Thursday, July 21, 2016

A Reckoning

I haven't touched my Waiting for Rain since the weekend because I've been hoping that the amount of yarn I have left will somehow have magically multiplied in my project bag, resulting in my having enough to finish the lace edging. Alas, that has not happened. So tonight, I'll be ripping back what I've done this far and starting (if not finishing) a plain bind off. I'm disappointed, obviously, because I really liked how the edging was looking, but there's really no solution here other than to rip back. I'm not going to buy another skein of yarn to do half a bind off, and I don't have anything in my stash that looks close enough to finish it with. If there's any silver lining in this situation, it's that I should finish the shawl with very minimal leftovers and maximizing this project's Stash Dash contribution.

On the plus side, I have finished two things in the past couple of days. First, there's my skein of corespun that I started on Sunday. I now feel I've mastered this technique, and I also busted another 4 oz. of fiber from my stash.


When I say this skein is finished, that's with a caveat. You can see just from the picture that there's quite a bit of excess twist in the yarn, despite my best efforts to counteract it by adding twist to my core. I guess there's wasn't enough, so the yarn is twisting up on itself pretty aggressively. I'm likely going to run this back through the wheel quickly to get rid of some of that twist, though I'll have to be careful that the wrap doesn't unwrap itself from the core in the process. I was pretty rough with the skein when I washed it, so I'm hoping the wrap has fulled a bit to itself and to the core.

I also finished my double-knit cowl:


I was surprised how quickly this knit up, given that I really was only working on it during the workweek while on my lunch break. This will be getting blocked and photographed this weekend so I can get the pattern off to my tech editor.

One last Tour de Fleece spin remains on the wheel, and it's my Sheep to Shoe kit. I highly doubt I'll finish it by the end of the Tour, but perhaps it'll get done by the end of the month. It has been good to spin some deep stash and feel like I'm making progress in cleaning things out. Baby steps, right? Once I do finish, I'll still have the other half of the fiber to deal with, plus the second S2S kit still in stash, so it's not like I'm going to run out of fiber to spin anytime soon!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Time for Another Round

I'm playing that game again. You know what game I'm talking about -- it's a game all knitters play at some point in their knitting careers. That's right: I'm engaged in yet another nail-biting round of Yarn Chicken.

This time the opponent is the yarn in my Waiting for Rain. Knowing that my remaining yarn supply was looking low, I decided to omit a handful of rows at the end following the last lace section. I soon found myself with only a small bit of my main color leftover -- not enough to do another two rows. So I worked one more garter ridge in the contrast color and then started the bind off (the alternative, fancier bind off option -- also the one that takes more yarn). I'm now about halfway through it, and this is all the yarn I have left:


I have to be honest: I'm not feeling very confident about this one. I'm pretty sure I'm going to run short on yarn, and there's no way I'm buying another skein just to finish binding off. If I do run out, I'll rip back and just do a regular stretchy bind off. That would disappoint me, because I really like the look of this bind off and think a plain edge just won't be as pretty, but a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

Fortunately this is the only game of Yarn Chicken I'm playing at the moment. My double-knit cowl is getting close to being done (fewer than 10 rounds remain), and I've got plenty of yarn. The image is really apparent now -- as is the fact that this cowl will need a serious blocking to tidy it up.


I also cast on for a pair of socks over the weekend on a bit of a whim (we went to see a movie Saturday afternoon, and I wanted something I could knit in the dark). This is the BFL from FatCatKnits I finished a couple of weeks ago. I'm just knitting a plain stockinette sock with a ribbed cuff to let the yarn do all the talking.


The first order of business tonight, however, before I square off against the remaining yarn in my shawl, is finishing up my corespun. I have just a couple of strips of fiber left to be spun, and the amount of core left on the bobbin is quickly dwindling, so it shouldn't take me too much time. I love how much this yarn is filling up the bobbin.


I'm only using 4 oz. of fiber and the yarn itself looks to be about sportweight on the whole, so the fact that this WooLee Winder bobbin is almost full tells you just how fluffy this yarn is. I'll be really interested to see just how much of it there is as well as how wild it is off the bobbin, as I suspect there's a fair amount of twist in it. Finishing this yarn should be a good way to get out any pent-up aggression!

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Two-Thirds

We are now through two weeks of the Tour de Fleece, and I have a second finished skein. I've had better output in years past, but I'm still pretty satisfied with what I've gotten done over the past two weeks.

The finished skein is a Bond/Suri alpaca blend from Southern Cross Fibre. I split the top in half lengthwise and then split one half in half again for a fractal spin. My finished yarn is a two-ply light fingering that's approximately 416 yards.


