Sunday, December 09, 2018

Off Kilter but Full

I'm definitely in the home stretch on my Merry Month of Minis spinning. As of this writing, I have five minis left that are lined up to be spun and one full bobbin.

For once, the uneven-looking bobbin in this shot isn't due to perspective. Rather, it seems that my WooLee Winder needs a bit of an adjustment to wind on evenly. You can see that there's still a fair amount of room at the far end of the bobbin, but there's no more room at the near end, so I figured this would be a good place to stop. I'll start a new bobbin for the remaining minis, but all the singles will eventually get plied into one big skein.

Here's what's been spun since last week:

Clockwise from top left: Color Comin' Outta Your Ying-Yang on 85% Polwarth/15% silk, Fading Peacock on Gotland, Don't Tell Him It's a Rainbow on mixed BFL, and Seventh Year Stitch Color Pops on Targhee

Two minis were added today:

Top: Secret Garden on Falkland; Bottom: Beach Wedding on 75% BFL/25% silk
If you're looking closely at the numbers on the little slips of paper that go with each fiber mini, you'll notice that there are two days missing. I decided to leave out two of the minis that I opened this week:

First, there was a beautiful mini of 100% Mulberry silk, and I decided that I wanted to save that to either to spin on its own or to blend in with something else. The other mini was Welsh, which is fairly rough/coarse and hairy, and it didn't really feel like the rest of the fiber, so I just left it out; perhaps I'll combine it with the Karakul at a later time.

Part of me really wants to keep spinning until I finish the last five minis, but I also know that I have some sleeves to be knit!

Thursday, December 06, 2018

Mild Panic Knitting

When I finished the fronts to the Mister's sweater last weekend, I felt like I was going to have no trouble whatsoever getting in done in time. Then I started the sleeves, and my progress seems to have slowed to a standstill. I know, intellectually, that of course the knitting is going to be slower doing both sleeves at once -- I have twice the stitches to work for each row, plus each time I turn to start a new row I have to flip my yarn around so the two strands don't get tangled. I also know that it will likely take me just as long to knit them simultaneously as it would have to knit them separately. But that hasn't stopped me from feeling like my knitting speed is now as slow as molasses.

As of last night, I had about 60 rows left to knit before I get to the sleeve cap shaping. So I'll keep plugging away at them and hope for the best. The sweater needs to be ready to be worn on the 19th, so really it needs to be done before then if I'm going to block it. I think I may block the back and the fronts this weekend, while the sleeves are still on the needles; I've ordered a zipper, and the fronts will need to be blocked to their final measurements to install it, so I can at least get that out of the way. Once the zipper is in, I can seam the shoulders and get ready to set in the sleeves as soon as they're complete.

In the meantime, I should soon be done entirely with the doll sweater I've been knitting for Rainbow. I finished up the body and knit most of the first sleeve today, and the knitting that remains to be done should take no time at all.

The big challenge for this project will be blocking it and then hiding it so she doesn't see it while it's drying -- she does seem to know how to find things I'm trying to keep secret!

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

Status Update

Much knitting happened over the weekend, so I have actual visible progress to share on the Mister's Neighborly Cardigan!

Apologies for the early morning photo

Both fronts have now been completed, and I've cast on for the sleeves. I'm knitting them at the same time, on the same needle, to ensure that they come out identical. On the one hand, this means they will take twice as long, but I'll also be done with both at the same time (isn't the worst thing about knitting a sleeve having to knit a second one?). The sleeve progress is entirely from Sunday evening; I didn't touch them last night at all because I was busy working on something else. But I'll be picking them up again tonight and seeing if I can get through the rest of the 1x2 ribbing at the cuffs and move on to the much faster stockinette.

The other project that jumped on my needles yesterday is my first official Giftalong project, and it's a little something for Rainbow. You may remember that when we picked out yarn for her Hyphen sweater earlier in the year, we also selected a coordinating skein of yarn in fingering weight to knit a matching sweater for her American Girl Doll. Rainbow's birthday is a week from Saturday, so I thought that if I cast on now, I could have it done to give to her as a gift (she does know that I had the yarn for the sweater, but she doesn't know that I've started it, so it will still be a surprise). Here's where it was as of the end of my lunch break yesterday:

I have since added another increase row and another band of the stitch pattern and put the sleeve stitches on waste yarn. I'm using some notes from another Raveler but also winging it a bit -- I had to steal the doll from Rainbow's room last night while she was sleeping to hold the WIP up to it and check the fit. Fortunately I think it'll be close enough, and blocking will help. The one benefit of knitting for a doll is that it's unlikely to complain if the fit isn't perfect -- not to mention that this sweater will never be outgrown! Considering that I only cast on yesterday and have already divided the sleeve stitches from the body, I think this will be done fairly soon.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Slow Bobbin Filling

This post once again contains spoilers, but I'm not going to hide them because it's going to be the case for every spinning post going forward until I finish all the minis.

I've added four more bits of fiber from my Fibernymph Dye Works Merry Month of Minis bobbin, and it is slowly filling up (I expect that I will have some overflow onto a second bobbin when all is said and done). These were for days 15, 16, 17, and 18.

