Sunday, August 20, 2017

Back to the Routine

We arrived home from our vacation yesterday evening, and once everything was unpacked and we got some food in us, we all promptly passed out for a good long sleep. Today was a whirlwind of cleaning, grocery shopping, and laundry, and while I did get some good knitting time in, there was unfortunately no time to get reacquainted with my wheel -- which means there has been no further spinning beyond the bobbin you saw a week ago. Our schedule returns to normal tomorrow, however, and I have quite a few video podcasts to catch up on, which means I will likely spend several of the next few evenings at the wheel.

I may not have any new spinning to show you, but I do have some pretty fiber to share! For a while now I've been admiring the beautiful fiber and handspun from Wound Up Fiber Arts on Instagram. Shortly before we left for our trip, I happened to spot that Trisha was having a sale to clear out her shop -- all braids were $15. Did I need more fiber? No, not really, but I couldn't resist her bright colors and ordered three braids. They arrived while I was away, so I had all this color to come home to:

Squander on superwash merino

Wild Thing on superwash merino/cashmere/nylon

Bittersweet on superwash merino

I may end up spinning and keeping one of these for me, but the others are likely to show up in the Fluvial Fibers shop or at my booth at November's Indie Knit and Spin!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Adventures in Yarn Shopping

Our vacation is starting to wind down (we leave on Saturday), and after a very active first few days, we had a relatively quiet day today. We all slept in and then took a trip to the Cape Cod Potato Chip factory. It's a quick self-guided tour, but it was something we'd never done before. We had lunch at "home" (the rental condo) and relaxed a bit, and then this afternoon I convinced the Mister to take me and Rainbow to the nearest LYS, Adventures in Knitting, which I'd spotted the very first day we arrived when we went to the local supermarket to stock up on food for the week. Don't let the fairly mediocre Web site fool you -- it's a great shop!

There was a wide variety of yarn to be found -- Berroco, Plymouth, HiKoo, the Fibre Company, Swan's Island, Madelinetosh, and other more mainstream yarn companies in addition to some more rustic yarns spun from sheep from farms in Brewster, Mass., and Nantucket.

They also had a large selection of buttons, needles from Addi and Knitter's Pride, and a sizeable wall of tools and notions. I petted and squished many skeins but was determined to buy something local that I couldn't get at home or online. This fit the bill perfectly:

This skein of 90% superwash merino/10% nylon is from the Cape Cod Yarn Co. and is exclusive to this shop. The colorway is called Seaweed, and it's a generous 480 yards -- plenty for a decently sized shawl or a pair of socks. I also bought a little something for Rainbow:

We found these teeny skeins of My First Regia in the back, with the sale yarns (they're marked $4, but they were actually $3 each). Each skein is 25 g and about 115 yards, so that should be plenty to make Rainbow a pair of socks -- something she's been asking me to make her for a while. I think when we get home, I'll make a template of her foot and make her a pair of toe-up Fish Lips Kiss Heel socks. They'll probably only fit her for a month or two, but at least they should be fun to knit!

I'm moving right along on my projects. I now have one sock done and am well on my way on the leg of sock number two, and I'm more than halfway through the sleeve increases on my tee. Tomorrow the weather is supposed to be not so great, so perhaps it will be a good excuse to get in a bit of extra knitting time. If not, we have the long drive back to Boston to catch our flight home on Saturday, plus the flight, plus the drive home from the airport. I'm determined to meet my Stash Dash goal, even if I have to spend every last minute knitting!

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Yarn Bought on Vacation Doesn't Count as Stash, Right?

I am posting today from my vacation on Cape Cod, where unfortunately it's gotten quite overcast and looks like it might rain a bit later (not that I mind -- it's the perfect excuse to sit and knit). We have been having a fun but busy week so far, with a fair amount of time spent outside and even more time spent eating. We spent yesterday afternoon in Chatham, one of our favorite towns, and I took the opportunity to check out an LYS there. It turned out to be a lot farther from the main business district than I thought, and I was convinced Rainbow was going to kill me after I made her walk that far, but it was definitely worth it. The shop is called A Great Yarn, and it's a very fitting name -- they have quite the selection crammed into a fairly small space!

Just one part of the shop, the beautiful Madelinetosh section

I could have bought so many skeins in this charming shop, but I kept telling myself that I could get many of the yarns I was admiring online rather easily, so I limited myself to just a few selections that are (relatively speaking) local yarns.

