Thursday, August 27, 2015

Double Fun

I officially have a new knitting obsession: double-knitting. I cast on this cowl the other night and I just cannot put it down!

I will admit that it's a slow process, and now that I'm into the pattern I really do need to knit a bit more slowly so that I can be sure not to make a mistake, but it's very addictive. I still think I'm going to leave it at home this weekend because I don't think it will mix well with socializing, but I'm sure I won't be able to wait to get back to it.

What will be coming on the trip with me are my handspun socks, which are moving right along. I'm nearly through the gusset on the first sock.

These will be good and mindless, I think, so they should be good for carrying around. They're being knit on size 0 needles, so they move along fairly slowly, but I suppose it might be possible to finish them. So maybe I'll stick an extra skein of sock yarn in my luggage just in case. If sock yarn doesn't count as stash, one in my suitcase doesn't count as luggage, right?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Mojo Reclaimed

For a while there I seemed to have lost my knitting mojo, but I'm happy to say that it's back in full force. It may be because the weather's been decidedly more fall-like this week, but in any case, I am feeling the urge to Cast On All The Things, just as I knew I would.

For one thing, I picked up the handspun socks again and took them with me to a Disney princess performance thingy we took Rainbow to on Saturday with some friends. Two hours in a dark arena meant quite a lot of sock leg, and now that this project has become my designated lunchtime knitting, I'm already into the heel of the first sock.

I'm still enchanted by the way this yarn is striping, and now I want to spin all my multicolor fiber this way.

Over the weekend I also picked up yarn to make Rainbow's school sweater -- if you can believe it, she starts kindergarten on Tuesday, and as she'll be wearing a uniform every day, she needed a matching sweater. This is Spud & Chloe Sweater, a really lovely 55% wool/45% cotton machine-washable worsted weight, in Pine Needle. I'm going to be knitting a basic top-down raglan cardigan using this book, and I may add some pockets to the front.

I knit up a quick swatch on Sunday, so now I just need to sit down with the book and pull out the correct numbers.

Meanwhile, I finished the green shawl sample on Sunday afternoon with just enough yarn to spare. I really thought it wouldn't be as close as it was, but I think my skein was a bit underweight to begin with. Fortunately, I had enough to bind off and weave in the ends, and the shawl has now been blocked. All that remains is a photo shoot and to finish writing up the pattern.

Last night I was feeling a little twitchy, so I decided to cast on yet another project. I've had a double-knit cowl in my plans for quite some time, and seeing as I'd wound up the yarn for it last week, I decided last night was the night to finally start it. I did a two-color long-tail cast on (a pretty nifty trick once you get the hang of it) and just started the first round before I ran out of time.

I'm now trying to decide if I should take this with me when we go away this weekend (a quick trip out of town for our family reunion) or take something else that will be relatively mindless, as I might not want to be juggling the two skeins of yarn. There will be lots of time with the family when I won't be knitting, of course, but there will also be time on the plane and in the car to get there and back that I can't bear to waste.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Small Pleasures

Just a short post tonight, because I only just got Rainbow down for the night and I'm about ready to turn in myself -- but not before this post!

I've barely been at the wheel this week, but I made sure to sit down at it on Friday night for about an hour. I made just a wee bit of progress on my South African superfine/silk, but it was such a delight. The fiber is so dreamy to spin, even if it is taking me forever and a day to make any measurable progress.

I will say that it was a pleasant surprise to take a look at the bobbin on Saturday morning, because the room was dim enough the evening before that I really couldn't tell where the dark green changed over to blue. I'll be working on this some more tonight, but don't expect to see a finished skein anytime soon. I know it'll take a while to get this yarn done, but I'm trying to enjoy the pleasure of spinning it instead of getting impatient for it to be done.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Monotony -- er, Monogamy

My knitting life has been very weird the past week or so. Now, you know I'm not the type of knitter who has a ton of things on the needles at once, but I usually have two or three -- generally a big project at home and a small project to take to work, with an occasional third project thrown in. But this past week, I've only had one thing on the needles and have been working on it exclusively. I know that's not inherently a bad thing -- after all, it means I'm making a lot of progress! But I do wonder why I haven't felt the typical urge to cast on All The Things as I typically do when fall is approaching. Perhaps the urge is just a bit delayed because I've been busy and tired and hot.

