Thursday, June 21, 2018

Yarn Therapy

It has been a very long, very exhausting week for me. Without getting too political, it's a hard time to be an American right now, and I've been utterly devastated by the current administration's policies toward immigrants in general and child immigrants in particular. I'm generally the type of person who is easily emotional, so you can imagine how emotional I've been the past several days as more and more heartbreaking information has come to light.

At times like these, when I feel anxious and sad and powerless, playing with yarn and fiber is a comfort. It seems frivolous, but it's good to know that I can always get out my knitting or my spinning and find a small measure of peace. So while I'll continue doing what I can to help those in need and fight against the injustices I see, when I become overwhelmed, I'll be turning back to crafting time and time again.

I am fortunate that at the moment my projects are fairly mindless, because frankly I have not had the mental energy to do anything more complicated than stockinette or some simple ribbing (I think that was perhaps the problem with the sweater shoulder the other night). And thanks to that, my latest pair of socks are off the needles as of earlier today.


Pattern: the toe-up version of my Non-Euclidian socks, currently in testing (to be released early next month)
Yarn: Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce (80% superwash merino/20% nylon) in It's Wine O'Clock Somewhere!
Needles: US 0 (2.0 mm) Addi Sock Rockets, 40 in., magic loop
Started/Completed: June 9/June 21

I made these slightly smaller than my first pair (68 stitches total rather than 72) because the first pair was just slightly loose. The stitch count was in between sizes for the pattern, so I had to adapt it slightly -- luckily I knew how to do that because it was my own pattern! The resulting fit is just perfect. The yarn came from Lisa's Happy Hour Sock Yarn Club, which has been quite enjoyable. The third and final shipment should be coming soon; as the first colorway was inspired by beer and the second by wine, I suspect the third will be inspired by a cocktail of some type.

My Boxy now has a second front shoulder, and I've done just a bit of knitting (a row or two) on the back. It will be my main project this weekend; we're going away for a long weekend with the Mister's parents and brother as a belated celebration for my father-in-law's 70th birthday. It looks like the weather isn't going to be very favorable to outside activities, so I should get a lot done. With any luck, all that knitting will help me relax a bit.


I hope that if you've been having a difficult week as well, you're able to find some relaxation and stress relief this weekend as well.


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Recapping

I've now had several days to digest the TNNA experience and reflect on just how amazing it was. Really, the main highlight of the trip was the classes I took. I signed up for two: a class on "leveling up" your social media presence with Gale Zucker and Beverly Army Williams and an introduction to tech editing class with Kate Atherley. Both classes were intended to help me with my designing, but I discovered that I actually have a knack for tech editing, so it seems that I may have another crafty job in my future!

Thursday evening at TNNA was a fashion show and an event called Sample It. The latter is an event where exhibitors offer show specials on some of their products. Because the main exhibition is primarily designed for shop owners to place wholesale orders, this is in many cases the only opportunity to buy individual items -- and a bonus is that those items are often offered at a great price. I, of course, didn't need anything, but there were some lovely things for sale that I couldn't resist bringing home.


That's a package containing a full skein of Wonderland Yarns Cheshire Cat and a gradient set of mini skeins, a three pack of Dream in Color Smooshy with Cashmere, and two skeins of MollyGirl Yarn Honky Tonk Lite. I'm not entirely sure what I'll be using all of this yarn for just yet, though I'm sure some of it will used for future designs.

An added benefit of going to a knitting even is, of course, the extra knitting time. I worked on my handspun Boxy for most of the drive to Cleveland and a little bit while we were there, and now I find myself almost finished with the front. It took me three attempts, but I finished up the first shoulder last night. (Why three attempts? Well, the first time I clearly missed a row or worked a row incorrectly, so I tried to tink back to the spot with the error, but then I couldn't figure out what row I was on, so I tinked back the entire way to the beginning of the shoulder area.)


Once I did everything correctly, it didn't take me long to complete, so I should be able to breeze through the second shoulder this evening and move on to the back, which is just mindless knitting back and forth for a while.