On the left is HauteKnitYarn Jimmy Sock in the colorway Finest Hours, an exclusive colorway to the shop. The other two skeins are Swans Island Organic Washable Sport in Pewter and Magenta, destined to be something with some stranded colorwork.

Now that some more yarn has come into the stash, I'm trying my best to get some more yarn out of it, especially considering that this is the last week of Stash Dash. I brought two projects with me, with the hope of finishing them both up by the end of the weekend. My Driftwood Tee is approximately 75% done, I think; I've just started the sleeve shaping for the front.

Please forgive the wrinkles; this has been shoved in my project bag repeatedly.

If I do manage to finish up the front before we leave, I can tell you definitively that I will not even attempt to try blocking before I seam it -- it has been surprisingly humid here, and the house we're staying in feels perpetually damp. If I finish the knitting, I'll seam and do the neckline and then block it when it's all done.

I've also been working on a pair of socks, which of course are perfect for when we're in the car or waiting at a restaurant.

I'm a bit more than two inches away from starting the toe on this one, so I think things are looking good for a finished pair by the end of the coming weekend. I think if I can finish up this pair of socks and the tee, I should be good to meet my 10K Stash Dash goal. So with that said, I should probably get back to my knitting!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

One Down, Two to Go

Through the magic of the Internet, I have spinning this Sunday, even though I'm presently more than 600 miles away from my wheels on summer vacation. We left early yesterday morning for a long day of travel, but on Friday night, before that, I finished up the first bobbin of my Fibernymph Dye Works gradient spin. Please excuse the dark photo taken with flash; it was obviously nighttime when I finished, and we left before the sun was up yesterday.

This was a super easy spin thanks to some very well-prepped fiber. My only minor complaint is that the darker fiber was crocking a bit and I ended up with dark blue on my hands. I'm sure it's just a case of a bit of excess dye and it will likely come out in the wash -- blues are notorious for doing that. I'm looking forward to getting home and spinning the next two bobbins!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

I'm Sensing the Start of a New Obsession

I have had brushes with brioche knitting in the past (remember those infinity cowls?), but I've never done anything in brioche that had to fit or that had shaping. While I was at SSK, I attended a breakout session on brioche with AmyBeth and realized that I was making it out to be much more complicated in my head than it actual was, so I decided to start out relatively simple with a hat -- and a simple hat at that. It turns out that it was tons of fun to knit and the only complicated part (the crown shaping) really was more fiddly than hard once I understood the directions.

Slightly blurry photo thanks to 7-year-old photographer

Pattern: Rainbrioche by Katrin Schubert, larger size
Yarn: Fibernymph Dye Works Cozy (100% superwash merino) in Smooth Sailing, Sunny Skies (MC) and Shortcuts and Mushrooms (CC)
Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm) Addi Rockets, magic loop
Started/Completed: August 3/August 9
Mods: used the same CC throughout

This pattern had caught my eye when it was released several months ago, and I bought it recently when I had a PayPal balance burning a hole in my (virtual) pocket. I already had a couple of Katrin's brioche hat patterns in my library from when she offered them for free for a limited time, but they are a bit more complicated and I didn't think my skills were quite up to that level just yet. This pattern seemed like just enough of a challenge to get my feet wet, so to speak, and build my brioche confidence.

As to the pattern itself, it is relatively simple if you already understand the basics of brioche. Most of the hat is made up of sections of simple two-color brioche separated by sections of working with one color and slipping stitches of the other. The pattern calls for you to change your contrast color after each of those sections, but I continued to use the same CC throughout. The only slightly tricky part of the hat comes when you get to the crown decreases, when there are decreases that turn five stitches into one. It took me a couple of attempts to get it right (there are two ways of doing it described in the pattern), but once I got it, it was more fiddly than difficult.

I've got plenty of yarn leftover to knit another one for Rainbow, with the colors reversed. She said the fit of this one is good for her, though it's a bit long, so I may just eliminate one of the vertical repeats. She's also requested a pompom on hers (are you at all surprised?), which I'll be happy to do provided there's enough yarn leftover.

My vacation is coming up quickly, and I've decided on the projects to take. I'll be packing my Driftwood Tee, with the hope of finishing up the front and perhaps even seaming and doing the neckline finishing while I'm away, and I've started a new pair of vanilla socks in some self-patterning ONline sock yarn that I picked up at Knitsburgh Yarn Shop last weekend.

