Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Cute (but Not Especially Little)

'Tis done! In plenty of time, no less!

Pattern: Little Boxy by Joji Locatelli, size 8
Yarn: Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce (80% superwash merino/20% nylon) in Peacock Blue, 2.21 skeins (another 808 m for Stash Dash!)
Needles: US 2.5 (3.0 mm) and US 4 (3.5 mm)
Started/Completed: April 28/June 22
Mods: None

This was such a fun knit. Yes, it's true that the body was a bit of a slog, but in reality the hardest part about this adorable sweater was dealing with two skeins of yarn (I alternated every round on the body and every other row on the parts that were worked flat) and having all those extra ends to weave in -- and those have nothing to do with the pattern itself but rather with my decision to use hand-dyed yarn, which meant alternating to avoid pooling or clear lines where I switched from one skein to another. It really wasn't that much extra work, and I think it was more than worth it. The only place I did not alternate was on the sleeves, where I used the remains of the two skeins I started with in order to leave the third skein more or less intact for use in another project.

I was originally going to knit the next size up, thinking that Rainbow will be 10 later this year and I wanted this to fit her for more than the next few months, but I did some measurements and she's such a skinny little thing that the 8 was more than big enough. I did have a brief moment of panic when I went to pick up the stitches for the first sleeve that the arm openings were too small, but then I pulled out one of her pajama tops for comparison and my fears were laid to rest.

As you can see, the circumference of the sweater is nearly twice that of her body (this top has minimal positive ease on her), meaning that the sleeves are going to hit in the middle of her arm to begin with, and on top of that, the armhole opening on the sweater is the same circumference of the armhole opening on the top -- so that even if the sweater armhole did hit at the biggest part of her arm, she'd still be fine.

I'm thrilled, and more importantly I think she'll be thrilled, and I'm happy to have finished it up in plenty of time. I even blocked it over the weekend so that it's all tidy and ready for her to wear, should she so choose (and should the weather cooperate) when she gets back on Friday. And I'm fighting an urge to cast on a new one for me!

Now that this is done, I'm focusing on a sweater for me, specifically my Soldotna Crop. I think that if I give it the same amount of attention I gave Rainbow's sweater last week, I can make quite a dent in it! I'm about halfway through the yoke chart at this point, and the number of stitches is now big enough that I've been able to spread out the fabric on the entire length of my circular needle instead of magic looping.

Today I'm attending a diversity retreat at work all day, and I'm taking my sock project with me (I finished the first one on Saturday). I think there will be enough attendees that I can blend in and knit without disturbing someone, though of course I'll put it away if someone takes issue. But just think of how much sock I can get done if I'm able to work on it more or less all day!

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Quick and Dirty and Pink and Fluffy

After my last spin, I was craving something that would be fast, so I pulled a braid of BFL out of the stash and started long drawing it (yes, I verbed it). I was so focused on finishing up Rainbow's sweater this week that I only got back to it yesterday, but I did finish up all the singles last night. I let them sit on the bobbin overnight and then, this morning, used my ball winder to make a center-pull ball so I could ply from both ends.

This afternoon, I sat down and plied it all. I literally just finished, so I haven't even skeined it yet, but I'm hoping to do that later this evening.

My long draw technique is not as precise as my short forward draw, so the finished yarn is a bit thick and thin and pretty much fuzzy all over. But I'm happy. This is just the kind of palate cleanser I needed (especially as I'm planning to start another fairly fine yarn sweater spin soon), and it was very satisfying because I think it took a total of three spinning sessions to do the singles and one to ply.

I'm debating about whether or not to start something new, given that the Tour de Fleece starts in less than two weeks; perhaps I will do another spin like this one to bust some more fiber stash.

While I was plying this afternoon, I was multitasking. Thanks to Kat's link on Friday and a big box of good-looking strawberries at the market today, I thought it was the perfect time to make some Roasted Strawberry Balsamic Jam.


and after:

I think this might be my topping for my daily oatmeal this week!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

For Want of a Sleeve

I thought I was setting myself a rather lofty goal when I decided to try to finish Rainbow's Little Boxy before she got back from camp. As it turns out, I had much less left to knit on it than I'd realized, and thanks to several evening of undivided knitting time, it's now nearly done -- all that's left to do is the second sleeve.

I knit all of the first one last night, after I had finished weaving in the remaining ends from the body and the neckline. Sadly, I then had only about 10 minutes left before my usual bedtime, so I didn't even attempt to start the second (picking up a precise number of stitches is never a fast process because I usually have to do it three or more times before I get it right). I'll at least get a start on it tonight -- I'll be out looking at bridesmaid dresses with my future sister-in-law for part of the evening, so I won't get as much time as normal. Even so, I'm pretty confident that this sweater will be done before I go to bed tomorrow night, and I am thrilled about that.

After my last reading post, I did indeed finish the Inspector Gamache book (and gave it five stars). I also read a short but powerful book around the same time: When Breath Becomes Air. It had been on my want to read list for a while, and I saw that there was no wait for it at the library. In the end, I read the entire thing in a day. It's a very moving and sad memoir; I cried at the end, mainly at the thought of what Kalanithi could have done had he lived a full life. And it made me think a lot about life and death and how to make the most of our time on earth. It's a heavy book, to be sure, but one that's worth reading. And it fills the "Originally Published Posthumously" square on my bingo card.

