Thursday, September 29, 2016

A Chill in the Air

I think it's pretty safe to say that fall has arrived here. I needed a jacket for the walk in to work yesterday, and today I actually pulled out hand-knit socks to wear! It's not really cold yet, but my office has been freezing and I've been running my space heater all week, so I figured some wool on my feet could help.

With the cooler temperatures, I've felt an urge to cast on a bunch of new projects, though I've managed to limit myself to two. First is Rainbow's new school sweater, which I started Monday night. I'm knitting her the Gramps Cardigan again, this time in the largest size in the pattern (a size 8). Because I've knit this pattern a couple of times before, I didn't bother to swatch -- yes, I know, a knitting cardinal sin! I'm using the same size needles I used the last two times, even though my yarn is a tad thicker. A true size 8 would still be rather large on Rainbow (who is mostly wearing a 6 or a 7 these days), so I figured being slightly off on gauge wouldn't be a big deal. I haven't touched this project since I started it, but I've already finished the bottom ribbing and nearly one cable repeat.

Unfortunately the yarn is quite a dark green, which makes it hard to photograph on a rainy day, but at least you can see proof that some knitting has been done. Now that I've established the cable pattern, I expect this will knit up fairly quickly (it's nice to knit a sweater with no shaping for a change -- no counting of rows involved!).

I did finally graft the striped/stranded cowl over the weekend, though that final step was not without drama. I guess I was really tired when I sat down to do it, and I completely forgot that I needed to use the attached black yarn for grafting. I didn't remember this until I had already cut both strands of yarn and woven in all four ends. Fortunately it wasn't too much of an effort to join a new strand of yarn, but I was feeling rather like an idiot for a bit there. In any case, the graft is done and the cowl has been blocked, so I just have to finish the last bits of the pattern and take some photos to get it ready to send to my tech editor.

Shortly after I finished the knitting on the cowl, I cast on for a new design idea in some sock yarn that I was sent by Ginny of FatCatKnits. I worked on it for a few days before coming to the conclusion that it really wasn't working up as I envisioned and frogged the whole thing. I promptly started over with a different idea, and this version is going much better.

This yarn is highly variegated, so it really needed to be something with a relatively simple, plain stitch to allow the yarn to shine. I really like how garter stitch shows off all the colors without looking muddy.

I suppose given the weather I shouldn't be surprised that tomorrow is the last day of September, but truly I'm amazed at how quickly this month has gone by. October looks to be just as busy -- and I really want to find time to knit myself a sweater before too long!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Pattern Release: Bridge Walker Hat

Today I released the second pattern from my Stitchburgh pattern collection.

My inspiration for today's pattern came from this metalwork, which you can see on some of the city's bridges and along the pedestrian walkway on Fort Duquesne Boulevard in downtown, which is alongside the Allegheny River and across from PNC Park.

I snapped a picture of some of these railings months and months ago from the car -- I just knew it would look great as a stranded colorwork motif. When I did finally sit down to chart it, it didn't take very long at all for the design to come together. The result is today's pattern, the Bridge Walker Hat.

In case you're wondering, that's the Roberto Clemente Bridge behind me.

As stranded colorwork goes, this is a pretty easy knit. The hat is worked in two colors of worsted weight yarn (I used Fibernymph Dye Works Cozy, a lovely, bouncy superwash merino) from the bottom up. The brim is worked in 1x1 twisted rib, and the band of stranded work goes right around your ears and forehead, making the hat extra cozy from all those floats on the inside. In the entire motif, you'll really only need to catch your floats on one line of the colorwork motif (and I tell you exactly where to do it in the pattern). I also give some tips in the pattern for how to keep your tension even so that you can end up with a hat that's as pretty on the inside as it is on the outside:

Sunday, September 25, 2016

I Should Do That More Often

I haven't done much spinning this week, so I don't have anything much different to show you as far as what's on the bobbin. I'll be doing my best to finish up that spin this week so I can be ready for the start of Spinzilla next week.

