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Monthly Archives: October 2008

Continuing with trying to spin the handspun in my stash, I began this as a way to cut the monotony of knitting my Monkey socks. [Those are done, by the way, I finished them last night, and wore them today. I’ll take pictures as soon as I get a sunny spot.]

My friend Sue has spun some yarn, and said that she wasn’t going to use it, and was I interested? I love knitting with handspun yarn, and knitting with yarn from a friend is ever better. She tends to spin singles, and I just didn’t think this one would hold for how I knit. I have no idea what it’s fiber contents are. Matt held it and he said it didn’t have any wool in it, but I find that hard to believe. It’s pretty, but I don’t know if I”m going to keep it in this pattern. It doesn’t really show off the colors the way I would like, but there isn’t enough in the skein to make something large. Maybe this just needs to be plain garter stitch and I should accept, knit, and move on.

The handspun blue blob from earlier is done and blocked. Ths is from the same Sue. It’s not very large, probably about three feet across at the diagonal. I plan on using it as a lap blanket. Scratchy when knitted, and kind of stiff, a dunk with the all natural conditioner made it MUCH softer and the yarn bloomed nicely. I can’t use the condition on my hair for various reasons, but I think it’ll work well on knits that need softening; it also smells like citrus, which is a huge plus. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with it, or if I’ll even keep it. For know it’s going into the cedar chest with the other blankets.

I finally have some image of my finished Mr. Greenjeans. I used Cotton ease, thinking that the acrylic in it would help the cotton hold some kind of shape. Not really. I should have knit this a size smaller than my actual mesaurements; this sweater tends to run large, even when I did manage to get gague. I mostly wear it around the house and out running errands, as it tends to slip off my shoulders.

I learned a lot from knitting it, though. Firstly, I like my cardigans with a bit of negative ease around the bust, looser around my middle, and the sleeves need to be able to go over a few layers, but not much. I’m keeping this in mind when I start the February Lady Sweater, hereto referred to as FLS.

Top down raglan contruction is great for me, as long as I keep in mind that my shoulders aren’t as broad as I think they are [which I constantly over estimate] and my arms aren’t nearly as large as I think they are, even when I measure them. I think, if I knit this again, I wouldn’t have the V neck, or I would increase at a greater rate. And really, my buttonbands leave A LOT to be desired. For the FLS, I’m going to not put in any button holes, but rely on either snaps, or the loop and button method.

I do, however, love that the cardigan goes right back into shape when I dry it.

Wow, I didn’t think I had as much to say as I did about Mr. Greenjeans. I am going to knit it again, I think, in wool, with a few more modifications. Matt got me both sets of the Knit Picks interchangeable sets for Christmas, ordered early as not to have to wait on back order, so I think a smaller needle will fit the ticket.

Happy Halloween!

Apparently, Thursdays are for posting. I would have posted this earlier, except that I enjoy natural light for photos, and Photobucket didn’t believe me when I told it I really did want the pictures to be smaller.

Monday was a dyeing day. I didn’t wake up that morning with this intention; I normally try to plan the days I’m going to dye, that way the kitchen is clean, all the needed materials are procured, and I have the time set out.

Deciding to join the Nation Sweater Knitting Month wasn’t that difficult of a decision. I’ve been wanting to knit another sweater, and specifically, I’ve wanted to join the 2000 or so other people who’ve knit the February Lady Sweater. It’s appealing because of it’s seamless construction, the garter that bleeds down to lace, and that I only have to try it on to make sure it’s long enough.

I enjoyed knitting my Mr. Greenjeans [of which I still need to take FO pictures. Note to self, next sunny day, do so – HA! See you in a few posts, buster], which has a very similar construction.

Also- I had the yarn for it in stash. Another bonus. I’ll be able to use up 12 or so balls, I like a really long sweater and my torso is ridiculous in it’s length.

However, I already have a lovely red sweater. Aha! Purple? I don’t have a purple sweater. I have purple dye. But woudn’t it be smarted to overdye with blue? You have more of the blue dye.

So, kitchen was scrubbed, and out came the dye and the cauldron.

I hanked up two balls of the Peruvian HIghland wool, just in case I didn’t like how it turned out, I could always knit a scarf and give it away.

