Two Left Needles

Knitting, spinning and dyeing
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Well, here I am, still waiting, still big and round. Here's how I looked a couple of days ago:

At Almost Week 39

(though, to be honest, I haven't been looking quite so cheerful the last couple of days)

I've dropped some more, can you tell?

At Almost Week 39

Between not being comfortable sitting to spin (extra weight in front strains my back), insomnia, and the comforts of sitting with an electric heating pad against my back, I've done a lot of knitting:

  • Summer Anklets are done
  • Trellis is done
  • And now, the knitting on my Silk Garden Lite Clapotis is also done!

I knit a little more than half over the weekend. The final corner looked like this:

Clapotis - in progress

and I decided I wasn't crazy about so much grey and mustard, too dark. So I frogged back to the purple/grey and then worked some magic:

Clapotis - in progress

Less than a yard of the turquoise to spare. The back? Looks like this:

Clapotis - in progress

I got a little sloppy re-knitting the corner, I forgot to drop one of the stitches:

Clapotis - in progress

Oops.

You know I didn't frog back, right? You know I opted to cut and graft?

I took a closely matching length of yarn (has more mustard in it, which you can see below), duplicate stitched for about 7 stitches, cut the original yarn, and re-threaded the original to drop the stitch it should have dropped. Worked! And so much less painful than the last time I grafted.

Clapotis - in progress

Bring it on! I started a pair of plain socks with the Artyarns Supermerino I recently bought, and am tackling another UFO -- Ribby Cardi, started and stopped last October. My WIP count is down to 18; if I wash and block Clapotis, I'll be down to 17. If I ever get in the mood to sew again, finishing Fish Bag will bring me down to 16! I'm unstoppable!!! After Ribby Cardi, I've got another UFO lined up to knock out. Go ahead, Knitting Gods, smite me down! Send me into labor to teach me a lesson!

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!

Before

Before

Before

After

After

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.

Thanks so much for the support. I have taken a lot of your ideas, suggestions and advice to heart, and honestly, it's helped. I'm feeling much better about Gram being in the nursing home. I think it's the best place for her right now. The nurses seem nice, and she's in the dementia ward, so they'll know how to understand and help her. We saw her Sunday and she didn't make a lot of sense to us. I'm hoping the transition disoriented her and that she'll bounce back a bit. But even if she doesn't, well, it is what it is. It's part of the process, and unavoidable. She's safe, and cared for, and that's what counts.

Scott and I are planning a trip to Montreal this weekend to take a break, get away and have some time to ourselves. Oh, and have fun! I've been to Montreal a few times. 8th grade class trip... random weekend drives in college... oh yeah, the time I went with some girlfriends for Jazz Fest, on Canada Day, when the border guy asked why we were going to Canada. Me: "To have fun!" Hands in the air! Youthful exuberance! Luckily, I looked young AND innocent, so they didn't search the car for drugs. Heh. It'll be fun.

Last week I brought this to work:

basket o' goodies
goodies galore! sunny day! green picnic table!

I finished plying the rest of the rambouillet/silk, and now have 2 empty bobbins! (I was counting my bobbins the other day and was short one. I counted, recounted, searched around, recounted, searched some more. Gave up. The next day, it hit me. It was on the wheel. Doh!) The top skein is the one I showed you before, the bottom is one of the new ones. In all, about 1050 yards over 8.8 oz. I think it's the most yards I've spun for one project. I lurv it.

rambouillet/silk 2 ply
soft and yummy

The first skein bled in the wash so I wanted to see if there were color differences. It's (slightly) noticeable in another photo, but not this one.

Those empty bobbins will be filled by the luck of the dyepot primaries batch, predrafted one sleepless night:

Luck of the Dyepot - predrafted

Because of the random way the top was laid into the roaster, each 4 oz segment is a little bit different. There are the bluer bits:

Luck of the Dyepot - predrafted

the redder bits:

Luck of the Dyepot - predrafted

and the greener bits:

Luck of the Dyepot - predrafted

I could spin each bit separately and have slightly different and somewhat coordinated skeins, or I could alternate between the bits to get 12 more-or-less-matching ounces. Not sure which way to go. I'm trying to spin up 2 matching skeins for someone and the bit already spun may be more green than the green bit above. Ah well, it's been too hot to spin most days anyway.

