Thursday, July 31, 2014

Surprise! Pattern Release: Swirl Bumps

I got a nice surprise today when I checked my e-mail mid-morning -- my new sock pattern is up on the Knit Picks site! You saw peeks of these socks before, but now I can show you what they look like when they're not in a jumble in my project bag. Meet the Swirl Bumps socks:

These socks were designed for Knit Picks' newest sock yarn, Hawthorne, a lovely hand-painted superwash wool/nylon blend. One of the perils of using a hand-dyed yarn is that there can be a tendency to pool, so I used a straightforward knit and purl pattern to add texture to the fabric and break up any pooling. (Another peril is ending up with two socks that are slightly different colors!)

I'll be perfectly honest: These are not groundbreaking socks. They're your basic cuff-down sock with a heel flap and gusset, but the patterning is fun, and you reverse the direction on the second sock, so the end result is that you have socks that either swirl toward each other or away from each other, depending on which sock is on which foot. The pattern is written to fit a foot circumference of 8 (9, 10) inches/20.5 (23, 23.5) cm, so these are good for just about anyone teen and up. And, incidentally, the yarn happens to be on sale right now, so if you wanted to try it out, now would be a good time. (I will add that this yarn, while delightful to work with, has somewhat skimpy skeins if you're a bigfoot like me, so depending on your foot size, you might want to get two skeins.)

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Whorls to Needles

Now that the three weeks of all spinning, all the time are over, I've returned back to my knitting projects, which have basically been at a standstill since the beginning of the month. I put in a handful of rows on the lower part of the body of my Sople at my LYS over the weekend (mainly because I had forgotten the chart I needed for my other project), and I'm nearing the end of this section. This part is rather tedious because it involves twisted ribbing worked flat, so each row takes a good bit of time. Eventually I'm going to need to sit down and power through this part so I can move on to the sleeves.

My main focus the past couple of days, though, has been my crescent shawl. When last you saw it, I thought I was nearing the end. However, I quickly realized that my yarn supply was not going to last for as long as I needed it to. I ended up ripping back to the halfway point and then ripping out two repeats beyond that. That became my new halfway point after which I started decreasing. I have four repeats left to go, and as my stitch count is much smaller now, I should be able to manage those repeats tonight.

I am excited to block this and see the lace fully opened up. I think I will end up with a total of 30 repeats, which should make for a good width once blocked.

I also cast on a new pair of socks over the weekend, which I can't really show you because they're for a new design. (I actually swatched with a different yarn for a submission, but I thought I'd start a full pair for myself. That way, if the submission isn't successful, I have a sample all ready to go for self-publishing.) I can, however, show you the yarn, which is Sock That Rock Lightweight in Haida Fledge.

I was deciding between this colorway and another one that was sort of a light purple-y gray at my LYS, but I thought this might have more depth to it because of the different colors. It's subtle, but I think it will work well. My one complaint is that I'm having a needle dysfunction. I'm using a pair of my Addi Sock Rockets, and it seems that the finish on one of the tips has chipped off. This happened to me once before, so I suspect some sort of manufacturing flaw. I'll be taking them to my LYS this weekend to see if it's something that requires sending the needles back to the manufacturer. It's a shame, because otherwise these have become my favorite needles for sock knitting.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Riding to Victory

Today is officially the end of the 2014 Tour de Fleece, and what a tour it's been. I finished spinning up all the fiber I'd designated for the three weeks. The last skein was finished up Friday night and was dry by yesterday.

Fat Cat Knits Gentiane on Falkland

This was meant to be sock yarn, but it's a bit thicker than I'd intended -- I'd say heavy fingering to sport. The finished skein is roughly 330 yards, so it will make short-ish socks. I love how it came out, though.

And here's a look at my total spinning for the Tour:

That's a total of nearly 4,014 yards of singles spun into more than 1,620 yards of yarn. Not bad, I'd say!

