Thursday, November 30, 2017

Feeling Stripey

My projects this week have been all about the stripes.

I haven't touched my Flower Market Shawl since you last saw it, though I'm hoping to put in some serious time on it this weekend. Instead, I've been focusing on my Plummy Mitts for my evening knitting and Rainbow's Vanilla Is the New Black socks for lunchtime knitting.

I finished up the first of my mitts last night and it fits perfectly!

The colors are a bit brighter when there's actual daylight

I'm hoping that the yarn blooms a little more when I block these, because there were definitely a few spots where it was a bit on the thin side and the fabric is a bit see-through. I've already gotten started on the second mitt, and I anticipate having a finished pair by next week.

Meanwhile, I have finished up the heel and moved onto the foot of Rainbow's socks, and they are continuing to delight me with their colors.

I'm a tad bit concerned that these might be a bit big on her (because I tried them on and they fit me, albeit tightly), so I may go down to the smallest size for the next pair. The heel was fun to knit on these, and I'll be interested to hear how she likes it as compared to the heels she's experienced with the previous socks I've knit her. Sizing concerns aside, the pattern is easy and a lot of fun, and I'm really enjoying the yarn. It's been a while since I last knit with Felici, and I swear it's gotten softer. I'm not sure how that will translate into wearing well, but at least with Rainbow she's more likely to outgrow her socks before she wears them out.

The weekend ahead looks relatively calm, so I plan on filling it up with lots of knitting and spinning time. December has really snuck up on me and there's less time than I thought I had to get things done, so I'm going to need all the time I can get!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Giftalong Fever

Remember the last couple of weeks, when I was decrying the fact that I was feeling totally unenthusiastic about my knitting and wondering where my mojo had gone? I'm happy to report the feeling has completely left me and I am completely enthused by my current projects thanks to the Indie Design Giftalong. I've got three projects on the needles that I'm actively working on, and I'm enamored with them all.

First up is the only real gift that I'm knitting, and that's a pair of Vanilla Is the New Black socks for Rainbow. These are being knit in a lovely, bright colorway of Knit Picks Felici called Hopscotch.

I'm nearly halfway done with the first sock (if you consider the heel the halfway point), but these should move along very quickly given that the heel is the only part where I really need to pay attention. I started these over the weekend but didn't get too far, as I could only work on them when Rainbow wasn't around -- I really want these to be a surprise! These will be one of her Chanukah presents, and for now they're my designated lunchtime knitting.

The other two projects are both for me. One is the Flower Market Shawl, a pattern I bought last year and that has been patiently waiting for me to find the perfect yarn for it. I realized that the faded skein of yarn I spun a couple of months ago had just the right amount of yardage and would look really great in this pattern, so I didn't waste much time in winding the skein and casting on right after the GAL officially kicked off.

I'm in the middle of my fourth (of eight) repeats of this motif, and the rows are just starting to get long enough that I notice they take me a little while.

The other project is, coincidentally, also being worked in handspun and using a pattern I bought previously. It is a set of Plummy Mitts that I'm knitting up in the skein of Gwen Erin Targhee I finished earlier this month and couldn't bear not to keep for myself. I think it was a smart move, because I really love how the first mitt is knitting up.

I'm part of the way into the thumb gusset, and I think if I can get in a decent amount of time on the first mitt tonight, I should be close to finishing it up (if not actually finishing it). My plan is to use these mitts at the office to keep my hands and wrists warm; despite the fact that there was extensive work done in the building last year to make the HVAC system more efficient, I am still always cold because the air conditioning comes on pretty much every day and the heat never seems to. Fingerless mitts should make a bit difference while still keeping my fingers free to write and type.

If I happen to be really productive and finish up all these projects with time still left in the GAL, I'll be casting on another pair of socks for Rainbow as well as a baby sweater for a baby that is due very, very soon (I totally dropped the ball on that one, but at least a baby sweater is a quick knit). One thing at a time, though -- I'm determined to keep this GAL all about enjoying myself and not overdoing it.

