Friday, December 31, 2010

Double Spin

So here we are on the last day of 2010. It's been a big year for many reasons, but it's been a really productive year in terms of my spinning. I've learned a lot and definitely reached outside my comfort zone, in large part due to my membership in the Crown Mountain Farms fiber club. I've signed up again for next year (and already received my first shipment!), but I have two spins from 2010's shipments to show you (and one more to come, but it's in its bath right now).

First is November's shipment, which was Norwegian top dyed in gorgeous jewel tones in a colorway called Mandala. I knew that I wanted to maintain the colors and have a fairly fast spin, so I spun a relatively thick single and chain plied it.

The resulting yarn is a heavy worsted to bulky and a whopping 95 yards. This is most definitely the thickest yarn I've ever spun, which is actually an accomplishment if you know what I normally spin.

Next is the final shipment for 2010, a soft and lovely BFL in a lovely colorway called Karmapa. I opted for a two ply on this one.

The big skein is DK weight and approximately 145 yards. I chain plied the singles leftover on one bobbin and got an additional 13 yards (which Rainbow has enjoyed squishing).

I'm excited to see what the 2011 club has to offer; if the first shipment is any indication, it's going to be fantastic.

As this year draws to a close, I'd like to thank all of you who have stuck with me on the blog, even though I haven't been able to post as often as I'd like. I really appreciate your comments and the fact that you're still reading. I wish you all a happy, healthy, and fibery 2011!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Oblique

Thanks to my friend Jenn, who was working when I stopped by my LYS earlier today, I finally have pictures of my completed Oblique to share with you!

Pattern: Oblique by Veronik Avery (Fall 2007 Knitty)
Yarn: Cascade Yarns Ecological Wool (100% wool), color 8085, approximately 2.5 skeins
Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm) Addi Turbo circs
Started/Completed: September 15/December 4
Mods: slight changes to the collar (see below)


I am completely thrilled with this sweater. I wanted something that would be warm and roomy, like a guy's old sweatshirt, but with a little bit of style. This truly fit the bill.

It took a while to get into a good rhythm on this sweater, which is part of the reason it took almost three months to knit. Every row has three different stitch pattern, two of which are a four-row repeat and one of which is an eight-row repeat. I had to make sure I was awake enough and had enough attention to spare when I worked on this sweater, and I also had to make sure I had my row counter handy. Eventually I had the stitch patterns memorized and could tell which row I was on without the counter, but I still needed it when I got to the shaping so that all my parts would match up.

This was the first time I'd knit a real (i.e., sewn up) raglan. I've done enough top-down raglan sweaters to understand how the shaping would/should look, but I'd never had to sew up raglan seams before. I discovered that I didn't loathe sewing up raglan sleeves like I do set-in sleeves; in fact, I quite liked it! The only thing about raglan seams that I didn't really care for is that I had to sew them all up before I could pick up for the collar, which meant that by the time I got to the collar, I had the weight of the whole sweater on my needles. I guess it's fortunate that the collar isn't that big and was relatively fast to knit.

The collar is where I did make a few modifications. For starters, I picked up about 12 stitches more than I should have (I don't know about you, but I never seem to pick up the same number as the designer!). I made sure to keep the additional stitches in a multiple of four so that the ribbing wouldn't get messed up. I also bound off for the collar in plain knit, rather than in rib as specified in the pattern. The reason for this is simple: The button bands are knit first, and the pattern didn't specify to bind them off in rib, so I just bound them off normally. By the time I got to the collar, I needed to match the button bands. I actually think it was a rather wise mistake design feature on my part, because had I bound off the collar in twisted ribbing, it would likely have been a little wavy and loose. I believe I also ended the collar a couple of rows early for aesthetic reasons.

