Thursday, August 16, 2018

Preparations

While design knitting is still happening during my lunch break (some of which will be frogged today), I've spent the last two evenings working on a swatch for my Floozy cardigan in preparation for the pattern's release tomorrow. Normally it doesn't take me quite that long to knit a swatch, but there have been other things taking up my time this week, so I haven't had as much knitting time as usual.


The swatch was still a little damp this morning, so I haven't measured it yet, but I am keeping my fingers crossed that I'm close enough on gauge. The top of this swatch was knit on a US 2.5/3 mm needle and the bottom on a US 2/2.75 mm. I measured the top before washing and I was far enough off that I didn't think it would work, particularly as I expected the yarn to bloom a bit when washed. The recommended gauge for the pattern is 27 stitches and 37 rows over 4 inches, and the pattern recommends a US 4/3.5 mm needle. I normally get about 24 stitches over 4 inches with a US 4, so I knew I'd have to go down in size, but I'm surprised that going down even two sizes might not be enough. I know that a US 1 will be too much, but if the US 2 doesn't work, I do have a US 1.5/2.5 mm to try. The idea of knitting an entire sweater on that small of a needle gives me a bit of pause, though. It's not that I'm uncomfortable using small needles; I just worry that a sweater might be doomed to become a slog because of the slow progress. So please send good thoughts that the US 2 gives me gauge (or at least close enough to it to work)!

While the knitting hasn't been prolific, my reading has been lately. I've been devouring e-books (mainly because I'm able to read them on the computer at work when it's slow) and have finished quite a few in the past week or so:
  • The White Queen: I'd bought this Kindle book a while back, likely when it was on sale, because I'd watched the Starz miniseries a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. Like all Philippa Gregory books, you have to go into it knowing that while it's based on history, it's highly sensationalized. It's not fine literature, but it was an enjoyable and easy read. I gave it four stars.
  • The Miniaturist: I'm fairly certain I'd see the cover of this book and heard the name a few times in the past year or so, but I never looked into it until I heard that it was being made into a PBS miniseries that will air later this year. I was intrigued by the summary, so I borrowed it online from the library. I was fully absorbed by it almost as soon as I started it and read the entire thing in two days. It's a very original story that is beautifully written. My only complaint is that the true nature of the miniaturist is never fully explained (though perhaps that's intentional). I gave this book five stars.
  • Sing, Unburied, Sing: This book won the National Book Award and got a lot of buzz when it came out, so naturally I wanted to see what all the buzz was about. I should have known that I would have issues with it after reading the first scene, which involves the slaughter of a goat. While the book is well written and emotionally moving, I found it really hard to read. The subject matter is not easy to take -- there's drug abuse, incarceration, physical violence, child neglect, and illness running throughout the book -- and I found it really unsettling. I gave the book three stars because of this.
  • Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis: This was another much-talked-about book and one that I'd been meaning to read for some time. It was a really thought-provoking read, a combination of memoir and sociological study, and really well written. I gave it four of five stars, mainly because while I really enjoyed reading it and how much it made me think, it's not a book I could see reading more than once.
  • The Orphan's Tale: I just finished this book yesterday, and it was another quick read. I picked it because it was on my Goodreads "want to read" list thanks to a recommendation from a friend a couple of years ago. I have read a lot of WWII/Holocaust fiction over the years, but this was a very different take on the genre, and I enjoyed it. I gave it four stars.
This weekend, in addition to maximizing my crafting time, I'm hoping to spend some extra time reading the hard-copy book that I'm currently in the middle of: We Were the Lucky Ones. It's taking me longer than I'd like to get through this one, not because the book isn't a good read but because I can only manage a handful of pages each night before I go to bed. If only I could read it during the day!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Twofer Tuesday

As of just a little bit ago, I have two finished hats on this gloomy Tuesday.


This is a new design using one of my favorite breed-specific yarns, the Ross Farm's Shetland Sport. I didn't think I liked Shetland as a wool breed until I knit with this yarn. It's incredibly soft (the previous Shetlands I'd knit with were decidedly scratchy), and because it's yarn from the farm that's minimally processed, there's still a bit of lanolin left in the yarn, which has an added benefit of softening my hands as I work with it. The other thing I love about working with this yarn (and really any yarn from the Ross Farm) is that it's not only breed specific, but you know the actual sheep who supplied the fleece for the yarn -- the sheep's name and picture appear right on the label! The sheep who had a hand (hoof?) in making these hats are Marigold and Nassau. Marigold, the lighter of the two colors, actually supplied the yarn I used for my Smithfield Scarf, and it's interesting to see how she's gotten lighter in color as she's gotten older.

