Friday, December 17, 2010

I May Be Crazy

One of my Christmas presents came in the mail this week.  It's a copy of Twisted-Stitch Knitting by Maria Erlbacher.  There are some lovely stitch patterns in this book and some even lovelier sweater patterns at the back of the book.  Here's where the crazy part comes in.  I have decided to not only knit at least one of these sweaters, I have decided that I'm going to spin the yarn with which to knit them.

You may recall that I have >75 pounds of lovely roving that I had processed by Spinderella this past spring.  I've been trying to come up with projects to start using this up.  I could knit 800 pairs of socks from it, but I think that would get rather boring, so a larger project (or 50) is in order.  For the most part, the wool is soft enough for next-to-skin wear.  I'm thinking sweaters and shawls and scarves.  For the coarser wool, perhaps an afghan or a woven rug.  My wardrobe could use the addition of several lighter-weight cardigans and maybe a couple of pullovers.  The natural-colored wool should set off textured stitch patterns quite well, as will a worsted-spun yarn. 

Spinning to meet a project specification will be a new experience for me.  Ordinarily, I knit the yarn and then pick a project. It may be a challenge to spin a consistent yarn from start to finish. I'll need to devise a way to measure the yarn length so I can be sure that I have spun enough yarn before I start knitting.  I'm also curious about how long it will take me to spin enough yarn for a whole sweater.

I'll keep pondering the details while I finish spinning up the merino roving I've got on the wheel right now (2-ply lace weight).

On the Knitting Front...
I've got one knitted gift finished.  The other one is only half done (still haven't started the second sock).  I have been making some progress on the orange cardigan.  Haven't done much on the green cardigan sleeve, even though I'm already at the shaping of the sleeve cap on the first sleeve.  Fairly soon I'll have to figure out what my travel knitting for next week will be.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Meme-Day Monday

"Stolen" at the direction of Vicki over at knitorious.

1.  What time did you get up this morning?  0330.  Had to take Boy to the airport. I normally get up between 0400 and 0415.
2.  How do you like your steak?  Grazing in a pasture. I'm a vegetarian.
3.  What was the last film you saw at the cinema? I saw "Red" just this past weekend.
4.  What is your favorite TV show?  "Castle." It's the only TV show I watch, though I shift it to Wednesday nights.
5.  If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?  Some place with gorgeous views, great food and fascinating people.
6.  What did you have for breakfast? Oatmeal with blueberries and a piece of homemade whole wheat bread on the side.
7.  What is your favorite cuisine?  Mexican or Italian.
8.  What foods do you dislike?  Lima beans, Brussels sprouts, greasy food, animals.
9.  Favorite Place to Eat? Courier Cafe. The Tin Shed. Atomic Ale Brewery and Pub.
10.  Favorite dressing?  Spicy mustard mixed with apple cider vinegar and a bit of honey.
11.  What kind of vehicle do you drive? VW Golf and CBR 600 F3 motorcycle.
12.  What are your favorite clothes? Jeans and a sweater.
13.  Where would you visit if you had the chance?  Another planet. Tibet. Italy. The bottom of the ocean. Any place with gorgeous views, great food and fascinating people.
14.  Is your cup 1/2-empty or 1/2-full?  1/2-full.
15.  Where would you want to retire?  Some place with gorgeous views, great food and fascinating people. Some place I can continue learning and doing.
16.  Favorite time of day?  Sunset or sunrise.
17.  Where were you born?  The same place as Captain Kirk. Iowa.
18.  Favorite sport to watch?  Equestrian sports. College football.
19.  Who do you think will not tag you back?
20.  Person you expect to tag you back first?
21.  Who are you most curious about their responses to this?
22.  Bird watcher?  Not since I moved and no longer have a bird feeder installed.  I miss having meals with the goldfinches, bluebirds, woodpeckers and their friends.
23.  Are you a morning person or a night person?  I have become a  morning person. I have been a night person in the past.
24.  Pets?  Do virtual fish count?
25.  Favorite book?  I can't pick just one.  Maybe The Diamond Age by Neil Stephenson.
26.  What did you want to be when you were little?  A mad scientist. See? Dreams can come true!
27.  What is your best childhood memory?  Getting to have a pony for a week while staying at my grandparent's farm. Seeing at least one movie every weekend throughout my childhood and adolescence.  Getting lost in various books.
28.  Are you a cat or dog person? Either
29.  Do you have children?  Just houseplants and books.
30.  Do you always wear your seat belt?  Yes.
31.  Have you ever been in a car accident?  Yes.
32.  Any pet peeves?  Yes, mostly having to do with bad grammar and a lack of common sense.
33.  Favorite pizza topping?  tomatoes, roasted eggplant, onions, no cheese.
34.  Favorite Flower? To look at: sunflowers.  To smell: Lilies of the valley.
35.  Favorite ice cream?  Frozen banana "ice cream".  (Frozen bananas blended with almond milk until smooth.)
36.  Favorite fast food restaurant?  If I eat the lunch I packed while driving in my car, does that count?
37.  How many times did you fail your driver's test?  None.
38.  From whom did you get your last email? A spammer.
39.  Which store would you choose to max out your credit card?  I don't buy on credit, but I could drop a lot of cash at various yarn and book stores.
40.  Do anything spontaneous lately?  Yes. I try to do something spontaneous at least every weekend.
41.  Do you like your job? Love it.
42.  Broccoli? Cauliflower?  Yes.
43.  What was your favorite vacation?   Probably DisneyWorld for my 40th bday.
44.  Last person you went out to dinner with?  Boy.
45.  What are you listening to right now?  Fresh Air on NPR.
46.  What is your favorite color? Most intense colors: cobalt blue, forest green, purple, red.
47.  How many tattoos do you have?  None.
48.  Coffee drinker?  Yes.
49.  Favorite pastime?  Knitting. Reading. Watching movies. Baking.
50.  Favorite quote?  Two quotes, both from the XIVth Dalai Lama:
    "Every day, think as you wake up, today I am fortunate to be alive, I have a precious human life, I am not going to waste it. I am going to use all my energies to develop myself, to expand my heart out to others; to achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings. I am going to have kind thoughts towards others, I am not going to get angry or think badly about others. I am going to benefit others as much as I can."
   "If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito."

