Friday, February 27, 2009

Destashing for a Good Cause!

While reading through the knitlist today, I came across a message from Sister Grace of the Sisters of St. Margaret in Boston, MA. She indicated that their group knits scarves using donated yarn, then sells the scarves to raise money for their mission work in Haiti. This is most excellent timing since I've been wanting to clear out my yarn stash quite a bit, but didn't just want to take yarn to the Goodwill store. I really wanted the yarn to be used by someone for a good purpose.

I made a cursory pass through my yarn stash this evening. I'm apparently ready to get rid of more yarn than I thought. Close to two Rubbermaid bins worth, actually. There are yarns in there that I'm just not going to use. It's not that there is anything wrong with them. Either my tastes have changed or they were a screaming deal on sale and I thought I had an idea for them at the time but never quite got around to actually knitting the project. Some of these are yarns I bought to knit baby stuff, but the "babies" are now 5 and 3 years old! Approximately a quarter of the yarn is stuff that was given to me when I was given my loom. It's good wool yarn--some of it is Harrisville wool on cones--but I haven't done a darned thing with it in over 7 years, so I think I can let it go to folks who WILL do something with it.

The determination of what to keep vs. what to donate came down to "Am I realistically going to knit with this yarn in the next 12 months? Do I have a specific project in mind for this yarn? Would I wear something made from this yarn? Do I really love this yarn and want to keep it/knit with it?" If I couldn't answer "yes" to these questions, I figured it was time to let it go.

When I wrote to Sister Grace, I mentioned that I could also send knitted scarves and she said that would be fine too, so I even have a place to send my charity knitting too! I haven't done any charity knitting in a while, but I would like to knit my way through my Mountain Goat yarn stash and also try out the beautiful cabled scarf patterns of SmarieK Knits. I'm a whole lot more motivated to knit things as experiments if they get used by someone at some point. Not only do I get to try new patterns, but I also get to do someone some good and perhaps my scarf or other project will bring someone warmth and joy.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Starting Bobbin Two!

I have spun up the first bobbin of the merino/tencel roving. There is still room on the first bobbin for more yarn, but I'm trying to at least approximate the same spinning order for the colors between the two plies. Once I get the second set of three pre-drafted roving bits spun, I'll look at what's left of the roving and divide it lengthwise for the last of the spinning.

I have definitely decided on making this a two-ply lace weight. I think it would be beautiful in a water- or sea-themed shawl. Creatures of the Reef might work, but I'm also considering MMario's Spanish Armada. I'm not sure I'll end up with quite enough yarn to knit Spanish Armada unless I use larger needles (size 7 or 8) than I would typically use for lace. MMario says he's done the whole thing with 1000 yards on size 8 needles. Other knitters have used 1400-1500 yards, but smaller needles.

On the Critter front, I have woven in the ends on one of the Gator Mitts and have finished the second mitt. I got caught up in cooking and cleaning this evening and didn't get any further knitting done.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Re-Thinking the Wool Processing

I had a look at my fleece stash. I've been thinking of it in terms of the number of fleeces, not the weight of fleeces, which is how the processing (and shipping) charges are calculated. I've got four dark Coopworth fleeces. Their total weight is at least 28 pounds. At $6.60 a pound, that's $184, plus shipping. Yikes!! Even with the March discount and the prepay discount, it's still beyond my budget at this time. On the other hand, this means that I'll have lots of hands-on time with some glorious fleeces, which is fine. Now I just need to keep on makinng incremental progress, one fleece at a time.

Fortunately, to help motivate me, I have the book A Fine Fleece. By sheer coincidence, the fleeces I have (Coopworth, Border Leicester Cross, Shetland, Romney and Merino Cross) are actually breeds featured in the book. Who knew!

At the moment, I'm finishing up the teasing/flicking of a Coopworth fleece. There is already about 1/3 of it washed and a small portion of it combed, plus two batts from the drum carder before I decided it really needs to just be combed.

I'm not sure which fleece I might work on next. I washed a couple of locks from the white Shetland fleece and was amazed by how bright and white it came out. I could see this fleece becoming a lovely 2-ply lace weight yarn for a delicious Shetland shawl. At the same time, there's a fairly coarse silver and steel gray fleece that I'm dying to work with. It was one of the first fleeces I purchased and it's just beautiful. I don't know what it would turn into though. Maybe a sweater or a jacket. It'll all depend upon how soft it is once it's spun.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

I'm In LUST!!!!

Well, I suppose that's appropriate, given that today is Valentine's Day. I was going through some of my stash today and found eight skeins of bright green Naturespun Worsted. This was a gift to me probably ten years ago. It's far too bright for my tastes, but it should be easy enough to tone it down with a bit of overdyeing. A darker green should do the trick. Ideally this would be overdyed while in the skein, rather than after knitting.

The object of my lust is not, however, the yarn. It's the Nantucket Jacket by Norah Gaughan. The pattern is published in the Winter 2006 Interweave Knits. I found it while looking through Ravelry at projects being made with Naturespun Worsted. When I got out the magazine, I discovered that I'd even started making notes on the pattern about what yarn I might use, though I did not apparently consider the use of stash yarns, based on the notes I'd made. I may or may not choose to make the sleeves full-length or 3/4 length. I'm not sure I would like elbow-length sleeves.

In order to keep myself from starting yet another project while leaving the Critters unfinished, I'm going to use the Nantucket Jacket as a reward for the ongoing decluttering my house. Jared Flood at Brooklyn Tweed talked about reward carrots in his most recent blog post. He's using a cone of cashmere yarn from School Products as his carrot. I may actually end up getting rid of some cones of yarn to get to my carrot. Delaying the start will also give me time to figure out what color to use for overdyeing the yarn and get the dye ordered. Perhaps I'll get the sweater finished by next fall.

