Thursday, September 29, 2011

Moving On

A while back, I was in the midst of a flurry of designing stuff -- sketching, charting, swatching, and sample knitting. That has died down a bit as I've sent off several submissions and been caught up with obligatory knitting (Rainbow's Roo and all the baby knits). Yesterday, I got my official rejection from Knitty for a pattern I'd submitted for the Deep Fall issue but that had gotten eaten by their e-mail spam filter so I'd had to resend it. I'm certainly disappointed, but that particular pattern is one I worked on really hard for several months, so I'm going to submit it elsewhere once I find what I think is the perfect fit. I still have a kids/baby sweater idea that I want to work on, but it requires some serious time with Excel to figure out the grading, so that is on the backburner for a while.

In the meantime, I decided that I wanted to knit something for myself in between all the must-do projects I've got going, so I picked up a skein of Cascade Eco Wool at my LYS last Saturday and on Sunday evening, with a notebook beside me to jot down what I was doing, I got to work on figuring out my Cranford shawl. It's turning out exactly as I wanted it to.

The gauge is fairly dense right now, but I know I'm going to be able to block this out to be big, drapey, and very cozy. Considering how cold a certain husband of mine likes to keep the house, I'm likely going to be wrapping up in this a lot this fall and winter.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

BSJ? Check!

While the knitting was finished some time ago, it is really only after this last weekend that I was able to cross one baby knit off my list officially. Presenting the Socks That Rock Baby Surprise Jacket:

(Before I get into too many details, I must stop and ask your forgiveness for the quality of these photos. By the time I had a minute to take them, there was no natural light to be had.)

Pattern: Baby Surprise Jacket by Elizabeth Zimmermann
Yarn: Socks That Rock Mediumweight (100% superwash merino) in Muddy Autumn Rainbow
Needles: US 5 (3.75 mm) Addi Turbos
Started/Completed: September 7/September 21
Mods: omitted the buttonholes in favor of a single crochet edging incorporating two button loops

This pattern is an oldie but a goodie, and it's definitely my go-to pattern when there's a baby coming and its sex is going to be a surprise. In this case, the baby in question belongs to a coworker of mine and is due to arrive in mid-December (perhaps even on Rainbow's birthday). The yarn had been in my stash for at least a couple years (since I was last in the Rockin' Sock Club) and seemed like a pretty gender-neutral colorway.

As to the buttons, I had hoped to find some at my LYS but didn't see any that were the right size and material, so I made do with a couple that I found in my button stash. I think this dark green works pretty well with the colors of the yarn, don't you?

Every time I knit this pattern, I'm always enchanted by it -- and I always have to refer to the pattern no matter how familiar I think I am with it! The sweater will be put away for the time being, and I'm very happy to be able to cross it off my list. Don't worry, there are plenty of other baby knits still in line!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

All About the Cormo

A quick post for tonight, as it's the end of a very busy weekend and there's still a lot to be done before I can lie down and try to go to sleep.

Here's the latest spin from the Crown Mountain Farms fiber club -- September's shipment, 4 oz. of Cormo roving in a very autumnal colorway called Annunaki on Tiamat.

After much thinking, I opted to go for a barber-poling two ply on this one, and I wisely chose to spin it on my Lendrum rather than my miniSpinner. I say wisely because this fiber was extremely neppy and quite full of VM, so I had to stop frequently to remove the offenders and that was less of a pain in the you-know-what to do on the traditional wheel.

The fiber was extremely soft, so that made all the starting and stopping worth it, but it was a tad annoying to have to start and stop so much (especially as this prep isn't typical of CMF fiber). Cormo is a fine wool, though, so it's very easy to overprocess. The neppy texture made it difficult to get a truly smooth, even yarn, and that combined with the fact that this prep was roving, not top, meant that the resulting yarn is rather thick and thin.

All that said, I'm pretty happy with the finished yarn, which measures in at roughly 370.5 yards and is more or less about sportweight. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with this, but I think it has to be something that will be touching sensitive skin, like my neck, because it is so delightfully soft. Cowl? Small shawl? Let the pattern search begin!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ready for Fall

Fall officially starts tomorrow, and my knitting mojo is officially back and in full swing.