Want to meme along?  Go for it!  Post that you played along and I'll come read your answers too.

Friday, December 10, 2010

I seem to be on an unraveling kick lately

At least that's what my blog posts seem to indicate.

I have discovered that if you let a couple weeks go past while in the middle of doing the shaping for a sleeve cap, it's fairly difficult to remember where in the process you were.  So now I've ripped out the top of the sleeve and started the shaping over again since I couldn't get the numbers to work out right (apparently started up at the wrong spot in the instructions).  Now things are back on track.  Given that the weather is supposed to be gloriously icky (freezing rain, sleet, snow--everything the Postal Service loves this time of year) this weekend, I think I'll park myself in my comfy chair next to the fireplace, put on a nice audiobook or DVD and finish off my sleeve.

Of course, what I really should do is finish off one of my Christmas gifts.  The problem is that I'm worried that I might run out of yarn.  It won't make more yarn to not finish the present, but that seems to be my coping mechanism at the moment. *sigh*

Perhaps I'll make a deal with myself and alternate one hour of sleeve with one hour of present.

Swan Lake Oopsies
My Swan Lake stole has now been zipped into my jacket three times, resulting in two rips.  This is definitely not going to survive as my winter scarf.  I'll have to rip back part of the wing to fix one of the holes.  Hopefully I can find all the printouts for the pattern.

In the meantime I've been wearing a red mohair blend (Mountain Colors' Mountain Goat) scarf and have discovered that it's itchy.  I'm thinking this particular variety of mohair and my neck just don't get along.  I had suspected that last winter, but now I'm pretty certain of it. I've got two more skeins of the same yarn in different colors, but definitely won't be making scarves for me out of it. Will have to find a new scarf solution and soon!

Monday, November 15, 2010


I have cast on the green cardigan's sleeve again, this time with the size 5 needles that the pattern (and my gauge) call for.  So far the sleeve is about 4 inches tall and progressing well.

I also cast on for the orange linen/mohair cardigan.  The body of it is in stockinette.  I debated putting a garter stitch border at the bottom edge just to keep it from curling. And then I didn't do it.  Now I'm debating ripping out 3 inches of knitted mohair. Ugh.  First I'll block the knitting I've done and see how crisply it blocks out.  So far nobody else on Ravelry who has knit this sweater (Cia) has mentioned the bottom edge curling.  Either it didn't bother anybody or it didn't curl.

The first Boy-sized Zombie sock is nearly done.  Time to knit the ribbing at the top of the cuff, then cast on sock #2.  With any luck, I'll get these done for Christmas.

The first of the Pedicure Socks is finished.  Need to get the second one cast on since that's a Christmas gift too.

Speaking of Christmas...I should probably figure out what, if any, other holiday knitting there will be, given that it's only a bit over a month away.  I'm leaning toward no other holiday knitting, personally.  This is not because I'm a humbug, just because I'm attempting to be realistic about the amount of knitting time and energy I actually have between now and mid-December.

What, if anything, are you knitting for the holidays?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Week is Unraveling

First, there was Inara's Sock.  It took me what seemed like way too long, but I finally got two inches of sock knit up.  And then I dropped a stitch at some point.  And I dropped a couple more while picking up the first errant stitch. So I decided to rip back a bit. And then I discovered how difficult it is to pick up tiny twisted stitches correctly. So I ripped it back to the ribbing and started over.  And promptly goofed up the first row.

I'm thinking this sock will still be Inara's Sock based on color but that I might try a different, less complex pattern.  In any event, I'm unlikely to finish these socks before the end of the month, which means I'll be out of the Harry Potter Knit Crochet Cup for the rest of the term. :-(

Tonight I decided to pick up the sleeve to my Green Cardigan that I set aside several weeks ago.  I just have the shaping at the top of the sleeve to do.  I have been knitting the sleeve in the round using DPNs.  Since the sleeve cap is knit flat, I wanted to switch over to a circular to simplify things.  That's when I discovered the discrepancy.

I've been knitting on size 3 DPNs.  The sleeve is supposed to be knit on size 5 needles.  On the other hand, this explains why it was a bit more narrow than I had expected or wanted. *sigh*

So I'll be starting over on the sleeve. But perhaps not tonight.
In a tiny bit of good news, the swatch for my orange mohair/linen cardigan came out quite lovely.  I really like this color. It's bright and cheerful without being garish. The yarn is Louet KidLin, which is composed of 1 ply mohair and one ply linen.  The linen provides a bit of stiffness and body,  so the knitted fabric is crisp yet soft and has a bit of halo. The one potential issue I found in knitting up the swatch is that occasionally the plies separate a bit and only one is caught in a given stitch.  The body of the sweater I'm knitting is all stockinette so at least if I have to repair a split stitch, it won't be terribly complicated to drop a stitch back to the problem and run it back up after the fix.

What I haven't decided for certain yet is whether I'll wait until after the Green Cardigan is done before I cast on.  I like how quickly this knits up, the color reminds me of autumn leaves and pumpkins, and it's just so warm and cheerful!

I'm glad I didn't feel like spinning this week. I'm afraid to think about how I might have goofed that up.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Mini Project

Over on Ravelry, I'm competing in the Harry Potter Knitting/Crochet House Cup.  I'm a first year member of Ravenclaw.  This month our first assignments are due. Unfortunately real life is getting in the way of my knitting and I didn't want to start a whole bunch of projects only to not finish them (and thus accrue an ever growing list of WsIP).  I chose instead to start (and finish) a small project for the Charms course.  We were asked to produce a "protective covering for an item of value."  I decided to knit and felt an iPod case/cozy.  I happened to have some Patons Classic Wool Merino in need of a project, so that's what I used.  I thought the royal purple color might help deflect any mishaps from the iPod.

