Thursday, July 30, 2020

Back to Three WIPs

It's Thursday, a day to link up with Carole and friends for Three on Thursday. Appropriately, this morning I find myself with three current knit and crochet projects because I finished up a rather large one last night:

The blanket has not been washed and blocked yet (if that wasn't completely obvious from the curling edges and ends that have not yet been trimmed), but Rainbow and I plan to take care of it tonight. I finished the final round on the single-crochet border last night after she went to sleep, so I presented it to her first thing this morning and she immediately curled up in it. I think that means she likes it! I'll do a proper FO write-up once we've blocked it and gotten some glamour shots, but for now I can tell you that it used a total of 2,957.9 yards/2,704.7 meters of yarn. That's a major addition to my Stash Dash totals!

I am quite relieved to have this project done and to turn back to the other WIPs. Two you have already seen and have not changed since you last saw them -- my Torbellino sweater and the C2C crochet blanket. But I also have a new project cast on in the last week.

I think most of you will likely be able to guess the yarn -- it's my old standby, Fibernymph Dye Works Bounce. This is the colorway Seven Deadly Sins. I'm knitting a hat to match my Slipdash cowl (Ravelry link), something I've been meaning to do for quite some time but had been procrastinating on the two minutes -- no exaggeration! -- of math I needed to do to get started. The hat will have a deep ribbed brim and the same slip-stitch patterning as the cowl. I'm planning to grade it to five sizes (baby through adult), and I'm hoping to get the sample knit up pretty quickly because I know that the pattern writing will be very straightforward.

All the craziness of the times we're in has really messed with my creativity and my concentration, so I haven't been very productive with my designing this year and am behind my self-imposed schedule of releases (but I am working to give myself some grace in that area; as the situation is unprecedented, I'm reminding myself that I can't reasonably hold myself to the same high standards of the past). I'm itching to cast on another design sample, too, a shawl with some handspun, so maybe the tide is beginning to turn again? With all of the madness surrounding the Ravelry redesign, I'm also spending some time getting my patterns into a Payhip shop so that the folx who can't use Ravelry can still buy my patterns, and of course there's still work. One day at a time, right? I'm doing my best, just as I suspect most of you are, and I'm finding comfort wherever I can. As it so often is, comfort is frequently found in playing with yarn and fiber, so I plan to do more of it this weekend. Be well and stay cool!

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

One Little Word: July 2020

I'm sure many of you have experienced the same warped sense of time this year that I have: March lasted forever, April was slightly faster, and every month since then has flown by. I honestly feel like I was just typing up June's OLW post and here we are in the last week of July. I can only hope that this speed also applies to this pandemic and that as the days fly by we're also getting closer to a vaccine and a marked decrease in suffering.

When I started this year and chose SAVOR as my word for the year, I didn't and couldn't know what was in store for us. Though I didn't realize it at the time, I think I was likely influenced by the loss of my uncle last year. He was someone who had a long history of health problems, but he was always someone who wanted to live life to the fullest and truly enjoyed every moment. While I didn't need a global pandemic to remind me that life is precious and precarious, it's certainly been a constant reminder for me, so I'm really trying to focus on what is good and what makes me happy.

In July, I think what I savored more than anything was reading. I have finished 14 books so far this month -- and the month isn't over yet, either! All but three of them were borrowed from the library, too. I have always been a fan of my library, but I've really come to treasure it so much more thanks the current times.

I am really so thankful to be living in a time when I can borrow books from the comfort of my own home and be reading them in a matter of seconds. And when it's even more important to my mental health to be able to calm my anxious mind by occupying it with stories, I am even more grateful to have such a wide selection and so many choices.

While my library and its apps have made much of the reading possible, something else I've been savoring is what has become a summer tradition: Book Bingo. While the challenge to fill my bingo card is good motivation on its own, I love that the categories propel me to step outside my comfort zone and try new genres, new authors, and new styles of writing. My "want to read" list grows longer by the day, so sometimes looking at the squares I have to fill on my card helps me to narrow down my choices.