Last night, I decided to have a little finishing party to take care of the projects that were only waiting for finishing touches to be finished. First, I got out the STR Baby Surprise Jacket, which only needed some edging (in single crochet) around the sleeve cuffs and a couple of buttons. I finished the edging and wove in all my ends, but I couldn't find two matching buttons in the appropriate size in my button stash, so I will have to get those at my LYS this weekend. The sweater needs a good blocking to get it clean and to get the edges to behave a little better, but I'm pretty much at the point now where I can cross it off my baby knitting list.

Next, I bit the bullet and finally sewed the buttons on my Essential Cardigan. I'd picked out a couple of button options last week, so I picked the winning selection and got busy with my needle and thread. It really didn't take that much time, but I wouldn't exactly call it fun to sew buttons with black thread on dark gray fabric. Fortunately, I had some good entertainment on my computer while I was working (I'm finally caught up, yay!), so it didn't get too tedious. I plopped the sweater in the tub this morning after my shower and laid it out to dry after breakfast, so I should have a sweater ready to wear this weekend, should I so choose.

There are several other baby projects to work on/start, but I'm taking a bit of a break to work on Rainbow's Roo. I'd really like her to be able to wear it this fall, before it gets so cold that she needs a real winter coat, so I'm trying to plow through it as quickly as I can. I'm a handful of rows from getting to the armhole shaping on the back at this point, and it seems to be the right size when held up to her, so so far, so good.

Meanwhile, during my lunch breaks, I've been working on a sock (yes, I know, I'm just as shocked as you are). I unearthed a pattern I had written down several years ago in a notebook that I just pulled out again and am making a few adjustments to it. It's written to fit my feet, but I'd like to upsize it as well, so I'll be doing a little figuring on it.

That's a lot of knitting, isn't it? Yep, I'd say fall is definitely here.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

One and Done

Tonight's yarn has been done for a couple of weeks at least, but I completely forgot to photograph it until this weekend. This was the August shipment for the Crown Mountain Farms fiber club, 4 oz. of Gotland in a subtle colorway called Hammer of the Gods. The natural color of the fiber was a dark gray, so the dye job was not very dramatic, but all the same it was very pretty. Here was the fiber:

Much like the Lincoln I spun earlier this summer, 4 oz. of this fiber didn't amount to a lot volume-wise, so it was a quick spin. This was actually the first thing I spun after the conclusion of the summer contest, so I was eager to spin something that would be fast and easy. It had been a while since I'd spun a singles yarn (all yarn for the contest had to be plied), and as this fiber was long and wavy, it seemed perfectly suited to it. Though they can be frustrating (because you don't have the step of plying to even out the twist), singles yarns can be really satisfying because you spin up one bobbin and you're done. That was certainly the case with this yarn.

The color was nearly impossible to capture on camera, but you can see that it's a smooth, lustrous yarn. I slightly fulled it by throwing it in alternating hot and cold baths and then giving it a vigorous thwacking against the side of the tub; this helps to tame the twist a bit and help the yarn to hold together. The finished product is about 402 yards and really silky, though not particularly next-to-skin soft. I'll have to find the right pattern for it, but this spin was a success!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Notice Posted

First, a public service announcement: Today it was so chilly outside (highs in the 50s) that I pulled out a pair of handknit wool socks to wear. Tomorrow's going to be just a tad bit warmer, so I'm planning on a long-sleeved tee and this shawl, which has been waiting patiently for me to wear it since it was finished. I think fall may have officially arrived.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

After posting the other night, I got out my purple yarn and cast on for Rainbow's Roo. (Technically I cast on again, because I'd started and done a few rows the night before and ripped it out after measuring and realizing it was going to end up too small.) I'm through about half a repeat of the chart on the back and have done one decrease so far, so it's definitely in progress now. I was a bit slow going at first because my brain and the chart were not cooperating, but now that we've straightened things out, it seems to be all smooth sailing. I'm also cabling without a cable needle, so that's making things quicker as well. My goal is to have this done by later this fall so Rainbow can actually wear it before she outgrows it, though that's iffy seeing as she is regularly refusing all sorts of things (like, lately, pants and anything with ruffles). She seems to be enamored of the yarn, though, to the point where I had to cut a small piece of it for her this morning so she wouldn't unravel and completely tangle an entire skein.