I'm going to stick another skein of sock yarn in my bag just in case, but I think I should have no trouble hitting my 10K Stash Dash goal if I can finish up the tee and a pair of socks while we're away. Stash Dash officially ends the day after we get back, so I do have a bit of a grace period if I need it, but I'm hoping all I have to do is weigh my FOs and post final pictures and numbers. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Dashing to 10K

The end of Stash Dash is quickly approaching, so I am madly trying to finish up projects and perhaps knit some more to get me to 10,000 m. At the moment, my total is just a bit less than 9,100 m, so I'm close. The most recently finished skein of handspun helped to get me there, as did this finished object:

Pattern: Kerameia Cowl (by yours truly)
Yarn: Fibernymph Dye Works Bona Fide (100% superwash merino) in Silver Gray (MC) and Krasi (CC)
Needles: 16 in. US 7 (4.5 mm) Addi Turbos
Started/Completed: July 31/August 3
Mods: None

This was a fast and easy knit, and the photo I posted on Instagram has been surprisingly popular. I reversed the colors from the original configuration, and the result is a much more subtle appearance of the pattern. I think I actually like the original better because it's easier to see the pattern, but the dappled effect of this one has its charm.

Meanwhile, I am getting close to finishing up my Rainbrioche hat. It's been a fun knit and I can definitely see knitting it again. I might go down another needle size, though, because it is very stretchy (as you would expect from anything with this much brioche stitch).

I think I have decided to take my Driftwood Tee with me on vacation next week so I can try to finish it up while we're gone. I finished the back last night and promptly cast on the front, so it's quite possible that will happen.

The astute among you will notice that the bottom edge is rolling quite a bit, and that's partly because I missed one very important instruction at the very beginning, despite the fact that I ripped and restarted at least once: Knit five rows in garter stitch. What I have is one garter ridge, which on its own definitely isn't enough to counteract the stockinette-induced roll. By the time I realized my mistake, I was already into the shoulders, and I wasn't about to rip back, so I'll address it later. I did the same thing on the front so that the pieces will at least match, and when both are done, I'll see about picking up and knitting down or perhaps adding some applied I-cord. I've already added extra length, so I don't want to make it too much longer, and it's always possible that I'll be able to block the piece flat given the high bamboo content. But it's a bit annoying, especially given how short and to the point this pattern is -- I really should have done a better job of reading it!

Sunday, August 06, 2017

It's a Monster

For the first time in my spinning life, I actually thought I might not fit all of the skein I was plying onto one bobbin, even when using my giant miniSpinner WooLee Winder bobbin. Fortunately, one bobbin of singles ran out just when the bobbin was nearly completely full -- but that still made for one enormous skein of plied yarn!

This is roughly 355 yards of three-ply Charollais. Because the singles were spun woolen, the finished yarn is a bit inconsistent, but overall it looks like it's a heavy worsted to Aran weight. I still have half of the original bag of fiber left to spin (I'll just add on to the two bobbins that still have some singles on them), so assuming I can match what I've done with this skein, I should have somewhere in the neighborhood of 700 yards of yarn when I'm done. I think this yarn would be excellent as a heavier outerwear-type sweater, perhaps paired with a neutral like a brown or a gray. I have quite a bit of undyed fiber in my stash that would work well, so perhaps that will be an ongoing project for the next few months, with the goal of having a sweater's worth to knit up this winter.

Almost as soon as I finished the plying, I started a new spinning project with the most recent shipment of the Fibernymph Dye Works Barberpole Fiber Club, which arrived earlier this week. This shipment's pairing is again a fairly subtle contrast, but I really love it.

Racing the Dusk (L) and Encroaching Night (R)

These colorways were inspired by the colors in the sky that Lisa observed as she and her husband were on a hike as part of a canoe trip they took. As they were descending from the peak they had climbed, they were racing to get to the bottom before night fell. The variegated color, Racing the Dusk, is really subtle, with very pale shades of green, purple, and pink. Rather than spin these up as a plain barberpoled two ply, I though I'd do a gradient three ply. I split up each color into six roughly equal pieces (so about half an ounce per piece) and am spinning them as you see here:

Apologies for the bad lighting; I took this on Friday night because I couldn't wait to start spinning.

Each ply (as shown in each column in the fiber photo) will have about 2 oz. of fiber in it total. The total skein will gradually fade from the lighter color to the darker, just like the color of the sky changes as the sun sets. The first bobbin is already well under way.

