Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Spin That Never Ends

I'm starting to think that Ginny of Fat Cat Knits put some sort of magic into this fiber that's causing it to take longer than normal to spin. I mean, I know I'm spinning very fine singles, but I spin fine singles all the time and it doesn't seem to take this long!

What you see here is all the spinning I've done up until now. I spent Friday evening at the wheel (once I got Rainbow to sleep) and managed to join the fourth and final section -- though, as you can see, I didn't get too far (the fourth section started with the yellow). I'll grant you I haven't spent all that much time at the wheel in the past couple of weeks, but I thought I would have been further by now. I really do need to step up my game a bit this week, though, because the next shipment of the fiber club ships out October 1, and I'd really like to have this done by then. With any luck, by next Sunday, I'll have a complete bobbin to show you (or even the start of plying)!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

I'm Sensing a Trend

Do you ever notice that every now and then your knitting seems to all kind of look the same? At the moment, I seem to be going through a stripe phase.

First of all, after much knitting last week, I did manage to finish up my brioche cowl last Friday night, just before we left for our weekend trip. I finished binding off just before bed -- I didn't even weave in all my ends before we left! -- and tossed it into one of my project bags to be dealt with when we got back. On Tuesday evening, I wove in the last of the ends and blocked it. By yesterday, it was dry. And it is now big and squishy and cozy; it will be a great winter accessory.

You may recall that I knit another brioche cowl earlier this year, but this was my first time doing the stitch in two colors. I really like the effect, but there are definitely some tension issues (mostly at the beginning of the round, where I switched from one color to the other). I suspect these issues might be improved with a tighter gauge, but I'll also wait and see if the stitches even out a bit on their own as I wear it and it gets tugged this way and that.

I didn't really use a pattern for this cowl; I just cast on until the 40 in. needle was full (making sure I had an even number) and worked basically until I round out of yarn. I started at the light end of the Retro Chic skein and the dark end of the Vintage skein to make sure I had contrast throughout.

The reason that I was so anxious to finish up this project (aside from the fact that I'd been working on it for more than a month and was a bit sick of it) was that I wanted to free up the needles to cast on for a new shawl design sample. This one will be a companion shawl to Leventry and have a similar construction, but with a few twists. As you can see, the beginning is striped:

I'm using Quince & Co. Finch for this shawl, the first time I've used this particular yarn, and I am loving it. It is wonderfully springy and bouncy, and it's soft to boot. I know it won't be the last time I use it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Pattern Release: Onder

I'm sorry for the radio silence the past few days. We were away over the weekend for a family wedding, and I took my computer with me, intending to post, but then discovered that I didn't have Internet access. Whoops. In any case, I'm back with a bang today. Meet my newest pattern design, Onder.

Onder is a crescent-shaped shawl worked from one end to the other. For the first half of the shawl, you work gradual increases to make the shawl wider. For the second half, you work gradual decreases to get back to the original stitch count. All the while you work a relatively simple lace edging that features the subtle sparkle of seed beads (though the beads are entirely optional).

For the sample, I used one skein of Baah! La Jolla, a delightfully springy fingering weight yarn. This yarn is 400 yds. per skein, but it's easy to adapt the pattern if you have a skein with more or less yardage. This pattern would be great for a skein of handspun -- with a scale to measure how much yarn you have, you can modify the pattern to use it all.

I'm really excited about this pattern. It was a lot of fun to knit and I'm looking forward to wearing it now that the weather has taken a turn for the cooler. I hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I'd Let You Squish It If I Could

Yesterday was a good mail day. I was expecting it, but it's still a lovely surprise to get home and find yarn waiting for you -- particularly after a long day at work.

This is Quince & Co. Finch, a lovely, super squishy fingering weight. It is 100% American wool, breed type unknown, but it is soft and fluffy and lovely. I can't wait to cast on with it.

We are headed out of town this weekend for a family wedding, so I've already wound my skeins and gotten everything ready for the long ride in the car (about five hours each way). I'll be taking the Finch and starting a new design as well as this skein of Dream in Color Smooshy (the colorway is Miami Red), which is destined to be a Baby Surprise Jacket for our neighbors, who are expecting a baby next month.

They haven't shared whether it's a boy or a girl (and I don't even know if they know), so I went with something bright and cheerful that will look good on either gender. I figure that if it's a girl, I can do some quick embellishments or embroidery to make it more girly.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Inching Closer

I spent more time over the weekend working on Rainbow's sweater and had grand plans of finishing up the body, but I was thwarted a bit by my own inattention. I sat down to work on it on Saturday afternoon during my usual time at my LYS only to discover that it was just about time to join the second skein of yarn -- the one that was in another bag at home. Oops. Luckily, I had my sweater in the bag that was with me, so I was able to put in a handful of rows on it and am now about four rows away from being able to bind off the body. I'd say the end of twisted ribbing was in sight, but once I'm done with the body I move on to the button bands, which are (you guessed it!) in twisted ribbing as well.