I've got a bit of a lull going in my design stuff (the one pattern is in testing, another submission is ready to go out the door), though of course the ideas have not stopped. Since watching Return to Cranford the other night, I've been obsessed by the shawls worn by some of the women, specifically the one worn by Judi Dench -- it looks a little like the one here, but there was almost a collar to it as well. I've got a rough sketch and a rough idea of how to execute it, but I need to sit down with some yarn and needles and swatch a bit to see if I can get it to work. If I can, I'm thinking I'll put it up on Ravelry as a free download, and in the meantime I can share the process with you here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Back on Track

Although technically it's not yet autumn, the week's forecast calls for a couple slightly cooler days (highs in the 60s) and some definitely cooler nights (lows in the 40s), so I feel completely justified in getting out my wool yarns and knitting sweaters and other warm things.

About a week ago, I cast on for a Baby Surprise Jacket for a baby gift for a coworker who is due in December. I haven't given it too much attention, so it's moving slowly so far. I've just started the increase section and I'm starting to pick up some steam, so I'm hoping to get it finished within the next week or so. I know the baby is not going to need it anytime soon, but I have quite a few baby items to knit in the next six or so months and I'd like to get them all done as early as I can.

The next big(ish) project to go on the needles will be Roo for Rainbow. My swatching ended up giving me more problems than solutions. To get the specified stitch gauge, I probably would have had to go up to a US 9 needle, and in my opinion, that would have resulted in a fabric that was way too loose for this particular garment. Added to that is the fact that I really like the fabric density I was getting with a US 7, though my gauge is off. I decided to go with the fabric I liked and adjust for the gauge difference by knitting a larger size. Originally, I'd intended to knit the 24" size (Rainbow has a 20.5" chest but I wanted a few inches of positive ease in order for the sweater/jacket to fit over other clothes and allow her some space to grow). I cast on for that size and knit a few rows last night, and it looked like it was matching the finished measurements of the 22" size, so I ripped it. I'll cast on again tonight for the next size larger and see how that goes.

I did finish my Essential Cardigan last week but have yet to sew on the buttons (bad knitter!). It's really silly how about 20 minutes of work are standing in the way of my having a new sweater. I think I may have some residual feelings of resentment toward the sweater from all that miserable 1x1 ribbing, though, so it may need to sit in time out for a bit longer until I'm ready to face it again.

Finally, I'm getting another original pattern ready to go into the testing phase. At this point I am planning on self-publishing it on Ravelry, though I've been toying with the idea of submitting it to the Knit Picks Independent Designer Program because I knit the sample in Knit Picks yarns. Thoughts? I will let you all know when the pattern is going up for testing The pattern is now in testing here, in case you're interested, but in the meantime, here's a little preview:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Transitioning to Autumn

How did I miss a full week in my blogging schedule? I'm not sure exactly, but I think the fact that I had a five-day weekend messed me up a bit; I was constantly confused about what day it was when I got back to work, so I think I was planning on blogging on a specific day and then somehow skipped that day. My apologies.

The weather has begun to get a little cooler, so it's started to feel more correct to be working with wool. I didn't spend that much time at my wheel this week (at least not compared to the last several months), but I have been enjoying the fiber I've been spinning -- Cormo from Crown Mountain Farms. This is the September shipment from the fiber club, and the colors are just perfect for fall. (The colors are much prettier without the flash, but it's cloudy enough here today that my camera did not want to focus without the flash on.)

