Thursday, February 26, 2015

Finally, Success

Last week, I tried to start the next pattern in the Curls book. I thought I'd try to use the leftovers from my Dalgada Cowl, but it soon became apparent that the combination of yarn and needle just wasn't working. So the other evening, I wound up a skein of handspun that's nearly three years old. I tried again, this time with a smaller needle. Two failed attempts. I wasn't about to let this pattern beat me, so last night, after finishing up some plying, I sat down with the pattern and the yarn determined to do it. And I did.

This small start represents probably less than an hour total of knitting time, but the piece grows quickly thanks to three increases on every row. And with every repeat, the pattern gets easier. I'm not sure what it was that was giving me such trouble, but for some reason I couldn't get the chart to work with my brain on the first several attempts. Now I'm starting to get a feel for the repetition of the stitches, and I have a feeling that soon I'll have the pattern pretty much memorized. I am enjoying the yarn, though. It wasn't the smoothest of spins, as I recall (it was a bit neppy and had a fair amount of VM), but the finished yarn is fairly soft and poofy.

Meanwhile, I've been working on the new cowl during my lunch break and it's grown. I have just one more stripe sequence, I think, before I'll be ready to start the lace edging.

And speaking of lace, that hot pink lace shawl you'd seen a couple peeks of is done and blocked. Here's another peek:

I'm hoping to do a photo shoot and write up the pattern this weekend, so you'll soon see the whole thing.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Pattern Release: Kupol

If you've kept up with my blog over the past several months, then this hat will look familiar to you. First, I knit a prototype in handspun for my future sister-in-law. Then, while we were on vacation at the end of December, I knit up another sample in madelinetosh Vintage (one of the skeins I'd bought on a whim when my LYS announced it would no longer be carrying madtosh). Today, I can finally share the finished pattern with you.

When I was improvising this cable, it reminded me a little bit of the onion domes of many Russian Orthodox churches, so when it came time to name the pattern, I decided that it needed a Russian name. Kupol means "dome" in Russian (or at least that's what Google Translate told me!).

As far as techniques are concerned, this hat has a little bit of a challenge in the cable, but there are no knitting gymnastics required. The cable motif (which is both written out and charted in the pattern) frames an area of garter stitch, while the background of the hat is reverse stockinette. It's knit entirely in the round, and if you wish you make it a little slouchier than it is, it's easy to add length.

The hat has been graded to three sizes -- to fit a head circumference of 20 (22, 24) inches/51 (56, 61) cm. One skein of the recommended yarn (or any comparable worsted weight yarn) is enough to knit any size.


Sunday, February 22, 2015


Spinning this week has been about the second half of things. For one thing, I spun up the second half of my merino -- in fact, I did it all yesterday afternoon while hibernating in the snow storm.

I will ply this sometime this week.

The other thing I've been working on for the past week or so for a few minutes here and there has been the second set of punis I bought from Gourmet Stash at MDSW last year. This year's festival is only a little more than two months away, and I feel like I should use up what I bought last year before I even think about buying anything this year. As with the first batch, I split the punis in half and am spinning each batch into half of a two ply on one of my Bosworths.

This batch is a yummy blend of superfine merino, merino, seacell, cashmere, silk, milk fiber, and angelina. Each puni takes me maybe 10-15 minutes to spin, so it's easy to squeeze one in here and there. I think it's also good practice to spin on a spindle (something I typically end up doing mainly during the Tour de Fleece) -- I always forget how much fun it is!

Friday, February 20, 2015

It's Wool Season

It's cold -- you probably knew that already. Here it's been cold enough that we've even broken some records. When it gets like this, I feel an even stronger urge than usual to knit as fast I can, which is slightly illogical given that some of the things I've been knitting will not do much to keep me warm.

I did finish up this little headband/ear warmer thing the other evening. I had started it on a whim the night before we left for Florida in December, when all my other projects were already packed. It languished in one of my bags for a while until I pulled it out to be my lunchtime knitting for this week. It's knit in Quince and Co. Chickadee, which I have to say is pretty delightful.

This weekend it will get blocked and have some buttons sewn on, and then it will officially be done. Rainbow has already requested one for herself, so there may be another one on the needles in the near future.

When that project was finished, I needed something else to knit on at lunch, so I pulled out some tosh merino light that I recently ordered and started a new pattern sample.