My socks saw most of my attention while I was away, and as you saw from my post from last Thursday, I was able to finish up the first sock thanks to a lot of knitting during my classes. (And can I just say how nice it is to be able to knit during a class? I'm so much less fidgety when I have something to do with my hands!) I cast on the second sock pretty much right away and was almost though the heel increases by the time I got home.


I'm now in the home stretch on the second sock and hope to have it finished up in the next day or so. That means I'll need to cast on another smallish project, which might be a new pair of socks or perhaps a charity hat using some leftover scraps. Even with the purchases at TNNA, I may have ordered some yarn for a new sweater in the Knit Picks summer sale, so I'm feeling the need to stash bust big time.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Free Spin

I got home from TNNA yesterday, and almost as soon as I was unpacked, I sat down at my wheel -- I had missed it that much.

But before I get to what I've been madly spinning the past two days, let's talk about what I finished earlier in the week. You saw the finished singles from that fluffy pink batt last Sunday, but here is the yarn that I plied up Monday evening:


The finished skein is pretty uneven but probably is about sport weight on average and measures up at about 208 yards. I'm actually very happy with it because the spinning of this batt was really outside my comfort zone. I have been working on my woolen spinning and really letting go (the opposite of my usual short forward draw, where I'm in complete control). I was so pleased with the experience -- and with how much faster it is by comparison -- that I figured I should do more of it. And that's where the most recent spinning comes in.

At the beginning of this year, after Ginny of FatCatKnits announced that she was closing her business, I bought a set of three batts from her Etsy shop (this photo is from the original listing):


These have been patiently waiting for me to work up the courage to spin them as they were intended to be spun, and when I saw them yesterday, I knew it was finally time. The set weighed something like 5.2 oz total, but long draw is so fast that I managed to spin up the singles from all three batts since yesterday afternoon. I am, in a word, enchanted.


I plan to ply these in the same way I plied the pink batt: I will wind off each single using my ball winder and ply it back on itself. But I'll let the singles rest a bit first, and in the meantime, my latest Southern Cross Fibre club shipment arrived while I was away:


This is Divergence on Corriedale -- should makes some excellent sock yarn!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Postcard from TNNA

As I'm sitting down to write this, it's about 9:20 p.m. and I'm just back at the hotel from all the fun of my second day at TNNA. My brain is a little fried, so this won't be a long post, but I did want to get something up. It's really been an amazing time, and I'm so thankful to Lisa for bringing me. I've taken two classes that have really been excellent and met some really nice people. Some yarn may have also followed me home from the Sample It event this evening.

This has been an excellent knitting trip as well, especially considering that it's totally acceptable to knit through classes at this type of event. Remember the sock that I started last weekend? Here's what it looks like now:


I finished binding off while waiting in line for Sample It earlier this evening. Everything from the stitch marker (just above the heel) up was knit today.

I'm sure I'll half a lot to recount once I'm home and more coherent, but suffice it to say that it's been a great time!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Travel Knitting

I'm leaving for TNNA tomorrow, so naturally instead of thinking what clothes and toiletries I need to pack, I'm thinking about the knitting I'm taking.

Of course my Boxy is coming along -- I'm hoping that all the extra knitting time will help me get closer to finishing. I hit a big milestone over the weekend: I officially finished the body (after adding about four inches of additional length) and started working the front piece.

That's a Fat Squirrel sweater-sized bag on the left for scale -- this thing is enormous!

After dividing the last transition skein into its constituent sections, I'm now in the process of dividing each of those sections in half (so that I have one bit of it to use on the front and one to use on the back). I also wound the final skein (all the lightest blue) last night and divided it in half for the sleeves. There will be lots of little balls of yarn and extra ends to weave in, but I think it'll work and give me the outcome I was envisioning.

Meanwhile, I couldn't let the sweater be my only WIP, particularly as it's a rather large one that's not especially portable, so I cast on a new pair of socks. This is the most recent shipment from the Fibernymph Dye Works Happy Hour Yarn Club, called It's Wine O'Clock Somewhere! The stripes are the colors of different types of wine.

