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.