Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Truly Tuesday?

Is it really only Tuesday? It's been an interesting week so far. Yesterday the Mister came down with a Man Cold (the kind that requires one to take to one's bed), and today I took the day off due to Rainbow's first (half) day of first grade, so things have been feeling off all day. It's weird to go into work for one day, to begin with, and then there were the sleeping arrangements. We had enough foresight to buy a pull-out sleeper sofa for the den (the former nursery) when Rainbow moved into what was the guest room, so I encamped there last night so that the Mister wouldn't have to worry about disturbing me during the night. Add to that the fact that I didn't have to wake up at the usual time this morning (I went for a run after I dropped Rainbow off at school, so I waited until later to shower and eat breakfast) and I've been all discombobulated.

Luckily, the knitting has been going well. The Mister went to bed early last night, so I popped a movie in and knit the entire evening in the den before turning in. I managed to complete the last repeats of the scarf over the weekend, so I've now picked up for the ribbing on the first of the sides. I didn't think the scarf was that long until I saw it all bunched up on my 40" circular.

For some reason I had it in my head that I'd just zip through the ribbing on the sides, but the pickup alone on the first side took a good 45 minutes or so (400+ stitches in that pickup row!). I only managed three rows after that, but I'm feeling confident that this evening -- provided I can stay awake long enough -- I can at least finish this side. I expect that it will take me another two evenings to pick up and knit the second side, so I anticipate blocking by the weekend. I am very much looking forward to blocking this piece to see if I can get some additional length and width as well as some drape.

I've continued to work on my handspun socks at work, and I've finished the first one and gotten about three inches of leg done on the second. No picture, I'm afraid, but I'll show you them soon.

I'm really looking forward to the long weekend coming up. The weather is supposed to be beautiful, and it's always nice to have an extra day. Now let's just hope the Mister gets over this cold soon so we can celebrate our anniversary (nine years this Friday)!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Slow Road

I don't have much spinning to share this week, mainly because I just haven't done much spinning this past week. I've been focusing mainly on knitting, which has resulted in lots of knitting getting done, but my wheel has been sadly neglected. I did put in some time on Friday night and a bit yesterday and today. Unfortunately, given the thinness of my singles, the bobbin doesn't look that much different:

Poor lighting courtesy of severe thunderstorms

I can tell that I've made some progress because the ball of pencil roving is noticeably smaller. It's a nice change to be spinning from pencil roving compared to even stripped down top. This stuff spins so fast, so you feel like you make a lot of progress even if the bobbin doesn't seem to be filling.

I'll continue to plod on with this spin this week, and with any luck, I'll have a finished skein next weekend!

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A Small Falling Down

Although I haven't officially declared myself to be on a yarn diet, I have been trying to make an effort to use up stash and work with what I already have rather than buy new yarn for new projects. Obviously I haven't been sticking to that too well, especially with the news that my LYS is closing (something about knowing that I'll have to travel more than a mile to buy yarn brings out the hoarder in me, I guess). I thought I was pretty restrained in my last purchase, but then I got invited to a special "friends and family" type of event last night, and I went a little wild.

I took Rainbow along with me, in part because I wanted her to pick out yarn for a new school sweater (you may remember that the one I made her last year shrank in the dryer, so its days are likely limited). I really only had two criteria for yarn: It had to be the right color (dark green) and it had to be machine washable. I was hoping to find a superwash wool, such as Malabrigo Rios or Cascade 220 Superwash, but we had trouble finding the right color or a large enough quantity. Ultimately, we ended up with four skeins of Berroco Vintage -- the last four skeins the shop had. One is a different dyelot from the other three, but I figure I'll just alternate it with one of the matching skeins in the body.

Normally I'm not a huge fan of knitting with acrylic blends, but Rainbow really liked the feel of this yarn and it probably will hold up pretty well to the abuse this sweater is likely to see, so I'm dealing with it. I've used it for a sweater for her before, too, so I know she won't complain about it being itchy or uncomfortable. I'm planning to use it to make her another Gramps Cardigan, a pattern I've knit quite a few times and that always comes out well. I'm going to knit a size 8, the largest size in the pattern, with the hope that she might get more than one year of wear out of it.