I am enjoying this spin so much. The Falkland fiber is so well prepped that I hardly have to put any effort in to draft it, and the small bits of fiber go so quickly that it feels like I am making a ton of progress in a very short period of time. I doubt I will finish the entire spin before we leave for vacation on Saturday morning, but I'll at least make a dent.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Thinking Ahead

As I get closer and closer to my vacation, I find I am spending more and more time trying to figure out what crafting supplies to take. Knitting is a given -- I'll take a pair of socks for the actual travel, and likely a larger project as well, though I'm undecided as to whether to take my Driftwood Tee (as it's unlikely I'll finish all the knitting before we leave) or leave it at home and take yarn to start a new project (namely a Wonder Woman Wrap using some of the yarn I bought at SSK). Obviously I want to finish up the tee as quickly as possible so that I can count the meterage for Stash Dash and possibly wear it while we are away, but then I have to think about blocking and seaming (though I suppose I could just put some pins in my checked bag). But I worry that I'd finish it up too soon and then would be left with just socks to knit on for the rest of the trip. I suppose I could take both -- a couple of skeins of fingering weight yarn and a circular needles don't take up that much space -- but I'll probably wait until just before the trip to make a final decision. Plus I have to decide if I want to take a spindle project with me or not. Sometimes I think packing the craft materials for a trip is harder than packing clothes!

In any case, I have continued to make progress on my Kerameia Cowl and have just about finished -- I just need to finish binding off the last 20 or 30 stitches and weave in my ends.

That means I need to get another lunchtime knitting-suitable project ready, so I've wound up two skeins of Fibernymph Dye Works Cozy to start a Rainbrioche hat.

After doing a breakout session with AmyBeth on brioche knitting at SSK, I'm feeling up to the challenge of trying some brioche with shaping. I will likely have enough yarn for two hats, so I may just reverse the colors and knit a second one (for me, Rainbow, or some unknown gift recipient) while I'm at it if the first attempt goes well.

The weekend ahead looks like a good one for crafting. Rainbow is going to sleep over at her grandparents', so I'm hoping to take a trip out to Knitsburgh Yarn Shop to visit and see what's new since I was last there. There should also be a lot of plying happening over the next several days, as I finally finished up the third bobbin of Charollais singles (for now, I'm ignoring the fact that there are three more bobbins to spin) and started plying last night. I hope whatever you have planned for the weekend is fun and gives you lots of time for crafting!

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Playing with Stripes

It's a new month (I know -- I'm as surprised as you are!), so there's a bit of catching up to do.

First of all, I finished up my July socks over the weekend, not quite at the last minute but close enough that I was starting to worry.

Pattern: my basic sock recipe, with a twist (see below)
Yarn: Desert Vista Dyeworks Viso in Seven-Year Itch
Needles: US 0 (2.0 mm) Addi Sock Rockets
Started/Completed: July 2/July 29

I'm guessing that most serious sock knitters have their own plain vanilla recipe memorized and can do it without referring to notes or a pattern. For me, that's a 70-stitch cuff-down sock starting with two inches of 3x2 ribbing, a 7 in. leg, a traditional heel flap and gusset, and a wide toe. Occasionally, though, I like to change things up a bit. I decided to substitute a simultaneous heel flap and gusset for these to try to keep the striping pattern a little more intact.

A simultaneous heel flap and gusset sounds a little complicated, but (much like turning a heel), once you've done it once, it's much more simple than it seems. The basic concept is this: Working the same number of rounds as you would work rows for a traditional heel flap, you alternate rounds of the heel stitch (slip 1, knit 1) with plain stockinette on the stitches that make up your heel flap. At the same time, on the rounds that you're working the heel stitch on the heel stitches, you increase one stitch on either side of the instep to form the gusset. Once you've increased the required amount and gotten the full length out of your heel flap, you turn the heel and then decrease most of the added gusset stitches by working back and forth over the remaining heel stitches, working an ssk at the end of RS rows and a p2tog at the end of WS rows. Once you're back to your original total stitch count, you resume working in the round again. As you can see, it helps to maintain the striping pattern a lot better, and an added benefit is that you wind up with a reinforced flap under the heel if you continue working the heel stitch over those stitches (as I do).

