Tuesday, May 23, 2017

I'm on Fire

When I started out this month with some pretty lofty goals, I had every intention of meeting them, but secretly I had my doubts. After all, I have a full-time job and a kid and a husband who travels for work, so my crafting time is the first thing to go when there are other priorities for my time. Because of that I'm pretty darn impressed with myself for how well things are going.

In addition to finishing up my sweater last week, I also completed the secret pattern sample (and blocked it, so it will be ready to be mailed off to the publication this weekend). I also finished up the Sitka Spruce hat for Rainbow's teacher on Sunday evening, and last night I cast on for the first of the mittens.

As if all that wasn't enough, I've decided to try to knit a pair of socks by the end of the month, too, in order to qualify for a knitalong (and keep me on track for the Box 'o Socks knitalong). So far, it's going very well:

This is Fibernymph Dye Works Squoosh 2.0, a superwash Corriedale/nylon blend, in Bring Me Orchids. It's a bit heftier than Lisa's other fingering weight yarns, so it's actually knitting up a bit faster -- the sock you see here was started on Friday, and I really only worked on it on Friday, a bit on Sunday night, and the past two days during my lunch break. Considering we have a long weekend coming up, I'm feeling pretty good about my chances of finishing these.

I've already got the next pair of socks lined up thanks to the purchase and arrival of this sparkly skein of Fibernymph Dye Works Bedazzled in a colorway I've been lusting over called Impressionist Spring.

Also inside the package containing this skein was a skein of bulky weight for Rainbow that Lisa included. It made the kid's day!

The only bad knitting related thing that's happened in the past several days is that my beloved DSLR seems to be dead. There was an issue with the shutter mechanism, and my dear husband took it apart and tried to fix it, but now it only works intermittently. It would likely cost as much to have it fixed as to buy a new camera, and given that the camera is older than Rainbow, a new one is probably the route I'll go. Thank goodness for camera phones -- they do the job in a pinch!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Playing Catch-up

I can tell just how much spinning I haven't been doing by how many episodes of the video podcasts I watch are waiting for me to watch them. This weekend, with the major knitting projects off the needles and time to focus on my spinning, I think I had easily half a dozen episodes to watch. Fortunately, I had the time to finally catch up. My main goal for the weekend was to finish the Southern Cross Fibre Corriedale singles that I started at the beginning of the month. That goal was achieved just a short time ago.

The fiber at the very end was all dark gray/black, but if you look closely, you can see little pops of blue and golden brown underneath. I'll be chain plying these later in the week (I figured I might as well wait a few days so that I can count the finished yarn for Stash Dash, which kicks off on Friday).

In the meantime, because I still had half of my last episode to watch when I finished the singles, I started spinning the Fibernymph Dye Works BFL I won as a prize in a knitalong in the 90% Knitting Ravelry group. This will be a two-ply yarn, perhaps fingering, but I'll wait and see once I ply.

Here's a look at the fiber:

It's drafting beautifully, and I think it will spin up very quickly.

It felt so good to spend time at my wheel after largely ignoring it for the past few weeks. I hope to continue giving it regular attention this week!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

We Have Feathers

My Quill is done, officially, but I blocked it last night and it's still rather damp (in fact, I just tossed it into the dryer for a bit to try to speed things along), so you'll have to settle for preblocked pictures.

Pattern: Quill by Evie Scott
Yarn: Miss Babs Yowza (100% superwash merino) in Indigo Bunting, a little less than three skeins
Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm) and US 6 (4.0 mm) ChiaoGoo Red Lace circulars
Started/Completed: February 25/May 16
Mods: none

This is an excellent pattern -- extremely well written, easy to follow, and resulting in a very well-fitting sweater. The sweater is worked in one piece from the bottom up to the underarms, then split for the back and fronts. The shoulders are joined with a three-needle bind off and then stitches are picked up around the armscye and short-row shaping is used to shape the sleeve cap. Finally, stitches are picked up along the fronts and the neck for the super squishy collar, which also has short-row shaping around the neck.