Thursday, July 24, 2014


It's been a weird couple of days. Yesterday, in the middle of my lunch break, the power went out at my office. It seems like that happens at least once every summer, and usually we end up sitting around for a while until it comes back on or the end of the day, whichever comes first. Yesterday, though, it seems several buildings were out, so we were allowed to leave early. Sometime after I got home, I got a text from my boss letting me know that the building would be closed today because of the outage, so I spent today working from home. On the one hand, I was pretty productive because it was quiet (no phones ringing or e-mail pinging) and no one was around to interrupt me. On the other hand, there's a lot of temptation at home.

For one thing, my wheel has been beckoning. I managed to finish up the second bobbin of Gentiane singles this morning before my work day officially started.

I was able to start the third bobbin during my lunch break, but I only got a little done. I really, really wanted to sit there and keep spinning, but I was good and got back to work. I will go back to the wheel this evening once Rainbow is asleep, and with any luck, I'll have the final bobbin finished up by tomorrow.

I'll be working from home again tomorrow. I can already tell that it's going to be very difficult to focus on work rather than trying to finish up the last bobbin so I can start plying tomorrow night!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Think Pink

I spent part of Sunday afternoon and part of the evening plying up the pink singles from the Gourmet Stash punis. The nice thing about a small amount of fiber is that it doesn't take very long to ply! I did minimal finishing on the skein because I was impatient -- I just let it soak in my bathroom sink in some hot water for about half an hour. When I took it out, there was a lot of pink in the water, but the yarn still seemed just as vibrant. I put my hands in the middle of the skein and snapped it several times to distribute the twist, and it pretty much behaved. By yesterday morning, the skein was dry.

I absolutely love this skein. It's two ply and mostly laceweight (though there are some spots where there were some slubs that border on light fingering), and it's roughly 165 yards. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it, given the low yardage, but I have another ounce of punis in a pale pink, so perhaps I'll spin up another skein to match.

I also started another spindle project on Saturday for the Tour de Fleece challenge day, though I'd say it's unlikely it'll get done by the end of the week. I had an ounce of pure Tussah silk from Blue Moon Fiber Arts that I bought at my first MDSW (that would be in 2011) that I was afraid to spin until now. I started spinning it on my wee Turkish spindle, which is always fun to spin.


This is one of those spinning projects that I expect I'll pick up every now and then and spent a few minutes on before putting it away again. It's a relaxing little spin, but not one I'm feeling terribly rushed to finish.

My main goal for the week ahead is to finish my last skein for the Tour, a three-ply fingering weight from Fat Cat Knits Falkland in Gentiane. Last night I finished the first bobbin.

I figure that if I can get the other two bobbins finished in the next four days, then I can have it all plied and finished by Sunday. It's a shame I can't count all the treadling I'm doing toward my daily step count!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Got Sparkle?

I was up late on Friday night because I had to finish plying this skein:

This is the yarn that I've been spindling the past couple of weeks. I bought a set of mini batts at MDSW this year from Hobbledehoy. There were eight total, four blue and four green. I decided to spin them as a gradient, from light to dark, and then ply the two colors together. This niddy noddy shot shows the progression:

Though the yarn isn't perfectly even (there was a fair bit of texture in the batts), overall, it's laceweight and 350 yards. I suspect that there may have actually been a bit more than 2 oz. of fiber, and there was certainly more blue than green, because the green ran out long before the blue. But I managed to get every last bit of singles into the skein, and I'm very pleased with it.

I also finished up the rest of the hot pink singles from my Gourmet Stash punis yesterday and wound them off the spindle.

These singles will be plied on my Lendrum, in part because my Bosworth Mini (on which the singles were spun) suffered a pretty major injury while I was spinning. I dropped it at one point when the singles broke -- this happens from time to time and explains why it's called a drop spindle. Normally, this isn't a problem, but this time, the whorl completely loosened and now can move freely on the shaft. That's not really supposed to happen, but I got in touch with Sheila Bosworth on Ravelry and she suggested I send it back so that Jonathan (the maker of the spindles) can take a look at it and, I hope, fix it. Fortunately, it wasn't serious enough that I couldn't keep spinning and finish the project -- but what would the Tour de Fleece be without an equipment malfunction?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fun with Neon

It took three separate plying sessions, but I finally finished my Boogaloo!

