Thursday, February 28, 2019

A Mad Dash

Well friends, we have made it to the end of February. Though some might say that spring doesn't officially arrive for a few weeks yet, I always look at March 1 as the unofficial start to the new season. Usually by the time we get to March, the worst of the winter weather is over and things are starting to bloom -- and of course the days are noticeably longer, which always makes me happy! We're supposed to get a small bit of snow overnight tonight (they're calling it "broom snow," meaning we'll only need to sweep it off rather than shovel it), but that is not stopping me from feeling excited about turning the page on the calendar.

Today's mission is all about finishing up the baby blanket so that I can block it before bed, giving it a full 24 hours to dry before I have to package it up and mail it out. I'm doing just a simple garter border, but even that is taking some time because of the sheer number of stitches on the needles at this point (I haven't counted recently, but it's probably approaching 300). I've brought it to work with me today so that I can get in a bit of extra time on it during my lunch break, and thankfully I also remembered to bring a lint roller with me as well -- it probably wasn't the best idea to wear black pants on a day when I'm working with a light yarn that sheds a lot!

I'm not sure how wide I will make the border, though I was thinking that five garter ridges would be a good size; it all depends on how much I get done in the time I have left because I'll need to leave some time to soak and pin it. I did end up joining in the fourth and final skein of yarn. It looks like I won't use it all, but it feels good to not be finishing this project with one odd skein remaining.

I've been reading this week, though perhaps not as much as I would like. I'm a little past the halfway point in Michelle Obama's book, and while I didn't want to start anything new while I wait for my next library hold to come through (I'm number 2 on the list at the moment), I couldn't resist Mary's recommendation of The Children Act. It was available from the library and Mary assured me that it was a quick read, so I took a chance, figuring that if the hold came through I could finish it up quickly. I only started yesterday and am already nearly halfway done, and I have to say that I am thoroughly enjoying it. If today is a quiet day, I might even get to finish it!

The weekend ahead looks fairly busy -- I've got plans to podcast, we're getting our taxes done, and we're getting together with family for lunch. Fortunately I can still knit during most of the activities, so perhaps my socks will get finished as well. I've decided that the next project to tackle is finishing my Floozy, so expect to see it more frequently starting next week!

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Motivation and Guilt

There are many ways to motivate me to finish up a project: the desire to wear it, a deadline, and even guilt. Those all seem to apply to my current WIPs.

I've finished the first of my Zigzagular Socks and am quite pleased with it.

I have modified the original pattern to work with a different stitch count and gauge, so really I'm only following the pattern for the traveling twisted stitch panel. I decided to do an Eye of Partridge heel to change things up a bit, too. The second sock is underway, and amazingly because I ended the toe of the first sock with the blue (you can see just about one round of it at the very tip of the toe, I was able to start the second sock the same way as the first, so my socks should match, more or less. I really love this colorway, and I'm really excited to wear these socks!

Meanwhile, under the category of "deadline," there's the baby blanket, which I need to ship out this weekend to get it there in time for the shower. That means I likely need to have it done by Thursday, at the latest, to have enough time to block it and have it dry completely. It's officially reached blob status at this point.

I've just started joining in my third skein of yarn (the remainder of the second is under that mess of yarn right next to it). I'm not sure if I'll get to the fourth and final skein at this point; I'm planning to add a fairly thick garter border to this, so really it's a question of how much I get done and how much time is left when I'm ready to start the border. I don't need this to be a huge blanket -- in this fiber content and with all the lace, this is likely going to be used this summer, when the baby is still fairly small, so it doesn't need to cover a queen-size bed or anything. I figure when I'm really to be done, I'll call it done.

Rainbow and I did make a quick trip over to Indie Knit and Spin on Saturday (other plans limited our availability), and most of my time there was spent shopping for my FibreShare partner. But I did make sure to pick up the sweater quantity of HipStrings Buoy DK I was seeking.

I selected Marine as my main color, and though I'd originally thought of using a burnt orange for my contrast, there wasn't any in the booth, so I picked Goldenrod as my second choice. I think it's a really stunning combination, and I'm quite happy with it. This pile is intended to become a Darkwater, which I desperately want to cast on right away. But before I could wind up a skein and start swatching, guilt set in. So I spent some of my Saturday evening working on an old, long-neglected WIP.

