Thursday, March 30, 2017

Split Three Ways

Our vacation is quickly drawing to an end. Tomorrow is our last full day here, and we'll be home by mid-afternoon on Saturday. I'm not complaining, mind you -- as nice as it has been to have the week off and to get some extra sleep, I do miss my own bed (and, of course, my husband), and it will be not that bad to get back into a normal routine.

That said, I've been trying to keep busy while we've been here. I've been exercising a fair amount (though I've only managed to run once, as either a cold or a very bad allergy attack has left me very congested and with some difficulty in taking a deep breath or being able to go more than about 10 minutes without blowing my nose) and reading quite a bit for pleasure. And it goes without saying that I have been knitting quite a lot.

My knitting time has been divided into three projects. First are the self-patterning socks that I started the day before we arrived. They've been good for working on in the car when we drive to restaurants or the beach, and I'm probably between an inch and a half and two inches from starting the toe on the first sock. I'd like to get this one done before Saturday so I can have the second sock in progress for the flight home.

I'm still working on my Quill sweater as well, though it doesn't look much different from the last time you saw it. I've got two inches of body left to knit before I'm ready to start the armhole shaping, and I'm hoping to get that done tonight. Here's a close-up of the feathers:

Finally, there's the shawl I started on Tuesday. It doesn't look like much at this point because it's just garter stitch in cream-colored handspun.

This is the first time I've designed a top-down crescent shawl -- though not the first time I've knit one -- and I love how quickly it's getting big. It will look a lot more exciting once I start working in the blue handspun. If it looks half as good as the swatch I worked up last week (as I was experimenting with numbers and techniques to get it looking as I'd imagined), I'll be very pleased.

When I have been knitting this week, I've been reading up a storm, and I've actually finished some books! On the flight down, I finished reading The Girl with All the Gifts on my iPad (though that sounds more impressive than it actually was; I only had about two chapters left to read, and I think it only took me about 10 to 15 minutes to finish it off). I have to say that I did not much enjoy the book, and I only read it because I kept seeing it being mentioned by a bunch of friends who had read it on Goodreads. The blurb sounded intriguing, so I'd marked it as "want to read" and (thanks to the magic of technology) had gotten an e-mail from Amazon when the Kindle version was on sale. I'm thankful I did not pay very much for it. If you've been considering it, let me caution you by telling you (and this isn't really a spoiler, because it's revealed in the first chapter) that this book involves zombies -- a lot of them. I do not care for zombie-related stuff at all, and had I known, I wouldn't have read the book. Of course, once I started, I had to finish to find out how it ended.

The second book I read, which was infinitely better, was Hidden Figures. I have not yet seen the movie but had heard that the book was really phenomenal, and it did not disappoint. I don't real a ton of nonfiction because sometimes all the facts and figures and whens and whys cause me to lose interest, but this one kept me focused the whole time. It's a very good blend of the historical context of the time and the stories of the women who are at the center of the story. I highly recommend it.

When I finished that, I picked up A Man Called Ove from the small collection my parents have down here, and I finished it this afternoon. It was an easy and entertaining read, and the beginning reminded me very much of something else, though I haven't been able to put my finger on just what.

I'm now reading Orange Is the New Black on my iPad (Kindle app), but that's mainly when I'm putting Rainbow to bed, so I need to find a new physical book to read for the last day and a half we're here. There are some to choose from, but I suppose I could always stick with the Kindle book and wait until we get home to read whatever is atop my bedside stack of books. I have to say, it's nice to be able to sit down and read for a good length of time -- and finish up a book in a couple of days. I guess that is what I'm going to miss most about vacation.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

I Packed My Mojo

Greetings from Southwest Florida! We're now a few days into our vacation and enjoying every minute. The first day, the weather wasn't so great, but I've managed to get a sunburn since then and have spent many hours outdoors, including about four at the beach today. I've finished one book and am halfway through another. And my knitting mojo is strong.