Last Sunday, however, I went over to the Steel City Fiber Collective for a Spinzilla sign-up party and took advantage of their fiber bar. I selected several colors of dyed fiber and threw in some nylon sparkle, then drum carded it on their drum carder. The result was this gorgeous floofy batt that I can't wait to spin up:

I haven't spun from batts very much, but I always enjoy it when I do, so I really should do it more often. The funny thing is that I own a drum carder and have hardly used it. I don't tend to have any fiber scraps (anything that doesn't get spun when I'm spinning is either VM or nepps), so I haven't really had much to experiment with. But I do have a fair amount of undyed fiber thanks to a friend unloading some stash on me before she moved, so I think Rainbow and I might try a little food coloring or Kool Aid dyeing and then I can card it up. I might just have a new obsession!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Excitement of New Beginnings

It's the first day of autumn here in the Northern Hemisphere (though it sure doesn't feel like it right now), and it seems particularly fitting that I should finish up the final sample in my pattern collection tonight. I'd set myself a goal of knitting all eight over the summer, so one day late seems perfectly acceptable. I'll do a proper FO post once the cowl is finished and blocked; for now, I'm excited by the possibility of casting on new projects.

Obviously I will soon be casting on for Rainbow's new school sweater (another Gramps Cardigan, this time in the largest size) with the Berroco Vintage we picked up at my LYS before they closed. I've just got to wind it and highlight the right numbers in the pattern before casting on. I've knit this pattern twice before, so I'm not swatching because I know what needle sizes I used to get gauge the last two times (not to mention that I'm making a large enough size that if the fit is a little off, it shouldn't be a big deal).

What I'm more excited about is the next design project. A couple of weeks ago, Ginny of FatCatKnits sent me this skein of sock yarn to design with. The colorway is a limited edition called Freestyle, and it's a beauty:

The challenge with this yarn, obviously, is to find a way to work with the highly variegated colorway in such a way that the colors and the stitch pattern don't compete with each other. I've got a idea for a stitch pattern that I'm hoping will work, and I'm anxious to wind the yarn and cast on to see if it works as I've envisioned.

The weekend should be a good time to get a fair amount of knitting done. We're participating in a block garage/yard sale on Saturday, so I'll likely be sitting around for several hours, and then on Sunday the Mister and I are both running in a local 5K, which means I'll need the afternoon to rest and recover (but of course my hands will be fine to knit).

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Bonus Time

I started out this week expecting it to be a crazy one. The Mister is traveling for work, which means I'm doing all the shuttling of Rainbow to and from school, doing all the bedtime duties, and doing all the cooking and cleaning around the house in addition to working. We've got stuff coming up this weekend, including a 5K race that both the Mister and I are signed up for. I figured I'd be running around a lot and not getting much knitting done. So you can imagine my surprise when I found myself with a couple hours of bonus knitting time yesterday afternoon.

You see, yesterday morning, I woke up with a swollen, red, slightly painful pinkie toe. I managed to get in to see my doctor at lunchtime. Somehow, despite any obvious injury, I had gotten a skin infection. So she put me on antibiotics and told me to go home and elevate my foot as much as possible. My mother told me she'd pick Rainbow up from school, so I spent a couple of hours with my foot on a stack of pillows, knitting and binge-watching episodes of Gilmore Girls. As a result, I've made quite a bit of progress on my cowl.

I'm now nearly to the third and final stranded section, and after that's complete, there's just some stripes left to knit. I might even finish this by the end of the week if I can keep up the pace. I know that would please Rainbow, as she really wants me to get started on her new school sweater, and I must admit that I have several new design ideas I'm itching to swatch for.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Lame Duck

No, this is not a political post. It's a post about the most recent skein of handspun off my wheel -- a skein I just finished last night.

More than seven years ago, during the Tour de Fleece, I attended a spin-in at my (now closed) LYS. Door prizes were given out throughout the evening, and I came home with this superwash BFL fiber from Spunky Eclectic in the colorway Lame Duck Mallard:

It has been waiting patiently in my stash until about two weeks ago, when I decided the time had finally come to spin it. The fiber seemed perfect for sock yarn, so that's what I spun.

I've been spinning the same yarn, more or less, for several months, so I was a bit disappointed in my final yardage (362 yards). I knew it was going to be on the low side when it didn't take very long to ply it all. For some reason, I struggle to get higher yardages with BFL. I know Rachel of Welford Purls has commented on this as well, so I know it's not just me. (By the way, if you've never checked out Rachel's blog or video podcast and you're a spinner, you should!) I know that my drafting was not as consistent with this fiber as it usually is, likely because the fiber had been sitting in my stash so long and probably got a little compacted; I had to pull out some clumps that would not draft every now and then. Still, I'm pleased with the finished skein, and despite some issues with the singles twisting up on themselves while I was plying, it's nicely balanced.

