Thursday, October 31, 2013

Giftalong!





It's getting to be that time of year when many of us are knitting and crocheting furiously to try to get all our holiday gift crafting done in time. This year, a large group of indie designers (myself included) are trying to make it easier and more fun. We've joined forces to create the Indie Gift-a-long, a two-month-long shared crafting experience full of fun and prizes. Here are the details:

  • Starting at midnight tomorrow GMT*, November 1, and running through end of day November 15, all eligible patterns from participating designers are 25% off with the coupon code giftalong. There is no limit to how many times this coupon can be used.
  • From November 1 through December 31, the Gift-a-long will be in effect in the group. There are nine categories based on the type of item being knit and a thread for each where you can discuss your progress with other Gift-a-long-ers. To be eligible for the Gift-a-long, all patterns knit or crocheted must be participating in the discount offer. 
  • Prizes will be awarded at random for FOs posted in the appropriate thread and at certain points during the KAL/CAL in the item threads. Prizes include yarn, patterns, and other goodies -- not to mention the satisfaction that comes from getting your holiday crafting done long before it's time to actually give it away!

I am participating in this event, and all of the self-published patterns in my shop are eligible for the discount. There are more than 170 other indie designers participating as well, so I'd highly encourage you to take a few minutes to scroll through the thread of participating patterns. I hope to see you knitting or crocheting along!

*Psst! If you're on the East Coast like me, midnight Friday GMT is 8 p.m. Thursday Eastern Time!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

RIP

I'm sorry to have to report the death of a much-loved handknit -- my Little Monkey Foo Foo Monkey Socks.

On Sunday night, I was sitting at my Lendrum spinning when I noticed that my right foot felt a little cold. When I stopped treadling and looked at the bottom of my sock, I found this:


When I took off the other sock and examined it, I discovered it was pretty close to the same fate:


Upon even closer inspection, I found that there were weak spots about to give up the ghost on other parts of the sole of both socks and that the soles in general were very thin. So, as sorry as I am to say good-bye to these socks, I think it's time to darn them in the style of the Yarn Harlot -- i.e., say "Darn, darn, darn!" as I drop them into the trash.

There's no doubt these socks were well loved. I will always associate them with having my appendix out; when I couldn't bear to knit on them, I knew that something was really wrong. In the six years since they came off the needles, they've been worn at least once every two weeks or so during "sock season." They've noticeably faded, too, which tells me they were washed a lot. These socks have certainly done well by me.

As sad as it is to have to say good-bye to a favorite pair of socks, the good news is that I have plenty of sock yarn to replace them (even a fair amount of Sock That Rock, with which they were knit). And that's a good thing, because my sock mojo seems to have come back in a big way!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Wound Up

Last night, nearly two weeks after I finished spinning all the singles, I finally finished rewinding all the skeins I spun during Spinzilla. Now I have nine storage "bobbins" of singles waiting to be plied.


I'm planning on plying with the miniSpinner, so it shouldn't take too long, but after all the natural cream, I was craving color. I'd had the most recent Bee Mice Elf shipment sitting for quite some time, and this weekend I decided the time was right to spin it up.


I'm not doing any fancy color management with this one -- I just undid the braid, found the middle, and tore it in half at that point. As soon as I hit publish on this post, I'm going to sit down and continue working on the first bobbin.


I'm really loving these colors. The finished yarn will be a two ply, probably heavy fingering to sport weight, and it should barber pole at least a bit.

Sorry, the wheel is calling to me now -- can't write anymore!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Pattern Release: Pryce

After sitting on the design since earlier this year, I'm happy to tell you that Pryce has finally been released into the world.


Pryce is a fairly simple cloche-style hat, but it has two fun details -- a hemmed brim and a short-row welt detail. It's designed to be the perfect way to show off a really spectacular skein of hand-dyed yarn; the welts add a little texture to the fabric without detracting from a vibrant colorway. (In the case of the one seen here, it's madelinetosh tosh dk in the colorway Forestry.)


Pryce is available in three sizes -- child, adult small, and adult large (20", 22" and 24") -- with a fit that's fairly forgiving. Rainbow is modeling the smallest size, which also fits me (though it fits me more like a beanie and is a tad too shallow for my taste). It's knit in DK or light worsted weight yarn, and you'll need between 150 and 200 yards, so one skein should do it for most yarns.