As a result of this project monogamy, the shawl is more than halfway done, and I'm delighted with how it's been knitting up. The pattern isn't complicated, but the fact that I'm happily knitting it for the second time without getting bored says a lot.

It's been a while since I last knit with Malabrigo Sock, and I'd forgotten just how lovely it is to work with. I honestly don't think it's the best for socks, but it has a sheen and a drape that make it perfect for shawls. It almost feels like it has some silk in it.

I have not touched the socks since Sunday, but I suspect that they will become lunchtime knitting next week. I think once the shawl is off the needles, I'm going to do something with this pile of Yarn Hollow yarn.

The green and purple are going to become a double-knit cowl, and I think the pink and blue want to become another stranded hat. Hmm, maybe that urge to cast on isn't so far off after all!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Playing with Color

For a while there this past weekend, I was knitting nothing but handspun, and it was a fun thing. I managed to finish up the prototype shawl, which was knit in a handspun gradient spun from a Loop batt several years ago. I really like how the stripes worked out, though if I'm being honest, I'm not completely thrilled with the very top section, where the color got a little murky. The yarn in that section was a bit thicker than the rest, but I can only blame myself for that. The fiber was a blend of merino, bamboo, and silk with some sparkle, and the finished shawl is really delightfully fuzzy and soft.

Now that I've worked out more or less what to do with the pattern, I've started knitting the actual sample that I'll photograph for the pattern itself. This is being knit in Malabrigo Sock in Indiecita, a really lovely hand-painted blue/green/purple colorway. I love how the colors are mixing up just enough to give depth to the stockinette but not so much that there's any ugly pooling (and I certainly hope that will continue). I am working on this at lunch and in the evenings in the hope that I can finish it before we go away next weekend to visit family.

Incidentally, I think I should mention that I'm currently running a contest in my Ravelry group to come up with a name for this new design, so please do check it out.

I realized I needed a small project to tuck in my purse, so I cast on for a new pair of socks on Saturday night. I'm using some handspun Falkland that I spun up earlier in the summer. You may remember that I split and spun the fiber in order to have almost striping yarn. So far it's working out very well.

I'm really enjoying this effect in the yarn, and I think it might be a good way to spin up a lot of the multicolored fiber that's in my stash and suitable for socks (though I suppose it could be used for other items as well). If I have pseudo-self-striping handspun in my stash, perhaps I won't be so tempted to buy self-striping sock yarn!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Disappointment and Delight

There was a time when I was spinning the same type of yarn over and over again and I could reliably get the yardage I wanted. Apparently that time is no more, if my latest skein is to be believed.

I spun up this Southern Cross Fibre Shetland as my typical three-ply fingering weight. While I'm happy with how this yarn turned out, I'm somewhat baffled by the finished yardage -- only about 287 yards. Typically, my yarn of this type ends up being between 350 and 400 yards -- sometimes even upwards of that. On the one hand, the amount of fiber I had was a bit less than usual (110 grams, or about 3.9 ounces). Still, I don't think an extra tenth of an ounce would have made much of a difference, so the reason is still a mystery.

After I finished plying the Shetland, I immediately started spinning something new -- and what difference! This is SCF South African Superfine/mulberry silk, a 50/50 blend. And it is amazingly soft. I'd originally intended to spin a two-ply fingering weight, but as soon as I started spinning I realized this fiber wants to be spun extra fine, no doubt due to the high silk content.