My current read is The Goldfinch, which I've been wanting to read for some time. My mother had it in hardback when we were in Florida a few years ago and was reading it, and she said she'd lend it to me when she was done and then apparently lent to it a friend first. But I found it from the library with no wait, so now I just need to try to finish it before the loan is up -- it is more than 700 pages long! It'll fill my More than 500 Pages square on my bingo card, and I'm finding the writing quite good (though I'm finding the story to be quite depressing). I'm about 40% through it and hope to make a decent dent in it this weekend.

We've got a relatively quiet weekend ahead, the only one we'll have with Rainbow away. We have  a nice dinner out planned for Saturday evening, but other than that we don't have anything on the schedule. The weather is supposed to be nice on Saturday, so I'm hoping to get out for a run and generally be outside after a week when it's been rainy and gloomy pretty much nonstop. The rain has been good for all the plants, though, so I expect at least some of my time will be spent in the garden, pulling weeds!

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Fessing Up

I have a confession to make: I bought yarn. I am supposed to be on a yarn and fiber diet, and yet I bought some yarn. But I don't feel too bad about it, to be perfectly honest. I have been successfully knitting from my stash for a while now, and in addition to using yarn up that way, I sent six skeins of DK yarn off to someone else this weekend as a prize for a knitlong (it was a sweater quantity of a Madelinetosh yarn that I had one in the same event a couple of years ago, and I was never going to use it, so I offered it up as a prize). I also have a plan for the yarn in question, which arrived yesterday:

This set of six skeins of DK is a Serendipitous Sweater Kit from Fibernymph Dye Works; Lisa only recently started offering up sweater sets, and after seeing a Ravelry/Instagram friend knit up a Bubble Sweater with one of these sets, I just had to make one. I'm not casting on just yet, but I expect I will soon, as soon as the current sweaters are off the needles.

About those current sweaters? They're moving right along. Rainbow's Little Boxy, in fact, is getting very close to being done!

I've got about three rows total left to work on the back shoulders and then I'll be ready to the three-needle bind-off to join the shoulders. After that, all that's left is the neckline (which I'm thinking I might do first) and the sleeves -- and of course weaving in a bunch of ends, but I can probably take care of that in an evening. I've been knitting on this furiously the past two evenings, and I think I can realistically say that this WIP will be an FO before the week is out.

I also gave my Soldotna Crop a bit off attention over the weekend and am moving right along on the colorwork.

The colors are a bit more vivid in real life; unfortunately we're in a gloomy weather pattern this week, so the light is not ideal. I do like how my color swap worked out, though, so I'm plowing ahead.

In addition to the sweaters, I've got one new WIP, which I started on Friday morning thinking I'd have time to work on it during my orthodontist appointment first thing (it turned out that I didn't). But it did come in handy when we went to the movies on Saturday afternoon.

This was some FDW Bounce from a club shipment earlier in the year; the colorway is called Fairies' Dance. I'm doing a Non-Euclidian heel on these, but I'm trying a little twist (literally) in the form of some twisted ribbing on either side of the increase area. I'm curious to see if this changes the fit at all or if it's purely ornamental. In either case, it's something a little different and therefore quite engaging, and socks are always good for lunchtime knitting!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Sounds of Silence

Well, she's gone. We put Rainbow on the bus to camp this morning, and so for the next two weeks (well, the next 12 days, anyway), the house will be unusually quiet.

I did, however, get lots of extra time with her, including the entire day on Friday. I told her we could do whatever she wanted, which turned out to be watching a lot of TV (presumably in preparation for not being able to watch it for quite a while). That gave me lots of extra time at my wheel, and that enabled me to finish up my spin in progress.

I couldn't be more pleased with how this turned out. This skein combined two different batches of fiber (one Polwarth/silk, one Targhee/bamboo/silk) in similar colors. I created, in effect, a four-ply yarn by doing an alternating chain ply. This structure is a bit hard to explain, so bear with me here. To chain ply, you essentially create a crochet chain with long loops and add twist. This enables you to create a three-ply yarn from one single/strand. For an alternating chain ply, you still create the loops but also hold an additional strand alongside it, and you alternate which strand you grab to form the next loop. The finished yarn is fingering weight (which gives you a true sense of how fine my singles were!) and approximately 320 yards.

Though I have a lot of knitting to do right now, I do feel like spinning more on the weekends, so I almost immediately started a new project. I pulled out some BFL from Fibernymph Dye Works that I won as a prize sometime last year, I think, and decided to spin it all onto one bobbin and ply it back on itself for a quick-and-dirty two ply.

To make things even quicker, I'm spinning it mostly supported long draw, so my singles are a bit fuzzy. I feel like I've hardly spent any time on this, and yet I'd say I'm already two-thirds of the way done with the singles. Here is the gratuitous bobbin shot:

My spinning area also underwent a minor makeover this weekend, with some help from Rainbow. The utility cart I ordered arrived, so I took it as the perfect opportunity to clean up the area, throw some things away, and generally organize my spinning things. Now I have a neater corner, even if it isn't quite a cozy as it could be (that will come, once the new chair arrives).

