Two Left Needles

Knitting, spinning and dyeing
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Still big and round here. And still gaining weight!

Ze Clapotis, she ees blocked:

Clapotis - blocking

Isn't the striping cool from afar?

Clapotis - blocking

The Artyarns Supermerino socks are in a baggy waiting for labor. (My sister helped me to realize that planning projects (plural) to take to the hospital really didn't make sense. But we did reason that taking one project was OK. Just in case.)

The Ribby Cardi I resurrected had the back done. In the last week I've added the two fronts and 2/3 of each sleeve to the pile. I'm making adjustments for row gauge, and I'm not sure how my modifications will work out. I may block what I have of the sleeves to see how the to-armpit length looks.

I'm getting really bored knitting it so monogamously, though. I sooooo want to start knitting a summer top! And all the tops I have in mind need this baby to pop so I have an idea of fit.

So I started another pair of socks, Grumperina's Jaywalkers with the Lorna's Laces Amethyst Stripe. And, color me clueless, but it never occurred to me that Amethyst Stripe would, like, totally stripe.

No photos of those projects, so...

The yarn, it is taunting me

Besides what I bought from Knit Happens' crazy sale, I partook in Yarnzilla's sale and got some goodies. Some Rowan Damask for the little wrappy-do in the lastest Rowan magazine:

Rowan Damask

More Calmer, in Garnet, enough for a top for me! Summer Tweed for something for Scott.

Claudia Handpainted sock yarn:

Claudia Handpainted

and a few skeins of Koigu:

Koigu KPPPM

Mmmmm, Koigu:

Koigu KPPPM

I've not bought so much sock yarn before. Or currently selling yarns for actual projects (never mind Rowan yarns). There are actual current patterns available for these yarns! I'm so used to buying rag-tag and willy-nilly from sales, or getting full bags from discontinued lines; and then casting about for patterns that might work with the yarns. Inevitably, buying yarns without project plans (or ideas, at the very least) leads to yarns sitting around, marinating, waiting for "inspiration" to hit. This is quite a new feeling. It's exciting!

And the sock yarn thing, also new. I've not been much of a sock knitter, especially for fingering weight sock yarns. Finishing the Fleece Artist Summer Anklets did something to me. I always thought knitting socks on #1's or #0's was a bit on the insane side, something that would drive me batty. The Fleece Artist anklets were knit on 2.5mm Addi's. Which, I didn't realize, are effectively #1's. I did it without realizing! So I'm a little less intimidated/daunted now.

(Not to mention, knitting socks SO does not depend on my belly.)

Here's more proof:

Artyarns Ultramerino 4

Artyarns Ultramerino 4 from a sale at Sarah's Yarns (sorry, she's all sold out). I LOVE the colors of the middle skeins. Can't wait.

And I'm officially all budget-monied out. For a while. Quite. A while.

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!

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 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?)

Warning: photo heavy post

Spunky Eclectic

At the end of December I took advantage of Spunky Eclectic's 99 cent shipping sale and ordered me some yummies:

Spunky Eclectic Superwash Merino in Toronto
Superwash Merino in Toronto; how could I not buy fiber named after my hometown???

Spunky Eclectic Merino in Boogie Woogie
Merino in Boogie Woogie

Spunky Eclectic BFL in Kites
Blue Faced Leicester in Kites

Some months ago I lamented that there were some handdyed fibers that I really wanted to try, including Hello Yarn, Spunky Eclectic, and Lisa Souza. After posting, I realized that, instead of lamenting, I should just save up my budget money and get some! Since then I've picked up some of Adrian's merino/silk, and now Amy's stuff -- 2 down, 1 to go!

At Spa I spun up 4 oz of the Kites BFL and plied when I got home. While pre-drafting, the colors looked much softer and more muted than in the dyed top, but when you compare the fiber to the handspun, they translate well. I love spinning BFL, soft and bouncy with a nice hand. The yarn feels the same:

Spunky Eclectic - 2-ply
Yummy! Wish you could feel it.

I spun with the intention of making socks and I'm curious to see how it stripes. 304 yards should be plenty for me.

Crosspatch Creations

In January I finished spinning up the two Crosspatch Creations batts I bought at Rhinebeck. Here they are post-wash:

Crosspatch Creations - 2-ply
286 yards

Crosspatch Creations - 2-ply
342 yards

I used tepid water because of the silk content, but there was still some dye run-off in the red-magenta skein in both the wash and rinse. I'm not sure if it affected the final colors/look, however.

