Sunday, August 31, 2014

I Put It Off Long Enough

Spinning laceweight yarn is truly an exercise in endurance. First, you have to spin the singles, which of course have to be very fine if the finished yarn is going to be thin. That, for me at least, can take quite a while. When you finished that, you then have to get yourself mentally and physically ready to deal with all you've spun again as you ply. In my case, I started spinning some Bee Mice Elf mixed BFL/silk on one of the last days of the Tour de Fleece. Here's what it looked like to refresh your memory:



Normally I'd use my miniSpinner to ply, but I had the itch to start spinning up some other pretty fiber on it, so the two bobbins sat. Today, I decided it was finally time to start plying. A couple of girlfriends were coming over for the afternoon to knit and spin while the Mister took Rainbow to a birthday party, so it was the perfect excuse to sit at the wheel for several hours. Here's how the bobbin looked about halfway through:


I'm not finished yet, but I can see the end in sight, so I'm hoping to finish, skein, and wash tomorrow while we're off for the holiday. It will feel great to start a new month with a new skein of handspun!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Thank Goodness for Decreases

I have been enjoying a rare day off today. Rainbow's day care/school is closed for two days while they get ready for the start of the school year, so that meant I took off two days from work. I had envisioned two days of sleeping in, relaxing, and getting a lot of knitting done. Of course, that's not happening. I woke up -- on my own -- at around the normal time this morning. I slept in for about ten minutes, but then I figured I might as well get up. We were out the door by 8:30 to go to her dentist appointment and then run a bunch of errands. By the time I sat down to do any knitting today, it was after 1 o'clock -- and I started nodding off as I was knitting. So I managed to snooze for about half an hour.

Although I haven't been nearly as productive as I might have imagined, I am working on the crown of Rainbow's blue hat, which means the rounds are getting shorter and shorter.


As soon as I post this, I'm going to try to finish up the last 10 or so rounds so that I can weave in ends and block tonight. I have grand plans of finishing up the pattern and doing a photo shoot this weekend, but something tells me I won't get everything done.

Tomorrow I should be able to get more knitting done. We are hosting my parents for dinner for their anniversary, and I'm planning to bake a cake and make a brisket, so there will be lots of sitting around while the oven is on. Stockinette in the round, here I come!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I've Seen the Future, and It Is Stockinette

I did a fair amount of work on Rainbow's Magnolia in Bloom over the weekend, and as a result, it's actually starting to look like the finished thing. After posting on Thursday, I worked the rest of the yoke that needed to get done before moving on to the next step. The construction at that point is actually quite clever. Once you've knit about an inch below where you joined the underarms, you put the body stitches on hold (conveniently, you can even leave them on the needles you were using to knit). Then, with a smaller set of needles and a new skein of yarn, you pick up for and work the ribbed neckline and then the two button bands, both of which are worked in 1x1 rib. Then you return back to the body and join for working in the round by overlapping the button bands and picking up stitches through both layers of fabric.

My join was a little sloppy, but it's nothing I can't fix with a little duplicate stitch and some strategic weaving in of ends behind the join.


After about eight rounds of garter stitch, there's a whole bunch of increases for fullness of the "skirt" portion of the tunic, and then it's nothing but stockinette in the round for quite some time. Eventually there will be some more of the lace at the bottom, but for now, it's just mindless knit knit knit knit.

I must admit that as much as I was enjoying this project, I have been cheating on it a little the past couple of days. A couple of weeks ago, Rainbow had asked me to make her a new hat, and she'd indicated a skein of Knit Picks Palette that she really liked. (Strangely enough, it's a very similar shade of blue. I'm sensing a new trend in her color preferences!) I was planning on making a fingering version of my new hat design anyway, so on Sunday night I cast on for it with the intention of having it do double duty as a pattern sample and a hat for her.


This was meant to be my lunchtime knitting, but I got to the joining round of the brim last night and couldn't put it down until I got the lace established. Then, once I got going, I didn't want to stop. So now I have several inches of hat done -- and I'm not complaining. I'm planning on giving her top more attention later in the week (we'll be off together on Thursday and Friday, and stockinette in the round is ideal when I'm sitting around with her). On top of that, there's a long weekend coming up, which means more knitting time. Stockinette, here I come!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Slow and Steady

I have a feeling you're going to be seeing this spinning project for many weeks to come.


