Thursday, February 11, 2016

Again and Again

Things have gotten a little repetitive around here. I am still working on the socks and they are moving along at a good clip -- I'm nearly finished with the leg of the second one. The only other project I've been working on the last couple of days has been my Zeccola Cowl (v. 2). I'm now in my seventh repeat of the stranded pattern and the whole thing is measuring about 23 inches long.

It did seem to not be getting any longer for a bit there, but I have realized that my yarn cakes are noticeably smaller, so clearly the yarn is getting used up. I will say that the benefit of knitting this pattern again is that, while I don't have the whole pattern memorized just yet, it's become much more automatic. Every time I get into the middle of the chart, I really only need a quick glance at it to remind me what to do. I am getting through about one repeat per evening, maybe a little more, and I think I'm aiming for roughly 20 repeats total, so I'm feeling good about meeting my goal of finishing by the first week of March.

This weekend I'm hoping to put in some time on my other projects. Rainbow has no school tomorrow or Monday, which means that the two of us get a long weekend. We have big plans to toss and organize the stash, but it's also supposed to be brutally cold this weekend, so covering myself with wool seems like a totally logical plan. I'd really like to spend some time on my sweater, especially, as it's been pretty much ignored the last two weeks. It's a shame, because this is a weekend it would be great to have it to wear!

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Hello, Mojo

I'm not sure what did it, but something lit a fire under me this past weekend and I did a lot of knitting (spinning, too, but we're talking about knitting today). After having make little progress on my First Point of Libra, I whipped through the rest of the gradient strip on Saturday. On Sunday, I wove in all my ends (yes, really! I was being good!) and picked up along the side for the main triangle. I've now done a handful of rows and already really like what I'm seeing.

I know that left edge looks wonky, but that's just the cable of the needle misbehaving. I'm hoping that as there's more weight on it, it'll straighten out a bit, because frankly it was driving me a bit batty when I was knitting back and forth over 35 stitches and it was curling up. I am really into this knit now and frankly would be knitting it nonstop, but I decided that because I have more time to get it done (it doesn't need to be finished until the end of March), I should really concentrate on another project with an earlier deadline.

That project is my second Zeccola Cowl, which I am knitting as part of the knitalong in my Ravelry group. That is supposed to wrap up on March 8, so I really need to get my butt in gear and get it moving. I have added a few repeats since you saw it last, and I'm really happy with the way these two colorways are playing together.

At this point I'm not 100% sure how many repeats I'm going to do. In theory, I could keep working until I ran out of yarn, but as these are rather big skeins (462 yards each), I think I would wind up with a cowl that would be a bit unwieldy. I'd like this version to be about the same length as the original if not a bit shorter (this version is narrower, so I don't quite need the same length). I know I can block a bit extra out of it, so I will keep knitting until it looks like it's a good length and go from there. It would be really great if I could finish this up by the first week in March, as it would be great to wear it and show it off at the Pittsburgh Knit & Crochet Festival, where I'll be taking a class and perhaps wandering through the marketplace a bit.

The really exciting news is that am I officially halfway done with the black socks of doom! I Kitchenered the toe of the first sock last night after dinner. I know black yarn makes for a horrible picture, especially when there's no natural light to be had, but here is your photographic proof that it happened:

I have cast on for the second sock and am hoping that knowing that the end is in sight will make it less of a slog. I certainly hope to make progress on all my projects this weekend, when I'll have a rare four days in a row at home (Rainbow's school is closed Friday and Monday). We have some errands to run and I'm supposed to get my hair cut on Saturday, but it looks like it's going to be a bitterly cold several days -- a perfect excuse to stay inside and knit!

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Nearly There

I did not spin at all during the last week. It was a rough week, and knitting felt more therapeutic, so I went with it. However, that meant that the last little bit of spinning that was needed to finish up the 4 oz. braid of FatCatKnits Falkland has been sitting. This morning I decided enough was enough. The rest of my family was out skiing all day, so once I got the last load of laundry squared away, I sat down at my Lendrum, put on some video podcasts, and finished up the second and third bobbin of singles.

You can tell from how little is on these bobbins that it did not take me very long to do -- maybe two hours altogether, maybe a little bit more, but not very much in the grand scheme of things. I'm going to let these rest for about a day and will likely ply tomorrow evening. Then I will be a good spinner and go back to my large gradient project.

