Tuesday, April 15, 2014

So Long, Farewell

We are off to Disney World in just a few hours, and I have one sock on the needles and two more skeins of sock yarn in my suitcase (I threw in an extra in case of an emergency). I doubt I will be posting again before we're back, so see you on the flip side!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Au Naturel

As much as I love spinning dyed fiber, there is something to be said about the simple elegance of naturally colored wool. My latest is chocolatey brown Jacob that I bought at MDSW last year. I split it in thirds and spun it up into a three-ply worsted weight.

I ended up with about 191.5 yards -- not my best, but decent. I'm planning on spinning the other 4 oz. I have (in a lighter color) to match, so they should work well for a pair of mittens and a hat or somesuch.

This yarn definitely isn't soft enough to wear next to my skin anywhere other than my hands. But it's rustic and wooly and sheepy and I love it.

The blog is going to be pretty quiet this coming week; we are taking Rainbow on her first trip to Disney World, and while I'm bringing some knitting with me, I doubt I'll have much time or energy to blog about it. I promise to catch you up on everything when we're back next weekend. In the meantime, I hope spring has sprung (if you're in the Northern Hemisphere) and you're enjoying the extra sunshine.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

All About Feet

It's been a crazy week. Work has been really busy, both because it's a busy time of year and because I'm preparing to be off most of next week and have been trying to wrap up some big projects. On top of that, I've been getting stuff ready for next week, when we're taking Rainbow on her first trip to Disney World. We haven't told her yet (we're waiting to tell her to make it as big a surprise as possible), so all the planning ahead that I've needed to do has had to be done after I get her to sleep.

In any case, all of this has meant limited knitting time and absolutely no spinning time since this weekend. I've done a little bit more on the lace you saw in my last post, but the only real knitting I've gotten done has been during my lunch breaks at work. I finished my STR socks:

These aren't anything terribly exciting -- just a knit/purl pattern. I wanted something a little different from a plain stockinette sock, and I thought the texture would help to break up the pooling a bit.

Almost as soon as these were done, I cast on for the next pair. These are in the four-ply handspun from my first Fat Cat Knits fiber club shipment. I'm sticking with a ribbed cuff and a plain stockinette sock for these, though I'm going to try something a little different for the heel and gusset.

As always, knitting with handspun is a real treat. I'm actually a little surprised at how thin the yarn is (though it's probably not as thin as I think and it may just be a trick of the eye after working with STR, which is on the thick side of sock yarn). So far, the color hasn't changed all that much, but I'm looking forward to seeing how the color changes in the four plies translate into knit fabric.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

A Moment of Panic

About a year ago, I took a class at my LYS with Kirsten Kapur on lace design. I did some charting in the weeks that followed and even bought a skein of sock yarn for the intended design but never got around to knitting it. Last night, I decided the time was right. I pulled out my chart, the yarn, and a pair of needles and got to work.

About 20 or so rows in, though, I discovered a spot in the yarn where most of the strand appeared to be broken or cut. I didn't think much of it (I tinked back to the beginning of the row, broke the yarn at the weak spot, and carried on, planning to weave in the ends later) until I looked at the yarn cake and saw what appeared to be several strands that were in the same condition. Immediately, I panicked a bit. While a single cut could have been a fluke -- the yarn could have caught on something or been inadvertently snipped when I was cutting off the ties to wind it -- several breaks in the same spot suggested that something had been nibbling on it.

Fortunately, the dreaded spot was isolated to one spot near the outside of the cake and I was able to wind off the affected yarn and carry on. I'm also lucky that this yarn (Done Roving Yarns Frolicking Feet) comes in a very generous 480 yards per skein. I weighed everything and what was left after I pulled off the nibbled part, and it appears I still have a good 450 yards, which should be enough for this shawlette.

I also immediately inspected the other yarn that was in the same bag as this skein and put it into Ziploc bags. I didn't see any damage to any other skeins, and it's possible that this particular skein was attacked when it was sitting out on the radiator in my bedroom for several months (I had hoped that seeing it every day would inspire me to get moving with the design). I'll admit that I'm perhaps not as proactive as I could be in keeping my yarn inaccessible to things that like to nibble on it, but I've been lucky thus far. Here's hoping that my luck continues.

