Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Postponement

I had the best of intentions when I pulled out the yarn for Rainbow's sweater last week. I was all set to cast on Sunday night after spinning all weekend, but then I checked my e-mail and saw a message from a friend (who also happens to be the manager of my LYS) in which she asked if I was available to knit a shop sample. So I am postponing the sweater for about a week while I knit up a quick lace scarf.


This is the Thinking of You Scarf from HeartStrings FiberArts. The designer is quite active in the designers group on Ravelry (where I mostly lurk), so it's quite exciting to be knitting one of her patterns. The yarn that was provided for the scarf is Berrocco Vintage, which I used for the striped baby blanket. I'd forgotten how much I like it. Normally I don't much care for acrylics, but there's enough wool in this yarn to make it not squeaky, and it's very soft.

I started the scarf on Sunday evening and I'm already about halfway through it, so I anticipate that this will be done and delivered by this weekend -- meaning that I will be casting on for the sweater for Rainbow very soon!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Thirty-four

I do have a sweater spinning update this week, and it's a big one. As of this afternoon, I've finished 34 ounces worth of singles.


The last two ounces are in progress on the wheel and should be completely spun by tomorrow night at the latest. Then it's time to ply! In all, I'll have six full skeins of three ply and probably a seventh composed of the leftovers that remain from each of the full skeins. I'm excited to see how much yardage I can get, and I'm also very interested to see how long (or not!) it'll take me to ply on the miniSpinner. Considering I've been able to spin 2 oz. of singles in about an hour and a half, I may be able to ply two skeins a night!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Future Sweater

I am just about done with the hat, thank goodness, so while I am still on my sweater spinning kick at least through the end of the month, I am beginning to plan the next project.

I really haven't been able to get over the cuteness of the Snowy Owl Cardigan, so the next sweater on the needles will be a larger version for Rainbow. I knit a bunch of sweaters for her when she was just an infant (most of which she never wore, I might add!) but have only finished one in a toddler size, and I'd hate for her to be the knitter's equivalent of the cobbler's shoeless children. I have some very well marinated Cascade 220 in the stash that was leftover from my Central Park Hoodie (if you click over to see, have a look at the date so you can see what I mean!) that I think will work perfectly, and some scraps of the same yarn in a dark brownish gray (leftover from the Mister's first Seamless Hybrid) should do well for the branch.


I'm fairly certain that I have some cream-colored Patons Classic Merino scraps somewhere that I can use for the owl, though those might require some digging to locate.

Though I didn't make it a formal resolution, I do want to try to knit from my stash as much as possible this year, and I think this is a good start to it!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Fourth Time's the Charm?

I know I didn't post a sweater spinning update yesterday; in truth, I didn't get as much spinning done as I was hoping to, but it was for a good reason. I spent a lot more time knitting than spinning last week because I am on a deadline!

I'm not sure if I ever mentioned it, but my Tiled In Cowl is now available on Knit Picks as part of the Independent Designer Partnership Program as well as on Ravelry. After I posted the pattern in several places on Ravelry, including the Knit Picks Lovers groups, I got several requests for a matching hat. Who am I to turn down a request like that? I knit up some prototypes with yarn that I had on hand and then submitted a proposal to Knit Picks. The pattern is now in testing and tech editing, and after receiving yarn support from Knit Picks about a week and a half ago, I have been madly knitting up the samples with the hope of getting most hats done and in the mail by this weekend. I finished the women's sample late last week and am about halfway through the colorwork band on the men's version:


I still love the colorwork motif, but I will admit that I'm ready to move onto something different after knitting four hats with it!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Another Wee Thing

Remember the thing that needed buttons and ends woven in? Shortly after posting, I did just that, and now I have another baby sweater done.


Pattern: Baby Sophisticate by Linden Down
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash, in Navy (~145 yards) and Feather Gray (~90 yards)
Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm) Addi Turbo circs
Started/Completed: January 9/January 17
Mods: worked four-row stripes

I enjoyed this pattern so much the last time I knit it that when I got an invitation for a baby shower a couple of weeks ago, I immediately went to pull out the pattern again. This time, because I didn't really have the time (or suitable fiber) to spin the yarn for it, I went for an old stand-by, Cascade 220 Superwash. I happened to find two very compatible colors in the orphans bin at my LYS, so I decided to up the excitement factor a bit by working stripes. I started and ended with the lighter color and used the navy for the cuffs and collar; the beauty of the top-down raglan is that the stripes match up perfectly.

The recipient of this sweater is due in mid-March, so I opted to make the larger size; with my difference in gauge (about 18 stitches over 4 inches, rather than the 15 stitches called for in the pattern), it may be able to be worn in the first couple of months and perhaps even into the fall. I happened to find buttons in my grab bag that were a virtual match for the beige yarn, so no additional button shopping was needed, and all that's left to do is give this a good blocking and wrap it up.

