Thursday, October 30, 2008

Single Skeins of Mountain Goat

Shortly before I moved two years ago, I went on a shopping spree at my former LYS and picked up a supply of Mountain Colors yarns--three skeins Mountain Goat and two skeins each of Weaver's Wool Quarters and Bearfoot. I failed to notice at the time that Mountain Goat has a much shorter yardage than the other two yarns. I had intended to make myself some socks from it, but I'm pretty sure that 230 yards is not nearly enough to do that, even for worsted weight. So I've been holding onto this yarn trying to figure out what to do with it. I'm pondering whether to make hats and/or scarves with it. The skein of Ruby River will probably be turned into a Liesl scarf for me. I don't know yet what I'll decide about the Juniper and the Wild Raspberry. I may knit them into scarves as well and simply have faith that someone who needs/deserves a handknit scarf will present themselves around the time the scarf is finished.

Critters Have Arrived!
The Critter Knits book was on my doorstep when I got home from work today. All the patterns are exceedingly cute. As an added bonus, the book was completely and carefully encased in two big sheets of bubble wrap. I allowed myself fifteen minutes of anti-stress popping, which was just what I needed after a long week at work. Tomorrow I will have to start the yarn quest for the Niece and Nephews hats, scarves and mittens. I'm almost positive that the stash won't have what I need in it. I'd like to use superwash wool for these things so they're really warm, rather than acrylic.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

It's a Bag! It's a Hat!

I don't yet have pictures, but I have been advised that the Candy Corn Bags are *very* popular as hats. Not only has Niece worn a bag on her head, so has my sister. Sis claims to have worn it as a thinking cap while studying for a nursing school clinical exam this morning. I say it didn't happen unless there are pictures.

Queen of Cups #1 Finished!
I'd prefer the leg to be a bit longer, but the pattern called for just two repeats and, now that I've finished it, there wouldn't have been enough yarn to do three repeats. I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. Now I need to figure out if I want to cast on the second one or work on something else for a little while. Like the Boy Sock.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Doldrums Over!

I picked up Queen of Cups last night for a bit o' DVD knitting. That went quite well and got me a bit more energized about knitting. Then today I came across the Nottingham Hat. I think this will become my 2008 charity knitting project. I've got a couple odd skeins of worsted weight wool that are just screaming to be made into something useful and warm, like a hat. w00t!

The one thing I haven't done and really shouldn't have put off this long is to order the Morehouse Merino Critter Patterns. I am supposed to be knitting a hat, scarf and pair of mittens for the Niece and Nephew. Niece would like a Caterpillar Scarf, Puppy Mittens and a Pony Tail hat. Nephew would like a complete set of alligator gear. As you might expect, it's a wee bit difficult to get started on this project if I don't have the patterns. I had intended to buy the individual patterns, but figured I was up to $25 for those six, I might as well spend $50 and get all the critters. Just in case there's a different critter they want later. Besides, these would also be really cute things to knit and give away for charity.

And now I'm going to watch the end of a Thin Man movie and all of Iron Man while I knit some more on my Queen of Cups.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fall Spinning

By popular request, the SpinList has spawned an online spinning guild Yahoo Group called SpinGuild. The first project was recently announced:
I have some lovely Romney/Border Leicester roving I picked up several years ago at the Fleece Festival in Greencastle, IN. It's an orangey-red and old gold color called Autumn Leaves. I have 8 ounces of it left to spin. I have previously spun some of the same colorway in a Romney/Border Leicester/Mohair blend. That batch was made into a 3-ply worsted weight yarn. I think I'll spin the new batch to match the existing yarn. I don't know what I'll do with it. I had initially intended to make myself a sweater, but I doubt I'll end up with enough yarn to do that. Anyway, it's a beautiful color and it really does make me think of Autumn. It's not a terribly creative interpretation of the project goal, but it's what I'm choosing anyway. I'll start the spinning as soon as I get through with the merino/tencel sock yarn already on the wheel.

Next Project Doldrums
Now that I've finished the Candy Corn Bags, I need to figure out what to knit next. Obviously Boy would like me to finish his Boy Socks (and I really should do that). I'm almost halfway down the foot of the first Queen of Cups sock. Errold has been languishing on the coffee table ever since the vacuum cleaner incident. I rather feel like starting something new, but nothing really appeals at the moment. Perhaps I'll just work on the spinning for a while and see what pops into my head.

I have begun to wonder if the end of project doldrums is why I have a bit of an aversion to actually finishing a project. Hmmm......

Friday, October 24, 2008

Candy Corn Bags Done!

And just in time as I really need to mail them tomorrow if they're going to get to my niece and nephew before Halloween. Update: They went in the mail this morning, along with a box of almond hot chocolate mix for my sister. Mommy needs a treat too!

To recap, I used the Candy Corn Bag pattern by Isela Phelps, with some modifications. First, I used acrylic yarn and did not felt the bags. Rather than using bulky weight yarn, I doubled some worsted weight. Next, I changed the width of the three stripes to more closely reflect the pattern of stripes in actual candy corn. Finally, I failed to read the directions for the handles. Technically there are supposed to be two handles per bag, sewn to the sides like on a standard tote bag. I failed to read the handle directions and made one handle per bag, attached at the ends like a messenger bag. Either way I think it'll tote a goodly amount of candy.