Clockwise from top left: Down at the Pub on Falkland, Expanded Rainbow on 80% Targhee/10% bamboo/10% silk, Cotton Sheets on BFL, and Winter Shore on Norwegian

Obviously one of these things was not like the other, and it looked so beautiful on the bobbin thanks to the even winding on of my WooLee Winder:

I've got the next four minis unwrapped (I wanted to do that while the sun was out so I could snap pictures) and lined up ready to spin. I'm going to try to fit in a few minutes every evening to get them spun so I can try to spin up the remaining minis next weekend. That may be a bit of a pipe dream on my part, but it would be lovely to finish up in the first week of December and have the yarn finished should I choose to start knitting it later this month. Plus, I wouldn't mind getting back to my combo spin before we leave for our annual trip to Florida. If only there were more hours in the day!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Sometimes, Science Is Slow

I am still chugging away on the Mister's Neighborly Cardigan, though the right front isn't much different from the left, so I'll spare you another photo until there's been significant progress. Instead, today I want to talk about a long-awaited update to an experiment that began roughly five and a half years ago (yes, I verified the date because it did not seem like that long!).

For those of you who are reading who weren't around back then, a refresher: Back in 2013, Sarah Anderson's The Spinner's Book of Yarn Design came out and was much discussed in the Ravelry spinning community. One of the ply structures she discussed in this book was an opposing ply yarn -- in other words, a multi-ply yarn with one ply spun in the same direction as the ply -- that was supposed to create a more durable yarn and knit fabric. I was intrigued by this idea and decided to do an experiment with a pair of socks, one knit with a traditional three-ply yarn and one with an opposing ply yarn, with both skeins spun from the same fiber and knit the same to keep all the other variables consistent. I used some Corriedale pencil roving from the now-defunct Crown Mountain Farms and spun up my two skeins, one for each sock:

This photo was taken before the skeins were washed, so you can see that both have active ply twist, but I think it's fairly obvious which skein was the one with the opposing ply.

After finishing the yarn, I knit up the socks, which were identical save for adding some cable twists to the ribbing of sock knit with the opposing ply skein so I could tell them apart.

The next stage of the experiment took a bit longer. I wore the socks regularly for the next five years. I didn't pay attention to which foot which sock was on when I wore them (one foot is a bit more calloused than the other) and didn't treat them any differently than my other hand-knit socks. They were probably worn about once a month during sock season and handwashed after wearing. When I was wearing them last week, Rainbow noticed that they were finally showing signs of wear. So at last I have some results to share!

Here you can see thinning on the heel flaps (top photos) and under the ball of my foot (bottom photos), where I usually wear out my socks. You can see that the wear is pretty much the same on the heel, but it's noticeably worse on the bottom of the foot on the sock on the right -- and that's the traditional three ply sock.

I'm not convinced that opposing ply sock yarn is inherently more hardy than a traditional three ply, especially as both of these socks are showing wear, but it's at least clear that it doesn't hurt to have the added twist of an opposing ply. I think nylon content is probably better at preventing wear, as I have some very sturdy generic wool/nylon socks (knit from yarn like Regia) that are a decade or more old and aren't showing any signs of their age other than some fuzzing. Ultimately, given that socks probably get the most vigorous wear of any item of knit clothing, I expect them to wear out, but it's good to know that there is an option that might help a little. Is is worth the pain of dealing with extra-twisty yarn? That remains to be seen.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

It's Looking More Likely

... that I will actually finish the Mister's sweater in time! Though I ended up working on it less than I should have over the holiday long weekend, I did get started on the left front, which, I have to say, was a lot more entertaining than the back due to the simple inclusion of one cable and a bit of ribbing. I am apparently very easily amused.

I have worked on this here and there, including during my lunch breaks and during a conference call this morning at work. And all those little bits added up enough that I finished the piece just before the end of lunch today. I even won at yarn chicken!

I usually prefer a longer tail than this, but this is long enough to weave in securely, and I have a long enough tail at each of the shoulders on the back that I can use those for seaming. I'm just grateful that I did not have to join a new ball of yarn just to knit the last couple of rows.

I haven't touched my own sweater in more than a week, and I think by now I've pretty much accepted that it won't be done in time for the Cardigan Party. But I can always take it with us to Florida, where knitting time will be plentiful.

In the meantime, I cast on a new mindless project in order to have something to knit on at the movies last Wednesday night (we have a long tradition with some family friends of going to dinner and the movies together the night before Thanksgiving) and at the theater this past Saturday. I figured I might as well dig into the newest stash enhancements, so I pulled out one of the skeins that was purchased at Indie Knit & Spin a couple of weeks ago and started a Sockhead Slouch Hat for Rainbow. I've only knit on it during those two excursions, and it's already pretty far along.

I discovered after the movie that apparently I cannot accurately count to 2 while knitting in the dark, so I had some mistakes to fix (nothing that a Handi Tool couldn't fix!). The ribbing is, you will notice, about half the length that it should be, and that's because Rainbow decided that it was long enough. That was just fine with me, as I'm much faster just knitting stockinette in the round. I'll be trying it on her periodically so she can also tell me when the total length is long enough (I expect it'll be a lot less slouchy than the pattern specifies). This yarn comes in a very generous skein, so I expect I will have a good amount of leftovers to play with when I'm done -- unless I can convince her she needs a very large pompom, of course.

Sunday, November 25, 2018


Well hello there! It's been a little longer than I intended thanks to the Thanksgiving long weekend. I meant to put up a post on Thursday, but I was busy with cooking and baking and just never got around to it. And that's really okay.

Today's spinning post is full of spoilers that some of you might not want to see, so if you've got a Fibernymph Dye Works Merry Month of Minis fiber collection and don't want to know what it contains, now's the time to close this post! So that you won't inadvertently see a spoiler, I'll start out with some information that I meant to post on Thursday.

