Thursday, July 30, 2015

Two Cute

They took much longer than they really should have, but both baby sweaters are now done!

Pattern: Helena by Alison Green from Knitty, summer 2008
Size: 6 months
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Worsted (100% superwash merino) in White, 3.46 skeins
Needles: US 5 (3.75 mm) and US 2 (2.75 mm)
Started/Completed: July 1/July 25
Mods: worked three buttonholes instead of doing the ties

Although there are plenty of baby patterns out there that I haven't knit, I decided to knit this one again because I have fond memories of Rainbow wearing the one I made for her. She was wearing it when we had pictures taken for her first birthday, so I see a picture of her in it every day. It's a relatively easy knit, and I really did think it would go a lot faster than it did -- perhaps it would have had I actually knit on it instead of spinning for most of the month!

The only modification I made was, as I did the last time, to eliminate the recommended tie closures in favor of buttons and buttonholes. I found the sweetest flower-shaped buttons at my LYS, and I think they add just the right amount of color to the sweater.

This sweater is a gift for the daughter of our next-door neighbors, who was born about three weeks ago. I'm hoping to give it to them (along with the little bonnet I'm nearly finished with) sometime this weekend.

And now the next FO:

Pattern: Boy Sweater by Lisa Chemery
Size:  6 months
Yarn: Malabrigo Rios (100% superwash merino) in Lettuce, 1.25 skeins
Needles: US 6 (4.0 mm) and US 8 (5.0 mm)
Started/Completed: June 28/July 29
Mods: none, other than winging the collar a bit because I screwed up the short rows somewhere along the way

I love this sweater. Despite what you might think from the dates, this was actually the faster knit of the two. And it was a relatively easy knit, too. This one is intended for my best friend's second baby, who was born on July 17. Her first son got a cardigan, so I figured this baby should get a pullover. I generally don't knit pullovers for babies because they can be harder to get on, but the neckline on this sweet little sweater seems like it would help a lot in getting it on easily. I even found the perfect button in my giant bag of mixed random buttons!

I had no problems with the pattern and would happily knit it again. And there was enough yarn leftover that I'm attempting to eke out a hat to go with it (using the same twisted ribbing and textured stitch pattern from the sweater).

Now that these two are done, I suppose my next task should be finishing the sweater for myself. But it is to tempting to cast on some new things!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Getting It Done

This is the week I finish the long-neglected WIPs.

On Saturday, during my regular visit to my LYS, I finished up the Helena. I still need to sew on buttons and block it (both of which will happen this evening), but the knitting was completed and I took the opportunity to do a victory lap around the store.

I had yarn leftover after finishing the sweater, so I decided to use some of the excess to knit a little hat to go along with it. I did a quick Ravelry search and came up with this sweet little bonnet. I figured the picot hem around the edge would tie the two pieces together. I only cast this on yesterday during my lunch break, and it's knitting up very quickly. I don't think I'll have a problem finishing this by the weekend, when we hope to be able to go meet the recipient.

The other baby sweater, the Boy Sweater, is just about done as well. I finished the second sleeve last night, so all that remains is the shawl collar, which I'm hoping to knock out this evening.

It's looking like I'm going to have plenty of yarn over, so I expect I'll try to do a hat to match as well (I'm thinking of using the stitch patterns in the sweater with a simple beanie). My hope is to be able to mail out the finished projects this weekend.

I still have one more WIP that hasn't seen much attention in a while, and that's my Airflow. I know I should really get back to it and finish it up -- after all, all that's left to knit on it are the sleeves -- but I'm getting the itch to cast on something new. I have a new shawl design idea that I want to at least swatch, if not start outright, and some yarn may have been rescued from my LYS's orphan bin this weekend (Yarn Hollow Tor DK, one of my favorites) that needs a project to go with it.

I suppose I will have to cast on a new project anyway, because once the bonnet is done, I'll need a new lunchtime project. But I think I need to discipline myself and focus on finishing the sweater before I get too embroiled in newer and more exciting things.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Yellow Jersey Day

Today marks the end of the Tour de Fleece, and while I didn't spin everything I'd set aside for the Tour (there's about 8 oz. untouched plus another 4 oz. that are in progess), I think I did well enough to earn a yellow jersey.

