Sunday, October 04, 2015

Not Quite as Planned

I really had every intention of spinning this weekend. I had hoped to finish up the second bobbin of my Southern Cross Fibre Eider wool so that I could spin this week, but all I managed was about 45 minutes on Friday evening. Boo. Here's what the bobbin looks like -- it's a good start, at least.

This colorway is called Water, and as you'd expect, it's a mix of greens, blues, and deep purples. I don't think I ever posted a photo of the completed first bobbin, so here's one to give you a sense of how much more I have to spin:

While there was little spinning this weekend, there was some fiber! After waiting for it all week (thanks, USPS!), my first shipment for this round of the FatCatKnits Mixed Blessings club showed up with the mail on Saturday. It had been shipped on Monday, and only from one state away, so it was a bit of a mystery as to why it took so long to get here.

The theme for this edition of the club is Famous Couples, so each shipment contains two colors inspired by a pair of characters. This month, the pair is Sam and Dean, the brothers in the TV show Supernatural (a show whose existence I'm aware of but have never seen, mind you). I'm trusting Ginny to know how to represent these two.

It had been long enough since I signed up for the club that I'd forgotten what fiber blend I'd picked! This is superwash merino/nylon sparkle, which should be a good sock blend. I think I'm going to try spinning this as a two-strand chain ply -- basically the idea is that you hold the two strands together to ply but alternate which strand forms the next loop. The result is a sort-of four-ply yarn. I think that should give me some interesting blending of the colors and some new spinning skills.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

So Very Close

Rainbow's sweater is almost done! (And it's a good thing, too, because it was quite chilly this morning and she grabbed a fleece to wear over her uniform!) Last night I finished the second sleeve, and today I picked up for the button bands and collar and got about half of the total knitting done (there are three more rows and a bind off left to do). I have just little bits of the second and third skeins left that I'm using, and I'm really hoping that I don't have to break into the fourth skein I bought just for a row or two.

I am about ready to cast on for a new design, but a bit of planning and measuring needs to be done before I start, so last night I actually pulled out a crochet hook, if you can believe it. I've been mulling the idea of a crocheted cowl for a while now, and I finally decided to wind up a skein of Fat Cat Knits superwash Targhee that I spun over the summer for it. I'm trying out a chainless foundation using a tutorial found a while back, and so far it seems to be working out pretty well.

It's pretty obvious that my tension in crochet is nowhere near as consistent as my tension in knitting, but I'm sure I'll improve with practice. I think this will be a fun thing to pick up and do a round or two on in the coming weeks. It will be good for lunchtime crafting, too.

My goals for the weekend are to wind my Miss Babs (or at least part of it) and do some sweater swatching. It looks like fall weather is officially here, so I will no longer feel guilty about curling up with some tea and lots of wool.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Things That Make Me Happy

Despite how busy things were over the weekend, I managed to squeeze in a few minutes of knitting time on Friday night to finish up my double-knit cowl. I threw it in to soak Saturday morning, and by Sunday it was dry. And I love it!

It is super squishy and soft -- as you would expect from a Polwarth/silk yarn! -- and everything evened out nicely with blocking. Now I just have to write up the pattern, a task that's on my to-do list for this week. Fingers are crossed that the weather cooperates enough to take pictures this weekend.

Meanwhile, Rainbow's school sweater is just flying along. I'm just about done with the first sleeve (all that's left is the cuff!), which I only started yesterday. At this rate, I'll have both done by the weekend and all that will be left to do is the button bands and collar, which I'm pretty confident I can knock out in an evening or two. The mornings have started to be cooler, and Rainbow has been wearing a sweater to school, so it will be nice to give her another option when she needs another layer.

I have been pondering what to knit next, and while I did spend the last two evenings swatching for a new design, I think it's also about time to start another sweater for myself. I'm pretty sure it's going to be the Cabletta Cardigan, the yarn for which I bought at MDSW two years ago and has been sitting in my stash ever since. I have three skeins of Miss Babs Yowza in a beautiful cerulean; the challenge will be to wind them, given that each skein has a whopping 560 yards in it (they don't call it Yowza for nothing!). My ball winder likely can't fit all of that in one center-pull cake, so I'm guessing I'll have to split it up into maybe two cakes per skein. That will likely work out a bit better for alternating skeins; smaller cakes will be a lot more manageable, even if they will mean more ends to weave in.

It is getting decidedly more fall-like -- cooler temperatures, less daylight -- and while I'm not happy about all of the changes, I am happy that it is getting to be sweater weather. Here's hoping I can burn through some of my sweater stash this year!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Spinning the Colors of Fall

It's been a crazy but fun weekend, so tonight's post is going to be rather short. I didn't do much knitting or spinning this weekend, so there's not much to show, but I did manage to finish spinning a bobbin of fiber. And the fiber had the perfect colors for a beautiful fall day.