Loved it, so much, that you get another shot. So, another batch of two, and then two batches of four later, and I have twelve balls in a lovely shade of red plumy purple. I got the idea from Julia at KnitterlyThings, when she overdyed yarn for a sweater. Having to do multiple batches makes me want a taller pot. Thrift store and Tuesday Morning, watch out!

1. The iron is your best friend. It makes seams neat, the foldy parts tidy, and gets out wrinkles.

2. Pinning everything before sewing through four layers of fabric saves the time of ripping it all out.

3. I can’t sew in a straight line.

4 Sewing in the ditch? Way more difficult than it looked.

5. Fabric, it has a grain. It stretches differently depending on the grain. This can lead to frilly edges.

6. Picking out coordinating fabric? Totally awesome. Especially when the husband comes along and helps.

7. I can do geometry, as long as I can use graph paper, my fingers, Excel, and someone else to make sure I can count past 3.

8. Lap quilts? Take five hours from start to finish. That’s a really gratifying finished object.

9. I cannot quilt and spin/design/knit/daydream at the same time.

10. Alison Weir’s The Lady Elizabeth is a fantastic audio book; one that is interesting enough I won’t fall asleep, not too interesting so I have to listen to it and not do anything else, and the narrator has an amazing vocal and accental range.

This is my second quilt, ever. The first one I made was from an on-sale Amish quilt block book from Barnes and Noble. I liked it well enough, and gave it to my mother and she hangs it on her wall.

This is for my dear friend Jess for her birthday. A simple nine patch, with plain black squares in between. It’s about 3’x3′, so perfect for laps, or for taking on a picnic and sitting on. I over bought the contrasting fabric on this- honestly, I can do algebra, knit and woodwork with no problem, but simple geometry to figure out an area? Not so much.

I had planned quilting on dragons from the book Celtic Quilting, but my machine isn’t equipped well enough for me to do the curves, and I do not hand quilt/sew unless I absolutely cannot avoid it.

I’m all right with how it turned out: mostly cobbled from ideas from books, and hours upon hours of watching the early morning quilting shows on the home improvement channels and the local public station.

This one I made in one day. It’s a little smaller, but I love it even more for the colors and for the scraps in it. I got the bee in my bonnet to quilt because my fabric stash is larger than both my yarn and spinning fiber stash. The idea of making quilts the way they were originally made, out of leftover fabric, is a very appealing idea. Except, I dont’ have that many scraps, and the stuff I do have would look horrid together.

Back to the fabric store for some plain cream and the striped orange. This one, if I can bear to part with it, is going to go to my father-in-law for Christmas. He has a hip problem, and this is just enough to sit on his lap and keep it warm.

The scrap to the left is from a skirt I made when I was a teen. Just a wrap to wear over bathing suits. It was later reappropriated into the a-line skirt pattern that I use for all of my skirts. The pattern is particularly flattering and simple. The Hawaiian print is also from a skirt I made, and the stripes I bought at JoAnne’s.

This weekend proves to be very busy: Maggie Jackson is making a visit to my LYS, Nature’s Yarns this weekend. I briefly met her on Wednesday- she seemed lovely, and her accent lovelier.

Friday night is her trunk show; I’m modeling in it. That should be an experience.

Then it’s off to the mountains, and hopefully the fiber festival in Berryville.

I have a surprise on which I’m working, hopefully to be revealed after the weekend. It involves some editing, and button mashing in the dark to work, hopefully.

[Sorry about the cruddy pictures. I didn’t want to go too long without sharing, I was so excited with how these turned out, but sun is not coming into the house until a late hour, and I’m usually not home.]

Socks are always on the needles. They are usually for me; socks are the one thing I tend to knit for myself that don’t get gifted, though I’ve been finding myself making them for gifts lately.

The Anniversary Socks are coming along. The first one looks like this:

And the second one is about an inch short of starting the color change for the red toes. Matt already likes them; he had to try them on so I could make sure they weren’t too short. It’s the first time I’ve knitted him socks with something resembling fingering weight yarn, so I couldn’t count rows like I did with the other two pairs.  I’ll have these to use as a reference point for the Christmas pair about which he knows NOTHING, for once.

The problem is simple, though- which pattern to make for him?

