Sunday, February 17, 2019

The Weekend I Needed

When you work full time and have a family, sometimes you find that no matter how much you want to spend your weekends relaxing, you tend to cram all the things you have to do into them and they're over much too quickly. That's what most weekends are like for us -- there's the errands to run, cleaning and laundry to do, social engagements, religious school, and all the other stuff. So it's extra rejuvenating to get a weekend without all the usual to-do, as rare as it is.

Rainbow has an extra-long weekend this weekend, with school closed Friday and Monday for teacher in-service days. I decided to take a day off from work to stay home with her Friday, so I got to sleep in, have a second cup of coffee, and just generally lounge around. We left the house only once, to make a quick trip to the market to get ingredients for dinner (we had some family over), but for the most part, she did her thing and I did mine. Yesterday we went out for about an hour in the morning to help unload some Girl Scout cookies for her troop and then went out for a nice dinner to celebrate Valentine's Day a bit belatedly. Today we had a couple of errands to run, but for the most part, we're staying put. There have of course been the usual chores around the house, but I've been able to sleep in, read for pleasure, knit, and spin to my heart's content the past several days. It's something I wish I could do every weekend.

I started a new spinning project this past week, on Tuesday afternoon after getting my braces on and before it was time to pick Rainbow up from school. Among the many braids I received from my friend Colleen last year when she was downsizing was a beautifully shiny braid of merino/bamboo/silk from Yarn Hollow. On a whim, I decided to spin it up into a three-ply fingering, and I finished up the first bobbin yesterday afternoon.

The fiber is a mix of blue and two shades of purple, one tending more toward blue and one tending more toward red. I didn't manage the colors at all when I split the braid, so it will be interesting to see how they blend in the plied yarn.

Meanwhile, I decided to pull out my Zoom Loom and weave up a little square with some of the mini skeins I finished recently. It's been a while since I last used it, so I had to review the instructions pretty carefully, but it really didn't take much time at all to get back into the swing of it.

I've only finished this one square so far (using the Karakul mini skein), but I'm pretty happy with how it worked up. It's very scratch and rough, but it should work well as a coaster. I'm going to attempt to felt the squares to make them a little thicker and fuzzier, though I honestly don't know if these breeds will felt. At least I feel rather virtuous for using up some stash, however small.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Mental Knitting

I am still working on my secret knitting, but I'm in the home stretch and should be finished by the end of the weekend. It must be because this obligation knitting is preventing me from working on anything else that all I can think of is casting on something new. As it happens, one of my favorite local knitting events, Indie Knit and Spin, is coming up next weekend, so I'm already plotting my purchases.

One of the patterns on my Make 9 list is Jennifer Steingass's Darkwater.

The pattern specifies fingering weight yarn, but it's knit at a DK-weight gauge (22 sts/4 in.). So it seems that it might be a little flexible with regard to yarn weight.

One of my favorite sweaters in the Humulus that I knit in HipStrings Buoy DK (which really, if you ask me, is closer to a sport weight). It's a sweater that I wear as often as can -- I'm wearing it today, actually. It's warm but very light and comfortable. So I was thinking that I might make try to make this sweater in Buoy DK. Wouldn't this color combination be amazing? I'm already knitting it in my head.

Yes, I know you're going to tell me that I already have a sweater on the needles that I should probably finish -- but has that ever stopped you?

Tomorrow I'm taking the day off to hang out with Rainbow, who has no school, and I am planning a relaxing day with plenty of crafting. Here's hoping you have an equally relaxing weekend!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

A Throwback

Today I feel a bit like in a time warp and have gone back to middle school. Why? Here's what I spent my afternoon doing:

I originally had braces a number of years ago (we won't say how many), from seventh grade until ninth grade. My teeth are still fairly straight now, with the exception of one tooth on the bottom. That tooth has been the cause of three gum surgeries over the past several years -- my periodontist believes that because the tooth is sticking out a bit, it's stretching the gum tissue and causing it to recede. So we're hoping that getting that tooth aligned will fix the gum issue once and for all.

It's been a bit trippy to do this, not just because I feel like I'm a teenager again, but also because I went back to my old orthodontist to do the work. He has a big wall in his office that he used to have all his patients sign (I'm not sure if he still does it, as it's pretty much covered by now), and when I went in for my initial consultation, Rainbow in tow, I found my signature on the wall. I guess it's good to know that some things haven't changed!

But enough about teeth -- let's talk knitting! I am still working on secret project #2 and getting closer to finishing (my hope is that I'll be done by the end of this weekend). Last night I cast on a pair of socks for the Lots of Socks KAL, in part so I could take it with me to my appointment today. I'm knitting up the Zigzagular Socks by Susie White using a skein of Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce in the colorway Girl Seeks Rain (I picked up this skein at Needles Up Maryland last year).

The colors are brighter in real life; it's been raining all day.

I've had to modify the pattern just a bit: It's written for a gauge of 8 stitches per inch using a US 1/2.25 mm needle. But I'm using a US 0/2.0 mm and working at a gauge of 9 stitches per inch, so I was between stitch counts. Fortunately, it was easy enough to cast on a number between the two larger sizes and figure out how to place the twisted stitch panel. I'll likely do my own thing for the heel and toe, as my numbers won't match, but you shouldn't be able to tell when I'm done (unless you want to get really, really close to my feet to count my stitches). I'm really enjoying the pattern -- it's a nice break from plain stockinette, my usual MO for self-striping, and doesn't require too much thought. With as busy as things have been recently, and given that I've been under the weather with a rather annoying cough for more than two weeks, almost mindless perfectly fits the bill.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

At Least My Yarn Looks Like Spring

I don't set much store in a groundhog's weather forecasting skill. In fact, as I write this, it's snowing outside, so I think Phil's prediction of an early spring was a bit premature. But I'm feeling springlike with my spinning.

