Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Movin' Right Along

The blanket is continuing to grow, one long garter stitch row at a time. I moved on to the skein of Uptown yesterday.

The next two colors are compliments of Jen, who found two orphan skeins in her stash and very graciously offered them to me.

After the completion of the last stripe (the light green), the blanket measured about 17 inches across. I'm hoping that this remaining yarn will be enough to get me to at least two feet of width. My goal is to finish this in time to give to Amelia for her six-month birthday at the end of October.

My first priority for gift knitting, however, is my father's sweater. I finished the body and started sleeve #1 over the weekend; I thought I'd spare you another photo of dark stockinette tubes, so use your imagination if you need a visual. I've got exactly two weeks from tomorrow to finish up, so the Hurricane Knitters will be seeing lots of navy tomorrow night (Waterworks Barnes & Noble, starting at 7 p.m. tomorrow).

P.S. The yarn is finished and hanging to dry. Approximately 444 yards -- less than I'd like, but I'm still pleased with the result. Photos to come once the yarn is dry and the lighting is good.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Shades of Gray

It took four hours and 45 minutes, but I finished plying the merino/alpaca. I started with a couple of hours this morning and finished up late this afternoon and this evening, unfortunately after the sun had gone down, hence these flash photos. (Is anyone else as depressed as I that it's now dark at 7 p.m.?)

I used up all but the tiniest bit of singles left on one bobbin, and toward the end I was having to move the slider every 30 seconds or so to fit just a little more on the already-full bobbin. Even The Mister noticed how full it was, saying, "That's one full spindle!" when I announced I was finally done. (Okay, so he used the wrong word, but I give him full credit for using spinning terminology!)

I sat at the wheel so long plying this that I got a bit of a cramp in my back, so I'm going to let the yarn rest on the bobbin until tomorrow, when I'll get out my niddy-noddy and find out just how much I have. This yarn is heavy laceweight/light fingering weight, for the most part, and considering just how crammed full of yarn the bobbin is, I'm thinking I've got some good yardage here. Make your guess now!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Pick-me-up

Ever have one of those weeks that get away from you? I've just had one of those weeks. After three very crazy days at work, I woke up Thursday to a lovely surprise: a migraine. It had the wonderful good sense to come on right after I'd finished getting dressed and drying my hair. At least I hadn't yet left for work, so all I had to do at that point was call in sick, take some medicine, get back into my pajamas, and crawl back into bed.

By midday I was feeling somewhat back to normal, or at least normal enough to knit. I couldn't handle anything more complex than garter stitch, though (my vision was still too fuzzy to be able to read a chart), so I put some more rows on the blanket.

[Insert obligatory blanket progress shot here.]

I'd forgotten that I had some of this leftover light green in the scrap bag; the full skein of Uptown comes next.

Later in the day, I got a nice surprise that helped me feel better -- my September sock club shipment! This color isn't exactly something I'd choose on my own, but it looks like a nice fall colorway to me, and I like the pattern that came with it.

I've made some progress on other projects, too. I finished clue 3 of MS4 on Thursday night, before the release of the next clue. I know I'm going to have to knit all the clues again for the second half of the stole when I'm done, but so far I'm keeping up with the weekly clues, and that makes me happy! I'm also only about two inches away from being done with the body of my dad's sweater, with about 2 1/2 weeks to go. The sleeves are pretty fast, and once I get all the pieces onto one needle, it should be smooth sailing.

I'm hoping that I'll have some spinning content for you tomorrow, too. I finished up the second half of the merino/alpaca singles this morning, so I'm letting them rest on the bobbin tonight and will ply tomorrow.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Approaching Blankie-ness

Several of you have asked questions about the baby blanket I'm knitting, so I thought I'd answer them all at once.

Here's the blanket as of this afternoon, halfway through the fourth color.

I'm following the basic log cabin "rules" for this blanket, but I'm sort of making it up as I go along. The one rule I'm following is that I keep each of the four stripes of each color consistent in width. For example, on the section I'm working on now, each side has six garter ridges. The width/number of garter ridges isn't determined by any special formula or pattern, I'm just judging how much yarn I have in each color and planning accordingly! So far it's working out, but you can tell that my current color isn't as abundant as others.

It's been fun to use these scraps and remember the socks I knit with each colorway of yarn. First there was my Hederas and my mom's Pomatomus socks; the two most recent colors came from socks I knit for my mother-in-law and my own Pomatomus socks.

I have more of the pink yarn in the middle square that I'm planning on using for the edging, but I'm quickly running out of scraps, assuming I keep the entire blanket in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock. I have one more color (purple, left over from these socks) to use after my current color and then it will be a matter of digging through the stash. I do have a lone skein of LLSS that I may sacrifice for this blanket. It would certainly work with the color scheme, don't you think?

