Sunday, March 29, 2015

Spinning Season Opens

Lately I've been feeling the bug to spin all the things, which tells me that spring may finally be upon us. After all, I tend to do a lot of spinning in the warmer weather, so perhaps this urge is an indication that my spinning season has begun.

I am still working on my Southern Cross Fibre club shipment for February (which of course did not arrive until March), but the good news is that I'm on the second bobbin.

A friend came over today to have lunch and spin a bit, though we did a bit more talking and less spinning than I was anticipating. Still, I've made a good start on this bobbin and hope to have it finished before the week is out, especially because I'm itching to start some new projects.

One of those is for a Ravelry spinalong that starts April 1. I doubt I'll actually start on April 1 (it's a Wednesday, so I'll be at work during the day and then out at knit night that evening), but Rainbow's spring break is this Thursday and Friday and I'll be home with her, so I'm hoping to find at least a little time to spin. I will be spinning this braid of superwash merino/nylon sparkle in Noble Dragon from Fat Cat Knits.

My plan is to spin this braid from end to end and then chain ply to preserve the colors. I'm hoping to spin up what remains of my Romney fleece from years ago to match and knit both yarns into a Sea Dragon Shawl.

As if that weren't enough, my Fat Cat Knits Mixed Blessings club shipment showed up this week. The theme for this go-round is "transformations," and that's certainly evident in this pairing.

The colorways are named Hungry Horace (a caterpillar) and Pepperspark (a butterfly). Here's what the fiber looks like out of the wrapper.

I chose Targhee for my fiber base for this shipment, and I'm glad I did because it's a breed I haven't spun in a while. Targhee is pretty soft, but it's a bit spongier than merino. Like merino and Polwarth, it has a tendency to poof up a lot when it's finished. I was absolutely enchanted with this pairing, and so was Rainbow, who asked me (while stroking her face with the fiber) if I could use it to make something for her. I find it hard to say no to her, but I also was really hoping to keep this fiber for myself. Luckily, another member of the club didn't love it and put hers up for destash, so I bought them from her. This way, everyone wins. I'm still deciding how to spin up the two batches (perhaps a quick-and-dirty two ply for Rainbow and something finer and more nuanced for me), but I won't allow myself to start until I finish what's in progress first!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Defarge Does Socks

And here we are for round two of the Defarge Does Shakespeare sock pattern preview! There are three more patterns, including one by yours truly!

First up today are Kate Atherley's Lear's Socks:

(c) Caro Sheridan
Kate knows her socks, and this pattern shows just how great a sock designer she is. Aside from the fact that this is a perfect pattern for a knitter to knit for the men in her life (meaning that it's plain enough that a picky man, such as my husband, to wear but interesting enough to keep the knitter from getting bored), this pattern is written for five -- yes, five -- sizes, so fit is never a problem.

(c) Caro Sheridan
Of course, my husband would ask for these in black or gray (the only sock colors he really wears), but isn't this red just fantastic?

Up next: Meg Warren's The Very Sole of Wit:

(c) Caro Sheridan
First off, who doesn't love a good pun? For that alone I like these socks. These appear to be another Malvolio-inspired knit, with cross garters very subtly suggested in the stitch pattern. While this yellow might be a bit much for the man in my life, I think he would wear these if they were knit in a much more subdued color.

Finally, here's the pattern I'm most excited about -- mine! These are Viola's Stockings:

(c) Caro Sheridan
It's been very hard to keep these a secret for more than two years, so you can understand why I want to shout about them now. These socks were inspired by the character of Viola in Twelfth Night, who, finding herself shipwrecked in a strange land and separated from her twin brother, decides to disguise herself as a man. These are knit from the cuff down and have two distinct stitch patterns. At the top is a beaded picot cuff and a flowery lace pattern to represent Viola's femininity:

(c) Caro Sheridan
This top part is easily hidden under a pant leg, though, showing only the lattice-like pattern on the rest of the leg and foot that is meant to be a man's stocking. My idea was that Viola, if she knit her own socks, might have that lacy bit hidden under her clothes to remind herself that she was still a woman under her disguise.

