Thursday, February 27, 2020

Three on Thursday, Times Two

Today I'm joining Carole and friends to talk about three things, this time in two areas of my life.

First, the knitting. I have three knitting WIPs in rotation at the moment (I have fourth project in progress, but it's my crochet granny square and I'm ignoring it at present). The one getting the most attention right now is my Darkwater, which now has a completed body and most of one sleeve -- just two more sets of decreases to go!

Because my row gauge was off compared to the pattern -- I have more rows per inch despite using a thicker yarn than called for -- I did recalculate the rate of decreases for the sleeves so that I wouldn't wind up with ape arms. I've been trying the sleeve on as I go, and the fit is good, with just enough positive ease. Sometimes I'm a little surprised when things like this work out, but I really shouldn't be given that I'm doing math and not just making it up as I go along. I am hoping that I can get enough knitting time in this weekend to maybe get through the second sleeve.

The other active WIP is my Louisette Socks, which should be finished today! I have about half a pattern repeat and a cuff to go on the second sock, and if I don't get through that during my lunch break today, I should have no issue finishing up this evening. In comparing the second sock to the first to check my length, though, I discovered a rather unfortunate error in the first sock. Can you see it

How about now?

Where that red box is on the sock on the left shows you where I somehow skipped two rounds of the pattern right at the bend of my ankle. Oops. I'm not ripping this out to fix it, and I doubt anyone but me will even notice, but I might eliminate two rounds on the second sock to make them the same length. After all, I've regularly worn a pair of socks in which one sock is an entire pattern repeat shorter than the other and it took me at least a couple of years to realize that it wasn't just a matter of gauge.

The last WIP is my Brackthaw mittens (or, rather, mitten), which has not gotten any attention since I last shared it with you. Once the socks are done, I'll be taking the mittens to work for my lunchtime knitting to ensure that they see some progress. When I cast them on, meeting the KAL deadline seemed like no problem, but suddenly late March is a lot sooner than it used to be!

Now, onto reading!

Earlier in the week, I finished The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, which I was lucky enough to get a "skip the line" loan on from my local library. I did enjoy this book, and I especially appreciated that it taught me about two things: the Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project and the Blue Fugates of Kentucky. I ultimately gave the book 3 out of 5 stars because while I liked it, I was a little disappointed that some of the issues of race weren't handled better and I felt that the ending was wrapped up a little too neatly to be realistic. The author also took some liberties with historical record, though she is very up front about in her author's note. Mary has alerted to me to the fact that there's apparently a bit of controversy about this book and a strikingly similar novel published by a more well-known author, so now I'm tempted to read the other and form my own opinion.

I am a little more than 70% through the sixth book in Louise Penny's Inspector Gamache series, Bury Your Dead. After (e)reading the very first book, I've consumed the following four via audiobook, all read by the late Ralph Cosham. He's an excellent reader, but I found that I missed seeing things on the page, particularly French Canadian names whose spellings I can't always predict from hearing them. What I'm finding really interesting as I read this book is that it seems to be very much written in order to be read aloud, almost as if Penny intended it to be an audiobook. There are quite a lot of sentence fragments used for emphasis. The editor in me is also cringing quite a bit about commas that are either missing or misplaced, but when reading an ebook I never quite know what was actually written and what was an error caused by the conversion process. I hope the finish the book today.

Up next for me is Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland, a rare hardback physical book for me (thanks to a hand-me-down from my father). I heard about this book and put it on my want to read list a while back, and my interest grew after reading Milkman last year. This is a nonfiction work about The Troubles in Northern Ireland, so I'm sure it's going to be rather dark and difficult to read. I will likely have to read or listen to something else that's more fluffy and lighthearted at the same time so I don't get too depressed.

That's all for me until later in the weekend! I hope you'll share what you're knitting and reading in the comments!

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

One Little Word: February 2020

It's hard to believe that it's already the last week of February! This month always goes by quickly for me, but this year it seems especially speedy. I suppose that's because it's been a busy month -- lots of meetings, appointments, and days off to mess with the usual schedule. Throughout this month, however, I've really been making an effort to focus on my word for the year, savor, and today I'm linking up with Honoré and friends to look back at my word over the last month.

Much of the way the word is manifesting itself in my life has to do with being present in the moment and noticing what is happening or how I am feeling in that moment. There doesn't necessarily have to be anything profound in that moment; I think I mentioned last month that one noticeable way I'm savoring is to focus on my first sip of coffee in the morning rather than drinking it while multitasking, as I am apt to do. Rather it's about the pause and the mindfulness and how they allow me to savor the moment.