These were fun to spin, a break from much of the "spinning for consistency" I do. I did try to have an overall consistent "core", while allowing the lumps and bumps to form as they would. To be honest, I did limit the size of the lumps and tried to distribute the bumps so they weren't all in a row. It wasn't all willy-nilly. But that doesn't surprise you.

For a yarn of this type, the proof is really in the knitting, don't you think? You don't know what you have until you knit it up. Wouldn't the red-magenta handspun make a nice hat?

The batts were fairly easy to spin from, as well. I pulled off strips and did a little pre-drafting before spinning. The lumps and bumps occasionally got separated out from the rest of the fibers, but for the most part, they stayed fairly well distributed.

Next up, Calico Cat!

Calico Cat was last seen as singles on new WooLee Winder bobbins back in December. (You can see the dyed fiber here.) Now it's yarn!

Calico Cat - 2-ply

I ran into a problem with my WooLee Winder. For some reason, the twist was not translating from the last hook onto the bobbin! Very frustrating and confusing. There was plenty of twist in the yarn going to the last hook, but between the last hook and the bobbin, there was only half as much twist. I couldn't see why this should be! Of course, I didn't realize this until I had finished spinning almost 8 oz and started plying. In the end, I pulled off what I had already plied and ran it through again to add more twist; and for the unplied portion, once I had the amount of twist I wanted, I super-quickly let it jump onto the bobbin so that it sailed past that last hook. Not so fun, and not good for consistency, but more twist.

In the process, I realized the singles had also been spun with less twist than I expected, so the resultant yarn, as a whole, was not what I had envisioned. Not as bouncy or "tight". Also, much less consistent and a little overplied to compensate. Still, the yarn is soft, and I do love the colors:

Calico Cat - 2-ply

Calico Cat - 2-ply

Calico Cat - 2-ply

The jumbo skein is 5.7 oz and 536 yards, which is more than would have fit on a regular Schacht bobbin! I have a second, smaller skein which is 1.5 oz and 142 yards. No plans for it yet.

I emailed Nathan at WooLee Winder a couple of times about the problem, but then saw on one of the lists I'm on that he's been pretty busy, and calling is the way to go. I described the problem, and he was as boggled as I was. In the end, he said to try it again without the WW and if that eliminated the problem, to send it back to him. He was really nice about it. I think I'll give it one more go on the WW and then off the WW to make sure. I dunno, I feel bad just sending it back. At the same time, I want it to work! Hehe. The only problem is, when I'm home with my Schacht, I don't want to spin on the Joy. ;)

Corriedale

Last up, some Corriedale 2-ply:

Corriedale - 2-ply

It fluffed up quite a bit after washing and whacking.

I bought this Corriedale from someone reducing their stash about a year ago, and wasn't crazy about it. It had some short pieces in there that caused bumps in my singles, and it didn't draft nicely. It was so long ago, though, that I'm not sure how much pre-drafting I did. But I imagine that the top had become compressed over time.

Anyway, it was another case of, "what do I have to lose?" I ran it through the carder, which took out some of the longer, coarser hairs/fibers, as well as some of the short pieces and a little VM. It also made a nice airy preparation that was easy to spin from. There were still some bumps because of the shorter pieces, but it wasn't as bad. It was a good way to revive the fiber. I still have about a pound of it, but I'm not a big fan of spinning natural colored fiber. :P

Clapotis progress

I've added a few rows here and there to the Silk Garden Lite Clapotis:

Clapotis - in progress

Clapotis - in progress

After knitting, I end up with bits and bobs of hay on my lap. Not crazy about that. But I'm still loving the colors. I'm almost done with the first skein and the first section of the pattern, which means it should be pretty easy to ballpark when to end the sharf/scawl. I'm still optimistic that this will be the one Clapotis I do finish.

PS

Thanks for your kind words about Gram. I wish it could be easier, but it can't. It's Life.

On a brighter note, the doctor's appointment went fine, and I gained -- wait for it -- 7 pounds. In 2 weeks. Holy crap! And I was worried I might not gain 1 pound!!! It's a bit scary, that I can bulk up that fast. In addition to eating more, I added ice cream into my daily diet. Now that I know what it takes, I can back off some of the food and ice cream and eat a more comfortable amount.

[To be fair, my stomach was fairly empty before the last appointment; I could have easily added 2 pounds, between food and water. Today, I made sure to eat a good breakfast (and Ben & Jerry's ice cream; I love me some Cherry Garcia) and drink puh-lenty of fluids before the weigh-in. So really, we're talking about 5 pounds in 2 weeks. (Which still seems like a lot...)]

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.