The pattern for this hat is in progress and (fingers crossed) should be on its way to my tech editor soon.

I've got more design knitting ahead, including some that I won't be able to show you, so would you settle for seeing some yarn that's recently joined the stash?

First, last week I finally got my very first skein of Voolenvine Yarns, and it was one I was really coveting. If you are a fan of indie-dyed yarns, then you've likely heard about the recent Tits Out Collective that many indie dyers were participating in. I tried to get my hands on a skein of Kristin's first batch but was too slow, and miraculously, I was successful in my second attempt. So now I have a skein on her Blitzed base (superwash Merino, nylon, and gold Stellina) to do something fun with.


I also received yarn late last week from an order from the Woolly Thistle for a Floozy cardigan. I decided to try out some Blacker yarn for this sweater (in part because I'd gotten a discount code from the Woolly Thistle that was good on some of their yarns) and picked out three colors of Blacker Classic 4-ply. The main color will be Pale Blue:


And for the contrast colors, I'll be using Mid Blue:


and Mustard:


While most of the yarn has been moved up to the stash room, I've got one ball of the Pale Blue patiently waiting in the bedroom to be used for a swatch. The pattern drops this Friday, so I really ought to get onto that!

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Spinning the Sunset

I haven't been spinning as much this past week, what with the rush to finish up Rainbow's socks and the excitement of casting on new things, but I did manage to finish spinning up the superwash Targhee singles from the fiber Rainbow selected.


This colorway is called Tropical Sunset, which certainly is fitting for that lovely pinkish orange at the end, but I think the blue-purple that's underneath looks rather like my favorite shake of hydrangeas.

I'll be letting these singles rest and then chain plying each bobbin separately for two skeins of yarn that I hope will be relatively equal. I originally thought this yarn would become socks, but Rainbow has requested legwarmers instead. I can work with that!

Meanwhile, I did spend a little time today playing with some other fiber. I pulled out my washed Romney/Romeldale fleece and carded up a little batt.


This fluffy pillow is only about 25 grams. But it's very fluffy, after three passes through the drum carder, and I think it will be nice to spin. Obviously there's still a ton of the fleece left to card, and I'll have to devote some serious time to get that done, but it's a start, and I like the direction things are heading.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

One Satisfied Customer

My baby girl is back home! Tuesday turned out to be an exhausting day -- I actually walked between my house and my office four times over the course of the day -- but it was good to have her home and to go to sleep knowing that she was sleeping across the hall.

I had Rainbow try on the knee socks once she was settled so we could determine the correct finished length, and she said they needed about half an inch more to be (in her words) perfect. That was a very easy fix, so I was able to finish them up that night.

Please note that she posed like this on her own, with no direction from me.

Pattern: Toe-up stockinette, worked over 60 stitches, with a Fish Lips Kiss Heel
Yarn: Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce (80% superwash Merino, 20% nylon) in Martini Bar (club colorway), 0.84 skeins
Needles: US 0 (2.0 mm) Addi Sock Rockets, magic loop
Started/Completed: July 21/August 7

When I started these socks, I knew I'd want to have the ability to knit until I ran out of yarn, so I wound the yarn into a cake and then put it on my scale so I could wind another that was half the weight. Because of the long stripe sequence, I also didn't worry about getting the stripes to match (though they did end up close). I used the template I'd made of Rainbow's feet for the FLKH method, giving her just a bit of extra room in the foot so she won't outgrow them right away. I didn't increase at all in the leg, either, counting on that negative ease to help keep them up. They're entirely in stockinette, finished with 2.5 inches of 2x2 ribbing at the top. Easy-peasy -- just a lot of knitting. Amazingly, I have yarn leftover, which is surprising given that these aren't all that much smaller than the socks I make for myself and have legs that are 11.5 inches long.

Rainbow is thrilled with them, and that means so am I. I'm not sure how much she'll actually wear them, though, so I will wait a bit until I knit her another very large pair of socks.

Because I finished these on Tuesday night before bed and didn't have more time to knit until my lunch break yesterday, I had a brief period of time yesterday when I had nothing -- literally nothing -- on the needles. It was pure torture, let me tell you. Fortunately, I had yarn and needles with me to cast on for something new, so the torture didn't last too long. I am knitting up a new hat design using yummy Shetland yarn from the Ross Farm. It doesn't look like much now, but I'll be adding in a bit of colorwork soon using another color.