It was snowing this morning, so it's officially time to break out the cold weather accessories, and Rainbow is so excited to have a new hat! This one knits up very quickly, so if you find yourself in need of something to keep your head warm, I hope you'll consider making one.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Well That Was a Surprise

When I'm knitting a shawl on a circular needle, I come to expect that point when the shawl is wider than the needle is long and I can't get an accurate idea of how big it is. That was certainly the case for my Malabrigo Stockpile shawl, though I really didn't expect it to be as big as it ended up being (probably helped in no small part by the fact that the yarn is superwash -- and we all know how superwash wool loves to grow).


I officially finished the knitting on Monday night, binding off just before my bedtime, but I didn't weave in all my ends and block it until last night. Unfortunately, this photo doesn't do it justice (it's been dark and rainy here all day, so it's not just the fact that it's now evening to blame for the lack of good natural lighting). It ended up being a section less than I'd envisioned because my yarn would have run out -- as it is, I had only 20 grams left of my two skeins -- but it's so big as it is that I can't imagine I would have needed those additional 20-odd rows.


So now you can see how the idea worked itself out in yarn. My thought was alternating sections of stockinette and garter, and as the shawl grew, the stockinette sections would gradually get smaller while the garter sections got bigger. Originally I'd planned for 10 sections, but my yarn only held out for nine (my favorite/lucky number, so I'm okay with that!). Although the construction and stitches themselves are fairly simple, sometimes I really love simple when I want to showcase a beautiful hand-dyed yarn. I already have an idea for a companion shawl, so clearly I'm not done with stockinette and garter shawls just yet!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Rough Reentry

And we're back. It was a great weekend away and wonderful to see all the family, but boy it is hard to get back to the normal schedule. We got home at around 4:30 yesterday afternoon, so I spent all evening cleaning, doing laundry, and trying to get everything put away. I'm still not completely caught up, but I managed to get out of bed on time this morning, so that's saying something.

As busy as the weekend was, I did manage to get in some decent knitting time. My shawl is nearly finished -- I'm on the last garter stitch section. I'd planned to do one more section, but it's clear to me that I'm not going to have anywhere near the amount of yarn I'd need leftover once I finish the current section. It seems to be plenty big, so I'm calling it good.

It's so blob-like, it won't come into focus!
I also took along a skein of sock yarn (which I hand wound the night before we left because I was too lazy to get out the swift and ball winder), but I can't show you what I'm using it for -- sorry! It's really pretty yarn, though -- Verdant Gryphon Eidos in Hathor. I bought it at MDSW this year; I thought that it was appropriate for me to take festival yarn with me on a weekend when I wasn't at Rhinebeck.


This week will, I hope, be pretty typical, with the usual things keeping me busy but not crazed. I'm hoping to finish winding up the singles that I spun for Spinzilla so I can start plying them later in the week or this weekend, and at some point I have to get back to that baby blanket (and figure out what sweater I'm going to knit to go with it). This month is just flying by, and those deadlines that seemed so far away are getting a lot closer.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Discombobulated

It's been a very weird week, and it's messing me up. On Monday, Rainbow's preschool/daycare was closed for a teacher in-service day, so I was home with her. That in and of itself wasn't an issue, but it meant that all day yesterday I kept thinking it was Monday and had to keep reminding myself that it was already Tuesday. As if that wasn't enough, we are headed out of town on Friday to visit some family for the weekend, which means I have a three-day work week followed by (essentially) no weekend in which to get my usual errands and chores done. It will be great to see the family, but traveling is such a hassle.

It's been hard to get much crafting done this week, so everything is moving along at a snail's pace. I'm still working on my Malabrigo Stockpile shawl and have three sections left to do, provided my yarn holds out (I have officially reached that critical stage that I reach in all projects when my yarn looks like it won't be enough).


I'm still debating whether or not to bring this with me for the weekend; I think it may be a bit unwieldy, and there's always the question of whether or not airport security will let me through with it. I think perhaps a sock (on DPNs, even) might be a better bet, but that also means getting out the ball winder and swift to wind some sock yarn. I do have some DK and worsted wound for some small accessories, but those would require circular needles. In the end, I may stick one project in my carry-on bag and one in the checked bag if space allows.

Other projects are languishing at the moment. I haven't touched my Window to My Soul in a couple of weeks at least; it doesn't make a good travel project due to the charts, the cable needle, and the two attached skeins of yarn. And of course there's still the big pile of Spinzilla singles that need to be wound up before I can ply them. I've been doing about skein one a day when I can, but I think the rest may need to wait until next week.

I'm going to try to get a post to go up while I'm gone, but with all the packing and laundry and other preparing to do, that may not happen, so bear with me while things are weird. I'll do my best to get back on a normal schedule next week.

