ass in gear and knitting something for the little goober.

Alas, I didn't spend any of March working on Trellis, so I feel it's not quite fair to use it as my March UFO Resurrection project. Instead, I've picked a project to say goodbye to.

Last seen 13 months ago, Gram's Socks, knit in Fleece Artist merino:

Gram's sock - first sock done

I wasn't feeling the love on the socks. First, I had to re-knit it because Gram's feet swelled up quite a bit for quite a while, and the socks as originally knit no longer fit (not even close). I added a bunch of stitches as well as ribbing to compensate; but it was becoming clearer that, even if I finished, they wouldn't get used. Gram didn't wear socks, she wore hose. None of her shoes could accommodate socks. And unlike me, Gram always wore shoes, indoors and out. Further, as she continued to decline, it was clear she wouldn't be able to care for or keep track of handknit socks.

I feel really bad saying goodbye to this project, but I know I won't finish them. Instead, I'd rather knt something that she will be able to use, and that will survive with regular washer/dryer care. Maybe a sweater vest or something for her room. That will be a good project for 2007.

Eyelet Dress

Glad you liked Tangerine Cardi! Wait 'til you see the buttons Scott picked out for them, too cute.

The magenta project I call Eyelet Dress, another Debbie Bliss knit. The back is already done!

Eyelet Dress - back done!

The yarn is Crystal Palace Biwa, a 100% mercerized cotton, knit on smaller than the recommended needles. After scouring my many Debbie Bliss books and being disappointed that there weren't many patterns for Cotton DK (her only cotton I have), and that the cuter patterns were in smaller gauges, I attacked my yarn room to figure out what other cottons I had. I bought a bunch of cones of Biwa several years ago on eBay from someone clearing out their stash, and never used it. If all goes well with this knit, I have at least one other suitable color in the stash.

The pattern is written for DB wool/cotton, which naturally has a different hand than 100% cotton (it's softer/squishier and more drapey, for starters). But I don't think it'll be a problem. Gauge is gauge, right? (I think the correct answer is: Sometimes.) Besides, wool allergies aside: 50% wool in a summer tank dress???

Speaking of gauge, I'm not getting gauge. Ha! Over 4", I'm getting 24 sts instead of 25, and 33 rows instead of 34. It's a baby knit, so I think I'll be fine; and I made one slight change to compensate.

Summer Anklets

The socks will be anklets because I only have 1.8 oz of yarn to work with. It's Fleece Artist merino, purchased in Halifax at LK Yarns. They had a basket of odd-weight skeins and I managed to buy only one. I love the colors!

For Mouse: For this weight yarn, I start with 20 stitches using a figure-eight cast-on and increased every other row to (for my feet) 56 sts. Gives me a good toe shape.

Clapotis

Clapotis is coming along nicely:

Clapotis - in progress

I'm about 2.5 skeins in, and I'm thinking I might have to find a 6th skein. I'm not so pleased about having to start mid-ball to maintain the striping sequence and I'm hoping all the unused ends will get used eventually (or I'll need a 7th skein). So far, I'm not at the crazy/bored stage; I think the colors are keeping me entertained.

I like checking my stats each day. Since IE users generally can't post, it lets me know if anybody's out there or I'm talking to myself again. I find it hilarious that getting mentioned on the Yarn Harlot's website spiked my traffic by, oh, an order of magnitude. And climbing. Hehe. Never mind being tickled to death at being mentioned in such a nice way.

I'm so impressed at the range and quality of knitting projects that were tackled. I hope to go through the list, a to z, and see what everyone worked on. Actually, I'll start with the other 3 Monica's that have blogs. Then I'll check out the two Monique's. Then I'll go a to z. :)

Lookie here, it's my gold medal:

So shiny and new.

There were a few folks who were, shall we say, sceptical that I'd be able to finish the knitting in one day. I have 9 words for them: The Lord of the Rings boxed set, extended version. 3 movies spread over 6 DVDs, with each DVD the length of most feature films. I finished spin-dye-knit-a-scarf by mid-disk 4 (I remembered surprisingly little of the first movie so got very little knitting done), sewed in the ends of Arrrgh during disk 4, and finished Gram's sock one during disk 5. I was all knitted out.

The extended versions, especially the second movie, has a lot more exposition, explanation, blah blah blah (read: good knitting time). There were times I appreciated getting more of the back story, but it made for a looooong movie (50 additional minutes in that one).

At the same time, it was really cool watching them back to back to back. Each part in context and fresh in mind made a lot more sense and the emotional throughlines were easier to follow and get involved in. I recommend it.

(Nota buena: Don't start watching TLOTR boxed set, extended version, after 4 pm. Definitely do not start after 5.)

Gram's sock number one, finally complete:

Gram's sock - first sock done

I took that photo to take advantage of the bits of sunlight, with the intention of turning it around in Photoshop:

Gram's sock - first sock done

A little disorienting, no? Take a moment to imagine the angle I would have to stand to take that one.

Gram's sock progresses at a snail's pace. Part of the problem is knowing that, most likely, they won't get much wear and probably not the care they need. Even with still swollen ankles, Gram wears pumps all day long. No room for socks in pumps. Still, it's the thought that counts, so I will continue to plug away.

Norwegian Knits-Along

Arrrgh was unofficially my Norwegian Knits-Along project:

I started it with that intention but didn't officially get added until just before I finished. So, yay, finished my Norwegian Knits-Along project! I'd like to do another before it ends, now that I see it's not so intimidating. Shh, don't tell Scott, cuz I'd rather work with wool next. Oh wait, that doesn't work...

