Thursday, October 29, 2015

Having a Gold Experience

Even though I'm supposed to be working on a pattern sample, last night I gave in to the siren call of the Dream in Color Classy and cast on for my Wood Hollow Mittens. I'm knitting these as part of the mitt-along for my LYS.

I didn't make a ton of progress, but I am nearly finished with the thumb increases. These will be a nice change of pace when I need a break from sample knitting, and I'm going to need them before too long (can you believe it's almost November?). Thus far I have been managing with fingerless mitts in the morning, but there have been a couple of times that I've needed to shove my hands in my pockets for extra warmth. I'm not exactly looking forward to mitten weather, but having a new pair to wear when it is time will be a positive side to it.

Speaking of fingerless mitts, I did finish up the second Hermia Mitt the other evening and blocked both mitts and the hat last night. It never ceases to amaze me how a simple soak in some water and a bit of patting into shape can really transform knitting. These were in such bad shape before, but there were some uneven stitches here and there, and now they generally look more polished. I'm hoping to get a photo shoot in sometime this weekend so that I can start putting all the pieces together to publish both patterns in my Ravelry shop.

I am very much looking forward to the weekend; it's been a long week, and I could use some downtime. I have a bunch of prep to do for Indie Knit & Spin, which is coming up in only two weeks. I have almost everything ready to go, including hard copies of nearly all my patterns to put into my portfolio, but the big chunk of work that's left to do is labeling all the handspun skeins that I'm bringing to sell. I'll admit I surprised myself by how much there is when I pulled all the skeins out. I bought a big plastic bin at Target last week to put them in (for easy transport), and at the moment it's overflowing. Many of the skeins are in individual plastic bags, so I'm hoping once I pull them all out and get them a bit more organized, they'll fit. This isn't a difficult task but it is taking some time, especially because I need to remeasure some of the older skeins due to the fact that I've changed to a more accurate way of measuring yardage since then. My hope is that I can get a decent amount done this weekend and next, and maybe I can do a few skeins here and there during the week. I will post some previews as the event gets closer!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

All About the Mitts

For the past several days, I have been knitting furiously to try to finish up the sample of my Hermia Mitts. I cast on the first one on Thursday evening and finished it on Saturday. The second one was started on Sunday and is just about finished today. This means I can block this week and then (I hope!) do a quick photo shoot this weekend. I'll be very glad to get them off the needles because I have a sample to knit for another commission (yes, sorry, that means secret knitting).

There is still a lot of knitting happening related to hands, though. My LYS is hosting a mitten knitalong at the moment, with the choice of four patterns. I bought two of them -- Susan B. Anderson's Waiting for Winter Mittens and Kirsten Kapur's Wood Hollow Mittens. I figured I'd make the former for Rainbow using the skein of Spud & Chloe Sweater leftover from her school sweater (it should be enough yardage to make two pairs), and I knew I wanted to make the latter for me, but I wasn't sure about the yarn. Then, while I was sitting and knitting at the shop on Saturday, I spied this in the orphans bin:

This is Dream in Color Classy in Gold Experience. I'm still a bit surprised that I picked up this skein, because it's not at all my usual colors. But I love this yarn and I think it will make really nice mittens. Now I just have to find time to wind the two skeins and cast on!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

All that Glitters

A very quick post from me tonight, mainly because I don't want to take more than a few minutes to stop spinning! I didn't get in as much spinning as I wanted to this weekend, but my first bobbin of my FatCatKnits September shipment is almost done.

This is superwash merino and nylon sparkle, and you can see from all the flyaways on the bobbin that the sparkle is long and kind of wiry. It's annoying me a bit, to be honest, but I'm dealing with it. I have about 12 inches of top left to spin, so I'm going to post this now so I can try to get the rest done tonight!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Good and the Bad

This week's knitting is a bit of a mixed bag. On the plus side, I'm making good progress in my Hermia set sample re-knits. The hat was finished (but for pulling the yarn tail through the last of the stitches at the top and weaving in ends) during my lunch break today. I would have finished up the last bits as well had I not forgotten to put some tapestry needles in my project bag. Whoops. But luckily those last bits are very quick to do.