Here's a close-up of the cart itself:

There are various tools and such in the top drawer, which has a removable cover that doubles as a surface for my miniSpinner to sit on, and all my lazy kates and extra bobbins fit in the other two. This purchase was worth every penny!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Counting the Days

It's Thursday, which means I have three more days with Rainbow before she leaves for two weeks at overnight camp. I know she's going to have a great time, and I know I'm going to enjoy getting a break from parenting, but I'm also dreading it because I know I'm going to miss her a ton. It seems appropriate that I managed to finish up something for her before she leaves.

I knit these shortie socks for her after she saw my Rose City Rollers and asked if I could make her a pair (how could I say no?). Because I was using leftovers and yarn supply would be limited, I opted to go toe up using the Fish Lip Kiss Heel template, adding in a smidge of extra length because it's been six months since I last measured her foot. I worked two inches after the heel and did a stretchy bind off to allow the cuff to roll. She was thrilled with them, as evidenced by what I saw last night when I poked my head in her room to tell her it was almost time for bed.

This is definitely my kid -- wearing handknits and reading!

Now that the socks are done, I've been stuffing the project bag with her sweater into my work bag so I can knit on it during the day as well as in the evening. I think I should get to the splitting point today!

Shall we take a look at my Summer Book Bingo card for an update?

I think it's filling up quite nicely! I haven't really thought about any strategies for filling it or getting a bingo; I'm pretty much just reading what interests me and finding a square to fill in that works. I believe I've finished one book since my last reading update, and that's in the square in the top right: All This I Will Give to You. It was a freebie from Amazon at one point, and it sounded interesting (and it is set in Spain, thus earning it that spot on my card). I ended up giving it three stars. It was a decent read, but it went on too long without really building to the climax, so I started losing interest about two-thirds of way through (but of course I was far enough along that I had to finish it).

Provided there are no emergencies at work today, I should finish another book during my lunch break. All this past week I've been listening to the audiobook of the second Inspector Gamache mystery, A Fatal Grace. I've rarely listened to audiobooks in the past because I have trouble staying focused, but I didn't have as much trouble with this one. I even listened to it while I was on a run last weekend, and I'm convinced that the run went so well because I was so involved in listening to the story that I wasn't thinking about how much I hate running! I got this one from the library and only went the audiobook route because the wait was a lot shorter than for the e-book. I think there were still some things that I missed because I wasn't looking at the printed page, but the narrator is excellent and overall I've really enjoyed it. I'm sure I'll listen to more in the series in the future.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

A Hop on the Bandwagon

I'm typically pretty good at sticking to my WIPs and not getting distracted by the new and shiny, but now I have to fess up to doing just that: I've just cast on a new project, a sweater for me, and as a result I'm now neglecting the projects that were already on the needles. And yet I don't feel too bad about it! Let me explain.

For a while now, it seems like everybody has been knitting the Soldtotna Crop sweater. I thought it was cute but wasn't too tempted -- until I realized that I had four skeins of DK that would work for it in my stash already (Yarn Hollow Tango, a Polwarth/silk blend, if you're wondering). And then I couldn't get the idea out of my head. So I gave in, dug the skeins out, and swatched. And on Sunday evening, I cast on.

I haven't gotten very far yet, and that's mainly because I ripped back a couple of times last night, first because I realized I'd used the wrong color for C3 (that's the mauve-y purple) and then because I just mixed up my colors in the pattern. I'm only eight or nine rounds into the colorwork, and I've already changed the pattern. The color I'm supposed to be using for C3 is actually a deep purple, but it's so close in tone to the dark blue I'm using for C1 that it would be impossible to tell them apart. So I'm substituting the lighter purple for most of the areas where the pattern would have had me knit in the dark purple in order to have the stranded pattern actually show up. I have plenty of yarn, so that's not an issue, and even though the contrast between the light purple and the light blue isn't very strong, it's certainly better than it would be if I were using the dark purple here.

I'm sure that a cropped sweater in DK yarn won't take too long, so I don't really view it as cheating on my other WIPs -- and I am using up stash yarn! I'm still plugging away at the other two projects on the needles, the largest of which is Rainbow's Little Boxy.

After working on it diligently most evenings last week, I'm now about an inch and a half away from splitting the body for the front and back yoke. I'll give it some additional attention tonight (I meant to knit on it some last night but got pulled in by the colorwork), and with any luck I'll get to the splitting point. Rainbow leaves this coming Sunday for two weeks at overnight camp, and I've gotten this crazy idea in my head to try to get the sweater done by the time she returns. I'd say that's an ambitious goal but not unrealistic, provided I can stay focused.

The other WIP is very close to being done and should be wrapped by tomorrow.

These are the toe-up shortie socks I started for Rainbow last week using the yarn leftover from my slouchy hat. The first sock was finished on Saturday, and the second is now about half an inch away from being ready for the heel. I'm fairly certain I'll have enough yarn to finish, as I think I had 42 g to start and the first sock used up 20 g. It will be close, though, so keep your fingers crossed that I don't have to play another round of yarn chicken!