Part of the reason I selected this word was because I've had some very sad reminders in the past year that life is short and unpredictable. I can do everything right -- eat well, exercise, get enough sleep, etc. -- and bad things can still happen, so I want to be sure to enjoy every minute of my life that I can. Life is busy, of course, and as a working mother, I'm frequently juggling my many responsibilities, so it's taking some time to adjust to the realization that I might not have to get everything done and, more importantly, I don't always have to get everything done (or at least not get it all done quickly). My first priority will always be my family, and they have to come first, even to the detriment of doing things I love, like knitting and reading. Last night I spent time I would have preferred to have spent knitting instead untangling and rewinding two skeins of yarn that Rainbow brought home from school so she could use them for her after-school finger knitting class. It could have been a frustrating experience, but instead I chose to focus on how nice the yarn felt in my hands and how thankful she was that I spent this time detangling so she didn't have to do it. She was so excited to see the skeins caked up that the time was really worth it.

As we head toward spring, I've also been savoring the signs in nature that it's coming. I can see the spring flowers along our driveway starting to poke up leaves and the rose bushes shooting out new branches. I always love this time of year, even though I will complain about winter not letting up its grip, because I always find it a bit of a miracle that nature manages to come through year after year despite the abuses we throw at it.

I've noticed a change in my approach to my knitting projects as well. Whereas before I've always seemed to be in a hurry to finish projects almost as soon as I've started them, I seem to have gotten more comfortable with having them in progress. I've really been enjoying working on my Darkwater, and as of today, the body is finished and the first sleeve has been started.

I really love working with this yarn, and the finished fabric just gets better and better the more it's worn and washed, so I'm really looking forward to having the finished sweater but thoroughly enjoying the journey to get there.

Likewise, I'm savoring my handspun socks, which are now about 75% complete.

I've got the pattern memorized at this point, which means that I can take a step back from my focus on the stitch pattern to appreciate the whole experience of knitting with my handspun, something that's always a pleasure.

Now I'm off to see how everyone else has been living with their word for 2020!

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Pretty as a Peacock

One of the reasons I stay in the Southern Cross Fibre club and continue to receive a shipment of spinning fiber every month despite an already well-stocked fiber stash is that David has a real talent with color. He can do bright, he can do subtle, and he can do everything in between. Some months back he asked club members to post some inspiration photos for upcoming shipments. For November 2019, David selected this photo:

As usual, he did a stellar job at dyeing. I started spinning Friday night; this afternoon, I'd already completed one bobbin (shown here with the second half of the fiber).

The fiber is South African superfine -- basically the softest, most luscious wool you can imagine. All I did to the fiber before I started spinning was to split it in half lengthwise, and I'm spinning up both halves starting with the same end. My hope is that I'll get some spots in the finished yarn where the colors match up and some where they don't.

These colors, though, are just amazing me. There are some spots where they actually seem to be glowing. I especially love seeing one color peeking through on the bobbin:

I certainly hope this is a finished skein by this time next week -- frankly I might just wrap it around my neck and call it done!

Friday, February 21, 2020

The Short Weeks Are the Longest

Why does it seem that the weeks that are a day shorter than usual seem to stretch out to last longer than the usual five days? That's certainly been the case this week. It hasn't been particularly crazy; the week has just seemed to crawl by. But today the sun is shining (even if is only about 16F outside at the moment), and we're supposed to have two sunny, milder days this weekend, so I guess I really shouldn't complain.

I have gotten a lot of sweater knitting done this week -- take a look at this:

It's a bit hard to see -- while it's getting light earlier in the day, it's still not that bright -- but I've started the ribbing at the bottom of my Darkwater. The pattern calls for an inch of 1x1 ribbing, but I like a bit more than that on the bottom of my sweaters, so I started an inch higher and will be binding off after two inches. These rounds are moving a little slower, but I know once they're done and I move on to the sleeves, the knitting will fly by.

I also finished up the first of my socks yesterday, thanks to some bonus knitting time during a webinar, though it looks pretty terrible right now -- this is one sock that badly needs to be blocked!

The second sock has already been started and went with me to a board meeting last night, so I'm hoping it won't be too long until this sock has a mate.

