Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Last Bobbin

Just a short post from me tonight, as I've just spent a couple of hours cooking and cleaning and I'm about ready to drop.

I'm still spinning Buoy for my sweater, but the end of the third skein is in sight. I'm officially onto the third and final bobbin, and I'm more than a quarter of way into that. Here are the two finished bobbins, patiently waiting for their triplet to be finished so they can be plied:

For now, I'm ignoring the fact that I have at least two more skeins to spin for this project (perhaps more, because now I'm thinking I might want to do some smaller skeins so the sleeves match). I'll be happy to finish up this skein and may perhaps take a bit of a break with some other fiber in other colors. With any luck, you'll be seeing a finished skein in this spot next Sunday!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Just Too Cute

This has been a decidedly weird week -- not work or school on Monday, plus a two-hour delay for Rainbow (and thus me) yesterday -- so I am having trouble remembering what day it is without checking the calendar, but thankfully my crafting has not suffered. After finishing up Rainbow's projects over the weekend, I was feeling like I was on a roll, so I promptly cast on and finished a little hat in a matter of two evenings.

Pre-blocking FO shot

Pattern: Happy Happy Birthday Hat by NellKnits
Yarn: scraps of Knit Picks Swish Worsted (the cake and flame), Cascade 220 Superwash (the icing), and Cascade 220 Superwash Paints (the candle)
Needles: US 6 (4.0 mm) Addi Turbos, magic loop
Started/Completed: January 15/January 16
Mods: did an alternate decrease method for the bobbles

This was a fun, quick little knit, albeit a bit fiddly at times (bobbles, I'm looking at you). It's destined to be a gift for a family friend who will turn 1 next month. I was a little concerned that it was too small, but I was able to block it out much larger than it looks here and I think it will be okay for fit. As noted above, the one very minor modification I made was to change the way the bobbles are decreased. They're created by increasing from one stitch to five, and the pattern calls for decreasing back to one by knitting the five stitches together. My needles were just blunt enough to preclude such a maneuver, however, so I figured out an alternate way to achieve the same effect: I slipped the first two stitches (separately) from the left to the right needle so that the center stitch of the bobble was the first one on the left needle. Then I passed the stitch to the left of that stitch over it and off the needle. I transferred the stitch to the right needle and passed the stitch to the right of it over and off the needle. I transferred the stitch back to the left needle and repeated these two steps once more, essentially binding off the two stitches on either side of the center stitch of the bobble, and then knit the remaining stitch. I'm sure this is a legitimate decrease that someone has already thought up, but I kind of made it up in the moment and it seemed to work well.

Though there's still yarn remaining from this little hat, it feels really good to have done an entire project using only stash yarn (especially considering I ordered some new yarn online yesterday -- but more on that when it arrives).

Meanwhile, my lunchtime knitting has become my handspun brioche cowl, which is moving along slowly but steadily. I think that if it were in a single color it might become a bit of a slog, but the frequent color changes due to the small amounts of fiber that were combined is making for an interesting knit. It's somewhat akin to knitting with self-striping yarn; there's definitely an urge to keep going to get to the next color.

Yes, that is sunshine on my knitting!

I'm also continuing to work on my giant crocheted bag, though I don't have a photo to share (I'll need to get one this weekend when I can get it in decent natural light). I've noticed that as I work on it more, my speed is increasing, which is a good sign. Ideally, I'd like to get it done by the end of the month, though we'll see if that actually happens.

The weekend ahead looks pretty calm; we've got nothing on the calendar other than a birthday lunch for my father-in-law on Saturday. Though of course there will be the usual errands and chores to get done, that means extra crafting time for me!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

A Bit of a Finishing Spree

I'm not sure what came over me over the long weekend, but I managed to finish up two projects, both of them for Rainbow. First, there was her new brioche cowl, which I was aiming to get done in time for her to wear it skiing on Sunday. I managed that with plenty of time to spare though not much yarn -- those little snippets you see here were all that was left after binding off and weaving in the ends.

The colors are, in reality, a bit brighter than this, but I think the winter light combined with the fact that the base yarn was a dark gray make it really hard to capture them. I didn't use a pattern for this; I just cast on until I had enough stitches to comfortably fit around a 16 inch needle and then worked in brioche until I was almost out of yarn, then bound off. It turned out a bit wider and shorter than I would have liked, but Rainbow was elated by it and reported that it kept her very warm while skiing with no itchiness.

Not long after that was done, I finished up her new pair of socks -- and this time the stripes match up perfectly!