If you're on Ravelry and do holiday gift crafting, then you've likely heard about the Indie Design Gift-a-long. This is the event's sixth year, and I'm once again participating as both a designer and a moderator (you'll find me in the KAL/CAL thread for feet and legs). Through this coming Thursday, all 349 participating designers have between 10 and 20 of their designs collected in a special bundle and on sale for 25% off using the coupon code giftalong2018. You can use the code as many times at you like. Then, you can participate in the knitalongs/crochetalongs to get your holiday crafting done and have a chance to win some prizes. You'll find my bundle, containing 20 of my patterns, here; these patterns are on sale this week, but all of my patterns (and all participating designer patterns) are eligible for the KALs, and all paid patterns are eligible to win prizes.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's talk spinning, shall we?

The Merry Month of Minis collection this year has 31 minis, but because we'll be away at the end of December, I decided I wanted to start in on them early in order to get them all spun up before we leave. So I started spinning last week, and I've gotten through all of a dozen so far and done part of my 13th mini. I thought it would be easiest to show you in some collages.

Clockwise from top left: Chambray on Polwarth, Wisterious on BFL, Winter Sun on 60% wool/40% flax, and Beach Glass on 80% Targhee/10% Bamboo/10% silk

Clockwise from top left: Sequoia on Gotland, American Rust on mixed BFL, She Sells Seashells on 85% Polwarth/15% silk, and Golden Overdye on Manx Loaghtan

Clockwise from top left: Raspberry Bramble on Targee, Wild Honey on 75% BFL/25% silk, The Overlook on Cheviot, and Rhodochrosite/Tangelo on mixed BFL

Finally, the mini in progress is Citrus Grove on Polwarth:

I've actually skipped one mini, and that was Day 13, which was Karakul. The color is beautiful, but it's not a wool I enjoy spinning, so I left it out.

My first bobbin is filling up nicely, if I do say so:

I imagine that I'll use a good amount of a second bobbin when all is said and done. As with last year, I plan to chain-ply all the singles I spin, though I anticipate having a slightly thicker yarn this year because I'm spinning a lot faster and thus not taking the time to make sure my singles are very fine. It'll be a surprise no matter what I come up with!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Two on Tuesday

This week, the "two" refers to the two sweater WIPs, both of which are still in progress and not likely to be done anytime soon. But there has been some forward movement.

For one thing, I finished the back of the Mister's Neighborly Cardigan on Sunday evening, right down to weaving in ends from joining in new skeins (the little yarn butterflies you see are reserved for seaming).

This is decidedly the most boring piece of the sweater, so I'm glad to have it finished up. I plan to start knitting the first of the front pieces tonight. The fronts at least have cables on them, so the knitting should be a little more engaging.

Meanwhile, I've added a handful of rows to my Floozy and have finished the very fun spiky section:

Please forgive the quality of the photo, but it's the best I can do when it's as gray outside as it has been. I think you can still see the stitches, which is what's important. The way this effect is achieved is really quite ingenious, but I don't want to give away the secret sauce by telling you how it's done. It's certainly the slowest part of the colorwork, so I'm glad that it's finished.

I've actually got one more WIP on the needles as of yesterday, a second sock for a pair that was started as a pattern submission that didn't make the cut (and thus is now with my tech editor for self-publishing), but there's not much to see just yet, so I'll share when it's done.

Because my WIPs aren't terribly exciting at this point, let's talk about reading! I've finished quite a few books since I last posted about what I'm reading, but I'm just going to highlight a handful of the best.
  • The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton: I enjoyed this but found that it seemed to go on a little longer than it needed to. I didn't see the plot twist coming, and that always makes me happy (I just hate it when I've figured out a mystery long before the answer is revealed). I gave it four stars.
  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng: I had gotten on the wait list for this book at the library because it was one of those books that everyone seemed to be reading and talking about, and it did not disappoint. I adored this book. It's beautifully written and has amazing character development. I gave it 5 enthusiastic stars.
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: This was also a book with a lot of buzz, and I enjoyed it, though at times it was difficult to read. I gave it four stars.
  • Exit West by Mohsin Hamid: I started reading this book when (no joke) I was waiting to give blood and needed a way to pass the time. It was a title that I'd heard from award and best-seller lists, and it was available from the library, so I borrowed and started it then and there. While it's hard to describe the plot of the book because the setting is so vague, the writing is simply gorgeous. Hamid has a way of making run-on sentences a thing of beauty rather than something to avoid. I gave it four stars.
  • Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng: After loving Little Fires so much, I was very keen to read Ng's previous book. I enjoyed it a lot, though not as much as Little Fires. The premise of the story is a sad one, and once again Ng triumphs in her amazingly in-depth character studies. I gave it four stars.
  • Circe by Madeline Miller: I very much enjoyed this book and the imaginative way that Miller has chosen to take the stories of notable characters from Greek myth, but it didn't pull me in quite as strongly as The Song of Achilles did. I gave it four stars.
Goodreads tells me that I've read 64 books so far this year, which is just bonkers considering that my initial goal was 25 and that was a step up from last year. Three cheers for the library and ebooks!

Sunday, November 18, 2018

A Perfect Combination

I didn't know quite what to expect when I started my combo spin. I knew I liked the colors in the three braids I started with, but combining them was a gamble. In spite of their similarities, the blend could have come out completely muddy. Or it could come out just perfect -- and it did.

I finished plying the first skein last night, after several sessions at the wheel, and didn't go to bed until it had been skeined and washed. Of course I checked it first thing this morning to see how it had turned out, and though it needed to sit on a radiator for a few more hours to fully dry, I couldn't be happier with the results. The colors mixed up enough that no one shade completely jumps out but also didn't get muddied. Overall, there's a soft pastel-like look to it.