I finished reading An American Marriage yesterday, and wow, what a powerful book. I can't really say I enjoyed it, because it's very painful to read at times, but I really appreciated it and admired the writing. I still have a few more chapters of Olive to get through tonight/tomorrow, and I'm keeping my eye on my library holds. There are just two people ahead of me for Bury Your Dead, but in the meantime I got a special "skip the line" notification on The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, which I heard about from Paula of the Knitting Pipeline podcast, so I guess I know what I'll be doing if it's another slow day at work today!

Whatever you have planned for your weekend, I hope it includes some sunshine, some knitting, and some reading!

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Time to Say Good-bye

Don't panic -- I'm not going anywhere. Instead, I'm joining in with Kat and friends to talk about knitting and reading today, and specifically I'm going to talk about unraveling.

If you've been knitting long enough, chances are you've looked back at some of the projects you've made and wondered about some of your questionable decisions. Maybe you used a highly variegated yarn with a busy stitch pattern. Perhaps you knit something that's entirely unflattering on you. Or maybe you were in total denial about your gauge until you finished and discovered your FO was laughably large or small. I had my share of those when I was a baby knitter, but in recent years I made a boo-boo that I should have been wise enough to avoid. It was this sweater:

This is the State Fair Cardigan, which I knit back in 2015. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the pattern, and in fact despite all that heavy cabling I managed to knit it in less than a month. It even fit me quite well. The problem, though, was the yarn. I made the big mistake of using yarn that I had (in this case, yarn I'd won in some sort of contest or giveaway from my now-former LYS) rather than yarn that was appropriate for the project. This yarn is lovely to work with and really soft, but it's a 50% wool/50% alpaca base. And while it made for a really cozy sweater, it has not held up well over time. I'm a little smaller now than I was when I made this, so it's already a little big on me, and it's also drooping quite a bit. The worst part is that the cabled ribbing at the bottom really flares out; I like the waist shaping, but I don't want or need width added to my hips. You can probably also see that the buttonholes are starting to gape a bit, and the fabric is getting fuzzy at the usual friction points as well as anywhere I've managed to brush up against something rough. So I've decided to pull this sweater apart and unravel it in order to reuse the yarn -- mainly because I've discovered that it felts beautifully and makes some really cozy mittens! I'd much rather use the yarn to keep some hands warm that have it be in a sweater that just sits in a drawer. Someday I hope to knit the pattern again, because I really love the sweater, but next time I'll be sure to use a bouncy 100% wool yarn!

Thankfully my current projects are all behaving themselves and no unraveling has been required. I will be starting on the ribbing on my sweater this evening, as it's seen a lot of action the past couple of evenings, and I'm getting close to the ribbing of my first Louisette sock:

I've been reading quite a lot, too, though I haven't quite managed the pace of January. Over the weekend, I started and finished White Nights, the second book in the Shetland series by Ann Cleeves, and quite enjoyed it. I was tempted to borrow book three from the library, as there's no wait on it right now, but my next hold should be coming up soon enough that I decided to wait for now. I've got about 50 pages left to read in Olive Kitteridge (my before-bed reading these days, so that'll probably take me the rest of the week), and yesterday I started reading An American Marriage through Hoopla. Hoopla can be nice when there's something that has a really long wait at the library, but I don't love the interface. Still, I'm enjoying the book so far.

How about you -- what are you knitting and reading this week?

Monday, February 17, 2020

Sometimes Mondays ...

are for staying home!

I think I mentioned last week that Rainbow had an extra-long weekend, with both Friday and Monday off, and I was going to be working from home on Friday. I decided to take today as a vacation day so the two of us could spend some extra quality time together, and it's been a great decision. There really is nothing quite like sleeping in on a Monday morning, especially when you're awakened by your favorite kiddo crawling into bed to snuggle with you. We did some cleaning and organizing in her room to start the day, after having a leisurely breakfast, but this afternoon we're planning on reading library books and crafting. I also figured I'd shift my regular blogging schedule this week because I had the extra time!

My current library book -- Ann Cleeves's White Nights -- is one I'd been waiting for from the library for quite a while and I was getting really impatient, so I was delighted when my hold came up on Valentine's Day. I think that my wholehearted embrace of the ebook over the last year or so is in no small part due to the fact that provided my knitting is something easy that doesn't require me to look at it, I can read while I knit. Thanks to this book and a couple of hours reading it yesterday afternoon, I'm now more than halfway done with the body of my Darkwater, which Rainbow was kind enough to take photos of me modeling (please excuse my disheveled look -- I figured there was no need for me to put on makeup or spend too much time with my hair if I'm not planning on leaving the house).