Remember my poor Floozy cardigan? I've been ignoring it for so long because after the excitement of the yoke, knitting the stockinette body just felt so dull. But I've suddenly felt a renewed desire to have this done to wear it, so I expect once I get the baby blanket off the needles it'll become my main evening project. It may not be exciting knitting, but it's knitting that's super easy to do while doing something else, so that should make it a really versatile project to be working on.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Feeling Periwinkle

I have another skein of handspun to share, fresh off the wheel! I've been a spinner on a mission the past two weeks or so, for no apparent reason, and I've taken advantage of the mojo to plow through a 4 oz. braid of fiber I inherited from a friend. This was a 50% merino/25% bamboo/25% tussah silk from Yarn Hollow in a colorway called Galaxy.

I didn't do anything fancy to manage the colors for this spin, just split the top into three roughly equal pieces. I spun each piece onto its own bobbin and did a traditional three ply. I used up every last inch of the singles I spun by, when the first bobbin ran out, winding off the singles from one of the remaining bobbins and plying from both ends as well as from the other bobbin and then, when the second bobbin ran out, chain plying the little bit remaining on the final bobbin.

It's extremely hard to get an accurate color representation of the finished skein (which obviously still had a lot of ply twist in it here -- it's soaking in the bath right now). Overall, it reads rather periwinkle, but if you look closely, you can see the different shades of blue and purple.

Final yardage will obviously be determined after the twist is set and the skein is dry, but I can already tell that this yarn will have amazing drape. With half of its fiber content being silk and bamboo, it's going to be shiny and have not too much memory, so it's going to be wonderful for a shawl or scarf.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

But It Doesn't Count as Stash

What a long week this has been! Work has been super busy (that'll teach me to take a day off, I guess), so I've been using my knitting as a sanity keeper in the evenings.

I spent Tuesday evening fixing the naughty sock cuff and it took longer than I expected. That thing they say about not being able to rip out knitting from the cast-on edge? It's totally true. It probably took me as much time to rip out the old yarn as it did to reknit. But it's done, and although the cuffs aren't a perfect match, it'll be hard to tell without looking at them really closely. With any luck, I've also learned my lesson and will make better notes and actually read them the next time I have two knit two of something.

I've been working on my other two WIPs regularly as well. My first Zigzagular Sock is now at the gusset decreases, and the baby blanket has gotten a bit bigger. My goal for the latter is to have it done in the next week or so, which would enable me to mail it off next weekend (the shower is the following weekend). I'm not planning to make it huge, so I think that's a reasonable goal.

Yesterday was a really gross weather day. We woke up to heavy snow fall that really made the morning commute messy, and it changed over to rain over the course of the day, so I walked home in slush. So it was very nice to come home to a box of yarn waiting for me.

Last week, a friend on Ravelry had kindly mentioned to me that Knit Picks was having a sale on its Felici yarn. It's not my favorite yarn ever, but Rainbow really likes the socks I've made her from it, and it's reasonably priced even when it's not on sale. So the two of us picked out a bunch of colorways and placed an order. A good amount of this yarn will become socks for her in due time. I've got my eye on the rainbow-y skeins at the top left, and I think the gray/brown/blue ones in the top middle would make good man gift socks. I'm not worrying about this order messing up my plans to knit down the stash too much -- after all, they say that sock yarn doesn't count as stash, right?

We have a fairly uneventful weekend coming up, but I'm really excited about tomorrow morning. Rainbow's class has been studying pioneer times and reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's books (something the school has been doing at least since I was there), and tomorrow is their Pioneer Living History Day. All day, they'll be acting as if they were living in pioneer times. They'll churn butter and cook pioneer-era food for lunch. They have to ask to use the outhouse or go to the well if they need to use the restroom or get a drink. And I get to go in for a bit in the morning to share a bit about wool, fiber prep, and spinning. If you've ever read Farmer Boy, you may remember that there are bits about sheep shearing as well as Almanzo's mother spinning and dyeing yarn and weaving it into cloth to make their clothing. So I will be taking in some fiber, handcards, spindles, and one of my wheels to demonstrate how fleece can become yarn and then clothing. It should be a lot of fun!

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

When Inattention Attacks

One of my goals for the long weekend was to finish up my last secret project so that it wasn't hanging over my head anymore. I was very focused and finished up Saturday afternoon. I even wrote up most of the pattern on Sunday. I was feeling all smug and proud of myself for being so productive -- and then last night I looked at the finished sample and saw something that somehow I hadn't noticed before.