The other special feature of this sweater that you can't really see in this photo is pockets on the front, which are created in a very clever way. Waste yarn is knit in when you knit the body and then later removed for an afterthought pocket. I've never done pockets in a sweater before, but these were so easy that it's likely I'll do them again!

While this wasn't exactly a fast knit (it would have been faster if I'd been monogamous), I wouldn't hesitate to knit it again. Based on the FOs posted in the knitalong thread in Evie's group, it looks good on everyone. I know it would look great on both my mother and my sister-in-law, so perhaps someone will get a very special present one of these days.

I'm planning another sweater knit -- this one appropriate for the summer -- but first I've got to finish off the design sample. My goal is to finish that up tonight so I can focus on the last of the knitting obligation, the teacher knits. And there will most definitely be some spinning this weekend -- I've really got to make up for lost time!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

I Have a Sweater-shaped Object

Some folks on the Ravelry spinning boards have been known to refer to some antique store and estate sale spinning wheel find as "SWSOs," or spinning wheel-shaped objects -- in other words, something that looks like a spinning wheel but doesn't actually function. Well, today I have a sweater-shaped object on my hands. It looks like a sweater, but it's not quite done and thus not quite functional.

I finally finished the collar of my Quill sweater on Sunday afternoon. I won't lie: It took an inordinate amount of time to knit. It's five inches wide along the sides, which translated to 60 rows of knitting -- and that's after the short row shaping around the neck. Each row took me about 10 minutes to knit, so you can get the idea of just how long it took. That said, it was entirely worth it. As the designer put it, it feels like a big hug. I have a feeling this sweater will become my favorite once cold weather arrives again in the fall.

All that's left between me and a finished sweater is the final pocket, which I only had time to start yesterday (the first pocket was completed on Sunday evening). The pocket construction is really quite clever. You place waste yarn for the pocket placement as you're knitting the body, then remove it to uncover live stitches. The stitches on the top are worked to create a long flap, which is then joined to the bottom stitches with a three-needle bind off. Finally, you seam the sides of the pocket flap together to close it up. So easy but so brilliant, am I right?

This is the first time I've added pockets to a hand-knit sweater, and I must say that I rather like them. In hindsight, I might have made the pockets a bit wider so they'd better accommodate the width of my hand, but then again a smaller pocket will also prevent me from trying to put too much in it and keep me from stretching it out.

In addition to having the benefit of a new sweater, it'll be done before the end of the knitalong and it looks like it will use up most of the yarn, so a win for the stash as well. I'll have just three small balls of leftovers plus my swatches remaining, so really only enough to use as a stripe or two in a charity hat or as waste yarn for another project.

My pattern sample is at about the 75% mark, so that should be finished up in the next couple of days, leaving only the hat and mittens for Rainbow's teacher left to be completed. I have no concerns about getting those done, and I might even try to squeeze in a pair of socks by the end of the month (just some plain stockinette self-striping, nothing fancy, which I can do in the dark while putting Rainbow to bed, among other places). It looks like putting the pressure on has paid off this time around!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

I Swear There's More

It's been another week of mostly knitting and ignoring my spinning (and thankfully that has actually paid off, as I predict you'll see in my next post), but I did squeeze in about an hour at the wheel on Friday night and yesterday afternoon, so there's just a bit more on the bobbin than there was a week ago.

Please forgive the blurry photo. Some disaster has befallen my DSLR, rendering it unusable at the moment, so I'm relying on my phone camera at the moment, and that requires my hands to be still, which almost never happens. Still, I think you can see that the color changes are really subtle, and I think this yarn should knit up in a really interesting way. I'm in the middle of my third (of four) little bundle of fiber, and I expect that I'll be able to devote some additional crafting time to this spinning project this week.