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Spinning the Shine

I've spent a good part of the weekend spinning up the Polwarth/silk I received in the fiber swap and it's been absolutely dreamy. I have no idea what the fiber percentages are, but based on this shine, I'd say the amount of silk is fairly high.

I estimate I'll need another session or two finish up these singles before I can ply. I'm very excited for the plying step on this yarn and can't wait to see how the two colorways look together.

Meanwhile, my spinning today was done in slightly different surroundings. My brother-in-law came over this morning to get the last of the baby furniture, and that included the rocking chair/glider that I used to sit in to spin and the accompanying ottoman, which I always had next to me to hold my lazy kates. We've ordered a new upholstered chair to take its place, but it hasn't arrived yet (apparently it's made custom), so in the meantime I'm making do with a folding chair.

I'm probably sitting with better posture that I was in the old chair, but it's not nearly as comfortable. I'll manage for the time being; to be honest, the most difficult thing is not having a space next to me for all the gear (the kates are on the floor for now, but that won't do for actually plying). I going to get a small cart like this one to hold all the supplies, and I can even get a lid for the top drawer so I can put my miniSpinner on it and get rid of the awful folding tray table!

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Knitting, Reading, and Thinking

It's Thursday, and while I don't typically join in on the Three on Thursday thing, my post today seems to have three parts and I'm going with it.

I. Knitting

I have finished a thing! A small thing, true, but it is finished and blocked and pretty darn cute, if I do say so myself.

Pattern: Flax Light by Tin Can Knits, size 6-12 months
Yarn: Knit Picks Felici in Baker Street, 1.46 skeins
Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm) and US 2 (2.75 mm)
Started/Completed: May 27/June 4

This pattern has been knit thousands of times, and with good reason -- it's a classic style that's good for anyone and it's very well written, as you'd expect from a Tin Can Knits pattern. I have a feeling I'll knit it again in the future, perhaps for me and Rainbow and maybe even for the Mister, should he decide he wants another sweater (though perhaps for him I'll opt for the heavier version). I didn't make any modifications to the pattern and only messed with the yarn when I did the sleeves, starting each one with the same color as the last row worked in the yoke. I'll admit I'm a bit annoyed with the breaks in the patterning in the yarn. One happened toward the end of the yoke (that thin line of the dark blue that doesn't quite go all the way around) and I was hoping it was a fluke, but then it happened again on the sleeve you see in on the right. It doesn't seem to be an interruption of the pattern, just a random length of the dark blue where it doesn't belong. There were also a couple of blips of white/undyed yarn that ended up being only about two stitches wide; I think one got blended into the garter stitch on the sleeve, but the other is more obvious on one of the sleeves and I made sure to make that fall on the back of the sweater. I hardly doubt anyone but me (and, well, now you) will notice these issues, so I'm not sweating them too much.

The remaining WIPs on the needles at the moment are Rainbow's Little Boxy, which is still a big tube, and a new pair of shortie socks I started for her.

If the yarn looks familiar, that's because it's leftover from the brioche slouchy hat I knit last month. I have 40-ish grams of the skein left, which I'm hoping is enough for a pair of socks for her. My recent pair weighed 55 g, and her feet are shorter and smaller than mine, so I'm hoping I'll have enough. If I run out, I'll just add in some scraps -- she won't care.

II. Reading

I've been reading quite a bit lately and finished three books since I last posted about it:
  • Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed: This was an incredibly absorbing and enjoyable book. I'm not sure if I've mentioned it on the blog, but when I was in college, I majored in psychology and intended to go to grad school to get a PhD and become a therapist. That plan got a little derailed by the statistics courses I had to take, but I'm still quite interested in the profession (and have benefited from therapy myself several times). It was one of those rare books that I could not put down and also didn't want to end. I gave it five stars.
  • We Should All Be Feminists: I got this as an audiobook from the library, and it feels a little like cheating to count it as a book that I've read because it's a very short book; the whole audiobook, read by the author, is a brief 45 minutes. I listened while spinning on Sunday and enjoyed it a great deal, and not just because of the content. It was a real treat to listen to the author, with her rich voice and beautiful Nigerian accent, read her own words. I gave it four stars.
  • The Lie: A Memoir of Two Marriages, Catfishing & Coming Out: One of the squares on my summer book bingo card is "protagonist with a different gender/sexual orientation from your own," so I decided to think outside the box a bit when I was looking over June's choices for the Amazon First Reads program and go with this memoir. I found it to be an interesting and at times heartbreaking read. Though I feel like I stretched my horizons a bit by reading it, I had trouble following it at times -- it jumps around in time a lot. I gave it two stars, not because it wasn't good, but because of that difficulty.

III. Thinking

There's been a lot of discussion in the online knitting community lately about sizing and inclusivity. Given that the fashion industry has long focused on body types that aren't very realistic, it's no surprise that the knitwear design industry has struggled with its sizing range, and recently a lot of designers have begun the process of making their garment size ranges much larger. Kat posted today about an Instagram post from Romi Hill, and reading Romi's words got me thinking. I've mainly kept this blog as a record of knitting, spinning, and reading, but from time to time over the past year, I may have mentioned that I have been making an effort to lose some weight over the past year. I know that weight and body image are things that nearly all women struggle with (many men do, too, but society is particularly tough on women); it's something I've been dealing with since my early teenage days. For most of my adult life, I've been overweight -- not terribly so, but enough that I've been self-conscious of my body and my size for pretty much most of my life. I've tried numerous diets over the years, but nothing ever worked. And as I've been reflecting on it, I think that the reason nothing ever worked was because I was doing it for the wrong reasons. I was trying to be thin so that I'd meet society's idea of what I "should" look like.

