Thursday, August 16, 2018

Preparations

While design knitting is still happening during my lunch break (some of which will be frogged today), I've spent the last two evenings working on a swatch for my Floozy cardigan in preparation for the pattern's release tomorrow. Normally it doesn't take me quite that long to knit a swatch, but there have been other things taking up my time this week, so I haven't had as much knitting time as usual.


The swatch was still a little damp this morning, so I haven't measured it yet, but I am keeping my fingers crossed that I'm close enough on gauge. The top of this swatch was knit on a US 2.5/3 mm needle and the bottom on a US 2/2.75 mm. I measured the top before washing and I was far enough off that I didn't think it would work, particularly as I expected the yarn to bloom a bit when washed. The recommended gauge for the pattern is 27 stitches and 37 rows over 4 inches, and the pattern recommends a US 4/3.5 mm needle. I normally get about 24 stitches over 4 inches with a US 4, so I knew I'd have to go down in size, but I'm surprised that going down even two sizes might not be enough. I know that a US 1 will be too much, but if the US 2 doesn't work, I do have a US 1.5/2.5 mm to try. The idea of knitting an entire sweater on that small of a needle gives me a bit of pause, though. It's not that I'm uncomfortable using small needles; I just worry that a sweater might be doomed to become a slog because of the slow progress. So please send good thoughts that the US 2 gives me gauge (or at least close enough to it to work)!

While the knitting hasn't been prolific, my reading has been lately. I've been devouring e-books (mainly because I'm able to read them on the computer at work when it's slow) and have finished quite a few in the past week or so:
  • The White Queen: I'd bought this Kindle book a while back, likely when it was on sale, because I'd watched the Starz miniseries a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. Like all Philippa Gregory books, you have to go into it knowing that while it's based on history, it's highly sensationalized. It's not fine literature, but it was an enjoyable and easy read. I gave it four stars.
  • The Miniaturist: I'm fairly certain I'd see the cover of this book and heard the name a few times in the past year or so, but I never looked into it until I heard that it was being made into a PBS miniseries that will air later this year. I was intrigued by the summary, so I borrowed it online from the library. I was fully absorbed by it almost as soon as I started it and read the entire thing in two days. It's a very original story that is beautifully written. My only complaint is that the true nature of the miniaturist is never fully explained (though perhaps that's intentional). I gave this book five stars.
  • Sing, Unburied, Sing: This book won the National Book Award and got a lot of buzz when it came out, so naturally I wanted to see what all the buzz was about. I should have known that I would have issues with it after reading the first scene, which involves the slaughter of a goat. While the book is well written and emotionally moving, I found it really hard to read. The subject matter is not easy to take -- there's drug abuse, incarceration, physical violence, child neglect, and illness running throughout the book -- and I found it really unsettling. I gave the book three stars because of this.
  • Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis: This was another much-talked-about book and one that I'd been meaning to read for some time. It was a really thought-provoking read, a combination of memoir and sociological study, and really well written. I gave it four of five stars, mainly because while I really enjoyed reading it and how much it made me think, it's not a book I could see reading more than once.
  • The Orphan's Tale: I just finished this book yesterday, and it was another quick read. I picked it because it was on my Goodreads "want to read" list thanks to a recommendation from a friend a couple of years ago. I have read a lot of WWII/Holocaust fiction over the years, but this was a very different take on the genre, and I enjoyed it. I gave it four stars.
This weekend, in addition to maximizing my crafting time, I'm hoping to spend some extra time reading the hard-copy book that I'm currently in the middle of: We Were the Lucky Ones. It's taking me longer than I'd like to get through this one, not because the book isn't a good read but because I can only manage a handful of pages each night before I go to bed. If only I could read it during the day!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Twofer Tuesday

As of just a little bit ago, I have two finished hats on this gloomy Tuesday.


This is a new design using one of my favorite breed-specific yarns, the Ross Farm's Shetland Sport. I didn't think I liked Shetland as a wool breed until I knit with this yarn. It's incredibly soft (the previous Shetlands I'd knit with were decidedly scratchy), and because it's yarn from the farm that's minimally processed, there's still a bit of lanolin left in the yarn, which has an added benefit of softening my hands as I work with it. The other thing I love about working with this yarn (and really any yarn from the Ross Farm) is that it's not only breed specific, but you know the actual sheep who supplied the fleece for the yarn -- the sheep's name and picture appear right on the label! The sheep who had a hand (hoof?) in making these hats are Marigold and Nassau. Marigold, the lighter of the two colors, actually supplied the yarn I used for my Smithfield Scarf, and it's interesting to see how she's gotten lighter in color as she's gotten older.

The pattern for this hat is in progress and (fingers crossed) should be on its way to my tech editor soon.

I've got more design knitting ahead, including some that I won't be able to show you, so would you settle for seeing some yarn that's recently joined the stash?

