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!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Merope

What a difference a good blocking makes. Remember my Merope? The last time you saw it, it didn't look like much. Now? Things have changed.

Pattern: Merope [Ravelry link] by Rosemary (Romi) Hill, from 7 Small Shawls to Knit
Yarn: JaggerSpun Zephyr (50% Chinese Tussah silk, 50% merino), colorway Pewter, approximately 450 yards (less than one 2 oz./630 yd. skein)
Needles: 32" US 4 (3.5 mm) Addi Turbo circs
Dimensions: 54" by 29"
Started/Completed: July 1/August 13
Mods: added one repeat of Chart B and bound off using applied i-cord

While knitting my Brandywine shawl as part of a Knitmore-along, I heard about Romi Hill's new e-book, for which the first pattern had just been released. When I saw the pattern page for Merope on Ravelry, I was absolutely smitten by the top picture on the page and knew that I had to knit one in a light silvery gray. When I found this Zephyr at Natural Stitches, I knew it would be perfect (it's actually a lot lighter than it appears in these photos).

Like Brandywine, this pattern starts at the bottom tip and is worked upward and out, with the border being knit at the same time. The zig-zag-like border of this shawl is really brilliantly designed, in my opinon. It changes direction, so to speak, by alternating k2tog and ssks framed by yarn overs, taking advantage of the fact that these decreases slant one way or the other to get the border to slant that way as well.

The pattern also includes two options for the shawl; both have the same border, but for one the body is in stockinette and for the other it's in garter. I decided on stockinette because I thought it was better suited to the delicate yarn I'd chosen (the pattern calls for a fingering weight and I used a laceweight). The stockinette version is the smaller of the two, but I decided to do an extra repeat of the body chart to get a slightly larger shawl.

The only real departure I made from the pattern was to do an alternate bind off. The garter version calls for a reverse i-cord bind off, but the stockinette version has a knit-on border. I started it but didn't care for how the edge looked, so I tinked back and did a regular i-cord bind off. I really love the clean, finished look this bind off gives the shawl.

The verdict? It's a winner! Romi knows what she's doing, and I'm excited to see the rest of the shawls in this great little collection.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Welcome Back

And just like that, my mojo is back.

I pulled out Rainbow's Pea Pod Cardigan last Wednesday for Hurricane Knitting. It had suddenly occurred to me that I had started this sweater while on the way to my brother's college graduation -- which was May 1. It was about time I finished it, especially if I wanted Rainbow to be able to wear it this fall.

Something must've clicked at knit night, because all of the sudden I couldn't put the thing down! I finished up the front with the lace panel that night, started in on the back on Friday after Rainbow went to sleep, and finished it and the other front the next day. Now all that's left to do is a couple of sleeves (which I'll probably do at the same time), a bit of seaming up, and the collar.

The only problem? Well, I didn't swatch (I just went with a fabric I liked) and I'm following the instructions for the 12-month size, and it might be just a tad bit big.

Oh well, it'll fit her one day!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Same Old ...

The summer doldrums. I has 'em. As is usually the case in July and August, I'm finding it hard to be really excited about wooly things when it's 90 degrees with high humidity. So I'm plodding along on all my projects without making any significant progress on any one.

Take my spinning projects, for instance. The Tour de Fleece has been over for a week and a half, and I'm still working on this Polwarth in Koi Pond. Thankfully, the bobbin is almost full and I can see the end of the fiber in my basket.

I know this is going to be gorgeous when it's done, but it's going sooooo slowly. I'm anxious not only to see this yarn finished but also to get started on two new fiber acquisitions that turned up on my doorstep in the past couple of weeks.

I've been kind of on a self-imposed fiber diet, but when Kristin of All Spun Up announced another spinalong with a BFL/silk blend, I had to indulge. This particular colorway has been dubbed "Miss Crabtree" (of the Little Rascals).

The last time I had my hands on this blend, I spun it on the thicker side, but this braid is definitely going to become laceweight.

Then there's the July fiber from the Crown Mountain Farms fiber club. It's merino, so I know it will be delightful to spin. I'm planning on spinning this one up on the thicker side, aiming for a bouncy two ply. I think this'll be great for a hat for Rainbow for this coming winter.

I am still working on my Merope and am through about 3 1/2 of the called-for 4 repeats of the main body chart, though I may do an extra repeat or two because I have plenty of yarn. This shawl has been my lunchtime knitting at work, so that means only about 40 minutes a day and, now that the rows are getting long, that only translates to about five or six rows a day.

Meanwhile, a couple of weeks ago, my mother and I flew to Chicago for the day for my cousin's bridal shower, and I needed a mindless project, so I pulled out some deep-stash yarn and needles and cast on for Multnomah.

This particular skein of yarn may very well be the first skein of Malabrigo Sock I ever bought, right when it came out. I'd been saving it for something special, so I'm hoping this shawl fits the bill. I'm probably halfway through the garter stitch section, so there's a while to go before I get to the fun part.

I'd be making much faster progress if only I didn't have a much more fun way to spend my evenings -- playing with this cutie:


The Mister took this photo last week when he discovered we were wearing almost matching outfits -- gray shirts and black pants (although Mickey Mouse isn't exactly business attire for me). Rainbow keeps getting bigger and more fun to play with. She's now able to stand up for a long time (while holding on to something), and she sprouted her first tooth yesterday!