Thursday, June 23, 2016

Knit Therapy

Is is really Thursday already? It's been a heck of a week. I'm not sure if it's been the chaos at work or the heat outside, but I've been utterly exhausted every night this week (and then, illogically, not sleeping well). Thank goodness I've got my knitting to de-stress -- although I suppose it's less than effective if the knitting is so meditative that you start to nod off while doing it.

Last night I finished off a quick project and it was super satisfying. You got a peek at this the other day, but now that it's all done, I'll give you the full view.

This hat (and the socks that you've seen a bit of before) are part of a collection of patterns I'm planning to release this fall. All the patterns are inspired by my beloved hometown. This hat will eventually have a coordinating pair of mittens; once I'm finished with my commission knitting, they will be the next thing on the needles.

I'm particularly proud of my even tension on this hat. Just take a look at these floats!

My hope is to get the pattern finished up (I just have to do some calculations for the other sizes) and off to my tech editor this weekend. Here's hoping that the rest of the patterns in the collection move along this easily!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Picking Up Speed

Most would think of the summer as a slow time for knitting, what with the high temperatures. For me, though, the pace seems to have picked up significantly.

I spent a pretty good chunk of time on Friday working on my Waiting for Rain. I haven't touched it since then, but I now have only the last garter and short-row lace section to work before the bottom border. And are the rows ever long now!

This shawl has officially reached blob stage; there's just no way to stretch it out on the needles in such a way that you can actually make sense of what it looks like.

Where real progress has been made is the socks I've been working on -- they're done! I Kitchenered the toe of the second sock and blocked the pair last night (I don't usually block socks, but these really needed it).

This is just a peek at the finished socks until they're ready for public consumption. The next step is to put all my jotted notes into a cohesive pattern, lay it out, and get it to my tech editor. I'm excited about finishing these because they're the first sample in the planned collection I'm going to release this fall. The next sample has already been cast on (and is going a lot faster, not least due to the fact that it's in worsted weight yarn). You can have a peek at that as well:

As if all this wasn't enough, yarn support arrived yesterday for a magazine commission, and it arrived way behind schedule, so I'll be doing some speed secret knitting for the next week or two.

I do wish there were more hours in the day to get all these things done -- I could really use extra time to stay on track with my deadlines and to get more meters in for my Stash Dash goal. My current total is somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,600 meters, give or take. I was hoping to get to 7,000K this year, but I'm not sure that I'll make it. I did get a fair chunk of my current total done in the first couple of weeks, but that was mainly due to having three bobbins of singles spun and ready to be plied beforehand plus finishing up my Hitofude. I really need to up my game if I'm going to hit that goal!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Much More In than Out

There's a bit of fiber imbalance going on here, and it's been magnified this week. I've been trying not to buy fiber (save for my two fiber clubs) in the interest of getting the stash under control, but there have been times I've been weak. And this week, there has been more fiber coming into the stash than has been spun up.

First, both of my fiber clubs showed up. Here's the Southern Cross Fibre May shipment, a 75% Bond/25% suri alpaca blend. I got the colorway Get Happy.

Then the final shipment of this round of the FatCatKnits club showed up, in two colorways called Molly and Jesse on BFL:

Because there wasn't nearly enough FCK fiber in the stash already, I went online to order the special Tour de Fleece colorway. Another braid (a Day's End braid, so one of a kind) fell into my shopping cart as well. Ginny apparently happened to have both on hand when my order came in, so she got it right in the mail and I had it in hand in a couple of days.

The TdF colorway is called On Your Mark, and I ordered it on 72% superwash merino/14% bamboo, 14% nylon.

Its travel companion was 4 oz. of 75% Polwarth/25% mulberry silk; Ginny calls this Day's End color Gorgeous, and I think it is rather.