The Spinning Bug Bites!

I don't know exactly why, but I found myself sitting at my wheel last night. I am still working away on the Blue Moon Fiber Arts superwash merino/tencel roving I bought several years ago from The Fold. The color still reminds me of the ocean and mermaids. I'm one small ball of roving away from filling the first bobbin.

When I purchased this roving, I had intended to make a three-ply sock yarn. Once I started to spin it, I thought perhaps a 2-ply lace weight for a shawl. I'm still waffling between the two options. I did split the roving lengthwise before pre-drafting and have labeled each of the smaller chunks. This should make for more-or-less matching colors between the singles and in the plied yarn.

Processing Wool
I'm finally admitting to myself that I'm not going to get all of my fleeces processed myself. I have heard good things about Zeilinger's and, according to their ad in the latest Spin-Off magazine, they're having a processing sale this spring. I'll have to figure out which fleeces to send and whether I want them blended together or processed separately. I am still leaning toward keep the Coopworth fleeces for myself so I can comb them.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Half of Gator Mitt #2!

Well, I went all hyper to knit Gator Mitt #2 and now I've lost all motivation about halfway through it. I have, however, started a completely mindless One-Row Scarf. My only "excuse" is that I was listening to Ender in Exile as an audiobook and didn't want to miss anything good in the book by having to pay attention to my knitting.

Perhaps there shall be more knitting this weekend, since I've got Monday off for President's Day. Or maybe I'll work on sorting out my fleece stash. One of the nice fiber mills is having a 25% off processing sale for February. Maybe I'll finally admit to myself that I'm never going to process 15 fleeces myself. I'm definitely not going to do like another fiber person and just throw out all the fleeces after deciding she wasn't going to get around to ever processing them herself or having them processed. O.o

Sunday, February 08, 2009

I interrupt this blog for a word about Fire.

If you've been watching the news at all this weekend, you may have heard about the wildfires in Australia. Victoria is burning. I don't mean a town. I mean the state. There are fires elsewhere in eastern Australia too.

Last night, the Kinglake Complex fire had a front line that was over 100 km long and had burned over 465 square miles (~296,000 acres). NASA has taken photos, but this was taken on January 30, 2009, BEFORE things got bad.

Melbourne's Alfred Hospital (the largest trauma/burn center in the state) has run out of morphine for its burn victims. There are over 90 people confirmed dead at this time and will probably quickly cross 100.

As far as I can tell, the town I used to live in, Kilmore, is still there. Fires started east of town and continued east, joining another fire and creating the Kinglake Complex. My "little brother" DownUnder, Justin Dally, is a firefighter with the CFA. I hope he and the rest of the family are safe. It's already been the weekend from hell down there. I hope it doesn't become the week from hell too.

If you feel so inclined, the next time you have a chat with whatever higher power you chat with, please say a few words for the folks in Australia--both the citizens and the fireys.

These photos came from the galleries at the Herald Sun. (Gallery 1) (Gallery 2)

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Gator Mitt #1!

Well, it still needs the ends sewn in, but I did get it finished. (All I had to do was the thumb and the claws.) The second mitt will be easy to do in an evening.

Tomorrow evening, I think I will make myself weave in the ends on mitt #1, put the paw pads on the Puppy Paws and put the eyes and antennae on the Caterpillar Scarf. Then I'll start on Gator Mitt #2.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Book Over, Knitting Commencing

I have finished reading The Regulators. I was rather surprised to discover that it has a happy ending. I can't say that I recall ever reading a happy ending in a Stephen King book before, but it was a fitting ending and a good one. There was an earlier place in the book where an ending could have been made that would have been more typical of Mr. King's work, but this ending better suited the characters involved.

So, now that I've gotten the book out of the way, I'm ready to get back to my knitting. Since I need goals to help motivate me, I am resolving to finish the Critter Knits by Valentine's Day. I don't think I'll get them mailed to arrive at Niece and Nephew's house by Valentine's Day, but I will get them done by then. As a reward for meeting my goal, I'll finish my Queen of Cups sock and then get back to Errold's Grove while I ponder the next project....

Will it be the second Slippin' Stripin' Sock from Sock Madness? Will it be fixing the hole in the bottom of a pair of older socks? Will it be finishing the Boy Socks (still haven't re-done the toe on the first sock)? Will I finish one of the other UFOs (like the Blueberry Sweater)? Or will I start something completely new?

Monday, February 02, 2009

Pattern Found and a Conundrum

I tracked down my printed copy of the Queen of Cups pattern. I have even cast on the second sock. This is good, right? Of course it is.

Here's the conundrum: I started reading The Regulators by Richard Bachman (Stephen King's pseudonym) and I'm hooked on it. It's every bit as good as his work from the 80s and 90s. It's a struggle to put it down when it's time for lights out and I am now torn between reading and knitting in the evenings. I haven't been much of a fan of Mr. King's work in the past ten to fifteen years (though I must say I haven't even tried The Dark Tower series), but I have been completely sucked in by this book. It's deliciously creepy without an excess of gore. The plot is just twisted enough that I can't quite figure it out yet. There are, perhaps, just a few too many characters, but at the rate at which they're dying, that won't be a problem for too long. Perhaps because this is one of Richard Bachman's books, rather than one of Mr. King's books, it's actually set in Ohio, not Maine. I've even been having mildly disturbing dreams since I started reading it and ordinarily I don't have any dreams at all as far as I know. So far I haven't had to sleep with the lights on, but that may change.

The Gator Mitt I haven't finished since I got stuck in December is muttering unkind things about me as I continue to ignore it. LA LA LA LA LA! I'M NOT LISTENING!!!! Is it a sure sign of madness when you start talking back to your knitting?