Thursday, July 02, 2015

It's Almost Time

I did cast on for the Helena last night at knit night, but I didn't get as much done as I had hoped (I blame that fact on the very lively conversation we were having). I have finished the neckline increases and have a handful of raglan increases left to do before splitting the body and sleeve stitches.

If I'm being completely honest here, then I'd have to admit that I did not swatch for this sweater. It's a baby cardigan, so being close enough will be just fine. My intention is to end up with something that will fit the baby through this winter, so if it ends up a little on the big side, that should work out okay. The pattern calls for a size 6/4.0 mm needle, but I'm using a US 5/3.75 mm. I think I would probably need a 4 to get the gauge (5.5 stitches per inch), but a 5 gets me pretty close.

I haven't touched the Boy Sweater since the night I first started it, but it will see some attention in the next couple of days. Ideally, I'd like to get both sweaters wrapped up as quickly as possible, because the Tour de Fleece starts on Saturday and I'm planning to be spending most of my crafting time this month spinning. So let's talk about my plans for that.

Every year, my general plan is to spin every day of the tour, if possible, and to get through as much fiber as I can. This year, I'm on four teams: Fat Cat Knits, Southern Cross Fibre, Lendrum, and Footloose (the team for those who spin on a Hansen miniSpinner). The first two teams are for the fiber I'll be spinning, as I have a bit of a backlog of both. Here's a look at the fiber I have ready to spin (though I'll be the first to admit that it's way too ambitious of me to think I'll get through it all):

On the left is the FCK stash and on the right is the SCF. That's basically a full pound of fiber right there. What's not shown is the latest FCK club shipment (another 5 oz.), which is already in progress and is likely to be the first skein finished for the Tour.

In order to get the miniSpinner ready, I finished plying up the last skein before official TdF spinning starts. This is Into the Whirled superwash merino in Death, spun into a three-ply fingering weight:

I'm very happy with how this turned out, though I'm a tad disappointed in the yardage (385 yards). It's plenty to make me some socks, but I thought it would be more given how long it took me to ply.

By my next post, the Tour de Fleece will have started, so expect to see a lot more spinning in the next few weeks! Don't worry, there will be some knitting content, too (including, perhaps, a little surprise next week)!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

All the Little Things

Tomorrow is July, which means it's officially time for me to do some baby knitting for two babies that are due in the coming month. I probably should have started earlier, but at least little things knit up quickly.

On Sunday evening I cast on for the Boy Sweater in Malabrigo Rios. By the time I put it down for the night, I'd nearly finished the raglan increases. Fast, right?

I have two rows left to do before I put the sleeve stitches on waste yarn and start working in the round for the body. I suspect this will be a very quick knit.

Tomorrow night is knit night, and I'm finally going to make it (the Mister has managed to be away or at a work event every knit night for the past two months or so). I'm planning on using the opportunity to cast on for the second baby sweater, which will be a Helena. I'm using some Knit Picks Swish that's been in the stash for quite some time (part of a couple of kits that I bought on clearance and soon realized I'd never make).

I figured white would be an okay choice for a 6-month-old, especially as she'll be around that age come the holidays. The yarn is machine washable, too, so it should be easy to care for even if it does get messy.

Meanwhile, I found myself winding yarn at about 9:55 Sunday night because I realized that I did not have a project on the needles to work on at lunch. I picked up a skein of Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce that I bought a couple of weeks ago to start some new socks for me. These are going to be very bright socks indeed. The colorway is called Advance to Go; it's inspired by the colors of Monopoly. I can see how these stripes are going to get very addictive.

Why did I need a new lunchtime project? Well, it's because I finished the shawl! I managed to get it blocked and take some photos over the weekend, and here's a preview:

The pattern is now with my tech editor, so I hope to have it all wrapped up and ready for public consumption in the next couple of weeks. I'm really excited about this one!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Ready for the Final Step

I had hoped to have a finished skein to show you today, but that anticipation was based on spending most of my day off finishing up the singles. That did not happen (I ended up spending the morning shopping with my mom, who also took the day off, and the afternoon finishing a shawl). However, I did finish the singles this afternoon, so I will be ready to ply once the last bobbin's worth have had time to rest a bit.