I have moved from purple to pink and finally to orange, and I can see the end of the strip of fiber. Unfortunately, there are three more strips to go after I finish this one, so it's going to be quite a while until all the singles are spun. It's a good thing there's a holiday weekend coming up!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Small Yarn, Small Sweater

As much as I hated interrupting the new-found mojo on my sweater, I decided that it really made much more sense to work on Rainbow's new sweater than mine -- hers is, after all, a short-sleeved sweater that won't fit her forever. So I've been working on it diligently for the past two evenings, and despite the fact that I'm knitting with fingering weight yarn (and a thin fingering at that), I'm seeing noticeable progress.


The sweater was cast on a week ago, but what you're seeing here is really only three evenings worth of knitting time. I know it looks tiny; trust me that it's bigger than it looks (it's just all bunched up on the needle here). Last night I got past the point where I put the sleeve stitches on holders, so I'm just working straight down at this point. I need to work a little more than an inch under where I joined for the underarm before the next step, and I'm hoping to get to that point this evening.

In design news, I did want to mention that I have two new shawl designs up for testing in my Ravelry group and still have a few slots open, so please take a look if you might be interested in test knitting one of the lace patterns you've seen here several times!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Who Knew?

Apparently all it took for me to find the love I'd thought I'd lost for my sweater was to mention that I wasn't sure why I wasn't liking it anymore. I pulled it out over the weekend -- mainly because I thought I'd be self-disciplined and plow forward on it -- only to discover that I did indeed still love it. I will admit that I do not love working twisted ribbing flat all that much, but look at what hours of it have made:


You gotta admit, that's some damn sexy twisted ribbing. I was going to end a bit sooner than the pattern specified, but then I measured where I was just before putting it away last night and realized that I have just about an inch to do. So that should get me one more cable crossing for a total of five, which is a good round number, I think.

I'm going to take a break from my sweater tonight, though, to give some attention to Rainbow's sweater, which frankly hasn't seen any action since I started it last Thursday night.


This will be a lot easier on my wrists (not to mention that the rows will go a heck of a lot faster, even with a bunch of increases).

I think it's fair to say that my mojo has been reignited!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Thin Is In

I know that my default yarn when I spin is on the thin side, but lately it's been getting ridiculous. On Friday night, I finally finished up the second bobbin of my Bee Mice Elf BFL/silk singles. Granted, I was going for a two-ply laceweight, so I knew that it would take some time, but there were some moments in the middle there when I thought I'd never finish. But finish I did:


I can't quite bring myself to think about plying just yet, because I know it's going to take almost as long to ply as it did to spin a bobbin of singles. That's not happening just yet because I started another project on the miniSpinner as soon as this fiber was done:


It doesn't look like much, but that's about 20 or so minutes of fine spinning. This is the Fat Cat Knits fiber club shipment that I showed you last week. The singles look to be about the same diameter of the BME stuff, so I imagine this will take a while to finish as well (though I'm guessing the miniSpinner will help move things along just a bit faster). I'm excited for this spin and for the fun, stripe-y yarn it will be. I'm also a little anxious to get these two projects done because I have things in line to get spun next.

Yesterday I received a shipment from Fat Cat Knits from an order I made a couple of weeks ago (normally Ginny is much faster than that, but she was waiting on some fiber from a supplier and the USPS slowed things down at the end). Every two months or so, Ginny runs a poll in the FCK group on Ravelry in which she shows about nine colorways and everyone gets a couple of days to vote on which one will be the next featured colorway. The winner is then offered on several fiber bases with a special discount. The most recent winner (for August/September) made up half of my order. This is Wayfarer on superwash merino:


I thought this would be a nice color to spin into a slightly heavier yarn than my normal (like sport to DK) to use for a hat and/or mittens for Rainbow for this winter.

Because I was ordering anyway, I decided to throw another braid in my cart. It might look familiar:


If you're thinking that I already spun this one, you'd be right. This is Boogaloo (on superwash merino/nylon); I spun an earlier braid of it for the Tour de Fleece this year, but the way I split up the fiber didn't really maximize the brightness of the neon colors. This time around, I'm going to split the top lengthwise, spin all my singles, and chain ply to get stripes. I will get some very loud socks of the resulting yarn, but sometimes you need loud socks.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Indecision

I'm in one of those states where I want to knit everything but can't decide on anything. I'm itching to cast on new things, but I also feel like I should finish up what's on the needles. It's a frustrating conundrum.