Well, that does it for the socks. You can see all the patterns from the book on Ravelry, and there's still time to preorder the book! You can also sign up for the Defarge newsletter here to find out more.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Return of Madame Defarge

If you are a fellow listener of the Craftlit podcast, then you may have heard about a series of books of patterns inspired by literature. The third book in the series, Defarge Does Shakespeare, is now in preorders on the Cooperative Press site and is due to be released this Friday. This week, I'm taking a peek at some of the patterns in the book and sharing them with you. The book contains both knit and crochet patterns for all kinds of things -- garments, shawls/stoles, gloves/mitts, even a tea cozy -- but surely it will come as no surprise that what I've chosen to focus on is socks.

First up: Chrissy Gardiner's Malvolio's Yellow Stockings

(c) Caro Sheridan

In the play Twelfth Night, the poor character of Malvolio is tricked into believing that his mistress, Olivia, is in love with him. In one of the letters she supposedly sends him, he is told to appear wearing yellow stockings and cross garters. These socks are a great interpretation of what those stockings might look like. The stitch pattern on the front has almost an embossed look to them, while on the back are some delicate cables.

(c) Caro Sheridan

These socks are knit toe up, and there are even instructions for how to adjust the calf shaping to fit your leg so that you can appear happily cross-gartered in your yellow stockings!

Malvolio's plight is clearly a great source of inspiration, because he also served as the idea behind Elizabeth Green Musselman's The Yellow-Gartered Dude Abides.

(c) Caro Sheridan

This pattern combines two of my loves: sock knitting and stranded colorwork. These are also knit toe up, and the clever cables at the top of the back of the leg do double duty to shape the calf. There are two versions of the sock, with or without side ties, and they knit up quickly in sportweight yarn.

(c) Caro Sheridan

Another nice feature of these socks? The fancy part is all at the top, so if your wardrobe needs to be pretty sedate, you can easily hide those fun cables under a pant leg.

Finally for today are Becky Greene's Lover's Tangle Socks:

(c) Caro Sheridan
The inspiration for these socks is A Midsummer Night's Dream, in which four characters' love lives become, well, tangled. Becky has beautifully represented this in her cable motif, in which four sections twist and interweave.

(c) Caro Sheridan
Given my recent affinity for cables, you can understand why these socks are so appealing to me. I also really like Becky's description of the cable pattern and how well it mimics the plot of the play: "The cable pattern is made of four strands that weave in and out of each other, tie into knots, separate, but finally come together into a stylized heart shape."

There are three more sock patterns in the book (including one by someone you might know!), so stay tuned for the next post! In the meantime, you can sign up for the Defarge newsletter here to find out about freebies, giveaways, and other Defarge news!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Spin So Fine

While I've been more successful in the last year or two in spinning slightly thicker yarns, my default is still very thin singles. Case in point: my two current spinning projects.

I started spinning up my Southern Cross Fibre shipment (75% Bond wool, 25% mulberry silk) a week ago and am maybe one-half to two-thirds of the way done with the first bobbin.

I am utterly smitten with this fiber blend and the colors. I know this is not going to be a fast spin (looks like it will end up a two-ply laceweight to very light fingering), but I am enjoying every moment of it.

Then there's my spindling of the Gourmet Stash punis. I finished up the first half this week and wound the singles onto a "storage bobbin" today.

I must admit that this is my least favorite part of spindling. I always have issues getting the singles off the spindle easily and neatly. Fortunately, this is only about half an ounce of fiber, so it didn't take too long. One of these days I'll have to rig something up to hold my spindle while I wind off; for now, I just sit it down next to me on its side.

There is more in the spinning pipeline. I received this beautiful braid of fiber from Fat Cat Knits for part of a giant spinalong on Ravelry that starts at the beginning of April. This braid is an 80% superwash merino/20% nylon sparkle blend in a colorway called Noble Dragon.

As if that's not enough, my FCK club shipment should be here in the next day or two, and my March SCF club shipment is in transit. Actually, now that I think about it, I should be spinning right now -- time to hit publish!

Thursday, March 19, 2015


It has been quite a week. When I published my last post, what I did not tell you was that I was doing it from my bed with a sick kid beside me. In the middle of the night on Saturday (or technically Sunday morning) she woke me up with her crying and said her neck hurt. I managed to get to back to sleep for a few hours, but she was up again at 4:30 a.m. with a fever. She was pretty miserable all day, and to make a long story short, we ended up at the Children's Hospital ER with her that night. Fortunately, the diagnosis ended up being just a virus of some kind, but it has been a rough one. Her fever has only just gone away (or so it seems) today, and we're hoping she'll be well enough to go back to school tomorrow. Poor kid has not been happy about missing almost a week of school!