What changed in the last year or so is that I made changes to my diet and my lifestyle in order to be healthier. I had stopped eating meat for a while because my cholesterol was a little high, but when that did nothing to change it (my cholesterol levels actually went up), I realized that losing weight was probably going to be the most effective way to get those numbers down. So I started paying closer attention to what I ate. I'm eating less, yes, but I'm also making better choices about what I put into my body -- eating more fruits and vegetables and whole grains and fewer processed carbs and sweets. And I'm moving more and doing some exercises daily to strengthen my body. For as good as it has felt to see the numbers on the scale go down and to wear clothes that I hadn't been able to wear comfortably in years, what really feels good is that I've made a lifestyle change that I feel like I can keep up in the long term. And I feel more comfortable in my own skin, which is really a better measure of the effectiveness than any number on the scale. (Oh, and my cholesterol has gone down, too, which is one less thing to stress about.)

I'm telling you all this not so you can pat me on the back about what a good job I've done or to make you feel guilty if you're not happy with how you look but to show you that any change can be made if you do it for the right reasons -- most especially if you do it for yourself. There are plenty of things in this world and in my life that I can't control, but I can look out for my health in terms of how I care for my body, and that's very empowering.

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Pattern Release: Reverberations

Early on in my knitting obsession, I tried intarsia. I found it fiddly and perhaps not worth the trouble (though I did do it again on occasion when I couldn't resist an adorable pattern using the technique). It's one of those skills that can be useful to be able to do, but as far as I was concerned, I could happily knit lots of beautiful things without having to use it.

But then, as so often happens, I had a design idea. And to get the look I wanted, it would require intarsia. Still not wanting to deal with the fiddly aspect of the technique -- the need for multiple strands of yarn and the resulting tangles, the inevitable tension issues, the extra ends to weave it -- I resolved to come up with a different method to achieve the same look. The result was what I'm now thinking of as short-row intarsia, and you saw my first use of it in my Frenemy shawl, which debuted in the Knit Picks Radiance accessory collection earlier this year.

Not long after I finished swatching for that submission (yes, I hadn't even knit the shawl yet!), I knew that it was not going to be my only design using this technique, and in fact I very quickly came up with two additional design ideas. The second of this trio of short-row intarsia shawls is making its debut today. This is Reverberations.

This shawl starts like your typical top-down triangle shawl, with a garter tab cast-on and four increases every right-side row. Because of the placement of the increases, however, the shape you get is actually more of a half-circle. Accentuating that is the addition of the intarsia stripes, which are worked in a contrast color in garter stitch for an added textural element. The pattern created by those stripes is like the shape of sound waves or ripples in a pond when you toss in a pebble (or even, if you're being really creative, like the Wi-Fi symbol on a computer). Each stripe that's added is longer, and the combination of the shaping in the shawl and the short rows creates a very pleasing curve. That curve is echoed in the reverse stockinette i-cord edging, which adds weight to the bottom of the shawl to keep the stockinette from curling and makes it super easy to block out the bottom of the shawl. The shaping makes this shawl very comfortable to wear because it sits perfectly on the shoulders.

The yarn I used in the sample is Jill Draper Makes Stuff Mohonk, a wonderfully soft and fuzzy two-ply sportweight made of 100% Cormo lambswool. I picked up these two skeins at Jill's open studio even at Rhinebeck last fall with this design in mind. The beauty of this design is that you can use any yarn you like and make it any size you like; there are instructions in the pattern for how to end the shawl at any time (either when you're almost out of your main color or when you're just ready to be done).

The pattern, which has been tech edited, is now available in my Ravelry shop. With any luck, you can also expect to see the third shawl in the series later this summer!

Sunday, June 02, 2019

A Very Fine Thread

The weekend now wrapping up is just the weekend I needed. Friday, when I took off from work to spend it with Rainbow, couldn't have been a more perfect day. The sun was out, the humidity was low, and the temperature wasn't too warm. We left her school before 10 a.m., had lunch with my sister-in-law, got our summer haircuts, and did a little shopping. We both had some down time before we joined my father for dinner (both the Mister and my mother were out of town). Then we had a leisurely evening at home and a good night's sleep. I woke up Saturday morning went out for a run while the Mister slept in (he got home very late Friday night), then got to have a leisurely breakfast. I did the usual chores around the house but still had time to do some spinning and knitting. Today we likewise woke up on our own schedule and then did the necessary errands. We then walked to our favorite local Middle Eastern restaurant for lunch and treated ourselves to some ice cream as part of a long walk around the neighborhood. All of this is to say that I've caught up on my sleep, gotten my exercise, and spent some quality time with my family, so I have zero regrets about the several hours I have spent at my wheel this weekend -- and I have a finished bobbin of singles to show for it.

