Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Stripes of All Types

I am, apparently, in a bit of a stripe phase at the moment. First, there are the socks I finished up  last week -- in self-striping yarn, natch.

Pattern: My basic stockinette recipe worked over 70 stitches, with a 3x2 ribbed cuff, heel flap and gusset, and wide toe
Yarn: Fibernymph Dye Works Bedazzled (75% superwash merino, 15% nylon, 5% Stellina) in Impressionist Spring, 0.8 skeins
Needles: US 0 (2.0 mm) 40 in. Addi Turbo Sock Rockets, magic loop
Started/Completed: June 1/June 21

These were knit as part of the FDW S-S-S-Summertime KAL, being hosted over in the FDW Ravelry group. For each of the three summer months, there's a different focus. For June, it was stripes, so it seemed only right to cast on using this skein of yarn that was an impulse purchase last month. These aren't anything fancy, so there's not much to say about them other than the fact that I very nearly got them to match. I wasn't going to sweat it if it didn't work out (given that the striping repeat is six stripes long), but it just happened that I managed to finish the first sock in the right spot in the sequence. They aren't a perfect match, but I think they're close enough that a casual glance won't tell you otherwise.

I've also been seeing stripes in the dishcloths that I seem to have gotten addicted to knitting.

These are all the same pattern, the Chinese Waves Dishcloth, and I've been churning them out since the very end of May. I decided to knit the first one for an SSK knitalong (the designer is teaching at SSK this year), but once I started I couldn't stop. I picked up a number of skeins of cotton at Michaels several weeks ago and have been burning through them -- there's just one colored skein left after I finish the current dishcloth. I don't necessarily need a ton of dishcloths at the moment, but they're serving the purpose of busting stash, counting toward the KAL and Stash Dash, and giving me a stack of completed cloths for whenever I need some or need a quick gift (a hand-knit dishcloth with a bar of nice soap is always a good gift when you need one in a hurry). The other benefit is that it's very satisfying to finish up a project every two or three days, especially when other WIPs are larger projects.

Speaking of larger projects, this one doesn't have any stripes yet, but it soon will. I've started the commercial yarn version of the handspun shawl you saw last week. I'm using Neighborhood Fiber Co. Rustic Fingering in Lauraville (which looked like plain gray when I bought it but seems to have a bit of purple in it) and Station North (a deep red) for the contrast stripes.

This yarn is a superwash merino singles yarn, so it's behaving quite a bit differently than my handspun, which had a firmer hand to it, but I know this will have wonderful drape when it's blocked out. These skeins have quite a bit more yardage than I had with my handspun, so I can knit the whole shawl without having to worry about running out of yarn. This shawl will be my main focus as soon as I've finished up the last of the kitchen cotton; the second sample will be photographed for the pattern, but I only need to knit up to a certain point to double-check some numbers before I can send the pattern off to my tech editor. Considering the overwhelmingly positive response the pattern has gotten already, I'm certainly anxious to get it published as soon as I can. It would also be great to be able to take the samples with me to SSK to show them off!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Plying and Preparing

I had really hoped that by the time I posted this, my Fibernymph Dye Works Falkland singles would be all plied. I had grand plans to spend the afternoon at my wheel -- but then I got a text from my boss and had to go in to work for a few hours to deal with an emergency. I ended up spending just a little more than an hour with the miniSpinner, so I'm still not done, though I'm definitely getting close.

These WooLee Winder bobbins will hold somewhere in the neighborhood of eight to nine ounces, and I only had six ounces of fiber, so I know that the end is in sight. I'll sit down at the wheel again after dinner and try to get the last bit done and then likely skein and wash tomorrow.

In the meantime, I am doing the prep work I need to do to get ready for the start of the Tour de Fleece this coming Saturday. I am planning to spin at least one of the two braids of FatCatKnits Rambouillet that arrived earlier this month, but first on the wheel will be the purple Charollais from Southern Cross Fibre. I've split the 550 g of fiber into six roughly equal lengths so that I can get two skeins of three-ply yarn.

When I was spinning the original batch of SCF Charollais I received, I discovered that it spun long draw quite easily, so that's what I'm planning to do with this bath. I hope that I will be able to get through it quickly and end the Tour with, if not a sweater's quantity of fiber, at least a partial sweater's quantity. (I'm not sure if I mentioned that after I bought this clearance batch of fiber, David offered up some undyed chocolate brown Bond at an insanely good price, so 550 g of that is on its way to me and, I think, would pair nicely with this purple.)