All of the farm's yarns are breed specific, undyed, and minimally processed, so while that does mean that I'm pulling out a bit of VM here and there while I'm knitting, my hands are also getting nice and soft from the bit of lanolin that's still in the wool. This Shetland is so soft, too! One of these days, I might have to knit myself a sweater out of this stuff.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Mission Accomplished?

Today is the day: Rainbow arrives home from camp at about noon! I can't wait to see her and hear all about her week at camp. Plus, I have some almost-finished socks for her!


I know I said that my mission was to get these finished by the time she got home, and I very well could have, but I realized last night that I didn't have a measurement of how long her legs are and thus didn't really know where to stop knitting, so I pretty much need her to try them on so I know where to bind off. I was hoping that I would have run out of yarn by now, solving the problem for me, but I think this must be some kind of magic ever-lasting skein of yarn because those legs are 11 inches long already and I still have a bit more than 20 grams of yarn (or roughly 80 yards) left. So we'll have to see where they're hitting at this point and determine whether or not I'm done.

I have no other projects on the needles right now, but I do have two skeins of yarn all wound up for a new design project, and then this pretty stuff arrived on my doorstep yesterday:


This is Stranded Dyeworks Oasis, Amy's superwash merino/nylon fingering weight base, in the colorway Four Two Two Four. It was her SSK colorway for this year, and as I never made it in off the wait list, I figured I could do the next best thing and order the yarn from her. I ordered this intending to use it for a single-color Archer (apparently 2018 is my year of pullovers), and it's really hard not to cast on immediately, but I have other stuff that has to get done first -- and of course there's swatching to be done before I can actually start. Still, it was a nice treat to get home yesterday after a long day at work and find some yarny goodness waiting for me!

Sunday, August 05, 2018

Mashup

Last week I showed you my leftovers bobbin, a Lendrum bobbin that I've been using for the past several years to hold little bits of singles leftover from other projects. Occasionally I've spun some singles directly onto it when I've gotten a small sample of fiber with a fiber purchase or something. After finishing my last Tour de Fleece spin, I couldn't decide what to spin next, so I pulled out that bobbin and some small fiber samples from a fiber "tasting" I went to a number of years ago and decided to add onto it until it couldn't hold any more. This is what it looked like when it reached that point:


I spent two evenings chain-plying all these singles earlier in the week, and the resulting skein was positively humongous. I was hoping for somewhere between 400 and 500 yards; I ended up with a bit more than 600.


The skein is a little messy (that's the problem with winding huge skeins -- there's a difference in skein diameter between the earlier-wound-on strands and those wound on toward the end), so I'll have to reskein it, but I'm quite impressed with myself. I'd been gathering leftovers so long that I genuinely have no recollection what most of these fiber bits are. All I know for sure is that there's wool throughout, but there's also likely some alpaca, some silk, some bamboo and/or tencel, and some sparkle. This skein would make a great stockinette or garter shawl, one where you want the yarn to do the work for you. Once I reskein and take some decent photos, this will likely be going up in my FiberCrafty shop.

Did I mention that I now have a FiberCrafty shop? I can't remember. I closed my Etsy store when they raised the fees and moved my handspun skeins over. I'll be adding to my inventory there as I have time to photograph skeins and put up listings, so if you're interested in getting your hands on some of my yarn, that's where you'll find it now.

I still couldn't make up my mind about my next spinning project, so I let Rainbow make the choice for me. She'd picked out some superwash Targhee at the HipStrings studio when we went for their Small Business Saturday sale last year, and she pulled it out and asked me to spin it before she left for camp. Originally she wanted me to spin for fingerless mitts, but when I told her I'd have enough yarn leftover from the pair I just made to knit her some, she decided on socks. The fiber was a lovely gradient that looked very much like a sunset, so I split it in half lengthwise to do two chain-plied skeins.


I've just started into the coral color on the first bobbin. I've switched over to my standard Lendrum flyer and Akerworks bobbin to change things up a bit. It's actually quite a bit quieter than my WooLee Winder, which is nice, but I've gotten so used to spinning on that flyer that it's been a challenge to remember to stop every now and then and move the yarn guide. I suppose in terms of ergonomics it's a good thing, as it's keeping me from sitting in one position for too long, but it also feels a bit slower. Fortunately I haven't set any sort of deadline for this spin, so I'm taking my time with it and savoring it. Targhee is one of my favorite wools to spin, and I'm glad that when this one is done I have several more braids in my stash that I can spin!