I haven't decide whether to add a button or not.  For now I'll leave it buttonless and see how it performs.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Knitting Progress Update

I've been knitting along on my cardigan sleeve. I'm afraid it's not terribly exciting, being that it's simple K1, P1 ribbing with paired increases every 10 rows.

The EZ 100th Anniversary Pi is languishing. I'm not even sure what round I stopped on. Fortunately I'm not very far along so it'll be easy enough to count.

I might have put in another repeat on each of the socks in progress.  I squeezed in about 1/2 a bobbin of lace weight spinning.

Even with a couple of afternoons off from work I haven't had much knitting or spinning time.  Maybe next week.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

There's Logic There Somewhere

For some reason I am still not entirely clear on, I decided that I needed to have a new knitting project for my weekend trip.  I couldn't work on the Crabby Socks, perhaps because I was over halfway through the second sock and I wouldn't want to finish it, leaving myself with no project for an indeterminate amount of time.  I couldn't take the new Pi shawl, because it would be too complicated for airplane knitting or knitting while talking to people. The green cardi sleeve would likely get too big for comfortable portable knitting, not to mention I'd have to keep the magazine with me (because I couldn't possibly have made a copy of the pattern for traveling purposes).

So I started a new pair of socks, of course.  These are knit in Shibui Knits Sock, in a colorway that reminds me of parrots.  Bright tropical colors: orange, fuchsia, turquoise, lime green.  I'm using the Fawkes pattern by the late Monkey Toes, from the now defunct Socktopia site.  Yes, I know that Fawkes was a phoenix in the Harry Potter books, not a parrot. They're both birds, right? I figure that's close enough.  Technically Fawkes is a top-down pattern, but I want to use up every last bit of this yarn, so decided to turn everything upside down and knit from the toe up.  On my trip I got up to the heel turn on the first sock. I'm now one or two pattern repeats up the leg.  I might have a completed pair of socks by the end of next week!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Starting My Pi Shawl

I initially started the WendyKnits Pi Shawl with size six needles. I knit about four rounds and decided that wasn't going to work. I started over again tonight using size four needles.  I've unvented a new circular shawl start.  Having recently been knitting socks from the toe up, it occurred to me that Judy's Magic Cast On might work for a circular start for a shawl.  I started by casting on just four stitches, knit two rounds plain, then increased evenly to nine stitches and began following Wendy's pattern as written.  I'm up to the second increase round now and things are going quite well.  In another half dozen rounds, I should be able to see how the start looks.

The body of the green cardigan is currently drying on my living room floor.  I decided to block it now.  It's a bit longer than I really wanted it to be and I'm a bit worried that it'll stretch even longer.  This is after knitting it shorter than the pattern called for (except for the armscye shaping).  We'll see how it goes after it's all done.  It may not be as long as I think it is once it's sewn up and on my body.  And if it is too long, I can give it to my sister or I can rip back the top and redo it.

I'm traveling again this weekend. I've started a new pair of socks for the occasion. I'm knitting the Fawkes socks again, using some parrot-colored Shibui Sock yarn.  I'm going to knit this pair from the toe up so I can use every last bit of the yarn.  With any luck, I might have a first sock finished by the end of the weekend.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Closer to cardigan

The green cardigan is progressing. The body is done and I'm now working on the first sleeve.  I started knitting it flat, but am considering ripping it out to knit it in the round.  If the body hasn't got any seams in it, why should the sleeves?

I've nearly finished the first of the Magic Mirror socks too. I think they look pretty good.  I'm curious if the biasing will chill out a bit after I wash them. It doesn't affect the fit of the socks in any way, but it does make them look funny when they're flat.
Am about four rounds into the latest KAL by WendyKnits--a Pi shawl in honor of Elizabeth Zimmermann's 100th birthday.  I don't really need a new project but something lacy was appealing.  (Don't ask me why the already in progress cobweb weight Errold's Grove shawl didn't count.)  I'm using some Misti Alpaca lace yarn in a dark burgundy colorway.  I declined to make a gauge swatch, in favor of just getting started.  Of course since I chose to do that, I'm not sure I like the fabric I'm getting with size 6 needles.  May drop it back to size 4 or 5.  Would like a bit of a lacy look to the solid portions of the shawl but not quite as lacy as I'm getting.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Spin It Up!

Decided to spend last night and tonight spinning.  I've filled a bobbin with dark brown/black Shetland singles. A two-ply would probably be fingering weight. Not sure if I want to two-ply or three-ply this yarn.  Not sure what I want to make with it either. Perhaps a nice Shetland shawl to wrap around myself in my freezing cold office.  I think it's too scratchy for a scarf or hat. Might work for a lightweight sweater. Of course it might soften up a bit with washing too.  I'm not even sure how much yardage I'll end up with at this point. However much I can get out of 2+ pounds of roving.  By rough calculation, if I can get 400 yards of fingering-weight yarn in 4 ounces, that's 1600 yards per pound or approx 3200 yards total. Plenty for a light cardi or a huge shawl.

The difficult question right now is whether to spin up another bobbin full of Shetland singles or to spin up a bobbin full of the superwash merino/tencel roving that I started spinning at least a year ago. That will end up a nice two-ply, either for a shawl or socks.  I'm leaning toward getting the merino/tencel out of the way, getting it plied and getting it knit.  It only seems fair to get it done and out of the way before diving into the newer roving from Spinderella. Or at least that's my logic at the moment.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I Have Been Knitting....

Even if I haven't been blogging. :-)

Finally got the ends run in on Sis' socks that I finished a couple months ago.  I've come to the conclusion that the pair of Crabby Socks for me are indeed too short so I'll rip out the top of the one sock I completed and knit another repeat into the leg before binding off.  I'm glad I decided to think about that before just jumping straight into the 2nd sock.