The skein is a bit lighter in real life than it appears to be in the photos. It's unfortunately a very gloomy, overcast day here, so everything is looking a bit darker.

Up next, I think I will spin the other half of my Crown Mountain Farms Corriedale, as it's already sitting next to the wheel and ready to go. We'll see if I can match the yardage from the first skein!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

And Moving On

After all the excitement of launching the Stitchburgh collection earlier this week and a truly crazy day at work yesterday, things seem unusually calm -- so much so that I'm starting to worry I've forgotten something.

To get caught up, first I have to show you the socks I finally finished last week. These aren't terribly exciting (they are just plain vanilla stockinette socks, after all), but they are handspun, so I suppose that makes them a bit special.

Photo credit: Rainbow

Pattern: my basic stockinette sock recipe, with 3x2 ribbed cuff, heel flap, and wide toe
Yarn: handspun BFL from FatCatKnits
Needles: US 0 (2.0 mm) Addi Sock Rockets
Started/Completed: July 16/September 8

I have no excuse for a pair of plain socks taking nearly two months from start to finish, but I suppose I was keeping busy with other projects in the interim and these socks, as they didn't have a specific deadline, were repeatedly pushed to the back burner. It has just started to feel a bit like fall (at least in the early morning and evening), so I will look forward to getting to wear these for real soon.

Once the socks were done, I found myself with no active projects on the needles (shocking, isn't it?), so that meant it was finally time to cast on for the final collection sample. I am quite pleased with how this one is knitting up so far.

This is another one of those cowls knit in the round and then grafted (apparently I've developed quite a penchant for them in the past year), and I'm using two skeins of Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce in Soft Black and Pop Art. The first colorwork section is done and I'm quickly coming up on the second (I've planned three total). It clearly needs some good blocking to help it even out, but I'm really tickled by the effect of using the self-striping colorway as my contrast color. Perhaps you can even guess where the inspiration for this piece came from?

I'm in a bit of a hurry to get this piece done, and not just because I want to wrap up the work on the collection. A certain small person who lives with me has been asking again when I will be knitting her school sweater, and as she's been wearing a sweatshirt in the morning all week, it's probably high time I get started. I do want to make sure that the design project doesn't languish, however, so I'll likely wait until it's actually done before I cast on, but I think it would be fine to wind some yarn this weekend.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Pattern Release: Confluence Socks

All summer I've been working on a collection of patterns. You've seen a lot of them here as they've been in progress, and one is still on the needles, but the time has finally come to start the big reveal. Starting today, I'll be releasing a pattern about every other week through the end of the year.

So, it's time to introduce the collection and pattern. The collection is called Stitchburgh, and all eight patterns in it are inspired by my beloved hometown, Pittsburgh, Pa. Each pattern has some background on its inspiration, so by knitting your way through all the patterns, you'll get a little taste of what this city is all about.

The first pattern in the collection is the Confluence Socks. The inspiration for these was the spot at the tip of the triangle that constitutes Pittsburgh's downtown area. To the north of downtown is the Allegheny River; to the south is the Monongahela River. These two rivers converge to form the Ohio River, which flows west and eventually joins the Mississippi River, at what's known as the Point. The Point is famous for its fountain, which is making a cameo appearance in the pattern photos.

These socks are knit from the cuff down and have a heel flap and gusset and wide toe. The leg features small cables that represent the Allegheny and Monongahela rivers, and between them is a knit/purl texture pattern that references the ripples in the water of the fountain at the point. On the instep, the cables come together, just as the Allegheny and the Mon come together to form the Ohio.

The yarn featured in these socks is SpaceCadet Oriana, an 8-ply fingering weight superwash merino/nylon blend, in the colorway Look Up! Knitting a yarn with eight plies takes some getting used to at first, but the stitch definition is excellent and the fabric it creates is really sturdy -- just perfect for socks.