If you still haven't taken advantage of the big GAL pattern sale, here's your reminder that it ends at 11:59 EST tonight! You can find my bundle of sale patterns here. You don't have to buy new patterns to participate in the fun, though -- if you already have patterns by participating designers in your library, you can use those! I'd really encourage you to come join the Ravelry GAL group and have fun chatting and playing the games. It may seem a little intimidating because it's a big group and the chat moves quickly, but you can jump in anywhere you like!

Sunday, November 26, 2017


Usually Thanksgiving is a relaxing holiday for me, but with us hosting this year, it turned into an exhausting one. Don't get me wrong, it was a lot of fun and we'll happily do it again last year, but I didn't get as much time to craft as I have in years past, and what crafting time I did have was primarily when I didn't have a lot of mental energy left. Fortunately, spinning is perfect for those times, so I've been spinning a fair bit over the past few days.

My main project has been my sweater spin. The first skein was finished and washed last weekend and is just beautiful.

It's so hard to capture all the subtle shades in this yarn (6 oz. of HipStrings Buoy in Mussels). The yarn definitely fluffed up a bit in the finishing, so my final yardage was a lot less than I was expecting or hoping for -- only 350 yards. I blame the poofing and the BFL content; my yardage always seems to be on the low side when I spin BFL.

I'm already well on my way on the second skein, which is 4 oz. of Bay, the darker blue color. One bobbin is done and I'd estimate I'm halfway done with the second.

As lovely as this fiber blend is to spin, I do have a lot of it, so to give me a bit of a break, I've started another project (and this one shouldn't mess me up, because I'm spinning my singles to the same thickness). A while back, Lisa of Fibernymph Dye Works was offering an Advent calendar of sorts in either yarn minis, fiber minis, or a mix of both. While I don't celebrate Christmas (and thus don't observe Advent), I thought the fiber option would be a fun little side project. It arrived a couple of weeks ago, and I have to give Lisa high marks for presentation. The minis arrived in a box that was wrapped in wrapping paper, and this is what I found when I opened the box:

I can't even begin to imagine how much time Lisa spent wrapping up each little bit of fiber, but it's so nice to have all those little presents to unwrap! I started spinning on Friday and did two bundles that day and two yesterday (and I'll try to fit in two today). So far, this is what I've spun:

BFL in Dragonfly

Polwarth/silk in Northern Lights
Falkland in Krasi (bottom) and BFL in Color Pops - Pink/Purple (top)
I'm spinning these little bits of fiber, which so far have ranged from 7 to 10 g, in the order in which they're opened onto the same bobbin. When the bobbin is full, I'll chain ply all the singles. The resulting yarn will be a bit crazy, but I kind of like it.

If you haven't had enough photos for today, I'll share one more. Yesterday morning, Rainbow and I drove out to the HipStrings studio for their Small Business Saturday event. Because I got such low yardage on my first Buoy skein, I decided to pick up one more braid of each of the three colors as an extra bit of insurance, and we picked up a few more things from her sale bins while we were there as well.

In the back (left to right) is some superwash Targhee that Rainbow picked out for me to spin and knit into socks for her, some cotton (yes, I may be crazy) to attempt to spin on my wheel, two skeins of sock yarn that I'm going to use for a baby gift, and some Polwarth/silk. Clearly I have a lot of fun spinning time ahead of me!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Giving Thanks

It's Thanksgiving Day here in the United States, and for the first time, my family is hosting dinner. There's been a great deal of cooking and cleaning going on in our house all week, and I am more than ready to sit back and enjoy all the yummy food and the good company.

The guests will start arriving soon, but I wanted to pop up a quick note to say how thankful I am for all of you, dear readers. When I started this little old blog a dozen years ago, it was really just a way to get thoughts out and track my crafting. It's so rewarding to know that, rather than just throwing stuff out into the ether, there are people out there reading and commenting. I am especially thankful to those of you who have bought patterns from me in the past year -- you're helping to fun Rainbow's college education a pattern at a time!

For those of you who are celebrating with family and friends today, I hope you have a wonderful, relaxing time and a delicious meal. For everyone else, I hope you have a great rest of your week and an enjoyable weekend.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

It's just about that time again -- Indie Design Gift-a-long time!