I finished and washed my swatch for Rainbow's Magnolia in Bloom on Tuesday. My gauge is just a tiny bit off (I'm getting 25 stitches over 4 inches rather than 24), but I think the fabric would be too loose if I went up a needle size. The yarn I'm using (Cascade Heritage) is a bit on the thin side of fingering, which no doubt is the issue. So I'm going to compensate for the gauge issue by knitting her a size 6 rather than a size 5. If it's a bit loose on her, it's much less of a problem than it being too tight, and knitting it a bit large might mean that she'll still fit into it in the spring. I'd like to cast on for this sweater tonight, but I think a read-through of the pattern is in order first, especially as the designer is not a native speaker of English. (Oh hell, who am I kidding? I'm going to dive right in and read later.)


I also managed to finish up the pair of socks I had on the needles (the ones that are a new design that I can't show you). The first submission of the pattern was not successful, so now I'm knitting up a new swatch -- essentially a scaled-down version of the whole sock -- to try again. If the second try fails as well, I'll be self-publishing, using the socks I just finished as my sample.


The lingering WIPs are my two-color handspun brioche cowl (which I knit a few rounds of last night) and my long-suffering Sople. I think I might force myself to finish Sople before I allow myself to cast on for the new sweater in the Dream in Color yarn. There really isn't all that much left to do, and it would be nice to have a new sweater all ready for fall. I'm not sure what my problem with this WIP is, in all honesty.

I suppose the reason I can't decide what to knit and simultaneously want to cast on for All The Things is because my knitting time this week has been limited due to a lot of time spent pattern writing. The good news is that I should have two new patterns ready for testing in the next week or so (fingers crossed!). Of course, that just means I have to move on to the next things -- which I've already determined need to be on a smaller scale to give my brain a bit of a break!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

It Was Inevitable

On Saturday afternoon, I took Rainbow to my LYS with me. I usually spend a couple hours there every Saturday afternoon, knitting with the awesome ladies who work there, but I wanted her to come with me this time to pick out yarn for the sweater I want to knit for her. We also took along the needles I bought for her quite a bit ago when I first tried (unsuccessfully) to teach her how to knit, because I had a feeling she might be ready for it. It turns out I was right -- and I couldn't be prouder!


She still has a lot of practice to do, obviously, but she has the hang of it and remembers all the steps now. We are going to try to knit a row every night so that she doesn't forget how to do it, and I have a feeling she'll be raiding my stash before too long!

We did pick out yarn for her sweater while we were there -- to my surprise, she picked not purple or pink but blue! This is Cascade Heritage sock yarn (in the very descriptive colorway "Royal"), which I've knit with a lot before. It'll be nice to knit and should hold up well to any abuse she shows it.


I also picked up some yarn for a sweater for myself while we were there. A day or two before, the store had announced on its social media sources that it had received a shipment of a new yarn from Dream in Color, a fingering-weight singles yarn called Jilly. I knew I had to check it out in person, and when I saw it, I knew I had to take some home before people started buying individual skeins and there wasn't enough of a single colorway for a sweater.


This color is called Sangria, which I think is absolutely perfect. In real life, it's a bit darker than it looks here. These skeins will be used to knit an Airflow, which I'm hoping to cast on soon in order have another light sweater I can throw on to ward off the chill of air conditioning. (We'll just conveniently ignore the fact that I still have an unfinished sweater by the same designer.) The yarn reminds me a lot of tosh merino light, and it might actually be the same base. If it is, I know it will knit up into a soft, cozy fabric with a lot of drape.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Proverbial Carrot

Usually I like to spend my Friday evenings at my wheel. By the time the end of the week comes, my brain is usually so fried that following any kind of knitting pattern is a lost cause. On top of that, the Mister ofter falls asleep very early, so it works out well for me to be sitting at my wheel and watching or listening to something on my laptop. For the past couple of weeks, though, circumstances got in the way, so it was extra relaxing to sit down at my Lendrum this past Friday with some nice fiber.

I managed to finish up the first bobbin of singles of the Bee Mice Elf mixed BFL/silk (which drafts pretty much effortlessly, let me tell you).


I immediately started in on the second bobbin and got a layer done before I got up for the night.


Now, as nice as this fiber is to spin and as much as I like the colors, it does get a bit tedious after a while to spin such fine singles, and I find myself thinking of what I should spin next. It helps that I have some really yummy stuff that is next in the queue, and it's what's keeping my nose to the grindstone to get this yarn done.

This is my most recent Fat Cat Knits Mixed Blessings Club shipment, five delicious ounces of Polwarth/silk, which might just be my most favorite blend ever. This duo came with the names Betty Boop and Olive Oyl.