The final verdict is that this is a great sweater; in fact, I've been wearing it almost every other day since it was finished. It's very warm and cozy, so it's also been doubling as a sweatshirt over my pajamas when I'm sitting in bed or at my wheel in the evenings. I'm definitely a fan of raglans now, too, so this won't be my last one.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Knitting

I didn't do very much holiday knitting this year, and with good reason. Having a 1-year-old around the house means that my hands are busy most of the time. But I wanted to do a little something for some very dear friends with whom we celebrate every Christmas (except for last year, when we had a very good reason for missing the holiday). They are three sisters who lived across the street from me for the first seven years of my life. The middle sister has been my best friend since we were born; she was in my wedding and I was in her wedding last fall, when I was about eight months pregnant. The youngest sister went to college with my brother, and the oldest babysat him. Needless to say, these are some very knit-worthy friends.

Knowing that my knitting time was limited and that these are some very stylish girls, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try out a pattern that had been on my radar for a while.

Pattern: French Press Felted Slippers [Ravelry link] by Melynda Bernardi
Yarn: Patons Classic Wool Merino (black and red) and Cascade 220 (green), roughly a skein and a half of each
Needles: US 15 (10.0 mm) circs
Mods: none

This was the first time I've ever felted something that had to fit, and it was a bit of a pain, mostly because I had to go over to my parents' house to do it (they have a top-loader; I have a front-loader). It took the better part of an hour to get the slippers felted to my satisfaction. The Patons slippers felted a lot faster and a lot better than the 220 slippers, which was no surprise given the characteristics of the yarn. The green slippers could've probably felted a little more (there's still some stitch definition visible), but they were the right size and I didn't want to risk them winding up too small. I plan on giving the recipients some instructions on how to felt them a little more and get the slippers to mold to their feet if desired, so I don't think it will be a problem in the long run.

These slippers are definitely a fast knit, especially once you've knit a pair or two. I'd estimate that it probably took no more than four hours to knit all the components and sew up a pair, which is really quite reasonable when you need a quick gift. Now that I'm officially on vacation, I'm going to make a point of airing out my stash to find some yarn to make myself a pair.

There's one more small Christmas knit to show you, but I'm hoping to get a shot of it in situ, so you'll have to wait for that.

To all of you who celebrate, I wish you a very merry Christmas! To everyone else, have a great weekend!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

More Mittens

Finally, a chance to show an unblogged project!

Pattern: Vespergyle Mittens by Elinor Brown
Yarn: Knit Picks Palette (100% Peruvian highland wool), colorways Bark (23 g) and Blue (31 g)
Needles: US 0 (2.0 mm) dpns
Started/Completed: October 20/December 5

These took me a little while because these were my designated lunch break knitting, which meant they only saw about 30-40 minues of knitting a day during the week. Add to that the fact that I'm a little slower when knitting colorwork and you can understand why they took a month and a half to finish.

The last time I knit these mittens, I used a circular and magic looped. This time around, I decided to try dpns to see how I liked them for colorwork. The answer? Not so much. I found them to be more difficult to hold, probably because I do stranded colorwork with one color in each hand, which means less fingers to hold the needles. There's also a slightly noticeable line down the middle of the mitten where the split for the needles was, but I think it'll even out with wear.

The only real glitch with these mittens is that I somehow mismeasured when I was knitting the thumbs and ended them a little soon -- so these will go into the long-term planning box for someone with stubby thumbs!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

Foiled Again, with Handspun

I had fully intended to get some shots of me modeling my finished Oblique this past Saturday, when the weather report was calling for sun. Unfortunately, Rainbow woke up with a slight fever, so we spent the morning taking her to the pediatrician (diagnosis: ear infection #7) and the pharmacy for her prescription. And there went my chance for photos. Perhaps I'll get another chance later in the week. For the time being, I can tell you that blocking helped to even it out immensely and that I wore the sweater to work on Friday and was extremely cozy all day -- to the point of actually getting sweaty after my walk home.

We're in the middle of a winter storm here in Western Pennsylvania, so natural light is extremely hard to find. I couldn't even get any for taking shots of my latest handspun, so please excuse this photo, taken with a flash in my shower (I thought the lighting might be better there).