This is not going to be a quick spin, that's for sure; what you see on the bobbin is probably three or four hours of spinning. But I just know that it's going to be absolutely stunning when it's done.

I received some more sparkle in the mail this week in the form of a Tour de Fleece prize from the Fat Cat Knits team. Ginny, knowing how much Rainbow loved the sparkly yarn I spun during the Tour, send me 4 oz. of blended merino/sparkle top in addition to an FCK t-shirt and some awesome handspun tags.

This fiber will be a fun spin -- and take a wild guess who's already claimed it!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

What's Next?

Now that the sweater is done, the only active project I have on the needles is the handspun shawl, which is nearly finished. I've mainly been working on it at work during my lunch breaks (though I did knit on it last night as well), and I have less than 20 rows to go, so I have a feeling it will be done by the weekend. I have a skein of Malabrigo Sock in Indiecita all wound and ready to go; it will be the actual sample for the pattern, but I'm holding off on casting on until the handspun prototype is done.

So now I find myself in that position that's very rare for me: I'm not quite sure what to cast on for next. I usually have a lunch break project that stays in my work bag and a home project that I work on in the evenings, but this week I've mainly been spinning in the evening. Usually the home project is a large one, like a sweater, but I'm not feeling the urge to cast on a new one just yet. I do have yarn for some new design ideas, so perhaps I'll do some winding and swatching soon. I'm just not feeling that strong desire to cast on that I normally do, and it's an odd feeling.

Soon I will need to cast on for a new sweater for Rainbow, who is starting kindergarten in about two and half weeks (eek!) and will need a sweater to go with her uniform. I've already scoped out the right shade of Spud & Chloe Sweater at my LYS, and I'm just planning to knit a simple top-down raglan out of Ann Budd's Knitter's Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters. It will be relatively plain, with some pockets on the front, and I'll let Rainbow pick out some fun buttons. I keep thinking the fall is a long way off, but I'm sure it will be here before we know it, so I probably should get moving on it soon.

I should probably also cast on some new socks. Rainbow and I (along with my mother and mother-in-law) are headed to see Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella on Sunday afternoon, and that's a long time to sit still with nothing to do with my hands. A stockinette sock will be the perfect thing to keep me from getting twitchy!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

At Least It Took Less than a Year

Thanks to some seriously dedicated knitting time last week and over the weekend, I finally have an FO to show you!

Pattern: Airflow by Justyna Lorkowska
Yarn: Dream in Color Jilly (100% superwash merino) in Sangria, approximately 2 1/3 skeisn
Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm) and US 3 (3.25 mm) circulars
Started/Completed: April 9/August 8
Mods: none

Having once knit a sweater in about two weeks, four months does seem like a long time to complete what is essentially a simple sweater (after all, this one was in stockinette, with no fancy stitches necessary). But this sweater is worked in fingering weight yarn, on small-ish needles, and considering I didn't touch it for several periods of time, I'd say it really didn't take as long as it seemed to -- especially when you consider the length of time it's taken me to knit a lightweight sweater in the past. I would have been done a lot sooner had the sleeves not tripped me up; really, I flew along on the body and had most of the knitting done by the end of May, but then I just stalled out.

Anyway, it's done now and I love it. I was a bit aggressive in blocking (mainly to try to encourage the edging to lay a bit more flat in spite of the fact that it wants to roll), so it has really nice drape without being too big. The sleeves are just long enough to keep my arms from getting chilly but not so long that they get in the way of anything. If I were knitting it again, I might adapt the edging that runs around the neck and along both sides to something other than stockinette to encourage it to stay open a bit more, as the bit of edging doesn't seem to be doing much.