Pattern: Vanilla Is the New Black by Anneh Fletcher
Yarn: Knit Picks Felici in Hibiscus
Needles: US 0 (2.0 mm) Addi Sock Rockets, magic loop
Started/Completed: December 25, 2017/January 13, 2018
Mods: used backward-loop m1s instead of lifted m1s

These really did not take much time at all to knit; they were started when we went to the movies on Christmas Day, but then I don't think I touched them again until the day we came home from our trip, so most of the knitting has been done during my lunch breaks the past week. I made the pattern again at Rainbow's request, and I once again made the legs rather long so that they're nearly knee socks on her. I think you could say that she likes them -- this was her reaction upon receiving them:

If all goes according to plan this evening, I should have another FO by my next post -- a baby hat that's already at least halfway done. I didn't bother taking an in-progress photo because with something so small all you can see is the needles poking everywhere, but this is the pattern I'm using. I'm also using all scraps and leftovers from my stash!

I did cast on one new project for me over the weekend, and it's the infinity cowl I was planning with the giant skein of handspun. I haven't gotten very far, but I like what I have.

It looks like I will get some stripes, and I think the brioche stitch will help to blend the transitions really well. This is one that I'm in for the long haul; I'm working it on size 3/3.25 mm needles so as to have a relatively dense fabric and a finished cowl that's not enormous, but that means I have 250 stitches on the needles, so even one round take a bit of time. The good news is that this is simple enough that I can pick it up and knit a bit on it whenever the mood strikes without having to think too much.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Making Up for Lost Time

Usually when I return from my December vacation, I am anxious to spend extra hours at my wheel because I've gone a couple of weeks without spinning and missed it terribly. This year was no exception. Over the past week, while there has been a fair amount of the usual knitting, I've definitely spent bonus hours at my Lendrum. Aside from just getting reacquainted after the weeks away, I've been wanting to spin more to get the yarn done for my handspun Boxy because I'm anxious to start the knitting. There's still quite a lot of spinning to do, but as of yesterday I have finished the first bobbin of skein number three, which will be an 8 oz. skein.

I think the entire bobbin took me four to five hours to spin, so that means I can probably get the next two done in the next two weeks if I continue my current spinning schedule. There are still two more skeins to spin after this one is done, one of which will be another 8 oz.-er, so I think if I want to get all the spinning done in a reasonable amount of time, I really need to stay focused (and that means not getting distracted by the new fiber that's arrived over the past several weeks).

Meanwhile, I finished up two knitting projects yesterday, so that means I'm ready to cast on something new -- and this something new will be my skein of fiber minis.

That's a standard skein of sock yarn next to it, to give you an idea of just how big it is. My plan is to knit another big brioche infinity cowl, but I'll be working on small needles so that the fabric stays dense and the cowl doesn't overwhelm me. If all goes according to plan, I will be casting on later today.

Tomorrow the entire family has off for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and it sounds like I will be spending at least part of it teaching a friend to spin! She's already a knitter but recently started doing some needle felting and then fell down the spinning rabbit hole. She's got some supplies ordered but as I have plenty of fiber on hand, I told her to come over and play. I've also convinced her to come with me to Maryland Sheep & Wool this year, so I'm hoping to have her spinning well on her own by then so she can take full advantage of all the fiber and tools at the festival.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Another Ending

I'm sorry to say that this post brings news of yet another LYS closing. Last Saturday was the last day of business for Knit One, and I made one last trip there with my friend Amy as everything in the store was 50% off. I didn't necessarily need any more yarn, but part of me want to go because Knit One was my LYS when I first got obsessively into knitting, back when I lived by myself in an apartment very close by. Despite the fact that I hadn't been to the shop in years and didn't feel much of a connection to it any longer, I did feel sad when I heard it was closing because it played a special role in a key part of my knitting career.

As you would expect, there wasn't much left in the way of stock when we got there and less still in terms of yarn I'd actually be interested in buying. But I did find a few skeins to come home with me, all intended to be used for Rainbow. First, I found three skeins of Araucania Huasco, a worsted weight merino in a lovely pale blue. With a bit more than 650 yards, I think that should be enough to do a sweater for her (we're currently eyeing the Gone Astray cardigan).

I also found this lone skein of Trekking XXL in shades of purple that will do very nicely for another pair of socks or a hat.

Finally, because buttons are always needed and can be so hard to find, I bought a tube of these clear plastic buttons because they seemed like they would go with anything. I have a total of 20 with the one that was connected to the top of the tube, so that should be enough for several sweaters.