You can see that I've got a nice amount of positive ease, though if I'm honest, I'm a little worried about there being a little too much fabric in the yoke. I'm hoping that blocking (and adding sleeves) will help with the bunching, but I know it's because of my being so worried about those long floats and overcompensating by relaxing my tension. I'm sure using a thicker yarn than called for had something to do with it, too (the pattern calls for fingering worked at a DK gauge; my yarn is labeled DK but really knits up more like a sport, in my opinion). As long as it doesn't look like a potato sack on me,  I'll be happy, and honestly I wanted a slightly oversized fit anyway. It just boggles my mind a bit because I'm making the smallest size in this pattern, and while I'm smaller than I used to be, I'm not that small.

Meanwhile, when I've been in the mood for a project requiring a little more attention, I've been working on a new cast on, my Brackthaw mittens. I started these on Friday night and have worked on them for a couple of evenings. This collage shows you both the back of hand side (left) and the palm side (right) of the same mitten.

I'm using yarns that were sent to me in my FibreShare package when I participated last year. The green is Quince & Co. Finch in Sage, and the cream is handspun that came with only a small hand-written label indicating it's a blend of "Georgia rustic wool," silk, and nylon. The handspun is a bit thick and thin, which I don't mind at all, but you can see that it does mess with my tension a bit (you can see it most prominently in the corrugated ribbing at the cuff). It's always a treat to knit with handspun, and I rarely knit with handspun that's not my own, so I'm enjoying this. The dense gauge for the colorwork (9 stitches per inch) is a little hard on my hands, so I can't work on these too much, which is not a bad thing considering that the chart is also small and probably not great for my eyes, but I'm moving right along on them. I'm entering these in the Woolly Thistle Mitten KAL this year, my first time participating, and as long as I get them done by late March, I'll be fine -- of course, I'd much prefer to get them done sooner so I can wear them!

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Well Worth the Earworm

Spinning fiber that has been in the stash for a while is always such a delight, especially when it's not from a fiber club and is instead something that I've picked out myself. My most recent spin is just such a project. I bought the fiber back in November 2018 and even surprised myself at the time because it was just gray, not dyed at all. But I was drawn in by the depth of gray and the sparkle of it. It was a 40% Merino/40% Shetland/20% nylon blend from HipStrings, from Jill's Favorite Things series -- a bunch of custom fiber blends inspired by things mentioned in the song from The Sound of Music. This one was Silver-White Winters, and it was perfectly designed to fit that name. I've spent the last little while finally spinning it up after discovering that it had been unfortunately munched on a bit by some critters, but most of it was just fine. I decided that I wanted a lofty, imperfect yarn, so though the prep was combed top, I spun it semi-woolen. When all the singles were done, I wound them off the bobbin onto my ball winder and then plied both ends together.

Here's what it look like freshly skeined, just before it got a nice soak in some hot, sudsy water:

You can see the fresh plying twist still in it -- that's because the twist in the plying direction is the most recent and thus the most active, but washing it "wakes up" the spinning twist and allows all the twist, in both directions, to even out. It also looks a bit wiry, but it did fluff up nicely when it was washed.

You might be able to see some of the sparkle here if you look closely, but certainly you can see that it's more of a rustic spin than what I typically do, and I actually really like it. There was a time when spinning long draw stressed me out, type A personality that I am, because it was never as consistent or controlled as I usually like my handspun to be. But as I get older, I find that I appreciate yarn that has character a lot more and find the stuff that's too perfect to look a bit sterile and overprocessed. Perhaps that doesn't make much sense, but I'm not questioning it too much. I really enjoyed the easy spinning -- woolen spinning is so much faster than my usual short forward draw -- and am delighted with the finished yarn. It's still hanging to dry and it's late in the afternoon on a gloomy day, so I'll share it at a later date. And if you now have "My Favorite Things" stuck in your head, the least I can say is that there are worse things and you have good company!

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Pattern Release: I've Got Sunshine

Yes, I am posting on a Saturday, which is not at all typical for me, but it's for a good reason! Today I'm sharing my first pattern of 2020, a new sock pattern designed especially for the Lots of Socks KAL hosted by Lisa Ross to benefit Down Syndrome International.