This was my first time working with this yarn (it came in the Knit Girllls anniversary kit that arrived earlier in the summer), and I quite liked it. It's a thin fingering but has multiple plies, so it has great stitch definition. I definitely wouldn't work it on anything larger than a 2.0 mm needle, though, to get a durable fabric.

August socks have not been cast on yet, but I'm sure they will be soon. We have a vacation trip coming up, so I may use my socks as my travel project.

Meanwhile, I am still plugging away at my Driftwood Tee, which I've somehow convinced myself I can finish before we go on vacation so I can wear it there. There isn't all that much to the garment -- just two pieces that are seamed together, but I'll admit I might be a bit delusional in thinking that I can get everything done by then (in addition to knitting and spinning other things, working full time, and packing).

Next in the series of "Things I Keep Meaning to Knit but Never Get Around to Actually Knitting," I've cast on for my fourth and final Kerameia Cowl, again using leftovers from the original samples. I thought this would be good lunch break knitting for the week, as it should only take me a few days to finish it up.

I've got plans to cast on a brioche hat as soon as the cowl is done, and I've already begun plotting my vacation knitting plans for our trip to Cape Cod in about a week and a half.

Sunday, July 30, 2017


Depending on how closely you were paying attention to my last post, you may have picked up on the fact that I made an additional purchase last week as a result of my SSK trip. That's right: I bought another wheel. I fell in love with the Schacht Flatiron after trying it in the Tasting Room, and Amy and Scooter Pie of the Ross Farm had one available. So on Thursday evening, I drove out to meet them and pick up the wheel.

I had planned to spend some time putting it together and giving it a test drive this weekend, but unfortunately there was a slight snag in that plan. When I opened up the box on Friday evening to pull all the parts out, I discovered that about half of them were missing. I had all the main pieces for the wheel, but no bobbins and no screws or connectors. Amy thinks that there was a snafu in the Schacht spinning department, but she has a call into the company and expects that they'll send me the missing parts.

So there was no spinning on the new wheel, and I'll have to wait a bit before I can put it together, but when that does happen, I have a great selection of fiber from the farm to play with:

This is all wool from Amy and Scooter Pie's sheep, I think about 2 oz. each of each type. In the back are Leicester Longwool and Tunis; in the front are Jacob and Romney. I've only spun two of the four breeds before, so these samples should be a lot of fun.

In the meantime, I haven't been twiddling my thumbs. I've got two other wheels and lots of fiber still to spin, specifically the Charollais from Southern Cross Fibre. I finished up the second bobbin on Friday night.

I got a brief start on the third bobbin before going to bed on Friday and have worked on it the past two days. I'd say I'm probably halfway done with it, and to be honest, I'm kind of kicking myself for not working on this fiber more during the Tour de Fleece, because it's spinning up quickly enough that I probably could have finished at least one skein.

I am getting better at my long draw, and it's certainly a much faster way to go through fiber than my typical short forward draw. I anticipate that this third bobbin will be done and plying will happen this week!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

An Attempt at an SSK Recap

I've been processing my SSK experience for the past several days, thinking about how I could best communicate it to you so that you could get a true feeling for what it was like to be there, and I've come to the conclusion that it probably isn't possible. Well, that's not entirely true -- it might be possible, but I'm guessing it would take me a long time and a lot of words to do it justice, and I highly doubt that most (if not all) of you would want to read that. So I'm going to attempt to keep it as short and sweet as I can, but there are a lot of pictures in this post.

I arrived a little late on Wednesday evening due to a flight delay, but I still managed to be there for most of the opening event and even won a door prize! I went to bed very late, especially considering that I'd gotten up at my normal time to work a half day and because of the time change, so it was great that I had the whole day free on Thursday (both of my classes were scheduled on Friday). I pretty much parked myself in the lobby of the main building and spent most of the day knitting, spindling, and talking to the others (and having surprisingly deep conversations, too!).

Thursday evening was the Tasting Room, with the opportunity to try out all sorts of knitting needles, crochet hooks, spinning wheels, spindles, and fiber prep tools. I tried a bunch of wheels I'd never gotten to try before and absolutely fell in love the the Schacht Flatiron. (And I may or may not have just arranged to buy one, shhh!)

