Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Nearing Closure

While most of the crafting time over the long weekend was spent at my wheel, I did do some knitting. For starters, I finished a pair of socks!


Pattern: my basic stockinette, worked over 70 stitches
Yarn: Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce (80% superwash merino/20% nylon) in Bahamian, one skein
Needles: US 0/2.0 mm Addi Sock Rockets, magic loop
Started/Completed: May 6/May 27

I tried really hard to get these socks to match, and I nearly succeeded. I started in the same point in the striping sequence and worked the same pattern on the second sock, but something went awry after I picked up for the gusset:


I'm not sure if the discrepancy is due to a difference in my gauge on the second sock or just slight variation in the length of each color in the yarn. Regardless, it's close enough for me -- and it's likely that only the legs of the socks (which do match) will be seen anyway, so I'm calling them a win.

I also spent some quality time over the weekend with my Hitofude, which is getting closer and closer to completion. I finished the specified number of pattern repeats but decided to continue adding length in order to use up more of the yarn; I'd really like to end it with the last color in the gradient.


For the additional pattern repeat, I continued to follow the increase pattern, but I'm not sure that I'll keep that up. I don't mind additional drape in the front, but I also don't want this sweater to overpower me.

For as much good stash-busting as I've been doing, I feel I must own up to a bit of a slip-up in my yarn diet. First, I acquired yarn for the next pattern in my LYS's shawl knitalong, which will be Waiting for Rain. I really did not have anything suitable in my stash that was not laceweight, so I figured this purchase was acceptable. I ended up with two skeins of Baah! La Jolla in Grey Onyx and Obsidian, and I'll be doing the striped version of the shawl (I still have to decide if I want the the lace to be in the lighter color or the darker color).


Then there was this impulse purchase:


You see, I learned at this most recent visit that my LYS will not be getting any more of this amazing yarn, Yarn Hollow Tango, which I'd always intended to make a sweater from in the future. Because I didn't know if I'd be able to get it when I do decide to do that sweater, I picked up five skeins now. I will put them away for the time being, though I have a feeling they'll be coming back out in the fall, once it's closer to sweater weather again.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Ain't No Party Like a Plying Party

How have you spent your Memorial Day weekend? I've spent mine plying.

I'd been saving up singles for the start of Stash Dash, so when the event finally kicked off on Friday, I was ready. I was able to leave work early on Friday, so I got a bit of time to start in on the first bobbin before dinner. Twenty-four hours later, I had two finished skeins soaking in the tub. By this morning, they were dry.


These two skeins were spun from the first two colorways in the FatCatKnits Under the Sea installment of the fiber club. My fiber was Targhee, and the two colorways were Sea Anemone (left) and Cinnamon Clownfish (right). I decided to keep the colors separate for this round, so I split each length of top vertically and chain plied to make self-striping skeins. My grist was fairly accurate; I ended up with 219.5 yards for the skein on the left and 226.5 yards for the skein on the right. Rainbow has already asked if I can make something for her with these, and I'm happy to oblige. We haven't yet figured out just what they'll become, but we have plenty of time to figure that out (I'm pretty sure it was 90 or close to it yesterday, so no one is going to be needing their woolies for quite some time).

Another skein got plied today, but it's still drying at the moment, so I'll have to get a picture tomorrow. Thank goodness for a long weekend and a WooLee Winder -- I don't think I've ever plied three skeins in such a short amount of time before!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Ready to Dash

Stash Dash officially starts tomorrow, and I am ready! Thanks to an intense spinning session last night, I have three bobbins of singles waiting to be chain plied:


And I also have a sock that's a little more than halfway done:


I still have my Hitofude in progress, and I'll be continuing to work on it with the hope of finishing it up in the next couple of weeks. I have a bunch of design projects to get under way as well, so this should be a busy summer!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

On Repeat

Sweaters knit out of fingering weight yarn don't tend to get finished very quickly -- that's a given. When I cast on for my Hitofude in March, I expected that it would take me a bit of time to knit it. After all, the last fingering sweater I knit took me four months to complete, and the lightweight sweater before that took a full year. So you can imagine my surprise when I put down my knitting for the night last night and realized that I have only eight rows left in the lace pattern.


Of course, this isn't the end. I still need to work some additional repeats to make the sweater long enough, because right now it's more of a cropped fit. I still have a ton of yarn leftover, too. I'm still in the dark purple (which was the first color in the second braid of fiber I spun), and ideally I'd like to get to the light blue of the end of the skein for at least a bit. I'm still trying to decide if I'm going to continue the increase pattern for the fronts or just maintain the stitch count and only add length, but at least the end is in sight. I have completely memorized the pattern by now, making this an easy project to pick up and put down.