I hope that you've found time for your word this month and look forward to seeing all the links over on Honoré's blog for this month's reflections.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

That'll Do

Yesterday one of my daily goals was to ply up the merino I'd been spinning to serve as my contrast color for my Rambouillet fleece spin. I was a bit nervous about matching the grist, so I was anxious to finish the skein and wash it to see if it would work. I should have trusted myself -- it seems like it'll work just fine!

It's a traditional three-ply yarn, and I spun the singles just a tad thicker than I normally would for my default yarn. That was the main challenge, but I think I did okay in the long run. It looks good next to the Rambo:

And a side-by-side comparison shows that the thickness is pretty spot on:

I ended up with approximately 260 yards, which is a bit less than I'd hoped for, though my finished skein seemed like it was a bit light at 100 g (the fiber was labeled 4 oz., which is about 113 g, and the tiny bit of leftover singles I had probably didn't weigh enough to make up the difference). That really doesn't matter in the long run, though, as I should have plenty for the sweater it's intended for and still have some leftover. It's also another braid of fiber that's been converted to yarn in less than a week and another 950 meters toward my Stash Dash total, putting me at 9,574 m at the moment. I've upped my goal to 15K or higher, and frankly with the projects I have going right now, I don't think that's at all inconceivable.

The next spin is ready to go: the April 2020 Southern Cross Fibre club shipment, Hope Springs, on grey Corriedale:

I'm going to spin another chain-plied fingering weight, so I've split the fiber into four vertical strips for striping. I have a three-day online conference to attend this week, which means I'll be doing a lot of listening to speakers, so I expect this'll go fairly quickly. The spinning mojo isn't showing any signs of slowing down!

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Time to Get Monogamous

It's July 23 (yes, really; I checked!). One week remains in the month, and I've decided that I really want to finish Rainbow's blanket by the end of the month. So I've decided to buckle down and focus on it almost exclusively. But I have updates on other projects. First, an FO you got a peek at yesterday:

Pattern: Amigurumi Alpaca from A Little Love Every Day
Yarn: Knit Picks Dishie in Verdigris (approximately 66.5 yds.) and Swan (approximately 19 yds.)
Hook: 3.0 mm
Started/Completed: July 16/July 21
Mods: none (at least not any that were intentional!)

I went through a period when I was a teenager when I was making little stuffed animals, but that was, um, quite a few years ago and I had to relearn the technique. Once I got the hang of it, and once I realized that I needed to stick a locking stitch marker in the first stitch of the round to keep track of where it was, it was much easier to than I was expecting. In reality, this little guy didn't take as long as the start-to-finish dates would suggest. I did a bunch when I first started, then put it aside for a couple days, and then pretty much did the rest on Tuesday. I'm sure there are a few mistakes, but you really can't tell and I know for a fact that my nephew won't know the difference. I may try to make a companion in the next week, but I'm not stressing about it if I don't get around to it. I stuffed him just enough to make him squishy and embroidered the face to make him baby safe. The hardest part of the project was definitely sewing on all the little appendages!

I've also gotten past the split on my Torbellino, though I haven't knit on it in a couple of days. I'm at least at the point where it's all stockinette in the round for quite a bit, so it's now a mindless knit.

And here's where things stand on Rainbow's blanket. I've got about half of the current skein left to add plus two full skeins.

I'm fairly certain that she will find this to be big enough when this yarn is used up, particularly given that we can stretch it out even bigger in blocking. Lately she's been favoring blankets that are technically baby blankets, ones that either cover her legs or can be wrapped around her shoulders. And I'm feeling pretty confident that if I focus on this project for even just a few days, I'll be able to wrap it up. If I just end up using the yarn I have left here, it should mean about 3,100 yards or 2,800 meters to add to my Stash Dash total -- more than enough to push me over the 10K mark!

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

The Reading Streak Continues

Good morning! For a second week in a row, I'm putting up a Wednesday post because I've been on a tear in my reading and joining Kat and the Unravelers (hmm, sounds like a band of knitters, doesn't it?).

To catch up, I finished all the books I was reading last week. If you're interested in my ratings and reviews, I'll direct you to my Goodreads account (if you're a Goodreads user, too, and we're not already friends there, feel free to add me!).