Just what is the Gift-a-long (or GAL, for short)? It's a giant celebration of holiday gift crafting shining a spotlight on independent designers. For roughly five weeks, knitters and crocheters will be crafting along together on Ravelry while they also chat and play fun games. The whole thing kicks off with a giant pattern sale: All participating designers have created a bundle of 10-20 patterns that will be 25% off for the first week of the GAL. All patterns by participating designers are eligible for the KAL/CALs, and all paid patterns are eligible to win prizes (which include download codes for free patterns as well as some pretty amazing physical prizes).

I am participating in the event again this year as both a designer and a moderator. I'm also planning on knitting some things myself, and I'll admit I'm being totally selfish and knitting only for me this year. I've already got my yarn wound up and ready to be cast on:

These skeins are both handspun, and I'm very excited to be knitting them.

If you'd like to find out more about the GAL, go check out the Ravelry group (and don't be intimidated by the size of the threads there -- just jump in anywhere you like!). You can find my bundle of sale patterns here. Hope to see you on the GAL board!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Taking Care of (Spinning) Business

While my knitting mojo has been waning, my spinning mojo is alive and well. I spent more than a few hours at my wheel this weekend and made good progress on my sweater spin. The first skein is officially done, though it still needs to be skeined and washed (and that's on tap for this evening).

HipStrings Buoy in Mussels

I snapped this (mediocre) photo before I was finished plying but as soon as I realized the light was very quickly fading. This skein is likely going to be one of the largest of the whole project, at 6 oz. I realized I'd made a little error in my mental planning in how I'd split up all the fiber, so most of the remaining skeins will be 4 oz. each. Given that I finished this skein in about a week, that bodes well for finishing up the remaining skeins in a timely manner.

I finished up the final bobbin of singles for this skein last night and found myself with some time left to spin, so I decided to add on to my leftovers bobbin.

This bobbin is where I add on my leftover singles when I've finished plying a skein and have some singles still remaining on a bobbin. When the bobbin is full, I'll chain ply everything that's on it. I didn't have any singles to add, but I did have some some small fiber samples I'd accumulated, so I decided to spin those onto this bobbin. The dark multicolored singles at the far end of the bobbin were spun from a sample of Hill District from HipStrings. The hot pink was a leftover puni from Gourmet Stash that I spun several years ago. The green at the bobbin is mystery fiber, and the dark blue in the middle is Falkland from Yarn Hollow. There's still some room left on this bobbin, so I'll continue to add to it. To be honest, I've been adding to this one so long that I have no recollection what's underneath, so it will be a fun surprise to finally ply!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Plenty of Sock Mojo

While my enthusiasm for other projects seems to have waned, I have had no problems lately getting socks knit up. I finished up my "sportsball" socks Tuesday night, and they're just about perfectly matching.

Pattern: my basic stockinette recipe worked over 70 stitches
Yarn: Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce (80% superwash merino/20% nylon) in Elvis Has Left the Building, 0.86 skeins
Needles: US 0 (2.0 mm) Addi Sock Rockets, magic loop
Started/Completed: October 29/November 14

Despite starting these socks in the exact same spot in the stripe sequence and working what I thought was the same number of rounds, they're every so slightly different -- but you can only tell by looking at the very tips of the toes. The first sock had about one more round of black than the second, even though I worked an extra half round on the toe of the second after I completed the toe decreases to try to cheat it. The good news is that I'm likely to be the only person who notices this minor discrepancy, so I'm not sweating it. I do love how these turned out otherwise, and they'll be excellent for any sports-related occasion when I want to wear my black and gold.

I almost immediately cast on a new pair of socks, this time for Rainbow, who has become quite the fan (she was a bit miffed the other day when both pairs of her hand-knit socks were waiting to be washed). I won this skein of Austermann Step from Lisa of Fibernymph Dye Works as part of a yearlong KAL going on in her podcast group, and she was nice enough to hand deliver it to me at Indie Knit and Spin this past Saturday. I'm not doing anything special with these, but I think I may use a standard heel flap and gusset instead of the Fish Lips Kiss Heel I've been doing on her socks. I'm enjoying the colors, which remind me very much of fall leaves, and the yarn might even be helping with the insanely dry skin I'm now dealing with on my hands now that the weather has gotten cold.

