Monday, March 31, 2008

Whirlwind

Phew! What a weekend! We were busy all weekend with a rehearsal dinner, a wedding, a post-wedding brunch, and an engagement party -- so busy, in fact, that I took a day off from work on Friday just to get my errands done. It also allowed me a little bit of time to knit, really the only sustained knitting time I got all weekend. The good news? I finished the yoke of the sweater I've been test knitting. I slipped it on to some waste yarn (that's the purple you'll see in the photos below) to try it on. Here's the front:

... and the back:

Cute, no? I'm looking forward to getting the rest of the pattern, eventually, so I can finish it (surely just in time for summer).

I also finished a pair of excessively boring socks for The Mister earlier this evening that I am not going to bother to show you until I can get a shot of them on his feet. They're a 2x2 rib, which means when they're not on feet, they shrivel up into nothing. Do you really want to see a photo of that? Yeah, I didn't think so.

More good news: I managed to get in some spinning time last night! For the past week, I'd been preparing the fiber in fits and starts; I finally finished splitting it last night and was able to start my first bobbin of singles. Pretty, pretty singles!

This is much thinner than my first experiment. Here's my fingers for scale:


Judging solely by sight, I'd say this is somewhere between a laceweight and a fingering weight, so with any luck the finished two ply should fall somewhere in the heavy fingering weight. Wouldn't it be fun to turn this into a pair of hand-spun, hand-knit socks?

I'll be trying to finish up this bobbin tonight as well as winding my latest STR (I can finally start those socks now that the interminable ribbed socks are done). Then it's back to Seamless Hybrid #2, which will likely be my project of choice for knit night this Wednesday, 7 p.m. at the Waterworks B&N.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Rip that WIP

Remember that test knit? The other night, I was a mere three or four rows away from finishing the yoke (which is all I've got to knit for the magazine). Then, I made the mistake of checking my e-mail yesterday. Turns out there was a small mistake in the pattern -- but not small enough that I could avoid frogging and starting again. So, now here's where I am:

Looks like it'll be a while before this is done and I can get back to Seamless Hybrid #2. Not that it really matters; it'll be quite a while before The Mister would want to wear a wool sweater.

I haven't done any more spinning since Sunday (I've been out the past two evenings and still have to prep the rest of the fiber), but my niddy noddy finally came yesterday, along with some pretty new fiber (padding for the box, you know), so I was able to skein up and wash my first handspun on my own wheel. It's still a tad bit damp on one end and still smells rather sheepy, but isn't it pretty?


It's definitely a bulkier-weight yarn (I haven't done a formal wraps-per-inch count yet) and there are some thick and thin parts, but I'm very pleased. It's undyed BFL, approximately 30 yards, and thankfully well balanced. It won't knit up to much, maybe just a fun, fluffy edging; I have a feeling I'll just want to keep it in a skein and admire it.

If that's not enough yarn pr0n for you, how about the latest STR? It came Saturday; in my excitement over my wheel, I completely forgot that it had been shipped out, so it really came as a surprise. I love the colorway, and I'm especially enamored of the pattern that came with it. I just need to finish up the really boring socks (read: 2x2 rib) for The Mister that are currently on the needles before I can cast on.

On a side note, I just did a big load of handknit socks, and I feel it is my duty to let you know that my Jitterbug socks are still bleeding when I wash them. The wash water is every bit as turquoise as it was on the first wash, too. I'll let you decide whether or not to invest in Jitterbug for yourself, but I most definitely will not be buying it ever again.

Monday, March 24, 2008

It's Love!

Thank you all for sharing in my enthusiasm. I'm so glad I finally took the plunge (and shelled out the bucks!) to buy my wheel, because I'm getting so much enjoyment out of it already. I hardly picked up my knitting needles over the weekend -- and probably ignored my husband -- because I spent so much time at the wheel. So much time, in fact, that I was having some bum numbness issues. I still need a lot of practice and have a lot to learn, but here's my first handspun on my own wheel (this shot is for you, Kristie!):

This was more of the huge bag of natural BFL from my learn to spin kit. As you can see, it came out rather bulky (so bulky, in fact, that there are more singles to be plied that wouldn't fit on this bobbin!), but it served its purpose of letting me practice my technique and get to know my wheel.

I have some prettier fiber up next that I picked up at Natural Stitches on Saturday:


This is 8 oz. of Louet Northern Lights wool top, in a colorway called Toffee. I predrafted the entire thing (yes, it's one long, continuous length of fiber!) and now I'm in the process of splitting it in two lengthwise to be spun into singles. Now I see why people skip the predrafting process -- it takes a while! I think it'll be worth it, though, when I can just sit down and spin continuously.