In addition to finishing those three, I've also started and completed three other books:

I'd had Between the World and Me on my want to read list for a long time, and I'd also had a long wait for it from the library. But it was worth the wait. It was a quick read, in the end, but also a somewhat difficult read. It's written as a letter from Coates to his son, trying to explain his experience as a Black man in the United States and to prepare his son for what he might expect from his life in this country. Reading this gave me a view of life that I could never experience as a white woman. There's a lot to unpack in this short book, and I have no doubt that there's a lot I missed because I didn't understand some of the cultural references, but it's a valuable read. I gave it 4 stars.

If you have Netflix, you may have heard of or seen the miniseries based on the memoir Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots. After watching it, I knew I wanted to read the book. I had a bit of a wait from the library, but once I got it, I devoured it. I honestly thought that I had a good idea about what went on in some of the more observant streams of my religion, but I was shocked by how ignorant I was. (Did you know, for instance, that Hasidic Jews disagree with the existence of the state of Israel?) This memoir was often painful to read, and it really opened my eyes to the fact that every religion can have extremists. Normally I'd rather read a book before seeing its dramatization, but in this case, it worked out to do it in reverse, as the edition I read had an afterword that specifically addressed the miniseries. I gave it 5 stars.

A number of you recommended The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time for my "With an unreliable narrator" bingo square, and I'm so thankful I took that recommendation. I borrowed the audiobook from the library and listened mainly during my daily exercise sessions. It was really wonderful and entertaining. When I was studying psychology in college, I did a summer internship with an autism researcher, so I spent many months reading books and memoirs about those on the autism spectrum, so I really enjoyed reading a fictional account told from the point of view of someone on the spectrum. I found Christopher to be a totally endearing narrator. I have no idea if his account has been found to be authentic by the autism community, but it rang true for me based on what I know. I gave the book 4 stars.

I currently have two books in progress, one of which will help me get a cover-all on my first bingo card!

I number of you have raved about Save Me the Plums recently, so I was very excited to see that it was available from the library with no wait. I borrowed it on Monday and expect to finish it today, as I only have about 100 pages left. I'm really enjoying it -- though reading all the descriptions of food does make me hungry! Reichl is an excellent writer as well, so I have a feeling I'll be looking into her other memoirs after I finish this one.

I'll be completing my first bingo square with a reread of a favorite from childhood. I have a distinct memory of reading Mandy in the fourth grade, when I was Rainbow's age, and loving it. The edition I read then identified the author as Julie Edwards, and I can remember a moment of amazement when my teacher told us that that was the married name of Mary Poppins herself! I'd bought a copy of the book some time ago for Rainbow to read, though she has yet to do so, so I thought I'd read it in the meantime. Though it's a children's book and very quick to read, I've only been reading it just before bed thus far, so I'm only a little more than 100 pages in. But I should have no problem getting through it this week and then passing it off to my daughter.

Let's take a look at my bingo cards -- the second one is already filling up!

I am really so amazed by how much reading I have been getting done this summer, and I am so very, very thankful for the digital resources offered by my library. It's crazy to think that just a couple of years ago, I was somewhat resistant to reading ebooks; now, reading a physical book is rare for me, and I actually find it takes me longer to finish a physical book because I tend to read them only right before bed -- I've found that I favor ebooks because I can read while knitting or spinning, and that multitasking is so important right now!

And just so this post isn't entirely about reading, here's a little preview of something I finished yesterday:

Isn't that the sweetest little face?

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

A Yoke, a Diversion, and a Pathetic Harvest

It's another hot day here in Western Pennsylvania, and I'm trying to psych myself up for a run in a little bit because we're supposed to get some thunderstorms this afternoon (and I really hope we do -- we need the rain badly). I'm feeling a little blah about my projects right now, but I'm still working on them.

My Torbellino (Ravelry link) is now ready to be split for the body and sleeves. I ended up having to work quite a few more rounds than specified for the size I'm making due to my different row gauge, so I also added a couple extra colorwork rounds as long as I was doing it. As you can see, I'm now alternating two skeins of the main color.