I'm spinning this on my Lendrum because I'm having to stop frequently to pull out nepps and VM. This fiber is incredibly soft, but because it's such a fine wool, it does have the tendency to get neppy. I'm trying to go with the flow and not worry so much about not getting a perfectly smooth, even yarn, so I'm not being too obsessive about it. This will be a barber-poling two ply when it's done, and I suspect that it's going to poof up when I wash it.

That's really all for my spinning right now except for one thing -- yes, I won. ;-)

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Summer's End

Today marks the close of my LYS's summer contest, so yesterday I took in my last two entries for the spinning portion. It still remains to be seen whether my effort was enough to capture the title, but I'm very pleased with my entries, and that includes these last two.

First up, Chameleon Colorworks merino/tencel in the colorway Support the Girls. I had started this on my Jenkins Turkish spindle earlier in the summer but never made much progress on it, so I took the spindle parts out and fed what had been spun onto a bobbin of my miniSpinner until I reached the unspun fiber and finished the rest from there. This ended up as roughly 672 yards of heavy laceweight.

I'd spun this particular blend before (not long after I started spinning) and found it difficult to work with at the time, so I'm happy to say that I had a much better time with it this time around. It is a slippery blend, though, so I wouldn't recommend it for a beginner, but the finished yarn does have an amazing shine.

The colors more or less matched up when I plied, which was completely unplanned and unintended, so this yarn will self-stripe to a certain extent when it's knit up.

The last yarn was finished at the last minute, and at the end there I wasn't sure if I was going to make it. This is Masham from Crown Mountain Farms from last year's fiber club (it was the last bundle of fiber from last year that was unspun), and I spun the singles on my Bosworth Midi spindle. I was committed to doing the singles for both plies on the spindle, and that's the reason I wasn't sure I was going to finish in time. But I managed to finish up the second half on Thursday while I was home with Rainbow (her daycare was closed for the day). In the interest of saving time -- and going easy on my wrists -- I opted to ply on my miniSpinner, which took all of a couple of hours on Friday night.

The finished two-ply yarn is fingering and about 375 yards. The colorway, Siddhartha, was much more vibrant before it was spun but seems to have toned down some in the process of being spun.

The fiber reminded me a little of Wensleydale in that the staple length was long and the fiber was wavy, rather than crimpy. It's not the softest yarn, but it is much less wiry than the Wensleydale I've spun and it has a slight halo that is rather lovely.

So, that's the end of the spinning for the summer, but don't think that means the wheels (and spindles) are going away until next summer. I'm going to be spending less time spinning and more time knitting now, but the spinning bug hasn't left me yet and there's still a lot of stash to spin up, so stay tuned!

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Sweater Season

I'm still mystified as to how the summer has gone by so quickly and it is already September. On the one hand, I'm a little sad about it because I hate that it's getting darker earlier (and lighter later), but on the other hand, I'm excited for fall, my favorite season. I really do not care for the heat, so I look forward to those beautiful autumn days when there's a hint of a chill in the air but the sun is still warm -- perfect sweater weather.

My LYS' summer contest ends this weekend and I have one more yarn to finish up tonight/tomorrow, so my evenings of spinning are soon to come to and end. I will still be doing some, of course, but not to the exclusion of my knitting -- which is a good thing, because my sweater mojo is coming back in a big way.

My first order of business is finishing up my Essential Cardigan, which has been on the needles for more than four months -- and for at least the last two there's been only the button band to finish. I dug it out last weekend and put in some time on it on Saturday and then again last night at knit night, and as a result I have only about two more inches to knit. Unfortunately, that sounds like a lot less work than it actually is, because a row takes me a good 15-20 minutes (the band goes up one side, around the neck, and down the other side, and ever other row is 1x1 ribbing). Once my focus is no longer on spinning all the time, though, I think I should be able to finish it up relatively quickly and have it ready to wear once it starts getting cooler.

I already have my next projects ready to go once it's done, too. I received a Knit Picks order earlier this week with the supplies.

On top is the kit for the Corrie Vest for me, and underneath is a bunch of Swish worsted in Eggplant to make a Roo for Rainbow. I swatched today and am looking forward to casting on!