Last year's KAL came together rather quickly, so my featured sock pattern was one I'd already published. For this year's KAL, however, I knew I wanted to design something new. I also reached out to an indie yarn dyer to see if she was interested in collaborating, and I was delighted when she took me up on the offer! Elizabeth of Holly Press Fibers even custom-dyed a colorway using the Down syndrome colors (blue and yellow) and named it I've Got Sunshine. I loved the colorway and the sentiment it suggested so much that I shamelessly stole it for my design.

I've Got Sunshine (the sock version) is knit cuff-down and features a meandering twisted stitch pattern that goes all the way down the leg and on top of the foot toward the outside of each sock. The sock uses a traditional heel flap and gusset construction, but with the twist: The placement of the gusset decreases are shifted toward the bottom of the sole and angle up toward the instep, resulting in a snug fit around the heel. You can see that line of decreases in the left sock here:

The tech-edited pattern has been graded to five sizes, to fit foot circumference of 6, 7 (8, 9, 10) in./ 15, 18 (20.5, 23, 25.5) cm, and has been professionally tech edited. The stitch pattern is both written and charted. And, what's more, for today only, it's on sale!

All proceeds from the sale of this pattern today, February 15, 2020, will be donated to Down Syndrome International. Additionally, if you enter the code LOTSOFSOCKS, you'll save 50% on the purchase price!

All of my sock patterns are eligible for the KAL as well, and each sock you knit is an entry for some great prizes, so I hope you'll join us!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Plans for a Three-Day Weekend

It's another wet, cold day here in Western Pennsylvania. We had a snow/rain mix yesterday and are due for more of the same today. The gloom is really depressing, but today I'm not letting it put a damper on my mood because I have a three-day weekend coming up! Rainbow's school is closed tomorrow (for a teacher in-service day) and Monday (for Presidents Day), so I've arranged to work from home tomorrow and take a vacation day on Monday. All of that translates to much more knitting time! When I work from home, I can often get away with knitting because if I don't have any actual work to do, I'm good to do whatever as long as I keep an eye on my email. That works out perfectly because I set up my laptop next to my spinning chair to keep an eye on things and can knit or spin in the meantime.

One project I really hope to make a lot of progress on is my Darkwater; as of last night, I have about five inches of body done. For as much fun as the colorwork was to knit, stockinette in the round is really the perfect thing this week, as work as been busy and my brain has been absolutely fried by the time I sit down to knit in the evening.

That project bag is my current favorite sweater bag -- it's from Amy Beth of Fat Squirrel Fibers. I have several of her bags and they are all extremely well made.

I'm still working on my Louisette Socks as well. I turned the heel and have started knitting up the leg, but they don't look much different from the last time you saw them, so I will spare you from having to see another dark photo.

Right now I'm pondering mittens, mainly because my hands have been cold lately and the warmest mittens I have are actually a bit big on me. I happen to have two mitten patterns in my 20 in 2020 pattern list: the Snow Day Mittens, which I plan to make for myself to match (sort of) the pair I made for Rainbow, and Brackthaw, for which I'm planning to use yarn I received from my FibreShare partner last year. Today marks the start of the Woolly Thistle Mitten KAL, so I might actually wind  the yarn and cast on for the latter tonight. I know they won't be super fast to knit, but given that the high tomorrow is only supposed to be in the low 20s F, I'm certainly going to be motivated to get them done quickly so that I can wear them.

Whether or not you have a three-day weekend ahead to look forward to, I hope it's a good one!

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Not So Fast, Phil

Despite Punxsutawny Phil's prediction of an early spring, we are very much still in winter here. We had a small snowstorm move through Thursday night into Friday, resulting in a snow day for Rainbow (we didn't get that much snow, but we've had so little this year that I think the schools felt obligated to use one of the built-in snow days). For once -- maybe the first time ever! -- the Mister volunteered to stay home with her so I could go in to work, and I was very thankful for my cozy new hat for that blustery walk in on Friday morning.