The colors are a little more vibrant when it's not a super gloomy day.

Speaking of FDW, if you were hoping to get a kit for my Xenolith hat but weren't able to make it IKS last weekend, Lisa will have some kits up in the shop in her update tomorrow. The gray main color/gradient mini skein kits all sold out at the show, but she still has some blue main color/brights mini skein kits left, and she's told me that she's planning to dye up some more of the gradient kits soon. You can find the listing for the kits here. She's also got some other kits for my patterns in her shop as well, in addition to lots of pretty yarn, so take a look around while you're there!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


When I started the week yesterday, I looked at the calendar and marveled at the fact that we are nearly halfway done with November and Thanksgiving is already next week. Where on earth is this year going? I feel like I still haven't fully gotten a grip on 2017 (though I suspect that's because it's been a very weird year in general) and there isn't much left of it. Perhaps that's why I'm feeling so scattered about my current WIPs and not feeling a strong urge to focus on any particular one.

There's my Wonder Woman Wrap, which I did give some attention to this past weekend, and as a result I'm now on the last pink stripe. It's hard to see what's going on here with the work all bunched up on the needle (hence the lack of photo here), but I think it will look great once it's done and blocked out. I'm happy with how the two colors are playing together, but I will say that I am not at all looking forward to weaving in all those ends.

I've also been working on my giant crochet bag, and I'm nearly finished with the third color, some leftover Cascade 220 from a sweater I knit Rainbow a couple years ago.

Sarah left a very helpful comment the last time I posted about this project that the Jo-Ann Sensations Tesoro I'd been planning to use might be superwash. Though the label says to hand wash, which would imply that it is not superwash, I'll be testing a bit of it to see if it will felt before I use it in this project. I have plenty of feltable scraps that can be used in this bag, so I won't stress if this one ball doesn't make it in. If it is, in fact, superwash, it would be great to use for a charity project!

The only project I'm working on that has been seeing real, measurable progress has been my socks, which will soon be done -- I'm cruising down the foot of the second sock. Should be able to finish that one up tonight!

While I've been less than enthusiastic about my projects, I have been pretty happy about some additions to the stash. I didn't get much of an opportunity to shop at Indie Knit and Spin on Saturday because I couldn't really leave Rainbow to man the booth on her own for more than the time it took for me to run to the bathroom, but there were some other amazing vendors in the room I was in, and I did bring a couple of things home with me.

The macaron bag (with an adorable matching mini pouch) is from SteelCityStitcher, and I actually spotted it while we were setting up and bought it before the show officially opened. I didn't really need another project bag, but it was too cute to resist. The yarn is a skein of Vesper Sock from Knitterly Things in a colorway called Poetry in Motion. Julia was set up next to me at the show, and I was staring at her beautiful colors all day. I've never actually knit with Vesper Sock before, though I remember when it was a big thing in the early days of self-striping sock, so I decided to treat myself.

The best part of the show, though, was probably getting to meet Kat in person. We've been friends online for a while but, despite the fact that we live relatively close to one another, we hadn't before managed to meet in real life. She is just as lovely in person as she is on her blog, and we're hoping to schedule a day to spin together soon.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Spinning in My Happy Place

It has been a spinning-filled weekend here. Yesterday I was vending at Indie Knit and Spin, and as a way to both multitask and draw some people into the booth, I took my Lendrum with me so I could spin while I was sitting there. I decided it was the perfect opportunity to start a sweater spin, so I split up some of the HipStrings Buoy I bought at our Spinzilla spin-in and took it along. I'm spinning a traditional three-ply fingering weight for this project and the first skein (the darkest) will be spun from 6 oz. of fiber. I spun up the entirety of the first bobbin -- meaning 2 oz. of fiber -- in the time I was sitting there yesterday.