This is a BFL/silk blend from All Spun Up for the latest spinalong. This particular colorway is called Rustic, and this photo doesn't really capture the true beauty of the chocolate browns, deep orange-y rusts, and little peeks of blue and green here and there. I'm a bit disappointed with my yardage -- roughly 392 yards of light fingering weight -- but I know that it's because I did a poor job of splitting the fiber. I had a significant amount left on one bobbin when I'd finished plying; those leftovers went on to my leftover bobbin (to which I add all my thin leftover singles) and will be plied up eventually.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Photos* to Come

Well, at long last, my Oblique is finished. I did the raglan seams and picked up stitches for the collar last week at knit night, finished off the collar on Friday night, and sewed up the rest of the seams on Saturday. It is exactly as I hoped -- big, cozy, and exceptionally warm. I wore it with my pajamas a couple of times over the weekend while sitting around and watching TV, and it very much has the oversized sweatshirt/stolen father's cardigan feel to it that I was going for.

Unfortunately, I didn't have a chance to get in a photo shoot over the weekend, and this sweater really deserves some shots in good lighting, so you'll have to wait to see it. Besides, it really needed a good wet blocking to even out all the stitches, so it's soaking now (and I expect will take a few days to dry) along with a pair of colorwork mittens I'd been working on during my lunch breaks for the past couple of months. For now, I hope you'll settle for a little preview -- in this case, a close-up of the buttons I'd been saving for just the right project. I just love the little design etched around the circumference.

Now that my sweater is finished, knitting of holiday gifts has officially commenced. I'm limiting myself to only a few things that are fast projects, so there will be no Holiday Knitting Crazy here as we get closer to Christmas. I also cast on for a hat for Rainbow, who, while she won't know the difference between a hat that's a gift and a hat that I force her to wear on a daily basis, really needs something stylish to wear for her first Christmas trip. I'm very excited about this particular hat, as it's being knit out of some of my handspun Polwarth from this summer. If there's enough yarn leftover, I might have to make a chapeau for me to match!



*Good photos, in natural light -- I promise!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Oblique: The To Do List

  • Knit back - check
  • Knit two fronts - check
  • Knit two sleeves - check
  • Knit left button band - check

  • Knit right button band
  • Seam raglan seams
  • Knit collar
  • Weave in ends
  • Sew on buttons
  • Block

The list is getting shorter!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

No More Delusions

Reality has set in: There is no way my Oblique is going to be done in time for Thanksgiving. For some reason, even though I've knit quite a few sweaters, I always forget how long sleeves take. The good news is that I've started the raglan decreases on sleeve #1 (and am quickly approaching the end of my second skein of yarn).

(By the way, can I just say how much I hate this time of year for taking pictures? If the sun comes out at all, it's out in the middle of the day when I'm at work. There never seems to be any natural light when I'm home. So please accept my apologies for this horrible picture.)

I imagine that I'll get in some decent knitting time next weekend, but I'm not going to kill myself trying to get this done to wear to Thanksgiving dinner. By Christmas seems more likely, especially because I have to put this down for a bit to do some super secret knitting.

Please don't forget that there's still time to do some good and win some handspun in return!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sweater Mojo: I Haz It

I don't know whether it was the sudden cold snap last week or the depressingly early sunsets of eastern standard time, but something has caused my sweater mojo to come back in full force. The last time you saw my Oblique, I only had about six inches done on the back. It sat like that for some time and then, all of the sudden, I felt the urge to do some serious sweater knitting. I powered through the rest of the back in a matter of days, completed one front in a weekend, and am now roughly two-thirds of the way through the second front. I'm hoping to finish it off tonight.

After this, there's just the sleeves, seaming, collar, and button bands to be done. It's a slim shot, but I may just finish it by Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Freya

A quick one for tonight -- the latest spin, which was finished last week and has been waiting patiently for the sun to come out so it could have its photo shoot.

This is Crown Mountain Farms Corriedale (the October fiber club shipment) in the surprise colorway, Freya. My two ply is roughly sport to DK weight and approximately 273 yards.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Do Some Good and Win!

Time is a funny thing. Sometimes it seems to fly by, as it has since Rainbow was born 10 1/2 months ago. And sometimes it seems to creep. It seem like much longer than five years ago, for instance, since I published the first post of this blog. Many things have changed since then, both in terms of knitting and life, but I can remember sitting at my old computer in my old apartment and typing that first post like it was yesterday. It brings up lots of warm and fuzzy feelings, because through my knitting and blogging, I've made some great friends and learned a lot about myself and my craft.