For one thing, I've finished two more skeins in the past three days -- the most recent one in just a day. On Thursday night, I plied the Shock and Awe singles. After washing, the yarn ended up being approximately DK weight (with a few thicker and a few thinner spots) and 194.5 yards.

The appearance of the finished yarn was a bit of a surprise -- I really thought the hot pink would be more prominent. But I love the tweedy effect from the blending of the colors.

On a bit of a whim, I decided yesterday afternoon to start spinning my other Fat Cat Knits blended top in Ice Princess (this one had a bit of sparkle in it). I knew how long it had taken me to spin and ply the first skein, so I figured if I could spin one bobbin in the afternoon and another after putting Rainbow to bed, I'd have plenty of time to ply today. As it turned out, I was right.

This photo is prebath -- the skein is soaking now, and I expect it will puff up a bit after the finishing process. I think this skein is a bit shorter than the first one, but they should be a good match; the plan all along was to spin them up more or less the same and use them together in something for Rainbow.

All in all, I spun up five skeins during the Tour, for a total of 21 ounces and more than 1,137 yards, plus whatever this last skein ends up being. I think I've probably spun more in years past, but given how busy the past few weeks have been, I'm calling this Tour a victory.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

All Kinds of Happy

Happiness is finishing projects, like these socks!

Pattern: Plain vanilla worked over 70 stitches with a 3x2 ribbed cuff, heel flap and gusset, and wedge toe
Yarn: Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce (80% superwash merino/20% nylon) in Advance to Go!
Needles: 40 in. US 0 (2.0 mm) Addi Sock Rockets
Started/Completed: June 29/July 21

There's not too much to say about these except that I love them. They are quite obviously fraternal socks; I didn't even bother trying to get them to match with an eight-stripe sequence. The yarn was wonderful, as expected, and I know these will get a lot of wear this fall and winter.

I also finished a giant skein of handspun!

This is the plied and washed Fat Cat Knits superwash Targhee that I've been spinning since the beginning of the Tour de Fleece. Even using my miniSpinner, it still took three plying sessions to get it all done. I know my default singles are pretty fine, but I guess they were a bit finer than usual, because there's a whopping 424.5 yards of three-ply fingering weight (heck, you could even call it light fingering weight) in this skein. I love it, too, and I hope to make some awesome socks with it.

I am hoping there will be some more finishing this week. Now that the socks are done, I've been taking the Helena to work to try to finish it, and I'm just about there. I'm also still spinning up a storm to try to get at least one more skein done before the end of the Tour. Last night I finished the second bobbin of Fat Cat Knits blended merino top:

Tonight's mission will be to ply it all, if I can (I'm pretty sure today is the second TdF challenge day, so that would be appropriate).

I am looking forward to this weekend, when -- for once -- we have very little scheduled and I can actually get in some decent crafting time!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

End in Sight

If all goes according to plan, this week will be all about finishing things.

My Helena is getting very close to being finished. One sleeve is done (except for sewing up the picot hem), so all that remains to be done is the second sleeve and the button bands/collar. I even found the perfect buttons at my LYS over the weekend.

My Boy Sweater will need some attention this week as well, as its recipient made his arrival this past Friday. I have not knit a stitch on it since you last saw it, but given the fairly large gauge, I do not think it will take me all that much time to knit a couple of sleeves and a collar (as I recall, I have only half a round and a bind off to do on the body).

As if that wasn't enough, I'm also very close to finishing my super stripey socks, with just the toe to finish on sock number two.

This have been such an addictive knit that I'm kind of sad that they're almost done -- but let's not forget that there's plenty of self-striping sock yarn to be had should I feel the urge.

Of course, this week is also the final week in the Tour de Fleece, and I am trying to finish at least two more skeins before the week is over. I am nearly finished with my Fat Cat Knits superwash Targhee (in Sapphire Cove), which I started plying on Sunday and spent a good two and a half hours on last night. It's still not done, but I'm hopeful that I can finish up the last of it this evening.