We got a special treat today on our way home from a Mother's Day brunch today. We stopped over at the Steel City Fiber Collective, where we got to pet a week-old lamb from the Ross Farm:

He was so little and so soft! Amy and Scooter Pie were there to talk about their farm, where they raise heritage and rare breed sheep. This little guy was one of the most recent additions, and it was such a nice addition to the day to get to meet him.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

And Miles to Knit Before I Sleep

My apologies to Robert Frost, whose poetry I've corrupted for the title of this post, but I do feel like I have miles and miles of garter stitch to knit. I have been diligently working on my Quill collar every evening, and progress seems to be minuscule. When I put it away last night (following the successful completion of the Penguins game), I had 14 completed garter ridges. According to my calculations, I need a total of 30 garter ridges to get to the requisite 5 inches of collar. That means I have 32 rows left to knit, and at this point each row is taking me at least 10 minutes. Eight rows a night has been a good night for me thus far, so I figure I have at least four more nights of solid knitting before the collar is finished. Assuming I can squeeze in some extra time this weekend, I can probably shorten that.

When I have not been slogging through all the garter stitch, I have been working on my commission sample, and while I can't tell you much about it, I can tell you that it's more than 50% done now. I am hopeful that it will be completely finished in another week.

The weekend ahead is looking moderately busy, but the only really solid plans we have are to head to my brother- and sister-in-law's house for Mother's Day brunch on Sunday. I am planning on using the rest of the day for me time, which I think it only appropriate. I have quite a few things to catch up on waiting for me on the DVR and obviously a lot of knitting to do.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

I'm Knitting as Much (and as Fast) as I Can!

The second week of May has arrived, and I am moving right along on my projects. I almost feel like I need a giant progress chart to track all of them and to keep me from getting too stressed out, because it seems like there is too much knitting and not enough time.

That said, some progress has been made. For starters, I finished up the baby gift for Rainbow's teacher, save adding the ribbons to the ears, which will be done as soon as the hat is fully dry from its blocking.

Note: Photo taken prior to blocking

Pattern: Bunny Tail from Itty-Bitty Hats by Susan B. Anderson
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Worsted (100% superwash merino) in Carnation, less than one skein
Needles: US 5 (3.75 mm)
Started/Completed: May 1/May 3
Mods: none

What you can't see in the photo is the tiny pompom on the back. I elected to attach it just below the base of the ears so that it won't form an uncomfortable lump on the back of the head for the baby. I'll be finishing this off by sewing on some bows made of pink grosgrain ribbon.

Meanwhile, the gifts for Rainbow's other teacher (her main classroom teacher, who is retiring at the end of the year) are well under way and seem like they will be a fast enough knit that I've kind of put them aside for the time being -- they just need to be done prior to her last day of school, June 2, so I figure I don't need to panic about them until closer to the end of the month. Here's the start of the hat from the Sitka Spruce set by Tin Can Knits.

The pattern involves lots of twisted stitches, which are very easy to do once you get the hang of them. I have had a few instances where I've had to tink back, but that's mainly due to my own inattention. Every other round of the hat is knit, so I only really have to focus for half of my knitting time on this project. The mittens will likely be even faster, as they're smaller and have patterning on only the back of the hand.

You'll notice that I'm working from a hand-wound ball rather than a cake, and that's because this particular skein appeared to have been wound by drunken monkeys and just would not work on my swift. I estimate I spent between 30 and 45 minutes winding it by hand; at the time, I felt like it was wasting valuable knitting time, but on the other hand, it did save me a lot of frustration from trying to get it to work on my swift. I haven't touched the second skein yet, but I certainly hope it's more well behaved.

At some point yesterday I realized that the ending date for the Quill knitalong was quickly approaching, so I really needed to work on mine if I wanted to finish in time. I am on the collar, the very long rows of garter stitch, and I managed to get eight total rows done last night, I think. I've got to knit a total of five inches of garter at the collar (measured toward the bottom edge, as there's short-row shaping around the neck) -- that's the same amount I worked at the bottom of the body, and that took about 30 garter ridges (or 60 rows total) to achieve, so there's still quite a bit of work left to do.

This will be my evening knitting project for the foreseeable future, and it's the primary reason why I've put the teacher gifts on hold for the time being. The knitting at this point is so mindless that I can do it while doing other things, and frankly I feel it's been on the needles for long enough.

The other good news is that my sample is nearing the halfway point, so I should be able to cross it off my to-do list by the end of the month as I'd hoped. The not-so-good news is that it looks like my spinning time will be very limited this month -- but I'm sure I can make up for that this summer when Tour de Fleece time rolls around again!