I will say that finishing up this braid has been a bit of an exercise in patience. Aside from the time it's taken me, I've been spending much of it fighting with my wheel. Normally my Lendrum is very easy-going and quiet, but for some reason it's started rattling rather loudly during this spin. At first I thought it was just the bobbin and it was rattling because my back maiden was a little loose, but the rattle continued even after I tightened it. Then I tried adjusting the height of the whole head, but that seemed to make it worse -- I not only had the bobbin rattle, but now the whole wheel would shudder every 30 seconds or so. I have oiled the necessary parts and fiddled with all sorts of adjustments, but nothing seems to help much. I suppose the wheel could use a thorough wipe down, so perhaps once I'm finished with this project I'll do that and see if a bit of a spa treatment helps any. I know I would certainly benefit from it!

Thursday, February 04, 2016

WIP Overload

While I am not in any way a monogamous knitter, there is a good reason why I usually have no more than two or three projects in progress. I'm experiencing a bit of WIP overload at the moment, and it's making me feel a little scattered because I never know what to work on at any given time. I currently have four projects on the needles -- my Evenlight, my second Zeccola Cowl, my First Point of Libra, and the black socks for my father-in-law -- as well as two spinning projects. Thus far I've been working on one project each evening, which seems fair to the projects but also means that I don't make much progress on any one.

Actually, that's not entirely true. The black socks are moving along, due strictly to sheer determination to get them over and done with. I am through the gusset on the first sock, and now that only half the sock is in ribbing, I think they will move a little faster. I have no real deadline for these socks, but obviously I want to finish them as quickly as I can. It would be nice to get them to my father-in-law while we're still in the middle of winter, though; he works as a school crossing guard and needs everything he can possibly use to keep warm while he's outside for several hours every day.

My cowl now has two full colorwork repeats done and I've started on the third. This time around, I'm only working four plain rounds between the stranded sections (the original has about 20 rounds between), so there's a lot of colorwork happening. That keeps things interesting but it also means I have to pay attention, so it's not as fast as some other projects.

I have only spent one evening this week thus far on my First Point of Libra, and that was the evening I cast it on. I am working on the vertical strip that has stripes of each of the colors in the gradient and have done exactly one and a half stripes. It doesn't look like much, to be honest.

This is probably the easiest knitting I have going at the moment. It's garter stitch, and the only things I have to remember to do on each row are to slip the last stitch and click my row counter. It will be a great project for my Saturday afternoon knitting at my LYS, as it's something I can knit while chatting without much fear of messing up.

My sweater, I must admit, has not been touched since the weekend. However, I had made decent progress at that point -- I think the last time I measured the body, I was a touch more than halfway to the required measurement of 14 inches from the underarm. I am a bit concerned that it will no longer be cold enough to wear this sweater by the time I finish it, though I suppose in that case I will put it away to wear on the first chilly day in the fall.

So now you understand my dilemma. I am enjoying all of these knits (well, maybe not the socks, but I'd like to get them done), so it's hard to pick just one to work on. I suppose this is why sometimes I don't knit at all but spin instead!

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

All the Knitalongs, All the Time

It's starting to look like February is going to be my month of knitalongs.

For one thing, there's the Zeccola Cowl Knitalong happening in my Ravelry group. I usually like to keep my samples nice, meaning I don't often wear them, so I wanted to knit a second cowl to have to wear out and about. I cast on for mine on Sunday afternoon and worked on it while making a big vat of soup for dinner.

I'm making a few modifications to the pattern this time around. For starters, I am using thinner yarn (fingering rather than sport weight), so I went down a couple of needle sizes. That means the cowl is going to be a bit narrower. I'm also working only three rounds between colorwork sections, so the stranded work is going to be pretty much continuous for the whole cowl. And I'm using only two colors this time, which will mean fewer ends to weave in, but as both yarns are slightly variegated, there's a bit of color play even in the rounds that are worked with only one strand.