Pattern: Neon by Sarah Cooke
Yarn: Fibernymph Dye Works Beguiled (75% superwash merino/20% nylon/5% Stellina) in a OOAK colorway and Floof (72% mohair/28% silk) in American Rust
Needles: US 6 (4.0 mm) and US 4 (3.5 mm)
Started/Completed: February 1/February 6

I had such a good time knitting this hat for Rainbow back in December that I knew I had to knit one for myself. My only modification, if you can even call it that, was to carry the mohair/silk laceweight alongside the DK, and the effect is amazing. This hat has both sparkle and fuzz, and it's quite cozy. I had a small moment of panic on Sunday when I couldn't find it and thought I had lost it when we went out to dinner the night before. Silly me forgot that the reason it wasn't in my coat pocket was because I had washed and blocked it on Saturday afternoon and it was still sitting on the drying rack upstairs. D'oh! Anyway, this was fun to knit again and I have a feeling this pattern will be a go-to hat when I need a gift in the future.

We had a rather quiet weekend, and we got an early start on Saturday because we went to get our taxes done. I took my new handspun sock along with me, and you can see how much I've gotten done since then -- the progress keeper marks where I was Saturday morning.

I'm maybe half an inch or so from being able to start the heel, and I should get there during my lunchtime knitting today.

My Darkwater saw the most attention over the weekend because I really wanted to finish the colorwork in the yoke. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen this picture of my yoke "guts" after I finished up.

Here is where things stand as of this morning:

I've split off the sleeve stitches and gotten about three inches of body knit under the arms. I tried it on last night to make sure the fit was okay, and it is, though it looks like I was so worried about the floats not being tight on the yoke that I may have overcompensated a bit. I'm sure it'll look better after blocking, but this sweater will definitely have a good amount of positive ease. That is something I'd planned for, but it's breaking my brain a bit because I'm making the smallest size in the pattern and, though I have lost weight, I'm still not the smallest person. In any case, assuming things don't change too much with blocking, this should fit like a comfy sweatshirt, which is just what I wanted.

Though I likely would have had enough, I did end up introducing a new skein of main color yarn before I finished the yoke so I could transition it in, and I've since completely used up that first skein. It looks like the two that are attached now should get me through the body, or at least most of the way, and that will leave me the last skein for the arms. I have a bit of a cushion from what the pattern specifies, but you never know, especially when you substitute a DK for a fingering. I've gotten to the mindless part of this sweater now, so I hope it will knit up quickly going forward. Looking ahead in the forecast, I'm definitely going to need it!

Sunday, February 09, 2020

Easy, Breezy

I am so enjoying my current spin. It is just about effortless because I am spinning supported long draw, which means that I essentially let the twist that the wheel is putting into the fiber create the single as I pull the fiber supply away from it. My usual style of spinning is short forward draw, which is pretty much the ideal style of spinning for someone who is a control freak: The spinner controls exactly how many fibers are twisted together and the twist stays out of the fiber supply. The resulting yarn is very smooth and (if you've done it right) very consistent -- and that's in stark contrast to what I'm spinning now, which is more light and airy and less consistent. But sometimes you want yarn like that, and for this fiber, I want a cloud-like finish.

I plan to ply this back on itself for what I hope will be a light fingering weight two ply. I think I'm a bit more than halfway done with the singles; I didn't get as much done as I hoped because I skipped my Friday night spinning session in favor of knitting (which I'd planned to do after donating blood because it would be less taxing, but I ended up not being able to donate after all because my hemoglobin was a bit low). Long draw is, however, much faster than short forward draw, so I think if I can get in one more good spinning session during the week, I'll be able to finish up the last of the singles.

Meanwhile, my latest shipment from the Southern Cross Fibre club arrived mid-week, and I'm not sure yet if I like it or not.

I love the blue, the wine, and that dark brown, but I'm less into to the yellowy middle browns. I'm sure spun up this would look completely different, so I'll likely wait and see how others spin it up before I decide to keep it or destash. This is one thing I really enjoy about being in a fiber club -- there's always inspiration to be had!

Thursday, February 06, 2020

Three Things I'm Looking Forward To*

It has been quite a week, but thankfully (not that I want to tempt fate) it seems to be calming down a bit. Last night I was able to enjoy that glass of wine I forgot to pour on Tuesday, and today I'm getting a little bonus time to myself. Rainbow has her annual check-up at the pediatrician this afternoon, so I took a half day off from work -- I'm actually writing this as I sit at the kitchen counter enjoying my lunch!

It's Thursday, and on Thursdays Carole invites to think in three, so today I'm talking about three things I'm looking forward to that should happen in the next few days.

1. A new hat for me.

I have just a few more rounds to work before I get to the crown shaping of my Neon, and it's a good thing, too, because we've had some gross damp weather here the past 24 hours or so and are due to get some snow tonight.