The stitch patterns in these socks are both written and charted, and you'll need to know how to do simple cables, basic decreases (k2tog, ssk, p2tog), purlwise increases, and Kitchener stitch.

The pattern is now available in my Ravelry store, and you can also buy the entire collection -- the price of the full collection will go up as patterns are added to it, so you'll save a lot by buying now!

Buy the sock pattern:

Buy the whole collection:

Sunday, September 11, 2016

On the Silk Road

Earlier in the week, I finished plying the skein of yarn I'd been spinning for the past couple of weeks. It took me two evenings to ply, and not full evenings at that, so you can imagine my surprise when I was winding off the plied yarn and realized that I had a ton of yardage -- 525 yards, to be exact.

This started as Corriedale pencil roving in Silk Road from the now-defunct Crown Mountain Farms, one of my favorite dyers. I'm not exactly sure what inspired me to buy this colorway, as it's not really my colors, but it was an effortless spin -- and I still have half of the original fiber. This skein will be going into the sale bin; I'm not sure if I've mentioned it on the blog, but I'll be vending again at Indie Knit and Spin this year. I'll just be selling handspun this year, so I'm trying to increase my inventory of sock yarn. The next skein is already more than halfway done:

This is superwash BFL from Spunky Electic in a Lame Duck Mallard. It's also a deep stash spin. Wanna know how old this fiber is? I won it as a door prize at a spin-in during the 2009 Tour de Fleece, when I was pregnant with Rainbow. That's some old fiber! Luckily it still spins beautifully. The fiber is actually a little slippery, to the point that it actually feels like there's some silk content in it. I'm already more than halfway done with the singles, so I expect you'll see this in skein form by next weekend.

Some more fiber for the stash arrived unexpectedly this week:

This was a prize pack from David of Southern Cross Fibre for my Tour de Fleece participation. It's a little wool sampler (110 g of fiber), and other than the general fiber content, I have no idea what each little bundle is (though the one in the bottom right looks familiar). I might end up spinning these up as mini skeins, which would be a fun spinning refresher between larger skeins.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Wrapping Things Up

I've been feeling like I've been coming to a period of closure in my knitting life the past few days. Part of it has to do with the fact that this is my LYS's last week in business (the last day is Saturday, sob!), but I've also been winding down with projects. For one thing, the handspun socks that have inexplicably been in progress for nearly two months are just about finished (and will be finished in due course tonight).

I'm quite happy with these, as simple as they are, and I'm looking forward to wearing them whenever the weather finally decides to be more seasonal (it was super hot and humid today).

I'm also nearing the end of the primary work on my pattern collection; I cast on for the final sample last night. It's not much to look at just yet, but I didn't have much time to work on it yesterday. Now that it will become my primary project, I expect it will grow much more quickly.

My original self-imposed goal for this collection was to have all the samples knit by the end of the summer. Technically I still have about two more weeks until the end of summer (astronomical summer, anyway), so I think I can still make that goal. I am hoping to convince the Mister to do a photo shoot this weekend for the samples that are finished, so the first pattern in the collection could be ready to publish as early as next week. If I can manage that, I should be on schedule to release a pattern pretty much every other week through the end of the year.

Once this project is off the needles, I already have my next one lined up. Rainbow has been asking me repeatedly when I will start her new school sweater -- she doesn't seem to be taking into consideration the fact that it's been way too warm thus far in the school year to even think about needing a sweater -- and I told her it will be the next project I cast on. I am looking forward to that, actually, and I'm also getting ready to cast on a sweater for myself. There are a couple of options as far as my sweater is concerned, so I'll have to make a decision one or another pretty soon. There will be some more design work to be done, but I've given myself permission to take it easy the rest of the year after all the work that's gone into the collection. Of course, knowing how things tend to go, I'm sure that's when I'll be struck with tons of inspiration and want to cast on All The Things.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

One Last Victory Lap

This past Saturday was the last time I spent a Saturday knitting at my LYS. I had to bring my own chair, as the comfy seats that used be the focal point of the seating area were gone. It was rather sad to sit there by myself (as there were no other chairs in the seating area) and look around at the quickly emptying shelves. I thought it was appropriate that during my brief time there, I finished a project. And in keeping with tradition, I did one last "victory lap" -- a quick run through the aisles while holding the FO above my head -- after binding off the last stitch.