The Green Cardigan is progressing slowly.  I get in 2-4 rows a couple times a week now.  I've finished the first repeat of the yoke pattern. Should be dividing for the arm holes in another 1/2 to 1 inch or so.  I'm hoping things will pick up speed a bit at that point.  It seems like I knit cotton more slowly than other fibers. Of course, this is also a much larger project than my usual socks.  So far I like it though. Will measure the chest again tomorrow to make sure I'm on target.  I suspect the length will grow a bit with wearing, due to cotton's general tendency to stretch. I'm hoping that means the sweater gets a bit smaller around. I really don't need it to get any bigger around while it gets longer.  The current size is just fine.

These are the socks I started for my trip at the end of June. The pattern is Magic Mirror by Jeannie Cartmel. The yarn is probably Sockotta, purchased well over five years ago. Not entirely sure why I bought this particularly colorway, but it's cheery and spring-like.  I've certainly purchased worse. :-)

Anyway, this photo doesn't reflect it, but I"m actually about halfway up the leg on the first sock.  I had a bit of trouble getting the short row heel to work out on the first try.  When I picked up the wraps on one side to either knit or purl them, it looked really sloppy. Of course I didn't notice that until after I'd knit several rounds of the leg.  Conveniently, I was trying to justify staying up waaaaay too late in the night to watch Gene Simmons' reality show on A&E, so I ripped the heel right out and re-did it. I wasn't even that tired the next morning and the knitting turned out pretty well!

In Other Blogs....
I've been reading Anne Hanson's blog KnitSpot, quite a bit this summer. There are several shawls/shawlettes (among other designs) that I will have to knit for myself. They look to be just the thing for chilly air conditioning.  She's also got a lovely garden that's producing lush yummy veggies like crazy. The photos of the garden are just gorgeous. (It does make me miss my garden a lot, though my garden was never as well-maintained or as productive as Anne and David's garden.)  David does a great job with the knitting photos when Anne is modeling.  I don't know how she manages the garden and putting up produce in the freezer and pantry PLUS knitting and designing and traveling for her pattern line AND she blogs regularly!! Amazing! I aspire to be that organized, productive and creative with my time!!

What I like about Anne's designs is that they have simple shapes, clean lines and the stitch patterns seem so natural/organic. The sweaters are close fitting and light- to medium-weight, not oversized or bulky. The sock patterns are textured, rather than relying on self-striping yarns for interest.  I like crazy colored socks, but crazy colors come in mostly solid colorways too.  It's nice to have a textured sock pattern that isn't obscured by the yarn. At least some of the shawl patterns include variations for different shapes and sizes.  I like that the recommended yarns are mostly from indie dyers too, rather than from big yarn companies.  I think that brings an added level of uniqueness to the finished product, plus it supports small craftspersons in their businesses, which I think is a good thing.

Anyway, go visit KnitSpot and see the good work Anne does!

Monday, June 21, 2010

You Know You Are Tired When....

You absentmindedly click on a blog name in Bloglines, start to read the unread posts and GET HALFWAY THROUGH before you realize that you're reading your own blog.  I actually had the thought "Wow! That's so cool. That knitter is having cold office issues and wants to knit a couple of light weight cardigans just like I do."  *sigh*

In Other News...
Boy celebrated his birthday this past week.  No, I did not knit him any socks (or foot hugs, as he likes to call them).  But just as soon as I get a couple pair of socks for me finished, to shore up my dwindling personal supply of socks, I'll get another pair of Boy Socks on the way.

Printed Silk Cardigan Update
I'm halfway up the body of the sweater now.  Just need to figure out the button band directions some time when I'm not half-braindead.  I need to mark which side will have buttonholes and review the buttonhole technique that they recommend.  I'm actually on the row for the first buttonhole now.  I should also figure out when the armhole shaping will start soon, so I don't have to rip back.  All in all, I think I'm making fairly speedy progress and I like the looks of things so far.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Swatchy Swatch!

After tracking down a size 4 bamboo circular, I swatched for the Printed Silk Cardi and got exactly the same pre-washing gauge as I got with the size 5 metal needle. However, once the swatch was washed and dried per label care instructions, the size four swatch came out exactly on gauge.  I'll cast on the body of the sweater in a little bit.  I'll knit the body in the round up to the arm holes, then divide into fronts and back.  That way I can avoid having to sew up the thing and also avoid the procrastination that goes along with having to sew up a sweater.

I have finished the second pair of Wendy Johnson's Serpentine Socks for my Sis. These are made out of Mirasol Hacho.  All that's left is running in the ends and getting them in the mail.

The pair of Serpentine Socks I started for myself out of Socks That Rock Mediumweight have stalled out.  I finished the first sock, but now am wondering if the leg is too short.  I haven't come to a conclusion on that yet. I'm reluctant to rip out the cuff and add another repeat, but if it's too short, it's too short.  So starting the second sock is on hold until I get that decided.

In the meantime, I've cast on for another Wendy Johnson toe-up sock.  This time it's the Ribbed Ribbons socks from Socks from the Toe Up.  I'm knitting them in Verve by the Unique Sheep.  The colorway I have is called Lights.  It reminds me of Christmas lights.

Other socks for me will be coming soon.  I just discovered a second pair of cotton-blend handknit socks with major holes in the heel.  Too big to actually repair and I'm not sure how badly I want to rip back to the heel and re-knit.  These are socks which are easily 6 years old, so it's not like they haven't had a good long life.  I've got at least five more pair of unknit cotton blend socks in my sock yarn stash.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Let the Sidetracking Begin!!!

I've been craving some nice lightweight cardigans for the office.  While we are coming up on summer rather quickly, I still find that I want/need a bit of extra warmth to deal with the air conditioning system in my office.  Just a little light something on my arms. Preferably something stylish and not the oversized plaid fleece shirt that hangs on the back of my door.

Conveniently, Knitty Gritty Yarns, one of my LYS, had its 5th Anniversary sale this weekend and marked all cotton or cotton-blend yarns at 30% off.  So I picked up sufficient Cascade Ultra Pima in a grassy green color to make myself the Painted Silk Cardigan in the Spring 2008 Interweave Knits.  I even did my swatch last night.  I have yet to wash and block it, but so far it looks like I'll need to go down a needle size.

