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?)

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

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

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

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

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

Snow

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

Freshly washed handspun

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

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

Winter sky

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

And for Twisted Knitters:

Lagoon - all spun up!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Diamond in the Rough - blocking

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

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

I finished off 2 oz of the Lagoon superfine merino:

Lagoon - halfway there!

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

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

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

Clapotis - started!

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

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

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

I've been wearing Norwegian Hat for a week and still haven't decided if I'm going to redo the lining. It's a little tighter than I'd like, but it sure is warm and all sewn up and stuff. I know I'll feel marginally better about the fit if I re-did the lining. But it's a lot of work for marginally feeling better, y'know?

I took a page from Ms Hello Yarn for the lining and used up some 4-ply DK cashmere I had leftover from my birthday scarf.

I guessed on the number of stitches I wanted for the lining, and after picking up stitches from the provisional cast on, decreased accordingly. The yarn is a similar weight to the Jaeger I used for the hat, maybe a hair heavier; if I had used a lighter weight yarn, I'd have less bulk issues, and therefore a looser fit. But it's so purty:

Norwegian hat - sewing in the lining

and though no one else can see it, it does match my scarf:

My Birthday Scarf

Too short a lining made the bulk more noticeable. I put the stitches onto waste yarn several times to test the look and fit and decided on a good sized lining. After pinning it into place, I basically kitchenered to a row of knitting using black JaggerSpun Zephyr.

Norwegian hat - sewing in the lining

I kept the kitchener stitches loose because I didn't want the point-of-kitchenering to pucker the row, but after the fact I realized they were too loose, so the purl row folding edge is not perfectly at the folding edge, if ya know what I mean. I could go stitch by stitch and tighten it up.

Off the head, the row does look a little puckered:

Norwegian hat

But on the head, it's not at all noticeable.

There is zero itch factor with the cashmere, and the hat really keeps my head toasty, even with the frigid temperatures we had last week. Because it's tighter than I would prefer, it does flatten my hair a bit. Again, I haven't figured out if I will make any changes. But... considering how much effort I put into this hat, perhaps it's worth re-doing?

If I did make changes, I'd reknit the lining entirely and with fewer decreases, therefore having slightly more stretch to the hat. If I were really serious about it, I'd switch to a lighter weight cashmere so there'd be less bulk to boot. But I don't have anything nearly as pretty lying around.

Maybe another week will decide it.

Meanwhile, here's my current Twisted Knitters project:

Lagoon on the Schacht
colors not quite accurate

It's the superfine merino I dyed a few weeks back and started spindling. I'm not a big spindler since the wheel, so if I'm going to get anywhere with Twisted Knitters, it's gotta be on the wheel. I'm not quite happy with how my Schacht is handling laceweight (it hiccups and tugs on the fiber supply) but I'll make it through this batch.

Happy Friday! These 2 day work weeks are the worst, aren't they? I'm pooped.

Scott got me a video iPod for New Year's:

Welcome to the podcast generation, baybee!
Welcome to the podcast generation, baybee!

I've been wanting something like this for a couple of years, but have been waiting for prices to go down, or technology to settle, or hard drive space to increase. It was worth the wait. I lurv it!

Pebbles sock yarn

I didn't mention the yarn I had dyed back in August because I was afraid it would look like crap. Pretty lame, hunh? It was dyed in the roaster without measuring anything (shocking!):

blues and purples

I just kept adding dyes until I liked what I saw, or couldn't improve what I had with more dyes. The good thing about Kona - it's superwash. Poking and prodding to get the dyes to migrate does not felt the yarn. 

Due to how I put the skeins in the roaster, I ended up with three skeins, two alike:

blues and purples

Here they are dry:

blues and purples

And wound:

blues and purples

The white was unexpected. The dyes didn't settle to the bottom as much as I expected/hoped. I've had this happen more than once. In this case, I think it adds a nice accent to the yarn. But in general, I'd like to have more control over it. Methinks if I adds more water for the yarn/fiber to swim, that would help.

On the topic of baby knitting

Nothing started yet, though I bought some GGH Java in 2 shades of peach and white from Little Knits to make a little blanket. I knit a tank top from Java a couple of years ago and really liked the sproinginess of the cotton. I'm thinking alphabet squares or something along those lines.

I also have some Debbie Bliss Cotton DK (also from Little Knits) earmarked for another Debbie Bliss knit, but I haven't picked it out or started it yet. There's some irrational part of my brain thinking, "I've got time." Could be related to the fact that it's knitting with COTTON, for gosh sakes (see? cleaning up the language around here, there's a baby due, donchaknow). I did feel guilty after saying I wouldn't knit something fancy for my wee one. You know I would, right? Eventually? Just gotta find the right project.