Cheese plate stitch marker from the Victorian Studio Shop

I am again knitting toe up, using my newest pattern (which, by the way, is now in testing). I'm adapting it to a slightly smaller stitch count, as I think I've relaxed in my gauge; the last pair fit but didn't have as much negative ease as I'd like.

I'll be at TNNA through Saturday, and I'm not sure if I'll be able to get a post up on Thursday, but I'll certainly try. I did want to mention for those of you who have left comments recently that Blogger seems to be having an issue with e-mail notifications of comments, so if you've left a comment, I haven't been aware of it. I do usually try to respond to all comments if I can, but it's hard to do when you don't know you've received them! I hope the issue will be resolved soon, but in the meantime please know that I really appreciate it when you take time to comment on a post and I do read every comment!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

The BFL Curse

There's something about BFL: No matter how fine I spin it, I can never seem to get very good yardage. I suppose it's just a denser fiber compared to, say, merino. In any case, it seems that in my latest spin, I was once again cursed with low yardage.


This was my April 2018 club shipment from Southern Cross Fibre, a 70% BFL/30% Tussah silk blend in a colorway called Windrose. I decided to spin it end to end and chain ply, but to get a bit more color in the length of the skein, I split the fiber in half lengthwise before spinning. I had hoped that the silk content would aid in my attempt to spin finer singles, and they certainly looked very fine as I was spinning them, but the yarn puffed up a bit in finishing.


The finished yarn is in the neighborhood of heavy fingering to sport, and my final yardage is about 282 yards. I'm a little disappointed in that respect, but in truth I didn't really love the colors for me so I'd assumed the finished skein would likely go in my Etsy shop, and it still might.

Meanwhile, I thought I'd do something completely different for my next spin, so I grabbed a batt that I won as a KAL prize not too long ago:


This has a blend of merino, BFL, swirl BFL, Corriedale, milk protein, and nylon. I figured I'd spin it woolen to take advantage of the prep and spin it up quickly, so I opened up the batt, split it into four strips, and then fluffed up each strip before spinning it. It went incredibly quickly -- so fast that I started yesterday afternoon and already finished all the singles.


I know the photo is a little blurry, but the singles are also rather soft and fuzzy -- that's the nature of woolen-spun yarn. I spun this mostly supported long draw; the spots where I got a big bunch of the white shiny stuff (I'm not sure whether that's the milk protein or the nylon) required a bit of short forward draw to get them to draft. I'm planning on letting these singles rest on the bobbin overnight. Tomorrow I'll wind them off with my ball winder and then ply from both ends.

Meanwhile, though it's still several weeks away, I am getting ready for the annual spin-fest that is the Tour de Fleece. My order from HipStrings arrived on Friday:


I know this isn't the best photo; it was snapped not long before sundown (and I didn't want to pull the fiber out of the bag until I was ready to spin it). On the top is the HipStrings Tour de Fleece colorway on superwash domestic wool top. On the bottom is what I will likely try to spin on challenge day -- more cotton! This is Jill's EZ Spin cotton, which is supposedly great for beginners. I figure that with more progress, it has to get easier!

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Visible Progress

I've been known to say that there is a black hole in every knitting project. You know what I mean -- that point where you feel like you've been knitting a ton but haven't actually made any forward progress. That's a bit how I've felt with my WIPs, but it seems that I've done enough knitting on them to finally escape the black hole.

For one thing, I finished the socks:


This is the sample for the toe-up version of my Non-Euclidian pattern, and it did turn out rather nicely, if I do say so myself. For one thing, I managed to get the stripes to match almost perfectly (perfect matching is probably impossible, given that humans are involved in both dyeing and knitting the yarn). But the heel also turned out well and fits as I'd hoped, so I'm very pleased. The pattern is already with my tech editor and should be back to me and ready for testing soon.