One of the perks of her being sick is that she's been allowed to watch whatever she wants on TV (it's a compromise to get her to sit and relax -- not to mention that it distracts her enough from how she's feeling to keep her from whining and crying all day). One of her preferred shows to watch is Lalaloopsy, a show I have some tolerance for. All the characters have cute little pets that do everything with them, so another distraction was looking at patterns on Ravelry with me for a stuffed animal that would look like one of them. We settled upon Owls Two Ways, and I dug out some Knit Picks Swish Worsted in pink and white and started knitting. By the end of the day, there was an owl.

I made a few modifications to the pattern. First of all, I doubled the size, so I cast on twice as many stitches and doubled the rows/rounds worked. I also threw in a little simple stranded colorwork to look like feathers around the body and on the top of the head. I used Kitchener stitch to graft the top closed and used the remainder of the yarn tail for the little tufts on the ears (which have since been removed because she decided she didn't like them). I used a US 4/3.5 mm needle for a firm fabric and stuffed it pretty full. It probably could have used some poly pellets at the bottom to make it stand up, but I didn't have any.

Meanwhile, I've made a good deal of progress on my State Fair Cardigan. I finished the back and got started on the right front, which is probably about halfway done.

I managed to get the whole back done with less than two full skeins, so I'm fairly confident now that I will have enough yarn in spite of the gauge difference.

(By the way, if you're wondering where the title of this post came from, it's the exclamation Rainbow has been using frequently lately, and it pretty much sums up how I feel about this week!)

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Pattern Release: Memmi Cowl

Several months ago, courtesy of Stefanie at Stitchcraft Marketing, I received a beautiful skein of madelinetosh pashmina in deep watery blues. I knew immediately that I needed to design a cowl with it, and I knew it needed to be in a stitch pattern that reminded me of waves and sea foam. I did some swatching and ended up with the cowl that I published this morning.

The Memmi Cowl is worked entirely in the round, so there is no seaming and only two ends to weave in. It starts and ends with 2x2 ribbing, and in between is a relatively simple textured lace pattern that uses only knits, purls, yarnovers, and simple decreases (k2tog and ssk).

As written, the finished cowl comes out to be about 40 in./127 cm around and 8 in./20.5 cm deep after blocking, but the pattern also tells you how to adapt the length and width. Additionally, though the sample uses sport weight yarn, this cowl would look great in just about any weight -- I think it would look equally lovely in a laceweight yarn with a bit of a halo and in a worsted or heavier yarn.

Should you wish to use the same colorway, you can find it at A Good Yarn in Sarasota, Fla. -- this colorway, Midnight Pass, is exclusive to them!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Crazy Colors and a Parcel from Far Far Away

I did a lot more knitting than spinning in the last week, but I did not forget about my Boogaloo spinning project. On Friday night, by an amazing stroke of luck, I found myself home alone (Rainbow was at a sleepover and the Mister was out meeting some friends for a drink). Naturally, I took advantage of the situation and spent pretty much the whole evening spinning, and as a result, I finished spinning all my singles. I started plying yesterday morning and finished up today.

Bright enough for you? I've skeined it up and it's currently soaking in the bathtub, so I probably won't know my final yardage until tomorrow or so, but it looks like it will be enough for some really bright socks.

I was a bit anxious to finish this up because after a long wait, a lovely package arrived at my door from Australia last week. Inside was this gorgeous fiber:

This is my very first shipment from the Southern Cross Fibre club. I had been on the waiting list so long for this fiber club that I'd forgotten all about it, but my name came up in the list earlier this year. This shipment (for February) is a yummy blend of 75% Bond wool/25% mulberry silk. The colorway is Lady Grey. I'm planning to spin this as a two ply, probably fairly light weight (anything with that much silk in it will probably want to be spun very fine). I was itching to start it as soon as it arrived, but I usually don't like to have more than one spinning project going at a time because it messes with my consistency. So now that Boogaloo is done, this will be going on the wheel next!