I've spent the last two evenings working on my Quill, and it has grown quite a bit! I've finished the first feather and am into the second, and when I measured the body before putting it away last night, I think I only had about three inches left before the start of the armhole shaping.

The other project that's seen a good deal of attention is the socks I started on Friday. I worked on them on the flight down (while catching up on the 90% Knitting podcast) and in the car, and I've already got half a sock done.

The sock may look all sweet and innocent, but it was not so good last night when I was trying to turn the heel and start the gusset. When I finished turning the heel, I found that I had an even number of heels stitches when I should have had an odd number. I figured I'd just fudge it and add in the missing stitch, but after I was a couple of rounds into the gusset, I spotted a dropped stitch in the heel flap. So I pulled the whole sock off the needles and ripped back to the issue to fix it. On the second go-round, I seem to have picked up different numbers of stitches on each side of the heel flap, so my gusset is going to end up being a little uneven. These are for me, though, so I'm ignoring it and moving on.

I haven't yet started my shawl, but I think I will probably start it very soon -- perhaps even as soon as I publish this post!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Better than Expected

I'm writing this post from my favorite chair in Florida, officially on vacation. But before we left for our trip, I did manage to finish up my spinning project. I didn't have many expectations for this FatCatKnits Polwarth/flax yarn, as I'd never spun such a blend of fiber before, so I was very pleasantly surprised by the outcome.

I anticipated that the Polwarth would poof up some when it was washed, and it did, but only slightly -- not nearly as much as a 100% Polwarth usually does. The skein was fairly balanced after washing, too, and it still seems to have good drape. After finishing the yarn is roughly light fingering and 272 yards for 2.5 ounces.

Another pleasant surprise was how well the colors lined up in plying. I had split the fiber in half (more or less) lengthwise, but there was a bit more on one bobbin than the other, so there's a bit of barberpoling, but I think it adds to the depth of color. The flax content gives a tweediness to the yarn that I really like.

My only complaint about this skein is that, as I suspected it would, it blend considerably when I washed it: The wash water was a dark purple. The rinse water was a much lighter purple, so I highly suspect that it was a case of excess dye. I didn't notice any purple on the towel I used to dry the skein or in the shower where it was hung to dry, so I'm hoping I got it all out.

I won't be doing any spinning this week, but I'm excited to spin up the other skein of yarn from this club shipment when I get back!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Hello, Old Friend

After finally finishing up the secret project last night (turns out a three-needle bind off takes way longer than I though it would), I can once again to return to my poor neglected Quill sweater. I haven't touched it in probably two weeks, and I've missed it. It has grown a bit since the last time you saw it -- I'm now into the waist increases and a good way through the first feather.

I am so happy to be knitting this again. This pattern is such a pleasure, just the perfect mix of mindlessness and mindfulness. I'll be taking it with me to Florida, where I predict it will see a lot of attention. I don't know that I'll actually finish it in a week, but I can certainly make some good progress.

I am still working on the Sockhead hat, though primarily only when I'm putting Rainbow to bed, so it doesn't look much different from the last time you saw it. I encountered a knot in the yarn last night, which very obviously interrupted the patterning, but I think that will be less of an issue in this hat than it would have been in a pair of socks. I know that knots like this are a fact of life but I can't help but be annoyed when they happen in something that has a very obvious pattern or repeat.

Tomorrow, in preparation for the trip, I'm planning to cast on for a new pair of socks using the Online Supersocke you saw last week so I'll have something for the plane. I've never had an issue with knitting getting through security before, but just in case I'm going to start them with my Karbonz needles and pack a pair of Addi Rockets in my checked bag.