See a problem? As the Prairie Girls would say, Son of a stitch! Apparently I was so confident when I started the second sock (yes, these are sock cuffs), I didn't bother to check what rib pattern I had used for the cuff of the first sock. So now I have one cuff in 2x2 rib and one in 1x1 twisted rib. That means that tonight I get to cut one cuff off and reknit it. They won't be a perfect match, but I can't very well leave them this mismatched. The irony is that when I was writing up the pattern, I couldn't remember which rib I'd used for the cuffs (I was typing in the kitchen while the sample was up in the bedroom), so I'd left that section blank for the time being until I could double check. It didn't even occur to me that the reason I couldn't remember which rib I'd used was that I'd used both!

Fortunately it looks like this one snafu is the only one among my WIPs. I've picked up my Zigzagular Socks as my lunch break knitting and should get to the heel today.

And I've started a new project! My college roommate (and maid of honor) is expecting a baby girl this spring, and unfortunately I'm unable to make it to her baby shower next month -- it turns out that while Pittsburgh may be a great place to live, it's highly inconvenient for trying to travel anywhere. I decided to knit something up to send to one of the shower organizers so that she can open it at her shower, and rather than shopping for yarn, I decided to do the virtuous thing and shop my stash. I was rewarded for my efforts with the discovery of four skeins of Blue Sky Alpacas Organic Cotton in a delicate pale green that I bought more than a decade ago. I pulled some large (for me) needles and the charts from Evelyn Clark's Shetland Triangle shawl and got to work.

I'm not following the shawl pattern per se, but I'm using the lace pattern to create a center-out square blanket. I'm not sure if I'll use all four skeins of the yarn, but I've just added in the second skein and am now alternating between it and the first (three of the four skeins were from one dyelot, but as I can't tell which is the odd one out, I'm alternating just to be safe). While this cotton is incredibly soft and fluffy, it's still a little hard on my hands, so I can't knit for too long on this project. But chunky lace on big needles goes quickly, and I imagine I'll have no trouble getting this blanket done in plenty of time to send it for the shower.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

The Weekend I Needed

When you work full time and have a family, sometimes you find that no matter how much you want to spend your weekends relaxing, you tend to cram all the things you have to do into them and they're over much too quickly. That's what most weekends are like for us -- there's the errands to run, cleaning and laundry to do, social engagements, religious school, and all the other stuff. So it's extra rejuvenating to get a weekend without all the usual to-do, as rare as it is.

Rainbow has an extra-long weekend this weekend, with school closed Friday and Monday for teacher in-service days. I decided to take a day off from work to stay home with her Friday, so I got to sleep in, have a second cup of coffee, and just generally lounge around. We left the house only once, to make a quick trip to the market to get ingredients for dinner (we had some family over), but for the most part, she did her thing and I did mine. Yesterday we went out for about an hour in the morning to help unload some Girl Scout cookies for her troop and then went out for a nice dinner to celebrate Valentine's Day a bit belatedly. Today we had a couple of errands to run, but for the most part, we're staying put. There have of course been the usual chores around the house, but I've been able to sleep in, read for pleasure, knit, and spin to my heart's content the past several days. It's something I wish I could do every weekend.

I started a new spinning project this past week, on Tuesday afternoon after getting my braces on and before it was time to pick Rainbow up from school. Among the many braids I received from my friend Colleen last year when she was downsizing was a beautifully shiny braid of merino/bamboo/silk from Yarn Hollow. On a whim, I decided to spin it up into a three-ply fingering, and I finished up the first bobbin yesterday afternoon.

The fiber is a mix of blue and two shades of purple, one tending more toward blue and one tending more toward red. I didn't manage the colors at all when I split the braid, so it will be interesting to see how they blend in the plied yarn.

Meanwhile, I decided to pull out my Zoom Loom and weave up a little square with some of the mini skeins I finished recently. It's been a while since I last used it, so I had to review the instructions pretty carefully, but it really didn't take much time at all to get back into the swing of it.

I've only finished this one square so far (using the Karakul mini skein), but I'm pretty happy with how it worked up. It's very scratch and rough, but it should work well as a coaster. I'm going to attempt to felt the squares to make them a little thicker and fuzzier, though I honestly don't know if these breeds will felt. At least I feel rather virtuous for using up some stash, however small.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Mental Knitting

I am still working on my secret knitting, but I'm in the home stretch and should be finished by the end of the weekend. It must be because this obligation knitting is preventing me from working on anything else that all I can think of is casting on something new. As it happens, one of my favorite local knitting events, Indie Knit and Spin, is coming up next weekend, so I'm already plotting my purchases.