So why haven't I knit the second swatch yet, you ask?  Because I haven't got a size four circular needle that I can find.  Sheesh. It appears to be the only size I don't have.  I'll make sure to get a needle that's nice and pointy too.  I was having some difficulty with the twisted stitches using my old Susan Bates  needles.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fibery Pursuits

I've made my decision. I'm going to attend the 2011 Sock Summit.  It'll be my very first fiber-related conference.  The primary deciding factor was that it's only a six hour drive from here. It also sounds like it'll be a whole lot of fun and if I start saving now, it'll even fit in my budget!  In the meantime, I can work on knitting down the sock yarn stash.

On my trip to Chicago I bought no sock yarn when we stopped by my Sis and Niece's local yarn store.  I did, however, buy six skeins of Cascade Lace Alpaca.  My initial intention was to knit an Apres Surf Hoodie. Of course, I failed to remember what weight yarn was needed so I bought lace weight intead of fingering weight.  All is not lost, however.  I think I'll make a Featherweight Cardi since I could use a few more cardigans for routine office wear.  My current favorite work sweater is a lacy pink nylon/mohair cardi I picked up at the GoodWill store for a couple dollars.  I need about two more of them.  I may unravel a black mohair pullover that I don't like very much and turn it into a black mohair cardi too. At least that way I'll wear the thing.

My knitting progress during my trip wasn't as much as I'd hoped.  I mostly slept on the way to Chicago.  I did knit quite a bit on the way back.  I finished Sis' first sock on the way to the airport to come back.  I cast on the second sock while waiting for the plane.  I'm now a bit over halfway up the foot.  I could get the second sock finished by the end of the weekend if I don't do anything but knit.  Given that I'm getting over a bad cold, I might get more knitting done than usual. Otherwise, it'll be the end of next week. Once her socks are done, I'll finish up my Crabby Socks and maybe start a sweater unless, of course, I get sidetracked by something else!

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

New Knitter Pics!

As you know, I started teaching my niece to knit before I moved across the country.  My sister then decided to learn too.  To facilitate this whole process, they signed up for some private knitting lessons at Wool and Company in Geneva.  Everybody think it's totally awesome that Niece (age six) has taken to knitting like a duck to water.  She's now featured on their FaceBook page.

When Sis and Niece were at the shop this week, one of the guys at the shop asked Nephew if he wanted to learn to knit. Nephew said he knew how but had trouble handling the needles. The guy (sorry I don't know his name) raced across the store to find a project for Nephew to work on.  The little ditty the guy used to help Nephew remember what to do was hilarious!

Stab him.
Strangle him.
Rip his guts out.
Throw him off the cliff.

Nephew won't be forgetting any time soon.  We've also decided that what Nephew needs is small, short needles.  The longer single point size 8s in the knitting kit are just too big and heavy for him to manipulate easily. He did very well with the much smaller needles that Knit Shop Guy had.  Now Nephew will just have to develop an attention span that last longer than 5 or 6 stitches.

I'm headed to Chicago this weekend. Sis and I will naturally be hitting the yarn shop to see what there is to see and I'll be officially outed for being the instigator of Niece's knitting habit.  With any luck, I should finish Sis' blue socks while I'm there and can leave them with her. I have no clue what I'll use as my return trip portable project.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Crazy Crazy

First, I'm headed to Seattle at the beginning of the week for a conference.  I just realized that I haven't even *thought* of looking up yarn shops near where I'll be staying.  I can't decide if that means that I've been very distracted or if I may have reached some semblance of completion with my current stash size.

With that said I did buy yarn today.  And my sister (the new knitting convert) said it was ok.

You see, I also got my first (partial) paycheck at my new job this week.  She said I probably shouldn't spend all at the yarn shop.  I told her that I wouldn't spend any of this paycheck at the yarn shop. She allowed as how that was rather wise of me to specify only this particular check was not going toward the yarn shop.

But you see tomorrow is a Team Battelle Project Linus work day. The local Project Linus website indicated a specific need for blankets in colors suitable for boys.  I didn't have sufficient non-wool worsted weight yarn in boy colors.  I had some pinks, but not even enough of those for a complete blanket.  So I went to Jo-Ann's and bought a couple one pound skeins of Caron acrylic (soft, but not so soft that it'll pill quickly). 

Then I texted my sister and told her that I did a bad thing for a good reason.  She allowed as how it wasn't really a bad thing if it was for a good reason.  She also agreed with my reasoning that it wasn't breaking my earlier promise in that a) I didn't actually spend any money at the yarn store and b) the paycheck in question is still sitting on my desk, waiting to be mailed to the bank so I didn't actually spend any of the money contained therein.

Not only is my sister a knitting convert, she's now heavy into the rationalization of more yarn acquisitions.  This is definitely a sign of a hooked knitter.

I'll see her next week.  I'm going to buy her yarn for the scarf she's decided to knit herself.  Something washable, soft, warm and periwinkle, I believe were the criteria she had. With any luck, it'll be done by the time it's cold in Chicago again. (It took me two years to finish my first project. I'm hoping she won't be as pokey about finishing things as I was.)  Speaking of Chicago....that reminds me that I need to figure out my airplane knitting.  Given that I just put holes in two socks this week, I'm thinking I need to get me some more socks knitted. Though I could probably finish sis' second sock during the trip and then I can knit for me on the way back!

Project Linus Blanket #1
Rather than risking boredom (and an eternally unfinished project) by knitting the same thing ad nauseum the entire duration of the blanket, I decided to try a Log Cabin style blanket as described in Mason-Dixon Knitting.  Up until the drive home from Jo-Ann's, I was committed to the simple same pattern throughout.  Now I've gone from a traditional Log Cabin design to adapting the Moderne Log Cabin Blanket to suit the thicker yarn and two color choices (rather than the four called for in their pattern).  I think it'll turn out well.

Yarn: Caron One Pound worsted weight in Claret and Midnight Blue
Needles: Size 8
Gauge: I have no idea and I don't think I care. I'll knit until it's big enough.
If this project goes well, I'll make more of them.  It's too bad the project won't take anything wool. I've got quite a bit of superwash wool that would make a decent blankie. Oh well.  Perhaps I'll make some log cabin-ish scarves or try a modular scarf.