There are the Boyfriend Socks, or socks using the double helix cable I used for his scarf [he’s hinted about this, loudly], or something else? Matt has specifically said he wants a patterned sock for his next pair. He doesn’t have a color preference usually. Unlike most men, Matt is not afraid of color, but he doesn’t want a “girly pattern.”

Bah. Men.

Speaking of patterns, I’ve decided to put out the pattern for my Cabled Trouser Socks. I need to do a little editing, but it’ll be available in three different sizes, I think. I’m a little stuck on the calf shaping, but I’ve been doing some research there, so, we’ll see. I’m trying to avoid a fifteen page pattern for something that really doesn’t need that much information.

Happy Sunday!

Let’s take a moment to talk about handspun yarn.

I am a spinner; I consider my self a Knitter, with a capitol K, but I really don’t feel like I’ve reached that point with spinning yet. I do own a drop spindle and a wheel, and I do have a lovely little fiber stash. [Spinners in my spinning group tell me it’s paltry. I feel like it’s enough- for now!]

Lately, I’ve been buying fiber and spinning it to a purpose. There’s still the joy of Making Yarn, something which will always be so cool. But that joy has somewhere to go: a pair of socks, a shawl, a bag. There lies the opportunity to put even more intention into whatever it is that is being made.

Not to mention, the cool factor. I still can’t get over the fact I’m making yarn. But I’ll stop before I go into raptures that get a bit repetitive.

Do not adjust your screen; it really is that eye-blindingly bright.  I bought this fiber right after I began spinning, back in April. Purchased from the now defunct Spingwater in Alexandria, this fiber was with which I tried spinning 1/3 grist of fingering weight. I Navajo plied it, or at least, whacked out some version of Navaho that does the job for me. Whether or not I’m doing it perfectly doesn’t really concern me at this point in time- it worked, therefore, I love it. Navajo plying is my favorite way to ply at the moment, for a variety of reasons. I’ll wax poetic later. I really enjoyed playing with color, but I had no idea what to make with it. I had a little over 4 ounces, and something like 600 yards of fingering weight.

I let it marinate in the stash for a bit. I didn’t want to make socks because I didn’t think I had spun it tightly enough to stand up to the wear of socks.

Then- inspiration!

Enter Swallowtail. I knit this before for my friend Elle as a thank you for putting me up for two weeks when I went out to visit her this past summer. I worried about pooling at first, but then realized that because I had spun it willy nilly, there wasn’t going to be any color repeats. AWESOME.

When I knit it the first time, I knit the nupps. All of ’em. I really didn’t want to do it this time, and thought I would add to my knitting skills with beads. It’s all the rage right now at my Wednesday night knitting group, so I figured why not? The beads take place of the nupps, and woah, I love it. It slows down those rows considerably because you have to stop, pick up the bead on the hook, pick up the stitch, slide the bead on, then slide the knit stitch back onto the needle. I think the results are totally worth it.

My absolute favorite part of the shawl is the Lily of the Vally bits. The color stripes waver, and the beads add that nice little clack. I am in love with this shawl, and I am so not giving it up. Nope. Mine. On top of it being so stinkin’ pretty; I knit it in FOUR DAYS. There is no end of my love.

I wore it to the Montpelier Fiber Festival last weekend, and it was huge hit. I like to joke this is my hunting shawl because there’s no way you’d miss me in the woods.

This, however, illustrates spinning to a purpose:

My little French Market Bag. I did a spinning demonstration, and as a thank you, we were told to take some fiber home. [She was not kidding, dudes. This sweet, generous woman said we could take fleeces home. Fleeces. I restrained myself and took only a few pounds.] This is a mix of a natural black and a natural white. I spun for a worsted weight, and it felted beautifully.

I’ll even knit with other people’s handspun.

I think I’m in love.

Matt and I drove down to Montpelier today to go to the fiber festival. It was my first one, and I had a really good experience. I’m exhausted, taking a nap in the car as well as when I got home this afternoon, but it was worth it.

The Montpelier festival is small; you can get through every vendor twice, each lunch, watch the sheepdog trials and shearing in about four hours. I’m looking forward to the one in Berryville later this month, and maybe MDSW next year.

1. llama butt, 2. sheep shearing before, 3. sheep shearing after, 4. sheep dog trials, 5. Matt and I after a long day, 6. sheep butt!!, 7. more sheep butt!!, 8. llama face!!, 9. Nigerean Dwarf Goats