Dyeing

Beth asked if I'm "allowed" to dye while I'm pregnant. As far as I understand, some dyeing is fine, provided you're taking the usual precautions (dust mask for dye powder, gloves, etc). I did feel a distinct desire NOT to dye during the first trimester, despite being in the middle of dyeing up batches of corriedale for the carder. I followed my instinct and found other things to do (not hard around here). And then I was too pooped to do much of anything.

Recently I did get the urge to throw color on fiber, so I took advantage! My dyes are already mixed into solutions, so I didn't have to deal with dye powders. I threw a whack of finn and romney in the roaster, about a pound and a half total, and threw some dyes on. (Why yes, I did make calculations and measure dyes, so I'm just being glib.)

Luck of the dyepot
layer 1

3 hours in the roaster at 250 did the job. No bubbling or boiling.

I was definitely going for particular results, and I definitely did not achieve them. I wanted rusty reds to appear, and they didn't. Instead, I got a lot of nice greens reminiscent of the primaries dyepot batch. I shoulda had an idea of how it would come out once I added the water:

Luck of the dyepot

But really, by then, it was already too late (4 layers of fiber in there).

Luck of the dyepot
left: 8 oz romney; right: 1 lb finn

No worries, I'll try again and change my tactics. And I am curious to see how it spins up.

At the same time, I tried out my new electric skillet that I bought at Home Depot:

Dyeing in an electric skillet
4 oz superfine merino

I lurv lurv lurv the colors!

Superfine merino in Lagoon

Too much fiber and not enough water meant the dyes didn't penetrate to the lower areas without a bunch of jostling with a chopstick, so the fiber did felt a bit. Lesson learned. (Maybe.)

I spun up a sample on the wheel and lurv it:

Lagoon sample wheel spun

enough to bring to NC and spindle it:

Lagoon on the spindle

Lagoon on the spindle

This may be part of my Twisted Knitters project, but (good grief) I'm STILL undecided.

I loved reading your comments when I got home, it was a gift and I thank you.

The weekend was not what I expected, and then it was. There was no reminiscing, as we, as a growing family, have not figured out how to have group adult conversation time when the kids are around (especially during meals). But there was lots of family time, good food, and good memories. I was glad to be there for my mom and to just. be.

The family

The memorial ceremony took me a bit by surprise. I missed the end so I'm not sure if anything was said, but the main part was the offering of incense during morning prayer. After my mom, dad and the rest of the family offered incense, other people offered incense, and before they returned to their seats, bowed to mom to pay their respects. It moved me, and I didn't expect it. It was fitting, and right, and brought a kind of closure I didn't expect. I left the weekend knowing my grandmother was gone. Not forgotten, and definitely missed. But gone.

There were lots of good eats, and I think my belly grew another inch or two:

All grown up
taken by my niece; our heads aren't chopped off!

The photo is shocking, it can't possibly be real. Can I really be that big??

We were walking off an amazing Chinese lunch that I hope we repeat. The little goober is taking up valuable stomach real estate in my belly, but I ate as if I were only 6 weeks pregnant.

Walking - 1

Walking - 2

Walking - 3

Skipping rocks
my dad teaching my niece to skip rocks

Wheeee!
oh, to be little again!

My nephew is adorable, we hit it off right away. Last time I saw him he was just starting to walk. He's a little monkey, a real Curious George; and he's so innocent and good natured that it's impossible to be mad at him. But boy, he has non-stop-on-the-go energy. Non. Stop.

Emerging from under the table  Hi!

My niece and nephew  After a granola bar

Sleeping
uncharacteristically still

At the airport on the way to DC, I spent an hour spindling. I have been a slacker Twisted Knitter, and haven't known what to dye, spin or knit. I found my project:

Chasing Rainbows Cashmere/silk

I love the colors, rich browns, earthy (photo is a little muted, see link below). It's the Chasing Rainbows Dyeworks cashmere/silk I bought at MDSW that I've been waiting to use. I've been trying to get the wheel up to (laceweight) speed and haven't wanted to waste the cashmere/silk until I had it running reasonably smoothly. But now that I've started it on my new Forrester spindle (and my, does she spin),

Forrester lightweight spindle

it seems the right way to go. I only have 2 oz so I'm spinning quite fine. I'm hoping to make a lacy scarf.