My handspun Boxy sweater is also suddenly enormous:


I put half the stitches on another needle when I reached the specified length and tried it on (though I use that term loosely -- it's so big that it was really more a matter of stepping into it and holding it roughly at underarm level), and at that point I determined that I could definitely add several inches more in length. I'm now at about 19 inches, so I need to decide if I want to go to 20 or just start the front and back now. I love that in natural light you can see the colors actually changing; I've mostly been knitting this at night, when it looks solidly dark. At the top you can see the next colors to come in the fade. The four skeins you see where actually knit all as one giant 8 oz. skein, but I realized that in order for my front and back to match, I'd actually need to divide each segment in two, so I split apart the sections when I was winding the skein. I'm kind of astounded at how much I've gotten done, and when I look at the pattern, there's really not that much left to do in the grand scheme of things.

I'll be working on this sweater a lot next week when I go on a little road trip. I don't think I've mentioned it here yet, but I'm going to the TNNA Summer NeedleArts Trade Show in Cleveland next week with Lisa of Fibernymph Dye Works. She's a member and had an extra ticket (her husband has gone in the past but decided to pass this year) that she offered to me. It's my first time attending this show, and I'm really looking forward to it. I'm signed up for a couple of classes and hope to meet some folks I've only interacted with online in the past. Most of all, it'll be fun to have several days away with a friend who totally understands why I want to spend most of the trip knitting!

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Pattern Release: Undamo Cowl

When Marian of Marianated Yarns approached me about doing a collaboration and I decided to do a mini collection, I knew that I had to come up with a piece that used one of her gorgeous mini skein sets. There are plenty of dyers out there who do mini skeins, but I was so drawn to Marian's sets when I went to look at her Web site the first time that I had to get my hands on one. Luckily Marian was happy to enable!


My Undamo Cowl started with the same swirling motif as the coordinating socks and hat, but that motif was only a starting point. This cowl is entirely stranded -- in fact, the only two rounds that don't use two colors are the cast on and the bind off. If you're relatively new to stranded colorwork, this is a great way to practice. There are no long floats, plus the six background colors you use keep things interesting the whole way through even though you are repeating the stitch pattern.

This cowl uses DK weight yarn, specifically Marian's Playtime DK for the main color and a gradient Jujubee DK mini skein set (the yarn is the same base). I've honestly never used a gradient that blended so effortlessly from one color to the next as well as this set did -- Marian's clearly got a real touch with her gradients! The all-over stranding makes for a really warm, cushy fabric, and the cowl is long enough that if it's a really cold day, you can pull it up over your ears and face.


I'll admit that I saved this pattern for last because I was so looking forward to knitting it. I enjoyed every minute of it, and I'm really pleased with how it came out. I hope you like it, too!

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Mojo Overload

It must be summer, because all I want to do lately is spin -- and I'm certainly doing a lot of it. Remember that pink bobbin from a week ago? Those singles only stayed on the bobbin overnight before being plied the next morning. I ended up chain plying in the interest of avoiding tangles, and frankly I like this skein as a nice, bouncy three ply.



It's mostly worsted weight (there's a bit at the end where I started spinning the singles that's a bit thinner) and approximately 184 yards. As this was spun specifically for Rainbow, she got to decide what it will become, and she's said she's pretty sure it should be a hat, perhaps combined with a neutral color (maybe some brioche with a natural wool?). I'm not casting on anything yet as we have quite a bit of time until a new hat will be needed and it's highly likely she'll change her mind by then, so for now I'm just enjoying this bright and happy skein.

On Friday afternoon, after taking a little nap, I pulled out some of my MDSW fleece, my hand cards, and my mini combs to do some sampling. As I was working with the fleece, it really became even more apparent what a spectacular fleece it is -- and now I have zero regrets about bringing it home! Despite the relatively short staple length, I was able to comb it a bit, though I did need to spin off a comb because I was not able to pull off any top. I spun up four samples in total (two each combed and carded), let the singles rest overnight, and then plied them Saturday morning -- chain plying one sample for each prep and Andean plying the other so that for each preparation method I'd have a two ply and a three ply.