I cast on for my second Bahamian sock over the weekend and am working my way down the leg.


The work on the sock means that I've taken a bit of a break from knitting earbud pouches; I've worked through pretty much all the self-striping scrap yarn I had on hand, so I figured I'd try to finish this pair of socks and see what I have left to knit more should there still be time left in the month.

I'm hoping to cast on for something new next week, but for this week, knitting is pretty much on repeat: lace sweater, stockinette sock.

Before I go, I want to mention that the new special-issue Knitscene Handmade is out, and I have a sock pattern in it!


My Durango Socks are knit from the cuff down and feature a fun traveling twisted stitch pattern. For now, the issue is available online and in stores, but I believe that individual patterns will soon be available through the Interweave online store.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Countdown to Plying

Last week's theme is still in effect: I have a lot of singles on bobbins right now. I put in some more time this weekend with my Southern Cross Fibre Corriedale, and I'm nearly done with the third segment (of four total):


It seems to be almost impossible to get all the colors to come through here, but it really does look autumnal. There are beautiful burnt red-oranges, earthy browns, and a hint of green as well as a small bit of sky blue. I think this will look really lovely when it's plied up.

Last night Rainbow was at her grandparents' for a sleepover, so the Mister and I decided to watch a movie in our new den (formerly the nursery). I thought it was the perfect opportunity to try out my new WooLee Winder on my Lendrum, so I got started on the first colorway of my most recent FatCatKnits shipment. We all got along very well once I got past the initial awkwardness of a leader that kept slipping.


I have to say that it's a really fun experience to spin on the Lendrum and not have to stop to move the yarn guide. I'll be interested to see how much I can fit on one of these WW bobbins; I can usually get a tad more than 4 ounces on a standard Lendrum bobbin, and these look to be a bit bigger.

For as much spinning as I have been doing, the club shipments still keep arriving (I am trying my best to keep up!). The April SCF shipment arrived earlier this week, and I couldn't have picked a colorway that appealed to me more if I'd tried.


This colorway is called Resistance Is Futile and it's on organic Merino. Yum!

I'm hoping to finish spinning the Corriedale singles at the very least this week so that next week, once Stash Dash has officially started, I can attempt to ply all three bobbins. It's very convenient that it's a holiday weekend, which means extra crafting time!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Scatterbrained

Thanks to those of you who left comments on my last post! I am really happy with the shawl and will be even more happy to get it out into the world, but I've got to gear up for finishing up the charts (and doing the written version of them) before that happens.

It's been a busy, somewhat crazy week. Work has been very busy and the Mister has been traveling and out late for work, leaving me to do a lot of the parenting. Thankfully that's much less exhausting than it used to be, but Miss Rainbow is now an opinionated 6-year-old who likes to do things at her own pace, so often my quiet time in the evening ends up being much shorter than I'd hoped. As a result of the diminished amount of crafting time and my diminished mental capacity at the end of the day, very little knitting has actually gotten done.

I did finish a sock, but I'm not sure that counts for much because it was already nearly done.


This is in Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce in Bahamian, and in a happy twist of fate, it looks like I will have to wind very little off to get to the right point in the stripe sequence to get the second sock to more or less match. It's a long mirrored sequence, so I was pretty much resigned to having fraternal socks because I didn't want to have to wind off a bunch and then splice in sections to try to match.

I've knit three whopping rows on my Hitofude, but it doesn't look much different from the last time you saw it, so I'll spare you another uninspiring picture.

Mainly, I've been knitting pouches, like these four that have been finished this week:


These were all knit out of FDW Bounce scraps from socks I've made in the past year or so, the three on the left from After the Harvest and the one on the right from Doubletree. I finished a fifth at lunch today and started a sixth in leftovers from these socks. Once I've gotten through my FDW leftovers, I've got some small balls of handspun that I may tackle next. These little pouches have been the perfect knitting project when I really can't think or count. I've got the pattern completely memorized, so all I have to do is stop and count rounds every now and then. An added bonus is using up all these bits and bobs of leftover sock yarn before they get tossed into the stash room. They don't do much to alter the overall bloated state of the stash, but a little is better than none, right?

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Real Nail-Biter

In every project I knit, no matter what the pattern or how much yarn I have, there is always a moment when I worry I'm going to run out of yarn. In many cases it's a ridiculous notion because I always have more than enough yarn (or can easily get more), but I suppose it's just part of my process. But in the case of the project that just came off my needles, it was a reality.