After I skeined it up, I was hoping I'd have about 600 yards, but I forgot that I was working with Targhee and Targhee poofs up when you wash it. So my finished yardage is in the range of 550. Still, if my second skein is in the same neighborhood, I should have plenty of yardage for a Tegna to fit me.

The second skein will be under way soon, but I'm going to take a brief break to spin up some minis. Once again this year I am doing the Fibernymph Dye Works Merry Month of Minis in fiber form. There are enough minis this year to do one a day for the entire month of December, but because we'll be away for the end of the month, I thought I'd get a head start. I'm going to try to do one a day from here on out, maybe more than that if I have extra time, so that I've got finished yarn before we leave for our trip. If you're participating and don't want to get spoiled, look away now!

Day 1 is a colorway called Chambray on Polwarth (my favorite!), and it came with a lovely little soap sample from Dusty Tree. It smells wonderful and will definitely be put into use when we use up the Dusty Tree soap we're already using.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

I'm Having Too Much Fun

You might think that knitting a fingering-weight sweater on size 2 needles would be a slog. It might get to that point, but for now, it's a delight. I can't seem to put it down.

I'd estimate I'm about halfway through the colorwork yoke of my Floozy cardigan, and if I keep up this pace, I'll be on to the boring part (the single-color stockinette body) before I know it. It might just turn into a slog then, but for now I'm focusing on how much I'm enjoying it. Surprisingly, I'm not even minding the small needle size. For one thing, they feel big to me because I'm used to knitting socks on size 0 needles. But the yarn is also quite robust for something classified as fingering; I think it's really closer to a sport weight, so the fabric feels pretty substantial and, I think, will even bloom a bit with blocking. It's definitely a rustic, woolly yarn, and I can definitely see myself knitting with it more in the future for other colorwork things. It would be excellent for steeking!

The other sweater WIP is pretty much the antithesis of my sweater -- plain old stockinette. Still, it's going well.

It's getting too big for my desk!

I started the armhole shaping yesterday, so now I just need to get to about 10 inches in length above that point before I do the shoulder shaping and finish off the back piece. I've just joined in the fourth ball of yarn, making me very glad that I ordered extra skeins!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

The Cardigan Club

My daily decision about what to knit just got easier, because I now have a choice of two cardigans: the Mister's Neighborly Cardigan and my Floozy cardigan. Those are my only projects on my needles now because, thanks to a late (for me) night on Saturday, my Fibernymph Dye Works minis shawl is done!

It's pretty big -- you just don't get a sense of scale here -- and, more importantly, turned out as I was hoping, so now I just have to finish writing up the pattern, take some real photos, and get it off to my tech editor. I stayed up late to finish and block it so that I could take it to Indie Knit & Spin on Sunday to show to Lisa. Of course, I didn't go just to show her the shawl; some shopping occurred as well (it turns out that Rainbow is growing into quite the enabler).

Aside from the bit of show and tell, my primary reason to go to the show was to get yarn to make Rainbow a Little Boxy. I had already checked with Lisa to see if she would have some semisolid in a blue available, and so we came home with three skeins of Bounce in Peacock Blue (the three skeins in the center). After that, we went a little wild. I'd like to point out that of everything you see in this photo, only the braid of fiber from HipStrings and the two skeins of Dusty Tree Dyeworks ROOT on the far right are for me -- everything else is for Rainbow! She picked out the HipStrings Double Major (just to the left of the yarn for her sweater) for some thicker socks for her and then went gaga for the skein from Wren House Yarns on the far left. As if that weren't enough, she then won the purple skein of DK from Unplanned Peacock Studio in the raffle toward the end of the show. I guess I should take her yarn shopping more often!

Obviously there will be a lot of small person knitting in the future, but for now, the focus is on sweaters. Now that the shawl is complete, the Mister's sweater has become my lunchtime knitting, and I'm a good way into the back. It doesn't look very exciting, so I'll spare you a progress photo until something interesting happens. Working on that during the day has freed up my evenings to focus on my sweater, which finally seems to be making some progress. Last night I did my first rows using the third and final color, and I'm really pleased with how nicely the colors are playing.

The contrast isn't quite as stark as it looks here, but that's early morning November light for you. I'm glad I decided to use the contrast colors in this order because I think the medium blue really pops well against the yellow.

Knitting this sweater is so different from knitting the Mister's, namely due to the yarn. His is knit from a supersoft superwash merino, and this Blacker Classic is decided not that -- it's much more rustic and wooly. I don't really need such a sticky yarn for this pattern, but I can see that this yarn would be perfect for stranded work that is steeked -- it's not going anywhere!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

A Wee Preview

I am now about two and a half days post-gum surgery, and I was feeling well enough to get out of the house today! I'm still a bit sore and swollen, but that will improve as the week goes on. My energy was closer to normal today, so things are definitely improving.

For most of the past three days, I was just laying low and resting at home. The last time I had this procedure, I pretty much lost the entire day of the surgery to holding ice on my face. This time around, I knew I had to find a way to use the time to be productive. If you follow me on Instagram, then you will have already seen that I found a way to keep the ice on my face and keep my hands free. This meant that I was able to get a lot of knitting done during the day, and by the time evening rolled around, I was feeling well enough to sit at my wheel for a bit. Between that time and a bit the following morning, I finished up the third bobbin of singles for my combo spin:

Today, while Rainbow was at Sunday School and the Mister was on a run, I started plying. I didn't get very far, but at least I got a little bit of a preview of the finished yarn.