Rainbow's blanket is getting closer and closer to being done. Yesterday I joined the second skein of the second-to-last color, so I have three balls of yarn now left to crochet (provided she doesn't then decide she wants it to be even bigger). Though I missed a couple of days in the 100 Day Project, I have officially worked on it for more than 100 days, so it would be nice to finish it by the end of the month. I've been a little distracted, though, by another crochet project:

Can you tell what it is? Probably not! This is the start of an amigurumi alpaca that I'm attempting to make for my nephew for his first birthday. I have a feeling it will look a bit better once I stuff it and give it a face (that white thing off to the side is the face piece that gets sewn on), but I'm rather proud of myself to being able to follow a pattern with shaping. I've discovered that using a locking stitch marker is key to helping me keep my place because I'm not very good at reading my work yet. I'm sure there are some mistakes here, but I'm equally sure a 1-year-old is not going to care. I'm using Knit Picks Dishie from the Giant Dishie Acquisition of 2019 -- the colors are Verdigris and Swan. If I get this done soon, I might try to make a second one in the orange I pulled last week, but I'm trying not to push it and will be satisfied with the one.

As to the pathetic harvest, I present the first edible thing our garden has produced this year:

This is the first tomato from our one surviving plant, which thankfully seems to be doing okay -- it has two others growing and a bunch of flowers. This one looks good, even though it's small (about the size of a clementine orange). Our peas were looking like they were doing well, but it's been a challenge to keep them from drying up in the heat. So I don't have big expectations for the garden this year, but anything we do get will be a welcome bonus. I'm so glad I don't live in a time where I need to rely on my garden to feed my family!

I'll be back tomorrow with a reading update -- unlike my garden, my bingo card is flourishing!

Sunday, July 19, 2020

A Strong Finish

Today marks the end of the 2020 edition of the Tour de Fleece. Although I was spinning throughout the event, I didn't really get into it as I have in years past. I didn't do any challenges and did even really check in on the TdF group on Ravelry. Instead, it was just another excuse to be at the wheel, but in reality I likely would have been at it anyway; I'm still finding spinning to be the most relaxing and most stress-reducing craft for these strange times.

But because I was aware that it was officially over today (also, incidentally, my brother's birthday), I made a point to have a goal of finishing up my current project. Luckily that wasn't too hard at all. Despite the fact that I didn't have a lot of time at my wheel yesterday -- we went for a family bike ride in the morning, and then I spent several hours cleaning and doing laundry -- I did manage to ply up the entire skein after finishing the singles Friday night. This morning I skeined it up and washed it, and it dried outside in about an hour thanks to some very hot weather (as I type this, the air temperature is 93F and the "feels like" temperature is 99F!). Here is what it looked like right after it came off the bobbin:

The fiber was the May shipment from the Southern Cross Fibre club, and for the first time since I've been a member of the club, it was a mystery wool. The pandemic has made shipping complicated; David has recently been unable to ship to certain countries, for instance, and many shipments are sent by boat rather than air now. These complications have also meant some supply issues, so for this shipment, he dyed the same colorways on a variety of wool bases that he already had on hand from previous shipments. He didn't keep track of what was what, though, so we only have a very general idea of what we got. I really can't guess what mine is, though I'm fairly certain it's not Merino or Bond, as it's not especially soft and did not bloom much at all when it was washed. Washing helped to even it out, but even after drying my skein hardly shrank -- it's measuring about 450 yards, which is quite high yardage for me.

The dyed fiber was in very delicate pastel shades, and I wanted to keep them somewhat distinct but not have huge chunks of them, so I split the wool into four long strips and then spun them in succession. Then I chain-plied the singles. (For those of you who are not spinners, chain-plying is also sometimes called Navajo plying, but I dislike using that term; it's essentially creating a faux three-ply yarn by making a long crochet chain with the singles and then adding twist.)

The colorway is called Pebbles, and it makes me think of the beach -- I can see sand and seagrass and shells and stones in these colors. My plan, assuming I can spin the rest of the fiber for it at the right grist, is to use this as the contrast color in a Tiny Dancer (Ravelry link). I have four bags of deep purple Rambouillet from David that I intend to use for the main color.

This was such a fast spin for me, in part because it was spun the way I normally spin and thus I didn't have to watch what I was doing, meaning I could spin and read an ebook at the same time. I've finished two books while spinning this skein!

