Two Left Needles

Knitting, spinning and dyeing
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Spa was, in a word, wonderful. But we're never satisfied with just a word, are we?

Here are a few highlights:

Anne met me at my house and had the dubious honor of being the second (fiber loving) person to see my yarn room. She didn't fall over from shock, a good sign. (There was plenty to pad her fall, if it did happen...) We talked shop for a while, and throughout the weekend - spinning, fiber, carding, wheels. As Anne says, we're geeks and we're happy that way!

Erin came by for a few hours Saturday and I got to hold PumpkinGirl! She's a sweetie, she is. Very easy going, relaxed, content, alert. She was a real joy to hold. At first I was a little nervous, having mostly only held my niece and nephew, and not knowing if she'd be okay with me. But we got along fine and dandy (Laurie has a photo here!). Naturally I couldn't help but think that it wouldn't be long before I'd be holding my own.

Living the quiet life, we don't see many people outside of work. It therefore tickled me pink to have so many people smiling at my belly and telling me how cute I looked pregnant. How could I not keep smiling?

I spun on Marcy's Alden Amos wheel. And drooled. And promptly made Anne go spin on it too. We're smitten. We're scheming.

Seeing Erin and Cheryl again was really cool because they're who I spent my first Spa with last year. I was remarking to Cheryl how much has changed in the last year, and how many more people we know! What an amazing year it's been.

Spending more time with people I've met, like Carole, Blogless Sharon, Judy, and Kim was wonderful; and meeting new folks, like Laurie, Cassie and Martita, was cool. Meeting someone face to face puts a different perspective on their blog, don't you think?

The Little Goober was very quiet from Thursday through Saturday: Thursday was massive cleaning; Friday was the drive up and early Spa mayhem; Saturday was regular Spa mayhem. Saturday night we got back to our hotel early and chilled out, and The Little Goober started dancing around again. I missed her. It was nice to have some quiet time and feel her moving around again.

At my last appointment, I had lost a pound. My doctor said I'm still on track, but she wants to see me gain weight at the next appointment (in 2 weeks!). (I tried all weekend to eat some ice cream, I'm sure Anne and Kate were getting sick of me mentioning it at every meal.) I ate SO MUCH this weekend (compared to usual) and definitely came home bigger. Even Scott, who resists my regular "don't you think I've grown again?" queries, was surprised when he saw me, and said, "my what a belly you have there." Let's hope the scales agree!

Those are just a few highlights; I couldn't possibly tell you much more than to say, Get thee to Spa next year! I did buy a few nice things, naturally. ;) I'll show them tomorrow.

Spa 2007

Spa 2007 Spa 2007

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.

Our supposed Nor'easter ended up being as much ice as snow:


It doesn't look like much, but it's heavy and icy and coming down fast. I hope we're able to get out of our driveway tomorrow.

I've hit third trimester tiredness. Over the weekend, despite getting lots of sleep, I felt like I needed a nap every 2 hours. I got a good amount of sleep last night and woke up refreshed minutes before my alarm went off, but by the time I got to work, I was ready for a nap. Hmph. I don't like going to bed early.

Trellis is taking a backseat to resurrected Re-Grow. Scott's been missing his sweater and has been reminding me more and more lately to get back to it. He's already missed 2 winter seasons with it, and he'll do his damnedest not to miss a third.

The sweater needed sleeves lengthened. Do they look like they need lengthening?

Re-Grow - in progress

Nope, technically not. But he likes his sleeves long.

The second attempt (blogged about in November 2005) produced the right length, but didn't work overall because the original ribbing and bind-off were too tight. This time I frogged the original sleeve back a few inches, reknit it looser, and then picked up stitches to knit the extra length. It looks better than this:

Re-Grow - in progress

but you get the idea.

Once the first sleeve was done, it was easy enough to rinse-repeat on the second. And it was done! Or so I thought. Once Scott tried it on, he wanted the bottom extended in the same way:

Re-Grow - in progress

That's a lot more stitches. I've been chugging away. He wants to wear it Friday. We'll see.

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!






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.

For Beth:

Diamond in the Rough - in progress

And again:

Diamond in the Rough - in progress

I love the subtle striping.

It's narrower than I expected, but blocking will take care of that. I'm not sure how much I want to block, probably just enough to make the pattern read. It's plenty big already, so no need to be aggressive.

There were 3 balls of yarn, and when switching to a new ball, I simply knit the two together for a few stitches, instead of doing a russian join. I figured the silk content might not felt so well. And I was lazy. I plan to either leave-as-is-and-snip-the-extra, or do-minor-weaving-in-of-ends post-blocking.