After skeining it up, I realized why it took so long to ply. Even after the shrinkage that comes with washing, this skein is roughly 422 yards of three ply, and it's definitely on the light side of fingering. That is more than enough for a pair of socks for me.

I was a little surprised that the yarn didn't end up being as bright as I thought it might be. I think what happened is that the black and dark purple ended up so well distributed (at least in the second bobbin) that almost all of the skein has at least one dark ply. I still really like it, but I think if I ever spin this colorway again, I'll take a completely different approach: split the length of the top into thinner strips, spin the whole 4 oz., and then chain ply to get bright stripes.

After I finished plying, I started my next bundle of Fat Cat Knits fiber, Falkland in Gentiane. This will also be a three-ply fingering weight, if all goes according to plan.

Meanwhile, I've finished up the last of the Hobbledehoy battlings on my spindle and wound all the singles off onto my low-tech "storage bobbins" (aka empty toilet paper tubes), and last night I started plying. I'm using my Lendrum to ply and finding that these singles are a lot finer than I realized. Hello, laceweight!

For my lunchtime spinning, I pulled out my Gourmet Stash punis and my Bosworth mini, a project I started probably back in May.

How can you not love this pink?

I did do a bit of knitting at knit night last night (swatching for a design submission), and it felt really good to be holding needles again. I do love spinning, but knitting is still my first love, so I think I need to get back to it soon -- it's a good thing that the Tour de Fleece is only three weeks long! I will be child free for part of the coming weekend, as Rainbow is going to her grandparents' for a sleepover, so I'm hoping to use at least some of the quiet time to try to put the finishing touches on the green shawl design that you saw so long ago. I've done all the charts, but I need to check that I didn't make any mistakes in going from the hand-drawn charts to the computer. Then I have to finish writing up the pattern, get it laid out, and get it to my tech editor. I am hoping to have it all done and ready for testing sometime next month. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

No Rest for the Busy

Today is technically a rest day for the Tour de Fleece (as it's a rest day for the Tour de France), but seeing as tomorrow is knit night and I'm likely to spend the night knitting rather than spinning, I figured I might as well get in more spinning tonight. Besides, I have a skein to finish plying up!

I had hoped to finish this last night, but it was not to be. This is my Fat Cat Knits Boogaloo, which is being plied into a three-ply fingering weight yarn. Even plying onto my miniSpinner, it's taken me two evenings of spinning to get this far. I can see the core of the bobbin on at least one of the three, though, which means the end is in sight. I'm hopeful that I can finish plying, skein the yarn, and get it washed so it'll be dry by tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I'm closing in on the end of my spindle project. I just finished the third of four green batts, and I'm hoping to have all four spun up by tomorrow.

I am planning to ply the yarn on a wheel because I really don't care much for plying on a spindle (at least not more than a tiny amount). I find that it's too hard on my wrists to support all the weight, and I will admit I'm not the best at winding a cop when there's that much yarn involved.

If all goes my way, I should have at least one finished skein to show you in my next post!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Tour de Fleece, Weekend 2

I didn't spin nearly as much this weekend as last, in part because we were out and about (and the hot and humid weather we've had the past two days was not at all conducive to spindling). Nevertheless, progress was made.

I finished the last bobbin of singles of my Fat Cat Knits superwash merino/nylon in Boogaloo:

and now I have three bobbins ready to be plied:

And I finished up the first green batt on the spindle:

I hope to have at least one finished skein to show you this week!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Not a Stitch

As I predicted, I have not knit a stitch since the start of the Tour de Fleece. I thought I would feel all twitchy about that by now, but I'm surprisingly content with spinning only for the time being. I have been sitting at my wheel every evening and have been making excellent progress.

After finishing up the first skein of the Tour in the first two days, my progress has slowed somewhat. That's partly due to the fact that I have fewer hours each day to spin during the week compared to the weekend, but I'm also spinning finer singles now. I am currently on bobbin 2 of 3 of singles for a three-ply sock yarn. The fiber is Fat Cat Knits superwash merino/nylon in the colorway Boogaloo (quite possibly the most fun colorway name to say ever).

