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.

Thursday, May 16, 2019


I'm closing in two senses of the word today. First, I can mark the closing of one project, my new shawl design, which has now been blocked and had its ends trimmed, marking it officially done.

I know it looks a bit wonky here, but that's mainly due to my haste in snapping the photo this morning. I might still hit it with a shot of steam here and there before we shoot the pattern photos, but this is pretty close to the final product. I'm very happy with how it turned out and with how it blocked. Freshly off the needles, it was smaller than I expected, but wool does stretch very nicely. This still isn't a huge shawl, but post-blocking it's big enough to sit comfortably on the shoulders. Finishing up the pattern and getting it off to my tech editor is on my to-do list for the weekend.

The other closing that's happening is that I've started the crown decreases on my slouchy hat.

I worked in stockinette until the hat measured 10 in., which I think should give me sufficient slouch. To be honest, I'm a little sad that I'm almost done because this has been such an enjoyable knit. The colors are really lovely, and it's been something that's been easy to pick up and put down -- unlike Rainbow's Little Boxy, which, although also all stockinette in the round, involves alternating skeins and is thus not nearly as portable.

I'll soon be casting on another travel/work project, as I anticipate finishing this hat later today, but it remains to be seen how much will get done before the weekend. Tomorrow is a big day at work, as quite a few of us will moving offices. This is all part of a big reorganization plan to group people who work on teams more logically in physical locations; at the moment, people are kind of all over the place, as they've been put in offices that are empty as they've started working. It's not a big office space in general, but having been in my space for about a decade, it's meant quite a lot of clearing out and packing up. I'm glad that there's very little on the calendar this weekend so that I can finally get a relaxing couple of days in a row. I'm also keeping my fingers crossed that the weather cooperates and I'll have time to plant the flowers I picked up last weekend!

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

A View from the Weekend

Why is it that the weekends always fly by? This past one was no exception, likely because we had several things planned and not a ton of downtime.

On Saturday, as a special treat, I took Rainbow and my mother to see the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre perform Sleeping Beauty. The story was always my favorite Disney movie as a kid, and I'd never seen the ballet version, so it was something special for all of us. I knew I needed a new simple project to take with me (I don't know about you, but I can't sit still for two to three hours), so last Thursday I cast on for a new slouchy hat for me. It'll be similar to a Sockhead Hat, but I'm not really following the pattern at all -- just using the style as an inspiration. I did brioche for the brim for a change from the usual ribbing. Here's what it looks like as of this morning (my apologies for the dim lighting -- it's been a gloomy few days here):

The yarn is my go-to fingering, Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce, in a colorway called Colorplay Collection #1. A couple of months ago, Lisa created a series of yarns in a set of colors; this skein was the self-striping version. I don't anticipate using all of the skein, so I should have some leftovers to play with when the hat is done.

My main knitting goal for the weekend was to finish the shawl sample I showed you last week. The applied reverse stockinette I-cord edging took me parts of two days, but I did finish, and last night while Rainbow was in the shower, I blocked it.

Fresh off the needles, it was a bit small and curled up, as you might imagine, but blocking worked wonders as it so often does. I didn't have a chance to check on it this morning, but I'm hopeful it'll be dry by the time I get home tonight and I can do some final measurements. I ended up playing a bit of yarn chicken with the gray and finished with just a tiny ball of yarn remaining. I've still got about two-thirds of the red leftover, and it's so soft and squishy (Cormo lambswool, hello!) that I might use it for a pair of mitts or something for me.

Now that the shawl is off the needles, my evening knitting is once again Rainbow's Little Boxy. It's going to be a long haul of knitting for sure, but at least it's mindless enough that I can read or watch something involving on the TV while I knit. I'm packing up my office this week in preparation to move to a different space on Friday, so it will likely be the perfect thing after some long days.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Spring Spun

This past Friday evenings I sat at my wheel, as I normally do on Fridays. Having finished my singles earlier in the week, I was ready to ply and see how the finished yarn would look. I managed to get through the entire bobbin before bedtime, so I while I was excited to be done, I knew that it likely meant low yardage. I wound up the skein Saturday morning and gave it its bath, and by this morning it was dry.

Thanks to my sister-in-law, I'm now the proud owner of an Instagram Succulent.

I have mixed feelings about this skein. I'm very pleased with how it turned out, but at only about 242 yards, it's much less yardage than I was hoping for from a fingering-weight skein. The fiber was Corriedale from Southern Cross Fibre in the colorway Spring. While I can see the colors of crocus blooms in the yarn, it also looks a little bit like a mashup of Halloween and Mardi Gras colors.

I have some undyed dark brown Corriedale in my stash and think I will spin up a smaller contrast skein to go with it.