I also got a start on the first of the mitts, which will now be my main focus. I know it doesn't look like much, but these should move pretty quickly.

On the down side, I have some somewhat sad news to report. I think I mentioned last week that Rainbow had worn her school sweater for several days and was quite happy with it, but of course as we came to the end of the week, it was due to be washed. Despite the fact that I followed the yarn's washing instructions, I am sorry to say that it shrank in the dryer. It's not unwearable, but it just fits her now (meaning she's lost the extra room that would allow her to continue to wear it as she grew). I'm going to hand wash it the next time it needs to be cleaned and try to block it out a little bigger, but I'm not counting on it. This kind of thing is always frustrating, though thankfully this is an instance where it did not take me that much time to knit the sweater. Still, I hate to have invested time in something she will only wear for a few months. I guess I should have followed my intuition and hand washed, even if it would have taken extra time. Next time, I'll know better.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Pattern Re-release: Corbusier Socks

You may remember that last year I had a sock pattern published in Knitscene Accessories. Until now, the pattern was only available by buying a copy of the magazine or through the Interweave online store. I now have the rights back to the pattern, though, so you can buy it directly from me through my Ravelry shop!

Along with re-releasing the pattern, I've expanded it and added an additional size to the mix. The pattern now has three sizes: Child (Adult Small, Adult Large), with a finished foot circumference of 5.25 (7.75, 10.25) in./13.5 (19.5, 26) cm. Those may seem like odd sizes, but keep in mind that the stitch pattern is really stretchy. My foot is about 8 in. around and I wear an Adult Small quite comfortably.

These socks are worked from the cuff down and use a traditional heel flap and gusset. The lace pattern appears around the whole leg and then on the instep only on the foot (the sole of the foot is in smooth stockinette stitch). The lace pattern is very simple, using only knit, purl, yarnover, and simple decreases, and it's both written out and charted. You'll use about 100 g of fingering weight sock yarn (depending on the length of your foot) and your preferred needles for knitting in the round.

I'm really happy to be adding these socks to my Ravelry store, and I hope you enjoy them!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Water Lily

Thank goodness for my WooLee Winder bobbins and their large capacity -- I needed one to ply this whole skein!

This skein is made up of two colorways of Southern Cross Fibre Eider wool, Water and Lily. I decided I liked them so well together that I spun each color onto its own bobbin and then plied them together. The finished yarn is DK to worsted and a very respectable 425 yards. I'm not sure what I'll use it for, but I'm happy to be done with it.

I started something new on the Lendrum, the first of the FatCatKnits Mixed Blessings Club shipment for September. The fiber is something completely different, an 80/20 blend of superwash merino and nylon sparkle. This is Dean:

I'm spinning both colorways end to end and then I'm going to do an interesting thing with chain plying with both strands. I have no idea how it will turn out, but it will be a fun experiment!

Friday, October 16, 2015

Not a Rhinebeck Post

I think it goes without saying that I am not headed to Rhinebeck this weekend. It is my dream to get there one day, but I'm actually quite glad I didn't try to make it happen this year because I'm still sick and I would be miserable (and I'm sure the throngs of people I'd be coughing around wouldn't be too pleased, either). It is supposed to get pretty cold here this weekend, though -- they actually mentioned snow in the forecast! -- so I will be wearing sweaters and wool socks and surrounding myself with my knitting.

My top knitting priority at the moment is the new samples for my Hermia set. I cast on for the hat on Wednesday evening and just got into the main body of the hat today at lunch. It is a relatively quick knit once I get going, but the brim is all 1x1 twisted ribbing and thus relatively slow going. Now I'm into the fun part.

