Sunday, July 15, 2018

One Really Big Skein

It's been quite a weekend for finishing things! Most notably, yesterday morning I finished plying my giant skein of Southern Cross Fibre Charollais, and it was so big and poofy that I actually had to manually wind the last couple of yards onto the bobbin because the flyer would no longer turn. I almost immediately skeined it and tossed it in to soak, and it was finally dry this afternoon.

This skein is so enormous that it took quite a feat of strength to twist it into this quasi-hank. It is super squishy and elastic, too. While it looks to be perhaps a bit thicker than the first skein, yardage-wise it's right there: The first skein was 355 yards and the second is 358. Pretty darn close! Here they are together:

The brown fiber around the skeins is chocolate Bond from Southern Cross that I'm hoping to spin into two skeins to match the purple ones. Ideally, I'd like to knit a big, cozy colorwork sweater using the two (maybe a Lopapeysa?).

Before I start spinning the Bond, though, I want to finish up my other Tour de Fleece spin in progress, and I've literally just completed the second bobbin of those singles:

This is the TdF colorway from HipStrings on superwash domestic wool (meaning no particular breed -- likely just wool from the wool pool). I'm doing a three-ply fingering with this, and the third bobbin is just barely started. I imagine that if I focus on it, I'll have it done in the next couple of evenings.

Lest you think I'm spinning up all my fiber, I have some new acquisitions courtesy of the Southern Cross fiber club. These arrived in one package yesterday; I got an e-mail from Australia Post that they'd been delivered just as I finished up my Charollais skein!

June's shipment is called Allegory and is on oatmeal BFL, so it has that wonderful depth of shade from the natural color of the fiber.

The colors of this really make me think of fall leaves when some are just beginning to turn but there's still a fair amount of green. I think I will likely spin a fingering-weight two ply out of this.

July's shipment is on Polwarth, my absolute favorite fiber, and is in a colorway called Plot Twist.

When David posted the spoiler of this color on Ravelry, I literally gasped out loud. And then, because he'd posted that he had limited extras in his shop, I hopped on over and bought more. So I have four more bags of this on their way to me so that I can spin for another sweater. I'm thinking a traditional three-ply fingering weight so that the colors can be fairly mixed up and I won't have to worry about alternating skeins or doing any complex measuring.

There was some more major finishing this weekend -- but you'll have to wait until my next post to find out about that!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Three on Thursday, Spinning Edition

I'm borrowing today's title from my friend Kat, who does a "Three on Thursday" post every week. It seemed a fitting title for today's post given that I now have three completed bobbins of Charollais singles!

I finished up the last one last night and added onto it the leftover singles from the first skein (which I had very thoughtfully wound off from the bobbins and tucked into the bag with the completed skein and remaining fiber) so that I can use up as much as possible. As tempting as it is to get right into plying these, I think I will let them sit on the bobbins one more day to take a break from this project and work on my other Tour de Fleece project for a bit.

Meanwhile, I did step away from the wheel briefly last night to work on my handspun Boxy, which is so close to completion I can taste it.

I believe I have something like 65 rounds left to knit on the second sleeve, and the only finishing I'll need to do once that sleeve is complete is weave in the sleeve's two ends and block (and boy does this need a serious blocking!). If I ignored my spinning for a couple of evenings, I have no doubt I'd get it done, but I know that's not likely to happen. I'm pretty sure that I can knock out the rest of the sleeve by the end of the weekend, though, so with any luck, next Tuesday's post will be a big FO post!

The weekend ahead is supposed to be hot, humid, and rainy, so I won't feel guilty for hiding in the air conditioning inside and crafting for most of it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Last Legs

This week it feels like a lot of things are coming together and creating the right conditions to finish up some big (or big-ish) projects. First of all, I've got two bobbins of singles spun up for the second skein of Southern Cross Fibre Charollais and will, with any luck, have the third and final bobbin done tonight.

In the grand scheme of things, this isn't such a huge project -- I've certainly spun much larger quantities before -- but considering that the first skein was finished a year ago, it feels very good to put this spin-in-progress to bed.

The bigger project, and once that really has been ongoing for quite a long time, is my handspun Boxy. I finished the first sleeve and picked up for the second over the weekend, so if I can just pull myself away from the spinning for a bit, this sweater might actually get done this week.