First, last week I finally got my very first skein of Voolenvine Yarns, and it was one I was really coveting. If you are a fan of indie-dyed yarns, then you've likely heard about the recent Tits Out Collective that many indie dyers were participating in. I tried to get my hands on a skein of Kristin's first batch but was too slow, and miraculously, I was successful in my second attempt. So now I have a skein on her Blitzed base (superwash Merino, nylon, and gold Stellina) to do something fun with.


I also received yarn late last week from an order from the Woolly Thistle for a Floozy cardigan. I decided to try out some Blacker yarn for this sweater (in part because I'd gotten a discount code from the Woolly Thistle that was good on some of their yarns) and picked out three colors of Blacker Classic 4-ply. The main color will be Pale Blue:


And for the contrast colors, I'll be using Mid Blue:


and Mustard:


While most of the yarn has been moved up to the stash room, I've got one ball of the Pale Blue patiently waiting in the bedroom to be used for a swatch. The pattern drops this Friday, so I really ought to get onto that!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Spinning the Sunset

I haven't been spinning as much this past week, what with the rush to finish up Rainbow's socks and the excitement of casting on new things, but I did manage to finish spinning up the superwash Targhee singles from the fiber Rainbow selected.


This colorway is called Tropical Sunset, which certainly is fitting for that lovely pinkish orange at the end, but I think the blue-purple that's underneath looks rather like my favorite shake of hydrangeas.

I'll be letting these singles rest and then chain plying each bobbin separately for two skeins of yarn that I hope will be relatively equal. I originally thought this yarn would become socks, but Rainbow has requested legwarmers instead. I can work with that!

Meanwhile, I did spend a little time today playing with some other fiber. I pulled out my washed Romney/Romeldale fleece and carded up a little batt.


This fluffy pillow is only about 25 grams. But it's very fluffy, after three passes through the drum carder, and I think it will be nice to spin. Obviously there's still a ton of the fleece left to card, and I'll have to devote some serious time to get that done, but it's a start, and I like the direction things are heading.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

One Satisfied Customer

My baby girl is back home! Tuesday turned out to be an exhausting day -- I actually walked between my house and my office four times over the course of the day -- but it was good to have her home and to go to sleep knowing that she was sleeping across the hall.

I had Rainbow try on the knee socks once she was settled so we could determine the correct finished length, and she said they needed about half an inch more to be (in her words) perfect. That was a very easy fix, so I was able to finish them up that night.

Please note that she posed like this on her own, with no direction from me.

Pattern: Toe-up stockinette, worked over 60 stitches, with a Fish Lips Kiss Heel
Yarn: Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce (80% superwash Merino, 20% nylon) in Martini Bar (club colorway), 0.84 skeins
Needles: US 0 (2.0 mm) Addi Sock Rockets, magic loop
Started/Completed: July 21/August 7

When I started these socks, I knew I'd want to have the ability to knit until I ran out of yarn, so I wound the yarn into a cake and then put it on my scale so I could wind another that was half the weight. Because of the long stripe sequence, I also didn't worry about getting the stripes to match (though they did end up close). I used the template I'd made of Rainbow's feet for the FLKH method, giving her just a bit of extra room in the foot so she won't outgrow them right away. I didn't increase at all in the leg, either, counting on that negative ease to help keep them up. They're entirely in stockinette, finished with 2.5 inches of 2x2 ribbing at the top. Easy-peasy -- just a lot of knitting. Amazingly, I have yarn leftover, which is surprising given that these aren't all that much smaller than the socks I make for myself and have legs that are 11.5 inches long.

Rainbow is thrilled with them, and that means so am I. I'm not sure how much she'll actually wear them, though, so I will wait a bit until I knit her another very large pair of socks.

Because I finished these on Tuesday night before bed and didn't have more time to knit until my lunch break yesterday, I had a brief period of time yesterday when I had nothing -- literally nothing -- on the needles. It was pure torture, let me tell you. Fortunately, I had yarn and needles with me to cast on for something new, so the torture didn't last too long. I am knitting up a new hat design using yummy Shetland yarn from the Ross Farm. It doesn't look like much now, but I'll be adding in a bit of colorwork soon using another color.


All of the farm's yarns are breed specific, undyed, and minimally processed, so while that does mean that I'm pulling out a bit of VM here and there while I'm knitting, my hands are also getting nice and soft from the bit of lanolin that's still in the wool. This Shetland is so soft, too! One of these days, I might have to knit myself a sweater out of this stuff.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Mission Accomplished?

Today is the day: Rainbow arrives home from camp at about noon! I can't wait to see her and hear all about her week at camp. Plus, I have some almost-finished socks for her!


I know I said that my mission was to get these finished by the time she got home, and I very well could have, but I realized last night that I didn't have a measurement of how long her legs are and thus didn't really know where to stop knitting, so I pretty much need her to try them on so I know where to bind off. I was hoping that I would have run out of yarn by now, solving the problem for me, but I think this must be some kind of magic ever-lasting skein of yarn because those legs are 11 inches long already and I still have a bit more than 20 grams of yarn (or roughly 80 yards) left. So we'll have to see where they're hitting at this point and determine whether or not I'm done.