So, in honor of my five-year blogiversary and because those warm-and-fuzzies make me feel like giving others the warm-and-fuzzies, I've decided to do a little giveaway. Now there is a catch, because I'd really like to do some good with this giveaway. So here's how it's going to work: This will be a raffle. For every $5 you give to any one of the following charities, you earn one entry into the raffle.

The American Red Cross: You can choose where you want your donation to go, but I'd like to suggest selecting either where the need is greatest or disaster relief.

The March of Dimes: Ever since Rainbow was born, the health of babies and children has been near and dear to my heart. This organization does a lot to support healthy pregnancies, prevent premature birth, and fund research into preventing birth defects.

Feeding America (formerly Second Harvest): Food bank usage has increased dramatically with the economic downturn, and this organization works to ensure that food banks across the country are well stocked so that no one needs to go hungry if they fall on hard times.

If you're able to give even $5 to one of these charities, it can do a lot of good; if you can give more, please do. Then, send me an e-mail (paknitwit[at]gmail[dot]com) and let me know how much you've given so I'll know how many entries you'll get. I will do the drawing at random from all the entries, so the more entries you have, the better your chance of winning.

And what might you win? I know, you've been waiting patiently to find out. Because I'm asking a lot of you, I have some pretty special prizes: some skeins of my handspun.

Prize #1: Crown Mountain Farms Wensleydale

This skein of laceweight singles is approximately 770 yards and is plenty for a good-sized shawl.

Prize #2: Crown Mountain Farms Shetland

This skein is two-ply heavy laceweight/light fingering and approximately 595 yards. Also plenty for a good-sized shawl or other lacy item.

Prize #3: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Wool

This Aran-weight skein is approximately 235 yards, perfect for a hat, cowl, or pair of mittens.

The contest begins at 12 a.m. tomorrow (November 1) and will end at 11:59 p.m. on December 14. I will do the drawing for winners on Rainbow's first birthday, December 15!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Just Because

I finished up a project last week that had no real purpose or intended recipient. I just felt like doing a little colorwork, and I'd had the pattern in my pattern binder for several years. Sometimes it's nice to do something just because.

DSC_0088

Pattern: Winter Twilight Mitts by Laura Rintala
Yarn: Knit Picks Palette (100% Peruvian highland wool) in colorways Navy (approximately 31 grams) and Calypso Heather (approximately 23 grams), or less than one skein each
Needles: US 1.5 (2.5 mm) Knit Picks circs, worked magic loop
Started/Completed: September 7/October 20

These were a fairly fast knit, but they took as long as they did because they were relegated to my lunchtime knitting at work, so only about 45 minutes or so on a good day.

You may recall that I ordered quite a few skeins of this yarn, in many color options, when I was deciding on colors for my Ivy League Vest. As a result, I have a number of skeins that were untouched. This yarn, though fingering weight, isn't really appropriate for socks, but it's perfect for colorwork, so I thought I'd put some of it to use. These mitts will go in the long-term planning box for now, until I find an appropriate recipient and occasion.

I liked this pattern enough when it was a Knitting Daily freebie a couple of years ago to print it out, but to be honest I'm kind of meh about it now. I also have some weird puckering issues in a few places that didn't block out -- not because I didn't leave my strands loose enough, but from where I caught my floats. I think from now on I'll stick to colorwork patterns that don't require me to carry the non-working yarn for so many stitches.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A Little Pumpkin for My Little Pumpkin

This post is long overdue, as per usual. I actually tried to post last night but was thwarted by some Blogger update or something that prevented me from posting photos, so tonight it is.

As the weather has gotten colder and Rainbow has gotten bigger, I've been thinking about making her a new hat or two. She has definitely outgrown her tomato hat from last winter, so I thought another food-themed topper was in order. Considering the season (and the fact that I recently picked up a copy of Itty Bitty Hats from the Knit Picks book sale), a pumpkin hat was a natural choice.