Alpaca Show
Last weekend, I went to the Northwest Alpaca Showcase alpaca show.  I resisted purchasing any fiber.  I did, however, hook up with the local fiber guild, Desert Fiber Arts, and they seem like a nice bunch of people.  They have a spinning group that meets at the local library on the first Saturday of each month.  I might have to stop by there tomorrow.  I have to return some books anyway. Too bad I also have other errands to run.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Spinderella's Goodies and Creating Two Knitters!!

In an effort to simplify my move across the country, I shipped off the stockpile of spinning fleeces to Spinderella for processing.  Well, the roving arrived the other day.  Oh my goodness is it gorgeous and boy is there ever a lot of it.  I knew they were going to ship me 60-70 pounds of roving back, but it just didn't occur to me how much roving that really is until it was piled up in my living room.  Oh dear am I going to be busy spinning (and then knitting and weaving) for a good long time.

And to top it all off, there's an alpaca show in town this weekend *and* I discovered that the mother of one of Boy's co-workers is a spinner/knitter and raises her own sheep because she's picky about her fleeces.  I knew I shouldn't have told myself that I didn't really need to buy any more spinning fiber in the next year.

There is some bad news though: the yarn shop a mile down the road from where I live may be closing soon.  The owner needs to sell it by the end of May.  The big sale on everythign in the store starts next weekend.  I really don't need any more yarn or needles either, but I'll stop by anyway.  I'll be really bummed out if they close.  I was so looking forward to hanging out at Friday night knitting. *pout*

To end on a more positive note, I seem to have created a monster or two.  I taught my Niece to knit not long ago.  She picked it up rather quickly.  Of course she'd sat in my lap and watched me knit for quite some time previously, but then I went and bought her the Disney learn to knit kit (contains a pair of plain single point needles and a pair of single points with the non-pointy end bent into the Mickey ears shape, plus a few other notions and a how-to book).  We picked out a worsted-weight yarn in a color Niece liked and I cast on about 15 stitches for her.  Over two days, she knit up a couple inches of garter stitch.  My Nephew then wanted to try, but he figured out pretty quickly that he didn't have the fine motor control to manipulate the stitches and moved on to a different activity. 

Now my Sister has taken up knitting, ostensibly so that she can help my niece when she gets stuck.  Sis mentioned to me the other night that she had no desire to turn on the TV in the evening and just wanted to sit knitting or reading.  She also confessed to having picked up Niece's knitting to fix it and ended up putting it down 10 rows later.  Methinks she's hooked.  At the moment Sis is making a doll blanket while Niece makes a scarf.  Niece has planned "a sweater for daddy" as her next project and Sis is going to make a scarf, just as soon as she finds a nice soft washable yarn in a periwinkle blue.  I'm thinking a gift certificate to a yarn shop may be in order....

Traveling Purchases

On my great roadtrip across the U.S., I made a few fibery purchases.  I stopped in Champaign-Urbana long enough for lunch at the Courier Cafe (I had a Darcy's Burger with a Gardenburger and sweet potato fries) and a bit of shopping at Needleworks. I picked up some lovely sock yarn and enough worsted weight Plymouth Mushishi to make myself a nice cardigan for work.  I may end up using the February Lady Sweater pattern, again making the sleeves full-length and deepening the yoke to allow more ease in the armscye area.

I declined to stop at the Amana Woolen Mill in Amana, Iowa to purchase more merino roving. I used three arguments to bolster my resolve:
  1. Stopping would have made me late to lunch with my Grandma and,
  2. I have over 50+ pounds of roving headed my way soon from Spinderella, plus the 10 pounds of roving I previously purchased from the Amana Mill (and the other 30+ pounds of wool, silk, cotton and other spinning fibers in my spinning stash).
  3. I have very limited space left in my car.
 I avoided any fibery temptations until I arrived in Pendleton, Oregon, home of the Pendleton Woolen Mill.  I stopped at their company store and picked up a big bag of worms and a cone of lace weight yarn.  I think nice rugs for the bathroom and living room are in order.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

All Boxed In

Well, the fleeces have arrived at Spinderella's. Completely by coincidence, Spinderella has lowered their processing prices a bit and expanded their volume discount to cover the entire order, rather than just individual lots over a certain size. While none of my individual lots exceeded the minimum for the discount, the whole order certainly did.  That was quite a nice surprise.

The stash is now living in a series of cardboard boxes. Tomorrow it gets loaded on a truck and sent off to my new home in Washington state.  The drive to join my stash will take about five days of drive-time, plus I'll spend a day or two in Chicago visiting family before I go.  I have two socks, a scarf and my Kiri shawl (which has another hole in it) as my travel knitting.  I expect that I might get some knitting done while I watch the movers load the truck too.  I really wish I had someone to drive me across the country just so that I could knit all day each of those five days.  Oh well.... I do have a nice supply of books on tape to keep me company and that will just have to suffice.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

77.8 Pounds

I spent today organizing and packing up my spinning fleeces. By my reckoning, there are 77.8 pounds of fleece in my garage, divided into 9 boxes.

 It's taken me a while to decide where to send the fleeces for processing, but I think I've finally decided on Spinderella's.  Looks like the turnaround time is about four to eight weeks. That should work out pretty well with the moving in between shipping and receiving.  They're also located relatively close to my new location, which should save on shipping.  Now I just need to print out the order forms, fill out the info and get the boxes over to Mary at the UPS store.

And figure out what I'm going to do with the 50-ish pounds of roving I'm going to get back.  Some of it I'll spin straight into yarn for which I already have ideas for thanks to Lisa Lloyd's book A Fine Fleece. Although I greatly dislike the poorly focused and sometimes poorly lit photos in the book, I do indeed like her cabled sweater patterns a great deal.  I'm also quite curious how long it would take me to spin 1600 yards of a nice 2-ply DK or worsted weight yarn.  I've never measured my handspun in the past.