There was a lot of orange in the fiber, so I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about the finished yarn, but I surprised myself by absolutely loving it.

I've still got some superwash merino on my Lendrum, but today, while the Mister and Rainbow went to a water park with some friends, I decided to do something a little more challenging. I missed the first challenge day (and by "missed" I mean I knew it was challenge day but pretty much ignored it), and as today was the second one, it seemed an appropriate day to do something a bit outside my comfort zone.

It's been several years since my first attempt at core spinning. It's a fun technique and one that I wasn't great at the first time I tried it (as you'd expect the first time doing anything). I also had this sparkly merino blended top that I won in the Tour last year from FatCatKnits that was just begging to become corespun:


The last time around, I only had one wheel. This time, I thought the miniSpinner might actually be the better tool because I could set it to a relatively low speed that would stay constant so I could focus on what my hands are doing.

The first step was to add some twist to the core; with core spinning, there's usually no plying, so if you want your yarn to be moderately balanced, some twist needs to be added to the core that will be lost when it's wrapped. I used some leftover Knit Picks laceweight from years ago and ran it quickly through my miniSpinner and onto a bobbin.


Then I prepped the fiber by splitting it into fourths and then stripping each piece into four lengths to make the fiber easier to manage and easier to draft. To core spin, you hold the fiber perpendicular to the core and allow it to wrap around the core. Here you can see what it looks like:


While my yarn isn't completely consistent because I clearly haven't entirely mastered the technique, I felt a lot more comfortable doing it this time around. I'm roughly halfway done and will do a little more this evening with the hope of finishing up tomorrow. Then I'll be fairly rough with the skein when I wash it in order to full the yarn a bit (that'll help the wrap stay on the core better). Now that I have a better feel for core spinning, I predict you'll be seeing it more from me!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Is It the Weekend Yet?

Phew! It has been one of those weeks. There have been all sorts of surprises at work (no Internet for the first part of the day on Tuesday, then discovering my computer had been broken by an overnight construction contractor when I got in yesterday), plus late nights and really hot days, so I'm pretty much done. I'm looking forward to what I hope will be a relaxing weekend with extra time to sleep.

Tour de Fleece spinning is continuing. Last night I started plying my Bond/Suri singles. I didn't get too far, as I didn't actually sit down at the wheel until after 9 p.m., but I'll put in more time tonight and Friday evening, so I should have a finished skein by the weekend. I'm also still working on the Sheep to Shoe singles, though they don't look that much different from the last time you saw them.

I've still been knitting, and I managed to finish up another project (and another sample for the pattern collection) on Sunday evening. They've now been blocked and the pattern's been sent off to my tech editor, so you can now see them.


These are meant to match the hat you saw a few weeks ago, though the colorwork pattern is slightly modified to make sizing a bit easier. What you cannot see in the above photo is the surprise inside the cuffs -- an extra ribbed lining!


This lining gives the mitten a really cozy fit -- because, honestly, is there anything worse on a really cold winter day than cold air getting into sensitive spots like your wrists?

I'm also working on the next sample for the collection, a double-knit cowl. I'm a bit farther than what you see in the photo, but the light has been weird today, so I didn't want to try to take an updated shot only to be disappointed.


Like the mittens and the hat, I'm working with Fibernymph Dye Works yarn for this cowl. This base is Bona Fide, her DK-weight yarn, and I'm using Red Hot Chili Pepper and Soft Black for my colors. I am once again finding double-knitting to be a really addictive technique, so I predict it will not take very much time to get this finished.

The last project still on the go is my Waiting for Rain, and I'm getting very close to finishing it. I finished the final lace section last weekend and got started on the garter stitch rows that follow it, so really the end is in sight. The problem is that each row now takes about 15 minutes to knit, so progress is very slow, and on top of that my yarn supply is dwindling. I'm hoping to have enough of the darker color I used for the stripes and lace to do the knit-on edging, and I'm hoping to get to that point by the weekend, when I'll have time to devote to it. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Pattern Release: Pinola

We now pause our regularly scheduled Tour de Fleece content to bring you this breaking news: I have a new pattern out today!


This is the Pinola shawl, a one-skein project worked in fingering weight yarn. This shawl likely looks familiar; it was my entry to the Mad May Original Design Contest. It ended up coming in third place, which is just fine with me. I was very pleased with how it turned out!