There's something so encouraging about this very springy green. I'll be happier when I see it showing up outside, but for now the brightness of it cheers me up, especially when it's dark and dreary outside.

If you want to talk about bright colors, though, then let's talk about what's been my main project at home. This is a new shawl design (well, "new" only in the sense that I only recently started knitting the sample; it's been planned for many months), and the yarn is both delightfully soft and amazingly bright. It took me three attempts to get the color right in the photo.

I reached the halfway point on this last night, so if I can put in some serious time on it this weekend, I might get it wrapped up sometime next week. I think at that point I might allow myself to cast on a sweater (if only to guarantee that the weather will finally take a turn for the warmer), so there may be some swatching this weekend as well. It is, thankfully, supposed to go above freezing this weekend, but they're also calling for freezing rain and snow, so I'm planning on getting my errands done early and then camping out with tea and my knitting for the duration.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


I feel like something has come over me lately that's made me want to finish everything on the needles (and then cast on for all the things, but we won't talk about that right now). After finishing up my Caesious, I then cast on for a new hat for Rainbow, which was done in just a matter of days. We had a little photo shoot over the weekend, so I can finally give you a proper peek at the pattern.

I switched the colors from mine, and her hat has only an inch of ribbing at the brim, but otherwise it's pretty much the same. She's been wearing it every day since I finished it, and she's dubbed it "Pommy" because of the fluffy pompom. Of course it makes me very happy when someone appreciates my knitting, but I'm especially glad that she's so keen to wear it because of how cold it's been. The double layer of yarn due to the stranding means this hat is extra warm!

Over the weekend I finished a project that had been on the needles much longer (since close to the beginning of January).

The sock pattern is not very exciting -- these are just plain stockinette (with a garter rib cuff) worked over 70 stitches -- but that just means the yarn does all the work. The yarn is Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce, a superwash merino/nylon blend, dyed as a set of what Lisa of Fibernymph calls Inversibles. These two-skein sets are self-striping with the same two colors, but as you can see, the width of each color reverses in the other sock.

I think the only reason these socks took so long is because I was working on a smaller-than-usual needle to get a gauge of 9 stitches per inch. While this yarn does have nylon in it, it's also a fairly thin two ply, so I figured a firmer gauge would help them to last a bit longer. We'll see if it does the trick!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Pattern Release: Sound Bars Cowl

I don't know about you, but in the weather we've been having lately, the most vulnerable part of my body has been my neck and face. It's times like this that I'm thankful I know how to knit because I can always whip up a cowl that's both warm and pretty.

Today's pattern is one that I knit over the winter break while we were on vacation. I'd had the idea in my head for a while -- I wanted to create a colorwork pattern that was reminiscent of the "dancing" sound bars I used to watch on the old stereo my parents had when I was a kid. (I say old, but it was cutting edge at the time -- it held six CDs at a time!) In any case, I knew that the bars would be perfect for stranded colorwork and especially for a stranded project that was very approachable for beginners to this technique. I picked out two colors and I was off to the races, and today I present to you the Sound Bars Cowl.

This cowl uses two colors of sportweight yarn. I used Mountain Meadow Wool Cody, a yarn I'm now completely in love with. It is velvety soft and has a great nubby texture, and there's just the slightest variation in the color. The pattern itself is pretty straightforward, so if you've never done stranded work before, this is a great first project. You won't find long floats in this cowl, which will help you to keep an even tension. It's a quick knit, too -- I'm pretty sure I finished up the sample in just a couple of days. As written, you'll get a close-fitting cowl (perfect for pulling up over your face on blustery days), but there are instructions for making a longer cowl should you wish to lengthen it.

I have a feeling there will be more patterns to come in Mountain Meadow Wool yarn, but I hope you enjoy this one!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Deep-stash Spinning

While a general goal for my spinning this year has been to spin up more of my stash, a more specific goal has been to spin up the fiber that I've been saving because it seemed too precious to spin. Some of that has been fiber from my favorite dyer, who stepped away from dyeing for a time (and, though she's technically returned, hasn't put up much in her shop in several months). During the period where it was unclear whether she'd ever start dyeing again, I'll admit that I was hoarding the fiber I already had from her in my stash. I was saving it for who knows what; I guess it seemed like as long as it was there in the stash, I'd always have some. It's a bit ridiculous, I know, but there you have it.

