Thursday, July 31, 2014

Surprise! Pattern Release: Swirl Bumps

I got a nice surprise today when I checked my e-mail mid-morning -- my new sock pattern is up on the Knit Picks site! You saw peeks of these socks before, but now I can show you what they look like when they're not in a jumble in my project bag. Meet the Swirl Bumps socks:

These socks were designed for Knit Picks' newest sock yarn, Hawthorne, a lovely hand-painted superwash wool/nylon blend. One of the perils of using a hand-dyed yarn is that there can be a tendency to pool, so I used a straightforward knit and purl pattern to add texture to the fabric and break up any pooling. (Another peril is ending up with two socks that are slightly different colors!)

I'll be perfectly honest: These are not groundbreaking socks. They're your basic cuff-down sock with a heel flap and gusset, but the patterning is fun, and you reverse the direction on the second sock, so the end result is that you have socks that either swirl toward each other or away from each other, depending on which sock is on which foot. The pattern is written to fit a foot circumference of 8 (9, 10) inches/20.5 (23, 23.5) cm, so these are good for just about anyone teen and up. And, incidentally, the yarn happens to be on sale right now, so if you wanted to try it out, now would be a good time. (I will add that this yarn, while delightful to work with, has somewhat skimpy skeins if you're a bigfoot like me, so depending on your foot size, you might want to get two skeins.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Whorls to Needles

Now that the three weeks of all spinning, all the time are over, I've returned back to my knitting projects, which have basically been at a standstill since the beginning of the month. I put in a handful of rows on the lower part of the body of my Sople at my LYS over the weekend (mainly because I had forgotten the chart I needed for my other project), and I'm nearing the end of this section. This part is rather tedious because it involves twisted ribbing worked flat, so each row takes a good bit of time. Eventually I'm going to need to sit down and power through this part so I can move on to the sleeves.

My main focus the past couple of days, though, has been my crescent shawl. When last you saw it, I thought I was nearing the end. However, I quickly realized that my yarn supply was not going to last for as long as I needed it to. I ended up ripping back to the halfway point and then ripping out two repeats beyond that. That became my new halfway point after which I started decreasing. I have four repeats left to go, and as my stitch count is much smaller now, I should be able to manage those repeats tonight.

I am excited to block this and see the lace fully opened up. I think I will end up with a total of 30 repeats, which should make for a good width once blocked.

I also cast on a new pair of socks over the weekend, which I can't really show you because they're for a new design. (I actually swatched with a different yarn for a submission, but I thought I'd start a full pair for myself. That way, if the submission isn't successful, I have a sample all ready to go for self-publishing.) I can, however, show you the yarn, which is Sock That Rock Lightweight in Haida Fledge.

I was deciding between this colorway and another one that was sort of a light purple-y gray at my LYS, but I thought this might have more depth to it because of the different colors. It's subtle, but I think it will work well. My one complaint is that I'm having a needle dysfunction. I'm using a pair of my Addi Sock Rockets, and it seems that the finish on one of the tips has chipped off. This happened to me once before, so I suspect some sort of manufacturing flaw. I'll be taking them to my LYS this weekend to see if it's something that requires sending the needles back to the manufacturer. It's a shame, because otherwise these have become my favorite needles for sock knitting.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Riding to Victory

Today is officially the end of the 2014 Tour de Fleece, and what a tour it's been. I finished spinning up all the fiber I'd designated for the three weeks. The last skein was finished up Friday night and was dry by yesterday.

Fat Cat Knits Gentiane on Falkland

This was meant to be sock yarn, but it's a bit thicker than I'd intended -- I'd say heavy fingering to sport. The finished skein is roughly 330 yards, so it will make short-ish socks. I love how it came out, though.

And here's a look at my total spinning for the Tour:

That's a total of nearly 4,014 yards of singles spun into more than 1,620 yards of yarn. Not bad, I'd say!

Thursday, July 24, 2014


It's been a weird couple of days. Yesterday, in the middle of my lunch break, the power went out at my office. It seems like that happens at least once every summer, and usually we end up sitting around for a while until it comes back on or the end of the day, whichever comes first. Yesterday, though, it seems several buildings were out, so we were allowed to leave early. Sometime after I got home, I got a text from my boss letting me know that the building would be closed today because of the outage, so I spent today working from home. On the one hand, I was pretty productive because it was quiet (no phones ringing or e-mail pinging) and no one was around to interrupt me. On the other hand, there's a lot of temptation at home.

For one thing, my wheel has been beckoning. I managed to finish up the second bobbin of Gentiane singles this morning before my work day officially started.

I was able to start the third bobbin during my lunch break, but I only got a little done. I really, really wanted to sit there and keep spinning, but I was good and got back to work. I will go back to the wheel this evening once Rainbow is asleep, and with any luck, I'll have the final bobbin finished up by tomorrow.