Saturday, September 20, 2008

To the Victor Go the Spoils

It's been quite a day for stash enhancement, and unexpected stash enhancement at that.

First, I stopped by Natural Stitches this morning to pick up my prize for participating in the Summer of Socks contest. My reward for those thousands of yards of sock knitting was a set of some really stunning stitch markers, handmade by Martha herself, and a sample of eucalyptus-scented Eucalan.

As long as I was there, I had to look around -- especially because the layout of the store had changed a bit and I needed to reorient myself. I discovered that the spinning fiber section had recently been enhanced, and this jumped right into my arms.

This is Chameleon Colorworks merino/tencel in the colorway Ophelia. This will be a new blend for me to spin, and I'm thinking the shine of the tencel would make this ideal for a lace yarn.

I also found another skein of the J Knits superwash sock yarn on sale and snatched it up to make my mother a Lace Ribbon Scarf for her holiday gift. (I'd been thinking that it was the perfect yarn and color for her, but I didn't want to give up my skein to do it, so this was a perfect solution.)

Next, I headed over to Knit One, where they were having a sale and fashion show in honor of their third anniversary. I decided to enter my Shetland Triangle in the contest on a whim, just for fun. (The only requirement was that the garment you entered had to be knit with yarn purchased there. I went one better and spun the yarn from fiber I bought there.) As I was milling around, waiting for things to begin, I did some browsing and found some basic wool yarn to use for a felted bag I've been thinking about designing. This is plain old Ella Rae Classic, in a lovely chocolate brown.

Much to my surprise, I came in third place in the popular vote! My prize was this pretty skein of Noro Kureyon sock yarn, along with a bottle of wool wash.

I wasn't planning on necessarily buying this yarn again, but for free, I'll take it!

And now I must go and knit some of the yarn I already have so I can get to the new stuff!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Run Down

Run down of WIPs, that is. It's been a while since I've shown you what's on the needles, and as no one of them is particularly exciting at the moment, this is all I've got to blog about.

First, there's the Blue Tube -- my father's birthday sweater. I'm several inches into the body and, as you can see, quickly approaching the end of the first skein of yarn. I'm doing the body first because it'll take the longest.

Next up, and considerably more exciting, is my Mystery Stole. You can see the interesting interplay of lace and beads going on here (and I swear it doens't look so much like camouflage in real life; I think picking the brownish carpet as a background was not the right choice).

I'm really enjoying working with this yarn. It has a really tight twist (you all know how much I love a yarn with tight twist!), so somehow that makes it feel more substantial than "normal" laceweight. I'm about two-thirds of the way through the second clue, so I'll be trying my best to finish up this clue tonight before the next one is released tomorrow.

Taking the place of my lunchtime sock knitting is the sock yarn blanket, which, for nothing but garter stitch, has been surprisingly exciting. Maybe it's the fact that I'm using up a good portion of my sock yarn scraps. (By the way, you might recognize the yarn from my Hederas and my mother's Pomatomus socks. Yes, I did have leftovers that are more than two years old!)

Finally, although I don't have a picture (because it wouldn't be much to look at at this point), I'm still spinning. I'm working on the first bobbin of singles of some All Spun Up merino/alpaca, hoping for a two-ply laceweight. It's a dark gray with touches of deep purple -- not exactly an optimal shade for photographing.

What projects are you working on now that fall is on its way?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


You've probably all been wondering if I stopped knitting socks, haven't you? Well fear not, because I finished another pair.

Pattern: Bartholomew's Tantalizing Socks from New Pathways for Sock Knitters by Cat Bordhi
Yarn: Araucania Ranco Multy (75% wool, 25% nylon), color 324, one skein (with just a little bit leftover!)
Needles: two 12" US 1 (2.5 mm) Addi Turbo circs
Started/Completed: September 2/September 16
Mods: used same needle size throughout, knitting more loosely for cuff; substituted my usual toe

These socks are worked cuff down. The architecture (Sky Sock) involves increasing across the top of the foot opposite the heel, between the ankle and what you'd traditionally call the instep. The heel is then turned and a heel flap, so to speak, is worked on the bottom of the heel. I managed to inadvertently screw up both heels in different ways, so I had to fudge the end of the heel to make sure I had the right number of stitches for the sole. I honestly can't tell which mistake was on which sock, so I'm not worrying about it at this point.

This was the second time I worked with this yarn, and overall I enjoyed the experience. It's not the softest of sock yarns, but it's sturdy and knits up into a nice fabric. I was pleasantly surprised by how well this variegated colorway behaved -- no noticeable pooling or flashing in sight. I particularly like how it works with the linen stitch patterning.