On my wheel now is some more Southern Cross, this time Polwarth in a gorgeous colorway called Millefiori:

I've split the fiber in half lengthwise and am once again spinning end to end, and I'll chain ply when I'm done with the singles. And I already know what's going on the wheel after this spin is done:

I may not be buying any new fiber, but surely winning some in a giveaway doesn't count toward the prohibition? Sherrill posted this fiber on Instagram, and as I never win contests, I figured there was no harm in entering. So you can imagine my surprise when I did win! This is a Targhee/bamboo/silk braid in a colorway called Lilac Girls after the book of the same name (a book I read while we were in Florida most recently). I'll either split the braid in half lengthwise and spin a two ply, attempting to match up the color as much as possible, or spin it fine end to end and chain ply.

Friday, May 10, 2019

A Bonus (or Two)

I normally don't post on Fridays, but this week I've got a little surprise, and it seems fitting to share it going into Mother's Day weekend.

A number of months ago, I was approached by the folks at KnitCrate about collaborating with them. They asked me to design two patterns using their house Knitologie Cozy Sock, a merino/cashmere/nylon blend. These projects obviously had to stay secret until they were revealed to subscribers, and that big reveal came this week. And now I can share them to you, because they're now available to everyone through my Ravelry store!

My Jounce Cowl is one of those one-skein wonders that are the perfect use for that special skein of fingering weight yarn that's maybe a bit too precious for socks. It uses an all-over texture stitch that's sort of a mashup of basic brioche stitch and 1x1 rib. It's simple to do and quick to memorize, and while using fingering weight yarn creates a light accessory that's just as good as a fashion item as one for warmth, you could use any weight of yarn and can easily adapt it to be closer fitting or significantly longer if you'd prefer to wrap it twice. I'm planning to make myself one using some special handspun!

My Squeezed Citrus socks are likewise textured all over, using twisted stitches and knit/purl combinations. They're worked from the cuff down and incorporate a heel flap and gusset and wedge toe. They're graded to three sizes -- adult small, medium, and large -- and have both written and charted instructions for the stitch pattern.

You can find more details on these patterns on Ravelry by clicking on the links. I hope you like them!

Thursday, May 09, 2019


Not nearly as much knitting got done while I was away as I would have liked, but I did make some progress and added to it during my lunch breaks this week. After about three failed attempts, I finally managed to figure out the crown decreases for Rainbow's brioche hat, and I finished it up last night right after I put her to bed.

Pattern: two-color brioche with an improvised crown
Yarn: Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce (80% superwash merino, 20% nylon) mini skeins, 54 g/216 yds. used
Needles: 40 in. US 1 (2.25 mm) Addi Sock Rockets, magic loop
Started/Completed: April 29/May 8

As brioche projects go, this one was pretty simple. For most of the hat, I simply did the basic two-color stitch pattern, switching to a new mini skein for each strand when the previous one ran out (in the interest of science, I use a Russian join for one transition and a braided join for the other). The complicated part came when I was ready to do the crown. The problem with brioche is that you can only do decreases that reduce your stitch count by an even number of stitches (2, 4, etc.) in order to maintain the pattern. This makes it difficult to get a smooth dome-like shape for the crown. First I tried to do either k3tog or sssk decreases in four evenly spaced points, but it wasn't possible to do with my stitch count. So I settled for what you see here: three lines of 5-into-1 decreases. It made for a much shallower crown, but it's a cool effect, and Rainbow is quite pleased with it, as you can see:

She thinks it looks like kitty ears (with a bonus point in back). I suggested she think of it as a "tricera-kitty" hat, but she told me I was being ridiculous; similarly, my suggestion to put little pompoms on the points was quickly rejected. I will block it this weekend and try to stretch out a bit more length if I can, but I think the fact that she wore it to school today, when it was already in the upper 60s F when we left the house, is indication enough that she's completely happy with it.

I did get a little bit done on her Little Boxy on the drive down to Maryland, so I've now got about two to three inches of body on the needles. I haven't touched it since, but I expect it will soon be in regular rotation.

For the moment, my main focus is going to be finishing up this design sample, because I'd like to release it next month and need to allow time to write up the pattern and have it tech edited.

I know it's hard to see all bunched up on the needle, and I think you can tell why I'm so eager to finish -- I really want to block it and see how it looks all spread out and opened up! My plan is to knit until I'm about out of the gray, and that ball is quickly getting smaller. I expect I'll be able to get in one more stripe of the red before that happens. I'm still debating whether to add a garter border in the red or not; either way, there will be an applied I-cord edging in the red to finish it off. I might have to run a lifeline through the stitches and take it off the needles to get a sense of the true size before I decide (though opinions are certainly welcome).