There's another good thing to come out of all this finishing -- I'm going to have a lot of meterage to add to my Stash Dash total!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Picking Up Speed

There is one week left in the Tour de Fleece, and I'm determined to make a good showing. This week seemed to be more productive.

First, I finished my second skein, a two-ply sport-to-DK weight in Southern Cross Fibre superwash merino in Dom Pedro, approximately 253 yards.

I finished another bobbin of Fat Cat Knits superwash Targhee singles:

And now there are three (which have already begun to be plied, but it was too dark to get a picture):

And yesterday, I spun up one bobbin (2 oz.) of FCK blended merino top in Shock and Awe on the miniSpinner (and it's apparently bright enough that my camera didn't want to focus on it).

Once the plying is done, I'll spin up the second bobbin to match this one. With any luck, I should have at least two more finished skeins by the end of the Tour!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Behind Pace

Before the start of the Tour de Fleece, I had grand plans for what I was going accomplish. Admittedly, the pile of fiber I had set aside to spin was a huge amount, but I thought I would at least make a dent. And now here I am, roughly halfway through, and I feel like I've barely done any spinning at all. I suppose circumstances haven't totally been in my favor, but I really thought I would have done more by now. Oh well.

I did manage to finish up one project last night, though I stayed up a little late in order to do it. After spinning the second bobbin of my Southern Cross Fibre superwash merino singles on Monday night, I sat down and plied them last night. Thank goodness for my miniSpinner -- it made it all fast and fairly effortless.

Once I get Rainbow to bed tonight, I will skein and wash this yarn. It looks like it will end up being mostly in the DK range, though it's possible it might plump up a bit more in the wash. I mentioned before that I didn't love spinning this fiber, oddly, so I'm happy to have it done.

After the skeining is done, I will turn my attention back to my Fat Cat Knits superwash Targhee. I'm on the third and final bobbin now, and I'm confident that I will have all the singles spun by tomorrow night, which means I should be able to ply this weekend. I just barely started this bobbin the other evening, so there's still most of it to spin, probably a good three to four hours' worth of spinning time.

I'm hoping to try to catch up on my TdF pile a bit this weekend, but I still have some knitting to attend to as well. I actually didn't spin at all on Tuesday night and instead spent a bit of time working on the Helena. I didn't make a whole lot of progress (mainly because I had some business-y stuff to attend to and didn't actually have much time to knit), but the picot hem on the body is nearly done. I'm really hoping I can whoosh through the sleeves this weekend at some point.

I'm also still working on my Monopoly-inspired socks during my lunch break. The second sock is now at the heel, so I'll soon be in the home stretch.

At some point I'm going to need to do a cull of the sock drawers and get rid of the socks that I don't like or that are really about ready to fall apart in order to make room for these and the other stripey socks I've knit recently, because right now there isn't room for them. I suppose having a lot of hand-knit socks can be both a blessing and a curse!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Catching Up

In case you were wondering, a bachelorette weekend at the spa does not make for good knitting time. I took plenty of knitting with over the weekend, as I usually do whenever I travel, but I completed very little. The only knitting I did at all, in fact, was done in the car to and from our destination, so I'm not nearly as far along on the baby sweater as I had hoped. I did, however, finish the lace portion, so all that's left to do on the body is the picot hem.

I expect that the knitting that's still to be done will go rather quickly (small sleeves knit in stockinette in the round? -- oh yes), so perhaps I'll be able to finish this up this week.