And while I'm being random and scattered...

I realized I've been holding out on you:

Yarn room - partially filled shelves

That's an early pic. The shelves are packed now and I'm still trying to make room and figure out what needs to go. The good news: there's room on the floor for my wheel!

Err... The games have begun!

Last night after work, spinning wheel in tow, I headed to the Framingham Fabric Place for the monthly Knit Club. I had demonstrated spindle spinning the previous month (only because I happened to have it with me) and had promised to bring my wheel next time if I had one by then. Being a beginner spinner I don't know how much of a demo you could call it, but I think I correctly identified the wheel (haha), the flyer, the orifice (to a couple of chuckles), the whorls, the thing that affects your takeup... oh yeah, and the bobbin. See? Mostly technical terminology there, that's good for me! (I'm a "thingie" and "whatchamacallit" kinda gal.) I demonstrated drafting and showed how a little twist makes it yarn. I treadled sans wool so I could explain what was happening. And then I added the wool in and showed it all in action. I believe I said, "that's all there is to it" and got a laugh or two. Yeah, that's all there is to it. That and, uh, practice. Lots of practice.

I proceeded to pass around my 2 oz bags of luxury fibers: 100% cashmere, 50/50 yak/cashmere, 50/50 quiviut/merino. Oooooo. Soooooooft. Lushhhhhhhious. And the reason I had these with me: they are part of my Knitting Olympics.

Stop the presses! Knitting Olympics? You mean, you have a project picked out? You <gasp> decided on something?

Roll the presses, yes indeedy! For my Knitting Olympics challenge I shall <drum roll please>

spin-dye-knit-a-scarf

I feel like a magic performer announcing my next trick.

Yes, and for the extra challange factor, I shall begin with 100% cashmere, which will be much more difficult because of the finer texture and shorter fiber length. (Or maybe just the shorter fiber length.)

Ooooh, aaaaah.

Kids, do not attempt this at home!

Although maybe I should call it "spin-(dye?-)knit-a-scarf". I'm not sure how comfortable I am dyeing yarn, let alone cashmere.

And you see why it's not "dye-spin-knit-a-scarf"? No way in hell am I sticking that fibery cloud into a dye bath. I'd have to strain it to get my fiber out!

If we really want to get technical, perhaps it should be spin-dye-knit-a-lace-scarf. But you know, I'm not that technical a gal.

For now we shall call it spin-dye-knit-a-scarf.

Thanks to MJ and Cassie for their ideas! If not for them my project might be knit-cute-sweater-readjusting-all-instructions-because-I-don't-have-yarn-that-knits-to-gauge, or re-attempt-colorful-tank-because-your-gauge-friggin-bloomed-first-time-'round.

Tuna Melt

Post Knit Club I headed to J. Doyle's in JP for the Team Boston Opening Ceremonies get together. I've never before seen so many projects in their early stages. It was disorienting! Think about it: most of your project lifetime is spent mid-progress; very little is spent having just cast on or only a couple of rows in. I was surrounded by 30+ barely begun projects. So weird.

I met a lot of cool knitters and knitbloggers: Hello Yarn Adrian, Minestrone Soup Mini, Stitchy McYarnPantsThe Bookish Girl Wendy, the jkc project Jackie, Obsession du Jour Kellee, geekpixie Amber; and a couple of familiar Knitsmiths faces: Shireen and Subway Knitter Colleen. Confession: I brought my camera but didn't take any pictures. I suck.

Because spin-dye-knit-a-scarf begins with spinning and I didn't want to get beer on my Joy, I worked on Gram's sock. Sock one is almost done and I'm really happy with how it looks. Here it is pre-Opening Ceremonies:

Gram's socks - in progress

Hmm, further "I suck" factor: no photos of the cashmere fiber. Or progress on the sock.

It seems I haven't posted much knitting content in a while so here's an update.

Curlycue Scarf is now on the straightaway, which I'm doing in seed stitch. The idea is to have a straight section for wrapping around the neck and curly ends to dangle. It goes slowly.

Curlycue Scarf - in progress

Gram's socks are just past the heel, though I think I'll have to rip out and add a few rows after she tries them on today. As long as I'm not redoing the whole sock it won't faze me.

Gram's socks - in progress

Creamsicle T is a big disappointment. When I couldn't sleep night before wheel arrival, I started seaming her. Shoulders, check. Sleeve, check. Pinned the other seams for a try on. Hmm. Not good. Poofs in the wrong places, it does. Poke, prod, no help. Plus, with the mods for a snugger fit on the body, the sleeves looked a bit roomy overall. I've had trouble with sleeves lately, they just don't fit the way they should. Why??

Last night I ripped back, recalculated, and restarted. I added slight bell shaping to the bottom and took out 2" above the elbow. I'll probably have to readjust the sleeve cap shaping, which I've not done before. This may become a debacle. It may go swimmingly well.

On the plus side, the body fits me well, though maybe a couple of rows too long.

The yarn is holding up well to being frogged and reused. Plus, I reseamed the shoulder using it and had no problems.

Creamsicle T - sleeve redux

And in the spinning world

This is the superwash merino, re-plied tighter. That's more like it. Better for socks.

37: Superwash Winter Solstice

And this I call Stained Glass. It's Winderwood Farms Corriedale plied with black commercial textured yarn. I didn't want the colors to clash like they did before, so I plied with a solid. This will be interesting knit up, I think.

39: Stained Glass

Gram's sock is doing well:

Gram's sock - heel turned

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

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

21: Kool Aid dyed merino

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

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

22: Fleece Artist Blue Faced Leicester

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.