Thursday, August 02, 2018

On a Mission

Yesterday morning, the Mister and I put Rainbow on a bus to overnight camp. She's there for a week for her first overnight camp experience, and while I know she'll have a fantastic time, I also know it's going to be a hard week for me without her. So far I've held it together, but I'll admit that the house feels weirdly empty.

I only have one project on the needles at the moment (don't worry, I'm sure I'll be casting on one or ten new projects any moment), so I've decided to channel most of my energy into it. That project is socks I'm knitting for Rainbow, and I thought it would be great if I could have them finished in time for her return home next Tuesday. I think it's a realistic goal, particularly if I can hold off the urge to cast on new projects and focus solely on this one.


Meanwhile, I had a nice little surprise waiting for me when I got home (to an empty house) yesterday evening. I found out late last week that I'd won a prize via the Yarn Harlot's annual tradition of Karmic Balancing Gifts for those who contribute to her team's fundraising efforts for the bike rally she rides in. It was here in yesterday's mail:


This is Isager Spinni Wool 1, a lovely laceweight singles yarn from Denmark. I already have a pattern in mind for this yarn: Budburst. I have a little less yardage than the pattern calls for, but given how it's knit, it should be easy to make it slightly smaller with the yardage that I have. I'm tempted to cast on -- but the socks must get done first!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Hello, Mojo

An intense three weeks of spinning is officially over, and while I'm not burned out on spinning, I have noticed an increase in my desire to knit. I want to cast on all the things! But before I do that, I figured I should finish what's already on the needles, so last night I sat down and finished up the fingerless mitts. Rainbow was kind enough to take some photos for me today -- I think she's got a lot of potential as a knitwear photographer!


I'm very happy with how these have turned out, and thanks to being home with Rainbow the past two days (she leaves tomorrow for her first stay at overnight camp, so I wanted to spend some extra time with her), I've managed to get these and the pattern done and off to my tech editor.

So now the only project on the needles is Rainbow's socks, which are moving right along.


I took the first sock to a movie over the weekend and finished the foot, so I figured I'd cast on the second and get it to the same point. I rarely knit my socks in tandem, but considering I'm planning to knit until the yarn runs out, I thought it might be useful to have both socks going at once so I can make them match as much as possible.

I have a feeling more projects will be cast on by the time I post again. I've gotten two skeins of yarn out of the stash to wind for a new hat and I've also got an idea for a shawl for some yarn I picked up at TNNA in June. The mojo is back, big time!

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Spin, Span, Spun: Tour de Fleece 2018

It's been a wonderful and productive three weeks and now I find myself on the final day of the Tour de Fleece. I look forward to this event every year because it's such a wonderful motivator to get my spinning projects done. I have probably spun more in other years (like years before I had a small person taking up a good deal of my time), but I'm extremely pleased with what I accomplished this year. Here is a shot of all the finished spinning from the past three weeks:


Three of these skeins have been completed in the past two days. I finished plying up the second chocolate Bond skein yesterday, for another 277.5 yards. When that plying was done, I decided to start spinning some mini batts I'd made with some of the leftover Buoy fiber from my Boxy spin and a bit of silk. I ended up spinning up all the singles last night (yes, I stayed up a little late), and then this morning, I wound off all the singles on my ball winder, so that I could ply from both ends. Here's the resulting skein, prewashing:


It's in the bath now, so I won't know final yardage until it's dry, but I'm thinking somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 yards. I also Andean plied the leftover singles of the Bond for the mini skein you can see in the above photo.

I'm not sure what I'm going to spin next -- frankly, there are several projects I'd like to start and I'm having a hard time deciding -- so I pulled out my bobbin of leftovers and some fiber samples, and I guess I'll try to fill it up before deciding on the next spin.


When I can't get any more singles on this bobbin, I'll chain ply everything. I've been accumulating little bits of singles so long that I have no recollection what's underneath what you see here (nor, for that matter, do I really remember the content of what I can see).

In looking at all the spinning I got done over the past three weeks, I think what's most notable is that with the exception of the one skein of sock yarn, all my TdF spinning this year was done woolen. It's something I am not so good at, so it was really helpful for me to have all that practice. I've definitely gotten better and certainly more confident at it, and boy does it ever go quickly! The skein I spun yesterday and plied today was 99 g/3.5 oz. of fiber, and it all got done in just a few hours. I have a feeling there is a lot more woolen spinning in my future!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Winding Down

It's almost the end of the week and almost the end of the Tour de Fleece, and I am more than ready for the four-day weekend I have ahead of me. Rainbow leaves for a week of overnight camp next Wednesday, so I thought I would take off a couple of days to spend some extra time with her, especially because this is the first time she'll be away from us for more than an overnight trip to her grandparents'. I'm looking forward to getting a little more sleep, a little more cuddle time, and of course a bit more crafting time.