Left to right: worsted two ply, worsted three ply, woolen two ply, woolen three ply
I'm honestly so enchanted by every one of these skeins that it's not making the decision of how to prep and spin the fleece any easier! A worsted-spun yarn will certainly be more durable, but I love the soft fuzz of the woolen-spun samples. The locks are likely a little too short to comb -- I can spin off a comb for a sample, but it would probably get pretty tedious for an entire fleece -- so I think I will likely use my drum carder to make batts and then spin the fiber semi-woolen, basically getting the best of both worlds.

Meanwhile, I've got a new spinning project on the wheel, some fiber that's so new I don't think I've even snapped a picture and put it in my Ravelry stash yet.


This is 70% BFL/30% Tussah silk from Southern Cross Fibre in a colorway called Windrose. It was the April 2018 fiber club shipment, which means I just got it last month (it takes a bit of time to work its way across the ocean from Australia). I decided to spin this fiber from end to end and chain ply, but in order to get more repeats of these beautiful autumnal colors, I split the top lengthwise first.


As you can see, I'm spinning these singles quite fine; I think the plied yarn should be in the range of fingering. It's practically spinning itself -- I'm already more than halfway through the singles and I only started spinning this yesterday!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Rinse and Repeat

Even though we've just come off a long weekend here in the United States, I've got another one in front of me. Tomorrow is Rainbow's last day (and I use that term loosely, because it's really only about two and a half hours) of second grade, so I am taking the day off to attend her school's final assembly and then spend the day with her. The weather report isn't looking very favorable, so while we'll probably be out and about to run a couple of errands -- including going to get Rainbow's summer haircut -- I imagine we'll spend a lot of the day inside, which means crafting time for me.

My two current WIPs look very much the same, though the ball of yarn currently being knit into my Boxy is getting noticeably smaller and my second sock is getting close to being ready for its heel.


Tomorrow I'm hoping to pull out some of my washed fleece, my hand cards, and my mini combs and do some sampling. I don't know that I'm ready to process and spin the whole fleece just yet, but I at least want to have a sense of how I'm going to do it before I start that big task. I figure that a bonus day (because on the weekend I always feel obliged to do chores and errands and such) is the perfect time to do it.

Outside of crafting time, I have been enjoying some other hobbies. I've been reading a lot lately, thanks to the wonder that is the ebook, and have finished several books. I've read two Kindle books about North Korea: A River in Darkness: One Man's Escape from North Korea (which was a Kindle freebie) and A Kim Jong-Il Production, which I'd bought some time ago after hearing a bit about the story on an episode of This American Life. They were both fascinating and heart-breaking reads, and given the current geo-political situation, they felt very timely. I've also read two books recently about lexicography: Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries and The Professor and the Madman. While the former is very much about the process of creating a dictionary, in the latter it plays more of a secondary role, with the focus more on a very interesting player in the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary. Finally, a book I could not put down (in a manner of speaking) was Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness. I bought it on Kindle after receiving a recommendation e-mail and really loved it. I'd describe it as a cross between Girl, Interrupted; one of Oliver Sacks's books; and an episode of House. What is most interesting to me, in looking back at the books I've read so far this year, is that half of them have been nonfiction and that all but four of them have been ebooks. I've always said that I'm devoted to physical books, but I've really learned to love digital books. I also just recently got around to connecting to Overdrive so that I can borrow digital and audio books from the library, so I expect that this is a trend that will continue for a while. An added bonus of reading a book on my iPad is that I can read while knitting or spinning!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Date Check on Aisle 3

As much as I love a long weekend, I will say this: It really messes with my sense of time. All day today I've kept having to remind myself that it's Tuesday, not Monday, and that (as such) it's a blogging day. I didn't want to forget! Fortunately I have been looking at the calendar enough today to have remembered.

It was a busy weekend but also a relaxing one. The Mister had been on a work trip all last weekend, so there was the usual catching up to do on laundry and things like that, but having another adult around the house meant that I got some extra time to myself. I was able to go for a run on Saturday and long walks on Sunday and Monday, so I got lots of steps in. When I posted on Sunday, I forgot to mention that while I was doing all the laundry (something like five loads) on Saturday, I also managed to finish washing the rest of my fleece. And of course there was plenty of knitting and spinning time.