This may shock some of you, but now that these are off the needles, I have no immediate plans to cast on for another pair of socks. Yes, I know. But don't worry, I'm going to be knitting with some sock yarn so that I won't go into sock withdrawal! One of my friends from work asked me to knit a blanket for her baby daughter, a very sweet little girl who has an unfortunate medical condition that will likely cause her to wind up in the hospital from time to time. My friend mentioned how much a brightly colored blanket would help cheer things up (and keep her warm) in such a situation, so I couldn't say no to her request. I'm using some of my many sock yarn scraps to do a log cabin-style blanket that I think should knit up pretty quickly.

Tonight, however, I'm turning my attention back to my father's sweater, which I cast on over the weekend. I now have less than a month to get it done, so be prepared to see a fair amount of navy stockinette tubes in the next few weeks!

Those of you who'd like to can see it in person tomorrow night at Barnes & Noble at the Waterworks, starting at 7 p.m.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Worth It

The yarn is done. I'm pretty sure that it took me at least a month to spin, if not more, but the yarn I got is exactly what I wanted. So let's review:

It started out as approximately 8.5 ounces of Crown Mountain Farms superwash merino, colorway San Francisco. The fiber was incredibly soft and incredibly well prepared. I did nothing before I started to spin but split it roughly into thirds. No fluffing or predrafting was required, and it drafted beautifully at the wheel. I don't think I noticed any substantial VM and there was a minimal number of nepps.

Although I spun the singles on my regular head/bobbins, I wanted to get all of the plied yarn in one skein; considering my singles nearly filled up each bobbin on their own, there was no way I was going to get a three ply into one skein without using my jumbo plying head. The jumbo head is something I use very rarely, because it's much more difficult to treadle. In this case, however, there really wasn't an alternative for the results I wanted, so I made do, getting a good workout at first, and I discovered that it got much easier to treadle as the bobbin filled up.

And fill up it did! Here's what it looked like when I finished the last of the plying yesterday morning (as you can tell, we didn't have much in the way of sunshine yesterday, hence the flash photo).

I washed and thwacked the resulting skein yesterday afternoon, and although it's still a little damp, I couldn't resist taking it outside for a photo shoot.

I'm going to wait until it's completely dry before I measure WPI (using my handy new tool that came in the Knit Picks box), but I'm pretty confident it's in the fingering weight range.

I was really curious to see how this would turn out, because I didn't do any sort of planning in terms of colors or striping. As it turned out, there were some areas where shades or one color or another matched up, so I'm guessing I'll get some sort of subtle striping effect when I knit this up.

Most exciting to me is the yardage. My estimate, even accounting for shrinkage in the finishing process, is that I have about 625 yards. That's probably enough to get a pair of knee socks out of this one skein!

I had a little bit of leftover singles on two of the bobbins, but it really wasn't enough to try to wind some off onto the third bobbin and try to continue the three ply. I tried Navajo plying from the bobbin that had more on it, but the singles kept breaking, so I gave up and wound the singles around a hardback book and made miniskeins to finish.

These may be too delicate to actually knit, but they're a good addition to my collection of miniskeins to squish.

Finally, before I started on my next batch of fiber, I spun a small amount of yarn as a surprise for Jen. This is natural/undyed BFL mix with some combed Stella hair. Doesn't it have a lovely halo?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

And Miles to Go Before I Sleep

Although I don't think Robert Frost was referring to treadling on a spinning wheel when he wrote that.

Yes, I'm still plying. Here's what the bobbin -- the jumbo bobbin, mind you -- looked like earlier this evening.
It looks like a decent amount of yarn until you look at how much is left on the bobbins of singles.

I put in about another hour of plying after taking these shots, and it finally looks like I've made a dent. I've set tomorrow as my deadline for finishing; we're having a big group over for a cookout on Saturday, so the wheel has to go upstairs and out of the way before then.

The good news is that, as the bobbin fills up, it's getting a little easier to treadle. Still, it's noticeably harder than with the regular head, so I can't sit at the wheel as long as usual. The only consolation to all this plying taking so long is that I'm bound to have a big honking skein of sock yarn when I'm done!

No more spinning for tonight for me. Tonight, it's all about the Mystery Stole (4, that is). I'm going to try to finish up the rest of the first clue before the next one comes out tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Does This Change Your Opinion?

I always find it so interesting to hear others' opinions on color. I have no formal training in color theory, so my approach to color is based only on my preferences. This is why I so much appreciate your feedback, especially from those of you who explained why you picked what you did.