You may recall this Eider wool from Southern Cross Fibre that I got a while back as a fiber club shipment. On Wednesday, while I was home trying not to think about how hungry I was, I started spinning the first braid (the one with the reds and greens in the photo above). I finished it today, despite the fact that I kept nodding off while spinning. Here's what it looked like somewhere in the middle of the process:

Although this colorway is called Lily, it reminds me very much of the fall foliage. My plan is to spin up another bobbin with the other colorway (Water) and ply them together.

As to the wool, because this is the first time I'd spun this type, I'd say it was probably as different from my last spinning project as it could be. This is definitely a much hardier wool, probably better suited toward outerwear. I did pull a fair amount of kemp out of the fiber as I was spinning. It's certainly not a luxurious spin, but I'm enjoying it. It's a very wooly wool, and sometimes I really like spinning fiber that seems like it hasn't strayed too far from the sheep.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Pleasantly Surprised

I do a lot of knitting in lightweight yarns, so I'm used to things going rather slowly even when I have time to work on them quite a bit. So it's been very pleasing to work on Rainbow's school sweater because it is knitting up almost faster than it seems possible. Worsted weight yarn for the win!

I am nearly finished with the body of the sweater at this point, in large part because I've been bringing it to work to knit on during lunch this week. I added an extra inch of length before the ribbing, and I'm planning on making the ribbing a bit longer for some additional length. I want to make sure that Rainbow will be able to wear this for a while and, considering the high cotton content in this yarn, that even if it shrinks it'll still be a good length.

I will say that I'll be happy to be done with this. I do like the yarn (Spud & Chloe Sweater), but the aforementioned high cotton content makes it really hard on my hands. I'm also noticing a bit of rowing out, which doesn't normally happen to me with wool. I'm hopeful that it will block out (though certainly Rainbow won't notice the difference if it doesn't).

Meanwhile, I'm so, so close to being finished with my double-knit cowl. I'm on my very last round before I bind off, so I think another half hour to 45 minutes of knitting time will see it done. I'm hoping to have time to block it this weekend, but it's going to be a busy one. My brother-in-law is getting married on Saturday, and the festivities start tomorrow evening. Both the Mister and Rainbow are in the wedding, so I expect I'm going to be doing a lot of running around. I know when Sunday rolls around, I'll be desperate to sit down with my yarn and needles to decompress.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Pattern Release: Kelp Crown

Way back in May, I knit a hat with one of the last remaining skeins of Madelinetosh in my stash. I knit it for the Mad May original design contest, and it got a lot of positive feedback, but then it started to get warmer and I didn't want to think about hats and cold weather, so I put it aside for a bit. Today, I'm finally ready -- and really excited! -- to share it with you.

Kelp Crown is a slouchy hat in three sizes: Child, Adult Small, and Adult Large, to fit a head circumference of approximately 20 (22, 24) inches. It gets its name from the stitch pattern that encircles the head. The twisted stitches and bobbles reminded me of those underwater plants you see in film of scuba divers and the like -- those delicate green things that gently sway from side to side with the movement of the water. My sample used one skein of Madelinetosh tosh dk in Dr. Zhivago's Sky, but any DK or light worsted will do (basically any yarn that will knit up at 6 stitches/inch). The fit of this hat is meant to be ever so slightly snug at the brim (though you can adjust this by changing your needle size) and slouchy in length. If you prefer more of a beanie style, it's easy to subtract some length before the crown shaping.

The stitch motif in this hat is both charted and written. The stitch pattern uses twisted stitches, simple two-stitch cable twists (which can be accomplished with or without a cable needle), and small bobbles. The pattern has also been tech edited and test knit.

I'm really looking forward to wearing my hat as the weather gets cooler, and I hope you enjoy the pattern!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Marathon Plying

I wish I had kept track to know for sure, but my rough estimate is that this skein took me seven hours or more to ply. But it is done, at long last.

It took me a good 20 minutes to wind all this yarn onto my niddy noddy (439+ wraps, by the way!), and it's now been washed and is hanging to dry. The full report will come next weekend.

For now, though I'm not starting just yet, I'm looking forward to new spinning projects, as my August Southern Cross Fibre shipment arrived earlier in the week. (Yes, I'm aware that it's September. But David was out of commission with pneumonia for a while, and then there's the whole crossing the ocean from Australia thing.) I am blown away by the gorgeousness in this shipment. I knew which colorway David had selected for me, but I loved both colors so much that I ordered the other one.

This is Laurel Crown (above) and Triumph (below). Both are on organic merino top.

Can you see why I couldn't have just one?