Up next is what I hope will be the contrast skein to go with my fleece spin, which I can finally share a final photo of:

Rainbow and I went looking through my Ravelry library to see what sweater patterns I already owned that would work and I found Wild Grass (Ravelry link), which I think will be perfect. But of course all my yarn is one color, so I had to find something for the contrast. I found some handspun that was the right thickness, but Rainbow didn't like the combination of colors, so instead I am now spinning up some Merino that I inherited from a friend that I think will be perfect:

The color is getting toned down as it's spun, but the fiber is shades of pink with some spots of brownish green. I think it will be lovely and soft and will go very well with the woolen-spun Rambouillet. We'll see if I can keep up my pace and have it done and ready to share with you next week!

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Plodding Along

I had hoped to have more done by today, but it's been an odd week -- not in a bad way, just slightly out of the ordinary. Rainbow has been attending a virtual sewing camp this week that meets for two hours each morning, and I've been sitting in the room with her to help out when she needs it (while keeping an eye on my work email at the same time). Work has been pretty light this week, but because I'm helping her out with pinning and such periodically, I haven't been able to sustain my attention on much during those two hours. It's been great to watch her sew, though, and she's doing a fantastic job. We ordered fabric and notions ahead of time (there's a fabric store next door to the sewing studio, and they're doing online ordering and curbside pickup right now) and the sewing studio supplied the pattern pieces they'd need for the class. Yesterday she completed her first project, a pillow cover. I think you can see from her smile just how excited she was:

The back of the pillow is two panels of the two fabrics that overlap so it can easily be removed from the pillow form for washing. Today the class will focus on finishing up the second project, a drawstring backpack, and begin the third, a zippered pouch. I'm learning alongside her, and I'm excited to work on some other projects with her when the week is over (I may have ordered some extra fabric from the store for just this purpose!).

I'm still working on my Torbellino and although it doesn't look very different from the last time you saw it, I have added to the yoke. I've completed the final increase round and am now working through the last handful of rounds to add the necessary remaining length and final colorwork. I expect that I'll be ready to split for sleeves and body by the weekend.

While no new knitting projects have been cast on -- yet -- I am preparing to start a new crochet project. My nephew is turning 1 in about two weeks, so I thought I'd try my hand at making some crochet amigurumi figures. I did a Ravelry search and kept coming back to this sweet little alpaca. I also pulled out some yarn from the giant bag of Knit Picks Dishie:

I'm planning to start with one and, if it goes well, make a second. The bright colors will be used for the body and the cream for the face, legs, and ears.

Perhaps the real reason I haven't made a ton of knitting progress is because I'm still doing a lot of spinning. It's the last week of the Tour de Fleece, and I'm also back to my usual method of spinning, which I can do without looking. That means I can spin while I read ebooks again. I'm trying to finish up this skein of Southern Cross Fibre mystery wool this week:

Thanks to this spinning-while-reading practice, I finished up Wild Fire yesterday afternoon, and thanks to an after-dinner walk and listening while folding laundry, I also finished Song Yet Sung. Both books earned 4 stars from me, though I still need to write formal reviews on Goodreads. I'm now reading Between the World and Me, which I expect should be a very quick read as it's only about 150 pages and I'm already 15% through it just from about 20 minutes of reading time last night. I'm getting very close to a cover-all on my first bingo card!

I'm off to help Rainbow with sewing. I hope that whatever you're doing as you plod along during these strange times is bringing you some joy and fulfillment. See you here on Sunday!

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Unraveled Wednesday: A Reading Update

Yes, I know it's Wednesday and not one of my usual blogging days. But it's been a while since I did a reading update, so today I'm joining up with Kat and friends to do just that.

First, let's look at recent finishes:

This is the current selection for the Read With Us book discussion group (are we calling it a book club?) that Bonny, Carole, and Kym have been hosting. I was able to get it from my local library after only a short wait, and I enjoyed it. It was hard to read at times because although my relationship with my mother was nothing like the author's, I really empathized with her. Ultimately I found this memoir to be a contemplation of relationships and what happens when someone is forced into an inappropriate one. I gave it 4 stars.