This is, I believe, the last of the baby knits for a while, though who knows who else might have an announcement in the next few months? (For the record? It won't be me.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Just the Finishing

Just a quick post for tonight, because I don't really have much blog-worthy to talk about, but I do have a to-do list for the evening. I must take this cute little striped thing:


and weave in all the ends and sew on four buttons. Should be a piece of cake, right?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Spinning Motivation

I'm here with your weekly update on my sheep-to-sweater project. I must say that before I did this the first time, it seemed like such a big undertaking. Then, having done it once, it was still a big project, but one that was total doable. This year, with the miniSpinner, it's almost a piece of cake.


As of this afternoon, a full pound of singles have been spun (the eighth bobbin's worth not shown, as it's still resting on the bobbin). I spun 30 ounces last year and will probably do at least that much this year; if that's my final number, I'm more than halfway done spinning the singles. The miniSpinner does have something to do with the speed at which I've been spinning the fiber up, but I think I also have some good motivation in the form of the fiber that arrived at my door last week.


It's nearly impossible to capture the beauty of this fiber. It's 50% merino, 50% silk, and it really seems to glow. I am saving this until I am finished with the sweater spinning (or at least finished spinning the singles), both as a reward and as a means of keeping my consistency, but I really want to dig into it now!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Eight Monkeys

You know the old saying about if it ain't broke, don't fix it? I think that's very true when it comes to my sock knitting. There are several patterns -- plain stockinette excluded -- that I've knit again and again, but none as many times as I've knit this pattern.



Pattern: Monkey by Cooke A., winter 2006 Knitty
Yarn: Socks That Rock Lightweight (100% superwash merino) in the Incredible Shrinking Violet, one skein
Needles: two 12" US 1.5 (2.5 mm) Addi Turbo circs -- my favorite sock needles!
Started/Completed: December 28, 2011/January 8, 2011
Mods: changed all purls to knits

The dates on this project are somewhat deceptive. I took the skein of yarn (which had been in my stash for probably a year and a half -- it was from a shipment of the Rockin' Sock Club) with me to Florida to have a smaller, more portable alternative to the sweater with many strings attached. I cast on the first sock our first morning there and was kitchenering the toe by the next evening. The second, sock, though, got a bit neglected for the rest of our trip as I focused on the sweater and then when we got home as I turned my attention to spinning. I was so close to finishing, though, that I was determined not to let it linger as it was, so I spent a few hours over the weekend finishing it up.

I think I've only knit this pattern with the purls in the stitch pattern once; I much prefer the knitting experience and the finished look of it without the purls. It's a much faster knit for me this way, too.

It'd been a while since I last knit myself a pair of socks, and considering that there are several pairs of socks in my drawer that appear to be nearing the end of their life, it's nice to have a new pair to work into the rotation.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

So Many Ends -- But So Cute!

Technically, this was the last finished object of 2011. I finished weaving in the last end about 30 seconds before the stroke of midnight. Of course, it took me about a week after that to finally sew on the buttons and give it a much-needed blocking. So perhaps this also qualifies as the first finished object of 2012?


Pattern: Snowy Owl Cardigan by Elizabeth Suarez
Yarn: madelinetosh tosh dk (100% merino) in Logwood, a little less than two skeins, with small amounts of Fig (for branch) and Antler (for owl)
Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm) Addi Turbo circs
Size: 12 months
Started/Completed: December 24/December 31, 2011
Mods: none

I first saw this pattern when it was in testing and somehow managed to find it again when I was looking for it. This sweater is a gift for a baby due in about two weeks; the parents-to-be have been friends of ours for several years and were among the first to come visit us (and bring us dinner!) when Rainbow was born. The mom-to-be's baby shower was entirely in an owl theme, and when she told me that the nursery had been decorated with a big tree and several owls, I knew this sweater would be perfect.

I used the recommended yarn for the sweater but did not quite get gauge; I'd already gone down two needle sizes from what was recommended, and I thought that if I went down another size, the fabric would be way too stiff. So although I made a 12 month size, the finished sweater is probably a bit bigger than that -- in my opinion, that's not necessarily a bad thing in a baby sweater (much better to be too big than too small!). Some extremely kind Ravelers on the madelinetosh board sent me some of their tosh dk leftovers so that I wouldn't have to purchase two full skeins for just a few yards' worth, and as you can see, the colors worked perfectly.

Duplicate-stitched eyes
As to the pattern, perhaps I'm more critical than I used to be now that I write my own, but I thought it could have been a little more clear in a couple of places to make it more accessible to a less-experienced knitter. Intarsia's not really a beginner's technique, though, so maybe it's not an issue. I didn't really have any issues following the pattern, and obviously it results in an adorable sweater. What's more, it's an extremely affordable pattern as pay patterns go, so I definitely think it was worth it. The intarsia portion is very fussy, but it's only about 25-30 rows of the pattern; if you're going to knit this, I'd advise working on the intarsia portion when you have time and space to spread all your knitting out, because you will have to rearrange/untangle your yarn every row. And there are about a million ends to weave in at the end, but that's easily done with a good podcast to listen to or a good TV show or movie to watch.