After finishing up my combo spin, all 12 oz. of it, I needed a bit of a palate cleanser. I wanted a quick, easy, mindless spin. I was already halfway through the bag of mini braids of BFL/silk from Fibernymph Dye Works last Sunday, and I finished the last two colors very soon thereafter. I had intended to ply each color back on itself for four mini skeins, so on Friday evening, I used my ball winder to make four center-pull balls and plied all four of them. They were washed yesterday and fully dry by this morning. And they're perfect.

The yellow and bright green at the top are probably a sport weight, on average, while the drab green and gray are probably closer to DK. They range from approximately 59 yards to 85 yards, for 290 yards from 121 grams overall. I might combine them all in one project or put them up in my FiberCrafty shop. Here they are twisted together -- they make me think of early daffodils:

As long as I was in a mini skein sort of mood, I decided to pull out the two really rough fiber minis from last year's Merry Month of Minis shipment and spin them up. These were much smaller amounts of fiber (each less than 10 g). As with the BFL/silk, I wound up center-pull balls and plied them back on themselves. They're still a bit wet, but I've got them resting on the radiator, so they should be dry by morning.

The darker skein on the left is Karakul and the lighter one on the right is Welsh. Both were very coarse and heavy on kemp, though I was able to spin them relatively fine (fingering weight, I'd say). I think I will likely weave them on my Zoom Loom and then try to felt the resulting squares to use as coasters, perhaps as a double thickness using one square of each fiber. At the very least, it'll be an interesting experiment, and I hate wasting fiber -- the dye job on these was pretty, even if they didn't feel great.

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Thoughts of Future Socks

As evidence of how crazy busy this week has been, this morning I woke up fully convinced that it was Wednesday. There is much to do and, it seems, not enough days to do it. But because of that, I am very much looking forward to the weekend.

I am still primarily working on a secret project, and I'm hoping that if I can really buckle down and concentrate on it over the next several days, I'll get it done, meaning I'll be able to move on to projects that I can actually share with you. First and foremost, I want to cast on my socks for the Lots of Socks KAL. I've had this skein of yarn sitting out for at least a month, just waiting for me to wind it up into a cake.

This is Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce in the colorway Girl Seeks Rain; I picked it up last year at Needles Up Maryland. I'm going to use it to knit the Zigzagular Socks, which I've wanted to knit for a long time, and this KAL is the perfect opportunity.

Incidentally, without giving too much away, if you haven't been checking in on the featured sale pattern for this KAL every day, I'll just put it out there that you might want to peek in tomorrow, February 8.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Down to Two on Tuesday

That's right, folks. I am down to only two WIPs. Last night I finished one of my secret projects, and over the weekend, I finished my Elodia Hat.

I'm very pleased with how it turned out. Both it and the secret project will be blocked tonight, and I'm hoping blocking will tidy up the lace panel. On my to-do list for the week is to write up the pattern for this so that I can get photos this weekend and get everything off to my tech editor. I'm hoping to release the pattern later this month, so there's no time to waste!

The WIPs that are still lingering are my Floozy (which, let's face it, isn't getting done anytime soon) and my other secret project, which I'll be trying to get done as soon as possible. I'll likely be casting on a new project or two soon. I pulled some worsted weight skeins for a couple of charity hats, and I also want to start a new pair of socks for the Lots of Socks KAL.

I finished another book last week while working on the above hat. I finally got Where the Crawdads Sing from the library, and I have to say that I was a little underwhelmed. I'd call it a good beach read -- entertaining but not fine literature. I enjoyed the story, but I didn't love the ending. I gave it three stars. Now I'm back to Michelle Obama's Becoming, which is slower going because it's a physical book that I'm only reading before bed. But I'm enjoying it immensely!

Sunday, February 03, 2019

A Perfect Combination

My combo spin is officially done, and I couldn't be more pleased.

My second skein ended up slightly plumper than my first, measuring in at almost 100 yards less. But I think it should work out fine for the pattern I've been spinning for, Tegna. I can use the thicker yarn on the top of the garment, which will hold the weight of the top, and the thinner yarn at the bottom. The difference isn't really even apparent unless you look closely.

Overall, I ended up with approximately 1,005 yards, which should be more than enough for my Tegna, and used up 12 oz. of fiber from my stash (we'll ignore, for now, the fact that I bought the braids for this project). More importantly, though, this project has me looking at my fiber stash in a whole new way. I have so many 4 oz. braids of pretty fiber that aren't really enough for much other than small accessories if spun up on their own. But there are plenty that I could combine in another combo spin for a large project. I think it's fair to say that this is only the first of what could be many combo spins!

After spinning 12 oz. of the same fiber, I decided to change things up a bit in the next thing on my wheel. I pulled out a bag of BFL/silk from Fibernymph Dye Works that I won as a knitalong prize last year. It was from one of Lisa's fiber clubs from a number of years ago and had small braids (I'm assuming 1 oz. each) of four colors. I decided to do a quick-and-dirty spin of each color and have gotten singles of two of the four colors spun already.

The name of this set is Emergence, and it definitely makes me think of daffodils blooming in early spring. I'm spinning each color on its own and am going to ply each back on itself for four mini skeins. Given how quickly these two bobbins have spun up, I wouldn't be surprised if I have finished skeins by this time next week!