I'm doing my best to spin as fast as I can, and I'm almost done with the merino on my wheel:

That strip of fiber there is all that's left to be spun, and while I don't think I'll get it quite done tonight, it should be done by tomorrow. It's a good thing that the Tour de Fleece is coming up and I'll have a good excuse to spin as much as possible!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Stripes of Happiness

Stripes seem to have become a theme for me this week. For one, there's my Waiting for Rain, in which the stripes are occurring with increased frequency as I go along, not least because the ball of the lighter gray is starting to get noticeably smaller (yes, I have officially started my worrying that I will run out).

I completed the second short-row lace section the other evening, which means that the number of rows between lace sections is now diminishing dramatically. That's a good thing, because these rows are starting to get seriously long (now upwards of 300 stitches per row)! Each lace section gets a little wider, though they're all the same number of rows, and I really feel like I have a good handle on them now. I'm hoping to spend some serious time on this project this weekend, as I would really like to free up these needles to use for another project.

Earlier in the week I made an impulse purchase. Heaven knows I do not need any more sock yarn, but the events of the weekend had me feeling pretty low. I happened to go over the the Fibernymph Dye Works shop on a whim and spotted this skein:

Immediately I knew I had to have it. It was in the mail by the end of the day and arrived at my doorstep yesterday. I suppose that's one great benefit to living in the same city as one of your favorite dyers!

This skein wasn't the only stash enhancement this week, as luck would have it. Two fiber club shipments showed up this week (you'll see them on Sunday in my weekly spinning post), and this beauty made a surprise appearance as well:

It's even prettier when it's in focus!
This gorgeous skein of madelinetosh tosh lace (now sadly discontinued) in Spectrum was my prize for taking part in the Madelinetosh Lovers Mad May original design contest on Ravelry. My shawl design came in third place.

Tomorrow I get a rare day off by myself; I'm using up my last personal day before I lose it at the end of the month. If the weather cooperates, I'm planning on going for a run in the morning, spending a little time at my wheel, and then spending the afternoon knitting at my LYS. Try not to be too jealous -- I only get to do this once or twice a year!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016


First, I want to thank those of you who left comments or e-mailed me about my little incident. You'll be happy to hear that I am officially on the mend and my broken nose will be able to heal on its own without any further intervention. The scratches and bruises are starting to fade, and perhaps in another week it will be hard to tell that anything happened.

But you came here for knitting, right? Okay then, let's talk about knitting!

I did manage to find a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon to work on my Waiting for Rain, and I'm now ready to start the second short-row lace section. The rows are getting noticeably longer, and the yarn balls are starting to get smaller, so I can tell I'm making some significant progress.

This is a fun knit, but it's definitely one I need to pay attention to, at least when it comes to the lace sections. That made it not a good contender for my knitting on Sunday evening.

And why was that? Because on Sunday evening I was watching game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals, when my beloved Penguins finally clinched the title, and let's just say I was a little tense during the game. I had finished the first of the new design socks earlier in the day, so I cast on for sock number two to work on during the game. I'm sure that my gauge at the beginning of this sock is a little tighter than it was on the first sock as a result of my nerves.

These socks were also to blame for another injury I sustained over the weekend (luckily not nearly as dramatic as the injuries from earlier in the week). I have a tendency to push the tip of the right needle with the tip of my left index finger as I finish up a knit stitch, and I guess my hands were too dry and the needles I was using (size 0/2.0 mm Addi Sock Rockets) were too sharp. The result was that I managed to poke a hole in my finger -- basically the skin just split, more or less along a groove in my fingerprint. Ouch! No blood was shed and it was easy enough to put a bandage on it, but it was in a mighty inconvenient spot. I ended up leaving that finger pointing up in the air while knitting, as I do when I'm doing stranded colorwork and have a strand of yarn coming over that finger. It worked but was a little awkward. The wound has since healed, and I'm trying to be more mindful of my technique in an effort to keep it from happening again.