I am not setting any outrageous goals for the Tour this year (other than to spin every day, if I can), but it would be great to get through the fiber that has recently entered the stash. I also have three projects currently on spindles, all of which have been in progress for at least a year, so I will be giving them some special attention as well. I am really looking forward to having a good excuse to spend more hours spinning!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Pattern Rerelease: Durango Socks

I'm happy to let you know that as of today, you can now buy my Durango Socks pattern in my Ravelry store. These socks originally appeared in Knitscene Handmade, which was published more than a year ago now, and I very nearly forgot I had the rights back because I actually wrote the pattern and knit up the sample closer to two years ago (time flies!).

These socks use a fairly traditional cuff-down construction -- ribbed cuff, heel flap and gusset, wide toe -- with the addition of a traveling twisted stitch pattern down the front of the sock. That stitch pattern is both written and charted.

The pattern has been graded to three average adult sizes and is easily adapted if you want to change the length of the leg or foot (just add or subtract pattern repeats). I've put it through my tech editor, too, even though it was edited for print in the magazine, just to make sure everything is good.

You'll need approximately 100 g of fingering weight sock yarn (or more, if you have very wide and/or very long feet). The yarn used for the sample is Brown Sheep Wildfoote Luxury Sock Yarn, a 75% superwash wool/25% nylon blend that, despite its name, is a fairly hardworking yarn. It's on the thicker side of fingering, I found, and knit up to a dense fabric on size 1 (2.25 mm) needles. Any fingering weight yarn that knits up at a gauge of 8 stitches per inch will work well for this pattern -- a solid or semisolid is an obvious color choice, but think of how cool these socks would look in a speckled yarn or even a self-striping! Or handspun! Hmm, might have to knit myself another pair of these just to try out these ideas.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

It's Always a Little Bit of Magic

Of all the finishing tools available to a knitter, blocking might be the most magical. Even years after my first experience of the magic that is blocking a piece of lace, I'm still completely amazed by how some water and pins can completely transform a piece of knitting.

Take, for instance, the handspun shawl design that finally came off my needles last week. I spent part of my day off on Friday giving it a fairly aggressive block, stretching it in all directions and securing it with a plethora of pins and blocking wires. It was beautiful even on the floor on top of some old towels, and I couldn't wait to get up on Saturday morning and unpin it. (There really is no better feeling than pulling out the pins and wires and having the knitting stay in exactly the same place, is there?)

The shawl is, in a word, enormous. It is wider than my wingspan, which I never would have guessed just looking at it on the needles. Even freshly bound off, it didn't seem so large, but garter stitch will stretch quite a bit, and I took full advantage of that fact. I really couldn't be more pleased with how this turned out, and that applies to the design as well as the finished size. It really did turn out as I saw it in my head, if not better. I will get some proper pictures later in the week, but for now I have to rely on my "junior photographer" to snap some shots.

I have some Neighborhood Fiber Co. Rustic Fingering all wound up and ready to be cast on for another version of this shawl (I want to check a couple of numbers, but I also feel it's important to give a commercial yarn in the pattern in addition to my handspun version). I have a feeling the second iteration will go a bit faster than the first, especially considering that I won't be designing as I knit this time around -- not to mention that I am anxious to get the pattern done and out into the world!

The second shawl would have been cast on already were it not for the fact that I seem to be addicted to knitting dishcloths. I finished another Chinese Waves on Sunday night and promptly cast on a third, which is already more than halfway done.

The second one was done in a colorway called Sunrise Ombre, and I quite like it. The current cloth (not pictured) is in a very patriotic red, white, and blue colorway. I have a feeling there will be more after it's done, too, particularly as I just stocked up on kitchen cotton and it's so easy and so satisfying to go through the relatively small skeins. I was very proud of myself for using just about every last inch of yarn on the second one -- I ended up with about two inches on each of the two tails at the end. I did encounter a knot in the middle of that skein and doubled up on the yarn for about 10 stitches or so, and frankly I don't think you can tell where it was unless you look really closely. I've found that it takes me maybe 3-4 hours of knitting to finish one of these (I knit a bit slower with cotton than with wool, as it's a bit hard on my hands), so theoretically if I keep one on the needles all the time, I should have a good stack of them done in a couple of weeks. At the moment I don't have a huge need for dishcloths (I primarily use them to wipe up splashes on the counters after I do the dishes, so they don't get dirty or worn out very quickly), but it's always good to have a stack on hand.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Long Ply

The long weekend is drawing to a close, and I'm enjoying the last few hours of leisure time before it's back to the regular crazy schedule at work tomorrow. I've spent much of the weekend at my wheel, and by the time I went to bed yesterday, all the singles of my Fibernymph Dye Works Falkland had been spun.