On Friday morning, I took a class with Lee Meredith (aka Leethal) on her Triyang shawl pattern. It was a real mind bender and a lot of fun to knit, but I still have no idea how Lee came up with the idea in the first place! I will say that if you're up for an interesting knit and want to use up all of a skein of yarn, it's a great pattern -- Lee gives you a little worksheet so you can figure out exactly when to move from section to section and maximize your yarn usage. I went into the class expecting Lee to be a really outgoing and creative person based on her online persona, and while she is extremely creative, she was also incredibly shy -- even more so than I am -- but also incredibly nice. The class went by too fast, though I did finish up my little sample piece and am looking forward to knitting a full-size shawl.

On Friday afternoon, I took a spinning class with Jillian Moreno that focused on spinning batts. We received four batts with slightly different preparations to spin different ways as part of the class; I still have partials of them to play with at home.

Jillian was a hoot, very outgoing and funny. I just loved her advice about storing batts at the top of your fiber storage, because squishing them will "squeeze the love out of them."

Friday night was the Try It On Room, with the opportunity to try sweaters, shawls, and some other accessories. I didn't try on very much (mostly because I walked to dinner with some other attendees and was extremely sweaty and hot when we got back), but it was lots of fun to see other people try and to see quite a few shawl patterns in person.

Saturday was the final full day of the retreat, and it was also the hottest day of the whole trip (the high was predicted to be 100 degrees F, with a heat index of 107!). I met up with my new friend Monique to walk over the Nashville Parthenon before breakfast, then ate and got cleaned up for the main event -- the marketplace! I had decided when I first got in to SSK that I would take only cash for the market to avoid spending too much, and while I did do some serious damage to my yarn diet (who am I kidding -- I completely threw the yarn diet out the window!), I'm happy to report that I came back with money leftover.

But enough talking -- I know you want to see the haul! First was the goodie bag that I got when I arrived:

The bag is a soft but sturdy fabric with a water bottle pocket on each side and an adjustable strap so it can be worn cross body as well as over the shoulder. Inside was either yarn or fiber (I chose fiber; it's Falkland from Into the Whirled in a colorway called Tinkerbell's Unmentionables), a mini scale, a measuring tape bracelet, a mini batt from the Classy Squid Fiber Co., an Ann Budd gauge rule, various business cards with discount codes (not shown), and a KnitGirlls measuring tape and pen.

Now here come the purchases and acquisitions. First the project bags:

On the left is one from the Fat Squirrel, Amy Beth, who I was talking a lot with on Thursday without realizing who she was. On the right is the bag I won as a door prize the first night, which I believe was donated by a local yarn shop.

In the tools and notions category, I picked up another Lendrum bobbin and swatch gauge from Akerworks, a set of stitch markers and tin from Jelby, and a sheep stitch marker/progress keeper/zipper pull from WhimzeeStitches.

Because I'd gotten fiber in my goodie bag and had leftover batts from my spinning class, I made only one fiber purchase, and that was this set of organic Polwarth, bamboo, yak, silk, and sparkle "Nightmare" batts from Hobbledehoy. (As a side note, I spent much of Thursday hanging out with Liz and her mom, Jenny -- who you might know better as MarigoldJen -- and they are both the sweetest women. Liz and I discovered that our daughters are almost exactly the same age!)

I picked up exactly one spindle, though I was tempted by some others -- this beautiful rainbow-dyed Turkish from Subterranean Woodwork at the Knitty and Color booth (they're husband and wife).

This spindle weighs about an ounce, so it will be good for spinning something other than frog hair for a change.

Finally there's the yarn:

Left to right: Miss Babs Estrellita in Tennessee Cabin Retreat (the SSK exclusive colorway), Gynx Yarns Glitz Sock in Pure Illusion, Stranded Dyeworks Paradise in Sister, Gale's Art Wonder Sock in a dark charcoal colorway that seems to be unnamed, Twist Fiber Studio Fairview Fingering in Bollywood, and Yarn Carnival High Wire in Road to Magenta that I picked up from the freebie table

The last thing I came home with was an impressive collection of stitch markers from the swap:

I usually use pretty plain markers, so these are sure to add some excitement to my knitting and remind me of the wonderful time I had at SSK!

If you've made it to the end of this post, congratulations! I promise not to be quite so chatty in the next post!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Pattern Release: Wynne

You're probably getting sick of seeing this shawl by now, as you've seen it in various stages of completion twice over, but at least this time around I'm showing it to tell you that the pattern is finally available for purchase!