As far as yarn use goes, I'd estimate 300 yards of doubled yarn per bag or 600 yards total for both bags. It was a pretty quick knit. The most tedious part was the last 3 inches of the I-cord on the second bag.

Monday, October 20, 2008

More Candy Corn Modifications

I've already told you that I changed the width of the various stripes to make the bags look more like actual candy corn. I also mentioned that I didn't think I'd have enough of the yellow yarn to make the handles. I was right. I also didn't have enough orange yarn to make handles. Rather than using white yarn for handles, I decided to use brown yarn. I did not, however, bother to read the handle directions before starting to knit the I-cord handle. Had I actually read the directions, I would have noticed that there are TWO handles per bag, not one. And the handles attach on the flat sides of the bag, like a regular tote bag, not at the ends like in a messenger bag. Oopsies.

It's now a single strap tote bag shaped like candy corn. I'm calling it a "pattern modification". I am not going to unknit 14 inches of 4-stitch I-cord and then re-knit twice as much I-cord to fix it. I did at least decide to make it a 4-stitch I-cord which is what the pattern calls for and I did pick up the stitches on the body of the bag to anchor the cord to the bag, rather than knitting it separately and sewing it on later.

It is incredibly cute though. Now I just need sufficient light to take a picture with my camera phone and to remember to take said picture when sufficient light exists, rather than remembering after dark. *sigh*

February Lady Sweater
I think I have resisted the February Lady Sweater. The overwhelming urge to start that project over the weekend has abated. This is good. I don't think much of spending LOOOOOOTS of time knitting a sweater I won't ever wear and I'm not quite altruistic enough yet to knit an adult sweater and then donate it to charity or the Good-Will store. I do like that idea though. Perhaps after I get a couple of my own sweaters-in-progress knocked out, I'll do one for charity.

No Sheep For You!
I think I'll have to buy this book. I like to knit with wool, but I really like a bunch of the patterns in this book. I am particularly enamored of Morrigan, Intoxicating, Bespoke and Cables & Os. Morrigan is a highly detailed aran pullover. Intoxicating is a pullover with a mosaic knit body and lace sleeves. Bespoke is a long, seed stitch jacket. Cables and Os is a cabled cardigan. I would love to wear any of these. There are another three or four patterns that I like a lot too. It is unusual for me to find this many patterns in a single book that I would like to knit and wear. I also like the general fiber information at the front of the book and mixed in with the patterns. This is much more than a simple pattern book catering to non-wool yarns. It's a great resource for anyone who knits with non-wool yarns and wants to learn how to make yarn/knitting decisions to help ensure a good outcome.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Bag Number Two In Progress

I have finally started Candy Corn Bag #2.  I am nearly through the yellow section.  It seems like this one is going faster than the first one, but that doesn't seem quite right.  The second bag needs to be finished this weekend and the I-cord handles done by Monday or Tuesday so I can get the bags sent off to the Niece and Nephew in time for Halloween.

Travel Knitting Decision
The travel knitting I took with me last week was not the Boy Sock after all.  I ended up taking Queen of Cups.  I did finish the gusset decreases and the first repeat down the foot one evening, so that was quite productive.  The second evening, I was too distracted by my thoughts, the phone and the television to work on it.  I think it'll be around 1 1/2 more pattern repeats to finish the foot.  Although this is a patterned sock, rather than a plain ribbed sock, it does seem to go much faster.  I am increasingly convinced that this is a function of having pattern rows to check off.  I don't think there is actually a true time advantage, just a better documentation of progress so it seems faster. I like this apparent time advantage. It does wonders for my motivation and excitement to finish a project.

Pattern Ideas
The pattern ideas continue to spawn in my brain.  I now have several sock, shawl/stole and sweater ideas written down in various degrees of vagueness.  The formal writing up of said pattern ideas is progressing much more slowly.  I have actually only started to write up one pattern, but I also started to test knit it.  Well, I've done the ribbing for a sock pattern.  I stopped when I got to the pattern part.  Just as soon as the Candy Corn Bags are out of the house, I'll get back to it.  With the sock patterns, it seems reasonable to write and test knit one sock a month. The trick will be figuring out where that fits in among all the other things I need to get done.

Next I'll need to figure out if I want to sell the patterns, give some or all of them away for free or just keep them for myself.   At the moment I'm leaning toward offering a couple of patterns for free and selling the rest.  There is already an Etsy shop called Three Fates Fiber, so I'd need to come up with a different shop name, if I wanted to sell there.  I do own the domain, so setting up a shop there is an option, but I like that Etsy already handles the shopping cart and payment stuff.  I guess that will be my thing to think about when I'm knitting this week.