The colors in this fiber are just amazing, and it's so much fun to watch them change. As you can see, last night I wound up in the middle of a large section of hot pink.

Meanwhile, I've been spindling during my lunch break at work. It seems that between Tours I forget how much I enjoy spinning on a spindle; I really should do it more often. It's been a very stressful week at work, and it's amazing how much 45 or so minutes of spindling in the middle of the day can relax me. I am working my way through the Hobbledehoy "battlings" I bought at MDSW this year; I decided to spin the four blue batts and the four green batts in color progression (from light to dark) and then ply them together. I nearly finished up the fourth and final blue batt today.

As much as I love all this spinning, I think I will need to get back to my knitting needles again soon, even if it's just to do a little knitting. I do have knit night next week, so perhaps that will be the time.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

The Very Best Kind of Socks

While I'm busy spinning everything in sight, I do have a related FO to share with you. These were finished last Thursday, finally, after being in progress since late April. I think they're very appropriate for this time of year considering that they're handspun!

You may recall that I spun up the yarn (from CosySpins Falkland that I bought locally in November) in the middle of the winter when I was really craving something springlike. I decided to knit it up into a basic pair of socks, but with a twist.

Lately I've been interested in doing simultaneous heel flaps and gusset increases for handspun socks, in part because after the heel is turned, you work what is essentially another flap under the heel to decrease away the extra stitches. I've usually maintained the slip-stitch pattern that's used in the heel flap in this section for added durability. The twist this time around was that instead of putting in the increases on either side of the instep stitches, I put them in the middle of the instep. The result is that Y shape on the foot, and they actually fit pretty well because that section kind of hugs the foot.

My favorite part about knitting handspun socks is that you never quite know what will happen with the colors. As luck would have it, the reddish section at the beginning of the first sock aligned almost exactly with the length of the ribbing -- that was totally unintentional!

These socks will likely get a lot of wear next winter. This was my first time using Falkland for sock yarn, and it resulted in a nice, squishy fabric that should be fairly durable as long as I'm not too hard on them.

Meanwhile, I finished my first skein for the Tour de Fleece. This is Fat Cat Knits Polwarth in Mon Ami that was dyed as a gradient. I split it for a fractal spin (split in half lengthwise and then split one half in half again); that means one ply goes through the color sequence once and the other ply goes through the sequence twice.

I ended up with approximately 332 yards of two ply that's somewhere between fingering and sport. And I love it!

Sunday, July 06, 2014

And So It Begins

It's a good thing that the Tour de Fleece starts on a holiday weekend, because I was itching to get started. It helps that I hadn't been at my wheel for more than a week, so I was missing it. I got an earlier than expected start yesterday morning when Rainbow woke us up with a scream at about 6:15 a.m. Fortunately, it wasn't a crisis, but once I was up, I was up. The Mister went back to sleep while Rainbow watched some cartoons, and I sat down at my wheel and started spinning.

My first spin of the Tour was this Polwarth from Fat Cat Knits; the colorway is Mon Ami. I split it in half lengthwise and then split one of the halves in half again for a fractal spin.

With the time I spent spinning yesterday morning and a bit more at my LYS in the afternoon, I got the first bobbin spun up.

I started in on the second one right away and got maybe half of it spun up before I had to call it quits and go to bed last night.

I finished this bobbin this morning (though I didn't take a photo) and immediately started in on the next spin, also from Fat Cat Knits. This is Boogaloo on superwash merino/nylon:

This fiber blend of course begs to be spun into sock yarn, so I split the top into three equal pieces and started spinning up one of them. There's not much to see thus far, but it's started.

I started plying up the Polwarth this afternoon on the miniSpinner, so this evening I'm planning to finish that, skein it up, and wash it. In the meantime, I'll continue adding to the singles on this bobbin.

I'm planning to take a spindle project with me to work this week, so while I likely won't be as productive as I was this weekend, things will keep moving along.