Sorry for the blurriness -- this is what happens when you have to rely on someone else to take pictures of you!
I enjoyed using this yarn, which reminds me very much of tosh merino light (it might, in fact, even be the same base), though I'm not sure I'd use it for a sweater again. I can already tell that this garment is going to be a bit on the delicate side -- not necessarily a problem, but I'll just have to be more careful than usual to ensure I haven't snagged it on something. I think it would probably be better suited to a scarf or shawl, and I'll keep it in mind for that kind of project in the future. The dye job on this yarn was beautiful, and while I did alternate skeins as I would for any hand-dyed yarn (every two rows on the body, every round on the sleeves), I didn't have any issues with pooling.

Overall, I think this project is a winner, and I'm feeling very proud of myself for actually finishing it while I can still get some use out of it!

Sunday, August 09, 2015

It's Growing on Me

I've done a fair amount of spinning the last two days, and as a result, I'm now more than 2/3 done with my Southern Cross Fibre Shetland singles.

The second bobbin of singles (the one on the left in this photo) was started on Friday night and finished up yesterday afternoon. I also promptly started the third bobbin, which is beginning with some gorgeous blues (and trust me, they're much prettier when they're in focus -- I'm not sure what my camera was doing here).

I won't say I love Shetland at this point, but I will admit that it's growing on me now. I think the key is to remember that it's a bit rustic. The yarn isn't really soft, and it doesn't draft as smoothly as some of the fine wools, but I know the finished yarn is going to be really delightfully woolly.

And speaking of woolly, my next club shipment showed up earlier this week. This month's fiber is Eider wool, a breed I'd not heard of before. It's definitely very sheepy -- Rainbow took a good whiff of it when I pulled it out of the bag and made a face at the smell. I was able to predict which of the two colorways I was going to get this month, but I loved the picture of the two colorways together so much when David posted them that I bought a batch of the other color as well.

The lighting is making these come out a bit brighter than the colors are in real life, but here you see Water (top) and Lily (bottom). Can you tell that the inspiration comes from Monet's paintings of water lilies? Here's what they look like together:

Originally I was going to spin up each color on its own and then ply them together, but now I'm having second thoughts. I think this wool would be great for some stranded colorwork outerwear (lined mittens and hats, perhaps), so now I'm pondering spinning each up on its own and using the two yarns together. Lots of decisions to make -- but still plenty of spinning to do in the meantime!

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Round and Round I Go

The end is finally in sight on my Airflow. I finished the first sleeve on Tuesday evening, and last night I spent a good 45 minutes weaving in ends before I picked up the stitches for the second sleeve and started working on it. I've gotten through one set of decreases and have three sets left to do before I get to the point where I knit round after round until the sleeve is long enough.

Theoretically, this should be the fastest part of the sweater. Once the decreases are done, there's no shaping to do, so I can just knit and knit without thinking. Of course, there's still the wrangling of the two skeins of yarn at the beginning of every round, but I've got a system down that seems to be working pretty well. Yet, for some reason, this knitting is among the most tedious of the whole sweater. Doing short sleeves would have been an obvious solution to avoid this tedium, but a short-sleeved sweater doesn't do me much good. The only real solution is to just keep knitting, and I know that the sweater will be done soon enough. Although I've already passed the 5K mark for Stash Dash, it would be nice to be able to add the yarn from this project to my total before the event wraps up next weekend.

Meanwhile, my shawl is growing, and I'm really liking how it's knitting up.

This yarn has been surprising me with its fuzziness. I suppose when you're used to spinning and knitting with smooth worsted yarns, it is a bit different to work with a yarn spun from a woolen prep. The finished shawl will be very cozy when it's done -- perfect for wrapping up in this winter. I'm now considering what yarn I should use for the pattern sample and pondering whether I can stash dive or if I need to go yarn shopping. I think this would look nice in something hand painted and perhaps even a little variegated. A semisolid would definitely work as well. I'm open to suggestions!

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Where I Left Off

The baby knitting, for the time being, is done. Last week I wrapped up two little hats to go with the sweaters. The first was one I made up as I went along. I used twisted ribbing at the brim and then a bit of the textured stitch pattern from the Boy Sweater. The top has spiral decreases and a little I-cord loop for fun.