Rainbow also made some selections of her own last night. For starters, we picked up a pair of 16 inch circular needles for her so she can learn to knit in the round, and she picked out these two skeins of yarn (Cascade 220 and 220 Superwash) for a hat and pair of mittens.

I wasn't planning on buying anything for myself, but I ended up making a couple of impulse purchases. First, I was drawn to this fiery skein (appropriately named Vesuvio) of Manos del Uruguay Marina, a beautiful merino singles lace yarn. I'll likely save this for a lace design of some sort.

Then I grabbed these two skeins of BMFA Woobu in Bleck to make a Driftwood Tee, something I've wanted to knit since the issue of the magazine the pattern is in came out.

I also bought a pair of Addi Rockets and some buttons that Rainbow picked out. I do want to note that I did not buy any fiber this time, though I was tempted! And I don't feel particularly guilty about adding to the size of the stash, because chances are good that once my LYS closes, I won't be spending much time in a yarn store for quite some time.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Embracing the Yarn Dandruff

Work continues on my cabled Shetland scarf; I'm now more than eight repeats done, and I think I'll likely go to about 15 or so. I've been working on it almost every evening at home, and on a good night, I can get about a repeat and a half done, so I think I should be through the main part of the scarf by this weekend if I keep up the pace. I have made my peace with the stuff that falls out of the yarn as I work with it (that which I'm lovingly referring to as "yarn dandruff"), though I have elected to keep this project at home for the time being so that I don't have to worry about trying to clean my work clothes off.

As you can see, it is curling up quite a lot, but blocking and the edging I'm going to add to the sides will help with that. I'm planning a rather aggressive block, and I'm hoping that will add some drape to the fabric in addition to getting it to behave.

Because I've been keeping the scarf at home, I've been bringing my handspun socks in to work for my lunchtime knitting. Given that these are just plain stockinette socks, it's a bit surprising how long I've been working on them -- more than a month now. Usually I can speed through socks like this. But in the case of these socks, they just haven't been getting very much attention. I cast on and knit the cuff in one day and then put them down for a couple of weeks. Then I knit couple of inches of leg and put them down again. It's been a pattern with these socks, which is part of the reason why I decided to make them my lunchtime knitting. I'm not in any sort of rush to finish them, necessarily, but it makes me a bit anxious to have them on the needles so long.

I finished up the gusset decreases yesterday and am now cruising down the foot, so I anticipate the first sock will be done very soon. I am finding that the yarn isn't as consistent as my three-ply sock yarn normally is; I guess I'm a bit out of practice at spinning two-ply sock yarn. There are definitely some thicker sections of the yarn, but you really can't tell from the knitted fabric. I am enjoying the texture of the yarn as I knit with it, so I predict more two-ply handspun in my future.

Stash Dash has now officially ended, and I'm very pleased to say that I not only met my goal, I exceeded it! My final total was 7,797.7 meters, or more than 8,500 yards. I'm pretty impressed with myself, as I wasn't entirely sure I was going to make it. Perhaps next year I'll push myself to get to 10K!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

I'm a Little Teapot

Well, no, not really. But I did finish up my Short and Stout on Perendale from Southern Cross Fibre yesterday, so naturally the song has been in my head.

Once again I split the fiber into long strips, spun them in succession, and chain plied the entire bobbin of singles. It perhaps was not the best plying method for this particular fiber, as the loops are still rather visible if you go looking for them, but it worked out okay overall, I think. I ended up with 387 yards of fingering weight.

I think this should make some good socks. The yarn feels a little scratchy on delicate skin, so I wouldn't necessarily use this for something that would go around my neck, but it feels fine on my less-sensitive feet.

It's a good thing that I'm going through some stash fiber fairly quickly, because two bundles of fiber showed up on Friday. The first was the first shipment in the next round of the FatCatKnits club (round two of the underwater/under the sea theme). This one is inspired by lobsters and is on soft, squishy Rambouillet.