I'm hoping to cast on for at least one more project by the end of the week, the next in the collection of patterns. Incidentally, I put up a little notice about this collection in my Ravelry group, so if you're interested in test knitting, you might want to take a look. I will be very happy to be using some larger needles and thicker yarn for a bit!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

The Gift of Time

My crafting time is precious, as you know. I have a full-time job and a small (and demanding) child, so I find time to knit and spin and design here and there but often not in large chunks of time. So it was a wonderful gift yesterday to have several hours in a row to spin at the inaugural (and I'm hoping not the only) Indie Knit & Spin Spin-In. It was a fairly small event, with six spinning-related vendors and probably less than 40 people overall, but it was a very fun afternoon. I took full advantage of the uninterrupted spinning time to make some progress on my Southern Cross Fibre merino, which is now more than halfway done:

This fiber is spinning quite fine and has such a beautiful luster to it -- another spinner at the event asked if it was a silk blend because it looked so shiny. I'll continue to spin away at this, perhaps finishing up the singles this week -- perhaps. Singles this fine do tend to take a lot of time.

Though there were plenty of beautiful things to buy at the event, I was fairly restrained and came home with only one thing, which I bought in the name of research:

This is a 6 oz. sampler pack of HipStrings Buoy, a really interesting blend of BFL, Shetland, and Manx Loaghtan wools. I have an ounce each of six color blends -- from left to right, Dry Dock, Breeze, Lobster, Pine, Mussels, and Breakwater. They're prettier out of the packaging, but I was worried about the fiber exploding and not being able to get it back in neatly. My plan is to spin small skeins from each colorway so I'll end up with six minis with which to do colorwork or stripes or something else fun. I'm really excited about this blend, so it will be good motivation to get through the rest of the merino!

Thursday, June 09, 2016

That Was Not What I Had in Mind

I've frequently said that I wouldn't mind not having to go to work because it would be great to be able to spin and knit all day. Well, I got to do that today, unexpectedly, though not necessarily for a good reason. A sort of freak thing happened yesterday. I was at work and feeling a little lightheaded, like I was going to faint. I remember sitting down in my office chair and trying to breathe slowly, and the next thing I knew, I was face down on the floor. Seems I did faint and fell out of my chair. I managed to scrape up my nose, my forehead, and a bit under my eye and (as I found out hours later in the ER) fracture my nose. Some luck, eh? So, on doctor's orders, I stayed home today and spent some quality time with my wheel and my yarn.

In more pleasant news, look what's done! (And you can thank me for sparing you photos of my face -- it really doesn't hurt much, but it looks pretty horrible.)

Pattern: Hitofude Cardigan by Hiroko Fukatsu
Yarn: my handspun, 100% Polwarth from Bee Mice Elf
Needles: US 6 (4.0 mm) ChiaoGoo Red Lace circs
Started/Completed: March 23/June 6
Mods: worked fewer repeats for the sleeves; added length to the body

Sometimes it felt like this project was in progress forever, but in reality it really took less than half a year -- not an unrealistic amount of time to spin more than 1,100 yards of yarn and knit a lace sweater, if you ask me! I probably could have finished it sooner had I worked on it more consistently, but it was a pattern that was fairly easy to put down and pick up, especially as I'd had the lace pattern memorized from about the second repeat.

I only made two modifications to the pattern. The first was to work one less lace repeat on the sleeves; I probably could have eliminated two, as they were still a bit big before blocking, but I solved that issue by stretching them horizontally when I blocked the sweater. I also added two additional lace repeats to the body, in part to make the body longer but also to use up more yarn to get to the last color in the sequence.

I blocked the finished sweater fairly aggressively, and the result is that the sweater is a little loose and has a lot of drape -- just as I wanted. It's a bit wild compared to what I usually wear, but I'm immensely pleased with it. It was a fun knit and a really interesting construction, and it was definitely a great use for my handspun!

Since this project came off the needles, I've been working on my LYS's newest shawl knitalong, Waiting for Rain. I decided to go with the lighter gray for the main color and use the darker gray for the stripes and lace portions.

I did the first lace section today and really enjoyed it. Short rows and lace sounds like it would be really challenging, but once you get the hang of it, it's actually pretty fun. I don't know that I can do it late at night or while watching the Stanley Cup finals, but I think if I can manage it a day after whacking my face on the floor, it can't be as complicated as it would seem.