Although it still looks a little awkward because it hasn't yet been blocked, I've tried on the sweater and it fits. It is much longer than the original, intentionally, but if it ends up being too long after blocking, a bit of sweater surgery might be required. I'm a little amazed at this possibility considering that I have a significant amount of yarn leftover or unused despite adding additional length and making the sleeves full length, though I suppose that having too much yarn is a much better position to be in than not having enough. This project was started last November (the spinning, anyway) and cast on May 1 of this year, so I will be very, very excited to see it done.

In other non-long-term project news, I'm just about finished with the first sock of a pair I cast on last weekend, using some stash yarn from a kit I bought sometime last year.

The yarn is Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce in the colorway Winter Critters, and I've gone back to my Non-Euclidian heel for these. Like with the last pair of toe-ups, I've made a slight adjustment to the numbers (so I'm essentially knitting a size in between two other sizes) to get a bit more negative ease, and so far they fit perfectly.

Once my Boxy is officially done, I might take a break from sweaters for me to knit one for Rainbow. Though it is the middle of summer and she won't need it for a quite a while, and there are some designs I've been meaning to get to. Hmmm.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

The Spinniest Time of the Year

It's one of my most favorite times of the year -- Tour de Fleece time! If you've never heard of it before, here's a brief description: In conjunction with the annual Tour de France, spinners all over the world get their wheels and spindles going and challenge themselves to spin whenever the riders are spinning their wheels. For some people, the challenge is to spin huge quantities or master a particular skill or type of yarn; for others, the challenge is just finding time to spin every day. For me, I simply try to spin as much as I can, and usually that means spinning more (in terms of total time) than I do normally.

This year, I'm on two teams, Southern Cross Fibre and HipStrings, so I'll primarily be spinning fibers from those companies. I actually started my spinning yesterday at the HipStrings studio, where they always have an open studio day the first Saturday of the month. So I got a start on my first project and got to hang out with Jill a bit. And naturally I didn't come home empty-handed, as it's virtually impossible to sit in that studio and not come home with some pretties. I was good, though, and only came home with two braids of fiber:

This is superwash domestic wool in a colorway called Underwater Basketweaving, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to strip it lengthwise and chain ply for a pseudo-self-striping sock yarn.

And this is superwash Targhee, which I'll likely also spin for socks, in a colorway called Daydreams.

I feel like I didn't spin for as long as I could have this weekend, but yet I have managed to finish up a bobbin of each of the two projects that are up first. The HipStrings fiber was their Tour de Fleece colorway on superwash domestic wool, which I'm spinning into a three-ply fingering for socks (you can see the rest of the fiber to the right in the photo below). The other project is the second skein of Southern Cross Charollais that I am spinning woolen for a three-ply heavy worsted to Aran; I spun up the first skein almost exactly a year ago.

It's amazing how much faster the woolen spinning is -- I've already started in on the second bobbin!

Here's a closeup of the singles so you can see the difference:

I expect you'll be seeing more of these two projects in the next week or two. Before I go, though, I do have to share the yarn you saw in progress last week that was finished up this past Wednesday (I wanted to get it wrapped up and off the bobbin before Tour spinning started):

This was Divergence on Corriedale, the most recent shipment from the Southern Cross Fibre club -- it never even made it into my stash! I split the fiber vertically and spun all the strips, then chain plied. It's fingering weight, but only 333-ish yards. I'm honestly not sure why the yardage was so low. But I have some dark brown undyed Corriedale in the stash, and I might spin up a mini skein that could be used for heels, toes, and cuffs. I'm certainly happy with how it turned out!

Thursday, July 05, 2018


As nice as it is to have a day off for a holiday in the middle of the week, I must admit that having the 4th of July fall on a Wednesday is really throwing off my internal calendar. Yesterday I kept thinking it was Sunday -- and my sense of confusion wasn't helped at all by getting caught in a huge storm as we got home from dinner at my parents' (we all got soaked running into the house) and discovered that our air conditioning upstairs was broken. Thankfully we have two units, and the one that cools the first floor is still functional, but it made for a warm night.

But enough about that -- you came here for the knitting!

I finished up the charity hat on Tuesday evening, and as predicted, Rainbow really wants to steal it. I did manage to use all of the colors in the gradient set, though I still have most of the lightest mini skein left.

I didn't use a pattern for this; I just cast on 120 stitches, worked 2x2 rib for the brim using a US 3 (3.25 mm) needle, and worked the rest of the hat using a US 4 (3.5 mm). When one color ran out, I joined in the next one using the clasped weft join.

Now that the hat is done, I've switched over my lunchtime knitting to a pair of socks that I started this past Sunday when we went to the movies. This is Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce in the colorway Winter Critters. I got this last year, I believe, as part of a kit with a matching project bag from Bags by Awesome Granny.