I have no other projects on the needles right now, but I do have two skeins of yarn all wound up for a new design project, and then this pretty stuff arrived on my doorstep yesterday:


This is Stranded Dyeworks Oasis, Amy's superwash merino/nylon fingering weight base, in the colorway Four Two Two Four. It was her SSK colorway for this year, and as I never made it in off the wait list, I figured I could do the next best thing and order the yarn from her. I ordered this intending to use it for a single-color Archer (apparently 2018 is my year of pullovers), and it's really hard not to cast on immediately, but I have other stuff that has to get done first -- and of course there's swatching to be done before I can actually start. Still, it was a nice treat to get home yesterday after a long day at work and find some yarny goodness waiting for me!

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Mashup

Last week I showed you my leftovers bobbin, a Lendrum bobbin that I've been using for the past several years to hold little bits of singles leftover from other projects. Occasionally I've spun some singles directly onto it when I've gotten a small sample of fiber with a fiber purchase or something. After finishing my last Tour de Fleece spin, I couldn't decide what to spin next, so I pulled out that bobbin and some small fiber samples from a fiber "tasting" I went to a number of years ago and decided to add onto it until it couldn't hold any more. This is what it looked like when it reached that point:


I spent two evenings chain-plying all these singles earlier in the week, and the resulting skein was positively humongous. I was hoping for somewhere between 400 and 500 yards; I ended up with a bit more than 600.


The skein is a little messy (that's the problem with winding huge skeins -- there's a difference in skein diameter between the earlier-wound-on strands and those wound on toward the end), so I'll have to reskein it, but I'm quite impressed with myself. I'd been gathering leftovers so long that I genuinely have no recollection what most of these fiber bits are. All I know for sure is that there's wool throughout, but there's also likely some alpaca, some silk, some bamboo and/or tencel, and some sparkle. This skein would make a great stockinette or garter shawl, one where you want the yarn to do the work for you. Once I reskein and take some decent photos, this will likely be going up in my FiberCrafty shop.

Did I mention that I now have a FiberCrafty shop? I can't remember. I closed my Etsy store when they raised the fees and moved my handspun skeins over. I'll be adding to my inventory there as I have time to photograph skeins and put up listings, so if you're interested in getting your hands on some of my yarn, that's where you'll find it now.

I still couldn't make up my mind about my next spinning project, so I let Rainbow make the choice for me. She'd picked out some superwash Targhee at the HipStrings studio when we went for their Small Business Saturday sale last year, and she pulled it out and asked me to spin it before she left for camp. Originally she wanted me to spin for fingerless mitts, but when I told her I'd have enough yarn leftover from the pair I just made to knit her some, she decided on socks. The fiber was a lovely gradient that looked very much like a sunset, so I split it in half lengthwise to do two chain-plied skeins.


I've just started into the coral color on the first bobbin. I've switched over to my standard Lendrum flyer and Akerworks bobbin to change things up a bit. It's actually quite a bit quieter than my WooLee Winder, which is nice, but I've gotten so used to spinning on that flyer that it's been a challenge to remember to stop every now and then and move the yarn guide. I suppose in terms of ergonomics it's a good thing, as it's keeping me from sitting in one position for too long, but it also feels a bit slower. Fortunately I haven't set any sort of deadline for this spin, so I'm taking my time with it and savoring it. Targhee is one of my favorite wools to spin, and I'm glad that when this one is done I have several more braids in my stash that I can spin!

Thursday, August 02, 2018

On a Mission

Yesterday morning, the Mister and I put Rainbow on a bus to overnight camp. She's there for a week for her first overnight camp experience, and while I know she'll have a fantastic time, I also know it's going to be a hard week for me without her. So far I've held it together, but I'll admit that the house feels weirdly empty.

I only have one project on the needles at the moment (don't worry, I'm sure I'll be casting on one or ten new projects any moment), so I've decided to channel most of my energy into it. That project is socks I'm knitting for Rainbow, and I thought it would be great if I could have them finished in time for her return home next Tuesday. I think it's a realistic goal, particularly if I can hold off the urge to cast on new projects and focus solely on this one.


Meanwhile, I had a nice little surprise waiting for me when I got home (to an empty house) yesterday evening. I found out late last week that I'd won a prize via the Yarn Harlot's annual tradition of Karmic Balancing Gifts for those who contribute to her team's fundraising efforts for the bike rally she rides in. It was here in yesterday's mail:


This is Isager Spinni Wool 1, a lovely laceweight singles yarn from Denmark. I already have a pattern in mind for this yarn: Budburst. I have a little less yardage than the pattern calls for, but given how it's knit, it should be easy to make it slightly smaller with the yardage that I have. I'm tempted to cast on -- but the socks must get done first!