I'd started listening to this via the Craftlit podcast and then borrowed the audiobook from the library so I could finish it sooner (getting one or two chapters at a time means it will take months to finish via the podcast!). I'm still planning to listen to it (again) on the podcast because the readers are excellent and I value Heather's insights, but I'm also glad I listened on my own. The readers for this version were Jenny Agutter and Alex Jennings, both familiar voices due to the many PBS shows I've watched. I enjoyed the book but got a little bored in the middle. I gave it 3 stars.

It had been a while since I'd read any of Toni Morrison's fiction, but reading this collection made me want to do just that. Her writing is really exquisite. I feel like I probably could have gotten more out of this book had I read it in a class setting, where there was an opportunity to study and discuss it, but even so it was a good read. My one criticism is that only one or two selections gave any context for the speech or essay. I would have liked to have known when each piece was written and, for the speeches, where it was delivered. I gave it 4 stars.

Cold Earth (Shetland series #7)

I'll admit I was very impatient waiting for this one. I can plow through these books in a couple of days, so it was annoying to see that I was next in line to get it from the library but whoever had it was taking so long to read it. But I devoured it as soon as I got it and really enjoyed it. Though the murder is getting to be less important to me than the characters, I was still pleased that I was surprised by the identity of the killer (murder mysteries are less exciting to me when I figure it out on my own). I gave it 4 stars.

Now let's talk about what I'm currently reading:

I would have liked to have liked to have been done with this book by now, but because it's a hard copy that I own, it often gets pushed aside when a library book hold comes up. I think I have less than 100 pages left to read, so really if I sit down one day and focus on it, I should be able to finish. But as I've said before, I am taking my time because I am reading this to learn, not to entertain, and I expect that it's a book I'll revisit in the future. I do want to finish soon, though, because later in the month I'm attending a virtual conference that my employer is hosting and Kendi is one of the keynote speakers!

This is turning out to be the it book of the summer that everyone seems to be reading! After Eileen raved about it in one of the Sunday Zoom calls that Mary hosts, I borrowed the audiobook from the library to listen to while I run and walk. I've got about two hours left to listen, so about two more days of exercise. I'm really enjoying it and am looking forward to seeing how the many characters and many story lines come together in the end.

Wild Fire (Shetland series #8)

I added the final Shetland book to my library holds as soon as I returned the previous one and was delighted to discover it was ready for me yesterday morning. As much as I'd like to savor this final installment, I'm really rushing through it instead. I'm already more than 50% through it and am likely to finish it before the day is out.

Here's a look at the state of my bingo cards (yes, there are two!):

I am very close to a cover-all on my first card. I have only two empty spaces -- Title That's a Character's Name (for which I've already picked a book) and With an Unreliable Narrator. Anyone have a good recommendation for the latter? Or a good recommendation in general? I have a handful of books on hold at the library, but I'm always looking to add to my TBR pile!

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Just Yoking

While I'm sure this won't last for long, because I can already feel my fingers getting itchy, at the moment I have only one knit work in progress, and that's my Torbellino (Ravelry link).

I have now reached and in fact surpassed the point where I have enough stitches to fill a 40 in. circular needle, which is why I'm not able to spread out the full yoke for a photo. I'm really enjoying this, and aside from one mistake from an apparent inability to count to 3 reliably, it's been an easy knit. It's always a joy to knit a pattern that makes you appreciate its cleverness, and it's a bonus when the designer is also a friend. I know the finished sweater is going to be really wearable.

At this point, I think I have one more increase round left in the yoke, and once the yoke is done, it's just single-color stockinette in the round. Perhaps finishing by the end of the month is a stretch, but I might as well try!

Meanwhile, the 100 Day Project is supposed to wrap up this week, but as I've accidentally missed a few days, and seeing as the blanket isn't quite done anyway, I'm going to be carrying on.

I have three more balls of Felici left to add after the current one runs out, and Rainbow is thinking that it might be big enough at that point. We're planning to stretch it rather aggressively in blocking to even out the wonkiness (made worse in the photo by my pathetic attempts to stretch it out, which clearly only made it worse). I will be happy to have this done and added to my Stash Dash total, because there's quite a bit of yarn in it!

