Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Recapping

I've now had several days to digest the TNNA experience and reflect on just how amazing it was. Really, the main highlight of the trip was the classes I took. I signed up for two: a class on "leveling up" your social media presence with Gale Zucker and Beverly Army Williams and an introduction to tech editing class with Kate Atherley. Both classes were intended to help me with my designing, but I discovered that I actually have a knack for tech editing, so it seems that I may have another crafty job in my future!

Thursday evening at TNNA was a fashion show and an event called Sample It. The latter is an event where exhibitors offer show specials on some of their products. Because the main exhibition is primarily designed for shop owners to place wholesale orders, this is in many cases the only opportunity to buy individual items -- and a bonus is that those items are often offered at a great price. I, of course, didn't need anything, but there were some lovely things for sale that I couldn't resist bringing home.


That's a package containing a full skein of Wonderland Yarns Cheshire Cat and a gradient set of mini skeins, a three pack of Dream in Color Smooshy with Cashmere, and two skeins of MollyGirl Yarn Honky Tonk Lite. I'm not entirely sure what I'll be using all of this yarn for just yet, though I'm sure some of it will used for future designs.

An added benefit of going to a knitting even is, of course, the extra knitting time. I worked on my handspun Boxy for most of the drive to Cleveland and a little bit while we were there, and now I find myself almost finished with the front. It took me three attempts, but I finished up the first shoulder last night. (Why three attempts? Well, the first time I clearly missed a row or worked a row incorrectly, so I tried to tink back to the spot with the error, but then I couldn't figure out what row I was on, so I tinked back the entire way to the beginning of the shoulder area.)


Once I did everything correctly, it didn't take me long to complete, so I should be able to breeze through the second shoulder this evening and move on to the back, which is just mindless knitting back and forth for a while.

My socks saw most of my attention while I was away, and as you saw from my post from last Thursday, I was able to finish up the first sock thanks to a lot of knitting during my classes. (And can I just say how nice it is to be able to knit during a class? I'm so much less fidgety when I have something to do with my hands!) I cast on the second sock pretty much right away and was almost though the heel increases by the time I got home.


I'm now in the home stretch on the second sock and hope to have it finished up in the next day or so. That means I'll need to cast on another smallish project, which might be a new pair of socks or perhaps a charity hat using some leftover scraps. Even with the purchases at TNNA, I may have ordered some yarn for a new sweater in the Knit Picks summer sale, so I'm feeling the need to stash bust big time.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Free Spin

I got home from TNNA yesterday, and almost as soon as I was unpacked, I sat down at my wheel -- I had missed it that much.

But before I get to what I've been madly spinning the past two days, let's talk about what I finished earlier in the week. You saw the finished singles from that fluffy pink batt last Sunday, but here is the yarn that I plied up Monday evening:


The finished skein is pretty uneven but probably is about sport weight on average and measures up at about 208 yards. I'm actually very happy with it because the spinning of this batt was really outside my comfort zone. I have been working on my woolen spinning and really letting go (the opposite of my usual short forward draw, where I'm in complete control). I was so pleased with the experience -- and with how much faster it is by comparison -- that I figured I should do more of it. And that's where the most recent spinning comes in.

At the beginning of this year, after Ginny of FatCatKnits announced that she was closing her business, I bought a set of three batts from her Etsy shop (this photo is from the original listing):


These have been patiently waiting for me to work up the courage to spin them as they were intended to be spun, and when I saw them yesterday, I knew it was finally time. The set weighed something like 5.2 oz total, but long draw is so fast that I managed to spin up the singles from all three batts since yesterday afternoon. I am, in a word, enchanted.


I plan to ply these in the same way I plied the pink batt: I will wind off each single using my ball winder and ply it back on itself. But I'll let the singles rest a bit first, and in the meantime, my latest Southern Cross Fibre club shipment arrived while I was away:


This is Divergence on Corriedale -- should makes some excellent sock yarn!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Postcard from TNNA

As I'm sitting down to write this, it's about 9:20 p.m. and I'm just back at the hotel from all the fun of my second day at TNNA. My brain is a little fried, so this won't be a long post, but I did want to get something up. It's really been an amazing time, and I'm so thankful to Lisa for bringing me. I've taken two classes that have really been excellent and met some really nice people. Some yarn may have also followed me home from the Sample It event this evening.