These club shipments always force me to think a bit more before I start spinning, because I have to think about how I want the colors to mix, if at all. I could always go the easy way out and spin each braid up separately and ply them together, but I wanted to do something more interesting with this pair. Then I saw someone post a combination yarn in the FCK group on Ravelry and knew I had to copy it. If you look at each end of the two braids, you can see that they'd transition nicely from one to the other. So I split each braid in half lengthwise and matched up the ends, like so:


I'll start spinning at one end, overlapping when I get to the breaks, and spin all the fiber onto one bobbin. Then I'll chain ply to keep the colors distinct. When I'm done, I'll have a bright, self-striping, pseudo-rainbow yarn.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Knitting, Now with Crochet

I still need to sew on a button or two and block it, but look at what's done!


Pattern: Aviatrix hat by Justine Turner, 6 month size
Yarn: handspun superwash BFL
Started/Completed: August 4/August 6
Mods: see below

I think this was now the third time I've knit this pattern, and it definitely goes a little faster each time. As I've gotten more familiar with the pattern, I've made some minor adjustments. For starters, I worked the ribbing at the beginning and end as 1x1 except for the first two and last two stitches, which I worked as k2 on right-side rows and p2 on wrong-side rows. The reason for this was to create a selvedge, as stitches are picked up along both edges for the ear flaps at the end anyway and I just prefer to have a knit stitch next to a picked-up edge. I also slipped the first stitch of every row to make picking up the stitches a little easier. That meant that I had two fewer stitches than I should have had for the ear flaps, but that was easy to adjust by just working two fewer rows. Finally, I decreased one less stitch than specified before the ribbing at the back. This was because I would have ended up with an even number of stitches, and that would have meant a knit at one end and a purl at the other -- and that just doesn't work for me.

The yarn I used didn't look particularly girly to me, so I decided to add a small embellishment to make it a little more feminine (it is a baby gift for a girl, after all). I found this sweet little crocheted flower pattern on Ravelry, and it was easy even for my lapsed crochet skills. It took just a matter of minutes to complete, and I attached it by poking the ends through the fabric of the hat and weaving them in as usual.


Amazingly, even after knitting a second hat with this skein of handspun, I still have some leftover. It's not enough to do anything substantial, but perhaps some more crocheted flowers are in order.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Belated

I know I usually post a spinning update on Sundays, but yesterday was an unusual day. A very dear family friend (my dad's best friend from childhood) passed away last week, so I spent yesterday traveling to and from and at the funeral with my parents and brother. It was a sad event but one that I really felt I needed to go to. We left first thing in the morning, and I didn't get home until 8:30 last night, so there just wasn't time or energy to put together a blog post. I will try to have double the usual amount of spinning to make up for it next time!

The trip did mean about eight hours in the car (I wasn't driving), so I did get in a fair amount of knitting time. Knowing that I'd have a lot of time sitting in the car, I spent a few minutes on Saturday night casting on for my next handspun project, this time for the Fat Cat Knits Polwarth that I finished just prior to the start of the Tour de Fleece. I'm knitting a relatively simple pattern -- a two-color brioche cowl -- and matching up dark end with light end (and vice versa) for the two colorways. I cast on with Vintage Chic because I have slightly more yardage in that skein.


I know this doesn't look like much, but my project is 220 stitches around, I think, and brioche takes a little longer than straight knitting (not to mention that it grows at a slower rate due to the nature of the stitch). I think this cowl will be a project that I pick up every now and then and that will get done eventually; it's a relatively mindless knit (as long as I pay attention to whether it's a knit round or a purl round), so it will be good for those evenings when my brain is fried.

I also finished the first sock of the pair knit from the Socks That Rock that I showed you last week, though unfortunately I still can't show the sock itself. The submission is in and I should hear back one way or another in a week or so.

This evening I'm planning to cast on for another handspun project, this time another Aviatrix hat as a gift for some family friends who recently had their second daughter. I'm using the remainder of the skein from the last hat and knitting the same size (I weighed the remaining yarn and the hat and I should have enough). I might make it a little more girly by crocheting a flower or something to embellish it. This has to get done this week because we're visiting them on Saturday to meet the new baby.

Lest you think I haven't been spinning, here are your assurances:


This is a nearly finished bobbin of some fine singles spun from Bee Mice Elf mixed BFL/silk. This was my last shipment from when I was still in the club, and it had been sitting for a while. I started it at the very end of the TdF and had hoped to finish up the first bobbin over the weekend, but obviously that didn't happen. I'm close, though; one more evening should see it done. The hope is to end up with a two-ply laceweight when all is said and done.