Sand River has grown and I'm still loving it:

Sand River - in progress

Luscious silk/merino beats cotton blend any day, so Trellis sleeves are slow goings:

Trellis - sleeves started
hey, you can see my feet!

Last, look at the color!

sample cards from dye workshop

These are the sample cards I walked away with from my dye workshop with Linda Whiting. Purty darned cool. I had a really good time, met some new folks, learned a few things. I'll try to put together a few thoughts later this week.

Tomorrow: the CVM fleece. It's sorted, and a bit of it washed. I never figured myself for a fleece processing person, but I seem to be becoming one. I've even reserved a CVM fleece for next year! 8 months from now! I know!

New update on the drum carder: 4 more weeks. Sigh.

Thanks for the nice comments on the NC spun yarn! The magical transformation that is spinning, gotta love it.

Two things I did differently with these yarns:

I (mostly) didn't draft the fibers or split them. I used to separate combed top into narrow strips that were closer to the finished single, and then pre-draft the whole thing. For thin yarn, that took a looooong time. After reading Spinnerella's notes from her spinning lesson with Judith MacKenzie McCuin (paraphrased from memory: it's only a true worsted if you don't split the top and if you work from the whole width, moving side to side), after my spinning lesson with Barbara Clorite-Ventura, and after reading somewhere that there were 2 "camps", those that pre-drafted and those that didn't (before I read that, I didn't realize people didn't pre-draft!), I decided to try this not-pre-drafting thing out.

I split Calico Cat into 2 strips so it wasn't so unwieldy. But I didn't pre-draft. And I did a little pre-drafting on the primaries dyepot, but only because it was felted.

I kinda like it. It's less prep time, and esp in the case of dyed top which will stick together more than undyed top, I feel like I have to pull the fibers out, which, while more work for my fingers, also means that the fibers aren't slipping out of my fingers, either. More control. If it's very sticky, though, I would probably do some light attenuating (I'm not even sure if I'm using that word right). Eg, last night, while trying out some silk, I didn't split the top but I did do some gentle pre-drafting to open up the top a bit, allowing the fibers to move past each other better.

The second thing I did differently: whack that yarn! I read on the Knitter's Review Forums (sorry, can't find the link now...) that you should abuse your yarn to finish it, even out the twist, etc. I gave it a try. It made the merino fuzzier, not sure I want that. But it didn't affect the BFL the same way. I don't have a before and after, but I think it made a positive difference. I'll be (selectively) abusing my yarns from now on.

It's steam sauna hot today. Even at 11:17 pm, the heat has not let up much. We have 2 window A/C units in our basement from our previous apartment dwelling life. Back when windows went up and down and A/C units fit logically. Our 30+ year old house has casement windows, the kind that go side to side. We haven't found our solution yet. Meanwhile, life without A/C, not so fun.

On the plus side, the Mosquito Magnet we bought for a terrific price at season's end 2004, which we finally got up and running a few weeks ago, magnificent. We used to get eaten alive. No hyperbole. Eaten. Alive. We used to run from car to house, house to car. They waited for us, swarmed and attacked us. No more. Hardly any mosquitos in our yard now. It's wonderful. We might get some yard work done now. If the incessant rain and raising heat let up. Or, more accurately, if I can tear myself away from the wheel.

We also bought a humidifier for our basement, it's much too damp down there (the unit tells us it's ~65% humidity, at what % does it start raining indoors?). We have a full unfinished basement that serves as storage and that icky place where the washer and dryer live. Well, sort of storage. No books or yarn, of course. We're hoping to one day finish it and make it liveable. It's at least 15 degrees cooler down there now -- if only it weren't so buggy (spiders) and damp and ill-lit, we could beat the heat down there. One day.

Meanwhile, we picked up a new shower head (with 8 fancy settings) and a new hallway light (which Scott already installed). Before: 20 year old showerhead and bare bulb (okay, I exaggerate on the showerhead). After a few dual paychecks, we're starting to edge away from tight-belted frugality and starting to look at improvements around the house. We even picked out paint colors for the bedroom! 2 1/2 years and we've only painted the bathroom. This is a huge step! I may even shock you with a new living room set one day. But don't hold your breath.