This has been an excellent knitting trip as well, especially considering that it's totally acceptable to knit through classes at this type of event. Remember the sock that I started last weekend? Here's what it looks like now:


I finished binding off while waiting in line for Sample It earlier this evening. Everything from the stitch marker (just above the heel) up was knit today.

I'm sure I'll half a lot to recount once I'm home and more coherent, but suffice it to say that it's been a great time!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Travel Knitting

I'm leaving for TNNA tomorrow, so naturally instead of thinking what clothes and toiletries I need to pack, I'm thinking about the knitting I'm taking.

Of course my Boxy is coming along -- I'm hoping that all the extra knitting time will help me get closer to finishing. I hit a big milestone over the weekend: I officially finished the body (after adding about four inches of additional length) and started working the front piece.

That's a Fat Squirrel sweater-sized bag on the left for scale -- this thing is enormous!

After dividing the last transition skein into its constituent sections, I'm now in the process of dividing each of those sections in half (so that I have one bit of it to use on the front and one to use on the back). I also wound the final skein (all the lightest blue) last night and divided it in half for the sleeves. There will be lots of little balls of yarn and extra ends to weave in, but I think it'll work and give me the outcome I was envisioning.

Meanwhile, I couldn't let the sweater be my only WIP, particularly as it's a rather large one that's not especially portable, so I cast on a new pair of socks. This is the most recent shipment from the Fibernymph Dye Works Happy Hour Yarn Club, called It's Wine O'Clock Somewhere! The stripes are the colors of different types of wine.

Cheese plate stitch marker from the Victorian Studio Shop

I am again knitting toe up, using my newest pattern (which, by the way, is now in testing). I'm adapting it to a slightly smaller stitch count, as I think I've relaxed in my gauge; the last pair fit but didn't have as much negative ease as I'd like.

I'll be at TNNA through Saturday, and I'm not sure if I'll be able to get a post up on Thursday, but I'll certainly try. I did want to mention for those of you who have left comments recently that Blogger seems to be having an issue with e-mail notifications of comments, so if you've left a comment, I haven't been aware of it. I do usually try to respond to all comments if I can, but it's hard to do when you don't know you've received them! I hope the issue will be resolved soon, but in the meantime please know that I really appreciate it when you take time to comment on a post and I do read every comment!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

The BFL Curse

There's something about BFL: No matter how fine I spin it, I can never seem to get very good yardage. I suppose it's just a denser fiber compared to, say, merino. In any case, it seems that in my latest spin, I was once again cursed with low yardage.


This was my April 2018 club shipment from Southern Cross Fibre, a 70% BFL/30% Tussah silk blend in a colorway called Windrose. I decided to spin it end to end and chain ply, but to get a bit more color in the length of the skein, I split the fiber in half lengthwise before spinning. I had hoped that the silk content would aid in my attempt to spin finer singles, and they certainly looked very fine as I was spinning them, but the yarn puffed up a bit in finishing.


The finished yarn is in the neighborhood of heavy fingering to sport, and my final yardage is about 282 yards. I'm a little disappointed in that respect, but in truth I didn't really love the colors for me so I'd assumed the finished skein would likely go in my Etsy shop, and it still might.

Meanwhile, I thought I'd do something completely different for my next spin, so I grabbed a batt that I won as a KAL prize not too long ago:


This has a blend of merino, BFL, swirl BFL, Corriedale, milk protein, and nylon. I figured I'd spin it woolen to take advantage of the prep and spin it up quickly, so I opened up the batt, split it into four strips, and then fluffed up each strip before spinning it. It went incredibly quickly -- so fast that I started yesterday afternoon and already finished all the singles.


I know the photo is a little blurry, but the singles are also rather soft and fuzzy -- that's the nature of woolen-spun yarn. I spun this mostly supported long draw; the spots where I got a big bunch of the white shiny stuff (I'm not sure whether that's the milk protein or the nylon) required a bit of short forward draw to get them to draft. I'm planning on letting these singles rest on the bobbin overnight. Tomorrow I'll wind them off with my ball winder and then ply from both ends.