One of the patterns on my Make 9 list is Jennifer Steingass's Darkwater.

The pattern specifies fingering weight yarn, but it's knit at a DK-weight gauge (22 sts/4 in.). So it seems that it might be a little flexible with regard to yarn weight.

One of my favorite sweaters in the Humulus that I knit in HipStrings Buoy DK (which really, if you ask me, is closer to a sport weight). It's a sweater that I wear as often as can -- I'm wearing it today, actually. It's warm but very light and comfortable. So I was thinking that I might make try to make this sweater in Buoy DK. Wouldn't this color combination be amazing? I'm already knitting it in my head.

Yes, I know you're going to tell me that I already have a sweater on the needles that I should probably finish -- but has that ever stopped you?

Tomorrow I'm taking the day off to hang out with Rainbow, who has no school, and I am planning a relaxing day with plenty of crafting. Here's hoping you have an equally relaxing weekend!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

A Throwback

Today I feel a bit like in a time warp and have gone back to middle school. Why? Here's what I spent my afternoon doing:

I originally had braces a number of years ago (we won't say how many), from seventh grade until ninth grade. My teeth are still fairly straight now, with the exception of one tooth on the bottom. That tooth has been the cause of three gum surgeries over the past several years -- my periodontist believes that because the tooth is sticking out a bit, it's stretching the gum tissue and causing it to recede. So we're hoping that getting that tooth aligned will fix the gum issue once and for all.

It's been a bit trippy to do this, not just because I feel like I'm a teenager again, but also because I went back to my old orthodontist to do the work. He has a big wall in his office that he used to have all his patients sign (I'm not sure if he still does it, as it's pretty much covered by now), and when I went in for my initial consultation, Rainbow in tow, I found my signature on the wall. I guess it's good to know that some things haven't changed!

But enough about teeth -- let's talk knitting! I am still working on secret project #2 and getting closer to finishing (my hope is that I'll be done by the end of this weekend). Last night I cast on a pair of socks for the Lots of Socks KAL, in part so I could take it with me to my appointment today. I'm knitting up the Zigzagular Socks by Susie White using a skein of Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce in the colorway Girl Seeks Rain (I picked up this skein at Needles Up Maryland last year).

The colors are brighter in real life; it's been raining all day.

I've had to modify the pattern just a bit: It's written for a gauge of 8 stitches per inch using a US 1/2.25 mm needle. But I'm using a US 0/2.0 mm and working at a gauge of 9 stitches per inch, so I was between stitch counts. Fortunately, it was easy enough to cast on a number between the two larger sizes and figure out how to place the twisted stitch panel. I'll likely do my own thing for the heel and toe, as my numbers won't match, but you shouldn't be able to tell when I'm done (unless you want to get really, really close to my feet to count my stitches). I'm really enjoying the pattern -- it's a nice break from plain stockinette, my usual MO for self-striping, and doesn't require too much thought. With as busy as things have been recently, and given that I've been under the weather with a rather annoying cough for more than two weeks, almost mindless perfectly fits the bill.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

At Least My Yarn Looks Like Spring

I don't set much store in a groundhog's weather forecasting skill. In fact, as I write this, it's snowing outside, so I think Phil's prediction of an early spring was a bit premature. But I'm feeling springlike with my spinning.

After finishing up my combo spin, all 12 oz. of it, I needed a bit of a palate cleanser. I wanted a quick, easy, mindless spin. I was already halfway through the bag of mini braids of BFL/silk from Fibernymph Dye Works last Sunday, and I finished the last two colors very soon thereafter. I had intended to ply each color back on itself for four mini skeins, so on Friday evening, I used my ball winder to make four center-pull balls and plied all four of them. They were washed yesterday and fully dry by this morning. And they're perfect.

The yellow and bright green at the top are probably a sport weight, on average, while the drab green and gray are probably closer to DK. They range from approximately 59 yards to 85 yards, for 290 yards from 121 grams overall. I might combine them all in one project or put them up in my FiberCrafty shop. Here they are twisted together -- they make me think of early daffodils:

As long as I was in a mini skein sort of mood, I decided to pull out the two really rough fiber minis from last year's Merry Month of Minis shipment and spin them up. These were much smaller amounts of fiber (each less than 10 g). As with the BFL/silk, I wound up center-pull balls and plied them back on themselves. They're still a bit wet, but I've got them resting on the radiator, so they should be dry by morning.