Ignore the hat underneath -- that was just to keep the bobbin from rolling
This colorway is called Mussels, and while it's a bit hard to see it in the photo, it's a beautiful blend of purple, blue, black, and brown. The singles have a wonderfully tweedy look to them, and the spinning experience itself is delightful. This particular fiber blend -- BFL, Shetland, and Manx Loaghtan -- has a really interesting feel to it. There's the silkiness of the BFL but a real toothiness from the Shetland and the Manx. Of course, like all HipStrings fiber, it is perfectly prepped and extremely easy to draft, and I'm definitely in my comfort zone with these singles, as they're really my default weight. The spinning is going quickly, too. I started on the second bobbin before the show was over and have just about an arm's length of fiber still to spin before it's finished as well.

In addition to that great start, I finished up another skein that was in progress. I finally finished up the Targhee singles I had been spinning for about two weeks on Friday night, and I plied them up last night and this morning. Here's the skein before it got a good soak:

I'll share some final pictures when it's dry, but I'm very pleased with it even fresh off the wheel.

Meanwhile, though I have been good about getting some fiber out of the stash, I've also had some new fiber come into it this past week.

This is the October shipment of the Southern Cross Fibre club, a colorway called Dot. I got the classic club, which this month was on Bond -- one of my favorites. I braided up the fiber to see how the colors will mix together and I really like them. This reminds me a lot of some of the colors the leaves are changing this time of year, so it feels appropriate for an October shipment. I'm not sure that I'll be spinning this up right away (I'm tempted to, but I think I should focus on my sweater spin for now), but I've certainly been giving it some good squeezes.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Pattern Debut: Xenolith

Today I've got something a little different for you. Normally when I release a new pattern and blog about it, it's available for you to buy or download right away. Today, however, is more of a teaser, because while you can't get the pattern just yet, you will be able to get the pattern soon.

This one is another collaboration with my very talented friend Lisa of Fibernymph Dye Works. I had the idea for this hat much earlier this year, but with everything the two of us have had going on this year, it's taken until now to finally make it a reality. The idea was simple: a slouchy hat with some colorwork employing some mini skeins. The execution proved to be a bit more difficult, as we had to decide on colors for two very different looks. I'm very pleased with the result, however, and I'm excited to introduce you to Xenolith.

A xenolith is a fragment of a rock that is included in another rock. I thought it was an apt name for the colorwork motif I designed, in which each color becomes part of the pattern when the next color is introduced.

The first version Lisa and I put together uses her Silver Gray as the main color and a set of mini skeins in a gradient version of her Peacock Blue colorway for the contrast colors. At first I was using the mini skeins in the gradient order, but it soon became apparent that there was not sufficient contrast between them, so I ripped back and started over. The contrast is subtle in some spots, but this works much better.

The second version is much brighter and more colorful. While we debated back and forth about the main color, I ultimately went with Lisa's Flash Freeze (Light), a very cheerful sky blue. The contrast colors you see here are (bottom to top) Sakura Pink, Electric Blue, Blazing Orange, Neon Green, and Rhodochrosite.

The pattern is graded to four sizes -- Toddler (Child, Teen/Adult Small, Adult Large), to fit a head circumference of 18 (20, 22, 24) in./46 (51, 56, 61) cm -- and uses half a skein of Lisa's sport weight Traveler base plus a set of five mini skeins.

For the first three months of publication, this pattern will be available exclusively as part of a kit from Fibernymph Dye Works. We'll be debuting the kits at Indie Knit and Spin this coming Saturday (yet another good reason to come if you're local other than to squish my handspun!), and they'll be available in the FDW online shop after that. After the exclusivity period ends, the pattern will be available in my Ravelry shop -- but I'd definitely encourage you to get your hands on a kit if you can, because Lisa's yarn is amazing!

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Hooked, Quite Literally

Last week I mentioned that I was feeling a little bit of a loss of my knitting mojo. I'm still feeling a bit like that, though I did spend some time since then working on my Wonder Woman Wrap, and it's grown a bit since you last saw it. I am nearly finished with the second middle stripe (which involves short rows) and have added quite a few ends that will need to be woven in at some point.

I'm also still making good progress on my "sportsball" socks; the first one got finished today.