It's true the lighting isn't so great in this photo, but the top layer on the leftmost bobbins is dark gray, so it's not all a trick of the light. These three bobbins are holding at least 4 oz. of fiber -- isn't it amazing how little it looks on these giant bobbins?

I wasn't intending to start another spinning project right away, but one jumped on the Lendrum anyway. I will partially blame some friends who were over for brunch yesterday and were so interested in my spinning that I had to get it out and show them how it works. I already had my last club shipment from Fat Cat Knits unwrapped, so I grabbed one of the braids to get started. Then I figured as long as I'd started it, I might as well continue.

I'll grant you this would look a lot nicer if it weren't blurry, but at least you can get a sense of the colors. I'm finding this blend (80% Polwarth, 20% black alpaca) a little odd to spin; I think the fibers want to draft differently, so I feel a little out of control from time to time. I'm really enjoying how the black alpaca is changing the colors.

As if I didn't have enough lined up to spin during the Tour de Fleece already, my June shipment from the Southern Cross Fibre club arrived on Friday. This is one I wish you could pet through the screen!

This shipment -- in a colorway very aptly named Peacock -- is a luscious blend of 50% South African superfine/50% mulberry silk. It is amazingly soft. I'm going to have to think long and hard about how best to spin this to keep that softness.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Short and Not-So-Short Rows

Once Rainbow's sweater was off the needles, I turned back to a somewhat neglected WIP, a sample for a new shawl design that you last saw about a month ago. I didn't work on it much after that last post about it, but I've really been knitting up a storm on it this past week, and as a result, it's nearly done.

This shawl is worked by starting with the bottom border. Then stitches are picked up along one side of the edging and short rows are used to create the body of the shawl. This iteration of the short-row section is actually the second; on the first attempt, I was using more stitches between wraps, and I quickly realized that the shawl was going to end up shallower than I had intended. I ripped back and halved the number between wraps and it's going much better now. Of course, the short rows go really quickly when they're actually short; now they take considerably longer. The nice thing is that the only thinking that's required is at the end of each short row, so for the most part it's just mindless knitting. I'm hoping to have it wrapped up by the weekend so I can block it (though the weather forecast is not looking too good as far as a potential photo shoot is concerned).

I do have some baby knitting to get started for two babies that are due next month. I'll be making 6 month-sized garments for both (I'd much rather make a gift that can be worn in the winter and thus actually stand a chance of being worn multiple times), so they should be fairly quick. The first one is a Boy Sweater in a lovely bright green Malabrigo Rios.

I have a day off from work tomorrow, so if all goes according to plan I will wind the yarn, swatch, and wash the swatch then so I'll be ready to cast on over the weekend. This sweater is for the second son of my childhood best friend. They now live in Colorado, so the kid will definitely need a cozy sweater.

The other sweater is for our next-door neighbors, who are expecting a girl. I'm planning to knit her a Helena, a pattern I knit for Rainbow and that she wore when we had pictures taken for her first birthday. It's a cute pattern and a fast knit, as I recall. I do have some Knit Picks Swish in the stash already and will have to see if I have enough of it; if not, there will be some yarn shopping this weekend.

One of these days I will get back to my Airflow. I only have about a sleeve and a half to finish, so really it should not take me very long, but you know how it is with the temptation of new projects. I definitely want to get it done before the end of stash dash, because it's likely to be my largest project completed and thus have the most yarn in it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Ready for Berry Season

It's done, and it's adorable!