Meanwhile, though it's still several weeks away, I am getting ready for the annual spin-fest that is the Tour de Fleece. My order from HipStrings arrived on Friday:


I know this isn't the best photo; it was snapped not long before sundown (and I didn't want to pull the fiber out of the bag until I was ready to spin it). On the top is the HipStrings Tour de Fleece colorway on superwash domestic wool top. On the bottom is what I will likely try to spin on challenge day -- more cotton! This is Jill's EZ Spin cotton, which is supposedly great for beginners. I figure that with more progress, it has to get easier!

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Visible Progress

I've been known to say that there is a black hole in every knitting project. You know what I mean -- that point where you feel like you've been knitting a ton but haven't actually made any forward progress. That's a bit how I've felt with my WIPs, but it seems that I've done enough knitting on them to finally escape the black hole.

For one thing, I finished the socks:


This is the sample for the toe-up version of my Non-Euclidian pattern, and it did turn out rather nicely, if I do say so myself. For one thing, I managed to get the stripes to match almost perfectly (perfect matching is probably impossible, given that humans are involved in both dyeing and knitting the yarn). But the heel also turned out well and fits as I'd hoped, so I'm very pleased. The pattern is already with my tech editor and should be back to me and ready for testing soon.

My handspun Boxy sweater is also suddenly enormous:


I put half the stitches on another needle when I reached the specified length and tried it on (though I use that term loosely -- it's so big that it was really more a matter of stepping into it and holding it roughly at underarm level), and at that point I determined that I could definitely add several inches more in length. I'm now at about 19 inches, so I need to decide if I want to go to 20 or just start the front and back now. I love that in natural light you can see the colors actually changing; I've mostly been knitting this at night, when it looks solidly dark. At the top you can see the next colors to come in the fade. The four skeins you see where actually knit all as one giant 8 oz. skein, but I realized that in order for my front and back to match, I'd actually need to divide each segment in two, so I split apart the sections when I was winding the skein. I'm kind of astounded at how much I've gotten done, and when I look at the pattern, there's really not that much left to do in the grand scheme of things.

I'll be working on this sweater a lot next week when I go on a little road trip. I don't think I've mentioned it here yet, but I'm going to the TNNA Summer NeedleArts Trade Show in Cleveland next week with Lisa of Fibernymph Dye Works. She's a member and had an extra ticket (her husband has gone in the past but decided to pass this year) that she offered to me. It's my first time attending this show, and I'm really looking forward to it. I'm signed up for a couple of classes and hope to meet some folks I've only interacted with online in the past. Most of all, it'll be fun to have several days away with a friend who totally understands why I want to spend most of the trip knitting!

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Pattern Release: Undamo Cowl

When Marian of Marianated Yarns approached me about doing a collaboration and I decided to do a mini collection, I knew that I had to come up with a piece that used one of her gorgeous mini skein sets. There are plenty of dyers out there who do mini skeins, but I was so drawn to Marian's sets when I went to look at her Web site the first time that I had to get my hands on one. Luckily Marian was happy to enable!


My Undamo Cowl started with the same swirling motif as the coordinating socks and hat, but that motif was only a starting point. This cowl is entirely stranded -- in fact, the only two rounds that don't use two colors are the cast on and the bind off. If you're relatively new to stranded colorwork, this is a great way to practice. There are no long floats, plus the six background colors you use keep things interesting the whole way through even though you are repeating the stitch pattern.

This cowl uses DK weight yarn, specifically Marian's Playtime DK for the main color and a gradient Jujubee DK mini skein set (the yarn is the same base). I've honestly never used a gradient that blended so effortlessly from one color to the next as well as this set did -- Marian's clearly got a real touch with her gradients! The all-over stranding makes for a really warm, cushy fabric, and the cowl is long enough that if it's a really cold day, you can pull it up over your ears and face.


I'll admit that I saved this pattern for last because I was so looking forward to knitting it. I enjoyed every minute of it, and I'm really pleased with how it came out. I hope you like it, too!