I weighed the shawl to determine when to begin decreasing. Good thing I went slightly conservative because this is all that's left:

Diamond in the Rough - in progress

There is one row with an unusual stitch that I just couldn't remember between sittings. Each time, I'd have to "think think think think think" and reverse engineer the stitch, only to forget it 1 or 2 weeks later. When I picked up the shawl again a couple of weeks ago, naturally I had forgotten again; after spending half an hour figuring it out again, I admitted how ridiculous the situation was. In lieu of carrying around a copy of the pattern, I tagged my shawl with the instructions:

Diamond in the Rough - in progress

And naturally, because I finished it in one breath, I didn't need it! The tag idea is super-handy, though, and I plan to use it. Again.

Your support was truly overwhelming and totally unexpected. The whole thing took me by surprise.

Just to clear up a few things:

  • I did read about the group back when and saw that several non-snark posts were unlocked. These tended to be "praise" type posts. Because the one linking to mine was locked, I guessed that mine was not such a one.
  • The group did not "leave a trail" on purpose. I would imagine that many people either do not have access to their website stats, do not understand them, or do not bother to check. I'm a geek, so I do check.

Okay, that out of the way:

I received comments from the folks who actually linked to me, and they unlocked the post. As it happens, it was a constructive discussion of the effects of different yarns on patterns in A Gathering of Lace and Folk Shawls. And, what was said about me:

Monica at Two Left Needles even made A Beginner's Triangle look exciting, but she hand-spun and dyed that yarn, so she's got an advantage.

Yeah. Not so snarky. Quite the opposite, in fact.

So, yeah, that spun my head a bit.

I truly appreciate everyone's support and the kind words that were said. (Also, it's been so nice to see people de-lurking recently! Hello!) You really cheered me up, enough that I finished knitting the shawl this weekend! (I know! Whoddathunk???) And, I appreciate the folks from the knitting_snark group for clearing up the misunderstanding. It did make me feel better, and I feel, well, almost foolish for all the wasted energy. I can't believe I stopped knitting the shawl over this!

Of course, it's all 20/20 hindsight. I hope, should something like this happen again, I'll just laugh it off.

But here's my suggestion to anyone in a secret snarky group:

If you're going to snark in secret, cover your tracks better. Instead of clicking links to people's websites, simply copy and paste the URL into your browser and hit enter. That way, no one will ever know! And what we don't know, won't hurt us.

And that's all I'm going to say about that. Onwards!

And now for something completely different

The little goober has switched from kicking and hopping, to wedging herself against some side or sides of me. I'll feel pressure and when I put my hand at the pressure point(s), I can feel what might be her head, her shoulders, her butt, just under the surface. She's favoring my right side, and I usually feel 3 pressure points: on the right side even with the belly button (my flattie), below and to the right of the flattie, and just to the left of the flattie.

It's not altogether comfortable.

She's also started hitting organs. Also not so comfortable.

I am officially entering the not-so-comfortable phase. I am finding that, with more sleep (and I do need more sleep), I am much more amused and much less irritated by the new phase.

It felt really good to pick up Norwegian Hat after 9 months and finish it! Actually, re-start and finish it, if you want to get technical... and actually, if we're getting technical, it is technically done, but may possibly be re-finished to fix the fit. But who's getting technical???

For my February UFO Resurrection project, I picked up the sad and lonely handspun shawl that was started (and dropped) last August:

handspun shawl - in progress

While I really like the yarn (soft 2-ply rambouillet/silk handspun), and I think it works well with the pattern to make a cosy everyday shawl, it was kinda boring to knit. Not only that, because I'm working wing to wing, the rows get longer and longer and ...

The other reason I neglected it was because my website traffic stats showed that it was being looked at by a group of snarky knitters. And that really upset me.

It seems silly to be so thin-skinned about it, especially when I don't know what was said. But at the time it really bothered me that there was a group of people gathered in secret with the intent of ridiculing other people's knits. It's so easy to criticize, mock and laugh at others' creations, and so much harder to do the creating. Just as it's so much more work to create a blog post, but only takes a moment to leave a harsh comment on someone else's.

I suppose it wouldn't have bothered me so much if I knew what was being said and who was saying it. Maybe I would have agreed with some of the points. But to do it in secret while leaving a "traffic trail" so I knew I was being targeted ... not so cool.

Anyway, I got over it.

I made a lot of progress in the last week, especially during a day-long Microsoft event:

Diamond in the Rough - in progress

and now that I've hit the widest point and have started decreasing, it's going fairly quickly! My goal is to have it finished in time for Spa.