Tour de Fleece officially ends on Sunday, so I've spent much of my crafting time this past week trying to finish up my second skein of chocolate Bond from Southern Cross Fibre. I finished up the second bobbin last night and got just a bit of a start on the third and final bobbin.


These bobbins were much easier to spin that the first three, and I think my singles have gotten a bit more consistent as I've gotten used to the fiber, so perhaps my yardage will be a bit better on the second skein. I will say that I'll be glad to be finished with it, though, because as lovely as the fiber is, spinning dark fiber at night is not the best experience.

While I do enjoy all the spinning I do this time of year, it's served another function in getting me excited about knitting again. I was a bit bored with knitting after finishing up my handspun Boxy, understandably, and didn't feel much like starting anything new (I'm sure the hot, humid weather didn't help). But suddenly I feel like casting on All The Things, so clearly my mojo is back. I finished up the first of the fingerless mitts during my lunchtime knitting today.


This knit up so quickly that I'm fairly confident that I can have the second one done by the time I go back to work next week if I just focus on it. Good thing, too, because I have a list of new design ideas I want to tackle!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

It's FDW Week, Apparently

Without intending it, I've apparently been working with nothing but Fibernymph Dye Works yarn over the past week or so. First, I finished a pair of socks for me:


Pattern: Non-Euclidian
Yarn: FDW Bounce (80% superwash Merino/20% nylon) in Winter Critters
Needles: US 0 (2.0 mm) Addi Sock Rockets, magic loop
Started/Finished: July 1/July 21
Mods: adapted the pattern to 68 stitches

As you can see, I didn't even bother to try to match up the stripes on these. The repeat was so long that it wasn't worth it to me for all the joins and extra ends I'd have to deal with to try to get them to match. The only adjustment I made to the pattern was to use a stitch count between two sizes because I realized I wanted a bit more negative ease than I was getting from my original pair.

As soon as these were off the needles, I almost immediately cast on another pair -- this time for Rainbow, who's been patiently waiting for her next pair.

Is it just me, or does this picture remind you of Hei Hei from Moana?

The yarn is Bounce again, this time the final shipment of the Happy Hour Yarn Club in a colorway called Martini Bar. I divided the yarn in half when I wound it up and am knitting these socks toe up so that I can knit until I run out; the hope is that I'll have enough to make the socks knee-highs. I'm not feeling too rushed on these, as Rainbow isn't likely to wear them anytime soon, but ideally I'll have them finished in the next month so that I can count them for Stash Dash*.

Meanwhile, I have a new lunchtime knitting project in -- you guessed it! -- FDW yarn. Lisa had asked me earlier this summer if I could come up with a pattern for her Inversibles yarn that wasn't socks to give people some other ideas of what to do with it. I'd been meaning to make a pair of fingerless mitts using the stitch pattern from my Corbusier Socks, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. I'm maybe halfway through the first mitt and I really like how the striping pattern is playing with the stitch pattern.


I'm knitting these on size 1/2.25 mm needles, and it's so strange to me how big they feel! I am so used to knitting on size 0's that the needles themselves feel huge and the gauge I'm getting feels incredibly loose, even though I know it's not. It's hard to be believe that I used to knit socks on needles even larger than these! I guess I'm getting more relaxed as I get older -- not entirely a bad thing!


*I'm already a smidge over 12,000 meters in my Stash Dash total, so I guess I'm going for 15K! The spinning is definitely helping, so if I can spin up a few more skeins before the end of the summer, I should be golden.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

What Can Brown Do for You?

There has been a lot of spinning happening this weekend, and to be honest, it's a bit boring. But first, here's my most recent finished skein, the HipStrings Tour de Fleece colorway:


I am absolutely in love with this skein. It's the kind of spinning I used to do all the time -- three-ply fingering weight for socks -- but have been out of practice on for a while. I was a bit disappointed with the yardage (382 yards when I was hoping for 400+) but I can't be unhappy with it when it came out so nice looking!