In the case of this shawl, which was of my own design and using one skein of yarn (the only skein I had), I very nearly didn't make it. Concerned about how much yarn I had left, I had run a lifeline through the work before I started the last section just in case I ran short. This shawl was knit top down, so of course the rows got longer as I went along. Complicating things was the fact that each section I knit on this shawl was bigger as well in terms of total number of rows, plus I chose a bind off that eats up yarn at an alarming rate, so I had a number things working against me.

Fortunately, I made it -- just barely. I had to adapt my planned edging a bit, but I'm actually very happy with how it turned out. So that you can a sense of just how close it was, here is the yarn that was leftover (and this includes what I trimmed off the ends after the shawl was blocked). It's less than a gram worth of yarn.


I am really, really pleased with this shawl, in spite of the palpitations it gave me. I was worried that it would end up on the small side -- it really is so hard to judge on the needles -- but I blocked it out pretty aggressively and got a good-sized shawl in the end.


This was knit as my entry to the original design contest for Mad May. I used the one skein of Tosh Merino Light that I won from Mad May last year in this gorgeous gold color called Chamomile. It's not a color I would normally wear, but it makes me happy with how bright and sunny it is. I especially love the spots where the color veers ever slightly toward an orange gold.


Now that the nail biting is done, I have to finish up the charts, get the pattern in layout, and send it off to the tech editor. All of that should be a heck of a lot stressful than knitting the last row of this shawl was, though!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Filling the Bobbins

I've been in a singles-spinning mood lately. I finally finished up the bobbin of Targhee singles from my FatCatKnits club shipment earlier in the week and I quite like them:


Rather than starting to ply this batch or its complement, I immediately started in on a new batch of fiber. My shelf of shipments from the Southern Cross Fibre club is getting quite full (in fact, when I went into that room earlier this evening, one bag had launched itself onto the floor!), so I pulled out a bag from last fall and started spinning it. This is another batch of Corriedale in a colorway called Autumn. I split the fiber in half vertically and then split each half in half again, and I'm spinning up one strip out after another.


I'm about halfway done with the singles at this point thanks to a couple of hours at the wheel this afternoon.


I'll be having a plying party once this bobbin is done -- three bobbins will need to be chain plied! I think I may save them for the start of Stash Dash, as it would be nice to start out with some decent meterage.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Hard Evidence

I have been knitting for more than 25 years now, so I'm a pretty fast knitter. Given how busy my life is, though, sometimes I don't get that much done even with that speed. So you can tell how much knitting time I actually got in this past weekend when you see how much progress I've made.

In the car on the way down to Maryland and in the hotel that evening, I worked mainly on my Hitofude. You may recall that the last time you saw it, I'd formed the sleeves and moved on to the ribbing around the neckline. I finished that up and bound off for the neckline before leaving, and in the car, I moved on to the patterning of the body. I'm now nearly two repeats in (each repeat is 16 rows).


When I worked on this last night, I also officially moved from the end of the first braid of fiber to the beginning of the second. It's looking like I will still have plenty of yarn left after finishing the specified number of repeats of the lace pattern, so it's very likely that I'll keep knitting to make the body longer.

I also spent pretty much all of Saturday evening and most of the ride home working on my Mad May shawl, and it has grown significantly since last you saw it:


I've now finished all the patterning that I'd charted out and still have about 160 yards of yarn left, so I think I'm going to attempt another section. Just in case there isn't enough yarn for it, I've run a lifeline through the stitches on the needles to make it easy to rip back should I need to. The shawl is now big enough that I can't fully stretch it out on the needles but still looks to me shawlette size, so I'd like to make it a bit bigger if I can.

There is one other project on the needles, and it's a new one. I cast on for a new pair of socks on the way down to Maryland with the idea being that I'd have a pair in progress to work on while we strolled around the festival. In reality, I think I only managed about three rounds in total while we were actually there, so it's become my lunchtime knitting for the week. I turned the heel and started the gusset yesterday, so I will soon have a finished sock.


The yarn is Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce (superwash merino/nylon) in a colorway called Bahamian. It does rather look like tropical waters, doesn't it? I'm just knitting my regular plain vanilla sock pattern for these -- no sense in trying to work a stitch pattern when the striping is doing all the action on its own.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Yarn, Fiber, and Mud

I am back from a whirlwind of a weekend away at MDSW. As usual, it was a lot of fun but not particularly restful. It was really nice to have a weekend away from home with friends, particularly friends who don't care how many hours in a row I spend knitting.