Sunday we got a dusting of snow. We saw a couple of birds playing in the bushes, with one trying to fly into our (closed) window. Silly bird. When we left to visit Gram, our front porch looked like this:

bird dance

It's like one of those crazy diagrams teaching you how to dance, complete with complicated moves:

bird dance

and wing sweeps only for the birds:

bird dance

when turkeys fly

About a week ago, before the frigid temperatures hit, I saw a turkey on my way to work. I had been worried about them, not having seen them since before Thanksgiving, though Scott said he saw them a few times since then.

Last time we saw them, they were congregated in our yard, 20+ strong. I think it was a convention, or a pre-mating opening ceremony:

when turkeys fly

I had just pulled into our driveway and hurriedly grabbed my camera and called Scott. He circled 'round the back of the house and casually walked towards them so they'd fly between us:

when turkeys fly

when turkeys fly

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.

It's hard to tell my size from this outfit:

Week 27

Don't mind the dorky smile. Scott says, "Smile" and silly me, I smile. Man, my hair is getting long.

I look really round from here, hunh:

Week 27

And I was worried she didn't have enough room in there. Seriously. I think she's fine.

I think the top line zags to my left because I always sleep on my left. Did you notice how clean my belly button is? Pristine clean.

And from this particular angle (and possibly only this angle and not if I've eaten too much), I look like an outie:

Week 27

Hands for perspective:

Week 27

Getting bigger.

Norwegian hat is done! For now. I'm not 100% sure on the lining, but I figure I'll wear it for a while and see how I feel. (I do like wearing it.) Photos when I can combine Scott, sunlight and me with hat.

I want to do a post but I'm not feeling very post-y. Know what I mean? I've been fighting off a cold the last several days and I'll be heading to bed early again today to ward it off.

The little goober gave me a scare last week. She's been very active throughout my workday for the last couple of weeks, and without warning, went into seeming hibernation for several days. That and a couple of other things panicked me so off to the doctor we went, Scott driving and consoling, me crying. Everything is fine, everything checks out, and naturally, as soon as I was back in the office, she started moving around again. I'm sure an ultrasound would have revealed an innocent look on her face. I'm back to trying not to worry about things I can't control, and she's back to bopping around to her own drummer.

There has been some spinning, but I'm not up to talking about it. Here's a peak, though:

Crosspatch Creations
Crosspatch Creations batts spun up

What I can show you without much talk is some fiber that's joined the flock in the last couple of months.

From The Fiber Denn, some lovely finn and merino (8 oz ea):

Fiber Denn finn in Blue Fescue Fiber Denn merino in Poppy
I want to eat up those blues

From Hello Yarn, gorgeous merino/silk (4 oz ea):

Hello Yarn merino/silk Plush and Lavish
my photos don't do the colors justice, though Adrian's photos are quite good

And from Alpaca Direct some Ashland Bay multi-colored merino (found them via Google Checkout promo) in Sandalwood (2 lbs) and Sapphire (4 oz):

Ashland Bay multi merino in Sandalwood Ashland Bay multi merino in Sapphire

All happy shopping experiences. Yum yum.

After several attempts and Pooh bear style thinking, I finally got a crown that works and that I like:

Norwegian hat - in progress
stretched over a CD case

Onto the lining!

Today would have been the perfect day to wear either pair of socks. This winter has been so mild that hand knit socks just haven't been in my head. On autopilot, I sailed out of the house in the usual black cotton socks. And my feet were COLD. Twenty minutes in a toasty work environment and they were STILL cold.

All winter my office stays warm. Overwarm. Most of my handknits don't get worn because I'd be sweating bullets by noon. In fact, these days, I usually have to take my socks off mid-afternoon because they get too warm. Not today. Today was a good handknit-sock-wearing day.


I joined me some knitalongs for the New Year. First, Stranded: The Colorwork Challenge:

Silly me, I was on the lookout for a repeat of MJ's Norwegian Knits-Along from last year and it took a while for me to realize Stranded is Norwegian Knits-Along (on steroids).

Second, I joined the 2007 UFO Resurrection:

Now, usually I wouldn't join something like this because the pressure is too great. I'm weak. I lack KAL stamina. However, I really want to whittle my WIP list further. Last year I downsized from 67 to 24 WIP's during my WIP Management campaign. I know. 67 WIP's. Doesn't it make you feel faint? I managed that in just over 6 months. My next goal is to get (and stay) within the 12-18 WIP's range. It's totally do-able. And it's something I want to accomplish. With the UFO Resurrection challenge, I have a whole year to wipe out some old knits.