In the end, if I was choosing strictly based on the popular vote, combination A would win out over combination B by a margin of seven to five. I'm still not decided, however, and I think part of reason is because I think I may have made a boo-boo when ordering. Here again, for reference, is combo B. Several of you noted that you thought the blue on the far left in the bottom row stood out too much, and I agree with that assessment. But I was puzzling over it, because I had thought about doing the vest in shades of brown and blue, and I couldn't figure out why my yarn choices seemed to be skewing green.

Then it hit me: I may have ordered the wrong color. Below is the color swatch for Marine Heather. If you look at the page with all the colors of Palette, you'll notice that it's right above the Rainforest Heather (the color I was worried would clash because it was purple-y). I think this may have been the color I was intending to order, but in my yarn shopping-induced haze, I think I clicked the wrong box.

Now, dear friends, humor me a bit and give me your opinion once again. What do you think of using this color in place of the green on the far right in the picture above? Do you think the light blue still stands out too much?

No three ply to show you just yet, I'm afraid. I'm using my jumbo head to ply, which means slow treadling. It's looking good so far, but because it's more effort to move the wheel, I can only spin for a little bit at a time. I'll try to finish in time for Spinning Sunday!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Stash Revealed

I know you all have been dying to know what was in that Knit Picks box; I'll admit it was a little cruel of me not to show you right away. Forgive me? Full pictures are in my Flickr and my Ravelry stash, but here's the gist of it.

First up, four skeins of Shadow, a basic 100% wool laceweight. This colorway is called Basalt. It's a dark gray with just a hint of reddish purple. I'm not sure what this will turn into just yet, but maybe Ene's Scarf or Matilda.

The majority of the contents of the box was colors of the same yarn -- Palette -- specifically for an Ivy League Vest. I ordererd eight different colorways because I wasn't sure of the combination based on the pictures online, so I need your help in deciding (I only need six for the vest). One color -- Wood -- got thrown out right away because it turned out to be a little too orange for my taste. Here are the two possible combinations. I'm definitely decided on the top three colors in each picture, but the others I just can't settle on.

Combination A: (top row, left to right) Mist, Twig, Bark; (bottom row, left to right) Calypso Heather, Tidepool Heather, Rainforest Heather

Combination B: (top row, left to right) Mist, Twig, Bark; (bottom row, left to right) Pool, Calypso Heather, Tidepool Heather

I think what's giving me such trouble in making up my mind is that Rainforest Heather actually has a fair amount of purple in it, which seems to clash a bit with the browns, but the Pool seems significantly brighter than the two heathers next to it. What do you think?

I'm hoping to have a new project to show you in the next couple of days, but as it is Sunday, here's today's Spinning Sundays content: I finished the third, and final, bobbin of my CMF superwash merino this morning.

I think I'm going to have to break out the jumbo plying head to ply this stuff up. I can't wait to see how this yarn turns out!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

It Might Be a Miracle

Imagine my surprise when, just two days after it was shipped, I discovered this box waiting for me when I got home from work today.

This might be a new record. I had free shipping, which typically means a longer wait, but my package wasn't even held up in Leetsdale, where Knit Picks packages usually go to die. (Well, not really, but they do have a tendency to sit for a while; this box was there less than 12 hours.)

And just what's in the box? I'll give you a little peek ...

There's an assortment of things in there, but I'll save a full review of the contents for another blog post, once I've had time and good lighting to properly photograph everything.

The beads for my mystery stole arrived yesterday as well. They're exactly what I wanted.

They're a dark metallic gray -- hematite, really -- that should add a little sparkle to my yarn without detracting from its color. Unfortunately my crochet hook is just a tad too large to fit the holes, so I'll be making a quick trip over to Natural Stitches after work tomorrow to exchange it for a smaller one.

I would be remiss if I did not thank you all again publicly for your kind anniversary wishes. The Mister and I went out for a nice dinner and then came home to eat some of our wedding cake, which had been in my parents' freezer for the past year (for the record, it was delicious!). We're both excited to see what our second year of marriage has in store for us!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

One Year Ago Today ...

we became Mr. and Mrs.

The chuppah

Happy anniversary, sweetie! I love you!

Monday, September 01, 2008

How I Spent My Labor Day Weekend

An Essay in Pictures (and a Few Words)
by SJ

I finished spinning up the second bobbin of my CMF superwash merino and started in on the third bobbin (not shown).

I swatched for Mystery Stole 4, which begins this Friday.

I got started on New Pathways with my learning socks (Little Sky and Little Coriolis) in some leftover Cascade 220.

I took my last two pairs of socks in to be weighed at Natural Stitches and rewarded myself for a job well done in the contest (I won't win, but I'll make a respectable showing) with some more sock yarn specifically for New Pathways socks. First up will be this Araucania Ranco Multy, which I wound a little bit ago.

How did you spend your holiday weekend?