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Final Tally

Usually I post spinning content on Sundays, but as Spinzilla finished up last night, I was busy using every available minute before I went to bed to spin. In the end, I think I did pretty well: I spun a total of 18 ounces, making up nine skeins and a total of 1,928 yards of singles.


Eventually, they will all be wound onto my high-tech "storage bobbins" like the two in the front, but in the meantime, I have a pile of ramen on my hands. I've opted to hand wind them rather than put them on the swift and use my ball winder because I know there are some weak spots in some of the skeins and I don't want them pulling apart on me. Breaks won't be a problem when I'm plying, but they'd be a major pain to deal with on the winder.

I will say that although my shoulder was a bit sore during the week because it's not used to being used like it was, my long draw technique vastly improved. My last two skeins in particular were pretty even and uniform (and my yardage for the two was almost identical, so I know that it's not just my eyes playing tricks on me).

The next step will be to ply up all these singles and see if I have enough yardage for a sweater for Rainbow. I have a feeling she will also want to dye the yarn if there is enough, so there may be some fun with Kool Ade or food coloring in my future!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Triplets

We've reached day four of Spinzilla, and I have a trio of full bobbins (plus a fourth that's partially filled) to show for it.


The more I spin, the better I'm getting at my long draw. My singles are definitely getting more consistent, and I'm feeling a lot more confident in my technique. My shoulder, unfortunately, does not seem to be liking all the unusual attention and is a little sore. I'm not terribly concerned -- it just feels like a sore muscle, of the variety you'd get after a hard workout when you use muscles that you usually don't -- but it does mean that I have to be a little gentler to myself. Last night I spun a little more than usual because I stayed up to watch most of the Pirates game (I turned it off after the eighth inning and went to bed). I don't suppose it helped things any that I was a bit tense while spinning.

My shawl is not much further along than it was the last time you saw it. I had a working lunch yesterday, so the only knitting time I got in yesterday was a row and a half while dinner was cooking last night. To be honest, it made me a little twitchy to have so little time with needles in my hands. I know I've done it for the Tour de Fleece, but with work being busy and the street being a mess, there's clearly some extra stress that I could use my knitting to help work out.

This weekend is a long weekend for me (Rainbow's preschool is closed on Monday, so I'll be staying home with her), which I'm hoping will allow some time for true relaxation -- especially because we'll be traveling all next weekend. I suppose the good thing about crazy times like these is that the days and weeks go by quickly and it will be time for the Thanksgiving and winter breaks before I know it!

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Still Knitting

Spinzilla officially kicked off at midnight yesterday, but I've decided not to make myself nuts about it. No doubt there are people who stayed up into the wee hours of the morning to start spinning and will continue to do so for the duration of the week. I'm under no illusions that I will be anywhere close to winning the contest; my goal is just to spin when I can and get as much done as I'm able. At most, I'm getting an hour and half to two hours of spinning time each night.

I mentioned in my last post that I'd divided up what was left of my Romney fleece into 2 oz. bundles. Last night I manged to spin up the first one, and I must say that it was excellent practice for my long draw. I only had the yarn break twice on me, and while they're not nearly as even as my worsted-spun singles, these singles were getting more consistent toward the end. It is rather satisfying to see that bobbin full of poofy singles.


I am not spinning every spare minute of every day, though. I'm still knitting during my lunch break (and I do have a swatch to finish and block that needs to be sent off this weekend). Last week I started a new shawl with that beautiful green Malabrigo Sock for the October Stockpile event in the Ravelry Malabrigo group. I'd had this idea in my head for a while, so I wanted to see how it worked out in yarn. I started working during my lunch breaks toward the end of last week and then worked on it for a couple of hours on Friday night while I got caught up with my DVR, but it saw a lot of attention on Sunday, when we drove out to the middle of nowhere (or so it seemed) to visit with my father-in-law's family. We had about five hours total in the car, so you can imagine how much knitting that meant.


I'm about halfway through my planned sections for this shawl, though the rows are getting longer and taking longer. This has to get done this month to qualify for the knitalong, so it's going to be seeing a lot of attention in the weeks to come.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Rainbow Sparkles

Spinzilla starts tomorrow, so the task for the past week was finishing up what was on the wheel. I'm really excited about this one because, well, look at all the color!


As a reminder, this started out as 4 oz. of 65% merino/35% nylon sparkle from Frabjous Fibers; the colorway was Trapeze, and all these colors do make me think of a circus.


