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.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Enchanted

I know I have gushed over this shawl pattern before, namely how well the real-life version resembled the one in my head, but I have to share more pictures with you today. Rainbow and I did a little photo shoot when we got home yesterday evening, as the second sample was blocked and dry and for once there was sunshine outside, giving me great light. She was a great assistant, holding things just so and even taking a few photos herself. I think we ended up with some great shots; here are two of them:



The pattern is now with my tech editor, and I've asked her to look at it as soon as she can because I've gotten a lot of interest in the pattern and am anxious to publish.

Until I leave for SSK next Wednesday, my knitting will be fairly low key. I still have the socks on the needles, and I'm working to churn out a few more preemie hats to take with me. I might do a littles watching for a sweater this weekend if I decide to take the project with me to Nashville, but for the most part, I'm planning to spend the remainder of my time before I leave working on spinning projects.


This is where I left off on my FatCatKnits Rambouillet last night. The remaining fiber supply is getting smaller and smaller, but I still think I have probably two more nights' worth of spinning to finish all the singles. I'm hoping to have it plied up sometime this weekend and get a skein of Southern Cross Charollais finished before I leave, as the wheels will be staying at home (I'm planning to bring a spindle project or two with me).

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Tonight, Tonight

You see this shawl, this shawl here?


This sucker is getting done tonight! I knit like a madwoman last night, and as a result, I have exactly one row left to knit before I bind off. My plan is to do that immediately after dinner, weave in my ends, and then toss it in the bathtub to soak so I can pin it out and let it dry overnight. I've got the pattern just about ready to go, and my tech editor is ready to receive it, so there's just some final measurements and photos left to do before I can stick a fork in this one and call it done!

As of right now, other than some design swatching, the only other thing on my needles is my Desert Vista Dyeworks sock, which hasn't seen much action since last weekend.


I've only just started the heel flap (I'm maybe two rows in), so it's looking very likely that these will be coming with me to Nashville next weekend.

Once I've got the shawl situation squared away, my plan is to spend the rest of the evening (and likely the rest of the evenings this week) at my wheel, trying to make a dent in my Tour de Fleece spinning. Although I didn't set any specific goals, I'm feeling a bit like a slacker due to the fact that I might only finish up one measly skein of handspun the whole time. So I feel like I need to up my gear this week and really focus on the spins in progress.

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Through the Middle

I'll admit that I'm getting a lot less spinning done this Tour de Fleece than in past years, though I know that's precisely because I've been doing a lot of knitting as well. That said, I have made some noticeable progress on my FatCatKnits Rambouillet this weekend. Take a look at this progression:




I'm officially more than halfway done and have only about a yard of the top left to spin. I am hoping to finish spinning the singles over the next few days and ply by next weekend. I realized this weekend that I really only have about a week and a half before I leave for SSK, which means that I have only about a week and a half left at my wheels. Ideally I'd like to finish up at least one skein for each of the dyers whose teams I'm on before I leave, so if I can finish these singles soon, that should give me time to spin up the other two bobbins of Southern Cross Charollais singles. I'll probably have to do some marathon plying in the last couple of days, but I'll do what I need to -- Tour de Fleece only comes around once a year, after all!

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Playing the Long Game

With one exception, it seems that all of my current projects are ones that are long-term projects and will take a while to finish. I can put in serious chunks of time on them and only see a little bit of progress. But I know that regularly doing so will result in them getting done eventually.

I spent about 40 minutes at my wheel last night, working on my FatCatKnits Rambouillet singles. All I managed to get done is the lighter singles you can see here on the bobbin. It really doesn't look like much, and frankly it doesn't look like it used up that much fiber, but I'm sure if I pulled those singles off and measured them, I'd be surprised at their length. That's just how it goes with singles this fine.


I've reached the border on my shawl and am now at the point where the rows take between 10 and 15 minutes each, so even on a good night, I'm not managing more than about six or eight rows max. I've got 28 rows left to knit before I bind off, and I'm hopeful that if I continue the pace I've set thus far and squeeze in more time over the weekend, it just might be done by early next week. That timing would work out great because I could get the pattern off to my tech editor before I leave for SSK. If she's especially speedy, I might even be able to publish it before I leave.


The one project that has been moving along quickly is my Kerameia Cowl. I've been working on it every day this week (except for Tuesday) during my lunch break, and I expect I'll be able to finish it this evening.