During that period when Kristin wasn't dyeing, she also wasn't on Ravelry anymore, so I became a moderator of her group, along with a couple of other spinners. At some point, we decided that we should have a knitalong in the group to encourage people to spin their All Spun Up stash, and we're currently in the middle of another one. I thought it was the perfect opportunity to spin some of those precious braids.

This skein was finished last weekend, and you already saw it on the bobbin, but here it is, all skeined and finished.

I'm very pleased that I got what I was aiming for -- a three-ply worsted weight. The skein is approximately 210 yards in length, so it should be plenty to knit Rainbow another hat.

Inspired by this project, I decided to pull out another precious braid from the stash -- this one was bought back in March 2010 (or at least that's when I entered it in my stash).

This one is 4.2 oz. of merino, one of two color block braids I bought during one of the updates that went quickly. Originally, I'd planned to spin it fine from end to end and chain ply, but buoyed but the nearly instant gratification of spinning a thicker yarn, I changed that plan. I split the fiber in half vertically, and I'll attempt to get the two plies to match up when I ply.

This is the result of about an hour and a half of spinning last night. I estimate I'm about halfway through this bobbin. If I can find some time later today, I'll try to finish it up.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

What's Next?

There has been a lot of finishing this week. I finished my Caesious Sunday night but didn't get around to blocking it until last night. It's now dry and ready to be worn -- good thing, too, because it's supposed to be absolutely frigid this weekend.

The colors are much better when you don't have to use the flash.
Pattern: Caesious by Hunter Hammersen, from Curls
Yarn: my handspun, fractally spun Polwarth from Fat Cat Knits in Mon Ami
Needles: US 6 (4.0 mm)
Started/Completed: January 28/February 8

This was a fun knit, and actually pretty fast (there were several days in that time span that I didn't actually pick it up at all). Once I'd done a handful of repeats, I pretty much had the pattern memorized, so I didn't need to worry about referring to the chart all the time. I used nearly all my yarn; I stopped when it didn't look like I had enough to do another full repeat of the pattern. I was happy that I at least got from the dark purple at the beginning of the skein all the way to the start of the dark purple at the end of it.

I tried to start the next Curl in the book (Cerise) late last night, but I wasn't particularly liking the yarn and needle combination I used and my head was not fully processing the chart, so I'll give it another go another time with a different yarn (there will be some winding of handspun this weekend).

I also finished up Rainbow's hat last night! I quickly washed it this morning and left it on the radiator to dry today, so all that's left to do this evening is make her a pompom for the top of it.

So now that those two projects are off the needles, I have to figure out what comes next. I did wind up this gorgeously bright skein of SpaceCadet Aurora (that's her MCN base) that's destined for a new shawl design, and I think this pop of color might help pull me out of the mid-winter dumps a bit. I'm still kind of itching to start a sweater, though, so perhaps this weekend I'll do some swatching and plotting.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The First Step Is Admitting You Have a Problem

Alright, I'll admit it: I am utterly, hopelessly addicted to stranded colorwork. I just can't get enough of it. The already-strong pull to knit "just one more round" is even stronger when you're working with two colors and a pattern is starting to emerge.

After finishing my hat last week and then making the world's biggest pompom for it over the weekend, I figured I had enough yarn leftover to make a slightly scaled-down version for Rainbow if I reversed the colors. I knit up a short brim on Sunday night, and then last night I got started on the stranded work.

I'm now a little more than halfway through the chart, so I should be able to finish that part up tonight. It's been a bit of a challenge because I have to mentally reverse the colors in the chart; there have been a handful of times I haven't done that successfully and have had to tink back, but fortunately there haven't been any errors I haven't caught almost right away. If I can at least start the crown tonight, I should be able to finish the hat by tomorrow. I've promised Rainbow a pompom if there's enough yarn leftover, though there's no way it will be as big as mine.

My Caesious was finished up on Sunday night, but it's still waiting for its ends to be woven in and to be blocked. I'm hoping to do both of those things in the next couple of days. Hunter has started the KAL for the next Curl in the book, Cerise, so I anticipate casting on for that once the hat is done. That means there is some stash diving in my future!

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Pump Up the Purple

After all the brown of my last spinning project, I was excited to get to some color, so it's perhaps no wonder that I've already finished it. I didn't spin much during the week, but this weekend I've been doing little else, or so it seems. I finished the first bobbin and started the second on Friday night, finished up the second and started the third yesterday afternoon, and then finished up the rest last night after I got Rainbow to sleep.