This shot is a bit deceptive, because there were a couple of color changes before this point. I've found that thus far two of the three plies have more or less matched for a while or all three plies are sort of vaguely the same shade. It does look like I should have a fair amount of striping in the finished yarn, which should make for a fun knit! I'm going to try to put in time on this skein during the week so that, with any luck, I can have it finished up by next weekend. I'm plying on my miniSpinner, and I have to say that my body is enjoying the additional rest it's giving me.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Reopening the Knitting Factory

It has just come to my attention that we are now a full week (plus one day) into the month of November -- November! -- and that some serious knitting progress needs to be made pronto. There is one project that has been lingering on the needles for too long, in my opinion, and two sweaters that I would really like to have done in a little more than a month.

Let's talk about the oldest WIP. It's a shawl design that I've been working on since September using two sets of Fibernymph Dye Works mini skeins. I know that doesn't seem like that long ago, but this is the second version of the shawl; I ripped out the first iteration when it didn't work out as I'd hoped. Furthermore, Lisa and I were talking about this design idea way back in June when we went to TNNA together, so I feel like it's been in progress since then. Fortunately, my excitement for knitting it has resurfaced, and I'm determined to put in some serious effort and get it done -- ideally within the next week or so.

The good news is that I'm past the halfway mark on this -- the orange and orange speckle yarns you see at the bottom are the fourth pair of mini skeins and I have six total pairs. The number of semisolid stripes also seems to be following a pattern: There are 10 gold and eight green stripes, so I'm expecting I'll get six orange stripes, four of the next, and two of the last semisolid color. That means not very many rows left to knit, though they are getting noticeably longer. It's not ideal for lunchtime knitting because my time to knit is limited and I frequently have to stop mid-row, but I think it will be perfect for the weekend when I can plop down and knit for a couple of hours uninterrupted.

Sweater knitting has been happening at home in the evening. I cast on for the Mister's Neighborly Cardigan last weekend and have completed about 7 inches of the back (including 3 inches of 1x1 ribbing that was as slow as molasses). After not quite getting gauge with my swatch, but getting a really nice fabric (and determining that going up in needle size to get gauge would result in fabric that was too loose for my taste), I've decided to knit a size larger at my gauge, which should result in a finished sweater that's more or less the size I originally intended to make.

As you can see from the yarn tails at the middle top of the piece, I've just joined in the second skein of yarn (or, rather, a partial skein, as I'm using up the rest of the skein that was used for the swatch). The yarn that the Mister ordered for the original size of the sweater was not quite enough for the next size up, so I was forced to place another Knit Picks order (I know, the hardship!) with three additional skeins. I felt like as long as I was ordering those three skeins I should probably fill up the box, so I added various other skeins to my cart until I had enough for free shipping and will use them for charity hats and mittens.

Last night I felt bad about focusing so much on the man sweater while ignoring my own and pulled out my Floozy cardigan, which I'd been so excited to start on the way up to Rhinebeck and then promptly forgotten about when I returned. I put several rows on it last night, and now you can properly see the second color.

Of the two sweaters, I think this will be the more challenging to finish my by self-imposed deadline of mid-December, so I won't sweat it if it's not done. The deadline is because the Mister and I are attending the Mister Rogers Cardigan Party at our local PBS station, and really his sweater is more critical, as I've made many cardigans for myself but none for him. It would be great if both of us could have new sweaters to wear to the party, but if I have to wear an older cardigan, I'll be okay.

I'm hoping to make significant progress on all of these projects this weekend, and it will be a good weekend for knitting in part because the weather is supposed to be horrible (the S-word was in the forecast!) but also because my gum surgery is tomorrow morning and I'm really not supposed to be done much of anything following that. Tomorrow I'll have to have an ice pack on my face on and off for most of the day, and I'm planning to use an ace bandage to hold it in place so I can have my hands free to knit or spin. I still have a backlog of video podcasts to catch up on, so in spite of the discomfort from the procedure I think I'll be perfectly happy.

Finally, I did want to say thank you to those who you who have purchased my To Life pattern. As of this morning, sales are in excess of $140, and I'm so excited that I'll be able to write a big check to Tree of Life in the near future. Some FOs are already popping up on Ravelry and social media, and I'm planning to knit a bunch myself once I can locate my big bag of sock yarn scraps. Also, this Sunday is the fall Indie Knit & Spin show, and Lisa of Fibernymph Dye Works will be selling mini skeins along with a coupon code for the pattern for $1, with all proceeds going toward Tree of Life. If you're looking for a quick charity project to add to your holiday knitting, I hope you'll consider it!

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Today's the Day

It's Election Day in the United States. Normally this would not be big news, as it's not a year we vote for president, but this year it's taken on more importance. All seats in the House of Representatives and some seats in the Senate are up for election. Here in Pennsylvania, we're also voting for positions in the state legislature and governor.

I know that some people are not interested in politics and feel a bit apathetic about voting in any election that they feel isn't a "big" one. Me? I have voted in every single election I've been eligible to vote in since I turned 18, even the ones that some might consider inconsequential. The right to vote is so sacred, so special. It's something that people have literally given their lives for. In the not-so-distant past, people of color -- who legally had the right to vote -- were denied that right. Women have had the right to vote for less than 100 years (if you haven't already read it, go read Ann's post on the Mason-Dixon blog today). Voting isn't hard and doesn't take a long time; it actually took longer for the poll worker to find my card today than it took me to fill out and submit my ballot! So please, if you are a registered voter in the United States and haven't yet voted, take some time to get to the polls today.

Appropriately, I am wearing my new socks for the first time today!