I am still plugging away on my WIPs, though I've got one more than I did the last time I posted because I have cast on for Rainbow's cowl using the yarn we dyed. She is thrilled with how the colors turned out, which in turn makes me quite happy.

This is currently the top priority of my WIPs because I'd like to have it finished by the weekend in time for the skiing trip she and the Mister have planned for this Sunday. It's supposed to be very cold again, so she will need all the warm accessories I can get on her. We're also expecting another winter storm to move through Friday night and Saturday, so I am planning on spending most of Saturday holed up at home with my wool -- not entirely a bad way to spend a weekend, if you ask me!

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Little Bits of Everything

Now that I am home and reunited with the full stash, it seems I am getting an urge to do all the crafts. First there was spinning over the weekend. Then I decided to play around with dyeing some yarn (really just playing -- I used food coloring) to use to make Rainbow a new cowl. This was a spare skein of Knit Picks Capra in a dark gray color that we tried to make purple:

I'd say these are less than stellar results, but Rainbow is satisfied, so I'll be winding this little skein up tonight and likely casting on the new cowl sometime this week.

Of course, there has been knitting. My first order of business when we got back (after adding twist to that skein of handspun) was finishing up these slipper socks. I actually completed the knitting on Sunday night but had to finish weaving in the ends last night and then blocked them overnight on the radiator.

I've already got the pattern draft written out (by hand), so I've got to type that up and get some photos this weekend so I can send it off to my tech editor to put in her queue.

I'm still working on Rainbow's Felici socks, with the leg of the second sock nearly finished.

And as if all this varied crafting hasn't been enough, I decided to pull out my crochet bag last night and plan to do some more work on this evening as well. I'd really like to get this project finished up in the next month, so it's time to buckle down and do it. By the time I finish the current scrap of yarn on this, I'll have more than 900 yards crocheted up, with a good amount of scrap yarn still available to be added. I'd like the bag to be rather deep, so I expect I will use most if not all of what I've set aside.

This project is doing double duty of using up some stash yarn (and old stash yarn, at that) and being a good alternative to knitting, as at the moment I have a sore spot on my left index finger that's making knitting a little painful because I tend to push the tip of the needle with that finger as I knit. I am still managing to work on the socks a bit by keeping a bandaid on the finger, but that makes knitting a bit awkward and slower than usual. When I crochet, that finger stays up in the air to hold the yarn, so there's no worry of aggravating the sore spot. I'd also like to develop my crochet skills a bit in the coming year, so working on this bag is helping to improve my muscle memory toward that end.

Sunday, January 07, 2018

Back on Track

And we're back home. It was a bit of an adjustment to come home to sub-freezing temperatures, but the house is nice and toasty and there are plenty of woolens here to keep us warm.

After two weeks away from my spinning, I wasted no time getting reacquainted with my wheels. As soon as I was done unpacking and getting Rainbow to bed, I sat down at my miniSpinner to add more plying twist to my Fibernymph Dye Works Holiday Countdown skein. Really, the wheel did all the work; I just held the yarn while it added twist (one of the joys of an electric wheel). I skeined it up and soaked it again on Saturday morning, and thanks to some very warm radiators, it was dry by last night. It's much better now.

My final yardage is somewhere in the neighborhood of 605 yards, which isn't bad, especially given how much the skein shrank between finishing the first time around and adding more twist. My plan is still to knit this into another brioche infinity cowl, but I think I will likely knit it on small-ish needles so that the fabric is a bit denser and the finished object doesn't overwhelm me. I have a feeling I'll be casting on soon, just as soon as I finish a couple of things that are still in progress.

Now that we're back, I've returned to my Buoy sweater spin with the start of skein number 3. This will be a big skein -- 8 ounces of fiber -- to transition from the darkest color to the medium color. I've made just a small start thus far.

As I was splitting up fiber for this skein, I realized I made a bit of a mistake. When I bought three additional braids of fiber during my last visit to the HipStrings studio, I guess I didn't bother to look at the labels too closely. The medium color I had intended to buy was Bay, but apparently I picked up a braid of Depths, which is a very similar colorway.

Depths on the left, Bay on the right
I think that the colors are similar enough that I should be okay. Depths is slightly darker (the colors are overall the same except that Bay has the addition of the lighter blue), so it should work fine to combine it with Mussels. I'll just have to do some manual fading when I change from the transition skein to the all-Bay skein, which won't be a problem. I'll admit I did feel a bit silly when I realized my error -- but, honestly, is more Buoy really a problem? I think not.