I'm doing my Non-Euclidian heel on these, slightly modified for a different stitch count.

The main project on the needles is, of course, my handspun Boxy. I am really getting close to being done. The body is finished and the first sleeve is in progress. I even wove in all my ends before I picked up for the sleeve!

I actually started knitting on the sleeve last night and got everything you see here done in about an hour and a half, so I'm hopeful that a couple more nights of dedicated knitting will be enough to finish both sleeves up. Ideally I wanted to have this done before the start of the Tour de Fleece, but I'm not sure that will happen. It might not be such a bad idea to have a knitting project to work on, though, to give my hands a break from spinning this weekend.

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

Pattern Release: CPCTC

Since shortly after I became a sock knitter, I've been a cuff-down sock knitter almost exclusively. It's not that I had anything against the toe-up sock; I just could never get toe-up socks to fit me as well as cuff-down socks. The heel never seemed to be in the right place, for one, and then there was always the problem of the too-tight bind off. As the years went on, and I became able to knit my standard sock recipe from memory, I pretty much stopped trying toe-up socks, though by then I likely could have cracked the code (so to speak) on getting them to fit my foot. In short, cuff-down socks were easy and didn't require much thinking for me, and as sock knitting has long been my mindless, stress-reducing knitting, that seemed the way to go.

When I released my Non-Euclidian pattern, it got a great response -- including many requests for a toe-up version. At that point, I had a bit of a reckoning with myself. I realized that in many respects the math was already done and that flipping the construction of the sock wouldn't require much effort at all. What did I have to lose by giving it a try? And so I did, starting with a pair of socks for myself to see if it would work before I admitted to myself that I was actually writing a toe-up sock pattern.

Obviously, it worked. And, if I do say so myself, it worked brilliantly. The fit is just as good on me as the cuff-down version, and now I can appreciate one of the big allures of knitting socks toe up: using up as much yarn as possible.

I mentioned in the debut of the cuff-down version that geometry was my favorite math subject in school and that it influenced the name. For the toe-up version, I've once again gone back to geometry for inspiration. My favorite part of geometry was doing proofs, and one shorthand we used in proofs was "CPCTC," or "congruent parts of congruent triangles are congruent." It seemed a fitting name for socks with matching triangles on them.

This version of the sock isn't an exact replica of the original. Rather, it's more of a "flipped" version of the sock. Rather than increasing for the heel, the increases are done on the bottom of the foot, providing space for the usual gusset area. The heel is turned to cup the very back of the heel, and the remaining decreases create a mock heel flap. You can then make your socks as tall as you like, ending with some 2x2 ribbing. To ensure that the top of the sock is comfortable, finish with a stretchy bind off of your choice. I really like one called the Miraculous Elastic Bind Off, which seems to have disappeared from the blog on the Web where I originally found it but is basically the traditional lace bind off worked in rib.

I've now made myself a second pair of toe-up socks using my own patterns, and I'm pretty sure I've been converted (does that make me an ambidextrous sock knitter?). I know it'll be great for making socks out of handspun when my yardage has been a little disappointing and I want to use up as much of the yarn as possible. And it's also pretty great for commercial or indie-dyed yarn when I'm trying to use up as much yarn as possible for Stash Dash purposes. ;-)

Sunday, July 01, 2018

T Minus Six

We are now less than a week away from that wonderful summer tradition, the Tour de Fleece. I am working on trying to finish up my current spin before then so I can start the Tour with empty bobbins (not that there's any prohibition against starting with a spin in progress, but it feels good to start off something new at the beginning). I'm on the last strip of Southern Cross Fibre Corriedale and hope to have all the singles spun in the next day or two, giving me the rest of the week to take care of plying it.

I'm also planning out what will go on the wheel first on Saturday. I'm spinning for two teams this year, Southern Cross and HipStrings, so the first two projects will be their fiber.

On the left is the HipStrings TdF colorway, dyed on superwash domestic wool. It'll become a traditional three ply for socks. On the right is what remains to be spun of the 550 g of SCF Charollais that I bought sometime last year and started spinning exactly a year ago, along with the first skein that I spun and the remaining singles. I'll be spinning the three bundles in the back to match, if all goes well, ending up with a semi-woolen three-ply heavy worsted. I'm hopeful that these will all get spun up quickly and I can dive into the rest of my stash for additional projects, but if all I get done is these two spins, I'll be quite happy.