Pattern: Berry Season Cardigan by Heidi Atwood-Reeves
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash (100% superwash wool) in Berry Pink/color 837
Needles: US 5 (3.75 mm) and US 4 (3.5 mm) circulars
Started/Completed: June 1/June 19
Mods: used a regular cast on and bind off instead of the tubular cast on and bind off specified in the pattern

This sweet little sweater was such fun to knit. Once I got past the initial bit of a mental block about doing the lace (including decreases) on wrong side rows, it was smooth sailing. I even learned a new thing -- how to do German short rows! I did try to do the tubular cast on at the beginning, but I failed miserably. I'll give it another go another time.

The sweater is completely seamless. It starts with the body, working from the bottom up. Once the underarms are reached, stitches are bound off and then the fronts and back are worked separately. The shoulders are joined with a three-needle bind off, and then stitches are picked up around the armscye for the sleeve. The sleeve cap is shaped with short rows and then the sleeve is worked in the round to the cuffs. There were quite a few ends to weave in, but there was no sewing up to do at the end.

Rainbow picked out the buttons herself at my LYS. I thought she'd go with something a little wilder, but it seems she is taking after her mother in her preference for simple neutrals.

I will say that my gauge was a little off (I think I had an extra quarter stitch per inch, or something like that), but I knew that, because I was using a superwash wool, the finished sweater was likely to stretch out a bit when I washed it (and it did). Plus, I made Rainbow a size 6 even though she probably could have fit into a 4. The fit is spot on now, and there's definitely room to stretch it out if we need to in the future.

The final say in the success of this project, though, belongs Rainbow herself. She is thrilled with it, so naturally I'm as happy as can be!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Flowers in the Courtyard

It took several plying sessions, but I finished my Three Waters Farm Falkland on Friday night.

It seemed to be taking quite a while to both spin the singles and ply, and I soon realized why as I was skeining the yarn -- there's a lot of yarn here! The plied yarn was a light fingering weight fresh off the wheel, but it poofed up a good bit in the finishing.

After drying, this skein is a whopping 455.5 yards, more than enough for a pair of stripey socks!

It's now a little less than two weeks until the start of the Tour de Fleece, and I'm going to try to squeeze one more skein in before then. There is a lot of fiber piled up next to my bed, but I selected Death (on superwash merino) from Into the Whirled. I'm nearly finished with the first bobbin.

I'm planning a three-ply fingering weight (my usual), and I simply split the top in thirds, so the finished appearance of the colors will be a complete surprise.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

In the Ribbing

Rainbow's sweater isn't done yet, but it's closer than it was the last time you saw it. I decided to spend Tuesday evening spinning, so I only worked on it last night. Still, that time was enough to allow me to finish the second sleeve and pick up for the first button band.

At this point, all the knitting that's left to do is in 1x1 ribbing -- not my favorite. I know it will look good when it's done, but I find it slow and somewhat tedious. I ended up picking up about four more stitches than specified for the first band, and as this is the one with the buttonholes, I'm going to have to make some minor adjustments with regard to their placement. If all goes according to plan, I will be able to buy buttons when I visit my LYS on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the socks are continuing (though they, too, missed out on some knitting time on Tuesday due to an unexpected lunch out with coworkers). I finished the heel of the second sock last night, so now I'm just cruising down the foot.

As soon as Rainbow's sweater is done, I have yarn ready for the next project to be cast on. There are two babies due to arrive next month for whom I want to knit. The first is the second son of my childhood best friend. The first son got this sweater, which I loved knitting but obviously couldn't knit again for the second kid (I figure #2 will be able to wear it as a hand-me-down anyway). So I decided on the Boy Sweater for this one, and I'll be knitting it in this lovely springy green Malabrigo Rios:

I'm planning to knit a 6 month size, as the kid should be right around that size (or so I hope) when the weather gets cold enough to need a sweater. I should have plenty of yarn to knit a hat to go with the sweater as well. If Rainbow's sweater does indeed get done this weekend, then I'll soon be swatching!