Sunday, July 12, 2020

'Tis Done

As of about an hour ago, I am DONE with my Rambouillet fleece. I have plied all the singles and the last two skeins are now soaking to set the twist. I'm quite pleased with the fact that when I finished the last skein, this is what remained of the singles:

I will of course be sharing a final photo of the full pile once it's all dry, but here are the first four skeins:

These are super squishy but also shrank up quite a bit in the finishing. My niddy noddy is two yards around (76 inches), but the skeins are measuring 54 inches around after they dry. Assuming the final two skeins do the same, I should end up with nearly 1,500 yards of yarn!

The final plying was powered by some new toys -- two new Akerworks bobbins for my WooLee Winder. They were having a special grab bag sale, so I took advantage. I feel like they might be a little wasted on plain brown, but it is pretty cool to look at a full bobbin when you can see through the end.

My next spinning project will be dyed fiber. As much as I've enjoyed this fleece, I'm craving color!

Thursday, July 09, 2020

I'm Sensing a Bit of a Theme

I mentioned on Tuesday that I was close to finishing my TTL Mystery Shawl, and I did indeed finish, but I will talk about that further down in the post in case anyone wants to avoid spoilers. I always feel the need to start a new project when one is finished, and you also saw my swatch for my next sweater in my last post. Last night I cast on for it, and it just occurred to me that I've got a bit of a color theme going, completely unintentionally. I didn't anticipate working on these two projects back to back, and certainly when I bought the yarn for this sweater back in 2018, I didn't even know that I'd be knitting the mystery shawl, but here you have it.

Obviously this isn't much of a start, but this is only about an hour's worth of knitting from last night. I expect it will grow quite quickly. I did look at stitch counts and do some math, and it looks like I'm going to be fine using my gauge and the directions for a smaller size. I'm actually knitting the extra small, which is crazy pants to me, but it means I will likely use less yarn than I have (because I bought yarn for the medium size, I think) and thus may have enough to lengthen the sleeves. As much as I like the look of the 3/4-length sleeves specified in the pattern, I'm much more likely to wear something with full-length sleeves, particularly as I always wear sweaters with a t-shirt underneath and have very few with 3/4-length sleeves.

Sweaters aren't exactly fast projects, but I'm feeling pretty confident that I can knit this one up in a relatively short period of time. There is some slip-stitch colorwork in the yoke and some short rows, but after that, it's all stockinette in the round. I expect this will be a good project to work on while reading!

And now let's get on to the main event -- my finished shawl! Let's see if I can do it justice with my photos.

I have said several times that this pattern is not something I would have picked to knit on my own if I'd seen photos of it beforehand, but I am glad I took the risk in knitting it because it was so much fun! It was a challenging knit, with the combination of lace, cabling, and mosaic knitting, but that level of engagement kept me focused, meaning that my mind was fully on my knitting and less involved in stressing over the general state of the world.

The yarn I used was really unlike the yarn that was recommended. The Jill Draper yarn that Kirsten used is woolly and nubby and textured. My yarn, a merino/silk single, is shiny and drapey. So my finished shawl doesn't have the texture or the dimensionality (is that a word?) that was perhaps intended, but I think I am more likely to wear this shawl because of its lack of bulk.

I ended up using about 363 yards/332 meters of the gray and 372 yards/340 meters of the red. A number of people either ran out of one color or were worried they were going to, so I'm glad that I picked a yarn with plenty of yardage in it so I didn't have to stress about playing yarn chicken. I have small balls left that will be good for swatching or playing with.

The only thing I don't really love about the shawl is the bind off. It's a creative way to do it, but it was a challenge to block. I used blocking wires along all three edges to get an even block on the shawl, and doing so was straightforward for the two sides (I ran the wires through the garter edge of the straight vertical and through the yarnovers along the diagonal vertical). It was difficult doing it for the top edge, though. I ended up running the wires through the big yarnovers in the motifs and then tugging the reverse stockinette band of Color B so that it sat above the wire. I'm not sure if that's what Kirsten intended, but it seems to have worked out okay. I also needn't have worried that it wouldn't be big enough -- after blocking, it's plenty big!