The second accomplishment of the weekend (after finishing up the fleece washing) was finishing the first sock in the new pair. I'm very pleased with how it turned out, and the pattern is already with my tech editor as I work on the second sock.


My handspun Boxy has also seen a fair amount of attention while the Mister and I have been trying to get caught up with a couple of shows that we watch but that we can never seem to watch when they're actually on. I've reached about 14 inches of body and have switched over to second color shift -- the yarn is now two plies blue, one ply purple.


I held up a measuring tape to my body last night, and I think I'm going to aim for about 20 inches in body length total. That should bring the body down below my hips, which is a length I'm much more comfortable with and that's more suited to my tendency to run cold. Given how long this second skein of yarn is lasting, I think I might skip the blue-only skein and go straight into the darker-blue-to-light-blue fourth skein. I might end up having to break it apart into each fade segment so that I can split them in half when it comes time to work the front and back separately, but I'll deal with that when I get there. After all the time I spent spinning for this sweater, you bet your wool I'm going to do what it takes to make it come out exactly as I want it!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

All the Stars

I have been on a spinning kick this weekend, and I have finished yarn to show for it! After finishing up the third bobbin of Starry Night Cheviot singles during the week, I spent nearly all of Friday evening and a bit of Saturday morning plying them all. Though the finished yarn turned out a bit thicker and with less yardage than I was hoping, I am nonetheless delighted with it.

Right after skeining (but before washing)
I didn't fully expect to get distinct stripes from the way I spun my singles, but I quite like how there are areas of one color and areas of subtle overlap. I'm pretty sure that when I knit this up, I'll get blurry stripe-like areas.


After washing, it appears to be roughly sport weight, and it's around 280 yards. I think that should be enough to knit up a pair of shortie socks, and if I divide the yarn first and knit toe up, I'll be able to knit until I'm out of yarn.

Almost as soon as I finished up this skein, I threw the next thing on the wheel -- some incredibly bright and shiny fiber that Rainbow asked me to buy and spin up for her at Indie Knit & Spin in March. I'm very nearly done (and actually will likely be finishing it up after I post this).


This is Raindrops on Roses from HipStrings, and it's actually a very interesting fiber blend (as you would expect): 62.5% Merino, 12.5% viscose from roses, 12.5% viscose from bamboo, and 12.5% nylon. I am spinning the whole thing onto one bobbin, and then I'll determine whether I'll wind it off with my ball winder and ply from both ends or chain ply. The latter is likely to cause fewer problems, but I'll get more yardage from the former. Fortunately, I want to let the singles rest either way, so I have a bit of time to ponder. And maybe by this time tomorrow, I'll have another finished skein!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Pleasantly Surprised

Over the past couple of days, I've been pleasantly surprised by a number of things in my crafting life.

First, I managed to finish the singles on my Cheviot spin on Tuesday evening while I edited the latest episode of the podcast. That means I'll be ready to start plying tomorrow!


Second, I finished the heel on my toe-up socks and it worked out as I hoped!


Third, I measured my sweater when I was ready to put it away last night and discovered that I'm already past a foot. There's still quite a bit of body left to knit, but I'm farther than I thought I was.


We're coming up on a long holiday weekend here in the United States, and the weather forecast has some rain and thunderstorms in it. I'm planning to be out and active as much as possible when the sun it out and then take good advantage of the time when I need to be inside by working on my projects and, perhaps, washing the rest of my fleece. Hope you have a productive and restful weekend, wherever you are!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Pregaming

Stash Dash starts this Friday, and I'm fairly certain that my goal will again be 10K, so my plan is to spend the week getting as much done as I can on my current WIPs without actually finishing anything. That was easily done for my sock blank socks, which are about 95% done as of the end of the weekend -- just about half a toe remains.


My toe-up socks are going fairly quickly; I've just started the heel on the first sock, and I feel like I just cast on the sock anyway, so it's bound to be a quick knit.