Meanwhile, because I missed a day of Tour de Fleece spinning on Saturday, I tried to make up for lost time the past two evenings. I finished the second of three bobbins of my Fat Cat Knits superwash Targhee:

and I managed to spin the entire second bobbin of Southern Cross Fibre superwash merino in one sitting last night:

I did (just barely) start the third bobbin of FCK singles last night, but it was really only about 10 minutes' worth of spinning, so there's not much to see. The SCF singles are now ready to be plied, but I may let them sit for one more day. I do have to say that I didn't love spinning the singles, which was unexpected. Usually I love spinning superwash merino, but this batch was weirdly clumpy and even perhaps a bit felted in some spots, which made it hard to draft evenly. I'm not sure what was going on there. In any case, I'm happy to be nearly done with it.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Short & Sweet

I'm going to keep tonight's post very short and to the point because frankly I'm exhausted from a weekend away (from which I got back less than two hours ago). I was away from my spinning wheels, too, so not much progress has been made on my Tour de Fleece spinning in the past 48 hours. I did spend some time with my Lendrum on Friday night, and I'm moving along on bobbin number two of my Fat Cat Knits superwash Targhee.

I'm hoping to spend a bit more time on this bobbin this evening, provided I can keep my eyes open. Once it's done, I plan on spinning the second bobbin of my Southern Cross Fibre superwash merino.

I do have a finished skein to show from earlier in the week, a skein that ended up taking a lot longer than I'd anticipated. You saw it on the bobbin last week. Unfortunately, after it was washed and dried, I discovered that I'd put too much twist in it, so on Monday evening, I wound it into a center-pull ball, attached the end to my miniSpinner, and ran it back through the wheel quickly to take out some of the excess twist. Then I washed and soaked it again.

This is Fat Cat Knits Polwarth/black Alpaca -- it was my last Transformations theme club shipment. After the plying do-over and reskeining, it ended up being approximately DK weight and roughly 265 yards. It's pretty darn squooshy, too!

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Signs of Neglect

As you would expect during the Tour de Fleece, my knitting has been somewhat neglected in the past week or so. I did get a little done last weekend (mainly because I was doing so much spinning during the day that I didn't feel guilty about it), but really the only knitting I've done this week has been during my lunch break. But look -- I finished a sock!

This is Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce in Advance to Go, a Monopoly-inspired colorway. I did my regular plain vanilla sock with 70 stitches on size 0 needles, nothing terribly exciting. Frankly the yarn does it all, so why compete with it?

The baby sweaters have also grown a bit since you last saw them. The Boy Sweater got most of my attention last weekend, and as a result, I'm just about done with the body (I think I have half a round and a bind off left to do).

The Helena, on the other hand, still needs a lot of work. All I've managed to do on it since I showed it to you last was finish the raglan increases and put the sleeves on waste yarn.

This sweater needs to get some major attention because the recipient came home from the hospital yesterday! I am planning on taking it with me this weekend, when I'm headed out of town with some girlfriends for a bachelorette weekend in Hershey, Pa. We're headed to the spa, which should be fun, but it's also putting a damper on my spinning plans. I may take a spindle project with me and try to get in a few minutes here and there, but I doubt I'll make any real progress on that front. Fortunately I do not have to drive and will have about three and a half hours in the car each way to knit. With any luck, I'll be able to get the Helena done so that I can sew on buttons and block when I get back and present the gift next week.

Lots of spinning has been done, but I'll save that for Sunday!

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Pattern Release: Ravessa Shawl

Didn't I promise there would be knitting content this week? I'm still knitting a bit here and there on my socks and baby sweaters, but today I want to talk to you about the shawl that recently came off my needles and has its official debut today. This is the Ravessa Shawl.

If the edging of this shawl looks familiar, that's because it should. I started with one edge of my Ravessa Scarf (which, truth be told, started as an edging for a shawl -- I guess it just took me some time to come back to the idea!).

This shawl is worked in two distinct sections, but it's completely seamless. First, you start out by knitting the edging, which has both cables and lace. Then you pick up stitches along one side of the edging and use short rows to shape the garter stitch border. A modified I-cord bind off creates the top edge -- a bind off that, conveniently, creates a sort of a channel that's perfect for running a blocking wire or string through to aid in blocking.