Pattern: Swing Left by Megan Williams
Yarn: Little Skein in the Big Wool House Sock (90% Targhee, 10% nylon) in Swing Left, less than one skein
Needles: US 0 (2.0 mm)
Started/Completed: October 18/November 2
Mods: changed heel flap and turn, modified the stitch pattern a bit

These socks were cast on in the car on the way to Rhinebeck, and my intention was the have them finished in time to wear today (so mission accomplished!). The first sock pretty much flew off the needles and was completed on the drive home; the second one took a bit longer as I was working on it primarily during my lunch break at work.

Other than using a different needle size (because I was worried that using the called-for US 1/2.25 mm would give me a gauge that wasn't too durable), I made two notable modifications to the pattern as written. First, I substituted my usual heel flap and turn for the one given in the pattern. The one in the pattern is a bit different from what I'm used to, and I knew that to do it would require me to pay close attention to the pattern; as I was knitting on the first sock while in the booth at Rhinebeck, I knew that wouldn't be a good idea. So I subbed in my usual heel so that I wouldn't have to think too hard. The second change was to the stitch pattern itself. As written, the traveling stitches are accomplished through a paired make 1 and left-leaning decrease. I did that for my first round of traveling stitches on the first sock and didn't like how it looked (I ended up with a bit of a hole from the m1), so after that I changed it to a simple two-stitch left-crossing cable. There's nothing wrong with the pattern as it is; I was just unhappy with my execution of it. Overall, the pattern is great, and the stitch pattern, while involved, is intuitive; I didn't need to refer to the pattern except occasionally after the first couple of repeats.

I do have to stop to praise the yarn a bit. I've ordered a kit from Anne at Little Skein in the Big Wool once before, but this the first time I've ordered it with yarn. Anne's House Sock is, in a word, fabulous. I knew I'd probably like it because I love Targhee as a spinner, but it exceeded my expectations. It is floofy and bouncy and elastic, and even working with a US 0 needle, my fabric is delightfully dense (read: durable) without being stiff and I was able to get away with a 66-stitch sock. My skein was also quite surprisingly overweight as well; it was supposed to 100 g but in actuality was close to 120 g. Those robust leftovers from my socks (which took about 89 g) enabled me to whip up the sample for a new pattern this weekend, one that I felt I needed to design:

Following the shooting at Tree of Life, I, like many people, felt a bit helpless. And like most knitters, I wanted to do something with yarn and needles to somehow improve the situation. So when my friend Cortney (who grew up in Pittsburgh as well) contacted me about starting an effort to knit and crochet kippot/yarmulkes for Tree of Life, I knew I not only had to participate but to design something as well. The result, modeled so nicely here by The Mister, is called To Life. It uses a very small amount of yarn -- mine used only 10 g, less than 50 yards -- making it perfect for leftovers and mini skein, and it knits up very quickly. It's constructed using a series of triangular wedges formed by short rows, and the beauty of the fact that it's all in garter stitch means that you don't have to worry about picking up wraps. I've made it available on Ravelry for $1, and I'm donating all the proceeds to Tree of Life -- I'm even going to make up the cut that PayPal takes. I know that a couple of people have told me that they wish I'd made the price a little higher, but I wanted to make it accessible to everyone (and I will add that more than one person has bought multiple copies in one transaction to make their donation a bit larger). Cortney and I have also opened a thread in the Jewish Fiberaholics group on Ravelry for those who want to knit kippot to donate to Tree of Life or a synagogue more local to them (some people have also mentioned making kippot to auction off and then donating the proceeds). If you feel like this is something you'd like to do, please feel free to join us!

Sunday, November 04, 2018

A Touch of Twist

It has been a restful weekend -- and certainly a happier one than last weekend. I had hoped to get more spinning done over the past couple of days, but after giving blood on Friday, I found I just didn't have much energy. I sat down at my wheel on Friday night as I usually do but had to call it quits after about an hour; my legs just couldn't treadle anymore. So unfortunately I don't have a finished third bobbin of singles for my combo spin as I'd hoped, but I did at least get a bit of time with my spinning.

This third colorway is very much the wild card in the combo spin, as it is more unlike the other two than they are compared to each other. It has some of the same pink/purple that the other two braids have, but it also has this light sea foam green and some tan. I'm going to try to put in some more spinning time during the week with the hope that I can finish up this last bobbin of singles and be able to ply next weekend. Next weekend, at least, there will be plenty of time for crafting: I'm having oral surgery (for the third time) on Friday morning, so there's not much I can do for the rest of the day but rest. Although that will mean having an ice pack to my face off and on all day, I'm hoping I can MacGuyver something to hold it in place and keep my hands free to knit or spin.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

New Month, New Project

In an effort to try to keep my life as "normal" as possible (though really, I'm not quite sure what qualifies as normal anymore), I started swatching for a new project last night. Someone reminded me that November is NaKniSweMo -- National Knit a Sweater Month -- and as I have a sweater to knit for the Mister, it seemed quite appropriate. Unfortunately I didn't get the entire swatch knit up last night, as it was a late night due to trick-or-treating and a Halloween party at my brother's house; I didn't sit down with yarn and needles until sometime after 9, and 10 p.m. is bedtime. Still, I've made a start and will finish tonight.

The color here is way off thanks to the extremely dark morning we're having. The yarn is Knit Picks Swish Worsted in the colorway Squirrel Heather; as you can see from the photo shown on the KP site, it's much lighter in reality:

I haven't even attempted to measure gauge yet, but I'm getting a really nice-looking fabric. Based on my experience with yarn this weight and the needle size I'm using, I should be very close. I will finish and block my swatch tonight and, with any luck, cast on officially this weekend.