Once that skein was done, I set my sights on the Southern Cross Fibre chocolate Bond I wanted to spin to go with the Charollais I finished up earlier in the Tour. I was hoping to be able to spin it the same way (long draw from top) if I could so that I could use the two colors together. I mostly succeeded, though this fiber didn't cooperate as nicely as the Charollais did, so there was a lot of starting and stopping and pulling out slubs of fiber. But at least it was fast: I spun up these three bobbins in the span from Friday night to Saturday night:


And earlier this afternoon, I plied most of the singles into another giant skein:


I've since wound it on my niddy noddy and put it in to soak. I hope that it'll be dry by tomorrow so I can measure the final yardage. The good news is that the plied yarn looks about right, so I'll be spinning up the remaining fiber to match. I've got a week left to finish it, and if I can spin at the same pace, that should be no problem. By next week's Sunday post, I should have a nice pile of finished Tour de Fleece spinning to show off!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Simplicity

It's been a busy week, perhaps no busier than usual, but it has felt more tiring and chaotic than normal. Part of that is probably that I've been much more active due to a slight change in Rainbow's schedule. She was pretty miserable going to the after camp program we'd signed her up for, so I talked to people at work and people at camp, and she's now coming to my office for a little bit at the end of the day. That means more walking for me, because I now have to walk to the bus stop to meet her at the bus and then walk back to the office with her. On the plus side, I have been hitting and exceeding my daily step goal every day this week, but that's also meant some very sweaty ends to my days. So it's been good to have some simple pleasures to indulge in this week.

Now that my handspun Boxy is officially done, the only project I have on my needles is a simple pair of socks for me that are just about complete. I turned the heel yesterday, so now I'm just cruising down the foot. I'm only about two inches away from starting the toe, so I expect they'll be done by the weekend.


I'm also working on plying up my skein of the HipStrings Tour de Fleece colorway into a three-ply fingering weight yarn for socks. I started plying last night and actually did quite a bit of work on it, but it's not done yet. I'll aim to finish it this evening; with any luck, I'll finish the actual plying with enough time to skein and wash the yarn before bed.


Reading has been good for me as well this week. I finished up an amazing book on Tuesday, The Song of Achilles. I had bought it several weeks ago when it was a Kindle deal, mainly because I'd heard of another of the author's books getting a lot of buzz and wanted to check this one out first. I was not disappointed. The writing is beautiful and the story gives an entirely new perspective to an ancient tale. If you're interested in ancient Greek history (perhaps, like me, you studied some classics in college), it's a must read.

I'm also in the middle of a book I got as a hand-me-down from my mother: My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry. It's written by Fredrik Backman, who also wrote the very popular A Man Called Ove, which I read in just a few days last year while we were on vacation. This one is just as good. I found it a little hard to get into at the beginning, mainly because it's told from the point of view of a 7-year-old girl and there are a lot of questions that aren't answered until later in the book. I have less than 100 pages to go and hope to be able to finish it up this weekend.

I'm looking forward to another low-key weekend here. The weather is supposed to be hot, humid, and rainy, so it will be yet another good weekend to lay low and enjoy the extra crafting time.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Eight Months, Three Days

In case you're wondering, that's how much time it takes to spin for and knit a fingering-weight oversized sweater.

Yes, that's right, it's done!


Pattern: Boxy by Joji Locatelli
Yarn: handspun from four colors of HipStrings Buoy fiber (BFL/Shetland/Manx Loaghtan)
Yarn Started/Completed: November 11, 2017/March 31, 2018
Sweater Started/Completed: May 1/July 14
Mods: added length to the body and sleeves

This FO is a long time coming. It was a monumental project, really. I have spun for sweaters before, but I'm fairly certain this was the most spinning (and knitting, for that matter) that I've done for a sweater before. And I have to say that I am very happy with how it all worked out.


To recap, I bought fiber for this last fall during a HipStrings open studio even for Spinzilla. I originally bought two braids each of three colorways: Mussels (the dark purple), Bay (the medium blue), and Sky (the lightest blue). I later bought three more braids of fiber, thinking what I had wouldn't be enough. I inadvertently bought a fourth color, Depths instead of Bay, at this point, but because my plan was to do a fade, I made it work.

The fade was done in the spinning. I spun one skein of each of the three main colors alone using about 6 oz. of each color. Then I did two 8 oz. skeins in which I gradually faded from one color to the adjacent color. I did this by changing the makeup of each of the three plies of the yarn. There were four sections of each fade skein. It started with three strands of color A. Then it moved to two plies of color A and one of color B, then one of color A and two of color B, and finally three of color B. The only place I had to manually fade the colors is the area just below the bust, and that was in the transition from Depths to Bay. You can see it if you look really closely, but I don't think it's terribly obvious.