The darker skein on the left is Karakul and the lighter one on the right is Welsh. Both were very coarse and heavy on kemp, though I was able to spin them relatively fine (fingering weight, I'd say). I think I will likely weave them on my Zoom Loom and then try to felt the resulting squares to use as coasters, perhaps as a double thickness using one square of each fiber. At the very least, it'll be an interesting experiment, and I hate wasting fiber -- the dye job on these was pretty, even if they didn't feel great.

Thursday, February 07, 2019

Thoughts of Future Socks

As evidence of how crazy busy this week has been, this morning I woke up fully convinced that it was Wednesday. There is much to do and, it seems, not enough days to do it. But because of that, I am very much looking forward to the weekend.

I am still primarily working on a secret project, and I'm hoping that if I can really buckle down and concentrate on it over the next several days, I'll get it done, meaning I'll be able to move on to projects that I can actually share with you. First and foremost, I want to cast on my socks for the Lots of Socks KAL. I've had this skein of yarn sitting out for at least a month, just waiting for me to wind it up into a cake.

This is Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce in the colorway Girl Seeks Rain; I picked it up last year at Needles Up Maryland. I'm going to use it to knit the Zigzagular Socks, which I've wanted to knit for a long time, and this KAL is the perfect opportunity.

Incidentally, without giving too much away, if you haven't been checking in on the featured sale pattern for this KAL every day, I'll just put it out there that you might want to peek in tomorrow, February 8.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Down to Two on Tuesday

That's right, folks. I am down to only two WIPs. Last night I finished one of my secret projects, and over the weekend, I finished my Elodia Hat.

I'm very pleased with how it turned out. Both it and the secret project will be blocked tonight, and I'm hoping blocking will tidy up the lace panel. On my to-do list for the week is to write up the pattern for this so that I can get photos this weekend and get everything off to my tech editor. I'm hoping to release the pattern later this month, so there's no time to waste!

The WIPs that are still lingering are my Floozy (which, let's face it, isn't getting done anytime soon) and my other secret project, which I'll be trying to get done as soon as possible. I'll likely be casting on a new project or two soon. I pulled some worsted weight skeins for a couple of charity hats, and I also want to start a new pair of socks for the Lots of Socks KAL.

I finished another book last week while working on the above hat. I finally got Where the Crawdads Sing from the library, and I have to say that I was a little underwhelmed. I'd call it a good beach read -- entertaining but not fine literature. I enjoyed the story, but I didn't love the ending. I gave it three stars. Now I'm back to Michelle Obama's Becoming, which is slower going because it's a physical book that I'm only reading before bed. But I'm enjoying it immensely!

Sunday, February 03, 2019

A Perfect Combination

My combo spin is officially done, and I couldn't be more pleased.

My second skein ended up slightly plumper than my first, measuring in at almost 100 yards less. But I think it should work out fine for the pattern I've been spinning for, Tegna. I can use the thicker yarn on the top of the garment, which will hold the weight of the top, and the thinner yarn at the bottom. The difference isn't really even apparent unless you look closely.

Overall, I ended up with approximately 1,005 yards, which should be more than enough for my Tegna, and used up 12 oz. of fiber from my stash (we'll ignore, for now, the fact that I bought the braids for this project). More importantly, though, this project has me looking at my fiber stash in a whole new way. I have so many 4 oz. braids of pretty fiber that aren't really enough for much other than small accessories if spun up on their own. But there are plenty that I could combine in another combo spin for a large project. I think it's fair to say that this is only the first of what could be many combo spins!

After spinning 12 oz. of the same fiber, I decided to change things up a bit in the next thing on my wheel. I pulled out a bag of BFL/silk from Fibernymph Dye Works that I won as a knitalong prize last year. It was from one of Lisa's fiber clubs from a number of years ago and had small braids (I'm assuming 1 oz. each) of four colors. I decided to do a quick-and-dirty spin of each color and have gotten singles of two of the four colors spun already.

The name of this set is Emergence, and it definitely makes me think of daffodils blooming in early spring. I'm spinning each color on its own and am going to ply each back on itself for four mini skeins. Given how quickly these two bobbins have spun up, I wouldn't be surprised if I have finished skeins by this time next week!