This weekend we'll attempt to have a normal weekend -- Rainbow has a birthday party on Saturday afternoon and her usual Sunday School activities (they were cancelled last week). But we're also planning to attend Shabbat services, something we don't normally do without a reason. All the Jewish Federations of North America are calling it Solidarity Shabbat and encouraging people to attend to show their support for the Pittsburgh community. That link will help you to find a service near you if you'd like to attend one, and as was the case last Saturday, doors will be open and congregations will be welcoming anyone who wants to come in.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Life Will Go On

First, I want to say thank you -- thank you to those of you who left comments on my last post and on my Instagram post, to those of you who sent me messages of support and sympathy, and to those of you who sent prayers and thoughts to those who were killed and injured. While it is impossible to make sense of what happened here on Saturday, it is possible to continue to live our lives knowing that the community is rallying around us. The Mister and I purposefully took Rainbow to the vigil held on Sunday evening so she could see just how much love and support is there for our community. It was standing room only inside Soldiers & Sailors, and there were crowds of people outside in the rain as well. For days, I have received text messages and e-mails from friends and family near and far, letting me know they are thinking of us. When I arrived at work yesterday, I received so many warm hugs. The week ahead will continue to be difficult as funerals are held for the victims, but we've all received so much support that I know we will get through it.

Elizabeth Zimmermann famously said, "Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crises." And I have tried to do that, though on Saturday I found it extremely difficult. Before this weekend, the only other time I have found myself unable to knit was when I had appendicitis. Now, though, I am once again finding it a real comfort.

One project that I'm determined to finish soon is my Swing Left socks, which will be done in time for me to wear on Election Day. I'm already on the gusset of the second sock, so I'll likely be done even before the end of the week.

Please excuse the dirty windowsill.

I normally try not to get political on the blog, because although knitting can be a political act, it typically isn't a partisan one. But as one of the rabbis reminded us on Sunday, the American people look to our leaders for guidance of how to treat one another, and tragedies can happen when people hear the bigoted rhetoric of some of our leaders and use it as an impetus to do violence. If you aren't satisfied with the leadership of your elected officials, you can tell them so, but the most powerful thing you can do is vote. So if you are an American citizen who is eligible to vote, and you haven't done so already, please make a point to do so! I don't care who you vote for or if your views are entirely opposite to mine -- it's a right and a privilege to be able to cast your ballot.

Sunday, October 28, 2018


I am reposting this from Instagram, so my apologies if you've read it already, but I felt it was important to post here, too.

Yesterday an unspeakable tragedy happened in my city. A man filled with hate entered the sacred space of a synagogue and took 11 innocent lives. My family and loved ones are safe, but we have friends who have lost people dear to them. And this horrific act has shattered the sense of safety and acceptance we have always felt in this community.

Tree of Life is a special place to my entire family. We were all members there until just a few years ago. It was the synagogue where I grew up: I received my Hebrew name there, attended Hebrew and religious school there, was called to the Torah as a bat mitzvah there, was confirmed there, was married by its rabbi, and gave my own daughter her Hebrew name there. It has been a rock in my life and in my community, and I am absolutely devastated by the violence that occurred there yesterday.

As the news unfolded yesterday, one thing that kept me from giving into the grief entirely was the sheer number of people who contacted me to make sure I was safe — friends, family members who live in other cities, coworkers and former coworkers, Internet friends I have never met in person, former classmates I haven’t talked to in many years. In the face of hated against people who share my beliefs, I was told that I was loved.

I am so grateful for everyone who checked on me yesterday, for the first responders who risked their lives yesterday and likely prevented this tragedy from being much worse, and for the greater Pittsburgh community for coming together to show Pittsburgh’s Jewish community that we all stand together.

As these tragedies become more and more frequent, we are often left feeling helpless. But there is much we can do. If you know someone who is a member of a targeted group, let them know that you care for and value them. Give blood if you can. Volunteer for social justice organizations. Donate to organizations that fight bigotry, like the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Speak up against hatred. Vote.

May the One who makes peace in the high heavens make peace for us, for all Israel and all who inhabit the earth. Amen.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

How Many WIPs Is Too Many?

Those of you who know me (in real life or through this blog) know that I'm not the type of knitter to have a ton of projects on the go at once. I typically have two or three things in progress at any given time, usually a small project (like a pair of socks or a hat) that travels with me to work and a larger project or two that gets worked on at home. I have a tendency to feel overwhelmed if I have too many WIPs going because I feel so conflicted about which ones to work on at any given time. So I'm finding myself in a rather strange spot at the moment. Right now, I have three active WIPs: my Swing Left socks, my striped Fibernymph Dye Works minis shawl, and my Floozy cardigan. I've also got a sort-of fourth WIP, which is a pattern submission swatch that is essentially a finished project, or at least half of one (it's an ankle sock pattern, and it made more sense to just knit a complete sock than to try to make a sock-shaped swatch). And I'm on the verge of casting on yet another sweater -- one with a deadline, no less.

It's been quite a while since I knit a sweater for the Mister, nearly a decade in fact, so when he asked me to make him one for the Mister Rogers Cardigan Party our local PBS station is throwing later this year, I couldn't refuse. I even found the perfect pattern:

Photo (c) Lion Brand
This is the Neighborly Cardigan from Lion Brand, a free pattern on the LB Web site. It was designed to look like one of Fred Rogers's sweaters (which were knit by his mother -- did you know that?), so I didn't have to try to find something close enough and adapt it. It's knit in worsted weight yarn and is mostly stockinette, so I'm hoping it will be a relatively fast knit. Knowing that the Mister isn't likely to wear it too often after the party, I suggested we pick a more affordable yarn and sent him to the Knit Picks Web site to look at color options. He picked this shade of Swish Worsted called Squirrel Heather -- which is, now that I look at it, remarkably similar to the LB used in the sample!