Crappy photo brought you by crappy weather

I have not touched the handspun socks since last Sunday, but once the samples are done they will become my lunchtime knitting. I suppose it's soon going to be time to do an inventory of my sock drawers (yes, I said drawers -- but they're small and shallow) and see which handknit socks are really to be "darned" to make room for the new ones. Back when I was knitting socks at a rapid pace, I never really thought I'd get to the point where I had too many, but I think I may be there, because frankly I don't think there's room to fit all my socks in the drawers at this point yet I don't want to stop knitting socks all together.

I did want to report that Rainbow has been wearing her school sweater all week and has proclaimed it her favorite sweater of all the ones I've knit for her. I'm planning to wash it for the first time this weekend and I really, really hope nothing bad happens to it (after all, I did specifically pick a machine-washable yarn for this one so that I could just toss it in with the rest of her laundry).

If you are headed to Rhinebeck this weekend, I hope you have a great time! Fondle some yarn and fiber for me, will you? Maybe I'll see you there next year.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Hanging On

Still here, still sick. I stayed home from work again today (that's three days in a row, if you're counting, though the first two were already scheduled) because I'm still completely congested and, in a delightful twist, I seem to have developed bronchitis, which means I've been up half the night coughing. I'm not looking very pretty right now, let me tell you, but I'm hopeful that I'll be able to go back to work tomorrow. I'm on some meds for the cough that I've had before and that worked, so I'm guessing that I'll be back to my normal self in a few more days.

I will say that as not fun as being sick is, it does make for some good crafting time, especially when all you can really do is sit around and watch TV. Today I finished plying up a skein of handspun while catching up on video podcasts, and then I binge-watched some episodes of Poirot on Netflix while I finished a sample for a commission (which, sadly, I cannot share here). But finishing that meant that I can start some new projects.

For starters, I need to knit a new sample of my Hermia Hat and Mitts, which appeared in Knit Now earlier this year. The rights are coming back to me and I'm preparing to launch the patterns in my Ravelry store. When I knit the original samples, I was in a hurry because the yarn was very late in getting to me, so I didn't have time to take some modeled photos before I sent them across the pond. So now I'm going to try to knit another set (and thankfully I have enough of the original yarn leftover that I should be able to just make it) in a jiffy so I can get the patterns up soon.

Meanwhile, remember that crochet project I showed you last week? It is no more. I decided I didn't like where I was going with it, so I ripped it out and have cast on for the purpose the yarn was originally intended for: socks.

I started the first one on Sunday, while I was sitting around in between wedding preparations, and got about an inch and a half of cuff done. This yarn is superwash Targhee, and I have no idea how it will hold up as a sock, so these will be a bit of an experiment. I'm knitting at my usual dense gauge (approximately 9 stitches per inch using US 0/2.0 mm needles), but I'm not sure how this fiber behaves in high-friction environments. We shall see!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Spinning Catch Up

Normally, as you know, I blog about spinning on Sundays. Yesterday, however, was not your normal Sunday. One of my best friends got married, and I was in the wedding, so it was a day that started at 7 a.m. and didn't end until we got home at about 10:30 last night. (On top of this, I seem to have come down with either an allergy-induced sinus infection or the cold that's been making its way around the office, so that long day came after a night when I only managed to get about four hours of sleep.) In any case, I'm playing a bit of catch up today, so we'll just pretend that this is what I would have posted yesterday.

I was home with Rainbow today and will be home with her again tomorrow (her school is closed for teacher in-service days, but they've come at a handy time as I'd likely have taken off today at least to deal with whatever this sickness is), so because I wasn't good for much else, I spent a couple of hours at my miniSpinner, plying my Southern Cross Fibre Eider wool singles. I think I'm just a tad past being halfway done.

I'm plying the two different colorways together here, so there is a lot of barberpoling going on. It looks like the finished yarn will be in the DK to worsted range once it's washed.

Speaking of SCF, my September shipment showed up last week. Once again I couldn't resist getting both colorways, so I have double the fiber going into the stash. This month's fiber offering was Bond, and the colorway David picked out for me was Esmerelda:

The other colorway is called Land Under Wave:

I have limited experience with Bond, so I'm not sure if it would be good for socks, but I might give it a go. I think Esmerelda will look lovely as a traditional three ply and Land Under Wave would be fun as one of my pseudo-self-striping yarns. Clearly I need to spin a lot faster if I'm going to have any hope of keeping up!