Pinola is worked seamlessly from the top down, starting with a garter tab. While the two outer sections are worked in an easy-to-knit stockinette/garter stripe pattern, the center section is the real star. It features a cascading leaf motif superimposed on a mesh background. As the shawl gets wider, the leaves get bigger. Finally, the lower edge is finished with a picot bind off for a bit of frill.


The lace pattern in this shawl is both written and charted (and here I must credit my tech editor for helping me to come up with a way to chart the pattern in a much more succinct way, resulting in very manageable charts). To be able to knit this pattern, you'll need to know how to use a provisional cast on, pick up stitches, do directional increases (m1L and m1R) and decreases (ssk and k2tog), do yarnovers, do a centered double decrease, and cast on using the cable cast on (for the picot bind off). You'll need about 420-440 yards of fingering weight yarn; my sample used all but about a yard or two of one skein of tosh merino light.


I'm really excited about this one, and my testers were enthusiastic about it as well, so I'm hoping you'll enjoy it, too!


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Tour de Fleece Report: Week One

The first week of the Tour de Fleece is officially gone, and while I don't have a ton to show for it, there has been a lot of spinning, particularly this weekend. I had most of yesterday to myself, as the Mister and Rainbow were off at our local amusement park for the day, so I took full advantage of it.

First, I made excellent progress on my Southern Cross Fiber Bond/Suri alpaca. As a reminder, I'm spinning it into a two-ply fractal that should be fingering to sport weight when it's done. I had just started the first half of it in the middle of the week, and I spent about an hour and a half at it on Friday and then finished it up yesterday morning. The second bobbin was just started yesterday afternoon, and I put in about another hour today.


The second bobbin is the half of the fiber I did not split further, so the color repeats are much longer, and unfortunately I'm in the middle of a gray section. But you can see some of the brighter colors in the unspun fiber peeking out from behind the miniSpinner, and you can definitely see them when you look at the first bobbin.


If all goes according to plan, I should have the second bobbin finished up in the next day or two and will be able to ply by mid-week.

Yesterday afternoon I once again took my Lendrum to my LYS and worked on my Sheep to Shoe kit. It's still going slowly -- in fact, I haven't even finished up the first little bump of fiber -- but the bobbin is noticeably fuller.


I'm still not convinced I really like this colorway, whatever it is, but I do like this interplay of colors on the bobbin that I get thanks to my WooLee Winder!

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Trying to Keep Up

For a short week, this has sure been a long one, and all week I've felt like I've had to catch up (I suppose when work is busy, a four-day workweek means trying to cram five days of work into four). On the plus side, I did finally finish plying my first completed skein of handspun for the Tour de Fleece! Here it is, in the gloom of an overcast day:


This was the last shipment of the most recent round of the FatCatKnits fiber club, and I decided to go very simple this round. I spun up both colorways separately and then plied them together. The yarn is mostly fingering weight (there are a few spots where it tends more toward sport) and nearly 397 yards, with a good amount of plying twist -- even after snapping it vigorously in the finishing, the skein still has an overall slight twist to it and there are corkscrews here and there. I'm not terribly concerned about that extra twist, as I'm planning to use this for socks, but in theory I could have gotten a bit more length with a bit less twist. I'm not complaining, mind you; this skein took me past the 4,000 meter mark for Stash Dash!

While this skein was soaking in the tub upstairs, I decided that, rather than working on a spinning project I've already got going, I'd start another one. (This time of year is pretty much the only time I do that sort of thing, by the way.) I grabbed my most recent Southern Cross Fibre shipment, a yummy Bond/suri alpaca blend, and got to work. Here's what the fiber looks like:


I decided to spin another two-ply fingering weight with this, and to keep the colors a bit interesting, I split the top for a fractal spin. Specifically, I split the entire length of top in half, right down the middle, and then split one of the halves in half again the same way. So one ply will go through the color sequence once and the other ply will go through it twice. Here and there the colors will match up, but overall there will be a lot of barberpoling.


Over the past several days, I've also pulled out a spindle project when I've had a few minutes here and there. While in past years of the TdF I've taken a spindle to work to spin during my lunch break, I've skipped that this year as I have knitting to get done during that time, but I haven't wanted to ignore the spindles altogether because the projects I've got going on them have been languishing for a long time. This one, for instance, was started last year at MDSW. It's a chocolate alpaca/silk blend that's an absolutely dream to spin, but as it wants to be spun into frog hair, it's been very slow going.


I figure that if I can fit in 10-15 minutes on the spindle every day (or at least most days), I might actually see some real progress!

Tonight there's a chance I might skip spinning in favor of knitting -- I really want to get that shawl done!