The one thing that's left to do with my wheel is name it. I think a wheel ought to have a name, don't you? I do think that, what with parts with names like "mother of all," wheels probably are girls, so I guess she needs a name. The Mister is supposedly thinking up a name, but you fibery people might be better. I'm thinking something eccentric and original. Thoughts?


Yvonne tagged me for a meme. I haven't done one of these in a while, so here goes:

1. Pick up the nearest book of 123 (or more) pages. Atonement by Ian McEwan

2. Open the book to page 123 and find the fifth sentence. And spineless. (Yes, that really is the entire sentence!)

3. Post the next three sentences. He went over it again and it looked the same. There was no way out, he would have to speak to her. He put his hand over the bell push.

4. Tag four people. Well, I'm usually among the last people to do these things, so if you haven't done it yet and want to, consider yourself tagged!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Hello, Gorgeous!

Dear Mr. UPS Man,

I'm very sorry for practically ripping the box out of your hands yesterday, but I just couldn't wait any longer. Thank you for coming to make your delivery after I was home. You made my day!

Sincerely,
SJ




Lendrum Original, double treadle, complete package. 100% made in Canada. Took longer to open the box than to assemble. Spins like a dream (save for the fact that I don't entirely know what I'm doing).

How do I feel about my new wheel? That's easy.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Does This Make You Dizzy?

This was finished and blocked earlier in the week, but I'm only now getting around to blogging it (sorry I couldn't get a shot in better lighting).

Pattern: Chevron Scarf from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson
Yarn: Koigu KPPPM, colorways P514 (green) and P621 (pink), 1.5 skeins each
Needles: 16" US 5 (3.75 mm) Knit Picks circular
Started/Completed: January 24/March 17
Mods: none

This scarf has a special place in my heart, because it was knit with the very first Koigu I ever bought. I kept saving it for a special project but could never bring myself to make socks out of it because I thought they would wear out too quickly. As it turned out, the colorways work very well together, even if they do look a bit like a psychedelic watermelon.


I'm a bit skeptical about the yardage specified in the pattern, which calls for Koigu and a size 5 needle. Supposedly two skeins would yield me a scarf roughly six feet long; somehow, with at least half a skein left of each colorway, I've got a scarf that's at least that length, and I didn't vigorously block. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. I have plenty of things in mind for that leftover yarn.


Last night was knit night with the Hurricane Knitters, who were all incredulous when an announcement came over the loudspeaker that B&N would be closing at 9 -- that's an hour earlier than the store used to close. At least the knitty company was good while it lasted (I suggest you visit Yvonne and Amy for some snippets of conversation and more details on what ensued after we were so unceremoniously kicked out) and I got some good knitting time in. I was able to cast on for the pattern I'm test knitting for Knotions, a new online knitting magazine. It's a top-down raglan, and I'm happy to say that I'll be able to share my progress with you! Right now it doesn't look like much, hence the lack of picture, but from the description and diagram it looks like it's going to be super cute.

Still no sign of my wheel, nor has there been any response to my e-mail asking for a tracking number. At what point do you think I'm allowed to get annoyed?

Monday, March 17, 2008

A Package at the Door

No sign of my wheel just yet, though my fingers were crossed all day. There was, however, a small box waiting for me when I got home this evening. Inside was my Pay It Forward surprise from Nell, containing this work of art:


This is an organic cotton face scrubbie/washcloth, but if you ask me, it's almost too pretty to use! I was not at all surprised to see that the pattern (Ravelry link) is by Norah Gaughan. Also in the package was a baggie full of delicious snickerdoodles; I can tell you they're delicious because I've already dug in. Mmmm, cookie! Thanks, Nell!

Thanks to all the action its seen the past few days, the Chevron Scarf is on the verge of FO status. Another half hour or so should see the end of the knitting and then it will be time to pull out the blocking towels. Expect photos in the next few days.

Wheel Watch 2008 continues ...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Now Leaving Babysweaterland

As promised, the last of the baby sweaters (at least for the forseeable future):

Pattern: Seamless Yoked Baby Sweater by Carole Barenys
Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton Ease (50% cotton, 50% acrylic), color 099/Almond, two skeins
Needles: 32" US 8 (5 mm) Addi Turbo circs
Started/Completed: March 10/March 14
Mods: worked paired decreases down the length of the sleeves to the final stitch count

There's not much more to say about this sweater. It's a tried-and-true pattern that I know the recipient (one of my coworkers) will love, the yarn is easy to care for and in her favorite color, and the actual knitting was a pleasure. This sweater is entirely seamless, knit from the top down. I used a thicker yarn than called for and the needle size suggested on the ballband for a sweater that's really for a one- to two-year-old than a baby -- my ideal in giving baby clothing as a gift, as babies outgrow their clothing so quickly.