While I'm looking forward to the extra knitting time (and extra sleep) that comes with vacation, I'm also really looking forward to reading for pleasure more than I get to do typically. I finally finished the seventh (I think?) Outlander book the other night, and last night I started Hidden Figures. I've only read the prologue and the first chapter thus far, but I'm really enjoying it. It is significantly shorter in length than my most recent read but also nonfiction, which means I have to slow down my reading speed to catch everything. That said, I don't think it will take me too long to get through, and I'm hopeful that I'll be able to read at least two books during the week away. I set my Goodreads reading challenge at 20 books again this year (I met and exceeded that goal last year), but if I'm going to stay on track, I need finish two more books by the end of the month. Fortunately I'll have plenty to choose from, as my mother has promised me a stack of books she's already read.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Need Some Color?

Well, it's officially spring now, even though it doesn't much feel like it just yet. Though all the plants and trees around our house seem to be sprouting, there are no leaves or flowers out just yet -- and I'm really craving color. We've had some warmer days, and obviously there's more daylight now, but what really says spring to me is the color of spring flowers and green buds on the trees (also seasonal allergies, but I've got that covered!). I guess I now know why I chose such a bright color for my most recent pair of socks.

Pattern: Cape Cod Socks by knottygnome crafts
Yarn: Youghiogheny Yarns Mon Sock in Pygmy Puff
Needles: US 0 (2.0 mm) Addi Sock Rockets
Started/Completed: February 18/March 16
Mods: substituted my usual wide toe

These were a fun knit. Once I'd gotten through about half a repeat of the stitch pattern, I had it memorized, so I was able to knit most of the socks without needing the pattern on hand. I think perhaps my yarn was a tad bit busy for the stitch pattern, as it's a bit lost, but the texture is certainly more interesting than plain stockinette. I think this pattern would make excellent man socks, and I have two skeins of gray Lorna's Laces that have been in my stash forever that will likely become another pair of these socks for one of the men in my life later this year.

My only significant modification to the pattern was to sub in my usual toe. The pattern calls for a spiral toe, which I find uncomfortable to wear because I can feel the decrease lines.

I really loved this yarn, though it is on the thin side of fingering, and I have about 130 yards left to do something with (I'm thinking some preemie hats). It was my first time using yarn from Youghiogheny Yarns, who are relatively local to me, and I'm looking forward to trying their worsted weight base when I knit with the skein Rainbow bought from them at Indie Knit and Spin.

In other knitting, the secret project should be finished up tonight, so I'll be getting back to my sweater knitting. I've also finally moved on from the ribbing of my Sockhead, so my speed has definitely picked up. I took it to work the past two days for my lunch break knitting, and that has helped it move along. I will say that I'm really glad I decided to use this skein for a charity hat and not for socks for me, because these are really not at all my colors!

I will likely be casting on a new pair of socks toward the end of the week to take on the trip, and I've wound up two skeins of handspun to take for a new design knit.

I think those plus the sweater should be enough for a week away, especially considering I'm planning on spending a significant portion of the week reading for pleasure. But knowing myself as I do, I wouldn't be surprised if a skein or two of kitchen cotton winds up in my suitcase as well.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

There's Always a Learning Curve

After neglecting my spinning for most of last week, I spend a fairly good amount of time at the wheel Friday night, yesterday, and today. I'm trying really hard to get through my unspun FatCatKnits club shipments, and I've been working on the last remaining one for the most recent round of the club (I still have a couple I haven't spun from one of the rounds last year, but as those are packed away in the stash, I'm not thinking of them for the time being).

The fiber blend this time was something really interesting and unlike anything I've spun before -- 80% Polwarth, 20% bleached flax -- so it's taken some adjusting to in order to get into the groove of spinning it. The flax seems to be in two main forms: soft clumps of fiber that seem more like silk or bamboo and wiry fibers that feel more like kemp. I've been resisting the urge to pull out every little bit of it, though I have tossed the stray fiber that didn't want to get twisted in with the rest and some slubs here and there. Here's a photo of the first bobbin, which gives a good idea of the texture I'm getting.