Thursday, October 08, 2015

A Do-over

Yesterday was a rather crazy day, so it should come as no surprise that I got very little knitting done. Once I finally got Rainbow to sleep, I really only had enough time to knit up a swatch. So that's what I did. I pulled out the ball of Miss Babs Yowza and some size 7 needles and knit a second swatch for my sweater. In fact, I was in such a hurry to get it done before I had to turn in for the night that I neglected to measure my gauge before I threw it in to soak.

Old swatch on the left, new swatch on the right

After blocking, I'm getting 19.5 stitches and 27 rows over four inches. That's much closer to the gauge I need, but the fabric is also a bit on the loose side, so I'm going to need to ponder which needle to use for a while.

Last night I managed to dig out the two skeins of Cascade 220 Superwash that I rescued from my LYS's orphan bin, and they're even prettier than I remembered.

I'm going to use these two for a double-knit cowl for Rainbow for this winter.

Most of my knitting is probably going to get put on hold this weekend, as it's going to be another busy one. One of my best friends is getting married on Sunday, and I am in the wedding, so that means part of Saturday and pretty much all of Sunday will be taken up with wedding preparations. I may stick a sock or some other small project in my bag for downtime while we're getting ready on Sunday (we have to be at the venue at 9 a.m. for a 4:30 ceremony, so I can imagine there's going to be at least some sitting down), but I'm not counting on making any real progress on anything. The good news is that Rainbow and I are off on Monday and Tuesday, so aside from some errands we'll need to run, I'm planning on spending most of the day lounging around and knitting or spinning.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

All the Projects

As I mentioned in my last post, I didn't spin much over the weekend, in large part because I suddenly had the urge to cast on everything at once. I suspect the fact that Saturday was cold and rainy and generally gloomy played a large role in that urge -- after all, when it's cold and miserable, don't you want to surround yourself with warm, woolly things?

First, I finished up Rainbow's school sweater. The knitting was actually done on Thursday night, but I needed to find buttons at my LYS on Saturday and I didn't get around to sewing them on until Sunday evening. So now the sweater is officially done (albeit not yet blocked), and Rainbow is clearly very happy with it. It fits perfectly, with a bit of room for her to grow, so I think it should get good wear for the next couple of years at least.

I used the child's top-down v-neck raglan cardigan from Ann Budd's Knitter's Handy Book of Top-down Sweaters, in the smallest size available and at a gauge of 5 stitches to the inch (though technically my gauge was closer to 4.5 stitches to the inch, but I used that to give me a little positive ease). I used just under three full skeins of Spud & Chloe Sweater, a very nice blend of superwash wool and cotton, in Pine Needle. Most of the sweater was worked using US 6 (4.0 mm) needles, but I did the ribbing on US 5 (3.75 mm) needles. I like the yarn in the sweater, but I didn't love knitting with it -- the high cotton content made it a bit hard on my hands, and the tension issues that that caused resulted in a bit of rowing out when I was working flat (you can see the difference in the transition from the raglan shaping, which was worked flat, to the sleeves, which were worked in the round). I'm not terribly concerned about this issue, as I think the stitches will even out as the sweater is washed, but it's something to keep in mind should I ever want to work with this yarn again.

Meanwhile, I also wound some yarn and swatched for a sweater for me in some Miss Babs Yowza, purchased at MDSW several years ago and sitting in the stash ever since. The specified gauge is 19 stitches and 26 rows; I got 20 stitches and 30 rows with my swatch (work on US 6's) after blocking. I might try another swatch with needles a size larger to see what happens, but I think I can make it work with this gauge if I need to. The yarn is superwash, so I can block out a bit more room if I need to. The next size up is 4 inches larger, too, so I definitely want to stick with the size I usually am.