I didn't even bother to make a project page for this on Ravelry because it knit up so quickly and only used about 66 yards of yarn leftover from the sweater.

This wee bonnet, on the other hand, did get its own project page -- and you can see why. It's adorable!

Pattern: Beguin de Printemps by Lili Comme Tout
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Worsted (100% superwash merino) in White, just under one skein
Needles:  US 4 (3.5 mm) and US 2 (2.75 mm)
Started/Completed: July 27/July 31
Mods: none

This was a fast, sweet little knit. The only slight change I made to it was to do a regular cast on rather than a provisional (I just joined using a loop from the cast on edge, which I think makes a nice decorative finish on the inside anyway). I used up most of the leftover yarn from the sweater, which was quite satisfying. I don't know if the bonnet will actually get used, but it's so darn cute that I couldn't resist. And of course the picot edging along the front coordinates so nicely with the sweater.

So now I'm back to my main, long-neglected WIP, my Airflow. I put in several hours on the first sleeve over the weekend, and I'm trying to keep it up this week so that it will get done soon. I have only about four or five inches left on the first sleeve, and the decreases are done at this point, so it's just mindless knitting. The only thing that slows me down is that I'm alternating skeins every round, so each time I finish around I have to take a few seconds to switch around the skeins. It's a pain, but I know it's worth it.

Because the bonnet was my lunchtime knitting, I had to cast on for something new over the weekend, so I wound up some handspun that had been sitting in my stash for a couple of years (at least) and started another simple top-down shawl.

This is actually a design idea I had, so I thought I'd work out a prototype in handspun first before I worry about getting commercial yarn to knit a pattern sample. If it works out as I'm hoping, it'll be a great pattern for handspun because it can be lengthened or shortened as your yarn supply allows.

Sunday, August 02, 2015


Though the Tour de Fleece ended a week ago, there were still some things left unfinished that I've managed to wrap up this weekend. For starters, you saw this yarn last Sunday, but it had not yet been washed, so here's the official final skein of Tour de Fleece 2015:

This skein ended up a bit thicker and shorter than the one it was being spun to go with -- it's probably DK to worsted in some spots and 172 yards. I'm a bit disappointed that I didn't get more yardage, but I suppose that is what happens when you hurry to get in one more skein. If anything, it's taught me that I can spin up 4 oz. of fiber in a jiffy if I need to, and this type of yarn might be the way to go to use up some of my fiber stash.

I also had started spinning up my Southern Cross Fibre Finn near the end of the Tour, but I only got about a third of the way through it. Late in the past week I decided to try to finish it up, and I manged to finish up all the singles last night:

I had intended to spin this into sock yarn that I wanted to be kind of self-striping (much like my Boogaloo socks), so I split the top into four pieces lengthwise and then spun them in the same order. Unfortunately I don't think my singles were as fine as they should have been; I sat down and chain plied the whole bobbin this afternoon, and I think the yarn is going to end up about sport weight and probably less than 300 yards. It might still be enough for socks, but they'll be short socks. We'll see what happens when the yarn is dry. Here's a bobbin shot, for the time being:

Meanwhile, in an effort to catch up with the SCF club shipments, when I finished the Finn singles last night, I pulled out the Shetland from May:

I pondered how to spin this for quite a while and finally settled on a traditional three ply, spun to a fingering or sport weight. I have never been all that enamored with Shetland, but I keep hoping that I'll spin a batch that will change my mind. I'm not sure this is the batch to do it, if I'm being honest. The colors are gorgeous, obviously, and it seems to be fairly well prepped (though I've been pulling out a fair number of nepps), but I think this fiber just isn't one of my favorites.

I'm not sure what I'll use this yarn for at this point, but I'll reserve my judgment until it's plied and finished. I think once this yarn is done, I'm going to need to spin something soft and luxurious, if only to let my fingertips recover (this coarser stuff gives me callouses!).