I also tried to work on the pink panther socks (remember those?), just to get them DONE and off my list; but I decided the broken striping after the heel just wasn't working for me. I'm usually a "let it be" knitter, and don't worry about such things. But in this case, it seemed strange to interrupt the striping:

Pink Panther socks, in progress

I also brought a few lace pattern books with me so my mom could pick out a pattern for her lace shawl. She wants something in black to cover up her shoulders when she dresses up. After I got over the "knitting with itty bitty black yarn" bit, I bought a cone of ebony Zephyr. My mom picked out a simple rectangular shawl from Folk Shawls and now I have no excuse not to get started! Once The Project is done (dang those buttons), I've promised to give Scott some knitty love. Then, swatching!

Phew, phew and Phew. It's good to be home, I missed my honey.

For the past week or so I haven't felt like spinning, knitting or dyeing. And when I don't feel like spinning, knitting or dyeing, you can bet I don't feel like blogging about not spinning, knitting, or dyeing, either.

Life Chez 2LN is a little weird right now. Well, clearly, given the above.

Scott is taking 2 classes on top of a full time job, and that is changing our schedule and energy levels quite a bit. He's in class two nights a week, and tired tired tired from all that reading, writing, and 'rithmetic. I've been helping with papers and generally trying to be supportive, but I've also been tired tired tired from who knows what. Maybe I've got something. When you'd rather sleep than spin, knit or dye, you MUST be sick, right?

It could be the weather, Fall melancholy, global warming. It's hard to say.

Actually, my Fall funk is not so bad now. Maryse brought up a good point. She lives not far from me and also used to live nearer Boston. She said that Fall hits sooner here, even though we're only 26 miles away. Something about Boston and warming ocean waters. I have noticed that every time I go into Boston, it seems at least 5-10 degrees warmer. As far back as the alpaca spin-in, I remember thinking, wow, it still feels like summer here! Ditto for the Knit Out last week. We've lived here 3 years, but this is our first Fall not commuting into Boston, and therefore not experiencing Fall through Boston. Somehow, just knowing this has helped me accept it.

Okay, let's throw in a picture or two:

Navajo-plied Sunfires

That's what I finished up at the alpaca spin-in. The first bobbin was spun months ago, and I didn't keep a sample to work from, so the second skein is clearly skinnier than the first:

Navajo-plied Sunfires, closeup

Oh well. It's very soft and squishy Navajo-plied superwash merino, dyed and spun to be self-striping, from yellows to deep red and back. I was thinking socks, but I haven't been so good with finishing socks lately. Any suggestions? It's 4 oz of DK to fingering weight.

I also let it soak too long when setting the twist, so the little bit of color that bled warmed up the yellows. Oh well. No big deal.

There have been some fibery activities in the past week. I did go to the BASD meeting last week and had a good time. It was "show and tell" after a summer of not meeting, and it really struck me how much knitting with your own handspun is taken for granted among the members. I mean, sure, that's to be expected, right? They've been spinning for years and years and years, surely they're doing something with that handspun? But seeing just about everyone there making something or other with handspun was just such a breath of fresh air. So encouraging.

Saturday morning I went to the Fabric Place Knitters Breakfast. I was sure my luck would change this time. Third time's the charm. Well, in a way it was true. I had gone up at the beginning to show my handspun shawl-in-progress (they were giving out freebies, I was determined to get something; I got a pattern pamphlet I'll never use). After a long presentation from Berroco, they called out one round of numbers. I didn't get called. I had to leave. BUT. A friend of someone in my monthly Knit Club group won The Magic of Handweaving

and didn't want it, and kindly gave it to me! So, as usual, I didn't win anything; but I did walk away with a nice gift!

I left early to meet up with Pixie, who had flown up for a wedding. We had a really great time! She has a better description on her blog but I have the same picture:

Me n Pixie

As she said, she and I geeked out on fiber talk, and our husbands geeked out on computer and game talk. We're all BSG fans, so we knew we'd get along. ;)

Speaking of BSG, school is getting in the way of watching Season 2 episodes. We're halfway into Season 2.0. We'll just have to TiVo until we catch up. All you BSG-ers who ARE caught up: don't tell me what happens!

I am expecting to shake this funk soon. I've joined Margene and the Twisted Knitters:

and I'll be dyeing, spinning, and knitting something or other over the next several months. Reminds me of the Knitting Olympics, sans stress. I may call on you for opinions on a suitable project.

I also joined up with Carole and the Lonesome Skein folks today:

because I've got skeins, and I need to knit gifts. Do you?

I'll be leaving for Rhinebeck in just over 2 weeks! I can't wait! I will be really bummed if my mojo hasn't returned by then. Then, again, maybe my wallet (and Scott) will thank me?

If you're going, you can find me on Stitchy's Rhinebeck Bingo cards:

I'm so square.

If my mojo doesn't return soon, it may be quiet 'round here. But, my spinnaversary is Sunday, so I'll at least have a contest or something then.