The final verdict? Definitely a winner. I can't wait to present this to the new parents as soon as the recipient makes her debut. Rainbow has also expressed interest in the sweater, so I may be making her one in the near future. Methinks the vast stash of Cascade 220 I have might be perfect!

Sunday, January 08, 2012

On Pace

While I haven't been spinning up my fleece as much as I would like in the past week, I have made some some decent progress. I have gotten through 8 ounces so far (the three bobbins' worth you see here, plus once batch of singles still resting on the bobbin).


I've found that in the same amount of time that it took me spin an ounce last year on the Lendrum, I can spin two ounces on the miniSpinner. If that continues to be true, I should be able to get through the same amount of fiber in half the time. Of course, last year I was spinning an ounce almost every day; this year, I've only sat down to spin three or four times, so technically I think I'd need to spin more often to keep up the pace. Regardless, I'm pretty much on track with where I was last year, so I think it's reasonable to think that I'll have a sweater's worth of yarn within a month or so.

One of the reasons that I didn't get as much done as I was hoping is because I had to finish up a project that when on the wheel just before the holidays and was finished up when we got back from our trip. This was the December 2011 All Spun Up spinalong, a gorgeous 50% merino/50% tencel blend in a colorway called Water Lilies. For speed's sake, I decided to spin the fiber in one go and chain ply it -- I even spun the singles a little thicker than usual so it wouldn't take forever. The resulting yarn is what you see here:


As I was plying, I realized that it took me a little while to successfully spin a little thicker -- my first several yards of singles were much thinner than the rest, so evidently I had difficulty spinning anything thicker than my usual! In any case, most of the yarn is roughly DK weight, and the skein is 207 yards.


You can see in the difference between the two photos how difficult this blend can be to photograph -- the shine of the tencel really throws the color off! I haven't thought much about it yet, but I think this yarn will need to turn into some sort of neck accessory with a lot of drape. Eventually, of course. There's plenty of fiber to spin and plenty of handspun to knit still in the stash!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Now the Fun Part

It may not look that great yet (probably because I took this photo at about 10 p.m. with my phone), but the Cranford shawl is done!


I have to do a few measurements (dimensions, gauge, etc.), type up the pattern, and give it a blocking so I can do a proper photo shoot, but we're in the home stretch here! I'm hoping to get this into testing by sometime next week -- and in the meantime, I can keep myself warm by wrapping up in this shawl.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Romney 2012

Before you click away, let me assure you that this post is in no way political -- I'm not talking about that Romney, I'm talking about this one:


Specifically, this is the cleaned and carded fleece I bought at Maryland Sheep & Wool -- well, about 30 ounces of it, anyway. Although I'm starting a day late due to our late flight home last night (we didn't get in until after 9, and by the time I had unpacked, gotten Rainbow to bed, and sat down to eat dinner, it was 10:30, so I wasn't about to start in on the spinning then), I am once again doing a sheep to sweater project this year. You may recall that I did this last year with some mystery wool I had inherited. It wasn't the best fiber to spin or knit, and while I love the sweater it became, it's not my favorite to wear because it's on the scratchy side. This year, I have this lovely cream-colored Romney to work with, and I know itching won't be an issue because I spent a good 10 minutes with my bare arm submersed in the box of wool when it first arrived from the carding mill and was quite comfortable.

Although I'm more or less following the same guidelines as last year -- spin all my singles first, then mix them up to ply for consistency -- I am making one big change. Now that I have the miniSpinner with its WooLee Winder and bobbins, I can spin a lot faster and can do much larger skeins. Rather than spinning an ounce at a time, I'm spinning two ounces at a go, meaning that the finished three-ply skeins will be six ounces, more or less. I managed to do about an ounce a night last year on my Lendrum, so I think it's reasonable to think that I can do at least that much on the miniSpinner this year. I've already started the first ball of fiber and am loving it. Here's to a new year of spinning!

Sunday, January 01, 2012

New Year, New Yarn

I'm typing this quick post from our gate at the Southwest Florida International Airport, where we're waiting to get on our flight back home (and dreading it, a bit, to be honest -- we've be thoroughly spoiled this trip with warm weather and sunny, cloudless skies every day). I have some big doings to talk about when we get home, but for now, I do have some handspun to share with you -- it is Sunday, after all.

You may recall this gorgeous All Spun Up Polwarth/silk fiber that arrived at least a couple months ago. When I got it, I knew I wanted to challenge myself, so I set out to spin up all 8 ounces into a two-ply laceweight, one huge skein of it. It took me nearly two months to spin the singles and ply, even with my miniSpinner, but I got it done.

ASU Polwarth/Silk -- "Tapestry"

A whopping 1,630 yards are in this skein, which didn't use the full 8 oz. (I had a bit leftover on one bobbin). I was hoping for closer to 2,000, but I blame the poof factor of Polwarth. Still, this should be enough to make myself a laceweight sweater. The colors are really hard to capture accurately, so here's a shot without the flash.

ASU Polwarth/Silk

Can't wait to knit this up!