The colors are off due to a very overcast sky during my lunch break.

The only project that won't be able to be finished up quickly is, naturally, my handspun Boxy, which is growing, albeit at a slow pace. The body is now more than 10 inches long!


The pattern says to knit to 16 inches, but I have a feeling I'm going to want to add some length. That's still a lot of knitting to do, so I'm going to use Stash Dash as motivation to get it done. It will be a lot of meterage if I can finish it by the end of the summer!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Fleecy Thoughts

This weekend has been all about the wool. Yesterday I spent nearly all day doing loads of laundry (five altogether, in case you're wondering), and as long as I was going down to the basement all day, I figured I might as well wash some more fleece. I got two lingerie bags' worth washed up yesterday and also pawed through the first load that I washed last weekend.



This was my first time washing fleece using Unicorn Power Scour (previously I used blue Dawn) and I have to say that I'm a convert. This lovely stuff needed only one wash cycle to get the lanolin out. The dry fleece feels clean but not dried out. The color is getting blown out in the photos above -- the actual fleece is a gorgeous chocolatey brown:


I'm planning to use some of what I've washed to do a little sampling so I can decide how I want to prep the rest of it. The staple length is a bit short for what I'd expect for a Romney cross, but that's probably because the fleece came from a yearling ram. I'll attempt some combing and some carding and see which looks best.

Meanwhile, in between the trips up and down the stairs, I got some decent spinning time in yesterday as well. I finished up my first bobbin of Cheviot singles on Friday night and finished the second yesterday afternoon.


I won't know for sure until the third bobbin is spun and the singles are plied, but it looks like my plan to line up the colors is more or less working!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Changing Direction

I won't both posting a photo of my Boxy; it hasn't changed much since you saw it last, and it'll look that way for a while yet. I'm also not posting another photo of my sock blank socks, though they're getting close to being finished. I've put them in hibernation for the time being so I can finish them up when Stash Dash starts.

Instead, I'm going to show you a new project I just started this morning, and it's a bit of a change for me. If you've been around the blog long enough, you'll know that my typical way to knit socks is cuff down. Occasionally I'll try something different, but my standard formula is cuff down with a heel flap and gusset. I know exactly how many stitches to cast on, what length to knit the leg, how to turn the heel, and so on. So you might be surprised to see the start of the sock I just cast on:


Yep, that's a toe. (And yes, those are my bright green pants.) I am knitting a pair of socks for myself toe up. What's more, this is also a foray into designing toe up. I've had a number of people who have told me that they really like my Non-Euclidian pattern but wish it had instructions to be knit from the toe up, so that is what I am attempting to do here. I am using a skein of Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce, one of my favorite sock bases, in a colorway called Favorite Flannel Jammies that I bought this past winter. I really like the colors and they really do remind me of flannel, which is perhaps not the best thing to be thinking about in the spring, but then again I've been spending my days at work with my space heater on lately so a warm thought is welcome. I've just finished the toe increases on these and so am now in a pretty mindless place until it's time to start the shaping for the heel. It seems I can't knit anything right now that's not stockinette in the round!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Subtlety

In knitting my handspun Boxy sweater, I am getting a very similar feeling to the one I had when spinning for it: This all looks the same. This effect is magnified by the fact that I am often working on it at night, when it's dark outside and the lighting inside is fairly dim. I can see that the sweater is growing, but the fabric looks the same to me because the color change is so gradual and so subtle. I had to take a photo in bright light in the morning to really convince myself that the colors are, in fact, shifting.


See those little pops of blue? That's the beginning of the first color fade. I spun the yarn on purpose to gradually shift from one color to the next. This is a three-ply yarn, so the faded skeins start out with all three plies being the first color, then they move to two plies of the first color and one of the new, then to one of the old and two of the new, and finally to all three of the new.

The last time I measured the fabric, I was somewhere between 9 and 10 inches of body done. The pattern calls for 16 inches of length for the body, but that is also supposed to be a somewhat cropped length. My plan is put half the stitches on another circular needle when I get to that length so I can try it on. I suspect I will want to add additional length, as I have plenty of yarn and am not generally too fond of cropped sweaters anyway.