Today, thanks to the speed of my miniSpinner, I plied it all. This is not the best of shots (my camera, it seems, did not feel much like focusing today), but here it is on one of my great big WooLee Winder bobbins:

I skeined and washed it this afternoon, and it's currently hanging to dry in the upstairs shower. It looks to be a worsted weight, as I was intending, and provided it doesn't shrink up too drastically, I should have a bit more than 200 yards.

Now I have to figure out what to spin next. There are a couple of contenders, including a batt set that I bought about a year and a half ago that's been sitting next to my spinning area ever since it arrived. I could also spin up another All Spun Up braid that's been marinating in my stash as part of the spinalong. Too many choices!

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Still Addicted

I have not made much progress on my Caesious this week because I've once again been sucked in by the addiction that is stranded colorwork. I cast on for a new hat on Sunday and finished it last night. I'm not quite ready for the full reveal yet, but I can show you the "guts," which, in my opinion, are almost as pretty as the outside:

This hat is a collaboration with Rita of Yarn Hollow. The two colors of her Tor DK are Pittsburgh-specific colorways that are, I believe, exclusive to my LYS, Natural Stitches. Rita contacted me a couple of months ago about putting together a special Natural Stitches pattern for some of these colorways, and it's been a lot of fun to sketch and plan. I'm hoping to get the pattern written up this weekend so I can get it off to the tech editor and get it out in the world while it's still warm enough to need a winter hat!

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Pattern Release: Brulle

While we were away over Christmas and New Year's, I plowed through a bunch of pattern samples that had been in the planning stage for a while and were just waiting to be knit. One of those was this hat, which I'm delighted to share with you today.

Brulle is a worsted weight slouchy hat worked from the brim up. After the ribbed brim is completed, a decorative slipped-stitch detail is added to the front. Before the crown decreases are worked, the amount of slouch can be adjusted to your taste. You'll notice that I tucked the extra fabric down in the back to help keep it in place; I really like the extra length in this hat because I can pull it down to keep my ears warm and that bit of extra fabric keeps it from riding up while I wear it.

The sample was worked in Malabrigo Worsted in the colorway Jacinto, but any worsted weight yarn will work well. The pattern is simple enough that any type of color -- solid, semisolid, variegated, and even self-striping -- will look great.

The pattern is available in five sizes, ranging from infant to adult large (16-24 in./40.5-61 cm head circumference), and you'll need no more than 170 yds./155 m to knit, so it's the perfect thing for that stray skein of yarn in your stash.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Sheepy Rope

If you've followed my spinning at all, then you know I like to spin thin yarns. My default yarn is a three-ply fingering weight. So then you'll understand why the most recent skein off my wheel is such a big accomplishment -- I spun bulky yarn!

This was 8 oz. of Manx Loaghtan from Louet, and I used all but the last little bit of it in plying to end up with approximately 206 yards. The fiber was a pleasure to spin, beautifully prepped and with only a small amount of VM and hardly any nepps. I spun it into a traditional three ply.

If I'm being honest, I was aiming for a bit thinner (worsted, to be exact), but I'm still pretty happy with how this skein turned out. Only once before have I spun anything bulky; spinning yarn this thick is not something that comes easily to me. I'm so used to spinning thin yarns, in fact, that I kind of feel like I spun rope!

I got a bit of a surprise (not entirely unpleasant) when I washed the finished yarn to set the twist. I guess I'm used to spinning dyed fiber, as I did not expect such a strong sheepy smell when the yarn hit the water. I know the fiber was clean because the water was clear, but the skein still smells a bit like a sheep farm. It's a good thing I like that smell!

Now on the wheel is some superwash merino from All Spun Up for a spinalong in the ASU Ravelry group:

The braid was 6.3 oz., so I'm trying to spin up a worsted weight with the hopes that I'll have enough for a hat and some mittens for Rainbow. The first bobbin is in progress:

After what just happened, I'm spinning my singles just a touch finer. This fiber is reminding me how much I love spinning superwash merino. I know some people hate it and find it lifeless and slippery, but I adore it. I find it drafts so effortlessly. And of course I'm completely enamored with the dye job and how the colors are blending. I predict a finished skein soon!