In the meantime, I've made a bit of a start on the second attempt at the shawl, and it's working out lovely so far. My (perhaps overambitious) goal is to have this done to wear it to MDSW, though that might be pushing it considering that we'll be away for much of next week and it will not be a trip that's conducive to lace knitting!

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Keeping It Simple

After not touching my wheel for about a week, I've spent probably five hours at it this weekend. I think I mentioned that I've been trying to spin up the fiber I bought at MDSW last year before it's time to go again this year. At the top of that list is the 8 oz. of naturally colored Jacob (4 oz. in two different shades). I started with the chocolate brown, splitting it into thirds and spinning each third onto its own bobbin. This was really a quick and dirty spin -- I spun it pretty quickly, without worrying too much about consistency. As a result, the singles are a bit lumpy bumpy, but I think they'll even out a bit after plying.

I really like how rustic these these singles are, both because of the bits of VM (most of which I'm pulling out) and the slightly heathered look from variations in the fiber color.

I'm thinking that this should ply up to a worsted/Aran weight, and I will likely spin the lighter color in the same way to get two skeins that more or less match. They would go together nicely as some sort of colorwork (perhaps with natural white/cream sheep motif?). Plying will happen in another day or two, once the singles have a little time to rest. I used my fast flyer to spin these singles (mostly because it's what I use most of the time and I was too lazy to switch out my flyers), so as a result there's a bit of extra twist in them. I will be plying on the miniSpinner, though, because I don't think a regular Lendrum bobbin will be able to hold this skein!

Thursday, April 03, 2014

New Beginnings

Last night, I cast on for a new sweater. I didn't get very far (partly because of a certain someone who took a while to get to sleep and partly because I misread and had to tink back a couple of rows), but it's a start.

It's a bit tricky to get a picture of this because of the curling fabric, but this is the beginning of the back. This sweater has a rather interesting construction -- you start with a provisional cast on for the back neck, work some short rows, and then work down the back a bit, adding in some shaping for the arm holes. Then you put some of the provisionally cast on stitches back on the needles and work the two fronts. Later, the sleeve caps are shaped using short rows. The whole thing is entirely seamless but has the look of a set-in sleeve -- quite clever, I think.

Once again I am finding myself utterly smitten with the yarn (Yarn Hollow Tor DK). The color is so beautiful, and the hand on the yarn is fabulous. I am probably going to start alternating skeins at some point, though right now I think the extra loops on the edge might cause more problems. I did not alternate skeins at all on Rainbow's Little Oak, and I can't see any visible line where I went from one skein to another, so I could conceivably be okay with using just one skein at a time. I'm not sure yet if I want to risk it. We'll see.

My Kalish socks are still moving along; I've reached the gusset on sock #2. It should be smooth sailing from here on out -- for some reason, feet always seem to go faster for me than legs, even though there's more length in the foot. I hope to have this pair finished up soon so I can cast on for a pair in handspun!

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

No Fooling

It obviously still needs a good blocking, but look, my Zephyr is done!

It's not entirely wearable just yet. I'm still in search of toggles or buttons for the closures on the outside (the pattern says to use hook-and-eye closures for the inside), so I haven't sewn on the loops just yet, although they're done and waiting. Later this week I'll have a good look through my button collection, and if there's nothing appropriate there, I'll go button hunting at my LYS this weekend.

As I predicted, as soon as I finished this sweater, the weather seemed to change to spring (although we did drive home through a blowing snow storm on Sunday!), so this likely won't get worn anytime soon. Still, I like making sweaters in the warmer months because it means I have a bunch of new things to wear when it gets cold again in the fall.

I started a new hat design in the car using some leftover Imperial Yarn Tracie Too. I started with a hemmed brim and then transitioned into a lace pattern (which looks much better stretched out/blocked, let me tell you). I'm still figuring out the crown, but this will be a slouchy beret-style hat -- something fun and relatively quick.

After putting the finishing touches on Zephyr last night, I was a good knitter and swatched for my next sweater with the Yarn Hollow Tor DK I bought last weekend. The pattern calls for a US 6 to make gauge, but I knew I had used a US 4 to get the same gauge with the same yarn in Rainbow's Little Oak, so that's what I started with. After washing, I'm getting nearly perfect stitch gauge, though my row gauge is a little off (I'm getting eight rows per inch rather than seven), but I can work with that. I don't know if I'll cast on tonight or just work on the hat for a bit, but this will be my big project for this month.