Since finishing this sweater, I'm down to only my Chevron Scarf, and I'm determined to finish it soon. I am itching to cast on for another sweater, however, especially since picking this up at Knit One earlier this afternoon.

The Mister has decided that his Seamless Hybrid, while it fits well, is just a tad bit too short, so he'll be getting another one in this dark gray Cascade 220. I couldn't leave the store without a little something for myself, especially because I was paying with the cache of gift cards I've somehow accumulated in the past six months, so I found this:


Two ounces of merino/corriedale roving in shades of blue, violet, and yellow -- just enough to keep me from going crazy with the natural BFL roving I have when my wheel finally arrives.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Anticipation

(Sorry if I've just gotten Carly Simon stuck in your head with that title!)

So, it's official: I've ordered my wheel. My credit card has been charged, so I assume it is on its way to me. Now it's just a matter of waiting, which I'm not very good at.

In the meantime, I've been knitting a lot. I finished a pair of socks this past week:

Pattern: Serendipity by Adrienne Fong (January '08 Rockin' Sock Club shipment)
Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock lightweight (100% superwash merino), colorway Dragon Dance, one skein
Needles: two 12" US 1 (2.5 mm) Addi Turbo circs
Started/Completed: March 4/March 13
Mods: none

Although I'm not usually a fan of short-row heels (they just don't fit as well as a heel-flap-and-gusset heel), I decided to go with the pattern for this particular sock, as substituting a heel flap would have been tricky to get to work with the stitch pattern. The first sock gave me trouble; if you look at the left sock in the photo below, you'll notice that it's a bit lumpy along the diagonal created by the short rows. This is because when I wrapped the stitches as instructed in the pattern, I wound up with some pretty sizeable holes on one side of the heel. Rather than ripping the heel out and doing it again (which might have been the better solution, in retrospect), I stitched the holes up from the inside when the sock was done, hence the bumpiness. For the second sock (on the right), I changed the way I wrapped the stitches on the right side, and this seemed to make all the difference.


These still need a good blocking (as I'm sure you can tell from the pointiness of my heels), but I think they will be worked into my wardrobe pretty soon. I'm still not a fan of the short-row heel, but in this case it did work to keep the colorway from pooling horribly.

Yesterday was my "spring break" from work and, after running my errands in the morning, I spent most of the day watching girly movies and knitting. I finished what I hope will be the final baby sweater, but it's still a bit damp from blocking so you'll have to wait to see it. Now, I find myself with only one active WIP (Ravelry link) -- such an odd situation to be in! It's probably a good situation if the wheel is on the way, I guess!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Time: It's Not on My Side

I can't believe another week got away from me. Much house-related craziness has been going on, unfortunately without anything to show for it. Lest you think I've been spending all my time cleaning and browsing the real estate listings ...

Look, I finished another baby sweater!

Pattern: Baby Sweater on Two Needles (the so-called February Sweater) from Knitter's Almanac by Elizabeth Zimmermann
Yarn: Knit Picks Shine Sport (60% pima cotton, 40% modal), colorway Aquamarine (discontinued), approximately 2.5 skeins
Needles: US 5 (3.75 mm) circs
Started/Completed: February 27/March 9
Mods: cast on more stitches for a wider neck; worked sweater entirely in the round; made only three buttonholes

I like how this sweater turned out, but I think it might be even cuter in wool. This yarn is just a tad bit too drape-y for my taste. I decided to use this property of the yarn to my advantage and made only three buttonholes to turn a cardigan into a little swing jacket.

Last night, I cast on for what I hope will be the last of the baby sweaters for a while. This one is for a coworker, who loves the color yellow. Done.

This is the same sweater I've knit twice before, so it'll be an easy knit. I'm looking forward to the next adult-sized sweater, which will be a test knit for a new online knitting magazine. I swatched over the weekend and am ready to go as soon as I get the pattern.

I do have some exciting news to share with you. This past weekend was my birthday (that's not the exciting news; I'm not all that enthused about being another year older), and I got some great presents. My in-laws got me a gift card to Knit One, which means a sweater for me and The Mister. My parents and my aunts and uncles all gave me money toward my wheel fund -- enough that, as soon as the checks clear, I'll be ordering my Lendrum! Yay!