I have to say that I'm rather proud of myself for keeping up with the clues and getting each one done in a day or two after it was released, though I know that working from home this year is really what allowed me to do it. I know some of you have been surprised at how much crafting I've been able to get done, but the secret is that I simply have a lot more time to do it. The nature of my job is really feast or famine: I either have a lot to do or I seem to have nothing to do. Back when I was still going to the office every day, the slow times meant all I really got done was reading books online, but now that I no longer have to look like I'm busy, I'm free to knit or crochet or spin, provided I'm keeping my eye on my inbox. Plus I've gained a bit of extra time in my day given that I'm not commuting or running to pick up Rainbow at school or really going anywhere during the day. It's a nice perk of the pandemic!

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

A WIP Roundup

As much as I love a long weekend, it makes the following Monday a bit rough, doesn't it? I was definitely dragging yesterday, and I may or may not have grabbed a cat nap or two during the afternoon. The weekend itself, though, was very restful. And I did quite a bit of crafting. You saw the spinning output on Sunday, but how about the knitting the crochet?

Despite the fact that we're in the middle of a verified heat wave with highs in the mid- to upper 90s, I already started thinking about my next sweater. One of the patterns on my 20 in 2020 list is Torbellino (Ravelry link), which I've been intending to knit for a couple of years and even bought yarn for at Maryland Sheep and Wool back in 2018. Kristen is sponsoring a sweater knitalong right now, so it seemed like the perfect time to cast on. So I swatched over the weekend.

Swatch gauge tool from Akerworks

Because the sweater is knit in the round, I swatched in the round using the cheater method. Do you know how to do this? I didn't want to sacrifice any yarn (if I had enough, I would have knit an actual tube and cut it to measure), so I did the faux in-the-round method of draping the strand of yarn loosely across the back of the swatch. Here's what the back looks like:

I used a US 5/3.75 mm needle for my swatch and am ever so slightly off on gauge (I'm getting 21 stitches over 4 inches rather than the called-for 22 stitches) but I like the fabric I'm getting and think going down a needle size would give me fabric with no drape. I have to do a couple of math checks, but I think it may work out to knit a size smaller than I'd intended using my gauge. I still have to wind the rest of my yarn before I cast on, but I'm trying to finish up my TTL Mystery Shawl first (more on that in a moment).

I worked on Rainbow's crochet blanket quite a bit over the weekend and am almost done with the 10th ball of Felici, with four more left. It's currently measuring about 42 inches wide. Once I'm finished with all the Felici, Rainbow will assess the size and decide whether it's big enough or whether we want to dig through the stash for more yarn to add. Though I started this for the 100 Day Project, I know I missed a few days recently, so I'm just continuing to work on it and keeping my own count.

Because one crochet blanket isn't enough, I started another one over the weekend. Rainbow had a giant ball of big box store acrylic that she'd started a granny square blanket with around the same time I started mine, but she recently decided she didn't want it anymore and ripped it out. She then gave me the skein to play with, and I'm using it to crochet a corner-to-corner blanket. Have you heard of this method? It's pretty ingenious and is rather like the crochet version of entrelac. I used this pattern (Ravelry link) to get started, and while the very start was a bit tricky, once I figured it out it's been smooth sailing. And this yarn seems particularly well suited to this method.

My plan is to try to use up all or nearly all of the skein of yarn (which is more than 1,100 yards!) and make a blanket for the couch in our family room, where we've been using two blankets knit by my aunt, one of which is a loosely knit lace blanket she made for Rainbow when she was born (in acrylic, so it's holding up fine, but it's not especially warm). I worked on this new blanket for a while this weekend to get the hang of it, but I've now put it aside to focus on getting Rainbow's blanket done.

Finally, my mystery shawl is WIP priority number one. The final clue came out yesterday, and I spent my crafting time yesterday working on it exclusively. I have one more chart and the bind off left to do, and I'm hoping to get through all that today, but of course work might throw a wrench into the plan.

Once this is done and blocked, I'll be sure to take some better photos -- these unblocked shots really do not do the design justice!