As long as I was winding yarn for the swatch, I decided to wind some handspun that I've already started knitting into a two-color brioche cowl, this time for my mom for a holiday present (assuming I can finish it by then). This is FatCatKnits Polwarth/silk/nylon sparkle from a club shipment from about a year ago. It doesn't look like much now, but it moves quickly when I do work on it.

This is one of those projects that I can pick up and put down easily as there's no real pattern -- it's just a repetition of the two rows (knit one row, purl one row). The yarn is being a little difficult to work with because there may be a tad too much twist in it, though for that I can only blame the spinner (me). I think once it's done I can rough it up a little bit when I wash it to get it to fluff up a bit.

As if all that weren't enough, a couple of orphan skeins of Cascade 220 Superwash (which went into hiding when I was taking pictures) followed me home from my LYS on Saturday along with the buttons. They are going to be a new cowl for Rainbow for this winter. I'm going to do another double-knit pattern, but this time it will be closer fitting rather than an infinity loop so it can stay inside her coat and not catch on anything while she's playing outside.

I'm also working on some design stuff, but that needs to stay offline for now. Some of it will be revealed in the weeks to come, so not to worry -- I won't taunt you with it for too long.

Phew! That's a lot, isn't it? I guess we are full swing into knitters' season now, and frankly, I'm quite happy about that.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Not Quite as Planned

I really had every intention of spinning this weekend. I had hoped to finish up the second bobbin of my Southern Cross Fibre Eider wool so that I could spin this week, but all I managed was about 45 minutes on Friday evening. Boo. Here's what the bobbin looks like -- it's a good start, at least.

This colorway is called Water, and as you'd expect, it's a mix of greens, blues, and deep purples. I don't think I ever posted a photo of the completed first bobbin, so here's one to give you a sense of how much more I have to spin:

While there was little spinning this weekend, there was some fiber! After waiting for it all week (thanks, USPS!), my first shipment for this round of the FatCatKnits Mixed Blessings club showed up with the mail on Saturday. It had been shipped on Monday, and only from one state away, so it was a bit of a mystery as to why it took so long to get here.

The theme for this edition of the club is Famous Couples, so each shipment contains two colors inspired by a pair of characters. This month, the pair is Sam and Dean, the brothers in the TV show Supernatural (a show whose existence I'm aware of but have never seen, mind you). I'm trusting Ginny to know how to represent these two.

It had been long enough since I signed up for the club that I'd forgotten what fiber blend I'd picked! This is superwash merino/nylon sparkle, which should be a good sock blend. I think I'm going to try spinning this as a two-strand chain ply -- basically the idea is that you hold the two strands together to ply but alternate which strand forms the next loop. The result is a sort-of four-ply yarn. I think that should give me some interesting blending of the colors and some new spinning skills.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

So Very Close

Rainbow's sweater is almost done! (And it's a good thing, too, because it was quite chilly this morning and she grabbed a fleece to wear over her uniform!) Last night I finished the second sleeve, and today I picked up for the button bands and collar and got about half of the total knitting done (there are three more rows and a bind off left to do). I have just little bits of the second and third skeins left that I'm using, and I'm really hoping that I don't have to break into the fourth skein I bought just for a row or two.

I am about ready to cast on for a new design, but a bit of planning and measuring needs to be done before I start, so last night I actually pulled out a crochet hook, if you can believe it. I've been mulling the idea of a crocheted cowl for a while now, and I finally decided to wind up a skein of Fat Cat Knits superwash Targhee that I spun over the summer for it. I'm trying out a chainless foundation using a tutorial found a while back, and so far it seems to be working out pretty well.

It's pretty obvious that my tension in crochet is nowhere near as consistent as my tension in knitting, but I'm sure I'll improve with practice. I think this will be a fun thing to pick up and do a round or two on in the coming weeks. It will be good for lunchtime crafting, too.

My goals for the weekend are to wind my Miss Babs (or at least part of it) and do some sweater swatching. It looks like fall weather is officially here, so I will no longer feel guilty about curling up with some tea and lots of wool.