My other current project is anything but subtle, and it's getting surprisingly close to completion.


This is the second sock in the pair from my sock blank; I've just started the heel flap. If the first sock is any indication, I should be in that hot pink section on the blank when I finish. I think I could easily finish up this second sock this week, but I think I will probably put the project aside when I get to the toe so I can save it for Stash Dash, which starts next Friday. I hit my 10K goal last year, and this year I am hoping to at least match that. There may be a potential change in the calculation of spinning yardage, and if that happens, I may increase my goal. Regardless, I hope to use the event as good motivation to be productive and get things done.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Back in My Happy Place

My spinning mojo is back in full force, and I am spinning lots of my default yarn -- three-ply fingering weight. Yesterday I finished plying up my Southern Cross Fibre Spelsau:


It turned out well but a bit low on the yardage, at only about 250-ish yards. I expected it to be lower than my usual, but it was much lower than I expected. It is perhaps a tad overplied, so I might run it back through the wheel to remove some extra twist, but that wouldn't give me much more yardage. I suspect it's mainly the wool, as it was a coarser, heavier wool than I'm used to spinning. Still, it feels good to spin up something from the stash. This skein will either go in my Etsy shop or will be used to make some shortie socks.

Next, I decided to tackle one of my Rhinebeck purchases, some Cheviot from Classy Squid Fiber Co. in a colorway called Starry Night. I was pondering how to spin it to keep the colors fairly distinct and was all set on chain plying when I laid out the fiber and found that if I tore it in thirds widthwise, the colors lined up fairly well. So that's what I did, and to create shorter color sequences, I split each third in half lengthwise. Now I can spin a traditional three ply and have more or less distinct color sections.


I'm about halfway through the first bobbin of singles and already love how it is spinning up.


I've currently got the first batch of my Maryland fleece soaking and hope to have some to play with this week!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

The Stockinette Show

I am one of those weird person who is perfectly happy knitting stockinette in the round for just about forever -- it's easy and mindless knitting, and I'm pretty fast at it. That said, I do occasionally like a little variety, but in looking at my current projects, it's all about the stockinette.

My main project is my handspun Boxy, which I started on May 1 and worked on a ton last weekend. I knit on it pretty much the whole way down to Maryland on Friday and the whole way back home on Sunday, plus I put in some time on it on Saturday evening while we watched the hockey game and on Sunday night while I cried my way through the season finale of Call the Midwife. It's actually a bit longer than it looks here but that hem is flipping up as you'd expect (I'll show it who's boss when I block it).


I have gotten through the first skein of yarn and joined in the second, but I actually wound off quite a bit from the second skein in order to get to the part where it starts transitioning from purple to dark blue. I was surprised that my first 350-ish-yarn skein got me about 6 inches of fabric, and while I will likely add some length to the body, I was starting to worry that if I knit up all the yarn from this skein, I wouldn't get to the lightest color in the gradient. I think what I wound off was less than 100 yards, so I still have a pretty sizeable skein to work with (we're talking 500+ yards). When I get toward the end of the skein, I'll see how much fabric I have and determine whether I'm going to use the dark blue-only or go right to the dark blue to light blue skein.

The other stockinette project is my sock blank socks, and I'm nearly finished with the first sock -- I just started the toe.


This one has gone much faster than I expected, considering I wasn't really feeling like I was in a rush to get this pair done. It looks like I should have a fair amount of yarn left in the blank, so provided it's enough, Rainbow should be getting a pair of ankle socks out of what's leftover.

I'm very much looking forward to the weekend ahead and getting a chance to sleep in a little. We only have plans to get together with family for brunch on Sunday to celebrate Mother's Day, so I'm planning some serious relaxation (but also a run if the weather cooperates). I've got some handspun singles ready to be plied and obviously plenty of sweater knitting to do, so if the weather is less than optimal, I won't mind being stuck inside.