Then there was this bag of 75% Bond/25% Suri alpaca from Southern Cross Fibre that I won as a prize a while back:

Before I did into either of these, however, I've dug into deep stash for my next spin, which I started this afternoon:

This is Corriedale pencil roving from the now-defunct Crown Mountain Farms. It spins up so easily and so fine; this will be yet more sock yarn. Spinning this makes me regret I didn't get more of this fiber before CMF closed!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Blocking Magic, Stash Enhancement, and Schmutz

Even though blocking takes away from my knitting/spinning time, I love the magic that it works. When the shawl was finished on Tuesday, it looked okay, but it was still a bit lumpy-bumpy and definitely didn't have the drape I wanted. Blocking fixed that. I wasn't even super aggressive in my pinning, either. I ran a couple of blocking wires through the top edge, pinned the two sides and the middle, and then pinned out the bottom edge along either side of the center by putting a yardstick in line with the side and center pins and pulling the fabric out to meet it. After drying overnight, the shawl finally had the drape I was looking for.

I've still got to get real shots of this shawl, but you can see how nicely the cables opened up and the garter stitch relaxed. I'm quite pleased.

In my excitement over finishing the shawl on Tuesday, I neglected to share my stash enhancement from the weekend. In addition to the fiber that you saw on Sunday, I did pick up a little bit of yarn (I figured that there are some things I won't be able to get locally once my LYS closes, so they are acceptable additions to my stash at this point). First, I picked up two Wonderland Yarns mini skein sets to make Rainbow a Dancing Leaves Cardigan. I gave her several options and this was what she picked.

If the colors look familiar, it's because it's one of the sets I used for my Zeccola Cowl sample (though that used the sport weight version -- this is fingering).

I also bought a skein of Arne & Carlos Regia sock yarn, which I'd been meaning to try for while. It's nothing particularly fancy as far as fiber content goes, but sometimes self-patterning sock yarn makes vanilla socks much more exciting.

Finally, as soon as the shawl was off the needles, I wound up my yarn and cast on for the sample for the penultimate pattern in the collection, a cabled scarf. I am once again using Shetland from the Ross Farm, this time in a lovely moorit color.

I really love this yarn -- it's fuzzy and squishy and even makes my hands soft while I knit with it, as it still has a bit of lanolin in it. It is, however, a real farm yarn. There's quite a bit of VM in it still (most of which falls out on its own; the rest is easy to pull out), so I'm finding that I'm a bit covered in "wool schmutz" every time I knit with it. It's not a big deal to me, but I noticed yesterday after my lunch break at work that I still had some fuzz on my black t-shirt, so I suppose it's better to wear a light color when I'm knitting with this yarn!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Time for a Blocking Party

Very soon, that shapeless blue blob that I've been telling you is a shawl for the past few weeks will start to actually look like a shawl. I finished binding off today, so tonight is all about blocking. I'm pretty happy with how the piece is looking fresh off the needles, but it is badly in need of blocking to help settle the stitches and stretch it out a bit so that it has more drape.

The pattern needs just a bit more polishing, and then once the shawl is dry I'll take some pictures and do final measurements so I can get it off to my tech editor.

That leaves just two patterns left for the collection, and true to form, I've left the biggest ones for the end. These are both multiple-skein projects, so I'd say it's unlikely I'll finish both by the end of the month, but I think mid-September is probably a reasonable goal. My plan is to start releasing the individual patterns in September and stagger them throughout the fall (releasing one about every two weeks), so I'm on track. I just need to get in my on-site photo shoot some weekend soon when the weather is good and I can stand to wear wool to model!

Until I cast on for the next collection sample, the only project I have active on the needles is my handspun socks, which frankly have been rather neglected. I'll finish them eventually, I suppose.

I'm just about to the heel of the first sock, and honestly I'm happy to let these languish a bit so I can pick them up from time to time when I don't want to have to think or count. There's nothing like a stockinette sock when you need a mental break!

One more thing I did want to mention about the shawl -- it officially pushed me past my Stash Dash goal of 7K! I'll likely get a bit more than that when Stash Dash ends this Sunday, but I was beginning to doubt that I'd hit my goal for a while there, so it feels good to cross the finish line well before the final minutes.