These singles were spun from the Gwen Erin Targhee/bamboo/silk from my stash. The fiber that the bobbin is sitting on is what the Polwarth/silk I received in the swap, and that will be next on the wheel.

I was thinking that these singles seemed to be taking a really long time to finish, and then I realized that they were superfine. Here's what I mean:

Single on the left; single plied back on itself on the right (the coin is a U.S. penny)
Usually silk content in fiber helps me to spin finer singles, but it seems the bamboo exacerbated that. With any luck, I'll be able to match the Polwarth/silk singles. I've decided to do an alternating chain-plied yarn, meaning that you hold the two singles together and alternate which strand you grab to form the next loop. The result is a pseudo-four ply, and the color effects are interesting because the strand that is used to form the loop will make up 3/4 of that section of the finished yarn. I don't think it'll be too obvious in this yarn, given that both batches of fiber were very similar, but it should make for a really interesting skein. I can't wait to see how it turns out!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Short Week, Big Stress

For a very short work week (Monday was a holiday and I'm taking tomorrow off), it's been a very crazy one. Yesterday morning I got out of bed and got ready to jump into the shower only to discover we had no water (they were flushing the hydrant at the end of our street; and thankfully they wrapped it up in time for me to get ready for the day). This morning my alarm either didn't go off or I slept through it, resulting in oversleeping by an hour. We did manage to get to school and work on time, but I had to take my coffee and breakfast to the office with me, and starting the day uncaffeinated is never a good idea. On top of all this, it's been crazy busy at work this week, plus we've had really unsettled weather, with strong storms and flash flooding. I of course could not have anticipated any of this when I requested tomorrow off, but I'm now very glad that I did.

As at all times of high stress, knitting has been a very calming activity for me. I've been working on the baby-sized Flax Light during my lunch breaks, and it is very quickly getting bigger. I split off the sleeve stitches yesterday and spent today's knitting time working on the body, which is just all knit in the round -- no thinking required.

The past couple of evenings have been spent multitasking: knitting while reading. I'm back to Rainbow's Little Boxy, which is perfect for working on while doing something else because, again, stockinette in the round.

"Mommy, is it done yet?"

Normally I'd be watching something on the TV in the evening while I knit, but this week it's been all about reading because I finally got Maybe You Should Talk to Someone from the library. I haven't been able to put it down since I started it, and since I've embraced reading ebooks, I've found that it's really easy to prop up my iPad next to me so I can read while I knit (though I'll admit I made a mistake it setting it up off to the side the other night, which gave me a bit of a sore neck). As if I weren't plowing through it fast enough because I'm enjoying it, my library app now very helpfully lets me know how many people are waiting for the book, so I'm hoping to have it finished and returned by tomorrow.

The reason for taking the day off tomorrow is that Rainbow, if you can believe it, is "graduating" from third grade and is done after a morning assembly. So we're planning a day of fun for just the girls. We're going to meet my sister-in-law for lunch and then getting haircuts. I expect we'll then spend the rest of the day relaxing and enjoying the fact that we get an early start to the weekend. After the past three days, I think I've earned it!

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Tiny Tuesday Things

It is Tuesday, right? I love having a long weekend, but it does mess me up for the rest of the week. The really nice thing is that I have another long weekend coming up: Rainbow finishes school this Friday, and all she has that day is an assembly for the "graduation" of the fourth graders, so she'll be done at about 10 a.m. That was a good enough excuse for me to take the day off to spend it with her (and I'm sure there will be some extra crafting time involved as well)!

In addition to all the spinning this weekend, I did a fair amount of knitting as well. I went to see Dear Evan Hansen on Saturday afternoon, and knowing I would have all that theater knitting time, I made sure to get through the gusset decreases of my second ankle sock before then so that I wouldn't have to try to decrease in the dark. I got so much done during the performance that I actually stopped knitting toward the end because I was worried that I was going to overshoot the toe. I didn't, but I was close enough that I went to bed that night with a finished pair of shortie socks.

These were loosely based on the Rose City Rollers pattern, but really all I did was use the look of those socks and impose it on my normal plain vanilla sock recipe (68 stitches on a US 0/2.0 mm needle worked at a gauge of 9 stitches per inch). I had no fears of running out of yarn on the second sock, and that made for a much more relaxing knit. I was very pleasantly surprised at the end when I found that my striping sequence more or less matched up, and that was completely by accident. Because my yarn supply was limited, I didn't wind off any yarn at the beginning to try to start at a particular point in the sequence (which would make it easier to get the second sock to match), so it was pure luck. I don't care so much about my socks matching perfectly, but to be honest I was quite tickled by these stripes. (The yarn, in case you're wondering, is Fibernymph Dye Works Inversibles.)

These socks were my first finish for Stash Dash, which I'm competing in (against myself, of course) again this year. I'm using the event as extra motivation to use up stash, which I guess is kind of the point anyway.

Meanwhile, I cast on a new little project yesterday while sitting on the porch and enjoying the most perfect spring weather I think we've had yet this year. This is the very tiny start to a Flax Light for my nephew in Knit Picks Felici in the colorway Baker Street.