What was that FO, you might ask? Well, I blocked it Saturday night and had to wait until Sunday evening for it to be dry and until yesterday to take pictures, but here is the cabled scarf in all its glory:

I blocked this pretty aggressively (and it was a breeze, thanks to my blocking wires), so the finished scarf has a lot of drape to it. I did not stretch it quite as much as I could have lengthwise, but even so it's nearly seven feet long. Personally, I like a long scarf; the more length a scarf has, the more I can wrap it around my neck and face on those really miserable, blustery winter days.

I'm quite pleased with how the cable is popping after blocking as well; I was a little concerned that it wouldn't as I was knitting because the yarn has a fair amount of fuzz to it. Of course, a lot of that fuzz ended up all over me as I was knitting, so I suppose it wasn't as big of a factor as I initially thought.

Despite the fuzz, I did really love working with this yarn, and I would gladly knit myself a sweater out of it. It is on the slightly coarser side, so it's definitely something I'd wear over a shirt (not that I do otherwise with most of my sweaters), but it is so wonderfully woolly. It's definitely not over processed, and there was a good deal of dirt that came out in the water when I washed it. To me, this yarn is as close as I can get to spinning directly from a fleece without actually having to do the prep and spinning myself.

Now that the scarf is done (and the pattern is off to my tech editor), I have only one project currently on my needles, and that's my handspun socks. I'm about halfway through the foot of the second sock, so those won't be a WIP much longer. Fortunately I got yarn wound yesterday for the final design sample for the collection; with any luck, that will be on the needles very soon.

Sunday, September 04, 2016

Faster by the Day, Slower by the Week

Have you ever heard the saying that spindle spinning is slower by the hour but faster by the week, or something like that? The idea is that you don't spin a whole lot of yarn on a spindle in any one spinning session, but the amount you spin adds up over time because the spindle is so portable and you can keep it with you to spin when you find a few free minutes here or there

With the spinning project I've been working on (on the wheel, mind you), I feel like it's been just the opposite. I've been spinning pencil roving, which feels like it spins very quickly because it's such a thin strip of fiber, but then it seems to take forever because there's so much of it. I started this spin two weeks ago, and I've only just finished the bobbin of singles.

Granted, I did not spin much at all this past week, so it's probably not a huge shock that it took me as long as it did to spin these singles. I guess I've come to expect more of myself because I was spinning a three-ply fingering skein in a week earlier in the summer (though that was probably during the Tour de Fleece when I was doing a lot more spinning). In any case, I'll let this rest overnight and probably start plying tomorrow. And I'll feel very happy to have spun some very deep stash -- I can't even remember how long ago I bought this fiber, but the dyer has been out of business for at least two years now and this was one of my earlier orders from them, so it's got to be several years at least!

Thursday, September 01, 2016


I don't know about you, but I am getting anxious for it to be the weekend. In spite of the fact that I just had a day off two days ago, I am really looking forward to some time off from work, particularly as it's a holiday weekend. I plan on spending a good amount of time knitting and spinning this weekend; I didn't get nearly as much time as I would have liked during the week.

I have been plowing forward on my handspun socks at work, and I've just started the heel of the second sock. Usually once I get past the heel the sock pretty much flies, so I have a feeling I'll have a finished pair in short order.

I really like how the color transitioned on the leg of the second sock here -- it makes me think of a sunset. It's a bit too late to do anything about it now, but I am kind of wishing that I'd split up the fiber a bit when I spun the yarn so I'd get more of a striping pattern than these large blocks of color. I suppose that's something to keep in mind for the next time.

The scarf should be finished soon, too. I bound off the first side and picked up the stitches for the second side last night, so now I just have about seven rows of ribbing to knit.

It obviously will still need a good, aggressive blocking to finish it, but I'm pleased to see that the ribbing is already helping to calm the stockinette curl on the side.

I can't believe that today is already September. Tomorrow is a special day -- the Mister and I are celebrating our ninth wedding anniversary. It hardly seems like that much time has passed. We are scheduled to go out to dinner while Rainbow has a sleepover with her grandparents, and I expect that given that we are getting older and will be child free for the night, we'll probably crawl into bed and pass out early. Married life is exciting, isn't it?