Pattern: Little Pumpkin from Itty Bitty Hats by Susan B. Anderson
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash, colorway Pumpkin, approximately half a skein, plus scraps of leftover Cascade 220 in brown and green for the stem and leaf
Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm) Knit Picks Options, worked magic loop
Started/Completed: October 9/October 11

This was a very quick, relatively mindless knit. I started it in the car as we were on our way out to the farm to buy pumpkins and apples and finished it up two days later, while Rainbow was taking a long nap on our day off. I love how it turned out, but I'm not sure how much wear it will get this winter. Why? See for yourself:



Note to self: make sure the next handknit hat I make has a chin strap or ties to keep it on.

Monday, October 11, 2010

And Then There Were Two

Pattern: Hop by Susan B. Anderson for Blue Sky Alpacas
Yarn: Blue Sky Alpacas Organic Cotton (I think), unknown colorway, and Dream in Color Classy in Happy Forest
Needles: US 3 (3.25 mm) and US 5 (3.75 mm) dpns
Started/Completed: September 18/October 8

This bunny was so cute I had to make him again. Luckily, I had a good excuse -- a new cousin in the family. She'll be geting the usual handknits (sweater, hat, etc.) eventually, but we'll be meeting her for the first time this coming weekend and I didn't want to come empty handed.

Hop, version two, is very similar to the first go-round. I did make a few minor changes, some intentional, some not. One change of the latter category is this bunny's tail, which is just a bit more voluminous.

A change done on purpose this time was to alter my cast on. The pattern has you cast on as you would for straight knitting, join to knit in the round, and then later use the cast on tail to stitch up the hole. I decided that it made more sense to use Emily Ocker's circular cast on, so all I had to do after knitting a few rounds was snug it up and secure the end. It was a small change, but it did save some time.

I also did lifted increases rather than the knit front and back specified in the directions for the feet. The end result is the same, but I like the smoother look it creates.
The yarn for the second bunny came by way of my aunt -- the same aunt who taught me to knit a couple of decades ago. She knit Rainbow a couple of beautiful sweaters and wrapped up the extra yarn for me when she delivered them. There was no tag with the two skeins of yarn leftover from the one sweater, but to my eye and touch, they're Blue Sky Organic Cotton.

As with the first bunny, the face is embroidered using a bit of leftover brown sock yarn and fully secured so that baby fingers and mouths can't disfigure it. I think these two make quite a handsome pair, don't you?

Sunday, October 03, 2010

My Old Friend Merino

It's been quite a dramatic and exhausting weekend (I'll have to tell you about it later when I'm more rested), but it's Sunday and I have some spinning to show you, so I thought I'd throw up a quick post.

Despite my best efforts to keep up with the shipments of the Crown Mountain Farms fiber club, over the summer I fell behind -- mostly because a couple of the summer shipments were tricky fibers that are still unspun and may stay that way for a while. As a result, I spent most of September spinning up the July shipment, which was a delight: 100% merino top. So soft and easy to spin. The colorway of the month was Inspiration.

Knowing that my spinning time is limited these days, I didn't want to spin anything too thin, nor did I want to mess too much with the gorgeous dye job. So I decided on a thicker two ply for my yarn. It was good practice spinning a bit thicker anyway.

The finished yarn looks to be a DK to light worsted (I'm less consistent when I spin thicker yarns, but I'm working on it) and is approximately 203 yards.

It turned out just as I wanted -- bouncy and soft but with the tight twist I love. I think this will make a nice pair of mittens or a hat for this winter.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bring Out Yer Wool!

Though the calendar may say that fall started on September 22, according to my highly scientific knitterly methods of calculating these things, it actually started yesterday -- because yesterday was the first day that it was chilly enough that I needed to wear handknit socks since sometime last spring. (It also inspired me to wash the pile of handknit socks that had been sitting in my closet for, um, several months.)