Now that I have a drum carder, I might just try my hand at blending too.  I've got some lovely alpaca, angora and silk that could be a nice addition to some of the soon-to-be-produced roving or to the already existing Merino roving I have stashed away.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Final Final FLS Update

Sis has received the sweater. She was *very* surprised. She'd been expecting socks!  I'm hoping she wasn't still expecting socks when she saw the size of the box that UPS kindly delivered yesterday.  The report is that the sweater is gorgeous and fits perfectly.  It's good to know that I guessed the sleeve length well. Sis is three inches taller than me, so has longer arms.  I made the sleeves about 1.5 inches too long for me and apparently that's just right.

I told her that since I'd purchased a whole bag of Cascade 220 in Chocolate when we went sweater yarn shopping that I actually have enough yarn to make the February Lady Pullover too.  So far she hasn't replied to that.  Since I've already started the pullover, I'll pick it back up when I get done with the Sea Serpentine Socks.

Speaking of Sea Serpentine.... ripped them back out to the end of the toe shaping again and began working the smallest size.  The foot was just coming out a tiny bit too large at the medium size (after ripping out the large size).  I'm tempted with this yarn (Hacho) to go up to a size 3 needle. The fabric right now is a bit dense.  Will have to consider that for the next pair with Hacho.

Since I now have an official signed/accepted job offer, I have gone ahead and ordered my yarn for the Evenstar Shawl.  I decided on Blue Moon Fiber Arts Silk Thread II in Winter Solstice, just like the designer used.  I love the glowing silver grey color.  The second clue of the shawl just came out so I'm just a tiny bit behind. Perhaps the yarn will arrive late next week and I'll think about getting started.  I'm also going to sign up for the whole Lord of the Rings mystery pattern series.  The previews she's given look gorgeous!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Final FLS Update!

After making the sleeves longer, I spent an hour this morning making the sleeves back to their original length and sewing on the buttons.  Of course, I failed to take any photos at all before packaging up the sweater and shipping it off to my sister.  The good news is that it will arrive on Friday and her birthday is Saturday.  I told her I was shipping her a quart of ice cream in a plain cardboard box.  She's very excited to be expecting a sticky, leaky box of goo.

Of course, I completely forgot to get her a birthday card. DOH!

Now I'll have to work on the blue Serpentine Socks and see how far I can get between now and the Olympic Closing Ceremonies on Sunday.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

February Lady Sweater Finished, But....

I think the sleeves are going to be too long.  And they have a decided tendency to stretch out even longer while wearing them.  So after re-knitting the first sleeve last night to make it a bit longer, I will now be ripping out the cuffs plus an inch of actual sleeve in order to re-knit the cuffs at the original sleeve length.  On the other hand, I think the armscye depth thing will be ok, so that's good.

I picked up some buttons on the way home from work that I think will work ok. I'm not 100% certain about them being exactly right, but I think they'll do for now. Sis is perfectly capable of replacing the buttons if she chooses to do so.

Overall, I think I'm pleased with the sweater design though I'm not terribly pleased with the hand of the fabric. It's a bit limp and stretchy for my tastes though I did meet the gauge that the pattern requested.  If I make another one, I'll go down a needle size or two with this particular yarn (Cascade 220) to get a firmer hand.  I'll give Sis an option to have a less stretchy sweater if she's not so keen on the hand of her birthday present too. (If I do re-knit, I'll carry the raglan increases down a bit further too so as to avoid the armpit tightness concern I had.)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Knitting Pics At Last!

After agonizing over the February Lady Sweater and whether or not it will fit properly*, I decided to go ahead and finish it.  I'm just a few inches from finishing the second sleeve.  It seems like it's been like that for the past few nights of knitting.  Perhaps today I'll get it done and then I can get it blocked, wrapped and shipped to my sister.  Her birthday is next Saturday, so the package needs to be in the mail on Wednesday.

*I suspect that the armscye may not be deep enough to be comfortable.  The only way to fix this, however, is to rip back the entire body and sleeves and knit the yoke deeper.  I'm ok with doing that, just wanted to give the directions as written a try first. Perhaps it's just me agonizing and overthinking things too much.  It may fit my sister just fine too. She's smaller through the arms and chest than I am.  If it doesn't fit, I'll have her ship it back to me and I'll re-knit it. I think I can solve the problem by carrying the raglan increases to the end of the garter stitch yoke.

Also on the needles are the Crabby Socks for me.  I'm nearly to the gusset on the first sock.

I started another pair of Serpentine Socks for my sister for my Knitting Olympics project.  I don't think I'll get them done before the closing ceremonies. Not with the final push for finishing Sis's sweater.  The yarn is Mirasol Hacho in the color Deep Blue Ocean.  It's a bit heftier than STR Mediumweight so I'm making a smaller size than for the Crabby Socks.  It's a nice squishy yarn though.  Should be comfy on the feet. Hopefully it won't be too thick for Sis' work shoes.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

More February Lady Sweater! (Still No Pics)

It's really hard to take a picture of a one-armed sweater when you're wearing it.  I'm just not coordinated enough to hold out one arm while taking a photo with the other. At least not unless I'm hoping to take a photo of the wall or ceiling.  Yes, I could have just lay the sweater on the floor for the photo, but that isn't half the fun or challenge of taking action photos. :o)

Anyway, the February Lady Sweater for my Sis now has one completed sleeve.  That leaves me with approximately 15 days to finish sleeve number two, which is completely doable.  And find buttons, which may be a bit trickier. Finding buttons for things I wear is hard enough. Finding buttons for something for someone else to wear is harder.  I'm tempted to not put buttons on it and let Sis pick out and sew on her own. She's got a whole lot more choices for button shopping than I do.

I am pretty certain that the sweater is still a surprise.  Last week, when I was agonizing over what airplane knitting to pack, she did mention that I could always knit her more socks. (It was really cute because she specifically said she didn't mean to be pushy and I had just mentioned re-discovering the sock yarn she purchased just after Christmas.)  I did mention that I couldn't work on her socks just yet because I had one project in the queue ahead of them, but that I'd get to them very soon.  I made no mention at all of the sweater.  I think we're good.