2. A completed colorwork yoke.

I have less than 10 rounds of colorwork to go on the yoke of my Darkwater, thanks to the past few evenings, and I've found that I've started trying to speed up my knitting a bit so I can get through the yoke before I run out of that first ball of my main color. I'm planning to alternate skeins once I'm only knitting with one color, and I really don't want to have to do that while I'm still in the two-color portion, so illogically I'm racing my yarn. I know I'm far from the only person who does this (just as surely as I know that knitting faster does not make the yarn last longer).

3. A new pair of socks to start.

I am totally ignoring the fact that I have zero room for more socks in my sock drawers and in fact already have socks that don't have a place to live by planning the next pair. Yesterday kicked off the second annual Lots of Socks KAL on Ravelry, and while I'm delighted to be participating as a designer again (more on that later in the month), I'm also going to jump in as a participant. This yarn is handspun Cheviot that came off my wheel in late summer 2018, and it's going to be turned into a pair of Louisette Socks. I'll be winding the yarn later today and casting on as soon as I finish up my hat. I even have a new pair of needles to try out! Ideally I'll get them started tomorrow, as I am signed up to donate blood tomorrow morning and will need to rest for a couple of days afterwards, meaning a perfect opportunity for sock knitting.

How about you? What are you looking forward to at the end of the week?

*I know that "they" say it's perfectly acceptable to end a sentence/phrase with a preposition now, but it still makes me twitchy. That said, "Three Things to Which I Am Looking Forward" doesn't have quite the same ring.

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Foiled Again

Today has been A Day. I've been running almost nonstop since early this morning, when I had a 7:15 a.m. orthodontist appointment. I hardly had a moment to catch my thoughts at work. I thought that it had been so exhausting a day that I deserved a glass of wine with dinner -- but then I got so busy making said dinner, prepping tomorrow's dinner, and packing lunches for tomorrow that I forgot to pour it! So forgive me if I'm phoning it in on the blog tonight (the fact that I'm posting so late in the day should tell you just how busy it was).

The big projects are still in progress, but I finished up my handspun hat over the weekend, and I'm delighted with how it came out.

At some point this week I'm hoping to find the time to get the pattern together and send it off to my tech editor, though with the way it's been going, that might not happen until the weekend.

I also finished a book last night, but I haven't had time to write up my review yet!

I'll close with a recommendation for those of you who have Amazon Prime: Last night the Mister and I watched Brittany Runs a Marathon, which we both enjoyed. It was just the right balance of uplifting, funny, and touching. Highly recommend!

Sunday, February 02, 2020

Taking Care of Business

Last weekend, my spinning plans were foiled, so this weekend I was determined to make up for that. I got back to my Friday evening spinning at last and finished up my BFL singles. After letting them rest overnight, yesterday I wound the singles off using my ball winder and then plied them from both ends of the resulting cake. I skeined the finished yarn, washed it, and hung it to dry, and this morning I had this:

Fibernymph Dye Works oatmeal BFL in Winter Deep
And here is a closeup:

The yarn did poof up a bit in the finishing, so it looks to be about sportweight, which makes sense with the estimated yardage I got of 291 (also taking into account that I typically get lower yardages with BFL in general). I think I may have put a tad too much plying twist into this yarn -- if you look closely at the left of the closeup, you can see some strands kinking up a bit -- so I might run it back through the wheel to remove some of that excess.

I so enjoyed the return to spinning that I started another project today, with some fiber that I bought about a year ago and foolishly put in a felted wool bag. I think you can guess where this is headed: It appears some moths got into that bag and nibbled on the fiber a bit. Fortunately, this isn't as big a problem for fiber as it is for yarn because it's all loose anyway, so I'm removing the nibbled areas as I find them.

This is the fiber in question, a 40% Merino/40% Shetland/20% nylon blend from HipStrings in Sound of Music-inspired blend called Silver-White Winters.

If you look closely, you might see a hint of sparkle in there, which is the silver in the name of the blend. Though the prep is combed top, I'm spinning it long draw, which works well with the shorter staple length of the component wools and any potential artificially shorter fiber.

As with my most recent spin, I'll be plying this back on itself. Long draw is a lot faster than the short forward draw I usually do, so I'm hopeful I can get this one spun and plied soon. This particular batch of fiber is on my 20 in 2020 list as well, so I'm eager to cross it off!