To get things started right, I picked up the Norwegian Hat I started last April at the end of the Norwegian Knits-Along. Here's where it was:

Oh hat - in progress

It's basically the Bea Ellis Ufserud (modeled after MJ's) with modifications and knit at a finer gauge. I didn't want to buy the kit, so I had reverse engineered the pattern, adjusted for gauge, and added side panel details to make my stitch count work out. After a good evening's knit it looked like this:

Norwegian hat - in progress

I had been working on bamboo dpn's but they were aggravating the hell out of me. So I switched to Addi circs and Ahhhhhh. My stitches evened out and I settled into a good rhythm.

Unfortunately, when I transferred to 2 circs and tried the hat on, it was tight. Tight enough that I knew it would be uncomfortable. Tight enough that it wouldn't stretch with wear.

So I left it on the needles and cast on again. This time I noodled and adjusted the pattern for more stitches and knit an inch and a half before trying it on. Too LOOSE! Too many stitches and looser knitting.

You see, it all makes sense. I blithely laughed at Anne's misfortunes the other day, and in the back of my head, I knew the knitting gods would smite me. They did. Boy did they.

I frogged back. After many calculations, I decided to try my luck with what I had before, hoping that my looser knitting would compensate enough for it to be wearable. It did. Just. Enough.

Norwegian hat - in progress

I was quite excited to be almost binding off last night, I never imagined it would go so quickly!

Norwegian hat - in progress

And then I realized today at lunch that I was knitting on crack. While I really liked the way the decreases don't disrupt the pattern:

Norwegian hat - in progress

I found no less than 3 mistakes in the side panels post-decreases:

Norwegian hat - in progress
too many rows

Norwegian hat - in progress
what was I smoking???

Norwegian hat - in progress
too many rows

It's pretty funny. Only 1 panel was fine.

I'll frog back and pay a little more attention, finish it up right. I'm not sure how those side panels ought to meet up yet (at the top), but I'll figure something out.

Meanwhile, there is one mistake I'm not bothering to correct:

Norwegian hat - in progress

Da-Dum. Da-Dum. Da-Dum Da-Dum Da-Dum Da-Dum Da-Duuuuuuuuuuummmmm...

Pink Panther

Pink Panther
Finished: 1/13/07
Pattern: basic toe up with short row heel
Yarn: Kona superwash dyed as knit blanks
Needles: #3
Notes: Let's not talk about how long it took me to knit these socks (a little more than 7 months) or the number of times I reknit the heels (3 on one, 2 on the other). It's better that way (for all involved).

Pink Panther

This was a fun project, from dyeing the yarn to discovering the speckly color transitions when knit. In hindsight, it's a lot of work for a pair of socks; at the time, the dyeing was a cool experiment, a "what if". Honestly, when I began knitting and saw how the striping/speckling was coming out, my curiosity was satisfied. (This probably had something to do with the 7 months it took to finish them.)

It was the first time I made an effort to change the yarn sequence at the heels, and it was worth it.

Pink Panther

I used the extra heel yarn to finish off the tops so there's very little left over. Because the yarn was dyed as knit blanks, the yarn was crinkly, and the socks need a soak to smooth out the texture.

Pink Panther

They're a little roomy at the ankles, so maybe in the future I should decrease a couple of stitches there. Or not. Overall I'm very happy with how they came out, and even happier that they're DONE! AND, officially, they're my first finished object of 2007. Heh.

And for the first finished object started and ended in 2007:


Finished: 1/13/07
Pattern: basic toe up with short row heel and double seed stitch pattern
Yarn: Kona Superwash dyed in blues and purples
Needles: #3
Notes: I finished knitting the Pink Panther socks while traveling and immediately cast on for these socks. The impetus: seeing how the yarn I dyed would knit up. I was surprised that it spiraled so nicely.


I wanted a textured stitch to play with the changing colors, to give them more depth/dimension, but nothing complicated because the colors would obscure a lot of patterning. So I chose double seed stitch and named the socks for the "pebble-y" texture.

This is the first time I continued stockinette stitch on the back of the heel on a patterned sock, and I like how it affects fit. Next time I'll add an inch instead of half. They're shorter than most socks I knit, but I wanted to knit it with the one skein, and apparently, I dyed smaller skeins. It's a good length, though; high enough to keep my ankles warm without needing to fold down.

I really like these socks, the colors make me happy, and there's something special in knowing I dyed the yarn (even more than with the Pink Panther socks, couldn't put into words why; maybe because Pink Panther dyeing was more of an intellectual/technical experiment, where this one was done whimsically, intuitively, with luck thrown in for good measure). I've been a lot more hesitant to dye yarn than fiber because there is less wriggle room with yarn. With fiber, if it doesn't come out the way you want, there are many ways of spinning to compensate. With yarn, Game Over. I think I'll always be more comfortable with dyeing fiber for that reason.