The idea for this shawl came to me quite a while ago, sometime last year. I originally wanted to do it in handspun, and my first two spinning projects of this year were intended to become the first sample, but the original combination turned out to not have enough contrast for my liking, so it was the end of February before I had two skeins that I was satisfied with, and it was late March before I found time to actually cast on. It's amazing how much time can pass when you're busy with life!

Although I had a picture in my head of how I wanted to shawl to look, I did do a certain amount of designing on the needles for this one. I had to do some swatching to get the short-row sections to look right and some knitting and ripping to get the spacing figured out. After the handspun version was done, I almost immediately cast on a second sample, both to check my numbers and to have a commercial sample with more reliable yarn amounts for the final pattern. I knew I had a winner on my hands when I didn't get bored knitting it the second time around. And I certainly hope you feel the same way!

The handspun version

Wynne is a crescent-shaped shawl that is worked from the top down. The shape is achieved by increasing six stitches every two rows (four stitches on right-side rows and two stitches on wrong-side rows). This increase rate gives you a shawl that very quickly gets very wide but overall isn't terribly deep, and I think that makes for a very wearable shawl that can double as a scarf. The increases I've used for this shawl are the m1 increases that Elizabeth Zimmermann was so fond of -- a simple backwards loop on the needle. They blend in very nicely with the garter stitch and are very easy to do.

The commercial yarn version, worked in Neighborhood Fiber Co. Rustic Fingering

Those wave-like areas are formed with wrap-and-turn short rows, which I think you'll find are very easy in garter stitch. A benefit of garter is that, if you want, you can often keep the wraps in place when you return to them, as they do blend in quite well (though I will add that I did pick mine up because I felt it made the fabric neater, but it's something you can try in your swatch and decide on your own).

The great thing about this pattern is that it's very easy to adjust. You can easily make it larger or smaller by adding or removing rows in the solid blocks of color without having to adjust any of the short-row segments (though, depending on where and how you adjust, the short rows will end up either more off to one side of the shawl or more toward the center).

While the inspiration for the actual design just popped into my head, the name has a very specific influence. The shape of this type of shawl always made me think a bit of gentle waves, especially the way the ends kind of curl up and hang just so, and that shape is echoed in the short-row sections. The shape and the flow of the design gave me a very calm, happy feeling, and that feeling reminded me of a friend from college. Wynne was a year or two older and was in my sorority, and I got to know her during my first couple of years there. She was one of the most serene people I've ever met, always calm and with a smile on her face. Moreover, I always loved her name (pronounced "win-NAY"), so this seemed the perfect opportunity to use it for a design.

As to the specs, you'll need two skeins of fingering weight yarn in contrasting colors (or not, depending on your preference), approximately 425 yds./388 m in length. I actually used less than 400 yds. of both colors in my samples, but I know not everyone is too diligent about swatching for shawls (guilty!) and I want to make sure you won't run out. You'll also need a circular that's at least 40 in./100 cm long, as you'll end up with close to 500 stitches on the needle by the end. The pattern is fully written out and has been professionally tech edited.

I'm so thrilled to finally be sharing this pattern with you today, and I hope that you love it as much as I do!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Tour's End

Today marks the end of the Tour de Fleece. While I wouldn't say I failed, I did accomplish significantly less than I'd hoped to this year, in large part because I was busy with knitting projects and life in general. I'd hoped in particular to burn through my giant bag of Southern Cross Fibre Charollais, but alas all I finished was one bobbin and the start of a second:

I'm going to continue spinning this until I'm done, but I no longer have an urgent deadline.

Because I couldn't take a wheel with me to SSK this weekend, I figured I would use the opportunity to work on my spindles. I did make some decent progress on my alpaca/silk, which has been in progress for more than a year now. The first cop has been wound off and the second is well under way.

I'll get to the full SSK recap later this week, once I've had time to fully process it, but I did come home to some fiber in the mail!

This was a prize from a knitalong in the 90% Knitting group on Ravelry, and it's a total of 4 oz. of 80% merino/20% angora from New Hue Handspun. I've never spun angora before, so this should be a fun experience!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Posting In Absentia

Thanks to the magic of the Internets, this post should automatically publish while I'm away at SSK in Nashville. I'll be taking two classes -- a knitting class with Lee Meredith and a spinning class with Jillian Moreno -- and spending my non-class time knitting, spindle spinning, and getting to know my fellow attendees.

I'll have a full recap when I'm back, but in the meantime I'll leave you with a picture of a little more Tour de Fleece spinning.

