Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Slow and Steady

Things are moving along very slowly here. I have several projects in progress, but none is seeing much growth these days.

The Tour de Fleece ends this weekend, and I have been working diligently on my third yarn of the Tour, which is unlikely to be completed by its end. It's this ASU Polwarth (the colorway is Koi Pond).

I'm spinning it from one end of the top to the other and very fine, with the plan to chain ply it once I have all 4+ ounces on this bobbin. It's going very, very slowly, and it's only just started to look like I've done more spinning.

I'm also working on some lace during my lunch break at work. This is the beginnings of Merope (Ravelry link), the first of the shawls in Rosemary Hill's 7 Small Shawls to Knit e-book. (Apologies for the craptastic picture; the yarn is such a light gray that I had to put it against a dark background so you could see it. It doesn't help that there's a storm rolling in and it was already getting dark outside.)

Also in progress is the Pea Pod Cardigan for Rainbow, which has gotten to the point where I've divided for the armholes and am working the front with the lace panel. I need to get back to work on it soon or it Rainbow will outgrow it before it's complete.

And speaking of Rainbow, we discovered this weekend that she has more in common with her daddy than a love of sleeping.

I'll have you know that this picture wasn't posed at all -- all we did was sit her down and she started clicking!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

One Fish

Just a quick post to show you the latest results of my Tour de Fleece spinning. Remember this braid of Polwarth from All Spun Up?

It's now approximately 248 yards of this super squishy two ply. It's not my most consistent yarn, so it ranges from fingering or sport to light worsted, but overall I'd say it's about a DK weight. This excites me to not end, because if you've had any interest in my spinning in the past two years or so, you know that I like to spin thin yarns -- and that I tend to spin thin yarns even when I'm trying to spin something thicker. Clearly something worked this time.

The colorway is called A Somewhat Seuss-ish Trout, and it does rather remind me of some of Dr. Seuss' illustrations. I think this'll make a great hat or pair of mittens come winter, maybe for me, maybe for Rainbow.

Meanwhile, although I'm continuing to spin on my wheel each night for a bit after Rainbow goes to bed, I'm also spending about 10 to 15 minutes a day practicing spinning on my spindle. It's clearly paying off, because my singles are getting more consistent -- and thinner, which seems to be a pattern with me.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Road Report: Tour de Fleece 2010

If you follow any of the spinning groups on Ravelry, then you know that July means the annual spinning event known as the Tour de Fleece. This is my second year participating, after having an immensely successful rookie year. I did not have any lofty goals this year, because I have so little time to myself as it is these days. Instead, I set for myself two very attainable goals: spin every day, even if it's only for a little bit, and practice spinning on a spindle.

Although I had intended to start the Tour with empty bobbins, just like last year I still had a yarn in progress when the event began. So, my first yarn completed during the Tour ended up being one that had been in progress for nearly two months. This was the Crown Mountain Farms Targhee that was the May shipment for the fiber club. The coloway was Woodstock, and if you recall, the fiber looked like it had been tie dyed. I was a bit worried that it might turn out a bit muddy when I plied, but luck was on my side and the colors seem to have remained distinct enough. This is a traditional three ply, a light fingering weight, and approximately 487 yards -- by far my best three-ply sock yarn yardage yet.

Once that was finally off the wheel, I was able to pull out one of my three braids of fiber from the All Spun Up "fish" spinalong. I went with the mystery fish colorway, A Somewhat Seuss-ish Trout, which is on Polwarth, a new-to-me fiber. I'm spinning this up significantly thicker, so it's going much faster. It should be a sport to DK two ply when it's done, which should be by this weekend at the rate it's going.

Finally, in keeping with my second goal for the Tour, I took out my spindle (which I won in last year's TdF) at Hurricane Knitting last night and discovered that this spindling thing has finally clicked for me. (For scale, the whorl of the spindle is about the size of a half dollar coin.)

It's been a while since I've posted a Rainbow picture, so here's one from earlier in the week. Unfortunately the story that goes with it is not a very happy one. She was really fussy all weekend long, and we thought she was just teething. On Monday evening, though, she spiked a fever, so we stripped her down to her diaper and draped a cool washcloth over her. She seemed to enjoy that.

I took her to the doctor first thing Tuesday morning, and as it turns out, she has a double ear infection. I stayed home with her that day (and got a lot of spining done when she took a long nap that afternoon!), and now she seems to be on the mend. She does not like it when we give her medicine, though! I think we are all ready for her to get back to normal.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Making It Work

I have another shawl off the needles!

Pattern: Annis by Susanna IC, Spring + Summer Knitty 2010
Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh Sock (100% superwash merino), colorway Kale, less than one skein
Needles: US 8 (5.0 mm) Addi Turbos and US 10 (6.0 mm) Knit Picks Options (for casting on only)
Started/Completed: June 19/June 30
Mods: only by accident (see below)

This shawl was truly an exercise in patience. It starts from the bottom, meaning you have to cast on all the stitches at the beginning. I used a crochet cast on and managed to cast on the correct number only to screw up the first row (because apparently I cannot count to four). The mistake was way back near the beginning of the first row, so rather than tink back, and because it was very close to my bedtime on a Friday night, I decided to frog and restart the next day.

The second time I cast on, I made the same mistake, only this time the error was close enough to the end of the row that I decided tinking back was worth it. I made it through the row successfully and was on my way.

The next roadblock was dealing with the nupps. I've done them before, so I knew they would be easier to work if I did them loosely. However, my previous experience was with five-stitch nupps and these were seven-stitch nupps. It can be tricky to purl seven stitches together -- as I kept discovering rows later, when I'd notice one of the seven loops had been missed and had to drop the stitch down to correct the error.

I finally make it through all six rows of nupps only to discover that I had royally screwed up somewhere along the way, resulting in my omitting two rows of the chart. How this happened I cannot tell you, because my knitting certainly looked like it was supposed to. The result was that my stitch count was off (specifically, I had more stitches than I should have), but at that point I was not about to frog. I decided that I would follow the advice of Tim Gunn and make it work. I can't explain exactly what I did, because frankly I'm not really sure, but it worked out okay in the end.

This was my first time working with the Tosh Sock. For the most part, I enjoyed it, although I didn't find the base to be anything especially wonderful. It reminded me very much of Koigu in feel and twist, although in some respects it reminded me of handspun because there were rather thick spot and rather thin spots. I will say this -- the dye job on this yarn is gorgeous. There were many colorways I loved, but I chose this one because it was the first one that called to me (and frankly I've knit enough in blue and green already). I'm not completely convinced that it was worth the price -- I splurged because I had a gift card from my birthday -- but because it was a little more dear than most sock yarn I buy, I'm glad I used it for something a little special.

All issues with this pattern aside, I think I might knit it again, but next time I'd like it to be a little narrower and closer to a half circle than a crescent. I'll have to do some thinking and figuring to figure out how to make it work, but I'm envisioning it in handspun.

Speaking of spinning, tomorrow is the beginning of the Tour de France -- which means it's also the start of the Tour de Fleece! I don't think I'll be anywhere near as prolific as I was last year, but I am planning on making sure I find some time to spin every day. Before I can start, however, this has to come off the wheel: