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!