The flax occasionally gets doubled up on itself and pokes out a bit (you can see one bit of it just below the end of the singles in the middle of the bobbin above), so these singles definitely aren't as smooth or even as I'm accustomed to spinning them. They are more or less my default singles, though they do have thicker spots, and I think that with the poof that Polwarth tends to have when it's washed, the finished two-ply yarn will be fingering weight or so.

Ready to be plied
I've decided to once again spin this shipment up as two separate two-ply skeins, one for each colorway. This one is called Coral Reef, and though it looks like a fairly consistent green on the bobbin, there is more green at the beginning and a blend of blue and purple in the middle. If you don't believe me, take a look at what my hand looked like after I finished spinning that section:

The tips of my left thumb and index finger were also a rather alarming purple. This isn't typical for Ginny's fibers, so I suspect that the dye was coming off of the flax, which doesn't take dye the same way wool does. I'll just have to keep an eye on the finished skein when I wash it now that I know that there may be some excess purple in it. I'm interested to see what happens to the flax content of the yarn after it's washed and knit, particularly if it softens up.

The week ahead should be an interesting one, though I'm hoping to find some time to ply up this skein and perhaps make a good start on the other. Rainbow is on spring break and the Mister is traveling for work, so our schedule should be a bit odd. On the plus side, our mornings won't be as hectic, as I won't be rushing her to get out the door, but I will be on bedtime duty every night (though that means bonus knitting and reading time). We are leaving next Saturday for a week down in Florida with my parents, so I'll also have to find time to pack and plan the knitting projects. And my main goal for the week is to finish the Outlander book I've been reading so I can start something new on the way down.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Status Quo

I fear my knitting this week is fairly unexciting. I've been spending most of my time on knitting I can't show you (it's a design commission that has to stay secret until it's published), so my only real progress that I can share with you has been on my Cape Cod Socks.

These are actually getting close to being done, in large part thanks to the fact that last night I finally got to go to knit night at the Steel City Fiber Collective again. I've been trying to go for the past few weeks, but the Mister's work schedule has prevented it. Last night I managed to get through the entire gusset and get a bit of foot done, and after knitting during lunch today, I only have one repeat left on the foot and the toe remaining before I have a finished pair.

Should I feel the need to cast on another pair right away, I have some choices now -- and here's where I have to admit that I did buy some yarn last week when Rainbow and I visited Knitsburgh. Rainbow actually spotted this skein first, and I liked it so much that it had to come home with me (along with some wool wash, which I was really in need of and had intended to purchase):

This is Online Supersocke. It's self-patterning and one of those wear-like-iron wool/nylon blends, so the socks will likely be indestructible. I'm thinking that this will be good for the spring break trip that Rainbow and I will be taking to Florida the week after next (we're headed down with my parents; the Mister has a work trip during that week and can't make it).

We've got very little planned for the weekend ahead, and I'm planning on taking advantage of that. In addition to knitting and spinning, I have about 200 pages left to read in my book (of about 1,150 total), and I'd really like to finish it before we go on our trip so I can take a couple of shorter books with me. And I suppose part of the weekend should be spent planning the most important part of the trip -- what knitting I'm taking with me!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

We're Not Done Yet

It seems that winter is back. For a brief period of time, it seemed like we were getting an early spring, but I guess we're not through with the cold weather and snow just yet, so the handknits have been getting a lot of wear. And somehow I feel better about having multiple projects on the needles when knitting seems seasonally appropriate.

Still on the needles are my Cape Cod Socks (the first sock is done, the second sock is almost to the heel), my Quill sweater (which has had maybe a dozen rows added to it), and the charity Sockhead Slouch Hat. This last project has seen a good amount of attention the past couple of nights as I've put Rainbow to sleep, and I'm nearly to three inches on the ribbing. I think it'll go much faster once I get to the stockinette, as I won't constantly have to stop and check -- in the dark, by the light of my iPad -- if I've got the ribbing right. I'm glad that I decided to use this yarn for this project, as it definitely isn't my colors.