I knit the original samples using a much longer needle, so it's a bit weird doing this one on a 16 inch circular and having the knitting all bunched up. I've been careful to spread out my work on the right needle to avoid puckering, but with the limited space to spread out, it's hard to tell that the fabric is smooth. It will be such a satisfying moment to bind off and stretch out the fabric to its full size.

I have had one stash enhancement this week, and it's a skein of Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce (superwash merino/nylon) in a Pittsburgh Penguins-inspired colorway called Elvis Has Left the Building. This skein will be used to make some socks for the start of next hockey season this fall.


For those of you who are not Pens fans and might be wondering about the unusual colorway name, allow me to enlighten you. It's a line from the Pens' longtime radio broadcaster, Mike Lange, who is well known for his colorful expressions in response to pivotal moments like great goals or big wins. When there's a big victory, it's very common to hear him exclaim, "And Elvis has just left the building!" (It may not make much sense in the new arena, but in the old Civic Arena, where the Pens used to play and which has since been knocked down, there was a plaque commemorating the date when Elvis did in fact perform there -- and then left the building.)

The weekend ahead should be a good one for crafting. The Mister and Rainbow are headed to a picnic at Kennywood, our local amusement park, on Saturday, provided the weather holds, so I'll have the house to myself for several hours. I may try to knock out another bobbin of Charollais singles or do some binge watching of something or other and work on the long shawl rows. Whatever you have planned, I hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Multitasking

In past years during the Tour de Fleece, I have virtually stopped all my knitting projects in favor of spinning. No so this year -- I've got projects to finish! I've been spending every evening working on my second shawl sample, and it is finally approaching the end. All the contrast stripes are done in the main body of the shawl, and I've got two more garter ridges to go before I switch over to the red and begin the border.


I also cast on a new project for my lunchtime knitting, and it's another Kerameia Cowl using my leftovers from one of the original pattern samples. I have enough to knit two, one in each colorway combination, and this time I get to keep and wear them!


I'm knitting this on a 16 inch circular needle, so the knitting is a bit bunched up, but trust me that it's turning out just fine.

I'm not completely ignoring the spinning, though -- it is still Tour de Fleece, so I am still trying to spend some time spinning every day. We did our Independence Day celebration at lunch today, so I spent a couple of hours at my wheel this afternoon after everyone had left and worked on my FatCatKnits Rambouillet. It's slow going due to the fineness of the singles, but I did make noticeable progress.


I've added at least two layers of singles to this bobbin, though there's still quite a bit of fiber left to spin. I'd estimate I'm about a quarter of the way done at this point. So I imagine you'll be seeing a lot more of the bobbin in the days to come!

If you're in the United States, I hope you're having a fun, relaxing Independence Day! Everyone else, I hope you're having a good Tuesday!

Sunday, July 02, 2017

And We're Off!

While I certainly don't need an excuse to spin, I look forward to the Tour de Fleece every year because it's a chance to really focus on my spinning. I think we really lucked out with having the Tour start on a weekend this year [EDIT: I've just been informed that the Tour de France always starts on the first Saturday in July -- apparently I haven't been paying much attention!], and I found myself with quite a bit of time at the wheel. Yesterday, especially, I did a lot of spinning. It was a generally gloomy day for much of the day, and while we did venture out a bit to do our grocery shopping, most of the day was spent doing our favorite leisure activities. Rainbow watched some favorite Disney shows and played with Legos, the Mister took a nap and later went for a run, and I was at my wheel.

I'm working on fiber from Southern Cross Fibre and FatCatKnits primarily this year, and my SCF project is a large one -- I'm attempting to spin a total of 550 g of Charollais. You may remember that I split up the fiber into six bundles last week, and yesterday I spun the first one of them.


This particular bundle was 92 g (I weighed all of them before I started spinning; they're more or less even, give or take 5 g or so). I discovered that this fiber spins fairly well long draw, even though I think the preparation is top. The singles certainly aren't super even, but then with woolen spinning, they're really not meant to be. I have no idea how much yarn I'll end up with, but I should have two good-sized skeins when I'm done. Perhaps I'll end up pairing them with the yarn I spin from this lovely, woolly bag of chocolate Bond that arrived late last week:


This picture doesn't do it justice -- it's so much richer in color than it looks here. David was offering this fiber at such a bargain that I just couldn't resist.

Meanwhile, today I started a new spin, FCK Rambouillet in one of Ginny's TdF colorways, Dame Godel.


This I'm spinning very fine, from one end of the top to the other, and I'll chain ply when I'm done. This fiber, as I expected, is drafting effortlessly, though I think it will take a while to get through it all. But there is a holiday coming up on Tuesday, and that means bonus spinning time!