The sample was knit in Jill Draper Makes Stuff Esopus, a delightfully springy superwash merino light fingering weight yarn that comes in a very generous 500 yd./457 m skein. The sample used every last bit of my skein, so I'm recommending 500-525 yds./457-480 m to complete the pattern. I think the tight twist of this yarn really helps all the textural elements to pop. I didn't block it as aggressively as I could have, but even so the shawl is a good size (approximately 61 in./155 cm wide across the top and 14 in./35.5 cm deep at the center) to wrap up in. This pattern would lend itself very well to being worked in a heavier yarn for an even cozier wrap.

I can honestly say that I'm looking forward to knitting another one of these (though I think my next one will be in handspun). I hope you have as much fun with it as I did!

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Off and Spinning

It's really a wonderful thing when a crafting event starts on a holiday weekend. This year, the Tour de Fleece started on the Fourth of July, a day when we were home and it was totally acceptable to be sitting around all day spinning. While I didn't spend all day at the wheel, I did spend a good several hours. Rainbow slept over at my parents' on Friday night, so we had a quiet morning at home before she came back. I managed to start and finish the second bobbin of my Fat Cat Knits Polwarth/black alpaca singles:

I started plying last night, though a bit too late to get it all done. I took care of the rest this afternoon, and here's how it looked freshly plied and wound onto the bobbin:

I've just skeined it up and it's now soaking in a hot bath. By tomorrow, I should have final weight and yardage.

Meanwhile, as I was waiting for the singles to rest before I could ply, I started my next yarn. This is superwash Targhee (something I've never spun) from Fat Cat Knits in a special TdF colorway called Sapphire Cove. I don't seem to have managed to snap a photo of it on its own before I started spinning, unfortunately -- too excited to start spinning, I suppose! I split the top into thirds and am spinning it fine for a three-ply fingering weight.

There's a fair amount of white in this fiber, which makes really interesting things happen when you're drafting. I'm sure the finished yarn is going to end up looking nothing like the dyed fiber, but frankly that's one of my favorite things about spinning: It's always a bit of a surprise!

Thursday, July 02, 2015

It's Almost Time

I did cast on for the Helena last night at knit night, but I didn't get as much done as I had hoped (I blame that fact on the very lively conversation we were having). I have finished the neckline increases and have a handful of raglan increases left to do before splitting the body and sleeve stitches.

If I'm being completely honest here, then I'd have to admit that I did not swatch for this sweater. It's a baby cardigan, so being close enough will be just fine. My intention is to end up with something that will fit the baby through this winter, so if it ends up a little on the big side, that should work out okay. The pattern calls for a size 6/4.0 mm needle, but I'm using a US 5/3.75 mm. I think I would probably need a 4 to get the gauge (5.5 stitches per inch), but a 5 gets me pretty close.

I haven't touched the Boy Sweater since the night I first started it, but it will see some attention in the next couple of days. Ideally, I'd like to get both sweaters wrapped up as quickly as possible, because the Tour de Fleece starts on Saturday and I'm planning to be spending most of my crafting time this month spinning. So let's talk about my plans for that.

Every year, my general plan is to spin every day of the tour, if possible, and to get through as much fiber as I can. This year, I'm on four teams: Fat Cat Knits, Southern Cross Fibre, Lendrum, and Footloose (the team for those who spin on a Hansen miniSpinner). The first two teams are for the fiber I'll be spinning, as I have a bit of a backlog of both. Here's a look at the fiber I have ready to spin (though I'll be the first to admit that it's way too ambitious of me to think I'll get through it all):

On the left is the FCK stash and on the right is the SCF. That's basically a full pound of fiber right there. What's not shown is the latest FCK club shipment (another 5 oz.), which is already in progress and is likely to be the first skein finished for the Tour.

In order to get the miniSpinner ready, I finished plying up the last skein before official TdF spinning starts. This is Into the Whirled superwash merino in Death, spun into a three-ply fingering weight:

I'm very happy with how this turned out, though I'm a tad disappointed in the yardage (385 yards). It's plenty to make me some socks, but I thought it would be more given how long it took me to ply.

By my next post, the Tour de Fleece will have started, so expect to see a lot more spinning in the next few weeks! Don't worry, there will be some knitting content, too (including, perhaps, a little surprise next week)!