I finally started the second bobbin of my Southern Cross Fibre Charollais last night. I only made a small dent in the bundle of fiber, but I figure it's better than nothing.

Catch you on the flip side!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Planning, Prepping, and Tying Up Loose Ends

It is SSK eve, and I'm in a bit of a tizzy trying to get everything done and packed without forgetting something important. I've got a list of things that need to come with me and a reminder on my phone to check in for my flight, but there's always that feeling that something critical will be overlooked. Next to the actual travel (I hate flying), this is my least favorite part of vacations. But I'm really looking forward to the event itself, and I know that if I do forget something I need, it should be easy enough to get a replacement in Nashville.

One of the important things I couldn't forget is the set of stitch markers I've been making to take for the swap. Rainbow actually had been helping me with them quite a bit, but the part where I put them together was something only I could do. Fortunately the Mister was on bedtime duty last night, so I spent about 45 minutes after dinner assembling the pieces and securing everything with a drop of superglue. By this morning, all the stitch markers were dry and ready to go. I'm quite pleased with them, and I'm not at all ashamed that we kept some back for our own use.

Another important item on the to-do list was to wind yarn for a project I'm taking and swatch for said project. I really hoped to do both before leaving, and I did manage to get both done last night. The sweater I'll be knitting is the Driftwood Tee by Mercedes Tarasovich from Interweave Knits summer 2014, and I'll be knitting it up in some Blue Moon Fiber Arts Woobu that I bought when my former LYS was going out of business. The colorway is called Bleck and is very difficult to capture accurately with a camera -- it's a purple-y gray.

I knit the swatch on the recommended needle size (US 3/3.25 mm) and got a lovely fabric with good drape but my gauge is a bit off -- I'm getting 23 stitches over 4 inches rather than the called-for 25. I think going down a needle size would result in too dense a fabric, so I am going to stick to this gauge and make it work. The tee is designed to have a fair amount of positive ease and I was already going to make a larger size because of that, so I did a little math and found that if I go down one size, my tee should come out roughly the same size it would if I did the original size I'd picked and got gauge. On the plus side, the smaller size will use less yarn, so I should have a decent amount leftover (I have two skeins of the yarn, at 620 yards each).

The last crafty thing I wanted to do before I left was finish up at least one skein of yarn for Tour de Fleece, and I did do that Sunday night (though it certainly took its time drying!). This FatCatKnits Rambouillet in the colorway Dame Godel. I spun the fiber from end to end and chain plied the whole thing on Sunday (finishing just before bed).

The colors are a bit more vibrant in real life, if you can believe it, but the light was not great this morning. The green is indeed that neon, but there are some lovely blues in the areas where it looks gray. The finished skein is a fluffy fingering weight and roughly 492 yards. I'm still quite amazed at the yardage considering that I did ply it all in only a few hours. It was a delightful spin, and I love how elastic the finished yarn is -- my niddy noddy is 72 inches around, but after washing, this skein measures 56 inches around; if I put my hands inside the skein, I can stretch it out several inches. I still have another braid of FCK Rambo to spin, not that it will get done during TdF, but I have a feeling it will get on the wheel rather quickly.

If I can get everything packed up relatively quickly tonight, I will try to spin a little more of my Southern Cross Fibre Charollais, as I still have only the one bobbin done. I'm a bit disappointed that I didn't get more of that done in the past couple of weeks, but things happen, as I'm sure you all know.

My flight to Nashville is tomorrow evening, so I'll be working a half day and then running home to eat a quick lunch and finish throwing everything into my suitcase before leaving for the airport. I'm not sure how easily I'll be able to get online while I'm at the retreat or even how much time I'll have, so I hope you'll forgive me if the blog is a little silent while I'm away. I promise I'll have lots to share when I get back!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

One and Only?

Late last night, just before I went to bed, I finally finished spinning my FatCatKnits Rambouillet singles.

I started chain plying earlier today, and I'll do some more tonight, but it's looking more and more like this might be my one and only finished skein (when it does get finished, of course) for the entire Tour de Fleece. I'm a little disappointed that I didn't get more done, but it's been a busy couple of weeks and an especially busy weekend, and given that I'm leaving later this week for SSK, it's probably not too bad a showing. I'll be taking some spindle projects with me to give them some good attention, and I've certainly gotten a start on a larger spinning project, so it won't all be in vain. After all, it's all an individual challenge, and getting just one good skein done amid all the other stuff happening isn't bad.