It's been a while since I've knit an actual baby sweater (this is a size 6-12 months), and it's so fun because of how quickly it goes! I started this yesterday afternoon while doing some reading, so it didn't have my full attention, and then knit about an hour or so in the evening after putting Rainbow to bed. Even with that short amount of time, I've already finished all the yoke increases, and today I should get to the split point for the sleeves and body. I'm really enjoying the pattern, too, and I have a feeling that I will likely knit Rainbow and/or myself one in the future.

I also found some time to do some reading over the weekend and completed my first square for Summer Book Bingo. Unfortunately it wasn't a very good book, at least in my opinion. I'd borrowed The Man in the High Castle through Prime Reading because I was hoping it would help me to understand the series, but I found it to be very different and even more confusing. I gave it one star in my Goodreads review. It seems the universe was looking out for me, though, because as I was closing in on the end of that book, I got a notice from the library that my next hold was available, and yesterday as I cast on the sweater I got started on Maybe You Should Talk to Someone. I'm less than 100 pages in and already enjoying it immensely!

Sunday, May 26, 2019


This weekend has been exactly the kind of weekend I've been needing: long and relaxing. It's not over yet, of course, but Sunday afternoon is when I typically sit down and put together a post, and just because I have another day off tomorrow doesn't mean I can't stick to a schedule.

One of my main objectives this weekend was to finish up my current spinning project. I was able to leave work a little early on Friday afternoon, so I came home and had a bonus hour or so at my wheel. Then I spent more time at it on Friday evening and a bit yesterday morning, and last night I finally finished the singles. I spent several hours, on and off, at my wheel today (in between errands and chores around the house) chain-plying the entire bobbin of singles. The skein is still soaking in its bath, so I don't yet know the final yardage, but I'm quite pleased with it. Here are some photos, pre-bath:

As this was spun from 100% Polwarth, I'm expecting it to plump up a bit in the finishing; that's the famous Polwarth poof. I think it will still be fingering, but I also wouldn't be surprised if it poofs up to sport.

I'm not starting it just yet, but here is my next spinning project, which I alluded to last week. At the time I didn't want to show some of the fiber because I had sent half of it off to my swap partner and it hadn't yet arrived. It seems her package decided to take a slow tour of the Midwest on its way and ended up taking nearly a week to get to her in Oregon. But she did receive it, so now I can show you the entirety of the fiber that will be going into the next spin.

On the left is the fiber my partner sent to me -- Polwarth/silk in a Pacific Northwest-inspired colorway. On the right is what I had picked out to send to her, before my package arrived, mind you -- I guess we just have very similar tastes! My fiber is Targhee/silk/bamboo from Gwen Erin Natural Fibers. Because the colors coordinate so well, I'm going to combine them in one yarn. I'm still contemplating the exact way to do it, but I'm thinking I'll either spin each separately and then do an alternating chain ply (so you get a mock four-ply yarn in the end) or spin them separately, ply them together, and then ply the resulting yarn back on itself for a cable ply. Either way, I should get some really interesting texture, and I think it will be a very fun spin!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Miles (of Stockinette) to Go

We are almost to the long holiday weekend (it's Memorial Day here in the States on Monday, which means most schools and offices are closed), and I'm very much looking forward to it. My office is even closing early tomorrow afternoon, so I plan to squeeze in an extra hour or so of crafting.

I haven't shared a photo recently of Rainbow's Little Boxy, so here you are:

Though I spent some time trying to tweak this photo, I still haven't gotten the color right; it's more of a teal than a turquoise. It may be our duvet cover messing with the color or perhaps the early morning light in our bedroom. One day, I'll get it right. In any case, I've been making some decent progress on this lately. The progress marker shows where I was when I started knitting on Monday night. When I measured the body before putting the project away last night, it was measuring about 8.5 in. I need to get to 13.5 in. before I start working flat for the front and back, so I'm now more than halfway there.

I am alternating skeins as I always do with a hand-dyed yarn, but for the first time I'm trying what may or may not be helical knitting -- in other words, rather than twisting the strands as I switch from one to the other, I'm simply picking up the new strand and dropping the old one. I'm finding that I'm getting a little bit of a line from the resulting tension issues.

I'm hoping that the tension will even out with blocking and the line won't be as obvious. Has anyone had experience with this? Can you give me some tips or advice on how to minimize it?

The arrival of Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start to summer as well as the start to Mary's Summer Book Bingo. I've watched some other bloggers participate in past years, but this year I've decided to take part myself. I already printed out my bingo card, and as you can see, I'm already planning to complete one square -- hopefully this weekend!

In addition to reading and crafting this weekend, I hope to spend a little bit of time going through my "want to read" list and seeing what I can match up with bingo squares.

Whatever you have planned for this weekend, I hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Sock Yarn Extravaganza

I'm sure it will come as a surprise to no one that my favorite weight of yarn is fingering, especially if it's sock yarn. I know many people find it slow to knit with because it's so fine, but I find it immensely versatile -- you can use it to knit pretty much anything. And it definitely has good value, considering how much yardage you get per skein (usually anywhere from 400 to 500 yards per 100 g). Though I knit socks year-round, I find I knit a lot more with fingering during the warmer months. And it seems I'm knitting with nothing but fingering at the moment.