I split the fiber for a fractal spin (in half lengthwise and then splitting one half in half again) and spun up two bobbins. I apparently didn't split my fiber very well, because I had a heck of a lot more left on the first bobbin when the second ran out. At that point, I wound off what was left onto a "storage bobbin" (read: empty TP tube) and finished the skein by plying from both ends. So it's not completely fractal, but at least I used every last bit of singles.


The finished yarn is about sport weight (a bit lighter than I was hoping for, but it'll do) and 320 yards.


Although it's really hard to capture in any of these photos, the yarn is nice and sparkly. Of course this is destined for Miss Rainbow, who has requested a new winter hat (I'm thinking something with a big sparkly pom pom on the top).

I'm all ready to start spinning for Spinzilla tomorrow (some of us have to work in the morning and can't stay up until midnight to start!). I've weighed out the remains of my Romney fleece in 2 oz. portions. The first pound is here (and there's about 5+ more ounces left).


I'm planning on working on my long draw and hope to spin a three-ply worsted or DK with which to knit Rainbow a sweater. I'm thankful that this event is only a week long, because I'm not sure how long I can stand to spin this plain cream-colored fiber again!

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Bits and Pieces

I've been feeling a little scattered lately. For one thing, there's this going on right outside my house:


This was supposed to have been a job of patching the concrete street, but apparently they've decided to just dig it up and repave the whole thing. That means that the street will be closed to traffic for about three weeks, meaning we're having to park our cars elsewhere. It's a real inconvenience, though I know it will be worth it when they're done. They did start work at about 7 a.m. this morning, though, so for once I'm super happy to be at work during the day (it's loud!).

I've been hopping from one project to another without feeling like I'm making much progress on any one. I did finish the second Cascade over the weekend and even bought buttons, though I have yet to sew them on or block the sweater. Maybe tonight.


I've also been working on my Window to My Soul, which saw a little action at knit night last night (including one smocking row). I've completed about an inch below the underarms, which means I have three more to knit before the switchover to stockinette.

During my lunch breaks, I've been swatching for a submission, and today I started a new design which I'm knitting as part of the Malabrigo Junkies Stockpile event on Ravelry. I think I mentioned earlier in the week that I'd picked up two skeins of Mal Sock, so now they're becoming a top-down shawl design. This should be a pretty basic design, but I'm interested to see if it ends up looking like it does in my head.

Finally, I've finished plying the Frabjous Fibers merino/sparkle, so tonight I'm hoping to skein and wash so I can show it to you over the weekend. I also need to measure out some fleece to start spinning on Monday.


I think I've come to the conclusion that I really need a day or two off to myself to focus on one thing or another -- but I have to wait until December for that! Oh well. Keep calm and carry on, right?

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Onward and ... Downward?

I gave some decent attention to my Window to My Soul over the weekend and last night, and as a result, I'm now past the split for the arms -- huzzah! Now begins the long knit down the body.


Although there's still quite of a bit of patterning to go before I start the mindless stockinette section, I think it'll be much more manageable now. For one thing, the rows are shorter (and aren't getting longer as I go) now that I've moved past the yoke. I've also moved to a different chart, which is smaller overall and generally easier to read as the individual cells are larger. The pattern has gotten rather intuitive by now, though I'm still keeping my place just in case. While I'm not comfortable doing away with the chart altogether, I don't have to refer to it as much and am moving through the patterning much faster. The smocking rows, however, are still rather slow and tedious; I only got through about four or five rows of sweater last night total because one of them happened to be a smocking row. I think I have about 3 1/2" more to knit in the stitch pattern before I switch over to stockinette, I'm hoping to get a good portion of that done tomorrow night at knit night (which I haven't been to since August!).

I did spend a fair amount of time spinning over the weekend, as I'm trying to get all my current projects wrapped up before the start of Spinzilla next week. I'm in the midst of plying up some colorful, sparkly stuff (which I'm hoping to finish tonight), and then all that's left for me to do is get out the fiber for next week. I'm planning on using the leftovers of my Romney fleece from this sweater to practice my long draw. The goal is to spin as much yardage as possible, and long draw is a heck of a lot faster than my usual short forward draw. With any luck, I'll be able to spin enough to knit Rainbow a sweater (and perhaps try some dyeing, as I doubt she'll be very excited by natural cream-colored yarn).

We have a day trip coming up this weekend to the middle of nowhere (we're visiting my father-in-law's family), which will mean about five hours in the car. I think my WTMS is a bit too involved for car knitting, what with the chart and the cable needle and the two skeins of yarn to alternated, so I have to do some thinking about what to take. I do have a shawl design idea to work out and some pretty Malabrigo Sock all wound, so as of this moment, that's the frontrunner.