In all the excitement of finishing up Rainbow's sweater last week, I completely forgot to talk about my weaving class of the weekend prior. I did enjoy the actual weaving part of it, but I did not care as much for winding off the warp and warping the loom -- it's a lot of work, and it takes a while. In comparison to knitting, weaving is faster, but you can't just sit down and weave like you can sit down and knit. There's a lot of setup and planning that has to happen before you actually get to the weaving part.

The class ended up being a private lesson, as I was the only person who'd signed up, so we were able to get through the material pretty quickly, and at the end of the first day, I'd made a little scarf with part of an old skein of Cascade 220.

I wove until I ran out of warp on the loop (though there was still yarn left for weft) and ended up with a scarf that's only long enough to drape over the neck and perhaps pin in place for an adult -- but the perfect length for a certain small person, who promptly claimed it without any suggestion from me.

On the second day, I wound off warp that was much longer than what I'd done the first day (about four yards or so) so that I could get a full adult-sized scarf. I had dug through my stash and found a gallon-sized bag full of skeins of Elsebeth Lavold Silky Tweed that I think I bought on closeout at WEBS many years ago. I'm not sure what possessed me to buy so much at the time (other than perhaps the price); I made a sweater out of one color several years back but still had maybe eight skeins left. I ended up using two skeins of the blue for warp and about two skeins of the gray for weft, and the finished scarf is approximately 78 inches long (excluding fringe) and 6 inches wide after blocking.

It's a little more blue in real life

I'm pleased with the finished scarf, for all its wonky selvedges, but I'm feeling pretty confident in saying that I'm not going to be taking up weaving. Perhaps someday I'll feel differently, but for now, I'm pretty satisfied with knitting and spinning. There's always the option of buying a day pass or monthly pass to the fiber collective and using their looms if I feel the urge to weave (for instance, if I need a bunch of gifts in a hurry), and I still have my little Zoom Loom at home if I'm in the mood for a quick little project.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Twist and Shine

When you've got a really pleasurable fiber blend, it's hard not to spin it up right away. For me, anything with silk in it feels like a real treat. So it's not surprising how quickly I finished up these two skeins of BFL/silk from FatCatKnits.

I decided to spin the two colorways in this club shipment, Twister and Trigger, as individual skeins, splitting each length of fiber in half lengthwise for two-ply yarns in which the colors match up in some spots and occasional do a little barberpoling. The finished skeins are in the fingering to sport category and -- amazingly -- both 195 yards.

After the plying twist fiasco on the first skein (that's the one in the top in the photo above), I took a slightly less aggressive approach on the second, allowing the brake on the wheel to pull the plied yarn in before too much twist could build up in it. I was a little surprised at how overplied the first skein was, but then I realized that my usual amount of twist works better for a very crimpy fiber like merino or Targhee or Polwarth; BFL is more wavy than crimpy, so I was simply overpowering it. It's a good reminder that your twist should really match your fiber.

I've just started spinning my last FCK club shipment, which is an interesting blend of Polwarth and flax. The flax, while very well blended, feels quite strange to spin, and I'm having to resist the urge to pull it out as I spin because it feels a bit like kemp. I am spinning this shipment much like the last -- two separate two-ply skeins -- though this batch will be a bit thinner, probably a light fingering weight. There's not much to see just yet, as I've only just started, so stay tuned for a progress update.

In other news, I have a new spinning toy! I think I mentioned that my birthday was this past week, and when the Mister asked if there was anything I wanted, I gave him a strong hint in the form of a link. And now I am the proud owner of an Akerworks lazy kate!

I had been thinking of getting one for these ever since they came out, but it was Becks' review on the Tiny Fibre Studio podcast that convinced me that I really needed one. This is my third lazy kate, but it's the only one that will hold four bobbins. I also love that I can use it to hold a spindle, which will make winding off singles so much easier. Obviously I haven't had a chance to use it yet, but I'll be giving it a try as soon as I have some singles ready to ply. I'll give you a full review then. I'm excited to give it a full workout!