Saturday evening I was able to locate the second skein of yarn for Rainbow's sweater and got to work incorporating it. Even though this yarn isn't hand dyed, I wanted to alternate skeins for a few rounds just in case. Once that was done, I was just about at the point where I was to start the lace portion, so it worked out very well. I've only done a bit of the lace thus far, but I will work on it more tonight.

Meanwhile, my handspun brioche cowl is growing just a bit each day. I've been working on it during my lunch break at work and haven't been too concerned about getting it done by any particular time, but then I realized that I'd really like to free up the needles to take with me this weekend, when we're headed out of town for a wedding and I'll have about 10 hours of car knitting time. So I spent some more time with it last night and have now officially moved into new colors. I don't know that I'll actually finish it by Friday night, but I can at least put in a good effort.

And why, I'm sure you're wondering, do I want the needles freed up? Well, I'm expecting an order from Quince & Co. to arrive a little later this week, and I'm planning to turn that yarn into a new shawl design. It will be a companion piece to Leventry and have a similar construction, but I'm changing things up a bit. I've already written out my pattern draft and started charting the lace so I'll be all ready to go.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Too Much of a Good Thing?

If you've followed my spinning at all, then you know I like a lot of twist in my yarns. In most cases, that can be a good thing, because I spin a lot of sock yarn and extra twist can mean added durability. However, putting in a lot of twist can be a hard habit to break, and there are times when it's not as desirable. That might be the case for the yarn that came off my wheel this past Monday.

This was 4 oz. of Bee Mice Elf mixed BFL/silk, the last shipment I got when I was still in the fiber club, a colorway called Well Preserved. I split it in half (by folding the length of top in two and ripping at the fold line) so that any colors that lined up would be purely accidental. It took me a really long time to spin up all the singles and a good day and a half to ply, but I ended up with roughly 663 yards of two-ply lace weight. Sounds good so far, right? Here's the rub: As much as I snapped the skein after washing to distribute the twist, there's still a good about of plying twist left in it.

If you look closely just below the penny in this shot, you can see a little pigtail where the yarn has twisted back on itself. There are a quite a few spots like that in the skein. Now, if I knit this into a lace item and block the heck out of it (as I normally do), it likely won't be an issue, but sometimes I want my lace yarn to have a little more softness to it, so I'm considering running this back through the wheel very quickly to take out just a little of the excess twist.

The twist issue aside, I'm very pleased with this yarn. The colors are beautiful, and the skein has a really attractive luster to it. It was also a very pleasant spin. I left the BME club because I was a little unhappy with part of the experience, but the fiber quality didn't have anything to do with it. This braid was prepped well and drafted beautifully. Other than an occasional small slub of silk (which seems to be pretty common in a silk blend), there were no issues.

Meanwhile, I'm continuing to make slow but steady progress on my Fat Cat Knits Polwarth/silk. Here it was earlier this afternoon:

This was near the end of the second strip of fiber, and shortly after I took this photo, I joined in the third strip, so I'm now back into purple. This means that I'm just slightly more than halfway done. It's going to take some serious time to get it all done (and I don't even want to think about how long it will take to chain ply), but I know I'm going to love this yarn when it's done. I can see that I'm making a dent when I sit down for any length of time, so I'm going to make an effort to fit in some more spinning during the week.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Being Good

After neglecting Rainbow's sweater for the past week, I decided that this week was the time to be good and work on it. And of course, when you work on something, you actually see progress! Although it's slow going, the stockinette portion is getting longer.

I'm not exactly sure how much I have left to knit because I'm knitting a larger size to accommodate my different gauge, but I don't think I'll need to do quite the length of the larger size. I need to either hold it up to Rainbow or have her try it on to see where it's hitting and where she'd like it to hit when it's done.

I'd also like to point out that I was extra good last night and wove in all my ends, including using one to do a little fancy duplicate stitch at the base of the button bands to make that area look neater. I know future me will appreciate the extra effort.

As long as I was resurrecting WIPs, I thought I'd pull out my handspun brioche cowl for my lunchtime knitting this week. I am just starting to see the first color change in one of the skeins, so clearly some progress has been made, but there's still quite a lot of yarn left. The cowl currently measures about 4 inches, so this is going to be pretty monstrous when it's done. Considering everyone is predicting another really cold winter, it's likely going to be a very handy accessory for several months.