The weekend is shaping up to be a good mix of activity and relaxation. On Saturday afternoon, I'm taking my mother and Rainbow to see the ballet perform Sleeping Beauty, and then we've got a Mother's Day brunch planned with the family. There are the usual errands and chores, but I'm really looking forward to sleeping in and staying home after last weekend's exhausting adventures. Whatever your weekend brings you, I hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

MDSW 2019: Of Puppies and Mud

I'm back! Chances are you didn't miss me at all thanks to the wonder that is scheduling a blog post ahead of time. But I've had quite a bit of catching up to do on e-mail and blog reading after being away and largely offline for about four days, not to mention that I was desperate for a long hot shower and a good night's sleep in my own bed.

All in all, it was a fun but busy weekend. I left at about 6:30 Friday morning, making a quick stop at Bruegger's for a bagel and coffee for the road, and was at the farm by about 7:30. We got on the road shortly before 8. This was my first trip to MDSW with Amy and Scooter Pie after doing the last two Rhinebeck trips with them, and on this trip we had two new companions:

This is not the best photo of them, but with puppies, it's hard to get them to sit still long enough for a photo. These are Amy's newest puppies, Bo (short for Boudin) and Whiskey (full name: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot). Amy likes to say that Bo is her emotional support animal and Whiskey is Bo's emotional support animal. While Whiskey is full Pembroke Corgi, Bo's Corgi mother apparently had a liaison with a French Bulldog. They're both pretty darned adorable, and they were my sleeping buddies in the camper (their crate was right next to my bed, so I woke up each day to the two of them staring at me). They didn't come with us to the festival, but it was fun to see them at the end of each day (as you can imagine, after a day of sitting in their crate while we were gone, they had a lot of energy to burn off when we let them out).

The festival itself was a lot of fun and very busy. Saturday ended up being just about perfect, weather-wise. It was overcast and not too warm most of the day, with a nice breeze, and the sun popped out briefly a number of times. Sunday was the exact opposite: It rained all day long. We were in the Lower Coral in a tent, and frankly the entire area was a giant mud puddle. I was thankful that I'd had the foresight to bring my rain boots, because I really needed them and would have destroyed my sneakers had I worn them. I was also thankful that Scooter Pie had laid a temporary plywood floor in the booth (really done for the ease of wheeling out their display cases, but it helped with the mud, too!).

The highlight of the festival for me was this:

For the first time this year I was able to enter one of my handspun skeins into the skein and garment competition in person (you may recall that last year I entered two skeins and had to mail them in, and someone switched the tags on them, leading to poor scores). I knew this was one of my better skeins and hoped it would do well, and I'm absolutely delighted to have received a third-place ribbon!

Because the booth was so busy, I didn't get a ton of time to go out and shop -- and that was just fine, considering my strict yarn and fiber diet -- but I did sneak out to pick up a couple of little gifts for Rainbow, who was a little weepy when I had to leave on Friday morning.

I specifically wanted to stop by the WeeOnes booth to see if she had any Westie stitch markers, and I was in luck! I hadn't planned on also picking up a project bag, but when I saw this one, I couldn't resist buying it for my sloth-obsessed daughter.

Amy and I took a stroll through the Main Exhibition Hall on Sunday morning, when business was slow, and I decided to treat myself with a new tool (it's not yarn and fiber, so it's okay!).

This is a lucet from Stephen Willette in beautiful Bubinga wood. I've never used one before, but he gave me a quick lesson in the booth and I was sent home with an instruction booklet, so I'm all set to give it a try. It's actually much easier than I would have thought, and it will be another good way to use up some stash yarn, particularly some handspun that is perhaps too scratchy to knit with but would be good for a rug or a hot pad.

Though I was mighty tempted by a lot of beautiful yarn and fiber at the festival, I didn't buy any -- but that's not to say that I came home empty handed.

This lovely pile is my favorite yarn from the farm, Shetland 3-ply sport, which Amy generously gave me for a new sweater design that I have planned for later this year (if all goes according to plan, it will make its debut at Rhinebeck). It's been years since my first sweater design, and I think I am now ready to tackle a stranded colorwork yoke pullover. I'll be using Marigold, the lighter color, as the main color and Lindy, that gorgeous chocolate brown, for the contrast in the yoke. I still have some reading and swatching and number crunching to do, but my hope is to have this in the works by the summer.

Everything is now back to the normal schedule for me, and this week I'm working on finishing up a couple of projects at home and packing up my office for a move next week at work. Though it wasn't a relaxing weekend away in any sense, it was a lot of fun and a great opportunity to see some friends from far away. Now let the countdown to Rhinebeck begin!