We'd been lucky with the weather for many years going to this festival, but this year it seems some of our luck ran out. It had been raining pretty much all week leading up to the festival, and it poured on Friday as we were driving in, so naturally when we got to the fairgrounds on Saturday morning there was some mud to contend with. I think I did a fairly good job of not stepping in anything too messy (though there was also a walk through some of the sheep barns, which meant more than just mud on my shoes), but plenty of people were wearing boots or wellies (and I would have taken mine were it not for the fact that they're pretty darn uncomfortable to walk in). It was a damp, chilly day, but that made it perfect for wearing knitwear, so there were lots of shawls and sweaters to ogle! Fortunately the sun came out on Sunday and we had a very pleasant drive home, including a picnic lunch at a rest stop.

After going to this festival for several years, I did not feel such an urge to buy all the things, so much of this trip was about browsing and seeing people. Our first stop was the Jill Draper Makes Stuff booth, and I was able to show Jill my Ravessa Shawl sample knit in her Esopus base. Then I ran into Clara Parkes on Saturday morning by the Spirit Trail Fiberworks booth (incidentally, they still have a sample of my Three Wishes mittens on display!) and she signed my copy of Knitlandia.

I also made it to the podcaster meet-up on Saturday afternoon, where I got to meet Laura and Leslie of TheKnitGirllls as well as Melanie and Deborah, aka the Savvy Girls. I was wearing my Leventry sample on Saturday, and Melanie tried to steal it!

But enough name dropping -- I know you want to see the haul! I must say that I was fairly restrained this year. I really did not have plans to buy much of anything for myself, but a few things did come home with me:


There's another skein of Jill Draper Esopus in Tastes Like Purple, which I might use for another design, and a skein of marigoldjen merino/nylon in Sherlock that's destined to become a Spindrift Shawl. The colorful little batts are from Boho Chic Fiber Co. -- I just couldn't resist them. Finally, the big fluffy ball of naturally colored fiber is 4 oz. of Finnsheep roving; Finnsheep was the featured breed at the festival this year. The only acquisition not shown in this photo is a jar of honey from the Bee Folks; I bought a jar of Scorpionweed honey for myself and one for my mother.

There were some other purchases, too, but they were gifts for a friend who might be reading this blog and I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise by posting a photo here. Friend, if you're reading this, get ready to receive your goodies this weekend!

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Temptation

Note: I am setting this post to automatically publish on Sunday before I get back from Maryland Sheep and Wool because I'm not sure I'll have the time and energy to blog when I get home. I promise I'll soon post a festival recap!

My spinning goal for the past week was to finish the second bobbin of singles of my FatCatKnits Targhee. It seemed a reasonable goal, as that batch of fiber was only 2.5 oz. and I'd already started spinning it. Unfortunately I totally failed. I just didn't get in the amount of spinning time I wanted (too distracted by knitting this week, I guess). There's not much left, so I will be able to finish it up relatively quickly, but I still feel like I'm behind schedule. Here's your obligatory progress shot:


Part of the reason I wanted to finish these singles is because I knew the next shipment of the club was coming. I still haven't spun two of the three shipments from the last round of the club, so I really wanted to keep up this time around. I'm a bit closer to keeping up this time, so that's something. In any case, the next shipment arrived on Monday, and I absolutely love it!


The fiber for this shipment is Falkland, and the two colorways are called Taklobo and Kabibi -- inspired by giant clams, if you can believe it. I already know how I'm going to spin this -- I'll spin each color on its own and then ply them together. These two just look like they are going to play so nicely.

I am so tempted to dig into this fiber right away, but I am going to be good and finish up the other singles first (though perhaps I might not ply them).

Thursday, May 05, 2016

The Calm Before

I'm posting this less than 24 hours before my friends and I will be leaving for Maryland Sheep and Wool. I am super excited, but before I get to enjoy the trip, I have to do the dreaded task of packing. I hate packing. I'm always afraid that I'll forget something and as a result usually overpack. That's not really a big concern in this case, but it still stresses me out.

This year -- my sixth time going -- feels a bit different. We've been extremely lucky with weather in previous years, but this year looks like conditions will be less than optimal. The forecast keeps changing, but the gist of it is that it's going to be a bit cooler (no warmer than the low 70s) and there's the potential for rain. It's always been raining in Maryland all week, so the fairgrounds are bound to be muddy. So I am packing layers and several changes of clothes and shoes -- I'm even packing some wool socks!

For the first time, I also don't have a shopping list for myself (though I do have a list for a friend). I am still actively trying to reduce my stash, so while I'm not restricting myself from buying anything that truly calls out to me, I don't feel like there's anything I really need or want. I'm sure I'll enjoy admiring pretty things, but most of all I'm looking forward to being among my people. I'm hoping to get to meet some people I only know from online and see some beautiful knitwear.