Thursday, March 09, 2017

It's Finally Done

After more than three months, Rainbow can finally wear her sweater!

Pattern: Dancing Leaves Cardigan by Natalie Pelykh, size 8/9
Yarn: Frabjous Fibers Cheshire Cat Mini Skein Sets (two) in 32 Color Morph
Needles: US 0 (2.0 mm) and US 2 (2.75 mm) Addi circs
Started/Completed: November 29, 2016/March 6, 2017
Mods: fudged the yoke a bit (see below)

This project ended up being a bit of a slog, but in the end, it was totally worth it. It is truly stunning, and Rainbow is thrilled with it, so I really couldn't ask for a better outcome. Yes, it would have been nice to have finished it a bit sooner so that she could have gotten more wear out of it, but I am thanking past me for choosing a size larger than what she's currently wearing so that it should still fit for at least another year.

I have to be completely honest and admit that this pattern broke my brain a little bit. I suspect a large part of it has to do with the fact that the designer is not a native speaker of English, so sometimes the wording was a bit unusual. But really the main challenge was the charts. It took a while for me to adjust to having more than symbol for the same stitch (for instance, there are different symbols for a stitch depending on whether it's knit on the right side and purled on the wrong side, purled on the right side and knit on the wrong side, or knit on both sides). This was particularly difficult when I was working on more than one pattern at once and had to adjust to different charting styles. It did get easier once I was more focused on only this pattern, and I did get faster as I got toward the end of the cabled yoke. There was one exception: I could not make heads or tails of the instruction for the stitch maneuver for finishing off the leaves, so I kind of made up my own way of doing it. I think it looks fine, but it was rather frustrating that I couldn't make it work as it was supposed to.

The yarn was pretty good to work with, though I find I do prefer the tighter twist and greater number of plies of the sportweight version of these mini skein packs (you might recall that I used this same gradient in my Zeccola Cowl sample). It had a tendency toward being splitty with the small, sharp needles I was using. I ended up using only a portion of one skein of the darkest turquoise, and only for the sleeves, so there's still a good amount of yarn left to use for something.

The final task for this sweater is finding buttons, which may take a while. We need 15 of them, and they have to be on the smaller side. I may not have enough in my button stash, so it may require ordering some from online. Rainbow doesn't seem too concerned that the sweater can't be buttoned just yet, so I'm not feeling any real urgency myself. We'll get buttons when we get them, and in the meantime, it'll be an open-front cardigan.

Now that that sweater is officially off the needles, I've returned to my Quill sweater, which is growing quickly now that I can actually give it some attention. The body is moving much faster than the garter stitch border, and the first feather is finally emerging!

I have a very good feeling that it will be way too warm to actually wear this sweater when it's done, but that's not really stopping me at this point. It's been a while since I finished a sweater for me, and I've spent the winter months frankly a little bored with my sweater selection, so I'll be glad to get something new in the rotation when sweater weather rolls around again.

I'm still working on my Cape Cod Socks and am closing in on the toe of the first one.

I've mainly been working on these during my lunch breaks at work, but we're getting our taxes done this weekend, which means prime sock knitting time.

In addition, I've cast on another charity hat that I can work on while putting Rainbow to bed (meaning it's something simple that I can knit in the dark). This time it's a Sockhead Slouch Hat in some Trekking XXL self-patterning sock yarn I picked up off the freebie table at Indie Knit & Spin. This is pretty mindless knitting, which, frankly, is just what I need after a long day.

I'm very much looking forward to the weekend ahead. Rainbow and I are both off tomorrow, so we're planning a visit to Knitsburgh and some downtime. On Saturday, the whole family is coming over for a belated birthday dinner for me (yes, that's right, I'm 29 again today!). I gave the Mister a very specific fiber-related hint for my present, so we'll see if he took it.