So now that fall is here, it is time to knit sweaters. It's been a while since I knit myself a non-maternity sweater, so I was quite excited to cast on for one. This rather crappy picture (apologies for it, by the way), is the beginning of my Oblique:


I actually swatched and cast on for this a couple of weeks ago, but I've been distracted by bunny knitting. As soon as Hop II is finished, though, this will be my main focus. It's somewhat slow going, because each row involves three different stitch patterns. I'm hoping the enthusiasm I'm feeling now and the need for a cozy sweater to keep me warm will keep me going.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hop to It

I promised you a successful project, and here he is -- hello!

Pattern: Hop [Ravelry link] by Susan B. Anderson for Blue Sky Alpacas
Yarn: Blue Sky Alpacas Organic Cotton, color 81/Sand, less than one skein, and Queensland Collection Kathmandu Aran (85% merino, 10% silk, 5% cashmere), colorway Lavender, approximately 1/2 skein
Needles: US 3 (3.25 mm) and US 5 (3.75 mm) dpns
Started/Completed: September 2/September 14

This little bunny was such fun to knit. He's knit seamlessly, from his bulbous bunny feet to the top of ears, as is his sweater. The only real "finishing" involved is sewing up or grafting a few spots when the parts are joined together.

For Hop's sweater, I used a little bit of yarn leftover from my Climbing Vines pullover. His embroidered face was done with a couple of plies of brown sock yarn (I think leftover from Mr. Foster).

The only modification I made to this bunny was to leave off the carrot on his sweater. Someday I may do Rainbow's initial in duplicate stitch, but for now I like it the way it is. I especially like a cute little feature that you can't see in the pattern photo -- a bushy bunny tail, complete with a hole for it in the sweater!

This pattern was so much fun that I'm knitting it again for our newest cousin!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Multnomah

On to unblogged FO #2 -- this time, it's my last entry in the Summer of Socks and Lace 2010 contest (no, I didn't win).

Pattern: Multnomah (pdf link) by Kate Flagg
Yarn: Malabrigo Sock (100% superwash merino), colorway Alcaucil, one skein
Needles: US 5 (3.75 mm) Addi Turbos
Started/Completed: July 17/August 31

I'm pretty sure this yarn was the first skein of Malabrigo I ever bought, so it was pretty well marinated in the stash by the time I pulled it out. I thought this steely gray would go well with a pattern that's named for an area of the Pacific Northwest, and I always like the look of a semisolid yarn with garter stitch.

There was one bit of weirdness in this skein. As I was knitting, I noticed about a yard's length where one of the plies of yarn looked different and there was clearly a join. The color was ever so slightly different, and that different ply was a lot fluffier than the rest of the yarn. After washing, though, it appears that whatever dye was in that ply washed out, making it really stick out. Can you see it here?

How about now?

My guess is that this bit of yarn got spliced in while the yarn was being plied, but I suspect that the weird addition is not the same fiber content as the rest of the yarn, because it seems to have taken the dye differently. Luckily it ended up in the feather and fan section of the shawl, so I don't think it's as apparent as it could have been.

Now, as to the finished shawl, well, I'm kind of unexcited about it. I've seen many beautiful versions of this pattern on Ravelry, and I loved this yarn, so I'm not sure why the combination of the two is underwhelming to me. My lack of excitement, though, is probably why I did such a shoddy job of blocking it, especially around the "point" at the bottom:

You all know that I'm an aggressive blocker when it comes to lace, but when I blocked this, all I wanted to do was get it done. I just didn't have the energy to pin and repin until it was just right. The good thing is that it's a cinch to redo if I want to, and even if the blocking leaves something to be desired, this is going to make a lovely soft scarf for the winter. I've really come to the conclusion that Malabrigo Sock is better suited to scarves and shawls than it is to socks, so I certainly don't regret using this for a bit of lace.

There's still one more FO to come -- and I promise it's a winner!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Tackling the Backlog

I have been trying to get a blog post up for about two weeks now but have been thwarted by a crazy schedule and a nearly 9-month-old who has demanded my attention. I've got quite a backlog of things to show you, having recently completed two projects and gotten pretty darn close to finishing another, so let's just start with the oldest, m'kay?