Now I just need to figure out if a) I have enough yarn left to make the February Fitted Pullover too and b) if I'll make it for her or for me! I should have enough yarn for the 3/4 length sleeve version. The long-sleeve version might be a bit dicey.  She might wear the 3/4 length sleeve version once she tries it on.  If she doesn't, I may just have to claim it as my own.

New Job Prospects
I've got a decent chance of getting a new job in the next few weeks.  If things go well, I'll be moving most of the way across the country, which means packing up the stash.  I'm giving serious consideration to sending most of the fleeces off to be processed before the move and then have them shipped to my new address after they've been turned into roving.  That would greatly diminish the volume of stuff to pack in the fiber room.  It would also do wonders toward getting me to actually DO SOMETHING with the multitude of fleeces.  Let's face it, I've not managed to process a single one yet and some of them I've had for probably seven years.

The other cool thing about my potential new job is that the dress code is more relaxed.  Of course what's odd about that is that I suddenly feel the urge to knit a bunch of nice sweaters (cardis, jackets) so that I can dress nicely and professionally.  Making a point of knitting a little bit each day, I've figured out that I can actually accomplish larger projects, like sweaters.  I used to think they took far too long (1-2 years), but now I can see that isn't the case.  Heck, the February Lady Sweater is just one sleeve shy of completion and I only started it a month ago.  If I work on worsted weight projects that are mostly seamless, I should be able to manage 4-6 sweaters in a year without giving up my sock knitting or the occasional shawl project.

Speaking of shawl projects....I've promised myself that I can buy the two skeins of Silk Thread II for the Evenstar Shawl just as soon as I get an official job offer.  Hopefully things will progress fairly quickly on the job front since the KAL starts on the 12th and I don't want to end up hopelessly behind.

Monday, January 25, 2010

February Lady Sweater Update

I have finished the body of the sweater and am progressing on to the sleeves. I'm a bit worried that the sleeves might be too wide, but it's a bit hard to tell for certain until I knit them a couple of inches. I'll definitely be decreasing to the wrist, which isn't in the pattern, but we'll get it sorted out. I'm tempted to use short-row shaping at the top of the sleeve, but haven't really thought that through yet. I'll probably try it as written and then work on modifying it. Seems simpler that way, don't you think?

So far I'm on my fourth skein of yarn.  I'm not sure I'll have enough leftover to actually knit the Fitted February Pullover as a companion piece for my Sis's birthday sweater.  I'll know for sure after the sleeves are done.

Evenstar KAL
I've signed up for the Evenstar KAL with Susan Pandorf. I have, so far, managed to refrain from purchasing two skeins of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Silk Thread 2 in the colorway Winter Solstice. This is the yarn Susan is using for her shawl. It is BEAUTIFUL! It's a glowing silver gray color and is just perfect for something titled Evenstar.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a happy bunch of holidays, whichever ones you celebrate.  My sister loved her new Crabby Socks (shown here being displayed by my nephew).  My niece loves to steal my sister's socks, but this pair are way too large for niece to wear. Niece did, however, ask if I could knit her socks and also if I could teach her to knit.  I promised her knitting needles and knitting lessons for her birthday.

Sis and I hit Wool and Company in Geneva, IL on a day we got to hang out without kids.  She bought yarn for me to knit her FOUR more pair of socks and I bought the yarn for her February Lady Sweater.  I inadvertently bought enough Cascade 200 to knit both the pullover and cardigan versions, so I think I'll knit her both.  I initially cast on for the pullover, but then she said she was leaning toward liking the cardi better so I started the cardigan last night.  I should be able to get one of them done by the end of February for her birthday.

As presents, I received The Opinionated Knitter by EZ and Sock Innovation by Cookie A.  I really like the chattiness of EZ's newsletters.  I am thrilled by the extensive and detailed explanation of designing that Cookie wrote.  It helped solidify some ideas I've had about writing patterns and gave me some insight into a different way of thinking about designs.

On the knitting front, I added a couple inches to the default Yarn Harlot One-Row Scarf that's become my  mindless travel knitting.  I also managed to finish my Blueberry Sweater. Well, finish it except for the weaving of the underarms.  I'm happy that it's done, but I'm not as happy with the overall sweater as I'd like to be.  For starters, I think the arms might be an inch too short (which may or may not be fixable with blocking).  The other issue has to do with the shoulder "seams".  They stick out too much, giving the shape of the sweater an 80s big shoulderpad look that I really don't like.  Of course I have already sewn in the ends before I really thought about the fit and shape.  I think I was just so pleased to have actually finished an adult-sized sweater that I wasn't thinking clearly.  Now I'm putting off the underarm weaving until I decide what I want to do (if anything) about the sleeves and shoulders.  I've got plenty of yarn left (5+ skeins) so making the sleeves longer is definitely an option.

Future Knitting Plans:
I've had a blast with the new Strauch ball winder that Boy gave me for Christmas.  Being a wise Boy, he correctly deduced that buying me a handy tool like the ball winder might facilitate the production of more Foot Hugs for his feet.  He actually ordered the ball winder from Otto Strauch himself and it arrived on my doorstep just two days later!  I did spend the first weekend after its arrival winding a bunch of sock yarn, so Boy might be right about that Foot Hug production connection....

Despite finishing several items in the past few weeks, I'm not experiencing any knitting slump.  Quite the opposite, actually.  Once I get Sis' February Sweaters finished, I'm not sure what I'll focus on.  Several of my family members have now mentioned getting socks again, so I suppose it's time for round two of socks for them.  The last time I knit everybody socks was probably 7 or 8 years ago, so I can't really disagree with them.  I still have two shawls in progress too (Errold's Grove and the Fall 2009 Goddess Mystery Shawl) and the Tri-Cities Socks.  Maybe I can knit two rows of the Goddess Knits Mystery Shawl a day, then work on the February Sweater....  At least my knitting energies are focused on getting projects finished, rather than starting new ones. :-)