I'll be working from home again tomorrow. I can already tell that it's going to be very difficult to focus on work rather than trying to finish up the last bobbin so I can start plying tomorrow night!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Think Pink

I spent part of Sunday afternoon and part of the evening plying up the pink singles from the Gourmet Stash punis. The nice thing about a small amount of fiber is that it doesn't take very long to ply! I did minimal finishing on the skein because I was impatient -- I just let it soak in my bathroom sink in some hot water for about half an hour. When I took it out, there was a lot of pink in the water, but the yarn still seemed just as vibrant. I put my hands in the middle of the skein and snapped it several times to distribute the twist, and it pretty much behaved. By yesterday morning, the skein was dry.

I absolutely love this skein. It's two ply and mostly laceweight (though there are some spots where there were some slubs that border on light fingering), and it's roughly 165 yards. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it, given the low yardage, but I have another ounce of punis in a pale pink, so perhaps I'll spin up another skein to match.

I also started another spindle project on Saturday for the Tour de Fleece challenge day, though I'd say it's unlikely it'll get done by the end of the week. I had an ounce of pure Tussah silk from Blue Moon Fiber Arts that I bought at my first MDSW (that would be in 2011) that I was afraid to spin until now. I started spinning it on my wee Turkish spindle, which is always fun to spin.


This is one of those spinning projects that I expect I'll pick up every now and then and spent a few minutes on before putting it away again. It's a relaxing little spin, but not one I'm feeling terribly rushed to finish.

My main goal for the week ahead is to finish my last skein for the Tour, a three-ply fingering weight from Fat Cat Knits Falkland in Gentiane. Last night I finished the first bobbin.

I figure that if I can get the other two bobbins finished in the next four days, then I can have it all plied and finished by Sunday. It's a shame I can't count all the treadling I'm doing toward my daily step count!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Got Sparkle?

I was up late on Friday night because I had to finish plying this skein:

This is the yarn that I've been spindling the past couple of weeks. I bought a set of mini batts at MDSW this year from Hobbledehoy. There were eight total, four blue and four green. I decided to spin them as a gradient, from light to dark, and then ply the two colors together. This niddy noddy shot shows the progression:

Though the yarn isn't perfectly even (there was a fair bit of texture in the batts), overall, it's laceweight and 350 yards. I suspect that there may have actually been a bit more than 2 oz. of fiber, and there was certainly more blue than green, because the green ran out long before the blue. But I managed to get every last bit of singles into the skein, and I'm very pleased with it.

I also finished up the rest of the hot pink singles from my Gourmet Stash punis yesterday and wound them off the spindle.

These singles will be plied on my Lendrum, in part because my Bosworth Mini (on which the singles were spun) suffered a pretty major injury while I was spinning. I dropped it at one point when the singles broke -- this happens from time to time and explains why it's called a drop spindle. Normally, this isn't a problem, but this time, the whorl completely loosened and now can move freely on the shaft. That's not really supposed to happen, but I got in touch with Sheila Bosworth on Ravelry and she suggested I send it back so that Jonathan (the maker of the spindles) can take a look at it and, I hope, fix it. Fortunately, it wasn't serious enough that I couldn't keep spinning and finish the project -- but what would the Tour de Fleece be without an equipment malfunction?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fun with Neon

It took three separate plying sessions, but I finally finished my Boogaloo!

After skeining it up, I realized why it took so long to ply. Even after the shrinkage that comes with washing, this skein is roughly 422 yards of three ply, and it's definitely on the light side of fingering. That is more than enough for a pair of socks for me.

I was a little surprised that the yarn didn't end up being as bright as I thought it might be. I think what happened is that the black and dark purple ended up so well distributed (at least in the second bobbin) that almost all of the skein has at least one dark ply. I still really like it, but I think if I ever spin this colorway again, I'll take a completely different approach: split the length of the top into thinner strips, spin the whole 4 oz., and then chain ply to get bright stripes.

After I finished plying, I started my next bundle of Fat Cat Knits fiber, Falkland in Gentiane. This will also be a three-ply fingering weight, if all goes according to plan.

Meanwhile, I've finished up the last of the Hobbledehoy battlings on my spindle and wound all the singles off onto my low-tech "storage bobbins" (aka empty toilet paper tubes), and last night I started plying. I'm using my Lendrum to ply and finding that these singles are a lot finer than I realized. Hello, laceweight!

For my lunchtime spinning, I pulled out my Gourmet Stash punis and my Bosworth mini, a project I started probably back in May.

How can you not love this pink?

I did do a bit of knitting at knit night last night (swatching for a design submission), and it felt really good to be holding needles again. I do love spinning, but knitting is still my first love, so I think I need to get back to it soon -- it's a good thing that the Tour de Fleece is only three weeks long! I will be child free for part of the coming weekend, as Rainbow is going to her grandparents' for a sleepover, so I'm hoping to use at least some of the quiet time to try to put the finishing touches on the green shawl design that you saw so long ago. I've done all the charts, but I need to check that I didn't make any mistakes in going from the hand-drawn charts to the computer. Then I have to finish writing up the pattern, get it laid out, and get it to my tech editor. I am hoping to have it all done and ready for testing sometime next month. Fingers crossed!