Pattern: Pea Pod Baby Set by Kate Gilbert
Yarn: Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece (80% cotton, 20% merino), colorway Prosperous Plum
Needles: US 5 (3.75 mm) Addi Turbo circs
Size: 12 months
Started/Completed: April 30/August 24
Mods: none, unless you count the sizing

I was a naughty knitter and didn't swatch for this sweater. The yarn was leftover from my Mommy Snug, so I based my needle choice on the needles I used for that sweater (I'd used a 4 for mine, so I went up a size so that the fabric wouldn't be quite as dense). I thought I'd do a couple of sizes larger than what Rainbow was wearing at the time so that there would be a chance she'd still fit into it by the time I finished. It turns out that I needn't have worried; this looks to be more like a 2T than a 12 month size, so it'll be a while yet before she can wear it, but by then I hope she'll have stopped growing so quickly and will be able to wear this for a while. The nice thing about Cotton Fleece is that it's a great all-weather fiber blend. It's probably not the warmest in the middle of winter, but it'll be good for spring, summer, and fall.

I thought it was quite appropriate that I used yarn leftover from my pregnancy sweater to knit something for my baby -- both patterns by the same designer, no less, and I even found more of the same buttons! Unless there's a major surprise, we'll never be wearing our sweaters at the same time, but there's plenty of years ahead for us to be matchy-matchy. And we still have our February Sweaters to wear this fall and winter -- that is, if Rainbow hasn't outgrown hers before she's had a chance to wear it!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

This Fish Is Cooked

Usually by the time I finish something that has been a slog, I'm sick of it. In this case, though, it's quite the opposite.

Let me take you back to earlier in the summer, when a trio of Polwarth braids arrived from All Spun Up as part of the summer "go fish" spinalong. The first braid was spun up rather quickly during the Tour de Fleece. When it was finished, I eagerly started the second braid, anticipating a quick finish to that one as well.

Alas, that happy ending was not to be. In part due to the fact that I was spinning extremely thin singles and in part because a certain someone greatly limits my spinning time, this fiber was on my wheel for well more than a month. In order to preserve the colors, I decided to chain ply this yarn, which meant that I started at one end of the top and spun it all the way to the other end. When it came time to ply, I was determined to do it quickly -- and I did, taking less than a week to do the job.

When this skein came off the wheel, I was amazed. It was just as gorgeous as I'd hoped it would be. Moreover, even before the finishing process, it was already fairly well balanced. It was a heavy laceweight fresh off the wheel, but after a warm bath and my usual aggressive thwacking, it bloomed to a fluffy, bouncy light fingering weight.

As pretty as it is, I'm absolutely flabbergasted by the yardage I achieved -- roughly 573 yards from 4.25 ounces, by far the best yardage I've ever gotten when spinning what is (more or less) sock yarn. It also explains why it took me so long to spin the singles; the final yardage means that I started with more than 1,600 yards of singles.

This may be my favorite of all the yarns I've spun. The only problem? I don't know if I'll ever find a project worthy of it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Nearing the End

I've spent the past few days trying to finish stuff. At the top of the list has been the Koi Pond Polwarth that has been on my wheel for at least a month. While Rainbow took an extraordinarily long nap on Saturday afternoon, I was able to finish spinning up the singles. I had one very full bobbin at the end.

I let the singles rest overnight and then, on Sunday, I started chain plying. For those of you who don't know what that is, chain plying is kind of like making a really big crochet chain with the singles and then putting twist into the chain. The result is something that looks like a three ply but you only need one bobbin to achieve it. It's not as strong as a traditional three ply (in which, if one ply breaks, you have two more still intact; in a chain-plied yarn, if the single breaks, the entire yarn can fall apart), but it is great for those times when you want to preserve color repeats in the fiber or want a self-striping yarn.

After a bit of plying on Sunday and more last night, I now have a rapidly filling bobbin:

I think that a couple more spinning sessions should see this finished.

Also nearly finished? Rainbow's Pea Pod Sweater, which is done but for the buttons.


It's definitely big, but I have a feeling it'll be a good fit for this time next year -- and it makes me happy to know that she'll be able to wear something I've knit for her. She was good enough to humor me while I had her try it on, though I think she was a little annoyed at how long the sleeves were. You see, she started crawling last week, and the long sleeves were slowing her down!