I am hoping that I can get something off the needles this weekend so that I feel more comfortable starting this project, though of course I'll need to swatch first. Fortunately we've got a quiet weekend ahead, and Saturday is supposed to be a perfectly miserable, rainy day, so what better to do than curl up with my knitting?!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Rhinebeck 2019: A Recap

It was a whirlwind of a weekend -- a fun whirlwind, but a whirlwind nonetheless. There was a lot of driving, a lot of time on my feet, and probably not enough sleep. But it was wonderful, and I can't wait to do it again next year (the Ross Farm folks have already asked me to come again, so I just have to put it on the calendar).

We left a little later on Thursday to drive up than we did last year, so we didn't unload and set up the booth until Friday morning, which left us less free time that day to wander around Rhinebeck. But we did make it to Needles Up (though not to Indie Untangled, as we didn't manage to get tickets) and made a brief stop at Jill Draper's open studio event on Saturday night. Those two stops were where I made my only purchases of the weekend, as the booth was so busy during the festival that I really only escaped to go to the bathroom. I think I was fairly restrained in my buying, especially given that before I left I reached the conclusion that the stash has gotten out of control and I should use up or give away a bunch of it before I start buying yarn again. In any case, here is the haul:

At Needles Up, I picked up one braid of fiber from the Classy Squid Fiber Co. This is Amanda's Opulence blend -- Rambouillet, cashmere, Tussah silk, and bamboo -- and I couldn't resist it. I also picked up the Fibernymph Dye Works special Rhinebeck colorway, called Rhinebeck ... Sweater Weather? (the stripes are meant to illustrate the potential temperatures for the festival weekend), and two lip balms from Tuft Woolens. At Jill Draper's, I picked up three skeins of yarn (we will ignore, for now, the fact that I have yet to knit up the skeins of JDMS yarn I bought at her open studio last year or the sweater quantity I bought at Maryland Sheep and Wool this year): two skeins of Mohonk for a shawl design and a skein of Mini Empire to make myself a hat. The colors in this photo aren't as accurate as they could be, given that I snapped this photo early this morning before the sun was really up, but I think you can get the idea.

While we were all very busy during the actual festival, the long drive to and from Rhinebeck make for good knitting time. On the way up, I cast on two new projects. First, I finally got started on my Floozy cardigan and managed to get through all the short rows before we got there.

I have since added the first rows of the second color, but I didn't get a chance to snap an updated photo.

I also started my Swing Left socks from my Little Skein in the Big Wool Sock the Vote kit and worked on them throughout the weekend. On the way home yesterday, I finished the first sock:

I added some additional stripes to the shawl as well, so lots of progress was made in general.

All in all, despite the lack of sleep and the cold weather on Sunday (so cold I had to steal some samples from the booth to put some more wool on me), it was a great weekend. I got to see old friends and meet new ones, eat some delicious meals, and spend several days in the company of "my people." I'll admit it was a bit hard to get up this morning and go to work, but Rhinebeck weekend can't last forever and it's back to the regular schedule this week.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Two Down

Through the magic of technology, this post will be going up for you to read even though as you're reading this I'm several hundred miles away at the New York Sheep and Wool Festival. No spinning will be happening while I'm on the trip, but before I left, I was able to finish up the second bobbin of singles for my combo spin.

It's interesting to me that the last color on both bobbins is very similar, if not the same. I do wonder how often that color will pop up on all three bobbins and how often the colors of the singles will coincide when they're all plied. I suppose if I want a preview, I could take three strips of fiber and twist them together, but that feels a bit like cheating. And part of me likes having that curiosity as motivation to finish spinning the singles.

This second bobbin didn't take me very long at all to spin (I think I started it last weekend, ignored it for the week, and did all but about 20 minutes this past weekend), so I'm sure that I can get the third one done in a reasonable amount of time when I'm back from my trip. I'll be using my miniSpinner to ply, in part to save my legs the workout but mainly because it's the only wheel that has bobbins big enough to hold 6 oz., so it shouldn't make me wait too long to see the finished yarn.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Road to Rhinebeck

Shortly after I post this, I'll be getting in the car to drive out to meet Amy and Scooter Pie so we can start the long drive up to New York. While I'm not nearly as excited as I was last year for my first-ever trip, I'm very much looking forward to the long weekend away -- not least because of the amount of knitting time I'll have. I'm taking probably more yarn and projects with me, but options are always good, am I right?

First, I've got the Fibernymph Dye Works mini shawl, which I was hoping would be done by this time but obviously had a setback when I ripped and restarted and didn't see much action when I was on deadline to finish some design projects. I'm determined to put some serious time into it and get it done soon.

I'm also taking yarn for two new projects to cast on. The first is my Swing Left socks, using the kit I bought from Little Skein in the Big Wool. I've already wound the yarn and printed out the pattern, so those are ready to go.

The project I'm most excited to start is my Floozy cardigan, which I'd intended to knit to wear to Rhinebeck but obviously did not (heck, I never even cast on for it!). I did, at least swatch, but my gauge was off a tad despite going down to a US 2/2.75 mm needle. I couldn't imagine knitting an adult sweater on US 1 needles, so I'm going to be knitting a different size than I normally would to account for the difference. It'll still be a lot of knitting, but at least most of it is single-color stockinette.

And if that isn't enough knitting, I'm sure I can find some more somewhere.

If you'll be at Rhinebeck this weekend, please do say hi if you see me!