First up, there's the slouchy hat that I finished last Thursday night and modeled for Rainbow Friday morning (she took the photo, so you'll excuse the slight blurriness).

Pattern: improvised; brioche for the brim and stockinette for the rest
Yarn: Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce (80% superwash Merino/20% nylon) in Colorplay Collection #1 (self-striping), 58 g used
Needles: US 0 (2.0 mm) and US 2 (2.75 mm) Addi Sock Rockets, magic loop
Started/Completed: May 9/May 16

Using the Sockhead Slouch Hat as inspiration, I originally started this hat with a higher stitch count and had to rip it out and start over to make it smaller after knitting about an inch and realizing it would be much too big, even for a slouchy hat. This tells you just how much looser brioche stitch is than stockinette: Using US 0 needles and fingering weight yarn, I typically get about 9 stitches per inch in stockinette. Using the same needles and yarn but using brioche stitch, my gauge loosens up to about 7 stitches per inch. I don't own any needles smaller than a 0, so decreasing my total stitch count was the only option.

Once I'd gotten the right circumference, I knit brioche for two inches for the brim, then switched over to the larger needle and worked in stockinette until the hat measured about 10 inches. I did a fairly typical crown, with eight decreases every other round until just 8 stitches remained. Boom. Done. I still have to block the hat to get a tad more drape (in my experience, the fabric knit from this yarn gets soft and lovely the first time you wash it), but I'm quite satisfied with my new hat and predict it will get a ton of wear later this year.

I'm still working diligently on Rainbow's Little Boxy, using the same yarn base as my hat, but as it doesn't look all that different, I thought I'd hold off on taking a progress photo until it looks like I've made some significant progress. When I put it down last night, I had about 7 inches done on the body, and I believe I need to get to about 13.5 inches before I separate for front and back.

Finishing the hat meant I needed a new smaller project for my weekday lunch breaks, so I pulled out the leftovers from my sample for my Deco Lace Mitts and decided to try to squeeze out a pair of Rose City Rollers for me. I'm probably the last person on earth to knit this pattern -- better late than never, eh?

Technically I'm not exactly working from the pattern, as I'm knitting to a tighter gauge and using a stitch count between two sizes, plus I'm using my own stockinette sock recipe numbers for the heel and toe, but I guess it still counts? I did weigh the leftovers before I started (though of course neglected to write down what I had), and as one ball was slightly lighter than the other, I started with that one, figuring that if I could squeeze out a sock using the lighter ball I wouldn't have to worry about running out for the second sock. It's going to be close; the yarn in that ball is quickly getting used up, and I still have about an inch and a half of foot left to knit before I start the toe. I figure that if the worst case is that I don't have enough yarn to finish the entirety of the sock, I can always use some other scraps for the toe or even part of it. These are just for fun and just for me, and I couldn't care less about them being perfectly matching -- the yarn is already meant to be coordinating rather than matching, after all. I will say that knitting a shortie ankle sock is a ton of fun because it goes so fast, and Rainbow is already asking me for a pair of her own. So perhaps the leftover yarn from my hat will soon be some little person socks!

Sunday, May 19, 2019

All the Color

Spinning has been satisfying my color cravings this weekend. For one thing, my current project seems to have every shade in the rainbow.

I'm pretty sure I showed the fiber last weekend, but I don't think I'd gotten much of it spun at that point. I'm now a little more than halfway done with the singles. This is organic Australian Polwarth, my absolute favorite wool to spin, and I know that it will poof up when I wash it, so for now I'm spinning very fine singles (somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 wpi) with plans to chain-ply when all the fiber is spun. This fiber was the January shipment from the Southern Cross Fibre club, on which I have quite a backlog, so I'm extra happy to be spinning it.

It's also a good thing because April's shipment has shown up this weekend, and it's a stunner.

The colorway is called Posy, and it's on lovely Bond wool, another one of my favorites. Someone in the SCF Ravelry group said that it reminded her of a sunset, so she split up her fiber to make a gradient. And I'm going to shamelessly copy her. The gradient will go from that beautiful rusty orange to the magenta to the purples. I think it's going to be stunning.

I'd be tempted to get it on the wheel next were it not for a little swap thing I'm participating in through the 90% Knitting podcast. The idea is to find 4 oz. of fiber in your stash, split it in half, and send half of it to another spinner, who would do the name in their stash. The two swap partners then have 2 oz. each of two colorways and can spin them up however they like. All the participants will then be sharing photos of how they spin the yarn. I received fiber from my partner on Friday, and it's quite gorgeous:

It's Polwarth/silk, dyed in colors that reminded my partner of where she's from in Oregon. She also included a couple of extra treats: a spinner's journal (not shown) and this adorable stitch marker with the state of Oregon on it. It's made of reclaimed copper, or so the back of the packaging says:

Pretty cool, huh? I sent her package this weekend, and just in case she happens to stop by, I won't post a photo, but I will say that the colorways we both chose should go very well together. I'm fairly certain that even though I wanted to get to the purple prize fiber next, this project is actually going to jump ahead of it because I have a fun idea for how I want to spin the two colorways.