Before I go, I wanted to mention that I (sort of) have another new pattern out. I've designed the Kerameia Cowl in collaboration with Lisa of Fibernymph Dye Works, and for the time being, it'll be available exclusively through her shop as part of a kit. She's having an update with preorders for the kits tomorrow, March 10, at noon Eastern, so if you're interested, get over there to snag one!

This cowl is knit in stranded colorwork, with some corrugated ribbing to keep it from rolling up, and features two colorways created exclusively for this pattern. Two skeins of Lisa's DK-weight Bona Fide are enough to knit two cowls, provided you switch the colors for the second (I'm planning on knitting two more cowls with the leftovers from the samples eventually). It's dead easy, as stranded patterns go, with only two rounds with long-ish floats (and I tell you exactly how to deal with them in the pattern), plus it's a unisex design that's great for men, women, and kids. I'm really excited about this one and for those of you who snag a kit -- Lisa's yarn is divine!

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Pattern Release: Kissing Cousins

Every year I look forward to my vacation at the end of December. It's a time when we traditionally go to Florida with my parents (and sometimes my brother) and relax for a week or two, and it's a time when I traditionally get more knitting time in than usual and as a result tend to overpack on the yarn (would you believe that this year I had more yarn than I needed but forgot to pack a bathing suit?). Oftentimes the knitting is purely for pleasure, but, as is often the case when my brain is freed from the stresses of work and the daily grind, design ideas do tend to pop up.

One thing that I'm always sure to take with me on this trip is sock yarn, usually enough for a couple of pairs of socks. I usually have a sock in progress in my carry on to work on while we're on the plane and a spare skein in my checked bag, as we spend time in cars or at the movies -- perfect times for working on a simple sock. This past December, we went to see more movies than usual (more, in fact, than I usually see in a theater in a whole year), and it occurred to me that I could have gotten a lot more sock knitting done if I had been able to just continue knitting in the round without having to shape a heel and gusset. So, when we got in the car to drive the two-plus hours to the other side of the state to visit some family, I decided to try out the idea: knit both socks in one long strip. It seemed like it would work in theory, but would it work in practice?

I'm happy to say that it did, and the pattern I'm premiering today is the result. I've called this one Kissing Cousins because although the two socks in the pair are closely related, they're not identical (though you'd have to look very closely to know the difference).

These socks are knit in one long tube, the first sock cuff down and the second toe up; they "kiss" at the toes. With some waste yarn used to mark the place where the afterthought heels will be added, the only shaping you need to do is for the toes. Once you've bound off the cuff of the second sock, you add the heels, and then the final step is to separate the two socks and graft the toes.

One of the fun features of this construction is that if you're using a self-striping yarn with more than two colors in the stripe sequence, the sequence will appear reversed in the second sock -- so you end up with socks that are much more dramatically fraternal that if you'd knit both socks in the same direction. Of course, if this sort of thing bothers you, it's easy enough to manipulate your yarn so that the striping sequence is the same. Personally, though I can be a stickler about things matching in other areas of my life, hand-knit socks are one arena where I rather like a mismatch.

The pattern has been graded to four sizes, to fit a foot circumference of 7 (8, 9, 10) inches/18 (20.5, 23, 25.5) cm, and is fully adjustable to foot length. For most people, one 100 g skein of sock yarn should be sufficient to knit a pair, though if your feet are wide and long, you might need a second. If you've got a wild self-striping or self-patterning skein in your stash, this is the pattern to use it for!

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Putting on the Glitz

I am so thrilled with this finished skein of handspun!

This is a HipStrings custom blend of merino, Tusssah silk, and Stellina called the Legend of Squee. I spun it into a traditional three ply, and I used pretty much every last bit of the singles -- when the first bobbin ran out, I wound off what was left on the bobbin with the most singles and plied from the inside and outside of the resulting ball as well as the other bobbin, and when the second bobbin ran out, I chain plied what was left in my hand. The finished skein is fingering weight and approximately 408 yards. I love how the yarn shimmers thanks to the multiple colors of Stellina (which is frustratingly difficult to capture with the camera), and while the colors definitely blended a great deal when spun, there's a lot of dimension to the color and an occasional small slub of silk for texture.