When I got to the yoke, I divided each section of the remaining skeins in half so that the front and back would match. I finished up the sleeves with the Sky-only skein (also divided in half).


I ended up using much less yarn than I spun. I eliminated the entirety of the Bay-only skein, and I also omitted the Mussels section of the Mussels-to-Depths skein. The sleeves used only about half of the Sky-only skein. In total, I used approximately 1,615 yards, leaving me 700-ish yards of the total I spun.

My only modifications to this pattern were adding about four inches of length to the body (I wanted this to be big and cozy and didn't see the point of making the body cropped) and continuing to work the sleeves until they came down to my wrists, incorporating four additional decreases.

So it's done. Do I love it? Hard to say. I think because it's so hot outside, I'm having a hard time thinking about wearing it. But I think it's going to get a ton of wear this fall and winter, and I'm pretty sure I'll fall in love with it then. For now, I'm very happy with it. I love how the yarn turned out and how it knit up as I planned. And I'm certainly happy to finally be done with such a huge project!

Sunday, July 15, 2018

One Really Big Skein

It's been quite a weekend for finishing things! Most notably, yesterday morning I finished plying my giant skein of Southern Cross Fibre Charollais, and it was so big and poofy that I actually had to manually wind the last couple of yards onto the bobbin because the flyer would no longer turn. I almost immediately skeined it and tossed it in to soak, and it was finally dry this afternoon.


This skein is so enormous that it took quite a feat of strength to twist it into this quasi-hank. It is super squishy and elastic, too. While it looks to be perhaps a bit thicker than the first skein, yardage-wise it's right there: The first skein was 355 yards and the second is 358. Pretty darn close! Here they are together:


The brown fiber around the skeins is chocolate Bond from Southern Cross that I'm hoping to spin into two skeins to match the purple ones. Ideally, I'd like to knit a big, cozy colorwork sweater using the two (maybe a Lopapeysa?).

Before I start spinning the Bond, though, I want to finish up my other Tour de Fleece spin in progress, and I've literally just completed the second bobbin of those singles:


This is the TdF colorway from HipStrings on superwash domestic wool (meaning no particular breed -- likely just wool from the wool pool). I'm doing a three-ply fingering with this, and the third bobbin is just barely started. I imagine that if I focus on it, I'll have it done in the next couple of evenings.

Lest you think I'm spinning up all my fiber, I have some new acquisitions courtesy of the Southern Cross fiber club. These arrived in one package yesterday; I got an e-mail from Australia Post that they'd been delivered just as I finished up my Charollais skein!

June's shipment is called Allegory and is on oatmeal BFL, so it has that wonderful depth of shade from the natural color of the fiber.


The colors of this really make me think of fall leaves when some are just beginning to turn but there's still a fair amount of green. I think I will likely spin a fingering-weight two ply out of this.

July's shipment is on Polwarth, my absolute favorite fiber, and is in a colorway called Plot Twist.


When David posted the spoiler of this color on Ravelry, I literally gasped out loud. And then, because he'd posted that he had limited extras in his shop, I hopped on over and bought more. So I have four more bags of this on their way to me so that I can spin for another sweater. I'm thinking a traditional three-ply fingering weight so that the colors can be fairly mixed up and I won't have to worry about alternating skeins or doing any complex measuring.

There was some more major finishing this weekend -- but you'll have to wait until my next post to find out about that!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Three on Thursday, Spinning Edition

I'm borrowing today's title from my friend Kat, who does a "Three on Thursday" post every week. It seemed a fitting title for today's post given that I now have three completed bobbins of Charollais singles!


I finished up the last one last night and added onto it the leftover singles from the first skein (which I had very thoughtfully wound off from the bobbins and tucked into the bag with the completed skein and remaining fiber) so that I can use up as much as possible. As tempting as it is to get right into plying these, I think I will let them sit on the bobbins one more day to take a break from this project and work on my other Tour de Fleece project for a bit.

Meanwhile, I did step away from the wheel briefly last night to work on my handspun Boxy, which is so close to completion I can taste it.


I believe I have something like 65 rounds left to knit on the second sleeve, and the only finishing I'll need to do once that sleeve is complete is weave in the sleeve's two ends and block (and boy does this need a serious blocking!). If I ignored my spinning for a couple of evenings, I have no doubt I'd get it done, but I know that's not likely to happen. I'm pretty sure that I can knock out the rest of the sleeve by the end of the weekend, though, so with any luck, next Tuesday's post will be a big FO post!