Last night I cast on a new project for another knitalong, this time as part of my LYS's yearlong "Shawl Adventure." The first pattern is Laura Aylor's First Point of Libra, a squishy garter stitch shawl designed to show off a gradient. I'm using the gradient mini skein set I bought at Miss Babs at MDSW last year as well as a skein of handspun moorit-colored Shetland for the main color. Here's the yarn all together before I cast on:

I don't have a photo of my progress, but it's just a small strip of garter stitch, so not much to see at this point. The shawl has an interesting modular construction -- you start with the vertical strip worked in the gradient, then pick up stitches along one side in the main color. Following Laura's recommendation, I started with the darkest color in my gradient so that the neon green in the set will be at the top of the strip and the bottom of the horizontal stripe near the bottom. The knitting is fairly easy and mindless at this point; all I have to remember to do is to slip the last stitch of each row and click my row counter (there are about 50 rows of each color, so I need a reliable way to keep count).

There is no photographic evidence of my lunchtime knitting just yet (really, do you need a photo of black socks?), but it is moving along. I'd avoid it if I could, but I am working on it whenever I can if only so I can be finished with the horrid things. Next year, I'll remember to pick out the color on my own or, better yet, buy something from a store.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Brights

I've finished my last skein of handspun for January, and it's a pretty one, if I do say so myself:

This is the result of spinning the lighter/brighter colors in my Day's End braid of Falkland from FatCatKnits. The fiber was 73 g to start with (from a total of 120 g) and split more or less in thirds. I did a traditional three ply spinning my default singles and ended up with a lovely fingering weight that's approximately 260 yards. The pictures here are doing a poor job of conveying just how bright some parts of this skein are -- the brightest green is very neon, almost like a highlighter.

I really did everything I could to use up every last bit of these singles. When the first bobbin ran out, I wound off what was left on the second bobbin so I could ply from both ends of it along with the singles coming from the third bobbin. When the second bobbin's singles were used up, I chain plied the bit that was left on the third bobbin. So the very end of the skein might not be that even, but I felt very resourceful.

The darker fiber is now on the wheel and should go a bit faster because I only have 47 g of it. Once that skein is done and I know my final yardage, I'll have to figure out what fun thing I can knit with this very colorful yarn!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Is It the Weekend Yet?

What a week it has been! Work has blown up this week, with big projects all arriving at the same time and needing to be done by the same deadline. The result has been a very stressful several days, and I am very much looking forward to the weekend to recover. I've been relying a lot on my knitting to relieve some of that stress, and while I haven't made a huge amount of progress, the rhythmic, repetitive motions of making the stitches has done a lot to bring my blood pressure down. And I did manage to finish a project!

Pattern: Sandrine Slouch Hat by Katy H. Carroll
Yarn: my handspun, from Crown Mountain Farms Heinz 57 fiber in Sumer (spun in October 2011!)
Needles: US 2 (2.75 mm) and US 3 (3.25 mm)
Started/Completed: January 18/January 25
Mods: none

This was a fun knit, and it went a lot faster than I was expecting (really the slowest part was the ribbing on the brim). I really like the cables, especially the way they're cleverly decreased for the crown. The pattern is very well written, and I'll definitely be looking at the other patterns in Katy's Virescent Collection in the future. I've still got a little less than half of the yarn leftover, so I'm thinking of making another hat in a smaller size (I knit the largest size for me).

I've spent the last couple of evenings working on my Evenlight, which seems to be growing more slowly now that I've moved on to the body. I've got about 4 inches knit under the underarms at this point; I need to get to 14 inches before I start the bottom ribbing.

I've reached that point in the project where I'm starting to worry I'll run out of yarn, even though I should have more than 100 yards extra according to the pattern's yarn specifications. I'm not panicking, because I can get another skein, but I'd prefer not to. Fingers crossed!

Tonight I should be finishing up one project that's been on the needles (one you haven't seen because it has to remain a secret for now), so that will leave me with just the sweater as an active WIP. That means it's time to cast on something new! For starters, I'll be casting on for the socks for my father-in-law -- plain black ribbed socks (to be knitted only in sufficient daylight, presumably). Those will be my lunchtime knitting for the foreseeable future. In addition, I'm going to knit another Zeccola Cowl for myself as part of the knitalong! I haven't yet settled on my colors just yet, but I know it's going to be two of these skeins from my recent Knit Picks order:

Originally I was thinking of using either the two greens or the two blues, but now I'm thinking the dark blue and the light green. I still might change my mind. For this iteration, I'm just going to use two colors and do the stranded sections pretty much continuously (so no big one-color sections between the stranded sections). There's still time to join the knitalong if you're interested, and there's still a few days left on the introductory discount on the pattern!