I cannot emphasize enough how wonderful this blended top was to spin. If I did not have several bins worth of fiber waiting to be spun, I would be ordering a ton of it. The fiber is extremely well prepped and drafts almost effortlessly. On top of that, there are so many wonderful fiber combinations and colors -- seriously, take a look (and I dare you not to drool).

I spun all the singles for this yarn on my Lendrum (using my WooLee Winder) and plied them on my Hansen miniSpinner. It was a fairly quick spin for me, which is not surprising given how pleasurable I found it to be. I'm a little sad that I'm done, to be honest. But now I'll get to knit with the yarn! I'll be pairing it with the cream Corriedale I spun last month for a new shawl design, once I do some swatching and figure out which of several options will work best for the stitch pattern I'm going to be using.

Now that the sparkly stuff is done, I am trying to get caught up on my FatCatKnits club shipments. I started with November's superwash BFL and silk, and I decided to spin two separate skeins of two ply for the two colorways included. I simply split the top roughly in half vertically and am spinning each half onto a bobbin. I think the end result will be colors that match up in some spots and barberpole in others.

I started with Twister, the pink/purple/black colorway, and I actually spun up the first bobbin last Sunday after I had finished the last bobbin of Squee singles -- it took me probably an hour or less. The second one was spun up Friday night, and I plied everything yesterday. It was clear when the skein was dry this morning that there was too much plying twist, so I wound it into a center-pull ball and ran it back through the wheel quickly.

The skein is now in for its second soak, but it was balanced coming off the niddy noddy, so I feel much better about it. And the singles for the other color in the shipment have been started!

Thursday, March 02, 2017

The Balancing Act

I will never understand (but always admire) the people who can work on only one project at a time, as at the moment I am struggling to juggle several and would like to start more. First, there's Rainbow's Dancing Leaves Cardigan, which is getting really close to being done (probably half a sleeve is left) thanks to the knitting time it's been getting during my lunch breaks.

I still need to sort out buttons for this sweater, and I might have to resort to ordering some online as I don't think I have enough -- I need 15 -- of the same ones in the right size in my giant bag of assorted buttons and my usual source, my former LYS, is no longer an option. The buttons I need are relatively small (the sweater is knit in fingering weight), and I'm pretty sure I want something with a shank. I can probably try another LYS, but the number I need is likely to be the complicating factor. If anyone knows a good source for buttons, please share!

I'm also working on my Quill sweater, though to be honest it hasn't seen much action this week. When I put it down last night before bed, I had about 3/4 of an inch of garter stitch to go before I could start the fun part, so I may get there this evening.

As if those two projects weren't enough, I cast on for a new pair of socks on Tuesday evening because I had two doctor's appointments (just annual checkups, not to worry!) yesterday morning and knew I'd have some time sitting in the waiting room. As luck would have it, I discovered that my friend Sara was hosting a knitalong for the sock pattern she's recently released, the Cape Cod Socks, which I'd also happened to have bought when I first saw it. I bought that hot pink yarn at IKS last weekend specifically to knit them, and so far, they're coming along quite well. The pattern is very intuitive, so I haven't really had to refer to the instructions after I got several rounds in and probably won't until I get to the heel.

Looking ahead to the weekend, it's going to be a busy one. As a birthday gift to myself (the big day is in a week), I bought myself an intensive learn to weave class at the Steel City Fiber Collective. It's a total of 10 hours over two days, so I have a feeling there won't be a lot of knitting or spinning this weekend, but it'll be worth it. I know I've said many times that I don't really need another fiber hobby, but I keep getting interested in weaving and I figured that by taking the class I'd know whether or not it was an interest worth pursuing. So we'll see what happens -- if I've learned anything from my initial interest in spinning, I've learned never to say never.

Hope you have some wonderful fibery things planned for your weekend!