More than anything, of course, I'm looking forward to a long weekend away with the girls and plenty of extra knitting time. I'm hoping to use it to my advantage to make some decent headway on my WIPs. I'm taking my Hitofude, of course, which has gained only a few rows since you saw it last, so I won't bother with a photo. Another project that I'm taking is one you haven't yet seen, a new shawl design that I'm knitting for the Mad May original design contest using a skein of Tosh Merino Light in Chamomile.


I've only spent one evening so far knitting on this, so what I have done isn't much, but I'm hoping to put in at least a few hours on it this weekend. What you can't see is all the advance prep I've put into this -- I've already written up a draft of the pattern and done some charting. I'm hoping this prep work will make it easier and faster to get the pattern ready once the sample is done.

I am also still knitting my adorable Earbud Pouches out of leftover sock yarn. They are so fast and addictive that I can't seem to stop -- I already have three done and a fourth about halfway there! My very loose plan is to make a bunch of them and put them away for little holiday gifts.


I'm taking a skein of sock yarn with me to MDSW as well, as I figure that a sock is a good thing to knit while standing around or waiting in line.

If you'll be at MDSW this weekend, please do say hi if you see me! I'll be wearing a Ravelry button with my ID on it (and possibly also one of my pattern samples, depending on the temperature) and carrying a Ravelry sheep bag. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

I Could Kiss These Heels

Hey, look what I finished last night!


Pattern: Fish Lips Kiss Heel (toe up) by Patty-Joy White, aka the Sox Therapist
Yarn: my handspun Corriedale from Southern Cross Fibre in Splendour
Needles: US 0 (2.0 mm) 40 in. Addi Sock Rockets, magic loop
Started/Completed: April 17/May 2

I'm very pleased with these socks. In fact, I'd even say they're the best-fitting toe-up socks I've ever knit. There's a reason why this pattern is so popular on Ravelry, and it's well worth the $1 it costs. The pattern is long, but that's because it's filled with explanations and photo tutorials to show you how to work this ingenious and simple short-row heel. I may just use this short row method from now on, in fact.

For these socks, I started with 20 stitches and Judy's Magic Cast On, then increased to 72 total stitches. I knit the leg for a total of 7 inches (5 inches of stockinette and 2 inches of 2x2 ribbing), finishing off with the Miraculous Elastic Bind Off. I ended up using approximately 316 yards of my yarn, and there's still a good portion leftover for who knows what (into the leftover bin it goes).


I won't go as far as to say that I'm a toe-up convert; overall, I still prefer a cuff-down sock (mainly because I miss Kitchenering when working toe up). But it's good to know that I can knit a pair toe up that will fit well when I'm limited on yarn or need to go toe up for some other reason.

Meanwhile, I've reached an important point in my Hitofude: I have joined the sleeves and moved on to the ribbing around the neckline. And, as you can see, I've also moved on to a new color.


It looks a little strange now, but once I get through about eight more rounds of this, I'll be binding off the neckline and moving on to the body. It should be smooth sailing from there -- perfect for the drive down to Maryland this weekend!

I've also started a new project for my lunchtime knitting, now that the socks are done. Lisa of the 90% Knitting podcast and Fibernymph Dye Works is hosting a knitalong for the month of May that she's calling Mini Mayhem. All projects must be 100 yards of yarn or less. I thought this was a perfect excuse to bust some leftovers stash.


The pattern I'm using is the Earbud Pouch, which is super simple and quick to knit (also free, an added bonus). I'm using a bunch of Fibernymph sock yarn leftovers to start; I figure I can knit up a bunch of these and then use them as little holiday gifts. The first one was cast on last night and finished up at lunch today, and it only used about 16 yards. I'm already about halfway through the second. Perfect for instant gratification!

Sunday, May 01, 2016

There Goes the Weekend

I had grand plans for doing a lot of spinning this weekend -- plans that never came to fruition.

On Friday night, once I got Rainbow to bed, I only managed about an hour. Yesterday, in between errands and cleaning and cooking for dinner guests, I squeezed in only about half an hour. I figured I'd make it up today. But then we spent about three hours watching the runners in the marathon this morning, and after we went to lunch and ran some more errands, I found myself with only about an hour and a half left to spin. So I did not finish spinning all the singles as I'd hoped. At least I have made some progress -- progress that, unfortunately, is not so easy to capture with my camera.


When I was spinning in the dim light in our bedroom on Friday night, I didn't realize that the yellow and green in the fiber were actually neon. These singles are so vibrant that they completely blew out when I tried (several times!) to take an accurate photo. I figure I'm a little more than halfway done, and I'll try my best to finish them up in the next couple of evenings because it looks like the next shipment of this club will be coming tomorrow. I can't wait to see what it is!