The multicolor singles in the top bobbin were spun pretty much entirely Friday and Saturday. The colorway is called Shetland Jellyfish -- appropriate given that for much of the time that I spent spinning them, I was watching Shetland on Netflix. I've now watched all the episodes that are available and started plying, which I think is likely to take quite a while.

What's surprised me as I've been plying is that the colors in the multicolor braid -- which appeared so vibrant as I was spinning them -- are so toned down by the semisolid single. There are even some places where both singles look almost the same color. I think the finished skein is going to be a lot more even in tone that what you'd expect from something designed to barberpole, and I quite like it. I've got a total of 6 oz. of singles to ply, so I expect it's going to take several sessions at the wheel over the course of the week. With any luck, I'll have some finished beauty shots and final specs to share with you next Sunday.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

I'm Ready for the Bind-off Party

My main knitting focus this week has been my handspun shawl, and I've been working toward the goal of getting it finished before the weekend. When I put it down last night, I decided it was big enough, so tonight I'll be knitting one more row and then binding off -- and finally getting a sense of its size (preblocking, anyway). I will weave in all the ends and be ready to block tomorrow.

I'm really excited for this project to be done, even though I'm planning to cast on a second shawl in commercial yarn almost right away to double-check my numbers. It feels like this particular project has been on the needles for a really long time, and to be honest I've felt a little guilty about neglecting it the past couple of months. It will be interesting to see how long it takes me to knit the second shawl, assuming I can continue to knit it uninterrupted until it's done!

The only other project on my needles at present is my Impressionist Spring socks, which are about 75% complete (I just finished the gusset decreases on the second sock). These will be done in short order.

I think that thus far I've totally neglected to mention that I'm hosting a stranded colorwork knitalong in my Ravelry group (though if you follow me on social media or are signed up for my newsletter, you already know about it). All of my stranded colorwork patterns are eligible, and they're all currently on sale for 20% off with the code COLORWORK until 11:59 p.m. Eastern tonight. I hope you'll join us!

Tomorrow, I am taking the day off from work (I had a use-it-or-lose-it day I needed to take), and I plan on spending it relaxing. If the weather cooperates, I'm hoping to take a long walk in the morning and then spend time with my knitting and at my spinning wheel. The Mister and I are going to a fancy schmancy black tie event in the evening, so I won't have a ton of time, but it will be nice to sleep in a bit and not have to be in the office for the day. Whatever you have planned for your weekend, I hope it includes some fiber time!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Small Victories

After finishing so much in May, I feel a bit like I've been a knitting slacker this month. Thus far, all that's been finished has been small things, like this sock:

I am nearly halfway done with the second sock of the pair as well and hope to have both wrapped up by the end of the week.

Last night I also finished a dishcloth, which is something that's small enough that it hardly merits a real FO post.

This is the Chinese Waves Dishcloth in Lily Sugar'n Cream Ombres in Moondance. I used a size 6 (4.0 mm) needle and cast on 51 stitches, and I ended up using all but a few inches of the entire skein of yarn (I'll admit I did an extra-long weaving in of the end after I bound off to use up as much of the tail as I could). I didn't have time to start it last night, but I already pulled out another ball of kitchen cotton to start another one -- ideally, I'd like to get a stack of these knit up before SSK, as they count toward an SSK knitalong because the designer is a teacher this year.

The other project that's still on the needles (though I hope not for long) is the handspun shawl. It had been seeing a lot of attention during the Stanley Cup Finals, as long rows of garter stitch proved to be perfect for nervous hockey watching, but now that the season is over, I'm anxious to get it wrapped up. I only have a handful of rows left to work before I'm ready to bind off, and I have to say that I'm really pleased with how it's turning out. Here's a peek at it (though once again it's hard to get the full effect when it's all bunched up on the needles):

It will be fun to bind this off and block it if only to get a sense for how large it actually is. To be perfectly honest, I've been kind of designing this as I go, so I really haven't planned for it to be a particular size -- it is what it is. Given that my stitch count is approaching 500, I imagine that it's going to be pretty sizable -- and that's rather impressive considering that I'll have yarn leftover!