I went to Knit Club at Fabric Place in Framingham last Friday and made this startling revelation: a lot of knitting can be accomplished if you sit down and knit! Shocking, isn't it? Because I sure wasn't getting much done while spinning this:

A Touch of Twist rambouillet/silk

9.6 oz of rambouillet/silk from A Touch of Twist (MDSW). 3 oz were spun way back when, the rest finished since returning from NC. It'll be a little slubby and textured when plied. It's soft, has a nice sheen, and was pretty nice to spin. Don't be surprised if I bring back more from Rhinebeck. Just sayin'.

Knit Club knitting helped get me to a finished Trellis back:

Trellis - back finished!

The shaping looks a little wonky (wide below 'pits, narrow after), but I know it's just the way it's designed, so I'm trusting.

I also combed the rest of the cormo with the pet comb, but I think I'll leave that for tomorrow. Time to peel myself from the desk and chair and melt somewhere else. Preferably in front of a fan.

Thanks for your nice comments about the spinning demonstration! I felt a little guilty as I was leaving my now-spinning niece, wondering when she's gonna want a wheel... sorry, sis!

I was driving home from work a couple of days ago, it was sunny and nice. The closer I got to home, the darker it got. Why? Trees, lotsa trees. I realized we need to cut down our neighbors trees so we can get more sunlight. (Not just for blog photos. Really.) Do you think they'd mind?

I threatened before to start taking fibery projects to work to photograph if I couldn't find any good sunlight at home. I finally did. Yesterday. When I left home it was sunny. Wouldn't you know: when I took my lunch break it was overcast; and when I went outside to take photos, it started to rain. Barely. Spitting. Taunting. As if the skies were laughing at me, mocking my futile attempts. Shortly after, it really rained.

Lucky for me Scott has a good view from where he works so he let me know when the sun came a-peeking. I ran outside and got a few photos (below).

If I were a glass-half-full kinda gal, maybe I would see the spitting as a gentle, nay, kind, warning of impending rain. If the skies had wanted to be spiteful, wouldn't they have opened a deluge on me, suddenly and without notice?

This weekend as I was leaving the house, I knocked over a glass-totally-full of orange juice. All over my spinning area. Luckily, only a few drops got on my wheel and most of my fiber was in bags. Still, plenty of fiber got sprayed, including a generous slosh on my newly washed cormo. It took an hour to clean the mess. When I was in high school I went through a period when, just as I was leaving home I'd guzzle down some orange juice and somehow spill it on my shirt. Off I'd go to change. The next day, the same. And the next. What is it with me and orange juice??

Hard won photos

Winterhaven Farm cormo

That's dyed cormo roving from Winterhaven Fiber Farm bought at MDSW. I had spun a sample of it back in May, but was not so happy with it. It was tough to draft evenly and had bits of veggie matter in there. I decided to be okay with irregular spinning, and the portions of roving that are on the inside of the ball are a little easier to spin, but the VM is still annoying. I pull out bits every foot or so of spinning and usually have to stop spinning to get them out. Not so fun.

Below is shetland from a fiber sampler I got in a swap, spun on the Joy. I'm keeping it low twist to keep the softness. When I'm home the Joy doesn't call to me so this bobbin may sit mateless for a while.

Shetland

I'm also working on some more rambouillet/silk from A Touch of Twist, also purchased at MDSW. Photo soon. I spun up a bobbin back in May (last photo). The prep is not conducive to regular smooth singles, so again I'm being okay with irregular spinning. Still loving this fiber, though.

I managed to get a little knitting done in NC. Almost at the armpits on Trellis:

Trellis - in progress

I wrote a draft of this at work, and, surprise, surprise, I lost the post. It's the skies. I know it's the skies. They're being spiteful! When I left work, it was raining. They knew I didn't bring an umbrella. As I drove home, it got progressively heavier until it was pouring when I got home. Scott came out with an umbrella for me (awwww), foiling their attempts to drown me. Now that I'm safe inside, no rain. Coincidence? Unlikely! In fact, I begin to suspect that the skies have something to do with the fact that my drum carder is not yet here! It's related, I tell you. I know it is, I just don't know how yet.

Tomorrow I'll show you the yarn I spun in NC. If the skies allow.