Over the weekend, however, when I was not spending time at my wheel, I was doing something rather surprising, if you know me. I was crocheting. Yes, I'm serious! I've long wanted to use up a bunch of worsted weight wool scraps in my stash to make a huge felted tote bag that I can use to toss WIPs in, and this weekend I finally decided to do it. I found a bunch of full or partial skeins of feltable wool in one of my stash bins, pulled out a big hook, and got to it. I'm hooking this from the base up, and I'm totally winging the pattern, so don't ask me what I did to get it to this point.

This dark brown was a lone skein of Ella Rae Classic that my Ravelry stash page tells me I bought back in 2008. I originally had four skeins, though I have no idea what happened to the other three. My plan is to continue with the base until this skein runs out and then stop increasing at the ends when I join in the next color. The other scraps I've pulled are mostly partial skeins of the now-discontinued Patons Classic Wool Merino as well as a lone ball of Jo-Ann Sensations Tesoro leftover from a Baby Surprise Jacket I knit for my cousin when he was born (he's now 10 years old), all of which were purchased a decade ago. I know I still have plenty of wool scraps left in the stash, and I'm sure I'll be digging them out once I get through this little pile.

I am enjoying the crocheting, something I'm not very good at but that goes very quickly, though due to my lack of practice I find that I have to look at what I'm doing, which doesn't make for a good activity when I'm watching TV at the same time and want to see what's happening on the screen. I'm feeling very virtuous for how much yarn I'm using up and removing from the stash as well. I've never been able to throw away leftover yarn when I complete a project if there's a decent amount remaining, so my stash is full of partial balls and scraps, many of them very well suited to a project like this. While I doubt that knitting will ever be replaced as my first love, I can see how I could very easily get addicted to this type of project!

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Savoring the Spin

I spent last week mostly working on (nearly) instant-gratification spins -- basically yarns that are thicker than my default. I finished up the second of those on Friday night, some dyed Corriedale from the Ross Farm that had been marinating in my stash for about a year.

Photo gloom brought to you by an unexpected thunderstorm
I actually finished plying this skein on Friday night and skeined and washed it yesterday morning, but it still had a bit too much plying twist in it after it was dry. This morning, I wound it into a center-pull ball and then ran it quickly back through my wheel to remove a bit of that excess twist. I skeined and soaked it again, and it's now hanging to dry in my shower.

In the meantime, I have returned to my usual ways with the project that's on my Lendrum in the form of singles for a three-ply fingering weight. The fiber is Targhee (one of my favorites) from Gwen Erin Natural Fibers that I bought at Indie Knit and Spin last year. I'm a bit more than halfway done, I think.

I had originally intended to spin this for my booth at Indie Knit and Spin next week, but I'm enjoying it so much, I might just have to keep it for myself!

Before I let you go, here's your reminder that if you're a fan of my handspun, you can come squish it in person and take some of it home with you next Saturday! Indie Knit and Spin will be held at the Wilkins School Community Building in the Regent Square neighborhood of Pittsburgh next Saturday, November 11, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. There's no entrance fee, and there's a fantastic lineup of vendors. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Have You Seen My Mojo?

I'm not sure why, but I haven't seemed to have had any strong desire to knit this past week. I've been doing a lot of spinning, but my knitting has been limited to very simple, mindless things. Case in point: Last night I finished a dishcloth.

I decided to use up scraps and partial skeins of kitchen cotton to make some Ballband Dishcloths, and this is the latest one. I've been knitting it in fits and starts since sometime last month, mainly while listening to Rainbow read on the nights I put her to bed. Last night I decided to take some time to finish it, which really didn't take long. I even cast on a new one so that I'll continue to have an on-the-go project (and continue to use up leftovers). I'm not really feeling a huge need for a stash of dishcloths right now, but at the moment, they feel like the perfect project for my tired brain.

I'm still knitting my socks, of course, during my lunch breaks at work, and I'm about halfway done with the first sock (just finished the heel flap and I'm ready to turn the heel).

I do want to get back to my Wonder Woman Wrap, and I did nearly pull it out last night, but I felt like I just wasn't in the right head space to follow a pattern. I think I'll likely get back to it this weekend, and perhaps then I'll get excited about a project again and my mojo will return -- which likely means I'll want to cast on a bunch of new projects that will once again distract me from my WIPs!