February Lady Sweater
Why is it that I feel compelled to knit this sweater?  I don't think it is particularly attractive.  I don't think I would ever wear it.  I reminds me of something leftover from a rather unfashionable woman's closet from the 1940s/1950s.  Yet I keep asking myself if I have any yarn in my stash which could be turned into one of these things. WHY!?!?!?

Friday, October 10, 2008

One Down, One to Go (now with photo!)

I have finished the first Candy Corn bag, sans I-cord strap. I changed the proportions of the three colors a bit from the pattern. Rather than three equal-width bands of color, I made the middle orange section the broadest, followed by the top yellow section and a smaller white tip. I felt this more accurately reflected the coloration of the candies. (Which reminds me, I need to buy some candy corn. 'Tis the season and all that.)

I'll cast on the second bag soon. I'll save knitting the I-cord for the end of the project so I don't risk running out of yellow yarn on the bag. I can always make the handles a different color if necessary, but an oddly colored candy corn is just right out.

Travel Knitting
I'll be in a hotel two nights next week as a result of some out of town meetings. I will have to decide upon my travel knitting this weekend since we're leaving Monday afternoon. At the moment, I'm leaning toward taking Errold's Grove (once I spit splice the vacuumed yarn). On the other hand, a sock would be simpler to manage and less fragile. I have my choice of Queen of Cups, a half-knit second fuschia sock from a year ago, the second Boy Sock and the new sock design I dreamed up a couple of weeks ago. We'll see what the old brain says on Sunday night when I'm packing. (Boy has already voted for Boy Sock and he asked very nicely, so I may just have to oblige him.)

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Progress Pics

The first Candy Corn Bag is now maybe 1/3 done. It's actually going pretty quickly when I sit down and work on it. (I've been easily distracted.) I should have plenty of yarn left for the second bag. This is generic acrylic yarn from an afghan kit someone gave me a while ago. The afghan was one of those 70s era things with butterflies on it. I think it may have actually been a crocheted afghan kit. In any event, it wasn't anything I was going to actually make, but the yarn is certainly usable. Most of it is an off-white color, but there was also orange, yellow and brown.

Here's where I left the Queen of Cups sock.... I'm ready to knit the foot. I just have to sit down and figure out the instep pattern chart. It's not going to be particularly difficult. I just have to do it. I'll coordinate the decreases with the pattern rows so it takes fewer brain cells to remember what I'm doing.

Errold's Grove is still sitting forlornly on the coffee table, ever since I vacuumed up its yarn. I have attached the vacuum yarn to the ball, but have not yet attached the yarn back to the shawl. I really should work on that.

Here's an up close pic of the vacuum-yarn incident. Surprisingly, the yarn wrapped quite neatly around the beater bar and didn't tangle at all. I don't know that I'd use the vacuum to wind balls of yarn, but it didn't do a half bad job.

Unearthing WIPs...
I rediscovered this green polo sweater over the weekend. I knit it years and years ago and even seamed up one sleeve (badly). The rest of it has languished in pieces ever since. I'm seriously considering figuring out how to neatly sew up the rest of it. The pattern is from a 1990s-era Vogue Knitting and calls for a zipper to be installed. I think I may skip that part and just wear it over a tank top or figure out a button closure. I don't think my sweater sewing skills are quite up to managing a zipper just yet. I'm still trying to figure out mattress stitch.

So my reward for finishing the first Candy Corn Bag is to sew up the green polo.

Next I'll have to figure out what to do with the purple grapes vest I thought would look good about ten years ago. I'm not sure it would have looked good ten years ago either, actually. Maybe in the 80s with a poofy blouse (and shoulder pads) and a silk scarf/tie. On the other hand, the yarn is beautiful. It just won't end up being exactly the same vest that the pattern intended.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Candy Corn! Candy Corn!

Ok, so that doesn't sound quite as good in a song as "Lollipop! Lollipop!", but it's close....

I have started Candy Corn Bag #1. It's about 2 inches tall at the moment. The bag is knit from the top down, so it'll actually go faster the further along I'll get. I really like projects whose rate of completion has a positive acceleration. In another 28 or so rows, I'll change colors to orange. I'm not looking forward to the I-cord handles, but I haven't yet tried to come up with an alternative. Perhaps I'll just make a braided or twisted cord instead.

Sock Pattern Developing
While at lunch on Tuesday, I wrote a sock pattern. I just started to test knit it today. I was too braindead to manage Queen of Cups this evening, but could manage to do some K1, P1 ribbing, so I did. There are several more patterns rattling around in my brain for socks and even for sweaters, plus my little red notebook of ideas from the past ten years. I'm trying to decide if I want to sell patterns or submit them for publication or both. If I decide to sell them, do I want to do that off my own website or from Etsy? If I start doing sales, at what point do I need to deal with sales and income taxes? (I'm going to guess that it's as soon as I start taking money.) Questions, questions. Details, details. In the absence of any answers at the moment, I'm going to just design away (and testknit away), then make some decisions once I have at least three or four patterns to mess with. Conservatively, I think I can produce one sock pattern a month (written and test knit). Now I just need to figure out how to get all the other knitting/spinning done at the same time.

If only I could fold time and space like they did in Dune....