The weekend ahead is supposed to be hot, humid, and rainy, so I won't feel guilty for hiding in the air conditioning inside and crafting for most of it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Last Legs

This week it feels like a lot of things are coming together and creating the right conditions to finish up some big (or big-ish) projects. First of all, I've got two bobbins of singles spun up for the second skein of Southern Cross Fibre Charollais and will, with any luck, have the third and final bobbin done tonight.


In the grand scheme of things, this isn't such a huge project -- I've certainly spun much larger quantities before -- but considering that the first skein was finished a year ago, it feels very good to put this spin-in-progress to bed.

The bigger project, and once that really has been ongoing for quite a long time, is my handspun Boxy. I finished the first sleeve and picked up for the second over the weekend, so if I can just pull myself away from the spinning for a bit, this sweater might actually get done this week.


Although it still looks a little awkward because it hasn't yet been blocked, I've tried on the sweater and it fits. It is much longer than the original, intentionally, but if it ends up being too long after blocking, a bit of sweater surgery might be required. I'm a little amazed at this possibility considering that I have a significant amount of yarn leftover or unused despite adding additional length and making the sleeves full length, though I suppose that having too much yarn is a much better position to be in than not having enough. This project was started last November (the spinning, anyway) and cast on May 1 of this year, so I will be very, very excited to see it done.

In other non-long-term project news, I'm just about finished with the first sock of a pair I cast on last weekend, using some stash yarn from a kit I bought sometime last year.


The yarn is Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce in the colorway Winter Critters, and I've gone back to my Non-Euclidian heel for these. Like with the last pair of toe-ups, I've made a slight adjustment to the numbers (so I'm essentially knitting a size in between two other sizes) to get a bit more negative ease, and so far they fit perfectly.

Once my Boxy is officially done, I might take a break from sweaters for me to knit one for Rainbow. Though it is the middle of summer and she won't need it for a quite a while, and there are some designs I've been meaning to get to. Hmmm.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

The Spinniest Time of the Year

It's one of my most favorite times of the year -- Tour de Fleece time! If you've never heard of it before, here's a brief description: In conjunction with the annual Tour de France, spinners all over the world get their wheels and spindles going and challenge themselves to spin whenever the riders are spinning their wheels. For some people, the challenge is to spin huge quantities or master a particular skill or type of yarn; for others, the challenge is just finding time to spin every day. For me, I simply try to spin as much as I can, and usually that means spinning more (in terms of total time) than I do normally.

This year, I'm on two teams, Southern Cross Fibre and HipStrings, so I'll primarily be spinning fibers from those companies. I actually started my spinning yesterday at the HipStrings studio, where they always have an open studio day the first Saturday of the month. So I got a start on my first project and got to hang out with Jill a bit. And naturally I didn't come home empty-handed, as it's virtually impossible to sit in that studio and not come home with some pretties. I was good, though, and only came home with two braids of fiber:


This is superwash domestic wool in a colorway called Underwater Basketweaving, and I'm pretty sure I'm going to strip it lengthwise and chain ply for a pseudo-self-striping sock yarn.


And this is superwash Targhee, which I'll likely also spin for socks, in a colorway called Daydreams.

I feel like I didn't spin for as long as I could have this weekend, but yet I have managed to finish up a bobbin of each of the two projects that are up first. The HipStrings fiber was their Tour de Fleece colorway on superwash domestic wool, which I'm spinning into a three-ply fingering for socks (you can see the rest of the fiber to the right in the photo below). The other project is the second skein of Southern Cross Charollais that I am spinning woolen for a three-ply heavy worsted to Aran; I spun up the first skein almost exactly a year ago.


It's amazing how much faster the woolen spinning is -- I've already started in on the second bobbin!

Here's a closeup of the singles so you can see the difference:


I expect you'll be seeing more of these two projects in the next week or two. Before I go, though, I do have to share the yarn you saw in progress last week that was finished up this past Wednesday (I wanted to get it wrapped up and off the bobbin before Tour spinning started):


This was Divergence on Corriedale, the most recent shipment from the Southern Cross Fibre club -- it never even made it into my stash! I split the fiber vertically and spun all the strips, then chain plied. It's fingering weight, but only 333-ish yards. I'm honestly not sure why the yardage was so low. But I have some dark brown undyed Corriedale in the stash, and I might spin up a mini skein that could be used for heels, toes, and cuffs. I'm certainly happy with how it turned out!