Friday, July 04, 2014


I'm really starting to think that we should have every Friday off. This is my second week in a row, and I feel like my mental health and general well-being are better because of it.

I'm very happy that today is a "home day," as Rainbow says. It's a positively perfect day -- sunny, low humidity, and just warm enough to be comfortable. I was up on the early side, which meant I was able to go for a long (well, long for me) run and still be back by a little after 7 a.m. We are having the immediate family over later today for a barbecue, but for now I have time to sit and knit.

As promised, I have a finished baby knit to share with you. This pattern never fails to disappoint me in its cuteness.

Pattern: Aviatrix by Justine Turner, 6 month size
Yarn: my handspun
Needles: US 2 (2.75 mm) and US 3 (3.25 mm)
Started/Completed: June 25/June 29, 2014
Mods: started and ended ribbing with two knits for easier pickup and so that a column of knits would appear next to the ear flap; picked up on RS for start of ear flap and worked one WS row

The yarn was some superwash BFL that I spun up long enough ago that I don't have dates in on the stash page on Ravelry. It was somewhere between a sport and a DK weight, so I followed the sportweight directions for the pattern and it worked just fine. Better yet, I weighed the hat and the leftovers, and it looks like there's plenty to knit another one. This hat is a baby gift for a Ravelry friend who just had a little boy, but we're going to see some friends in a few weeks who just had their second daughter, so I think I'll embellish the next one with a crochet flower or something like that.

This really is a great hat, and it's a fast knit. I made Rainbow one back when she was about a year old, also out of handspun, and I'm pretty sure she wore it for a couple of winters.

I'm now down to just two projects currently on the needles -- my Sople (which quite honestly is probably not going to see much attention for the next couple of months) and the crescent shawl that's my own design. It's going to see some serious attention today, as I've officially passed the halfway point and have started the decreasing repeats.

This is obviously going to need some very serious blocking when it's done, but I'm very happy with how it's turning out. I also really like this construction method, and I'm already thinking about the next version, which I'm probably going to do in handspun.

It's nearly time to get the BBQ brisket in the oven, so I'm going to run, but I wanted to wish all my fellow Americans and very happy Independence Day! To the rest of you, I wish you a happy Friday and a wonderful weekend! And for all you spinners, get ready for the start of the Tour de Fleece tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Amazed and Grateful

The title of this post is how I feel about the reception Leventry has received since I published it last week. I knew there was a fair amount of interest based upon the number of people who asked me to let them know when the pattern was available, but I never dreamed it would get the amount of attention it got in the days following its release. It was actually atop the Ravelry Hot Right Now list for about 24 hours, and while it hasn't yet overtaken my best-selling pattern just yet, it is well on its way to being my most popular pattern. I want to thank everyone who has favorited, queued, and bought the pattern -- your love for it means so much to me!

I am hosting a knitalong for the shawl in my Ravelry group, if you are interested. We officially kicked it off today, and it will run through September 1, so there's plenty of time to join up. Prizes are still to be determined, but they will include some of my handspun!

Meanwhile, I managed to finish up and block my TTL Mystery Shawl on Sunday night, and it's quite a pretty thing, if I do say so.

I can't really tell how much yarn I used, but I have a very good amount leftover, so I'd say the estimate of 500 yards is likely a high one. I'm pleased with how my shawl turned out, though I do think the pattern shows up a little better in a solid. Still, it was fun watching the colors shift and change in this yarn.

And speaking of handspun, this weekend I also finished up a little baby cap (the pattern is Aviatrix) for a gift. It still needs a button or two and a good blocking, but it was a quick and satisfying knit. I'll post a photo when it's all presentable.

We're just a few days away from that part of the summer when I spin furiously, so I'm cramming in what knitting I can this week. I'm trying to finish up the second sock of the latest handspun pair, which is now cruising toward the toe:

And I'm also working on the next lace design, a crescent-shaped shawl worked from side to side (this is the one I started in my class with Sivia Harding):

Finally, I'm hoping to put the finishing touches on the pattern for the green shawl I showed you a while back so that I can get it laid out and to my tech editor!