Finally, I have a photo to share with all of you who have been asking what happened with my aunt and her sweater. This should answer all your questions:

Yep, looks like I'm not getting it back!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Chaussettes Artichaux

Nothing says spring is on the way like ... er, snow coming tomorrow. But how about a pair of very spring-like socks? Okay, that I can do. (Just please disregard the fact that my feet look like flippers. It's hard to take pictures of your own feet!)


Pattern: Artichoke Socks by Megan Humphrey
Yarn: Socks That Rock lightweight (100% superwash merino), colorway Lemongrass, one skein
Needles: two 12" US 1 (2.5 mm) Addi Turbo circs
Started/Completed: February 26/March 2
Mods: lengthened the cuff, added a "plain" round to lace pattern, and subbed my usual heel and toe

These socks caught my eye about the same time Weezalana knit them up, and I'm glad I waited to cast them on because her mods proved to be very helpful. I, too, added a "plain" round after round 9 of the lace pattern; if you look at the directions, you'll see that every even row is worked plain, except that it goes straight from a patterned row (row 9) to another patterned row (row 1). Like the Weez, I can't abide that lack of symmetry, if you will, so I had to add a row 10. I also used my usual heel flap and toe, because I know they fit my feet well. I did, however, follow the directions for the heel insofar as starting the heel turn on the wrong side, which results in working across all the heel stitches on the last short row.

I should tell you that there's a small typo in the directions for the heel turn, which you'll probably notice if you're a veteran sock knitter. The first row tells you to p3tog; it should be a p2tog. (But you knew that, right?)


Now that my big woolly sweater days are over, at least for the time being, I've moved back into Babysweaterland. The latest is the so-called February Sweater, from Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitter's Almanac.

This is again my favorite baby yarn, Knit Picks Shine Sport, although the color is not at all accurate in this photo -- it's much more minty green than blue. This isn't the fastest knit in the world, not because of the stitch pattern, but because the yarn is on the slippery side and if I'm not carefuly it's really easy to drop a whole bunch of stitches. I'm hoping to finish the body tonight.

I do want to thank all of you for your very nice compliments on my aunt's sweater. The big reveal is tomorrow, when my brother will hand it off to my uncle. I will certainly let you all know what her reaction is!

(Pssst ... Hurricane Knitters tomorrow, 7 p.m. Barnes & Noble. Be there!)

Saturday, March 01, 2008

A Small Way of Saying Thanks

Over Thanksgiving weekend of last year, when my aunt and uncle were in town and The Mister and I were showing off our new sweaters, my uncle pulled me aside and asked if I would collaborate with him to surprise my aunt with a custom-knit sweater. I agreed immediately, because what better or more fitting way is there to say thank-you to the aunt who first taught me to knit nearly two decades ago?

When they returned home, I had my uncle measure one of her sweaters on the sly to get some basic measurements with which to work, and then, with Elizabeth Zimmermann's wisdom to guide me, I got to work. A month of knitting yielded this, probably my most favorite sweater I've knit to date.

Pattern: Seamless Yoke Sweater from Knitting Without Tears by Elizabeth Zimmermann
Yarn: Patons Classic Wool Merino (100% wool), color 224/Grey Mix, approximately 4.5 skeins, and color 226/Black, approximately 0.5 skeins
Needles: US 6 (4.0 mm) 32" and 24" circs and dpns
Gauge: 5 sts/in
Started/Completed: January 26/February 26

Some notes on the construction of this sweater:

As with all of EZ's seamless sweaters, this begins as three tubes -- the body and two sleeves -- that are then joined at approximately the level of the underarms and united on one needle to work the yoke and neck. I cast on 192 stitches for the body (38" worth, plus a couple extra to bring the stitch count for a multiple of four) and worked two inches in 2x2 rib. After I switched to stockinette, I worked three sets of paired decreases an inch apart to the get to the final bust size of 36". I fudged the sleeves as well, starting with 44 stitches (a bit more than the 20% of the body stitches EZ recommends), working two inches of ribbing, and then increasing up to 60 stitches.

When I got to the yoke, I worked an inch plain before starting the stranded portion, for which I followed the first two motifs charted in the book (p. 70). They're basic, but I love the simple geometric look of them, and how they seem to minimize the inevitable jog (if you look closely at the picture above, you can see it at the back of my right shoulder).

I fudged the numbers yet again in the third round of decreases in order to have a slightly larger neck opening and avoid the dreaded too-tight collar that threatens to rip your ears off.

I'm very, very pleased with this sweater. By some extraordinary stroke of luck, my aunt turns out to wear pretty much the same size as I do, and as you can see the finished garment fits me perfectly. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little bit tempted to keep it for myself, but it's an even better reward to think of what a great surprise it will be!